Nike and others have sold countless athletic shoes in recent years with lightweight knit uppers, and Giro has taken notice. The cycling brand just launched three Xnetic Knit shoes that have TPU skeletal support for cycling and DWR treatments for water repellency.
Giro reintroduced laces to modern cycling shoes with the Empire, and the new Empire E70 Knit features the same closure system but with a pliable, breathable upper and an Easton EC70 carbon sole.
While the knit upper looks like that of a running shoe, the feel is quite different. Giro worked with the knit manufacturer to tune the mix of polyester and nylon for a material that has some give, but also some supportive structure.
Giro brand manager Eric Richter said that Giro experimented with varying levels of stretch. "Our first knit prototype had no structure at all. It felt neat in the hand, but it was not efficient for pedaling," he said. "After they knit these yarns, the fibers go through a heating process, and the nylon fibers melt and fuse to the polyester. We worked until we had a knit that had enough support but felt uniquely supple."
The shoes also have a TPU skeletal support structure on the underside of the knit.
The Empire E70 Knit will sell in men’s and women’s options this fall for $200 / €229 / £199 on www.giro.com and in stores.
A size 42.5 Empire E70 Knit weighs a claimed 250g.
For cyclocross and mountain biking, the Empire VR70 Knit adds a Vibram rubber outsole over the EC70 carbon, plus a rubber toe guard and bonded TPU heel.
The TPU support system is bonded externally on the VR70 Knit, and a stretch-knit cuff reminiscent of soccer/football cleats is used to keep debris out of the shoes.
A size 42.5 VR70 Knit weighs a claimed 380g.
Suggested retail for the Empire Knit VR70 is $250 / €249 / £219.
Finally, a $140 / €159 / £139 Republic R Knit with reflective laces is targeted and commuters and touring riders. The 2-bolt cleat shoe weighs a claimed 310g in size 42.5.