When Giro first announced the Techlace system I wasn't completely sold on the idea of combining laces and Velcro. The fully laced Empires are some of my favourite road shoes and the comfort and adjustability that laces offer (except on the fly) is unparalleled.
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The trouble with laces is once they're tied up they aren't very adjustable while you're in motion. For me, the Empires are very much set and forget, but for some that lack of on the go adjustability is a deal breaker.
So when Sentrie Techlace shoes arrived I was interested to put the lace, Velcro, Boa mix to the test.
Situated in Giro’s second tier of shoes, just below the Prolight Techlace and Factor Techlace, theSentrie gets an EC 70 full carbon sole. It’s not as stiff or light as the beam-like EC90 version, but for the life of me I couldn’t make it flex. Like the rest of Giro’s shoes, the plate itself is pretty flat.
According to Giro it prefers flat outsoles as they allow for more ‘spillover’ and work better with a wider range of feet. The soles don't have any built in arch support, as other brands like Bont and Shimano do, but the shoes come with the brand's Super Natural insoles with replaceable arch supports.
The footbeds see a metatarsal bubble and interchangeable arch supports, though if you’re used to a shoe that has heaps of built in the support the foam inserts might not be enough to support your feet.
At the back, the heel isn’t particular sculpted to grab the back of your foot. While even Giro’s top end shoes don’t see the amount of heel grab as the high-end shoes from Specialized or Sidi, the Sentrie is noticeably more open. Even still, the heel cup is stiff and I didn’t experience any heel lift even while climbing or sprinting.
The majority of the uppers are made from what Giro calls Exofiber. This material is a mesh base with microfibre welded on top to give it some shape, prevent the shoe stretching and repel water. Even with a lot of the mesh on the shoe covered up they still breathe pretty well in the heat.
With a combo of laces, Velcro and a Boa dial, Giro only needs a ratchet system to have shoe closure bingo. Marrying laces and velcro is a novel idea because not only does it shave a bit of weight, in theory it gives you two points of adjustability for each Techlace. In reality, the laces move in unison and the system is a bit fiddly.
If you try to use them as you would a standard Velcro strap (i.e.. just pulling) the laces underneath get pinned and loosen over the course of your ride. The way around this is to straighten the laces, pull and fold them over the top of the shoe. It’s far from a deal breaker, but it does mean on-the-go adjustments require a bit more focus.
The laces do stretch a bit over the course of a ride, but to me, this isn’t really a problem. I usually get a bit overzealous with straps and Boas as I’m getting ready and quite often am backing off closures a few minutes into a ride, so the lace stretching wasn’t a downside.
On the other hand, I am not a fan of the Boa L6 dial. It offers 1mm adjustments as you tighten, but doesn’t turn backwards and needs to be popped if you over do it. That said, the L6 dial's footprint is quite small and along with the anchor on the other side of the shoe is the only hard plastic on the upper.
The overall fit of the shoe is a bit roomier than Giro’s Empire and if you’re one who prefers the locked-down ‘race tight’ fit then the Sentrie probably isn't the best choice. That said, they are comfy and I have had zero discomfort in these shoes the over the past few months.
Being that these shoes sit in the second tier of Giro’s lineup, they aren't the lightest kicks on the market, with my test shoes weighing 306g in a size 45.
The Techlace system isn’t going to change the world. It looks cool and it works, but at the end of the day, if the shoes don’t mesh well with your foot no closure system is going to fix that.
However, when it comes to comfort, the Sentrie Techlace has more than its fair share. With limited hard structures on the upper, and the Exofiber being quite pliable, the shoe conforms to your foot nicely.
On top of that, to my eyes at least, the Sentrie Techlace is the best-looking shoe in Giro’s range.
Overall, if you’re looking for a high-performance race-ready shoe, but don’t have a fortune to spend, the Sentries are a pretty good bet.