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Item # GIR005M

Laces in.

By now, the resurgence of laces is mainstream cycling news, and if you've spent time at any cyclocross or XC race this season, you've no doubt seen more than a few pairs of the Giro Men's Empire VR90 Cycling Shoes carving corners and cleaning barriers in the pro showdowns and beginner fields alike. We've spent some time in these shoes too, and we're not shy about being adamant fans. You'll be drawn in by the bright, eye-catching colorways, and stoked to know that hidden under all the style is a top-tier, highly functional piece of footwear that's trail-ready and cyclocross approved.

Underfoot—and most importantly—Giro incorporates the same Easton EC90 carbon fiber sole featured on the Empire's road race version. It's got a low, 6.5mm stack height that reduces the amount of intervening material between engine and pedal for fast, efficient power transfer regardless of terrain.

Hardcore 'cross traditionalists may balk at that stiffness as it historically made running a difficult endeavor, but rest assured that Giro is on it. The Vibram Mont rubber lugged outsole is rockered to facilitate easy walkability and a natural running feel. This lets you harness the watts of that super stiff sole while punching off the line and out of corners without sacrificing speed or comfort when you're shouldering the bike. In our book, that makes the VR90 a little bit of a unicorn.

In addition to its rockering, the lugged sole provides grippy purchase for hard-packed dismounts, quad-searing run-ups, and rocky trail scrambles. If you do happen to miss a clip-in, Giro's added a Mid-Foot Scuff Guard with a grippy, rubber surface to rest against your pedal so you can keep moving forward and stay with your group. Each shoe also includes fittings for two toe spikes for extra traction when you really need to dig in.

In addition to the soles, these shoes pack all the features we've grown to love about Giro's laced offerings, including that standout lace-up closure system for seven points of adjustability and a comfy, near-custom fit. The VR90s also include Giro's SuperNatural Fit Kit, a series of three arch support options that lets you further fine tune the feel. In a small, yet important showing of Giro's attention to detail, an integrated lace keeper holds lace ends securely in place to assuage worries of an inopportune bottle cage grab or crankset encounter.

Giro finishes the shoes with a one-piece upper made from soft, breathable Evofiber with perforations for extra cooling ventilation when the mercury rises. This material is malleable enough to shape to your foot for an exceptionally comfortable fit while resisting excess stretch and loss of shape over time. In this regard, we might liken them to a favorite pair of well-worn slippers—if, that is, those slippers were high-tech, durable, and ridiculously low-weight.

Each pair of Giro Empire VR90 Cycling Shoes comes packaged with two sets of laces, four steel toe spikes, cleat mounting hardware, and a zippered Giro shoe bag for easy storage and transport.

  • An off-road cycling shoe for the fashionably fast
  • Same light, stiff carbon sole as found in the road race version
  • Equipped for trail duty with a grippy, lugged Vibram outsole
  • Lace-up enclosure customizes fit with 7 points of contact
  • Replaceable inserts let you tailor arch support
  • Anti-odor lining keeps funk to a minimum

Tech Specs

Upper Material:
Teijin microfiber
Closure:
lace
Footbed:
SuperNatural Fit Kit, X-Static antimicrobial fiber
Sole:
Easton EC90 ACC carbon fiber, high traction rubber
Cleat Compatibility:
2-bolt
Claimed Weight:
[size 42.5] 315 g
Recommended Use:
mountain bike, cyclocross
Manufacturer Warranty:
1 year

Size chart

Giro

Cycling Shoes
EUUS MENUS WOMENUKCM
36 4 5 3 22.5
37 5 6 4 23.5
37.5 5.5 6.5 4.5 24
38 6 7 5 24
38.5 6 7 5 24.5
39 6.5 7.5 5.5 25
39.5 7 8 6 25.5
40 7.5 8.5 6.5 25.5
40.5 8 9 7 26
41 8 9 7 26
41.5 8.5 9.5 7.5 26.5
42 9 10 8 27
42.5 9.5 10.5 8.5 27
43 9.5 10.5 8.5 27.5
43.5 10 11 9 28
44 10.5 11.5 9.5 28.5
44.5 11 12 10 28.5
45 11 12 10 29
45.5 11.5 12.5 10.5 29
46 12 13 11 29.5
46.5 12.5 13.5 11.5 30
47 13 14 12 30
48 13.5 14.5 12.5 31

Reviews & Community

REVIEWS

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great quality, small sizing

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 41.5

I purchased a pair of 41.5s to replace my 41.5 s-works mtb shoes. The Giro's fit is a bit more snug - enough that I can't chalk it up only to my old shoes being stretched out. All's good though, I'm still breaking them in. In hindsight I should have gone with a 42.

This is my first experience with lace-ups. So far, I have only good things to report. I don't miss boa cranks particularly, laces aren't flying everywhere, etc.

The quality is apparent and the vibram sole is much more sticky than my old shoes, or other shoes I have owned previously. This makes them great for Fall in the NE with our damp, leaf-covered rocks and roots.

Looking at the comment "Ain't Got No Sole," I'd argue that if you abuse the hell out of any piece of bike equipment, its likely to fall apart. Look at how warn his metal cleat pieces are - I'm not sure you can point to a defective sole as the primary issue here. Props to the reviewer for getting after it assuming he isn't working construction in his bike shoes. In sum, the lugged up, sticky vibrate sole = traction on slippery surfaces.

Most importantly though, they look sick. Don't lie, that's why you're looking at lace up shoes.

Avg. ride time: 11h 28m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Ain't Got No Sole

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size

Ah my purple slippers, you've let me down.

On a chilly February morning I ordered a pair of VR90s in the plum color way of the Grinduro. Over the next eight months, I'd use them for racing over dirt roads, single track, barriers, mud and tears. I suppose the fit is fine, they ain't my first pair of Giros, but the durability and cushioning leave a bit to be desired.

Now for the cushioning part of this, it could be my own childish tendency to bunny hop everything in combination with the tiny contact point of ATACs. As a result, the flimsy insoles don't really have enough cushioning and after twenty miles of singletrack my forefoot feels like someone went at it with a ball peen hammer. I swapped em for some blue Specialized BG insoles, which helps, but don't do too much to battle the shoe gremlins. If you're courtin' the VR90 that may or may not be your issue.

The ultimate betrayal, however, is the sole. You've probably heard the line "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." (It's from a Lebanese-American poet named Khalil Gibran.) and if you were to saddle up to a bar, you could get quite a story from the VR90s after a round of Wild Turkey. However, what's good for the soul ain't good for the sole and the Vibram bits just don't seem to be faithful.

Every creak of my pedals seems to warn the shoe "he ain't no good for you!" Maybe I beat 'em too hard, but as you can see the rubber has hit the road. Too many metaphors.

In all seriousness, I've owned more shoes than I can count and I've never had shoes, including other Giros, fall apart this fast. No word from Giro on warranty or repair (I don't think that's possible). If you only use them on occasion, they might work fine (barring the cushioning issue I mentioned). But if you use them on the regular (FWIW, I clock over 10k miles a year across disciplines) they might be more of a one night stand than true love.

They sure do look purty.

Ain't Got No Sole

Great shoes. Watch the sizing.

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times
  • Fit: Runs small

I won't repeat what everyone has said about the shoes. I'm a lace convert and I won't go back if I can help it.

On sizing, I ride the road version of this shoe (Empire) and love it so I ordered the same size in the VR90 expecting all to be well. My particular pair seemed about 1/4 - 1/2 size too short. "Narrowness" seemed to be about the same as what I'm used to, but I had to go a half size up to get these to work, otherwise running in these shoes would have had my toes banging into the tops, especially when wearing winter socks.

Other than that, they're great shoes.

Sole failing as warranty expires

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: 47

I liked the fit of these a lot, and will continue to use them for commuting, but they are not holding up very well to trail rides. I've been using them in the foothills in Albuquerque and now in the trails around State College in PA. Both rocky places, but I ride XC, not downhill. I don't drag my soles in turns, but the soles are starting to crumble and fall apart just as Giro's 1 year warrantee expired (bought them last summer). I've strayed a bit in recent years (Shimano and Giro) but I have to admit that Sidis are the most durable shoes on the market. I just ordered some Sidi SRS Spiders, and these will be relegated to commuting. Sidi, sorry I strayed.

Great Shoe

  • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
  • Fit: True to size

I bought the VR90s after using the Giro Terraduro shoes for a year. I've got narrow feet for sure, so I just wanted to speak to sizing here, in case there are others considering the Terraduro vs. the VR90. With narrow feet, I found the Terraduro to be too wide and not very adjustable at all. Especially riding on the road (without the distractions of the trail), I realized my feet were just swimming in the Terraduros. Tried the VR90 in the same size (44) and the fit was far better, as was the adjustability with the laces (as you would expect). Length was the same across shoes. The VR90 is clearly top notch construction and design.
After all that, though, the VR90s seemed pretty hot even just trying them on...and the cost factor led me to consider the Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0....which I ended up purchasing here and absolutely love! So, if you find Terraduro too wide/loose, consider the VR90 in the same size.

Would you say the VR90s are significantly narrower than the Terraduros? I find the Terraduros to be only a bit wide, and I'm trying to gauge if the VR90s are even an option.

I bet you'd be fine in the VR90 if the Terraduro is just a bit wide. I found the Terraduro had almost no real adjustment apart from the ratchet. Laces on the VR90 really do give quite a bit of precision adjustment.

Too narrow

  • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 48

Really wanted these to fit. I normally wear a Specialized 48. A 48 in the Giros felt really good at first, but I sat with it on for half an hour and then I felt like screaming. Too narrow. So sad.

Great shoes if they fit you

  • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 45

I tried these and really wanted them. Unfortunately, they are slightly too narrow for my feet. First, they are clearly well made. They come with an shoe bag, cleats and cleat wrench as well as the Giro standard interchangeable arch supports.
They look great and the laces feel great. I only wish they made this in an HV version like they do the code.
If you're worried about what to do with the laces, each shoes has an elastic lace holder on the tounge.
I can attest to how they ride but if they're anything like other Giro shoes, I'm sure they're great.

Far from perfect

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: Runs small

I really want to love these shoes, initially I was super impressed with the fit and stiffness. But I have run into a couple of issues, one is that these shoes run narrow. I sized down from an other pair of giro shoes that were too long and now my toes have the perfect amount of room but the sides of my feet get squeezed and fatigue on long descents. And secondly after my first long rainy ride in these shoes I realized that the cleat was slipping on the bottom of one of the shoes, this problem has repeated a couple of times even though I keep on realigning and tightening my cleats after every slip.

Fit is not a shoe problem...it's simply a poor marriage between the last and your foot. Fit is not something to be reviewed, as it's highly personal. Loc-tite will fix the other problem, which is pretty common.

Purple Power

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: 41.5

I got these to replace a pair of Sidi Dominator 5 Women's shoes, a little bit because I wanted a stiffer sole and a bit of rubber under the midfoot, and (let's be honest here), 99.5% because purple. The awesome thing about the VR90's though, is that with amazing form also comes badass functionality and comfort.

The sole is super stiff, which isn't always great for cross, but Giro did a fantastic job of rockering the lugs just enough that running in the VR90's feels surprisingly natural and comfortable. And the power transfer is ridiculous. I didn't think I'd be able to feel that much of a difference from the Sidis, but it was massively apparent, especially for short out-of-the-saddle climbs and sprints.

The Vibram rubber grips well, which is a huge plus compared to the plastic Sidi lugs. No more worrying about slipping out when dismounting/running/remounting on pavement or other hard packed surfaces. The rubber surfacing also spans under the midfoot, adding much needed grip for coasting before a dismount and minimizing losses if you miss a clip in after a remount.

The overall fit on these is just so, so comfy. These puppies were soft and comfortable from the first wear and continue to be the comfiest cycling shoes I've ever worn. The upper stretched a tiny bit during the first couple of rides - just enough to form to my foot and be even comfier, and has held its shape perfectly ever since.

Specific to sizing, I sized down from a 42 in Sidi to a 41.5 in Giro. They do fit narrow for a men's shoe (which is awesome for me), but the laces are so adjustable that these shoes should accommodate a pretty massive range of foot widths.

Purple Power

Do these stretch at all? I don't have a narrow foot, and I'm concerned about the width of the shoes. Also, I wear a 42 in Garneau mtn shoes. Is the size comparable?

NICKG, The shoes will stretch, but only marginally so, over the life of the shoe. A 42 in LG does equate to a 42 in Giro however. I don't have a particularly narrow foot either but I fit quite well in my Empires. The have a nice square toe box. I love mine. Call me direct with any other questions. 801-204-4557.

NICKG - To echo Ben, they do stretch just a little bit, over the first few wears in particular. More of a shaping to the contours of the foot than an overall loosening though. On width, I have narrow feet, but also have to crank on the laces to lock in the fit on these shoes - so they should easily fit feet much wider than mine.

Avg. ride time: 28m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Very slim fit; sizing 2 stars. Quality 5

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 42

I presently have the giro privateer shoes (not the HV). They fit like a glove the minute I put them on. I wanted something to replace my 3 yo shoes and thought these would fit well as it stayed in the giro family. Wrong. Very slim fit. I have 42 in all giro shoes (mult road shoes also in 42). The privateer were 42 also. These went on and felt wrong the moment I put them on. Too slim overall. I sat with them on while watching tv to see if I needed to just get use to them. No go. Never worked and have been sent back. I thought about moving up to 42.5 or 43 but I think it will be too long and still too narrow. I really wanted to like them as they are much nicer shoe than the privateer and much much lighter! Oh well, back to the privateer (I just hope they didn't change the sizing on that shoe with the new model). Just FYI; I rode sidi for 15 yrs and tried other brands from time to time but it was Giro that made me move from Heavy sidi's to Giro.

Great shoe

    The shoes are the most comfortable cycling shoe I've ever had by far. My guess is it's due to two things the lacing system provides a much better fit than the usual buckle and velcro and the upper is really supple. I'd love to switch over to the SLX for road shoes if they ever go on sale.

    Avg. ride time: 9h 4m per week
    • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

    Will Always Love Lace!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
    • Fit: True to size

    Admittedly I was skeptical of the laces. Laces? Really laces, like soccer cleats? It just didn't seem right for cycling shoes.

    The first ride in those shoes smothered all those doubts with a shockingly comfortable shoe that functioned equally as well.


    The material is soft and gentle to the touch, but stiff enough as to not lose any energy in your pedal stroked. Breathable when they need to be, insulating enough with a good pair of socks on the colder days. The laces allow for a custom like fit and if tied firmly the first time they hold up for the longer rides with ease. The Easton EC90 ACC carbon fiber is stiff and responsive for efficient power transfer, and the Giro insoles are far superior the flimsy insoles found with other brands.



    Overall his is a fantastic mountain bike shoe! You won't regret snagging a pair of these.

    Lightweight Comfort

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: Runs small
    • Size Bought: 42.5

    I have been riding the road version of this shoe over the past year and just picked up a pair of the VR90's to replace an aging pair of Shimano MTB shoes. These are so much lighter while still feeling stiff at the sole.
    Some have expressed concern over the apparent lack of ventilation compared to the meshes used in many cycling shoes. The material used is actually surprisingly breathable. The biggest departure from most cycling shoes (besides the laces) is the construction of the upper. It's flexibility makes these shoes incredibly comfy. It also allows for your feet to naturally swell a bit on a ride without getting uncomfortable.
    If you're considering the Giro lace-up shoes I would tell you to give them a try!

    I Love Lace

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: Runs small
    • Size Bought: 43.5

    One ride on these shoes and I am blown away. I've been riding Shimanos for the past four years and needed a change. These being lace were very attractive as I do not enjoy velcro straps and plastic buckles on my shoes. I had to up size to a 43.5, which is a 10 but normally would ride a 42.5 or a 43. They fit a little smaller compared to my Shimanos, but they are also narrower. If you want a slim fitting lightweight all mountain style shoe with laces check these out.

    I Love Lace
    Avg. ride time: 3h 1m per week
    • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

    Crazy light Ultra cool

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    Received shoes this week and was able to put them to the test immediately. These shoes are stupid light, so light that I was slightly hesitant that they weren't gong to hold up and give adequate power transfer. Not sure why I thought this but it doesn't matter because they really delivered on the first ride.
    Comfort level is awesome. It is just first week but they are quite unusual compared to my other cycling shoes. These are comfortable to walk in, have a good feel on the entire upper and I didn't have any issues with laces becoming loose or not giving me the secure feeling boa/buckles have given. I do have bone spur onto of right foot near big toe and I was able to slightly loosen laces in first two eyelets to provide the comfort I needed to bike 2 hours. I'm looking forward to a ride or race that I don't have a boa come undone or not tighten properly or velcro that's lost is ability to fasten.
    The sizing does seem slightly small. I have 45's in s-works and in my Specialized Comps and with these I ordered 45.5 based on what I had read in another review of the shoe. I have flat feet and I would consider avg width. These are probably not shoes for people with wide feet, they seem narrow.
    I will say that at $300 these better last this cross season and the next two or I will definitely change my rating. My s-works have 3 mtb & 3 cross seasons in them so I have a baseline for durability

    Essential.

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
    • Fit: True to size

    I have always liked silver cycling shoes, and I have often wanted a mountain bike shoe with a grippy Vibram sole, so when I saw the Empire VR90 I placed my order immediately. They have lived up to my expectations, and drawn a lot of compliments along the way! The one-piece microfiber upper and carbon-fiber insole are almost identical to the Empire road shoes, but the Vibram sole and toe bumper add just enough protection to keep them from getting trashed on the trail. The laces contour over the top in such a way that I don't think about my feet while I'm riding, aided by the adjustable arch support in the footbed. I have a narrow-to-medium size 10 1/2 foot. I followed Giro's size chart, and am getting a good fit from the size 44. I use a lacing trick called the "runner's lock" to get an extra-secure fit with the shoelaces (search for it online) The silver color grabs attention, and stays cool in the sun. In the Empire VR90, Giro has made a shoe that is as light and simple as possible, but is extremely well-executed.

    Essential.

    These shoes are amazing ...period !!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    Wow I love these shoes. Gave up on specialized boas have a set of sidis in 45. 45 in the giro fits perfect.



    The hot spot and indentation I used to have at the top of my foot post ride is now gone due to the way the laces snug the shoe down. I run my shoe fit right so this helps.



    There is a tiny bit of lace slip but I'm going to start double knotting and see if that helps. It's not enough to stop and re do but I do notice it.



    That's the only somewhat negative thing so far. I have about 700 km on them as I'm primarily using them on a cross bike.



    Very impressed really really like them.

    These shoes are amazing ...period !!
    Unanswered Question
    Avg. ride time: 3m per week
    • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

    Is the sizing the same as the normal Empire's? I'd love an SPD pair--