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Giro Empire SLX Shoes
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Item # GIR005H

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Item # GIR005H

Description

Lightweight efficiency, simplified.

When the Empire shoes first debuted on the fashionable Phinney's feet, we admit that many of us were skeptical. Laces? On a cycling shoe? Surely Giro's gone too far. Now entering its third year, the Empire is proving to be more than a passing fad, and the new Empire SLX Shoes are sure to cement its place at the top of the industry's food chain. With a claimed weight of just 175 grams, the Empire SLX Shoes are around 100 grams lighter than most of their competitor's pro-level offerings, while still providing the power transfer and minimalist aesthetics demanded by pros like Phinney.

The Empire SLX's main upgrade from regular Empire models is Easton's EC90 SLX2 carbon outsole. The previous iteration of Empire soles has been plenty stiff enough for the kind of power output that guys like Phinney produce, and this one's no different. It's just lighter. And it includes titanium hardware to make it weigh even less. The lower the stack height, the closer the cleats, and thereby your feet, are to the pedals. This minimizes power loss that occurs with thicker cleat plates.

The SLXs are wrapped with the same, single piece of Evofiber microfiber used in the heavier Empire models. This fabric is exceptionally lightweight and highly breathable, featuring perforations for added cooling. This contributes not only to the sleek, minimalist profile, but it also reduces weight.

The big difference when comparing the Empires to any other pro-level shoes are the laces. It may seem regressive to put laces on cycling shoes of any level, but the logic actually bears out. Consider the typical pair of hook-and-loop straps with a ratcheting buckle, which contacts the uppers in three places. Now consider the Empire's old-school laces, which contact the uppers in seven places. Which do you think provides a more adjustable, molded-to-your-foot fit?

The Empire's inimitable fit is finished off with an adjustable SuperNatural Fit Kit. It allows you to fine-tune support to where your feet need it the most. Additionally, it was constructed with X-Static Antimicrobial fiber to keep odors and bacteria at bay.

  • Racing shoes that privilege style and stiffness
  • The same top-tier carbon sole ridden in the peloton
  • Microfiber uppers conform but don't stretch
  • Laces provide twice the contact points for better fit
  • Titanium cleat mounting hardware discreetly sheds grams
  • Customizable fit inserts feature anti-odor treatment

Tech Specs

Upper Material:
one-piece Evofiber SL
Closure:
lace
Footbed:
SuperNatural Fit Kit
Sole:
Easton EC90 SLX2 high-modulus carbon, titanium hardware
Cleat Compatibility:
3-hole road
Claimed Weight:
[size 42.5] 175g
Recommended Use:
road cycling
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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Comfortable

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

They run small so be sure to try on but they are comfortable!

Top Notch Road Shoes

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

Bought these as a alternative to the 2015 Specialized S-Works I've been using. Like them so much that I haven't worn the S-Works since. I'm a size 9.5 shoe, wore 43.5 for the S-Works and 43.0 for the Giros. The fit is perfect, especially after using the included inserts, resulting in fantastic power transfer. Soles are slim and stiff. Yes, laces are less convenient than dials but it's a small price to pay for their excellent performance.

Great Shoe! Give it time to break in!

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

As many have mentioned the shoe does run small depending on your foot. I had to go up an entire size. Also the shoe is narrow but it does stretch a little bit. The glowing red is more of an orange color in the sun but it still looks great!! I haven't had any issues with the laces, overall a great shoe!

Awesome & SO LIGHT

  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 39.5

SO surprised when I opened the box. I've been wearing the same tri shoes since forever......these are amazingly light.....HOWEVER THEY DO RUN SMALL !!!! My current tri shoes are Carnacs size 39 (I am a female who normally wears a 7/1/2 to 8 ladies). On hearing that these might run small I DID order up a half a size and got the 39.5, and even these are very tight. I'm sure I could have gotten the 40s and would have been ok (actually sitting here debating about whether or not I SHOULD send these back for the 40s)

Only gave 4 stars because of the ridiculous small sizing, otherwise I can't wait to wear them !

EDITED TO ADD:

I DID send them back for the size 40s. SO MUCH BETTER !!!!! IN LOVE with them. Backcountry was great about the exchange <3
Also I wasn't a fan of the bright yellow/orange so I took a permanent sharpie & made them ALL black ! Took out the laces & put lock laces in them too since I do triathlons. PERFECT !!

Awesome  & SO LIGHT

Great road shoe

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

This shoes is great and I purchased it after getting the mountain version about a year ago. It is ultra light and the finish is great. I found that the size runs a little small and needed to size up by one full size from 43 to 44. Other than that they were great and I would buy them again without question.

How is the room in the toe box narrow or wide? I have Sidi Ergo 2 and my toes get numb after 4 hours on the bike. Are these narrow like the Sidis?

They are a bit narrow, But I wouldn't say that they are ass narrow in the toe box. These are a bit shallower from the top of the inside of the shoe to the insole though. If you have questions or need suggestions, you can reach out to me at gcelentano@backcountry.com

Avg. ride time: 6h 15m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Get them. You won't be sorry.

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I used to have the Northwave Extreme Tech shoe, but in a crash I damaged the ratchet and strap. I looked around to see where I could get a replacement for those small parts...and could only find a online shop in Europe. Similar situation with my shoes before that, except the boa mechanism wore out and the part was obsolete and hard to find a replacement for. To heck with that!

I saw these SLXs on deep discount, read up on them, and swooped in before Competitive Cyclist could come to its senses. These really are fine shoes. If there was one gripe I had with the Northwaves was that on very long rides my feet would tire. These Empires come with arch supporting insoles. That, combined with the comfortable upper, made a huge difference.

Because of the laces, you can't tighten them while riding. But warm up for a few minutes, retighten, and it should be good. The laces themselves can be tucked under an elastic band to keep them from going where they shouldn't. Unlike expensive closure systems, with these shoes you need only replace laces. So something lost, something gained. But the benefits to me outweigh the drawbacks.

Something else interesting. The shoes are really smooth and narrow. A triathlete did wind tunnel testing with them and found the Empires to be 4 watts faster (12 watts at yaw) than another shoe with straps and ratchets. This also means that you can put on Velotoes shoe covers and not worry about straps poking through the rubber.

I have the original Giro Prolight SLX 43.5. Will these fit the same?

Fit?....Not quite. The Empire SLX are the lowest volume (not just narrow) of the whole line, lower volume than Giro empire by far and the prolight slx. But they have pretty good adjustibility because of the laces. No pressure points. Sizing however is the same.

Avg. ride time: 2h 12m per week
  • Average ride time is based on Strava activity over the last 3 months. Give your reviews credibility by connecting your account.

Got them today!

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 43.5

I was apprehensive about buying them due to sizing comments and not being able to try them on. Contacted the online chat and was told to size up at least 1/2 a size larger than my foot size. My size is 9 1/2 and I own Lakes 331s in 43.5 which corresponds to 9 1/2. Upon the recommendation I ordered 43.5 in Giro which corresponds to a size 10. They fit perfectly and you probably should size up by 1/2. The toes are not rubbing against the front and are simply perfect. I ordered the glowing red color which actually is a bright orange. The fit and finish is absolutely superb and the weight is like holding nothing compared to my Lakes. They are simply beautiful. After taking a short 20 mile ride I still need to make some adjustments to the position of the cleats as they seem to be more far back than Lakes. The laces do take a bit longer to lace compared to boas but it is not an issue for me. The shoe really hugs your foot and does not feel like a road shoe at all more like a slipper of some sorts. Obviously it is too early to tell about their durability but I am very very impressed by the quality so far. The shoe itself is quite narrow so if you have wide feet you may reconsider. Also you must size up by at least 1/2. I would like to thank the online assistant for letting me know about the sizing and offering a free return in case they don't fit. I usually purchase my bicycling stuff from competitive cyclist but the price as well as free 2 day delivery was not being offered at you sister site. Very happy with the purchase and experience from backcountry. You guys rock!

Great shoe for narrow feet.

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: True to size
  • Size Bought: EU 45

This is more unstructured rambling than a conherent review...

I purchased a white pair of EU45 Empire SLX shoes in August of 2015 and have used them as my primary cycling shoe until last week. In the spirit of full disclosure, it's because the upper on my left shoe is coming unglued from the carbon outsole. It's a very small bit of separation, and I've temporarily mended it with Krazy Glue... I don't baby my shoes at all, so I'm inclined to believe this is an isolated case.

In terms of sizing, I typically wear US 10.5 dress shoes or US 11/11.5 athletic shoes. My feet are 273mm (10.7") long and 99mm (3.9") wide. This translates well to the Empire SLX in EU 45 sizing with a little less than a centimeter between my big toe and the end of the toebox. In many other brands like Shimano, fi'zi:k and Gaerne I usually go with EU 44.5. I have to wear 44 in Bontrager.

The overall fit is very good. With laces I can leave the forefoot/toebox a little looser while still getting the midfoot and heel nice and tight. This is somewhat necessary because the upper is very flexible. When I bought my shoes, they came with one pair of plain footbeds and also one pair of their SuperNatural footbeds with adjustable arch support. Both are a bit too thin for my tastes. I use fully custom orthotics with my shoes, but would settle for Specialized Body Geometry SL footbeds as an off-the-shelf option. The last on the Empire SLX is very flat otherwise.

Another thing I like about the Empires is how far back cleats can be mounted. I generally like my pedal spindles to be almost a centimeter behind the balls of my feet and this isn't possible with some shoes without adapters.

In terms of accessories, the shoes came with a fancy zippered, rectangular shoe bag, one extra pair of black laces, the SuperNatural footbeds and low profile titanium cleat bolts. The black laces were appreciated because eventually my white laces started to look a bit disgusting. After 1.5 years, my white shoes have yellowed a tiny bit. It's only noticeable when the shoes are placed next to something else truly white.

Performancewise, the outsole seemed plenty stiff. I don't think I'd be able to tell a difference between the stiffness of most high-end cycling shoes. All I know is that my power comes easiest in a shoe that fits. Ventilation is good, but my feet usually aren't bothered by feeling a little hot anyway. The shoes are very easily to wipe clean of grime and grease. And yeah these shoes are very light and that's something I did notice right away.

Would I go back to these shoes? Yes, definitely. I know they work well with my feet. It's just a matter of convenience and wanting to switch things up a bit. One weird thing I learned recently while shoe shopping is that the Giro Factor Techlace feels larger despite being built on the same last.

WOW!

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

The other reviewers pretty much nailed it: this is a REALLY comfortable shoe. Get them, you won't regret it! I used them for several training sessions on the trainer to get the cleats positioned and then wore them on a 2.5 hour ride yesterday. I thought my other shoes (Pearl Izumi Race Road IV) were comfy but these fit like a glove. The Pearl have BOA with a toe velcro strap yet feel loose by comparison. A few thoughts:
(1) Sizing is maybe 0.5 small if you go by the chart. My feet measure just under 11 1/2 on the metal gauge at a shoe store, which would be 45.5 according to the chart here. I got them in both 45.5 and 46.0. My toes just brushed the ends of the 45.5's, so I kept the 46's. I have needed 46.0's for various Pearls, so maybe it's a cycling shoe thing.
(2) Couldn't see the point of the included set of arch support insoles until I tried them, and boy do they make my feet feel at home! The medium ones work for me.
(3) The laces cleverly "stick" just enough that they don't loosen as you are doing them up. I leave the lower ones slightly loose for extra room in the toe box, and make the upper ones slightly tighter. Double knot the loops and they won't loosen as you ride.
(4) The material is thin and has lots of holes, which is great on hot days, not so much in chilly conditions. Yesterday was only mid-50's yet my toes got a bit cold. So with these shoes you may want shoe covers at temperatures where you would not need them with other cycling shoes.
The only problem with these shoes is that you have to figure out what you will do with the shoes you had before (assuming they are not worn out yet).

FYI, if your shoelaces on any shoe often untie themselves, it's because you've been tying the wrong knot all this time. Are your laces sitting vertically instead horizontally. If so, you've tied a "granny knot." The fix is reversing your starting knot so instead of left-over-right, you start right-over-left or vice-versa.

I was getting toe cramps on some longer rides, sometimes one foot, sometimes the other. So I tried replacing the medium arch support wedges with the high ones. Problem gone, and my feet feel even more comfortable. Saw a video about fitting that suggested that toe cramps might also be related to cleat placement. Moving them back shortens the lever arm of the foot and can reduce the impulse to clench the toes for better "grip". So if the problem resurfaces I may try moving the cleats.

Empire Heaven

  • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 43.5

So far I have taken the Empire SLX's on one 30 mile ride with plenty of climbing and wow, these shoes are amazing! I wear a 42 in Fizik and had to size up to a 43.5 in these due to the toebox being significantly narrower than my previous shoes. This meant that I had to return the first pair but thanks to Competitive Cyclist's excellent customer service, they hooked me up with a new pair right away. The shoes are extremely light, stiff, and as comfortable as everyone says. It does indeed take a little longer to get the initial fit right with the laces (obviously) but I liked the process of getting them just right before setting off anyways it's a bit like shooting film as opposed to point and shoot digital photos. The material of the uppers were flexible enough to form to my feet right away but structured enough to keep my heels locked in during standing efforts.
I also utilized the Supernatural Fit Kit as my feet have a prolonged arch, and the small insert was perfect.

If you want to ride in high performance, high class cycling shoes, look no further, your glass slipper awaits.

Back To The Future

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 45

Having used lace up road shoes as my first experience with cycling specific shoes in 1985, I never fathomed that fastening systems would come full circle. The biggest advantage to a lace up system, other than lighter weight, virtually no wear, easily serviceable, is the adaptation to a variety of foot shapes. That, along with the incredibly light Evofiber microfiber upper material, which features a single, non-stitched and perforated upper. All this is attached to the new EC90 SLX2 carbon outsole that use titanium cleat mounting hardware, which is stiff and light enough for even World Tour level riders.
Given that I have ridden in an Italian brand for the past 7 seasons and have always taken a size 44, I moved up a full size and gained toe box volume without compromising the rest of the fit in terms of snugness.
One side note on the overall minimalist design is that shoe covers are much easier to step into and out of without any fastening devices on the side of the shoe to snag, especially oversock styles.
I haven't had issues in lacing the shoes on and off. It may take a few moments more, but it's not any more time consuming or annoying.
Overall I'm very pleased with the fit, style and lightweight minimalist design of the new Giro Empire SLX.

Best pair of shoes yet

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

I've owned a lot of road shoes over the years - Shimano, Diadora, Lake, Sidi, Northwave, Giro Prolight SLX and Empire - these are the best hands down. Super light but amazingly stiff, the upper material has been improved dramatically over the first version of the Empire, the soles are much stiffer than the Prolight, all in all a great shoe. Sure it takes a couple seconds more to tie laces than velcro or buckles but the fit is great and there are no parts to break in a crash.

Great Shoe - Very Pleased

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 48

Long time Sidi Ergo user. Wanted to try something a bit more comfortable but still with a stiff sole. Giro SLX delivers. Very light weight, very comfortable. Super stiff sole, super comfortable uppers. Little to no break in required. Zero hot spots, zero discomfort after 5 hours in the saddle. 400+ miles of riding since purchase, happier every time I ride them. Easy to get a good fit and a maintain/adjust on the road. Typically a quick re-tie on a regroup is all that is necessary if a loosening occurs during the ride. They do tend to run a bit small. I needed to size up a full size (47 to 48) to achieve the fit I found comfortable.

Very nice

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times
  • Fit: Runs small
  • Size Bought: 46

I purchased these because I wanted something more comfortable. I have some Bontrager XXX's and the two ratchet straps were just to much localized pressure for my feet. Also, they never really fit my foot; I have a low volume foot and had to wear thick socks. I wore a 45 in Bontrager and the SLX are 46's. The SLX's fit my foot like a glove. The lacing system is extremely comfortable (to me). Another feature is that the bolt holes are a tad further back then some manufacturers, and I like that. Shoes are so subjective. They are very stiff, as most are in this price range. Have tried several shoes and these are by far the most comfortable. I don't care if they come a little bit loose after an hour or so. Does that really matter? I'm not a pro. Very satisfied.

Pleased overall

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've got around 300 miles on these now and they truly are VERY light and comfortable. The lacing system does a very nice job of distributing pressure evenly and providing a sound fit. My only complaint is that they do loosen up a bit as you ride and of course can't be adjusted on the fly (at least not by me). The loosening is minimal and I have stopped and re-tied them but if you're racing or just like to adjust the tightness of your shoes on the bike these may not be for you. Would have rated them 5 stars otherwise. I doubt I ever use them to race but for training and day to day riding I think they're fantastic. Regarding the comments about taking them on and off I actually enjoy lacing them up, and if you can unlace a regular pair of shoes I don't think you'll have too much trouble taking them off even after the hardest of rides. I have the white and for what its worth they look extremely sharp...

Too much fuss

  • Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

This seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality tying up a cycling shoe is just too much fuss. I tried one shoe on after receiving and knew in an instant this was not for me. I would imagine with practice one would be able to get the routine down, but I believe it would take a lot of time and practice. I returned these after slipping on a single shoe. BTW, the color is much more orange than red - it's not very striking.

Not a fan of laces

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I heard good reviews from the knowledgeable staff at my store as well as a friend I ride with. After riding on them 3x per week for about a month, I just can't get the laces to tighten in the same way that buckles do, they are mostly a little too loose. I like room to breathe in the lower section of the shoe and a snug fit up top, and it's hard to get that just right with laces compared to buckles. The end result is that I have to tie them a few times to get it right before riding, and with everything else I'm preparing (air in the tires, bottles, etc), it's not worth messing with.

The other side is that after a grueling ride or any ride, you just to get home and get undressed, and the extra few seconds of getting out is annoying.

The shoes are extremely light, it's a noticeable difference from anything else, and they are very high quality.

Great for what they are

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I wanted a light, comfortable shoe and that is what these are. The weight is unreal! So light! They basically give you free watts over any other shoe. I have narrow feet and the fit is great. I almost wish there was a little more room in the toe box though just for more room for your foot to spread under pressure. That being said, I haven't had any soreness issues even on 4+ hour rides with lots of climbing. The fit is very secure and holds your foot very well. The laces do make it take a little longer to get these on vs a buckle or wire, but that is a minor annoyance. For me, I have to tie them very tight to get them where I want them during the ride. The laces really do make them fit like a glove, all the way up and down your foot. If you like a little room in the toe box, these probably won't be your favorite. Also, if you're a big powerful sprinter, these probably aren't your best choice. I sometimes wish I could get the very top of the shoe a little more snug like I could with a ratcheting buckle, but still it's not like my foot is sloshing around. I think these would be awesome with a boa system personally, so we'll see where they go with them. I've seen many pros in the Tour riding them, so that tells you something too. Overall, they met my expectations. If you're a climber with narrow feet, I think these are perfect.