The hardest thing to decide when you're eyeing Giro's VR90 shoes is what color to go with. We'd like to make an argument for the EMPIRE VR90 Arte Sempre Cycling Shoe for two reasons. One, they're reflective so you're almost getting two colors in one depending on how the light hits them. Two, feet moving around at 90rpm are great items to have reflective shoes on if you want to get noticed. The dark shadow becomes a serious flash of silver when the light hits them and they still have all the standard features that make the Empire VR90's some of our favorite off-road shoes. As for the other highlights on the shoe, Arte Sempre translates into Art Always and was founded in Mill Valley, California in 2010 as an aim to make art accessible on products that are used in the field by its creators. These functional accessories use pattern work that originates and represents a global unity through art, mashing textiles inspired by eclectic cultures, to show the connective power of art.
Giro is mostly responsible for the lace-up renaissance in cycling shoes and this closure system allows for seven points of adjustability for a comfy, near-custom fit. The shoes also include Giro's SuperNatural Fit Kit, which is a series of three arch support options that let you further fine tune the feel. In a small yet important attention to detail, an integrated lace keeper holds laces in place to ensure no impromptu chain snags or floppy laces.
Giro crafts the Empires as a one-piece upper made from soft, breathable Evofiber with perforations allowing for cooling ventilation when temps and humidity hover around triple-digits. This material melds to your foot's shape for an exceptionally comfortable fit while resisting stretch and loss of shape over time. This results in a comfortable pair of shoes with a constant fit that feels great on hour-long dawn-patrol missions before work or weekend death marches alike. The stylish finish also cleans up quickly after a particularly muddy 'cross race or dusty mid-week short track.
Down below, Giro relies on the ultralight and ultra-stiff Easton EC90 carbon fiber sole with its low 6.5mm stack height for efficient power transfer. Providing a positive foothold over rugged hike-a-bikes or between the barriers, Giro finishes the sole with a Vibram rubber lug outsole and a Mid-Foot Scuff Guard. The two provide solid grip whether you're climbing an endless staircase of water bars and roots or providing temporary purchase on the pedal as you ready for the planks or miss the clip in when the gun fires. For muddy conditions, you'll appreciate that the shoes include toe spikes for extra traction when you really need to dig in.
The Giro EMPIRE VR90 Arte Sempre Cycling Shoe comes packaged with two sets of laces, four steel toe spikes, SuperNatural arch inserts, and a zippered Giro shoe bag for storage and transport.
- A light, stiff, and comfortable shoe for trail, gravel, and CX
- Stiff carbon sole from Easton for efficient power transfer
- Vibram lugs provide traction on run-ups and hike-a-bikes
- Toe spike mounts for traction in the mud
- Synthetic upper breaks in versus breaking down
- Lace-up closure provides great function and fit
- A limited collaboration between Giro and Arte Sempre