Giro unveiled the Empire SLX, a lace-up road shoe that weighs a slipper-like 175g per shoe, at a presentation given to journalists and bike dealers in Harrogate the evening before the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
The SLX is the follow-up to Giro’s Empire ACC, which last year reintroduced laces (high-tech laces, mind) on road shoes. The 175g SLX is based on a shoe size of 42.5 and is approaching the lightness of shoes such as the Bont Zero+.
The Harrogate presentation was led by Simon Fisher, Giro’s shoe product manager. He has been with Giro since 1992, originally crafting helmets with company founder Jim Gentes. Fisher said Giro would not be ditching ratchet, buckle and other road shoe closure systems but that for the new line laces offered comfort and performance benefits. He said that feet can be divided into two types: elongated “trout” feet and squat, bumpier “hobbit” feet. Most pro riders have fish feet, said Fisher. Both feet shapes are best accommodated with lace closures, he said. They may look like ordinary laces but these are £249/$350/€300 shoes so, naturally, they’re not run-of-the-mill laces they're KDL Techno Laces. Originally developed for elite-level football boots, KDL Techno Laces are said to hold knots securely, resist stretching, and are lightweight (like laces are ever heavy?).
The Empire SLX has Easton EC90 SLXII carbon outsoles with a 6.5mm stack height. To shave off even more weight there are titanium bolts in the replaceable heel pads. The shoe also features a Teijin Evofiber SL one-piece upper to allow heat and moisture to escape without relying on mesh cut-outs.
Fisher said an Empire SLX mountain bike shoe is also in development.