Giro’s Ruby Slippers
I’ve wanted to ride in some Giro shoes since I tried on a pair at a trade show a couple of years ago. Even though Giro had just entered the shoe biz, the show samples fit wonderfully, had impressive features, looked expertly made and were incredibly light
(which saves energy since shoes are rotating weight).
So, after Interbike this year, where I looked over their 2012 selection, I requested a pair and was happy to receive the Factors. Giro offers 10 models of road shoes from $99.99 to $349.99, literally something for everyone (off-road shoes, too). At $289.99,
the Factors lie second from the top in the hierarchy. There’s a women’s version called the Factress at the same price.
Efficient Easton EC90 soles
it’s a testament to Giro’s design and fabrication abilities that they were able to jump into the shoe game with both feet like this. But with Easton in their stable of brands they have the carbon composite technology to engineer stellar soles, which are
at the heart of the awesome lightness and pedaling efficiency of the Factors (Giro offers Easton soles on shoes down to the $224.99 price point).
The Factors’ Easton EC90 soles are a mere 6.5mm thick, which is so thin that you may have to lower your seat if you’ve been riding in thicker-soled shoes. It also lowers you and your center of gravity slightly, which can improve handling.
Yet, because these thin soles are composed of unidirectional carbon, you still feel all your energy going into every pedal stroke. If you’re riding in nylon-soled shoes, you should try carbon to see if you don’t notice a boost in power. Many riders do.
While stiff soles are desirable, you don’t want them too stiff or you could suffer pain, numbness, hot-foot, or all three. And That’s an added benefit of Giro’s design. The EC90s flex just enough so all I experience in these shoes is the satisfaction
of knowing that all my effort is fully invested in the pedal stroke.
Supple Teijin uppers
Complementing the impressive soles are uppers made of a new (at least to me) synthetic-leather microfiber material called Teijin. It has a supple glove-like feel and so far it has been supportive, comfortable and stretch-free.
It also has a tidy, stylish look with no wrinkles or loose bits or bad seams. I think expensive cycling shoes, like dress shoes, should look perfect, so I like that. And shoes made well like this hold up better in my experience, too, which is even more
important. There are also mesh panels above the toes to let the air in.
Secure triple-strap closures
For retention, the Factors feature a ratcheting micro-adjustable strap up top and two hook-and-loop straps lower on the shoe. The ratcheting mechanism allows minute tension adjustments and the buckle is easy to release (not the case with all buckles).
The lower straps are different widths so you have more pressure over the arch and less over your foot behind the toes where it needs room to bend. That nice attention to detail adds to the comfort.
But we’re only getting started with the features that make the Factors so comfortable. On the inside, there are split, padded tongues, supportive padded heel cups and the soles even have vents beneath the toes to let cooling air in.
Plus, the best feature is Giro’s SuperNatural Fit System. it’s composed of cycling-specific footbeds with small, medium and large arch supports so you can get a perfect fit. THere’s even a manual telling how to choose. The supports attach to a spot for
them on the bottom of the footbeds via hook-and-loop strips so they hold fast and can easily be changed to find the one that works.
For my high arches the large supports make for a custom fit. I believe They’re adding comfort and improving my pedaling efficiency, too, since my feet are less likely to move around inside the shoes. The footbeds themselves are made of the friction-fighting,
antimicrobial material X-static for even more comfort, and to help prevent odor. If you wear custom orthotics, Giro’s shoes are designed to accept them too.
Giro says that it took 16 tries to get their shoe just right. I’d say the fine custom fit and feel of the Factors was worth the effort. Plus, the combination of maximum pedaling efficiency, gossamer weight and footbeds with all sizes of arch supports
makes the Factors some of the most fully-featured road shoes going. I think you’llbe as impressed as I am if you try a pair.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.