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Light on your feet just took on a whole new meaning.

At just 175 grams, the Giro Empire SLX shoes are breathing some pretty rarefied air. Not many shoes on the market come within 100 grams of the Empire, but it’s not giving up anything in terms of performance, either. The uppers are a single piece of Evofiber microfiber, which is highly breathable, but is also perforated for additional airflow. The shoe closes using just the laces you no doubt noticed, but those laces are specially designed to remain tied, and there’s also a lace garage on the tongue to ensure they don’t get anywhere near your drivetrain.

Those uppers are attached to an ultra-stiff Easton EC90 SLX2 Carbon Sole. This sole is among the stiffest available, and due to high grade of carbon fiber used in its construction, is also one of the slimmest, producing a stack height of just 6.5mm. A low stack height means less power lost to thick cleat plates. And, to make the Empire SLX even lighter, Giro’s opted for another old-school classic —Ti hardware. Between the uppers and the sole sits Giro’s lauded SuperNatural FitKit, the long name for its user-tunable footbed. These insoles have swappable arch support so you can tune the fit of your shoes precisely to your feet.

  • 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
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

Totes boss

    There is no substitute.

    Destined to be a classic

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

    Ultra-lightweight and fit like a custom cobbler made them
    The material is noticeably thinner and more comfortable than the ACC.

    Interesting concept, but...

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times
    • Fit: True to size
    • Size Bought: 39.5

    I really wanted to like these shoes (the colors are cool, retro) but concluded at the end that they're just not for me. Three issues : 1) they run narrow and just wouldn't adapt to my foot shape. 2) the cleat holes are too far forward. Other manufacturers of high end shoes are beginning to get the memo to move the holes back and have provided a degree of back and forth movement. These are fixed and I just couldn't get them to work for me. 3) The laces are a great idea but are, honestly, a pain. Giro provides an elastic strap to tuck them in but they still bounce around on the top of your shoes. After using them a few times, you start getting nostalgic for BOAs and velcro. So -- if you have wide feet, like your cleats back, and appreciate the convenience of modern fastening systems, move on.

    Comfortable for the long haul

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Out of the box, these shoes are weirdly light - like, what's missing to make them this light - light. Not being overly supplied in the intelligence department, I purchased these shoes (In Prince-Would-Be-Proud Purple) just before a century race and opted to use them. Fortunately, they fit PERFECTLY and were comfortable throughout a long day in the saddle. My only issue was the Speedplay cleats coming loose halfway through the event (my fault - I didn't use locktite!), which was remedied by an aid station tightening. These shoes are amazing, light, and amazingly light, and comfortable enough for long event use, out of the box.

    Magic slippers!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I have finally found my shoe! The Giro Empire is awesome. After years of buckles and wires, I now know that good old laces offer the comfort I was missing.

    The purple color? Well, it’s bright. If Backcountry/Competitive Cyclist ever has a contest for the least color coordinated customer, I win. But I don’t care. These shoes are exceptionally comfortable. By far the best I have worn in almost 40 years of cycling. I can look past the crazy color.

    These shoes are super light! They make my old trusty and crusty Lake 331’s feel like boat anchors.

    The carbon soles are very stiff and give you a very low stack height. The drilling on the soles allows you to move the cleat way back, if you want to go Steve Hogg style.

    The adjustable insoles are a nice touch. They work great and eliminate the costly mistake of buying an expensive pair of insoles that feel great when you first try them on but ruin your feet 20 miles into a ride.

    Overall, highly recommended!

    Also- A shout out to Gearhead Sarah S. for her help!!

    More lightness!

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    These things are so light! I've never owned a carbon road shoe so I don't have anything to base it on but it's like you're just wearing wearing socks and nothing else. The build quality is great and they breath really well.

    My one complaint is that the carbon on the sole is not protected in anyway. I live on the 3rd floor of my building so when I go for a ride I have to walk down stairs with them on. As a result the carbon on the arch of the shoe has become scuffed up. I've put a piece of tape on the arch of each shoe to avoid any further scuffing.

    I wear a 10/10.5 street shoe and a 45 fits perfectly.

    Light and stiff

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
    • Fit: Runs small
    • Size Bought: 44

    A great option if you are looking for a light shoes with a thing upper, not the most comfortable, but work well if you want something light with minimal flex. My only complaint is that the shoes laces are so long that i have to double knot them which makes it ake that much longer to get on and take off. Most shoes I wear are 43.5, these I needed a 44. so they are slightly small

    Great shoes

      These are very light and comfortable. Takes a little longer to get the shoes on and laced, but worth the effort. Great fit!


      • 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 !


      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

      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.

      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.


      • 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.