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Giro Empire SLX review: Are laces better than a BOA dial?

Cofidis' Spanish rider Ion Izaguirre Insausti cycles in a lone breakaway in the final ascent of the Col de la Croix Rosier during the 12th stage of the 110th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 169 km between Roanne and Belleville-en-Beaujolais, in central-eastern France, on July 13, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

The Giro Empire SLX is an anomaly in the cycling world. While most shoes have been on the market for a matter of months, the basic silhouette of the Empire has been making appearances since 2012. At the time, Taylor Phinney was a rising star with a quirky style. He was also looking for a shoe sponsor and had the credibility to get Giro to make something. At his request, the brand put together shoes reminiscent of the Nike Mercurial Vapor soccer/football shoe for ease of covering during a time trial. At the time of that initial production, there was no plan for a commercial release. Then Phinney crashed a couple of times.  

Tech Specs: Giro Empire SLX

Price: $375 / £329.95

Sizes: 39-48 with half sizes available for 42-44

Weight: 212g per side, Size 44

Colours: Black Yasuda, Carbon Black, Crystal White, or Iceberg

Actually, the shoes got attention first when Phinney was the fastest in the 2012 Giro d’Italia prologue while wearing them. Then when he crashed and destroyed the buckle on a shoe in stage 1, he continued to use the prototype Giro shoes. In stage 3, Phinney crashed again. This time he was wearing what would become the Giro Empire and photographs of his taped up foot partially stuffed into a laced up shoe were suddenly plastered everywhere. Because of the notoriety, Giro decided to bring the Empire to market in 2013. 

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