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.
Six years later, in 2019, Giro again launched an Empire but this time it was the SLX. The two shoes are similar but not exactly the same. Three years later though, there’s been no significant changes at all. The word is you can thank the pandemic but it doesn’t much matter. The Giro Empire SLX is practically ancient in cycling’s fast-moving ecosystem yet we have them occupying a prominent spot in our best cycling shoes buyers guide. If you are looking for a new pair of cycling shoes, keep reading to see why the Giro Empire SLX continues to be relevant all these years later.
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Design and aesthetics
The Giro Empire SLX might be unique for the longevity of the platform but there’s a lot more to it. Before getting too far though, it’s always worth defining what we are talking about. The original laced Giro shoe wasn’t…