If you're after the latest technological advancements in shoe wear, then other top-end models from Shimano or Specialized may be more tempting. But for me, these chic shoes are a timeless classic in what is a competitive cycling shoe market, and are more than suitable for my riding. Just be careful not to fall foul of the the snug fit which is better suited to narrow feet.
Very good looking
Laces are comfortable
Sizing comes up small – try before you buy!
Narrow fit can pinch feet
In my opinion, the Giro Empire ACC are some of the classiest looking cycling shoes on the market and that's quite a statement, especially when they're up against the likes of the Giro Empire SLX and the Specialized S-Works 7, to name but a few.
They're a little bit older now than some of their Giro siblings, and don't feature the same lightweight uppers and sophisticated venting as the Giro Factor and ProLight shoes. Most notably, the Giro Empire ACCs also forgo the Boa dials that are common place on other high-end cycling shoes such as the S-Works 7s or the Shimano S-Phyres. Instead Giro opts for the more chic laces and it's this blast from the past that undeniably gives the shoes their cool retro look, but their fit won't be for everyone; especially if you like to really ratchet up the tension or ride like Mark Cavendish.
But in their defence, I find laces to be more comfortable than Boa dials. In particular, they give a more even spread of tension and avoid hotspots from the wires across the top of the foot. What's more, when I ride in shoes with a Boa dial I tend to ratchet the tension too high and have to ease it off after about 10kms. For the most part I find laces prevent this, but it is worth bearing in mind that they're not adjustable on-the-fly.
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The Giro Empire ACCs have a narrow fit, and I find I have to go up one size to a 44. Even so, I find the Empire ACCs can, depending on how I've tightened the laces, have a pinch point on my right foot where my little toe sticks out. This can usually be solved by re-adjusting the laces and letting the upper have a bit more slack. I highly recommend trying before buying if you can.
For these reasons, if it was a competition of comfort between the ACC and the Shimano S-Phyres, the S-Phyres would win. I find their upper more supple and easier going on the feet, even if they don't use laces.
The Giro Empires are finished off with a stiff Easton carbon sole which does a good job of matching the shoes' style with performance. Admittedly, I did find it less stiff than the sole of the Specialized S-Works 7, but that's not a bad thing, and I found the shoe more comfortable because of it.
The Giro Empire ACCs retail at £249.99, although they can often be found for much cheaper. As it is, they significantly undercut the Shimano S-Phyres and Specialized S-Works 7s which both nudge north of £300, although it's possible to argue it's because they're more technologically advanced.
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