Giro Prolight Techlace cycling shoes review
The Prolight Techlace shoes are at the top of the Giro shoe hierarchy, boasting extremely low weight with comfort and stiffness to boot
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These shoes offer an incredibly comfortable fit, with a stiff sole and they represent the lightest that we're aware of on the market. So if you're looking to spash some cash on new season kicks, and are prepared to commit a bit of time to maintenance and keeping them clean, then these could well be the ones.
Stiff but rideable sole
Hard to keep clean
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We've long been impressed by Giro's cycling shoe range - the Techlace collection in particular, thanks to the Velcro/lace combination's ability to offer the best of both worlds.
The Prolight version is particularly special for its groundbreakingly minimalist approach which is heavily loaded with tech but feather weight on the scales.
Though perhaps not the most practical shoe choice out there, it's the forward thinking, boundary pushing approach Giro has taken here which dictates our decision to select these shoes for the 2018 Editor's Choice awards...
When the Giro Prolight Techlace first arrived on the scene, the brand had to scoop jaws from the floor at its Eurobike stand. To this day, they remain the ultimate in minimalism - our size 40 pair drops onto the scales at 152g with insoles and 138g without.
The 'Techlace revolution' was Giro's answer to a compromise that arose when laces came back into fashion. The joy of laces is that they offer multiple contact points, and thus can conform with perfection to the foot.
This approach is particular ideal for someone like myself - I've got narrow ankles and wide toes (a bit like a platypus), which means the ability to dial in fit down the length of the foot is important.
Laces are also generally more aerodynamically efficient and lighter, too. The downside is that they can't be adjusted on the fly, a problem compounded by the fact that they stretch when wet. Techlace combines a lace with Velcro, to solve the problem.
The lower end Factor and Factress models combine this with a dial, which keeps the fit tight at the top, whilst the Prolight is a lace/Velcro combo to save the grams.
The laces snap into place with ease, though I found that initially I had to pull them quite far over, leaving the tabs overhanging to create enough closure. The laces, though a tad fiddly to swap, are available in multiple lengths so this problem is easily solved.
Unlike other shoes in Giro's range, the Prolight's don't come in a women's variety, built around a female footlast designed from the statistically average XX chromosome foot, which apparently has a narrower heel and lower volume. However, I've worn Giro's 'men's' SLX shoes as well as its women's Factress model and they've all fitted fine, as do these.
As well as dropping the dial, there have been several other weight weenie focused decisions - the most notable being the use of an ultralight upper made with a technical monofilament mesh, combined with Teijin TPU welded reinforcement.
The most solid sections feel a bit like the material used on the iconic Ikea bag, whilst the even more breathable mesh sections aren't so far off a dense fishing net. The tongue and sides have a little light padding.
My concern was that the upper would simply be too flimsy, causing my feet to move around in the interest of saving grams. However, Giro has focused its efforts on making an upper that would not stretch under power. I found that movement only arose at the very top-end of effort, for example during standing start sprints on the turbo trainer, a situation when near any shoe will give a little.
The outersole of a shoe is a 'TeXtreme Advanced Concepts Composite Construction', which differs from the Easton carbon used throughout much of the range. The TeXtreme variety is woven in flat sheets, instead of threads - meaning less resin is required and thus weight is saved.
What I'd always loved about Giro's shoes is their ability to make soles that are solid as rocks, without being uncomfortable.
There's no change here with the new, lighter material which offers plenty of stiffness, but not to the extent you'd grimace at a full day pedalling in the Prolights. The soles use titanium hardware, just to cut every ounce possible.
Inside is an 'Ultralight SuperNatural Fit Kit', made up of ultralight footbeds and several arch support options. The support can be swapped and attaches cleanly with Velcro to ensure it stays put.
I've got my own custom moulded insoles, so didn't use these, but it's good to see the degree of arch support and personalisation taken into account - insoles that fit are just as crucial to performance as low weight, if not more so.
On an aesthetic note, quite obviously, these are not winter kicks - they're made for summer days, and I'm inclined to save them for track racing at the indoor velodrome only, though I'd be more lenient if I had them in one of the many available colours outside of white.
The Factor/Factress Techlace shoes have been a long term favourite of mine and are clearly more practical, but of course heavier (195g in a size 39), whilst the Prolights push the boundaries of what's possible, which is impressive. With the insole removed, the size 40 was only 138g.
Price is something we can't ignore - and these come in at a rather jaw dropping £349.99. They're not cheap, that's for sure. However, for someone who typically has one pair of 'race shoes' and one 'training shoe', the former is an important piece of kit and it needs to be right. You're paying for cutting edge in comfort and performance, and these are likely to stay at the top of the hierarchy for some time.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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