Review: Giro Women’s Empire ACC cycling shoe
I’m not normally one to adhere to stereotypes, but I’m a woman who just loves shoes! But not just any old shoes; I couldn’t care less about tottering about in an agonising pair of Jimmy Choo stilettoes. No, what I like are fancy pants cycling shoes with carbon soles.
When I saw the beautiful shiny patent leather Giro Women’s Empire ACC cycling shoes, I just had to have them. Yes, they’re eye-wateringly expensive – £249.99 at full price (hint: you can find them discounted online) but they are the best looking women’s road shoes I’ve ever seen. But aside from their serious good looks, are they worth the money?
Well firstly, I can’t say I truly believe that a pair of cycling kicks really needs to be quite so expensive, but they’re on a par with other high-end shoes. Not that that means I agree with the price of any of the other ones either, but you know, cycling stuff costs a fortune.
Fortunately, the shoes actually are amazing. The lacing system (which raised eyebrows when first released as it seemed retro) allows you to adjust the fit of the shoe exactly where you need to, as apposed to say, a Boa system that just tightens the shoe all over. They take slightly longer to take off than shoes with Velcro straps but that’s fine by me because the fit is better and they looks way cooler. There’s a small elastic strap to tuck the ends of your laces under so that they don’t come undone and get tangled in your chain.
They’re incredibly light (210g!!!) and despite looking like patent leather, are actually made of a synthetic composite fabric called Evofiber. The fabric dries quickly and offers a degree of breathability, which is helped by some perforations for ventilation. I’ve been wearing these shoes for about eight months now and the material has held its shape extremely well with no baggy areas.
Photo: Ginger Beard Photo
Overall, the shape of the women’s specific last is on the slim side, so those of you who prefer a room toe box might be out of luck, ditto folks with broad feet. The shoes also come up crazily small, so make sure you order a size (or even two) up from your regular shoe size.
To customise the fit to the shape of your feet, the shoes are supplied with three different arch supports, which you attach to the underside of the insoles and this really makes a difference in terms of both comfort and performance.
The soles are full carbon Easton EC90 ACC, which are pleasingly stiff and light. Obviously the stiffness means all the power you generate is transferred right into the bike via the pedals. Despite the rigidity of the sole, the shoe felt comfortable underfoot with no hot spots. Underneath, you’ve the standard three-hole pattern for attaching road cleats plus a replaceable heel piece.
The photos below show the shoes after 8 months of heavy use.
The shoes are supplied in a good quality zippered shoe bag and with a contrasting pair of laces. As you can see in the photos, I bought a different pair of laces to switch things up a bit and it’s nice being able to (girl alert!) …. match them to your outfit.
In conclusion, yes, the shoes are expensive but they’re carbon soled, of excellent quality, haven’t deteriorated with use and look absolutely amazing. I love them.