Giro has just announced a new road shoe, called the Imperial. Before you cry foul because it’s not a triathlon-specific shoe, it should be made clear that road cycling shoes can work great for tri, especially as the distances get longer. Many long-course athletes are wise in choosing a road shoe, which often provides a bit of extra comfort and security at the expense of a few seconds spent getting the shoes fastened and adjusted. Giro has dabbled in the tri shoe market before, with the Inciter model still available on closeout in a few stores.
The Imperial is targeted as the new “everyday” high-end shoe from Giro. They were clear that it’s not a quiver shoe – as in, this isn’t an uber-super-light shoe that’s only meant for race day. Giro dipped their toes into the ultralight scene already with the 150g Prolight Techlace, which (by their own admission) sacrificed some comfort and functionality to save every last gram. The Imperial is still very lightweight at 215 grams per shoe in size 42.5, but it adds back practical features like replaceable walking pads with stainless hardware. For most of you reading this, it’s the right type of shoe for your day-to-day needs.
On to the nuts and bolts of the Imperial. It uses a unique construction for the upper, called Synchwire (seen above). According to Giro, this is a one-piece, 3-layer composite construction that eliminates stitching, has superior ventilation, and is light weight because it is slim and lacks extra reinforcements.
The upper gets locked down with a twin-Boa IP1 micro-adjustable closure. This has “double-double” lace routing with soft lace guides, which eliminates the need for any forefoot straps.
As for the lower half of the shoe, it combines Giro’s Super Natural Fit Footbed system with an Easton EC90 SLX2 carbon outsole, to keep your feet comfortable and the shoe’s weight low. Three sets of arch supports are included with each pair of shoes, to dial in your preferred level of support.
On the sizing front, there are whole sizes from 39 to 48, with half sizes from 42.5 to 45.5. While Giro offers wider sizes in some shoes (HV, or High Volume), it’s unfortunately not available for the Imperial... perhaps unless enough of you make your voices heard.
The Imperial is available immediately from Giro dealers for $425. In the coming week, we’ll also feature an interview with Eric Horton, Director of Design at Giro. He'll give us more backstory behind their shoes, and discuss the state of cycling shoes in general. How does one choose between BOA and lace-up? Do we all want the stiffest soles possible, or something with a little give? What’s on the horizon for shoes, and how far can the tech story go? Do triathletes really want or need road shoes? Stay tuned for these and other insights.