Friday, September 11, 2015

Review: Giro Factor Cycling Shoes

 Another item that works so well for me that I'm actually looking for my third pair at the moment.

Shoes are such a crucial element in cycling. I'm constantly reminded of the issues that poorly-suited shoes present from the comments of the people I ride with. "Hot spots", aching arches and pinched toes are just a few of the more obvious issues one can have when your poorly-fitting footwear plays such a critical role in transferring your energy into forward momentum.

Again, I've been lucky. Call it a gut-feeling perhaps, but having had positive experiences with all the carbon bits and pieces that the company Easton produces (I use bars, wheels, stems and seat posts made from the stuff), when the helmet-producing giant Giro came out with a range of cycling footwear using soles made from Easton's EC90 carbon, something resonated with me.

Sizing is pretty accurate in the Giro footwear range, with European sizes in 0.5 increments. There are also 3 different thicknesses of arch support inserted beneath the insole, so you can get pretty anal with fit.

My choice was the Factor model, rather than the lighter Prolight, entirely because I prefer the adjustable ratchet-buckle thing over the triple velcrose straps. I tend to generally find myself tightening the shoes after an hour or so of riding. I'm not exactly sure why, but I assume that the blood displacement in my working legs means that my feet actually shrink once I'm into my stride. Anyway I hate the feeling of loosely fitting shoes, so being able to tighten on the fly is a worthy feature.

The shoe fits fairly snugly. I worried initially that it was too snug and that I would start to feel pressure points while riding, but none appeared. It really fits my, fairly wide, foot very accurately (they do also have an even wider version labeled HV - high volume). I tried using the fatter arch support pads, but in the end the thinnest ones work for me. It is often recommended that one uses shoes with a bit more room on longer rides, but I do rides of over 200km in these quite regularly, and I've never had foot issues.

The shoe is very light, despite the fact that there are lighter ones in the range. The Easton sole is super light and stiff of course, and transfer of power is excellent. The padding has never caused any friction with my foot. The leather lip did initially rub the front of my upper foot, but that went as soon as the leather got worn in a little. I suppose if there was one thing I'd change it would be that the shoe closure finished a couple of millimeters lower down, but that's just for my anatomy.

They have suffered some serious deluges in their lifetime,  but thanks to the drainage hole in the sole, they don't stay waterlogged while on your feet, and they dry out fairly quickly once you take them off. The pads on the heels - for the aid of walking - don't last long, and I believe you can get replacements, but a bit of glue can work wonders, and it's hardly a primary concern. The first ones I bought around 4 years back are still going strong after a good 20,000+ kilometers.

Price-wise they're not exactly cheap, but then they aren't the most expensive either, and in this case the outlay is entirely justified since they do exactly what they're supposed to, and just keep on doing it.

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