Giro’s much-lauded Empire SLX has long been a favorite of ours. It’s reasonably light, stiff af, real darn pretty looking (or not). I also gave the even lighter Prolight a try, but as much as we enjoyed it I always deferred to the Empires on most days.
The Empires haven’t really changed much since its 2012 debut. It doesn’t need to, but the Santa Cruz firm is ready for its next flagship: The Imperial.
Giro calls the Imperial “professional-grade” road cycling shoes. Okay that just reminded me of those GMC commercials and thank goodness for not dropping the phrase “mil-spec” into the copy. But I get it, it’s made for them pros, and also the rest of us mere mortals.
At a glance, the biggest difference is the new upper material and the lack of shoelaces. The upper uses what Giro calls Synchwire SLX that features an ultralight monofilament mesh with welded film of strategically-placed Teijin TPU reinforcement and bears much resemblance to the airy upper of the Prolight.
Secondly, the shoelaces are gone and have been replaced by two BOA IP1 dials. I really liked the shoelaces, but I also dreaded those instances in which I needed to stop to readjust my shoes too.
Moving on down, Giro brings back the same adjustable Supernatural footbed and Easton EC90SLX2 cabin plate with replaceable heel pads on stainless steel hardware. At a claimed 215 grams in size 42.5, the $425 Imperial is about 40 grams heavier than the current Empire SLX.
If you are a diehard shoelace fan, the same shoe, minus the dual BOA dials, will also be available as the new $325 Empire SLX. At 185g (sizes 42.5), it is also lighter than the Imperial and only 10 grams heavier than its previous edition. Both the Imperial and the new Empire SLX are available today and stay tuned for our review.