Having announced a move into the footwear market toward the end of summer last year, Giro’s shoe line is now hitting shelves. Mark Sutton asks brand manager Oliver Collins what the manufacturer, in partnership with Easton, is bringing to the floor that others haven’t before…
Tell us a little bit about your partnership with Easton on this project:
When we first considered performance footwear, one of things that made the category so compelling was the fact that we had the engineering depth and resources to truly innovate the entire shoe – from top to bottom.
By combining Giro’s reputation for fit and design, with Easton’s engineering power and knowledge of materials, we felt that we had something that no other brand could offer.
Tell us what propriety technology has been introduced to the shoe line?
We spent approximately 18 months developing our own fit last, including the basic form that defines how the shoe looks and feels. Nobody else does this.
Further to this, we’re using Teijin microfibre from Japan in our premium model uppers. The Prolight uses an exclusive material that offers incredible suppleness and strength, without any significant compromise in feel or durability.
Our outsoles are completely proprietary, having been developed in-house with Easton’s engineering and testing team to optimise weight, stiffness, and comfort. The unique ‘flat top’ profile doesn’t wrap up against the foot, which allows the shoe upper to conform to the foot without binding or discomfort.
The Prolight SLX also features full titanium hardware, including the strap ‘D’ rings and cleat mounting hardware, to maximise weight savings.
What obstacles did Giro’s developers hit during the two-year timeline and how were these overcome?
Developing the fit was a massive undertaking and we learned a lot. You’d be surprised at the difference 1mm can make when it comes to fit and comfort.
The level of detail needed to execute a high-performance shoe is amazing. Literally every detail makes a noticeable difference in the final outcome. From stitching tolerances, to the outsole curvature, to how long a shoe is allowed to form on the last – they all matter.
Are there currently any plans to expand past seven models, or further into other categories of cycling footwear?
We can’t tell you everything. However, our approach to helmets allows us to support many different types of retailers and riders and we believe that every cyclist should have access to the best products possible. That perspective is always present in our thinking.
Will Giro remain focused on the performance end of the market, or could we see a sub-£100 shoe eventually?
If there is a meaningful opportunity to create a better product, we will always consider it, regardless of where it fits in a retailer’s line. While Giro has a reputation for supplying high-performance products, we don’t limit ourselves to the high-end. The high-end is just a guide to consider what is possible.
Which athletes and teams have helped in developing the line?
We have more than 100 riders who are currently providing feedback on Giro footwear, with Levi Leipheimer probably being the most well known. The roster includes amateur mountain bikers, commuters, road riders, multi-sport athletes, and so on.
Are there women’s specific products as yet?
Currently there are two models specific to women: the Sica (MTB) and the Espada (road). Both of these were developed with research and testing with female cyclists, and to fill a niche with retailers.
How did the designers decide which lacing systems to use?
Along with the development of the last, we explored variations of almost every type of closure system including dials, ratcheting buckles, straps and even laces. Each of these systems demands a slightly different version of the upper pattern, so it’s a significant amount of work and expense.
In the end, we found that the offset strap design provided the best fit and comfort.
Tell us about the ‘SuperNatural kit’ add on:
The SuperNatural Fit Kit combines a cycling-specific footbed, which is thin and light and also holds anti-microbial properties. The customisable system allows you to tune the level of arch support to provide the best fit and comfort available. Proper arch support is critical to fit, comfort and pedalling efficiency because the foot can experience cramping, hot spots, and fatigue without it. Additionally, an improperly supported arch can cause the foot to pronate (roll inward) or supinate (roll outward) during the pedalling stroke, which can lead to stress and discomfort in the knees.