Giro have always been leaders and once again they have put their best foot forward (no pun intended) with the Imperial road shoe. Giro are best known for their clean look, but most of all - for their laces. With the Imperial, however, Giro replaces the laces with a BOA IP1 buckle. It’s not uncommon for BOA's to be used with road kicks but it’s interesting to note Giro are using them more and more often. One of the main advantages of BOA over laces is that they allow for quick and comfortable on-the-fly adjustments.
On the base of them, an Easton EC90 SLX2 carbon-fibre plate - which now incorporates a replaceable heel pad - provides a stiff platform for optimum power transfer, while Giro’s newly-developed Synchwire features on the upper part of the shoe. Giro keep it minimal and use as few seams as possible, in fact, the Imperial has just one, on the back of the shoe. The upper also features an ultralight, and very sturdy, monofilament mesh, which goes through a thermal welding process.
Again, keeping on that minimal tip, there’s only a few vent-holes. Synchwire is thin and partly transparent, so it provides a breathable shoe and keeps the foot cool. As with most of their kicks these days, Giro gives you an inner sole and three footbed inserts for customisable arch support. This helps to prevent excessive supination or pronation.
As soon as you slide these kicks on, you can feel the suppleness. You also notice the Synchwire mesh, so it pays to have a legit sock game. We tested the black pair, but it should be noted; only the white pair will only available on our shores, keeping you on-point for race day. I dialled them up for a few sessions on the trainer, so I could get the fit locked in. Some of my trainer workouts are at the higher end of the intensity scale, so the aim is to have high watt output over a short interval (sometimes it doesn't work out). With the Imperial's, I noticed the supreme power transfer whilst in a state of suffering I could maintain, at a high wattage output.
On the tarmac, with the cross-winds delivering their punch, the shoes felt nimble. It’s noticeable that the Imperial, with my rather big plates, suits a narrower foot. However, after a few hours of riding there weren’t any hot-spots. And, on my more recent rides, there’s been no issue with discomfort. In the last few months (across winter) I had to run some booties to keep my toes snug. One time, I was caught out in a pesky rain shower without my bloody rain booties - talk-about amateur hour - however, the Synchwire mesh did a pretty good job of keeping the water out and when the rain eased, they dried out quickly.
Whilst the venting is good, it may be a little too much for our colder days; I’d recommend booties or over-socks for our bleaker months. I’m yet to test them in summer, but I reckon they’d be a great choice as they’re well ventilated and offer great breathability. These aren’t the lightest set of kicks on the market, but they’re pretty darn comfortable and I’d easily rock them for multiple hours in the saddle. I’d rather comfort over weight any day, but that’s just me.
Now, you might fall off your chair when you see the price, however, there’s some justification behind it. The materials used are pricey and with the upper part of the shoe being incredibly minimal, it has to come at a cost, right?! These are by far one of the most comfortable pairs of kicks I’ve tried in recent times, and the upper shoe comfort rivals some of the custom-fit shoes out there. The stiffness is supreme. The BOA system works flawlessly, so much so that I didn’t even mention it in this review. Sometimes the best made equipment goes without notice, that’s when you know it’s really good.
NZ RRP: $749
Words: Liam Friary
Images: Cam Mackenzie