Founded in 1985 by Jim Gentes, Giro started out with the Advantage helmet, which was designed to help triathletes cheat the wind, before releasing the Prolight, Aerohead and Air Attack helmets, which the bike industry got on with like a house on fire. Each of these models has been updated and re-released over the years.
It wasn't until 2010 that the California-based brand took the step into riding footwear. Now, Giro Mountain Bike shoes extend to a full range of XC and trail shoes, some with ultralight Easton carbon soles, and others designed to keep your feet stuck to the pedals sans cleat.
We've split Giro's shoe range up into XC and trail shoes. The former is based around what we would consider as a more traditional cycling shoe, while the latter is closer to a skate-style shoe.
The Sector is the latest addition to Giro's range of off-road shoes, and serves as its do-everything SPD kicks. Utilising a similar design to the Imperial road shoe, the upper is made from Synchwire, a matrix of burly individual fibres surrounded by a thermobonded exo-structure and large swaths of mesh for maximum ventilation. All this makes for a structure which is robust in the one direction, but still offers some flexibility where it's needed. The dual L6 BOA dials allow 1mm micro-adjustments, but also have a svelte profile and won't get hung up on rocks and grabby trail fauna.
The sole is made from carbon composite and features 'dual-injected' Vibram lugs, meaning the rubber is actually part of the moulding process and is not just glued on after the fact. The Sector has mounts for toe spikes and is claimed to weigh 342g in a size 42.
Giro brought laces back to cycling shoes with its Empire road clogs. They were initially produced for the now-retired Taylor Finney to wear during the Tour de France; while many initially wrote the design off as 'just for hipsters,' almost every other shoe brand now has at least one lace-up shoe in its lineup. The Empire VR90 is a version adapted for off-road use, with heel and toe protection and Vibram rubber lugs added to the sole for grip and walkability.
The sole is made from the brand's stiffest EC90 carbon for max power transfer. Inside is the Giro’s Supernatural footbed complete with adjustable arch support and the XT2 antimicrobial fibre top sheet. They are lightweight, comfortable and supremely stiff race shoes.
The Code has been a part of Giro's shoe line up for some time, with the brand replacing the velcro straps with its lace/hook-and-loop mashup a few seasons ago. The TechLace closure sheds grams over a velcro strap, without sacrificing adjustability, although there is a technique to adjusting them. At the top, there is a BOA L6 closure to prevent your heel from lifting as you power up a techy rock garden.
The lugs and armour are made from Vibram rubber which is supremely durable and the sole itself is Giro's EC70 carbon plate. It's marginally less stiff and heavier than the Giro's flagship EC90 carbon; however, most of us mere mortals aren't strong enough to make it flex, and it also provides a bit of extra vibration dampening. There is a midfoot scuff guard for when you slip a pedal and mounts for removable toe spikes, should you want to try your luck at a cross-country or cyclocross race.
Knit shoes are all the rage at the moment and Giro was one of the earliest to employ the technology to cycling footwear. With an Xnetic knit upper and TPU exoskeleton and heel cup, the VR70 Knit is remarkably well vented and form-fitting but don’t feel like you’re pedalling in a sock with a carbon plate stuck on the bottom. The knit material is DWR treated so water will roll off the exterior rather than soaking in, and the extended stretch-knit ankle cuff helps to keep trail crud on the outside of the shoe.
Speaking of the sole, it's an EC70 plate which offers pro-level stiffness and, like the brand's other high-end kicks, the sole, heel and toe armour along with the midsole scuff guard are made with Vibram rubber.
Giro's Cylinder is a mid-range, off-road shoe that is comfortable pushing pedals with a number plate on the front of your bike or coming along for an all-day adventure. They feature a single BOA L6 dial to cinch the upper two-thirds of the shoe and a velcro strap that keeps the toe box under control. The upper itself is made of synthetic leather and has sizable mesh panels to allow for a breeze on a hot day.
On the bottom is a co-moulded nylon plate with high traction rubber lugs, it's not the Gucci Vibram rubber but still provides purchase on wet rocks and logs and has a decent lifespan.
Giro's Privateer lace shoe is designed to feel like they are completely broken-in from the first moment you slip them onto your trotters. The upper is made from a super supple, microfiber material that breathes exceptionally well and the laces offer seven points of adjustment.
The Privateer features Giro's RockPrint Toe and Heel for abrasion resistance and a reinforced toe and heel cap — though for trail bike use we'd like to see a little more protection. The sole is made from nylon, which provides efficient power transfer, but still has enough give when it comes time for a hike. Plus, we think they are some of the best looking off-road kicks money can buy.
The Carbide R II is Giro's entry-level XC shoe with an injection moulded nylon sole, and co-moulded rubber lugs which offer durability and grip over rocks and in the muckiest of mud bogs. The upper is made from synthetic leather and features sizable mesh panels to allow your feet to breathe.
There's no BOA, ratchets or laces here, just a simple three-strap, hook-and-loop closure system, which provides plenty of adjustability and security, without the price tag. Even being on the lower end of Giro's product tree, the Carbide R II are still some of the brand’s lighter shoes, claimed to weigh 310g in size 42.
If your riding style is more like a bobsled than a slalom skier, the Terraduro Mid might just be the Giro shoe for you. Starting from the top, asymmetric ankle covers prevent the dreaded ankle knock and the 'Airaprene' ankle screen keeps trail crud out, while also offering additional ankle support. Hidden beneath the protective flap is a laced closure, and the Evofiber Microfiber upper is highly water-resistant and backed by a sealed cleat opening to keep the elements out.
The base of the shoes is built around a nylon shank that's surrounded by Vibram rubber, to keep you right side up as you scramble up slippery rocks and roots. The sole features a flexible forefoot zone to help make walking a bit less awkward, while maintaining plenty of pedalling efficiency on liaison climbs.
Taking a step down in overall protection and weight, the Ventana are trail shoes ideal for dry climates. The nylon plate and Sensor rubber outsole hit a good balance of weight, grip and walkability to pedalling efficiency.
The one-piece upper is made from Giro's Syncwire constriction, with TPU bonded mesh, and features rubber toe and heel protection. Between the upper and the nylon plate is a layer of EVA foam designed to soften the impact on your joints from walking. The Ventana is available with two types of closures, a Boa L6 dial and velcro strap or slightly cheaper speedlace-style closure.
Now in its second evolution, the Chamber II is an SPD-friendly gravity shoe with a 10mm cleat setback and a beefy Vibram MegaGrip outsole. The additional cleat setback allows you to get the pedals more towards the arch of your foot, reducing fatigue and helping you keep your heels down when the terrain gets spicy. A tri-mould internal shank allows for varied flex throughout the length of the shoe, this means it's stiff enough to pedal efficiently but your toe will bend in front of the cleat plate to help you push up to the top of that epic descent.
Made from microfiber, the upper is water-resistant and sees plenty of protection on the toe and heel. Like a skate shoe, the closure is laced and the laces themselves are tubular so they will stay tied. A velcro strap offers additional ankle support and prevents the loops from finding their way into your chainrings.
All the cool kids are riding flat pedals these days and if you have abandoned cleats once and for all, you will know the pain that comes with slipping a pedal. Thankfully, the Riddance is designed to put an end to shinnings once and for all. Using Vibram's latest Megagrip ISR rubber compound, it claims to offer unmatched vibration dampening and pedal purchase. Giro has also added a full-length EVA midsole for max comfort.
Giro offers the Riddance in a standard cut and a mid-top, with a slightly higher cuff for added support. Both feature the same microfiber upper, which is water-resistant and sees rubber toe and heel armour. A laced closure allows you to cinch the shoe down, but leaves room in certain areas for oddly shaped feet while the tubular laces mean you only have to tie them at the beginning of the day.
Giro calls the Jacket II a ‘daily driver,’ meaning it's just as comfortable on the pump track, working the shop floor, or wearing around the house or an afternoon at the pub. They feature a Vibram Ecostep rubber sole and a reinforced water-resistant microfiber upper.
There is no internal shank, but the Jacket II does feature well-camouflaged reinforcements around the toe and heel.