The Giro Empire VR90 is the latest inclusion into the foray of light weight mountain bike shoes. This category is typically aimed at cross country racing or cyclocross, those looking for a light weight performance option. Giro has provided a worthy entry featuring lace up shoes with stunning looks and an almost feather like weight for a mountain bike shoe.
The upper of the Giro Empire VR90 is durable and comfortable and can be laced tightly. The shoe forms well to the foot and creates a sure feeling of power when cranking on the pedals.
Made with a one piece upper using an exotic fiber that is best described as a combination of mesh and micro fiber. The material is breathable and light but also repels water. The unique one piece style eliminates the need for seams and stitches, producing a smooth, flowing contour that molds well to the shape of the foot. The synthetic material will clean easily with soap and water and does not absorb water allowing for fast dry times.
The sole is constructed of stiff carbon and formed on the underside with soft Vibram rubber for grip. There is plenty of stiffness for aggressive riding. Walking is comfortable with the grippy rubber sole. Extended periods of trekking can be tedious and less comfortable due to the shoe stiffness. The Vibram rubber outsole has unique properties with an almost gummy texture that is super grippy. Some riders have reported parts of the rubber delaminating after a few months of riding. This is of course covered by Giro’s warranty.
With a claimed weight of 630 g for size 42.5 and a real weight closer to 700 g for size 45, the shoes are geared less for long term durability and more towards short term high performance riding. The upper material seems durable but it can be damaged more easily than some other shoes. This shoe is not recommended for daily rides grinding through rocky terrain as the material will likely not endure this environment, or at the very least will be in less than pristine condition.
Internally, the Empire VR90s have a normal fit, and the instep can be adjusted via Velcro wedges on the bottom of the anti-microbial insoles.
The design is comfortable with an inspiring aesthetic. The shoe is comfortable and efficient at power transfer. The color options available are black, blue jewel, and vermillion. The laces are an interesting twist that work well and provide a tight fit. This shoe is supple and will work well in certain conditions with a less harsh environment.