Giro has made a name for itself with unconventional cycling shoes. In 2012, it reintroduced lace-ups to racing cyclists with the Empire. Five years later, a number of brands offer shoes with laces. So what’s next? This August, Giro made its next move, introducing knit uppers on three models. So we laced up a pair of the E70 Knit road shoes, clipped in, and were impressed.
The new knit upper is called Xnetic. Giro gave the material a DWR treatment for water resistance and guarded the heels and toes with rubber reinforcement. Xnetic looks a bit like the Flyknit construction that Nike uses on a variety of shoes. However, Giro’s material is much more supportive than what you’d find on a pair of running shoes. This is key to keeping the E70 Knit on terms with other shoes that use more conventional synthetic leather uppers. The Xnetic shoes feel like cycling shoes, plain and simple. When snugged up, they are stable when sprinting and fit securely on rough roads.
Giro struck the right balance between supportive fit and supple construction. Apart from aesthetic considerations, the knit is notable for providing generous ventilation. Similar to some running shoes, the E70 Knit gets good airflow throughout much of the foot.
Up front, the toe box is moderately wide — not Euro-style narrow but also not as wide as Bont shoes, for instance. Giro says it will introduce a wide/high volume fit option eventually. The knit might also help the shoe conform to wider forefoots and toes.
Beyond the knit material itself, the E70’s heel cup is a standout when it comes to comfort and fit. Some road shoes are paring down the padding these days but for those with sensitive heels, Giro’s design will provide comfort for long rides. On the other hand, this shoe’s tongue felt a bit thin. The laces have to be tensioned evenly to avoid pressure.
By now, we’ve written about lace-up shoes ad nauseam. To be concise: The advantages are a fully adjustable fit from toe to ankle and lighter weight. The disadvantage is that riders with neurotic tendencies cannot easily tweak tightness on the fly.
All of the excitement in the uppers is paired with a humble EC70 carbon fiber sole. This isn’t quite as stiff or light as the EC90 used on the more-expensive Empire ACC and SLX models. But it’s coherent with the rest of the shoe’s laid-back demeanor.
Could you race in the E70 Knit? Sure. Is it expressly designed for rabid racers? Not exactly. But that’s what is loveable about Giro’s new shoe. The E70 Knit has a unique look and backs it up with all-around comfort and performance at a fair price.
All three models of Giro’s Xnetic shoes will be available December 15, 2017.