ExoBeam. ExoWrap. Boa Powerzone. TransTextura Plus. Giant’s Surge Pro Road Shoes are plenty light, but they certainly are heavy on the jargon. Fortunately, if you cut through all that, you’ll find a unique, comfortable, and stiff shoe that can compete with the best in this price range. And if you struggle with toe numbness or foot pain, the unique, slip-lasted design may be worth your consideration.
The Surge Pros initially feel a lot like any other high-end race shoe: fairly narrow toe box, stiff sole, and lots of heel support. Team Sunweb is of course the intended caliber of cyclist for such shoes, and the team has been using them throughout the 2018 season. There is, in fact, plenty that makes this shoe fairly typical: polyurethane upper, carbon sole, and Boa dials.
Ho hum, right? Not so fast. Giant has taken a different approach to each of those elements to avoid common pitfalls.
For starters, the shoes feature a slip-last construction. Many cycling shoes are board-lasted to increase stiffness and power transfer. Slip-lasting allows the foot to move around more, which means your ankle and the rest of your foot can move naturally with your leg. This makes sense, since your legs don’t move in a linear fashion, so ostensibly this should lead to greater comfort.
But what about the stiffness you sacrifice in that pursuit? Giant says it has solved that by using the ExoBeam carbon sole. In fact, Giant claims the sole exceeds industry standards in heel-to-toe stiffness. The one-piece carbon sole looks similar to other carbon soles in the forefoot, but as it progresses to the heel, the outsole thins to just a few millimeters wide before widening again under the heel. This cuts down on weight, but more importantly, it maintains stiffness throughout the entire sole. The upper is then free to flex around your foot.
The plain white upper looks classy (if a bit boring) and it hides some neat features. For starters, it’s perforated throughout for decent ventilation (there’s also a mesh screen underneath the shoe, built into the carbon outsole). And it’s made from reinforced, high-density, non-woven polyurethane. All those words add up to a comfortable fit that takes little breaking in.
The Boa system has a few tricks up its sleeve too. It’s called ExoWrap, and it’s essentially a flap on the inside part of the shoe that wraps around your arch. Giant says this provides support for any foot type. I only have one foot type, so I can’t confirm or deny this claim. But the Boa system does snug up quite well, and there were no hot spots or pinch points to speak of.
As someone who often battles foot numbness, these shoes immediately made it into my regular rotation. It’s hard to tell for sure whether the ExoBeam works as advertised or not, but the Surge shoes felt sufficiently stiff over the course of two days riding Passo di Gavia, and subsequent rides in and around Boulder, Colorado. And my feet don’t go numb while I’m wearing them, which has only been the case with one or two other pairs of shoes (without the aid of special insoles). The Surge shoes are an impressive addition to a crowded field of high-end, race-ready shoes.