Launched last summer, the Giro Factor Techlace road shoes introduced a unique take on closures, combining shoelaces with Velcro straps for a lightweight, comfortable way to wrap the shoe around your foot. Above that is a BOA IP1 dial to snug the top of the shoe. Add in their own microfiber upper, stiff Easton carbon sole and several other unique features and you end up with a lightweight racer that’s the most comfortable Giro shoe I’ve ridden yet…
Claimed weight for a 42.5EU is 210g. My size 48EU weighed in at 306g and 303g. “Whoa,” you say, “a size 48!?! Don’t you normally wear a 47, Tyler?” Why yes, I do, and thanks for noticing. But in the past, I’ve found Giro’s road shoes to be a little tight, particularly at the forefoot and toes. So, knowing that I’d be wearing these in cooler months with slightly thicker socks, too, I asked to size up, and half sizes end at 46.5. Full sizes go all the way up to 50.
Turns out, the 48 fits me very well even with normal DeFeet/Swiftwick/etc. cycling socks, but I do end up dialing the BOA in almost until the cover flap touches the dial.
The obvious differentiators on these is the closure. The laces move more easily than wide Velcro straps and BOA wires, helping the shoe jive with your chamois dances. The laces are replaceable, and because they’re far more flexible than microfiber straps, they let you make easy micro adjustments and don’t mold themselves into a pattern over time. What do I mean by that? Do you have Velcro strap shoes where the bend of the strap that folds around the D-buckle has creased itself into a comfy position and doesn’t want to change? Yeah, these won’t do that. So, it’s easier to micro adjust if your feet swell, you wear thicker/thinner socks, etc.
One thing I’ll be keeping my eye on is how long the Velcro lasts, which could hurt the longevity of the shoes if it gets fuzzes out early and won’t hold the straps position. But, two things are in its favor on this: One, other Velcro strap shoes tend to hold up fine, and Two, the upper part with the soft, fuzzier side of Velcro is replaceable.
Other somewhat unique (as in, less common but welcome) features include a replaceable heel tread…
…and their adjustable arch supports.
The Giro SuperNatural Fit footbed comes with low, medium and high arch support pads to customize the fit to your foot. They also come with this zippered shoe bag, cleat bolts and an owners manual.
The upper is EvoFiber SL, a glossy synthetic that seems to conform easily without stretching. Ample perforations help move heat and sweat vapor out, but a solid toe area means they also work well when temps drop. Warm socks or a simple shoe cover are adequate for “cold” days.
The tall heel cup kept my foot planted in the shoe during sprints and hike-a-bikes. Yep, I took these shoes off road, in some mud, and had to scrape the crusty, dried crud out of the cleats days later. But the shoes? They wiped clean and still look new save for a few scratches on the carbon sole.
Markers printed on the bottom made cleat alignment easy, and (at least on this pair) actually seemed to be very much in sync left to right. There’s also a small mesh-covered air vent on the front, just behind a non-replaceable toe tread bumper.
After playing with the various arch supports, I settled on Medium, but still like to throw the Large (High) one in there now and then just to reinforce my decision. Getting the proper tension on the straps and dial is easy, but also important – I found it was easy to pull it all too tight and end up with pain across the inside and top of my mid-foot. Fortunately, the IP1 dial twists both ways to loosen and tighten in 1mm increments, and it and the strap are easy to adjust while riding. Pull the dial up to fully release it for quicker exits.
At $350, the Factor Techlace is almost at the top of their range. There’s also the $500 Prolight Techlace that gets a much lighter upper and uses three Techlace straps in lieu of any dials. That’s coming some time Spring 2017, but the more affordable and more ventilated Sentrie Techlace for $250 (plus women’s Raes version) is out now. Check these models out in our Interbike coverage. The Factor Techlace comes in orange, black and white (tested) for men, and the Factress Techlace gets only this white.
Is it worth it? If you prize comfort, ease of adjustment and shiny good looks from a brand that’s got a good history of making durable products, then yes. I’ve several pairs of Giro mountain bike shoes for years and they’re holding up great, and now that I’ve figured out the sizing-up-for-road scheme, I’m liking their road stuff just as much. If you ride mostly in hotter climates, look at the Sentrie/Raes as it uses a lot more mesh up top.