Giro Empire SLX cycling shoes

In a world of Boa constrictors and convoluted ratchets, the simplicity of the Giro Empire SLX lace-ups is classy, and harks back to the lace-up days of old.

Designed with input from BMC pro Taylor Phinney, this featherweight, super-stiff shoe has been favoured by Sir Bradley Wiggins — he wore them for his victories in the World Championships time trial and the Tour of California.

But how practical are laces? Well, surprisingly so. You can certainly adjust the fit to a high degree, but it takes a lot more time than a ratchet. Adjustment on the fly is not possible either. This is not a problem for the likes of Phinney, but some riders do like to adjust their shoes as they ride.

The Easton EC90 soles are supremely stiff and we found them to be more rigid than those in the previous Empire shoes.

The sole has a three-bolt cleat drilling and markings for cleat alignment. It provides a very low stack height of 6.5mm – that gets you closer to the pedal axle and might mean you have to drop the saddle a smidgen.

The breathable Evofibre SL upper is supple and combined with the laces allows you to get a snug fit. Like other Giro shoes, you can alter the height of the arch supports to give a comfortable bespoke fit.

The Empires suit riders with narrower feet, but due to the pliant upper and the lack of a lip on the sole (which allows your feet to spread) they can accommodate wider feet.