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92 / 100 based on 9 expert reviews
The VR90 feels better than the Manta.
The Empire VR90 is the lightest, stiffest, and most comfortable shoe in our test and the winner of our Editors' Choice award.
All the performance of a top-end carbon road shoe with the practicality of a treaded sole
There’s no doubting Giro has worked hard to create a shoe for which performance, comfort and efficiency cannot be faulted. The problem lies within the retention system. The laces, whilst providing a very secure closure will limit the Empire’s appeal for some riders due to the added faffage.
Very light, conforms to foot beautifully, comfortable.
Stiff-soled but comfortable with grippy Vibram tread. Go up a half size, though, because they are narrow
The Giro Empire VR90 is a mountain cycling shoe specifically designed for cross-country racing. It is basically the off-road version of the Empire model. Its highlights include a lightweight construct that consists of a one-piece upper and full-carbon Easton EC90 outsole.
The shoe also comes equipped with grippy Vibram soles and stud mounts for relentless traction. Designed with a road-like minimalist aesthetic, this model is also revered for its simple yet classic aesthetic.
Pro-level stiffness. The Empire VR90 employs a full carbon Easton EC90 sole. Giro worked together with Easton to develop this sole type. It was created using an exclusive model last. It is engineered to provide stiffness in three areas: toe, arch, and heel. This rigidity translates to impeccable power transfer to the pedals hence no energy is wasted.
Traction and walkability. Bonded with the sole is molded Vibram rubber. Vibram is known for excellently high traction rubber. It provides comfort and grip when you mount off the bike.
Accommodates steel toe spikes. There are two stud mounts at the front of the sole. They offer users the option to add toe spikes which help enhance grip, especially in muddy trails. Note that studs are also included upon purchase.
The Empire VR90 features a 2-bolt cleat mount. This cleat design is often seen in mountain cycling shoes as it is easier to clip in and out compared to the three-bolt version. This shoe works perfectly with small platform clipless pedals or no platform pedals like the Shimano XTR M9100 Race pedals.
Breathable, lightweight, and easy to clean. Crafted with a technology called Evofiber, the shoe combines the best attributes of mesh and microfiber. This fusion aims to provide water-repellency and a breathable fit at the same time. It is also easy to clean. Moreover, the one-piece upper eliminates seams and adhesives, which prevents hotspots and unnecessary weight.
Protective rubber toe cap. A rubber toe cap protects the wearer’s foot from impact and provides added structure to the shoe overall.
The Empire VR90 by Giro is available in both men’s and women’s versions. The latter version is designed after women-specific last to shape after the ladies’ naturally narrower feet. The upper’s material does not fully bend to make putting on a breeze. Reinforced rubber toecaps may affect the fit in the forefoot area. Moreover, the changeable arch foams provide excellent fit and stability.
Adjustable footbed. This shoe employs the brand’s signature SuperNatural Fit Kit. This insole set comes with an interchangeable arch support system. It consists of three levels of arch support foams labeled as S, M and L. Users can attach and detach the foams according to what they feel best via Velcro.
Anti-microbial. This model’s inner lining is treated with the XT2 anti-microbial technology. This innovation incorporates silver into yarns for a long-lasting odor fix. It restricts bacterial and fungi growth, which causes odor.
- Lace tucks are provided to keep laces from getting stuck in the chain or pedal.
- Perforation holes are placed on the lateral and rear parts of the upper and the tongue.
- Two top-most eyelets are crafted from metal for enhanced durability.
- Branding can be seen on the tongue, lateral and rear parts of the upper.