Review: Giro Factor road shoes.
Factors we appreciate.
We have hard-to-fit feet that we curse every time we try on a pair of cycling shoes. Our issues are skinny, narrow dogs that swim inside most shoes. While the Giro factors don’t come in anything but a regular width, the general shape runs on the narrow side and overall volume isn’t crazy so with the ratchet cranked down and straps pulled tight, we’re able to lock down pretty well.
We also give Giro bonus points for knowing that many people will swap out the Factor footbed for a custom one. This means they designed the foot-base to be flat and neutral, especially at the heel cup so you can slip on your aftermarket innersole without it sitting up too high in the shoe. Even with our narrow, bony heel, the Factors cradled us securely.
It should be noted that Giro has spent a lot of time working on their SuperNatural Fit Kit. The biggest benefit is you get three different options for arch height and support. Those who don’t need their custom innersole will find these stock innersoles anything but stock. You simply velcro in the arch wedge of your choice and it’s go-time.
One argument for the Factors is that they’re basically a yak-free version of the Grand Touring shoes they helped develop with Rapha. Those shoes use the same Easton EC90 unidirectional carbon sole and SuperNatural Fit Kit. Sure, you don’t get the exotic yak uppers but depending on sale price you save yourself close to $200.
On a pure style level, the Factors blow away the Raphas — which can only be described as golf shoes. (That Rapha went in that direction is a mystery we can’t begin to understand or solve.) The Factors come in four flavors — black, optic yellow with black, red and white and our version that matches a hi-sheen white with matte silver. It’s a look that manages to appear both flashy and understated.
One thing we also noticed is that the Factors use a minimal amount of construction panels. Combine that with the supple Teijin microfiber uppers and you have a shoe that wraps nicely around the foot. The wide tongue is punched throughout with vent holes and has good padding that tapers in thickness at the edges — which contributes to that wrapped feeling. Comforting detail: the cut notch at the top of the tongue takes some pressure off your foot when you ratchet down tight.
Speaking of the ratchet, it’s a two position design so you can slide it up or back to dial your fit. It’s a one-screw job that takes all of thirty seconds. The mechanism operates this way: pull up the lower lever to tighten, press the upper lever to release. On bike adjustment is no big deal. As far as build quality, the ratchet isn’t as robust as a Sidi but gets the job done just fine.
The two velcro straps on the Factor are wider than most and in our opinion that’s a good thing. With repeated use, velcro slowly loses some of its stick so a wider strap provides more surface area for adhesion. That does cut down on ventilation space but the rest of the shoe has plenty of perforation and mesh for cooling. The carbon sole does has a vent underneath your toes. Our testing was in the Fall so we can’t tell you if your feet will cook if you ride during a heat wave.
Throw the Factors on the scale and you’ll be in a good mood. They run 255 grams for a size 42. We’re not obsessed with grams at the expense of fit or durability but there’s no question you climb faster when you’re not lugging extra weight.
As we mentioned, the Factors use partner company Easton’s EC90 carson soles. We find it hard to rate stiffness but things certainly felt good when we decided to go au bloc, jamming out of the saddle. We do notice that nice 6.5mm stack height on the carbon sole which brings us a little closer to the pedals. Closeness = power transfer.
Drawbacks? Hey, we’d be even happier if Giro made a narrow width version. We would have voted for a beefier ratchet but people want light and that’s what they got.
Overall: Skinny feel aside, we think these Giros have dialed in a range of fit factors. The Teijin fabric wraps well, the footbed is great and the tongue has a perfect degree of padding. Out of the box, you get three good options for arch support. Bonus, hey, they match your snazzy Giro helmet.