Overview: The Giro Factor has a perfect fit with a stiff sole and supple upper – but the Fit Kit with customizable arch support is what sets the Factor apart.
The Factor really doesn’t look all that spectacular. A buckle, two Velcro straps, synthetic upper, carbon sole…there are a glut of high-end shoes with many of the same characteristics and far more shelf appeal because of lavish color schemes and gimmicky closure systems.
You have to try the Factor on to appreciate its inner beauty. Not that it’s an ugly duckling, but it probably wouldn’t be the first shoe you’d grab off a shelf or click on a page. Giro went through 16 revisions of the last before releasing a full lineup of shoes last spring. Once you slide your toesies into the welcoming confines of the Factor, you’ll thank the cycling Gods for delivering the most comfortable shoe you’ve ever tried on. I found the fit to be so congruous with my foot, I raced in them after just one test ride. Our staff found Giro’s shoes to be the real deal as well – so far seven employees have special ordered shoes.
Giro takes a different approach to providing arch support compared to Specialized or Shimano. Rather than build support into the carbon sole, which Specialized does with a structural tilt called a Varus Wedge, you can choose from three different arch supports included with Giro’s SuperNatural Fit Kit insoles. This makes sense because while most people need some level of support, it varies from person to person. Starting with a flat platform and adding support based on your specific arch structure seems like a simple idea but it’s actually unique to Giro’s system.
The Easton EC90 unidirectional carbon sole is only 6.5mm thick and is just as stiff as any shoe I have ever tested. The upper is made of a supple microfiber material called Teijin, which is commonly used on high-end soccer shoes. This material shapes to your foot and feels like a custom molded shoe after a few rides.
The buckle worked flawlessly and the off-set middle Velcro strap secured my midfoot without any unnecessary pressure. I have ridden in S-Works shoes for the last five years and am a pretty die-hard Specialized shoe fan. But I am now officially a Grio convert having ridden in the Factors for the last month. What makes the Factors fit better for me compared to the S-Works is a shallower toe box. I have a low-volume, fairly narrow foot. I have found the Factor to provide a snugger, more secure fit and I feel like I’m transferring more power to the pedals because of the fit. This shoe does run a tad small, so I went with a half size bigger from my S-Works shoe.
At $289.99, the Factor falls into the realm of high-end, but it’s at least $80 cheaper than the high end offerings from Specialized, Sidi and Shimano. When you consider the performance built into the Factor, it’s really quite a bargain.
There’s not much to complain about, but if I had to come up with one knock against the Factor, it would be that the heel and toe pads are pretty minimal so walking around the coffee shop is a little tricky. I’d rather have the small pads and save the grams, but some people may feel differently and prefer a bit more padding for walking stability.
Bottom Line: Everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to the “perfect fitting shoe.” What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. But keep this mind – nearly half our staff special ordered Giro shoes, some multiple pairs, after trying them on. With our free shipping and free returns, you can’t afford not to try on a pair.