I have always believed that there is a very fine line separating something
from being resplendent or garish, and when I received my Giro Code mountain
biking shoes in a florescent green/yellow color, I found myself treading
that rather tenuous line.
The Code is the top of the line mountain bike shoe from Giro that uses
Easton¹s EC90 carbon to provide lightweight stiffness for racing purposes.
It uses the common cycling shoe tightening system that employs two lower
Velcro straps with a plastic strap buckling top strap. Giro seemed to have
decided to keep things simple as opposed to competing designs where the
Velcro straps have been replaced by Boa or other mechanically
tightening/adjusting systems that Sidi and Specialized have favored.
I have been cycling with the revered Sidi Dominator for five years so I was
relatively incredulous about trying something new, and not because they were
infallible, but because Sidi was ³The² Italian shoe company that made flashy
cycling and motorcycle shoes for the elite racers of the world. It was the
common denominator with all the local Edmonton racers who fancied themselves
serious, much like the bandana colors of the Bloods and Crips. Well, not
really, but it was what everyone donned at the time.
Yet, as everyone was covetous about the Dominators, there were many
complaints about them that were quite consistent by most, if not, all
owners. The first thing was the horrible afterthought of a shoe insole that
you received with the shoes. It was like Sidi had extra cardboard laying
around the factory, decided to paint it blue and cut into insoles to put in
their shoes. There was no midfoot support, metatarsal arch support or any
corrective hindfoot valgus or varus wedges included, and considering the
price of the Dominators, I¹m surprised that we were all beguiled into buying
a pair. Everyone bought Specialized, Superfeet or custom made insoles to
spare themselves from the hotspots and foot pain due to the unsupported foot
structures. Secondly, the buckles would not release if mud got into them and
dried up. I remember having to drive home from a race in my cycling shoes
because I simply could not get the buckle to open up. You would have to use
a sharp object to chip off the mud to get the buckle to eventually release.
Lastly, and my most frustrating problem, was the Velcro straps just ceasing
to hold. Bizarrely, Sidi decided to put a red plastic piece in the middle
of the straps, allegedly to prolong the Velcro¹s ability to hold, but
ironically, it just prevented more contact between the fabric and made the
straps almost non-functional. After five years, the middle one just releases
and flaps in the wind whenever I going biking. In retrospect, the Sidi
Dominators have been disappointing. Why everyone bought them will remain a
Getting back to the Code shoes, I had those Sidi faults in mind so I wanted
to see how Giro would have potentially addressed those now glaring problem.
They had developed the Supernatural fit insoles where they claimed that once
you decided which of the interchangeable arch supports worked best for your
foot type, it would prevent hotspots, numbness and cramping. I found that
the insoles did not provide adequate metatarsal arch support, for me at
least, and it did not address the hindfoot valgus/varus issue that is
associated with talus pronation that would effect the power transfer from
the leg/ankle to the pedals. As a chiropractor for the last 15 years, I
could be more critical of their claims, but I understand that the insoles
are not custom made orthotics and in comparison to the Sidi insoles, they
are significantly more effective in addressing foot biomechanics and
comfort. As a matter of fact, the Codes were immediately more comfortable
than the Dominators, and not just because of the insoles, but because the
toe bed is slightly wider therefore there seemed to be less wedging of the
toes. The insoles came with the medium arch support as a default so I went
for my first ride with them. After a two hour ride, I did develop some
forefoot hot spots and notice that my midfoot arch was not supported enough.
The next ride I switched the arch support wedges from medium to high and
noticed the difference right away. The wedges seemed like it wasn¹t just a
marketing ploy, but it did change my biomechanics by supporting my pes
planus and providing slight rearfoot varus. The next time I wore the
shoes, I raced the local Tuesday night race, and it was a long race so it
was a good test for shoes¹ performance. Simply put, it felt great with no
hot spots or cramping. Considering it was my second time out, this bolds
well for my communion with the shoes.
The buckle system is a very simple functioning ratchet system seen in the
majority of cycling shoes. You lift one side to pull the plastic strap and
tighten the shoe, then you push the other side to release. I can only
surmise that once mud gets into the mechanism, it will prevent proper
release just like the Dominators, but we can only wait and see.
I would have thought that Giro would have heeded to the Velcro complains and
developed a better system. But at first glace, it seems like they didn¹t
address the issue at all. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the
Velcro strap loops at the top of the foot instead of the more medial loop
that was in the Dominators. The most concerning issue is the design of the
transition of hook side to the loop side of the Velcro strap. The hook side
stops far too early, and so when you pull the strap and push down the end,
there is not a lot of actual hook and loop surface contact. Most of the
contact is the loop to loop, therefore not contributing to the hold at all.
It seems like an obvious design flaw because if Giro would have just
lengthened the hook side just another centimeter, there would be double the
functional contact. This would have perhaps increased the lifespan of the
Velcro straps. Now, it may never be an issue and the Velcro straps may
always hold, but I think a simple change would drastically prevent the
Velcro strap from being nonfunctional in the future.
Despite some minor and perhaps prognosticating issues, my initial response
from the Giro Code shoes have been very positive as they feel comfortable
and transfer power effectively to the pedals. With two races done, I hope
to race many more and look resplendent in them in an 80¹s way.