Giro Twofer: Knit Shoes and an Aero Helmet
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Giro Vanquish Aero Helmet and new Knit Cycling Shoes unveiled.
While both of these products have been shown publicly, the new Giro Vanquish aero road helmet at Le Tour and the new knit Empire’s with an Instagram leak, Giro unveiled them officially at a pre-Eurobike event in Austria.
First up is the new Vanquish –This is the aero road helmet we saw on Team BMC at the Tour de France last month. While it replaces the old Air Attack, Giro says none of the Vanquish’s influences come from that helmet. It’s based loosely on what they learned developing the Aerohead TT helmet and beyond that, an entirely fresh slate.
Historically, Giro helmet design starts with the design team and then engineers are tasked with making it a functional helmet. The Vanquish design process was different. Eric Horton, Creative Director at Giro, told us the team responsible for the helmet’s aesthetics didn’t touch it until the engineers were 80% done with it.
Its standout technology is a step-down, two-thirds of the way along the helmet’s shell that acts a bit like a Kamm tail truncated airfoil in bike design–it fools the air into thinking it is a full tail TT helmet. Giro calls the design ‘TransformAir.” It’s trademarked and everything.
Along with its slippery shape, Giro has invested heavily in a shield for the Vanquish. Created with Zeiss, the German optics manufacturer, Giro calls it the VIVID Shield Road and it’s designed to increase contrast by filtering out what Giro calls ‘bad’ blue light. Giro is so convinced this is the future that all Vanquish helmets come with this shield. It attaches magnetically, both in the down position and when pulled off and flipped over to be stored out of the way.
The Vanquish was designed from the ground up as a MIPs only helmet – the slip layer that distributes angled impacts over a longer period of time to reduce their effect on the brain. This does three things – make the helmet safer, ensure a medium fits like a medium, allows the vents to operate with maximum effect.
The Vanquish also features a Roc-Loc fit system fully integrated with the MIPs layer, sunglass grippers, adjustable tri-glides designed to lay flat for better aerodynamics and uses a four piece polycarbonate shell which allowed Giro to adjust shell thickness to reduce weight.
After our first ride, a four hour, 82-mile spin with over 4000’ of climbing, we can attest to the helmet’s comfort and fit. Integrating MIPs with the retention system delivers a very secure and comfortable halo feel. The optics shield takes some getting used to. It snaps magnetically into place, but being farther away from your face you need to fight the feeling that your glasses are sliding down your nose and need to be pushed back. If the shield never touched the nose this feeling might be mitigated, but with our fit and physiology it was resting gently on our nose.
Pull the shield out of the way on a long climb and it’s very easy to snap into place magnetically in the ‘storage’ position, certainly as easy as slotting sunglasses in a vent dock, but it does noticeably block two of the front vents, reducing some of the Vanquish’s cooling ability. Based on the initial impressions we can absolutely see the shield’s benefit in a four corner crit, but on a long, hot road day when we may want to pull it off for climbs, we’ll likely stick with sunglasses.
Versus the old Air Attack, Giro claims the Vanquish plus shield saves just over three watts at 30mph, without the shield it’s just over 2watts. Over the Synthe it’s almost 9 watts faster with the shield. That’s 18seconds faster than a Synthe over 40km if you can do 400watts. Amazingly, Giro rates the Vanquish’s cooling efficiency at just 2% less than the Synthe, but that appears to be with the shield in place, not stored in the ‘up’ position.
In size medium the Vanquish weighs 355grams with the shield and 305 without. It retails for $275, and that includes the Zeiss optics. Compare the price to other aero helmets, plus a pair of sunglasses, and the Vanquish is in a league of its own. There a four different lens tints and after market they are $55-60.
Giro Xnetic Knit Shoes
Giro is a brand that has been unafraid to take chances on products. Sometimes it has been wildly successful – the Empire lace up – and other times, not so much – the now defunct Giro New Road baggies. We’d hazard a guess its latest chance will be very, very successful – shoes with knit uppers.
We have good reason to believe the new material will work, in the last four years knit uppers have dominated the running shoe market thanks to Nike’s Flyknit. Giro’s launching the material, called Xnetic, with three shoes – an Empire E70 Knit, an Empire Knit VR70 Knit MTB shoe and a two bolt commuter/spin shoe called the Republic R Knit – all at midlevel price points and all with laces. The knit MTB shoe will be $250, the Empire road shoe $200 and the Republic $150. This creates an Empire lace up option for about $100 less than the microfibre upper Empires. While Giro feels knit material could make a high end shoe with BOAs or Techlace, it was happy to let the Factor and Prolight Techlace shoes hold onto the high end for now.
Knit material has the Giro team very excited. Where a microfiber is a single density and single thickness, weaves can be customized almost endlessly. Made of a polyester thread and a nylon thread, the weave is infinitely tunable. Then, when the weave is heated, the nylon threads melt into the polyester. With this process Giro can make the weave as supple or stiff as it wants, in any pattern. The weave process also eliminates almost all waste, unlike the stamped sheets of microfibre which created a lot of useless cuttings.
The possibilities knit weave presents are truly on display with the Empire VR70 Knit MTB shoe. The upper weave extends past the ankle with a supple, sock like upper. We cant help but think this will make a great gravel and adventure shoe, keeping any and all gravel out of the shoe. In addition to this kind of upper customization, the color and pattern options presented by knit technology are simply endless.
Giro uses more traditional processes once the weave is done. It’s reinforced with TPU at the toe and heel, as well as internally on the Empire to ensure the foot is locked down to the outsole. It uses the EC70 carbon outsole and as we mentioned before, laces as closures. The weave is treated with a DWR coating, so while it’s not waterproof, it will resist quite a bit of moisture.
Giro launched its road shoes seven years, when Creative Director Eric Horton came over from Specialized, and it has quickly grown into a major player. Footwear now accounts for 35% of Giro’s business and it is the fastest growing segment in the company. While we only saw samples of the shoes, we imagine the new Xnetic Knit line will only increase Giro’s impact and revenue in cycling footwear. Giro hopes to have the shoes in a shop near you before the holiday season.
Empire E70 Knit, 275grams: Four Colors (42); $200
Empire E70 Knit Womens, 275grams: Two Colors(42); $200
Empire VR70 Knit MTB; Three Colors $250
Republic R Knit: Two Colors $150
For more details on both the Vanquish and new Xnetic Knit line up, head to giro.com.