|Photo Credit: Tim Hughes|
Before I go into details, let me explain a little bit of my philosophy when it comes to equipment. Simply put, in the absence of an aerodynamic design or aerodynamic data, I go with whatever is lightest.
My previous Pearl Izumi Octanes were light, sub-200 grams, but with two straps they didn't seem very aero. I had talked with friends Sebastian Kienle (Ironman World Champion) and TJ Tollakson (Ironman Champion) about shoe covers that tested fast for them, but the problem is they are not practical to put on in the middle of a race. Although fast, TJ's were custom tailored just for his shoe and foot.
|Dreitz 3/8inch ~9mm Elastic|
With a Giro Empire SLX in hand I went ahead and got to work tinkering with the shoes. In the end, I decided that the best thing to do was cut the tongue from the shoe. For me, someone who is doing a flying mount in T1, cutting the tongue is a necessary as the tongue will bunch up when you *jam* your foot into the shoe in a race.
I also experimented with lace width. It turns out that traditional elastic laces are too wide so I bought some regular Dreitz elastic in bulk that is the most narrow I could find. It lays flatter for better aerodynamics. The end results is a super light shoe - 162grams for size 9.5. Is super comfortable, yet stiff, and super easy to get into and out of. Note, I drilled a hole in the back so that I can slip a rubber band in them in transition.
|My old Pearl Izumi Octane and prototype|
Giro Empire SLX with elastic laces
After a full year of racing in the shoes I am still in love and had my fastest bike splits yet. I am in no way supported by Giro but if you are considering purchasing please do so thru the links below. Doing so helps to support my own tinkering, testing, and writing for all!!!
- Giro Empire SLX on Amazon
- Giro Empire SLX on eBay
- Giro Empire ACC - less expensive version of SLX
- LG LA84 - very inexpensive set of lace-ups by Louis Garneau
Since publishing this many pros, including Matt Russell, AJ Baucco, Michael Weiss, Kirsty Jahn, and Cody Beals have been seen on the Empire SLX. Each has their own unique modifications done to the shoes.
|Photo Credit: Tim Hughes|
So many amateurs and professionals have made their own modifications to my standard elastic design. I wanted to highlight two potential products that some have been using that I like and will be experimenting with in the future.
Xpand Laces w/ plastic tabs - Xpand laces are regular elastic laces but have a special plastic tab to lock in the lace without knotting the ends. This allows for riders to play around with lace tension while they figure out what tension is best for them without wasting lace and dealing with knots.
|Xpand laces with plastic tab for future adjustability|
Inmaker Flat Rubber Laces - I had tried Riplaces w/o success but this design is a little simpler than Riplaces and has potential to work.They have different sizes to accommodate desired tension. One complaint about elastic is that the laces tend to get twisted and don't always sit flat. The idea behind these is that they will sit flat.
|Flat Rubber Laces|