With a look that resembles something a creative grandmother might crochet while sitting in her rocking chair, Giro's new Knit shoe collection certainly stands out from the crowd. While most cycling shoes are constructed from multiple pieces of fabric that are cut and then sewn or glued together, the uppers on the Empire VR70 Knit are, as the name suggest, knit into the correct shape out of a synthetic material Giro calls Xnetic, and then bonded to an exoskeleton made from a thermoplastic polyeurethane (TPU).
This style of construction has been present in the running world for a few years, but Giro are one of the first companies to bring it over to the mountain bike side of things. One of the advantages to this design is that the amount of waste is greatly reduced – there's no pile of excess scrap material left over after the uppers are made. It also makes for a shoe that should conform well to the shape of a rider's foot - after handling a set of the Empire VR70 Knit shoes I'm eager to try a pair out in order to see if they're as ridiculously comfortable as they look, and to see how well that Xnetic fabric holds up.
The Empire VR70 is aimed at XC and trail riders, with a rubber guard at the front of the shoe to help prevent stubbed or smashed toes, and a DWR coating in case you get caught out in the rain. If the shoes do get completely soaked, the open weave of the uppers should help them dry quickly, rather than becoming saturated and waterlogged. There's a Vibram rubber outsole to provide traction for scrambling around off the bike, and an Easton EC70 carbon fiber inner sole to ensure that there's plenty of stiffness for delivering power to the pedals. Available this January, the shoes will retail for $250 USD.