Straight out of the box, Giro’s Factor road shoe fits this tester’s foot like a – er – really snug-fitting shoe. Giro went to great lengths when setting up as a shoe manufacturer to model their lasts – the foot-shaped article that determines the internal shape of the finished footwear – as accurately as possible on the standard foot. Feet, of course, vary considerably in proportion even when ostensibly the same size, with options on toe length, foot width, arch curvature and even heel width. There is, nevertheless, a sort of standard set of proportions – apparently. How do I know? I had my feet measured by Roger Graver at London’s Mosquito Bikes as part of a fitting and was informed that I have the “perfect foot”. Not, note, perfect feet; simply feet that match these standard proportions.
So I am told and, given the precise fit of Giro’s shoes, so I am prepared to believe. Prior to deciding on shoe size, I tried on both 45 and 45.5 samples. The difference in length is a mere 3.3mm, the difference in feel and overall fit enormous. Swapping back and forth between sizes, I noted the extra room in the heel cup and over the forefoot as well as the excess space for the toes. 45 it is, then; perfect.
The Factor is Giro’s second-string road shoe, at 255g weighing 50g more than the Prolight SLX. It features an Easton EC90 carbon-fibre outsole a mere 6.5mm thick and with the indents on the upper surface created by the moulding process filled with a high-strength foam to create a perfectly flat pedalling surface that obviates the problem of pressure points. The sole’s upper surface is carefully shaped to be flat from one side to the other so that the foot can spread naturally with each pedal stroke rather than find itself crammed into a sort of channel or bucket shape that prevents spreading. From toe to midfoot and then to heel the sole is tuned to provide maximum stiffness over the cleat and enough flex for comfort either end.
A supple microfibre mesh known as Teijin Sammo 135 is used for the upper, supported by panels locating the replaceable ratchet buckle main closure and twin Velcro straps, the mid-foot strap boasting an offset “D” ring for comfort.
Naturally, there’s cycling specific footbed with adjustable arch support in the form of a choice of three colour-coded soft moulded flaps per foot, supplied with the shoes, each a different thickness. Choose the flap that best supports the foot arch and simply press it into place to be secured by Velcro-type strips. It is called SuperNatural Fit System. Apparently there is a support-free footbed from Giro for those who want it.
A wonderfully comfortable fit, then from the box; Giro claims to have sited the cleat mounting bolt holes slightly further back than is the current norm in order to reflect the latest trend in cycling biomechanics towards a more rearward cleat position on the sole. This we shall investigate.
Giro Factor road shoes £224.99; sizes 39 – 48 inc half sizes 39.5 – 46.5, colours Black, Red/White, Team Edition, White