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by Anne-Marije Rook
May 4, 2017
It’s been a long and dreary winter and spring for many North Americans as the rainy months just kept going and going. But now that spring weather is finally here (kinda), Ella editor Anne-Marije Rook has been able to put in some outside miles and test some new and fun product.
She’s been rotating through various shoes, helmets and apparel while fighting off muscle fatigue with Topical Edge. A lifestyle cyclist first and foremost, Rook has been riding around the city in the dark hours to test the visibility of Bontrager’s safety apparel as well as the crowd-funded Aster commuter backpack.
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From the Flanders cobbles to the ocean-side California roads, I’ve spent hundreds of kilometres in the Giro’s Factress Techlace shoes this spring, and I have come to a simple conclusion: these shoes are darn comfortable.
At 195 grams (size 39), the Factress Techlace is Giro’s lightest weight women’s road shoe yet, and features Giro’s patent-pending Techlace system.
With several lace-up shoes on the market, many have come around to the benefits of cycling shoes with ‘old-school’ laces. They’re said to be more comfortable, offer a better fit, weigh less and tend to be more aerodynamic as well. Yet the biggest downside of Giro’s Empire shoes, which popularized lace-up closures, is the lack in ability to adjust the shoes on the fly.
In creating the Techlace system, Giro takes the benefits of its Empire lace-up shoes and pairs it with the convenience of a strap. There are no buckles, D-rings or any other hardware nor any hassle associated with laces. Located on the forefoot only, the laces are pulled tight with a set of Velcro straps while a Boa IP1 dial does the lion’s share of the work in keeping the upper part tight and secure.
Closure aside, the Factress Techlace has all the features of a high-end shoe: a breathable and durable synthetic leather upper, Easton’s super stiff and light EC90 SLX carbon fibre outsole, Giro’s customizable SuperNatural Fit Kit insoles and a replaceable heel tread.
While the Factress Techlace may not have the same elegant simplicity of the lace-up Empires, the comfort and convenience trump aesthetics. Compared to the Empire, I found the Factress Techlace to have a slightly roamier fit and overall improved comfort. While I experienced a break-in period for the Empire, the Factress Techlace was comfortable straight out of the box and for the many kilometres that followed.
The Factress Techlace offers a consistent fit and is definitely quicker to get on and off than Giro’s lace-up shoes. The ability to quickly turn the dial or readjust the Velcro mid-ride is certainly a plus as well.
The only downside I experienced is that I couldn’t get the closure quite tight enough for all-out sprint efforts. I’d wear these shoes for any long day in the saddle but for short, high intensity efforts like criteriums or track racing, I’d be more inclined to use a shoe with a tighter heelcup and closure. With that said, the length and color of the laces are customisable so a smaller lace might help with the fit.
Price: $350 USD