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Giro VR90 Shoes Review

31st May 2017

Let’s face it, we are all doing a lot more riding of the rough stuff nowadays and while the bike sales people are always pedalling parts to add some venture to our new adventures sometimes you’ve just got to think outside the box and see what’s best for you.


Me, I was getting sick of wrecking the underneath of beloved Giro Empires with gravel and dirt. Great road shoes but they are but simply not intended for perusing those out-there paths and rocking those unsealed roads. Such was my need I’d even considered gluing on some extra heel rubber on from the local cobbler so to give some added protection. No need, I’ve found the real solution, Giro’s VR90’s.


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The laces to me were always a no-brainer, especially for this style of shoe (it’s never ideal when you snap off your BOA closure just outside of Ohura and I’m pretty sure most Four Squares stock shoe laces); yet they still provide a comfy ride and secure feel, and, since ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ then many others approve also, as copied by countless shoe manufacturers since Giro’s lace reboot.


They’ve also stuck with the very practical wipe clean one piece ‘Evofiber’ upper and after giving these two months of some dirty wet rough and tumble abuse they come up just like new with a few wet wipes. True, the fluro yellow laces took a bit of splattering, and yes I could remove them and stick them in the washing machine but if I was really bothered I’d just fit the stealth black set that also came with them.


Also worth noting is they’ve also kept the Velcro adjustable ‘SuperNatural Fit’ footbed; three inserts so you can tune your shoe to your foot for extra support. What they have changed though for the VR90 is not obvious at first - the underneath. Adapting the stiff Easton EC90 carbon sole of the Empires by moulding a stocky Vibram rubber tread to it (Vibram being the choice of sole across the outdoor and mountaineering world), the rubber creeping up slightly to also protect the toe and the heel. 


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The result is the look, feel and ride of a road shoe but with the extra durability and grip required underfoot when the going gets sloppy and/or crunchy. Talking of getting sloppy, the VR90 have been aimed at the growing cyclo-cross market too, Giro adding threads for two front studs (included, with tool), ideal for that extra toe grasp in times of uphill slippage. Saying that, despite my best efforts to find the muddiest place to plonk my feet, the tread pattern appears to clear not clog, so reengaging with the pedals wasn’t an issue.


This nicely brings me to the other big difference between the VR90 and Empire - the cleat drilling. The carbon sole is spec’ed for a two-hole ‘SPD’ style cleat, which in turn forces you to re-consider your pedal choice accordingly. However, with the style of riding that these are aimed at maybe it’s time for a more suitable pedal upgrade as for me these top shelf shoes are actually a really good ‘best of both’ crossover. Perfect for gravel rides, ideal for CX, comfy enough for lunchbreak village walks when bikepacking or touring, you could even double them up as an ideal road winter shoe (who wants to get that lovely white mesh yukky grey anyway?) and hey, they were even just the thing for the occasional spot of mountain biking.


RRP: $399

Distributor: Worralls


Review: Russell Jones 

Orginally published in the NZ Road Cyclist May/Jun Issue. For more in-depth reviews and exclusive articles grab the latest copy on-sale today!