Shoes are really a difficult purchase for me. I agonize over the decision because uncomfortable feet can just wreck a ride. And shoes (especially good shoes) are really expensive, and not returnable once you put cleats on them. So, I thoroughly test shoes at home (on carpet) before I commit to the purchase. I have about 200 miles on these now, and I am not disappointed. First of all, these have got to be the most comfortable cycling shoes I've ever worn. Maybe the most comfortable shoes period. The uppers are very thin and form perfectly to my foot, yet they also hold my foot very securely. The shoe's tongue and over-arch area is extremely comfortable as well, with no chafing or binding so far. I'm convinced this is in part because of the laces. In the past, I was a devotee of the dual boa dial. Boas are great because you can adjust them on the fly, and two boas allows you to adjust the toe box separately from the arch. But I found myself constantly fiddling mid-ride as a result. In my opinion, laces work much better. Somehow, a lace system always seems to equilibrate to the perfect even tension across the whole shoe. Mid-ride fiddling just never seems necessary. Another thing about the uppers is the amazing ventilation. I was very skeptical of this initially, figuring that all that ventilation would effectively make these shoes into "sandals", resulting in wet socks and uncomfortable feet if there was even a hint of rain. That has not been the case so far. The ventilation has a kind of mesh that allows warm, sweaty air to escape even as it allows light amounts of water to basically run off. Using a spray bottle, I tested this by lightly spraying the shoe with a mist for about a minute. Most of the water just ran off the surface, but even the water that hung around quickly disappeared. And my sock never got wet. I've done a few hard rides since and I was surprised by how dry my socks were at the end of the ride. Now, to be clear, these are not rain shoes. And if it's under 45-deg, I would definitely wear shoe covers. But honestly, I would do that for almost any shoe'even my much heavier mountain bike shoes. I'm also impressed with how stiff these shoes are. If I used the Specialized S-works SL7 as a stiffness benchmark, I would say these are about 95% as stiff. Not quite as rigid as the benchmark, but pretty damn stiff! Additionally, these shoes have a very comfortable heal with a fair amount of padding, but excellent grip that keeps my foot firmly planted. Another great thing about the sole is the adjustable arch in the insole. I have pretty average arches, but I used the high arch setting and found them to be both more comfortable and to provide better power transfer in that mode. The combination of comfortable uppers, grippy heal, and really stiff Easton carbon soles creates excellent power transfer for the shoe. The final positive is weight. These shoes are really light. Again, using the SL7 as a benchmark, these are noticeably lighter. I did not expect that to matter, but on long climbs you can tell. To be honest, the Empire SLX was not on the initial short list. Nate in Customer Service convinced me to give them a try, he said it was his favorite shoe. Thanks Nate, for the excellent recommendation!
These are my new favorite road shoes. They are super light, which is more noticeable on rides than I would have expected. The ventilation is also extremely comfortable--ironically keeping my feet drier than other shoes even when its a little damp out. Don't confuse these with all-weather shoes, but the ventilation is covered with a mesh that somehow seems to deflect water while allowing moisture escape (brilliant!). And even though they are super-vented, I have worn them comfortably on 40-deg rides without shoe covers (and with very thin Rapha Pro socks). And I would think that an effective shoe cover like a VeloToze or even a more conventional waterproof cover would allow the shoe to perform acceptably well in mild rain. So, not all weather, but most weather. But mostly, these shoes are really comfortable. They are quite stiff, meaning great power transfer and no hot spots. But they also have very pliable uppers, meaning excellent adaptability to the contours of the foot (at least my, rather narrow foot). I have now put a couple thousand miles on these and aside from a few scuffs from toe-over front wheel rub, they look and feel like new. I was quite skeptical about these shoes because I was not confident that they would be good all-around shoes, but I've been convinced. These are now my go-to number one choice. Highly recommended.
I bought these shoes after pouring over reviews for weeks. There were no negative reviews, and this one won't be either.
I'm always looking for an aero advantage and lace up shoes have been shown to be the best. They take a little longer to get into-- so tri-guys might want to keep that in mind.
The biggest and best surprise was how comfortable these shoes are! I usually worry about enough short rides to break in new shoes before an ultra event, but these were so comfy right out of the box that my first ride turned into 150 miles. And I didn't regret it.
The venting in these shoes is also great. Shoe covers will be needed a little earlier this year
These shoes are comfortable from the moment you slip them on your feet. I was hesitant to buy them because I was unsure about having laces on cycling shoes. The fact is the laces and shoe material allow the shoe to wrap around your foot. The laces then tuck-in under a tab towards the front of the shoes. Having worn these shoes now for several thousand miles this year the laces have never come out from underneath the tab. The only negative about the shoes is that they scuff very easily. I found that out on the first ride and have been very careful since then with minimum issues.
After a few hundred miles I can say I love these shoes. I really like the lacing vs. BOA for long ride comfort. The ingenious little lace keeper works great.