A long season of muddy slogs, questionable port-a-potty visits and sitting wet in a gear bag gives your shoes a certain funk that is near impossible to recover from.
Even though the holidays are past, it might still be a good time to treat yo' self and relegate your 2018 shoes to backups and get yourself an upgrade for the new cycling season.
The Giro Code Techlace might be the perfect shoe for that new-season upgrade. We put them to the test for this review.
Taking style cues from the revolutionary Giro Empire VR90, the Code Techlace features a microfiber upper that Giro calls Evofiber. The shoe is minimally vented, which made a difference on cold, wet days and led to easy clean-up post-race.
An Easton EC70 sole keeps the shoe stiff and efficient in power transfer with a stack height of 6.5mm. The Vibram rubber outsole is a good blend of grip for when the going gets tough and durability to handle stairs and other run-up related hazards. The Code Techlace is drilled for toe spikes, although they are not included.
If their name wasn't a giveaway, the Code Techlace stands apart from the Empire VR90 in a major way: the Techlace System.
Techlace replaces the lower two buckles and straps on a traditional MTB shoe with a lace/velcro hybrid. Giro claims that the laces "provide a more supple feel across the forefoot" and touts the ease of replacing damaged laces as needed.
The top strap of the Code Techlace is cinched down by a Boa L6 dial, offering 1mm incremental adjustability. Fit is further dialed in by the inclusion of a SuperNatural Fit Kit, a fancy term for three sets of adjustable arch supports.
As someone with low-volume, narrow feet, the Giro Empire VR90 was a revelation for how well cycling shoes could fit. I'm pleased to report that the Code Techlace carries on this tradition. For all intents and purposes, the fit on my review pair of Code Techlaces are spot on when compared to my VR90s in the same size.
The three adjustment points of the Code Techlace—two velcro and one boa—allowed me to dial in the fit a little more than was available with Empire, I could leave the area near the ball of my foot a looser by slackening the lower Techlace strap, but still keep my heel in place by tightening down the upper Boa.
When the Techlace straps were cranked down for maximum tightness, no hot spots were experienced, nor was there any appreciable stretch or loosening later on in the ride.
The SuperNatural Fit Kit support worked well medium-high arches, and my feet offered no complaints after a few long days in the saddle.
Once snugged down, the Code Techlace is a stable, stiff shoe. The EC70 sole is stiff, but not entirely unforgiving when off the bike, and the Vibram rubber outsole kept me firmly planted even in muddy or icy conditions.
Naughty or Nice?
At a retail price of $300, the Code Techlace delivers premium quality to match its premium price tag.
The construction quality on our review pair was spot-on, and the tried-and-true Easton EC70 carbon sole paired with the Vibram outsole gives the wearer high performance no matter the conditions. It was disappointing to see that toe spikes weren't included, although there are many aftermarket options to chose from.
When considering the Code Techlace versus a lace-up shoe, the added adjustment offered by the Techlace straps and Boa dial are worth a second look, and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments with the Boa dial is +1 in the Code Techlace's column.
There's value in finding a shoe that fits your foot shape, and for those with narrow and low-volume feet, the Code Techlace should be at the top of your list, no need to check twice.
Giro Code Techlace Specs
Colors: Darkshadow / Black (reviewed), Lime / Black, Purple
Sizes: 39-50, Women's sizes available with Sica Techlace
Weight: 754g for pair, + 9g for pair green SuperNatural Fit Kit insoles
More Info: giro.com