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The Giro Republic R Knits are a great pair of commuter/gravel/touring shoes that, with the new knitted construction, offer better breathability over the LX R version that I reviewed a few years ago.
The one thing about Giro's Republics I can vouch for is that they last very well. I have been using the same pair for commuting since early 2019, and for around 18 months of that they were used every single day. Despite a couple of scuffs on the toes and scratches on the sole they look like they could have been taken out of the box yesterday.
The main difference between these shoes and the other variants of the Republic is that they have a knitted outer with an internal TPU skeletal system to keep their shape and keep the foot in place.
Giro has used its 'Xnetic Knit' which is made up of a blend of nylon and polyester fibres. The interesting thing about knitted shoes is that they allow for a diversity of construction without requiring different panels. So Giro simply adds more nylon fibres where rigidity is needed (like near the laces and towards the sole) and uses a higher proportion of polyester where rigidity is less important (like on the sides).
There is also a variety of knit used throughout the shoe and even across the same panel.
On top of the toe box the weave is much tighter because that is where it needs the most durability, while on the side of the shoe and beneath the laces the knit is much looser to allow for additional airflow.
One of the slight bugbears I had about the LX Rs was that they weren't as breathable as some; now, with their knit construction, these are considerably better. You can genuinely feel the wind over your toes when wearing them, which means they'll still be comfortable to ride in when the mercury begins to rise. There were a few times with the LX Rs when I forgot to take extra socks to the office on days when the temperature went over 30 and people in the office were as aware as I was that the shoes were not the most breathable…
One thing people are often concerned about is how well shoes with a knit construction hold the foot, and I am happy to say that the lacing system on these shoes combined with the strategically strengthened areas means there was no slippage and no hotspots. As with all lace systems, you lose the element of adjustability on-the-go that you have with Boa or even Velcro, but that's a given when you choose them.
The only other thing that has really changed on the R Knit is the addition of a rubber toe guard. Although the previous versions don't scuff particularly easily, there are a few marks on the front that you would expect from three years of near enough daily use. So far at least, these new ones haven't scuffed and seem unlikely to in any significant way.
Giro has used the same sole design as earlier Republic models, which is no bad thing. It has four rubber walking buffers which have been designed with a curve that allows you to walk like a normal human being, rather than the kind of half-penguin, half-scuba diver stride you normally need to adopt with cycling shoes. These are incredibly easy to walk in – there isn't really a difference between walking in these and a pair of trainers.
Beneath the buffers is the same nylon sole as previous Republic models, which certainly has a little more flex than something with carbon in it, but is still pretty good when you want to put the hammer down or when you're grinding up a hill. I wore these on several hilly rides and although there is a marked difference to a top-end carbon-soled road shoe, they are more than adequate for more everyday riding.
Since using the LX Rs so much in the last few years it has also become clear to me that I actually prefer to have a nylon sole because, as Nancy Sinatra almost said, 'these (knitted cycling shoes) are made for walking', and having a carbon sole being delaminated by stones and rocks would just be so much worse than a few scratches on a nylon sole.
As the shoes come with those fairly substantial walking buffers on the bottom, they are restricted to two-bolt cleats. This isn't the end of the world, but does mean you are a little more limited in pedal choice.
Another nice feature of these shoes is the reflective thread added to the laces which, although not exactly blinding, gives you an extra little bit of visibility in low light conditions.
Weight isn't really a focus of these shoes, given their intended use, so coming in at 720g (360g per shoe) isn't class beating, but is still pretty good. The Bontrager Forays that we recently reviewed come in at 70g more, and the DMT GK1s are 27g heavier, so these still measure up pretty well.
With an rrp of £149.99 in this colour, they're £20 cheaper than the LX Rs. Given that they are more breathable, innovative, and more environmentally friendly, that seems like a good deal.
The DMT GK1 Gravel Shoes I mentioned above come in at £40 more and don't have the same kind of foot retention, and only have a limited knit compared to the full shoe on the Republics.
The Bontrager Forays are the same price, but don't have the knit construction or quite the same classy looks.
Overall, I was very impressed by these shoes. The knit construction adds breathability to what was already an excellent pair of shoes, and the addition of the toe buffer means you're not going to get scuffs and scrapes either. Okay, the sole could be stiffer and the lace system isn't good for on-the-go adjustment, but otherwise there is very little not to like about these shoes.
Giro has taken an already very good shoe and made it even better with an innovative knit construction
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giro Republic R Knit Road Cycling Shoes
Size tested: 43
Tell us what the product is for
Giro says, "With the Republic R Knit™ cycling shoe, a supple sock-like knit upper combines with a co-molded nylon outsole and molded eva footbed so you can enjoy each mile with full support and total comfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Engineered xnetic knit upper
Rubber toe guard
Reflective tubular laces are durable and hold a knot
Molded eva footbed with microsuede top sheet and medium arch support
Co-molded nylon and rubber outsole with 2-bolt cleat mount
Mid-foot scuff guard
310 grams (size 42)
I can attest to the quality of the older version of this shoe's construction, and with the added rubber area on the toe box it's improved even further.
These perform well for commuting, touring, or gravel riding, and are excellent off the bike for walking in too.
The previous version still look practically as good as the day I got them out of the box, so I can only assume these will have the same level of durability.
Fit is very good; they hold the foot in place very well and I didn't notice any hotspots when wearing them.
Not the lightest shoes on the market, but they aren't really designed to be.
The addition of the knit construction means the one slight bugbear around breathability that I had about the older version has been fixed.
Being cheaper than the older version whilst offering added breathability, innovative design, and decreased environmental impact makes them a pretty good deal.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They aren't wipe clean like the older version, but I could still clean them up without much issue at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They perform well, offering enough stiffness for most rides, with a good amount of breathability, and easy to walk in too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Their breathability is a great addition to this shoe.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing of note.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The DMT GK1 Gravel Shoes come in at £40 more, don't have the same kind of foot retention and only have a limited knit compared to the full shoe on the Republics. The Bontrager Forays are £149, but don't have any knit construction and don't have quite the same classy looks.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Giro has taken what was already a very good shoe and improved it with the knitted construction. They excel when you're clipped in, but they're also designed with use off the bike as a real consideration, and I can safely say that I could (and in the old version have, in the case of a catastrophic puncture) walk miles in these shoes comfortably.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.