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Giro launches Xnetic Knit footwear and Vanquish MIPS aero helmet

US brand expands its lineup with both mid-level and top-end products

Giro is releasing a new lineup of Xnetic Knit cycling shoes along with an aero road helmet called the Vanquish.

Let’s start with the shoes… 

You’ll have seen plenty of knitted running-style shoes from the likes of Nike and Adidas over the past few years and Giro is now bringing in similar-ish styles over to the world of cycling.

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Why? It’s largely a style/fashion thing, although Giro sees it as an opportunity to be creative and says that there’s far less waste than with a normal pair of microfibre uppers because the knit can be made to the precise shape required, not cut out of a large piece of fabric. Giro also says that the Xnetic Knit shoes are offer ‘sock-like comfort’ thanks to being supple and breathable, although we’ve yet to try them (we’ve seen and got all touchy-feely with them) so can’t comment on that.

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The new footwear styles aren’t coming in at the top of Giro’s range, they’re mid-range products and they cover both the road and mountain bike sectors of the market. Giro doesn’t feel that it needs a new top-end shoe at the moment.

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The Xnetic Knit uppers are made from a combination of polyester and nylon. The nylon fibres are melted to fuse with the polyester. Giro says that it worked on several different blends before deciding on the final version.

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An upper made only from the polyester/nylon blend wouldn’t provide the structure needed for a cycling shoe so Giro uses a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) skeleton. These ribs are internal on the road shoes and external on the mountain bike shoes.

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The uppers are given a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to provide some protection from spray, mud and whatever else comes your way while you’re out on the road, but something knitted in this way is clearly never going to be in any way waterproof. Giro says that if the shoes do get wet the uppers dry out  quickly (assuming it’s not still tipping down, obviously). The company also says that the shoes clean up well after a dirty ride – although it’s not going to be as easy as wiping a damp cloth over microfibre uppers. The mountain bike shoes are made in darker colours than the road shoes for that reason.

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All of the shoes, men’s and women’s, are made on Giro’s existing lasts. There are three different models based on existing shoes in the lineup.

• Empire E70 Knit/ Empire W E70 Knit, £199

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This road shoe comes with an Easton EC70 carbon fibre outsole and a replaceable heel walking pad. Giro claims 250g per shoe in size 42.5.
• Empire VR70 Knit, £219

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This is a mountain bike shoe with a rubber toe guard and a bonded TPU heel to increase durability and resistance to abrasion. This comes with a stretchy ankle cuff, an Easton EC70 carbon fibre sole and a moulded Vibram rubber outsole for off the bike grip. Giro claims 380g per shoe in size 42.5

• Republic R Knit, £139

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The Republic R Knit, aimed at commuters and touring riders, has reflective laces, a co-moulded rubber-and-nylon outsole and a mountain bike-style 2-bolt cleat mount. Giro claims 310g per shoe in size 42.5.

Giro says that it could eventually offer Xnetic Knit versions of other shoes in its range but there are no concrete plans yet. Presumably, it’ll make decisions based on the reaction to these. 

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The other news from Giro is a brand spanking new aero road helmet called the Vanquish MIPS. This is a high-end option and I had the chance to use this on a three hour ride over the weekend.

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Rather than being an iteration of Giro’s existing Air Attack aero helmet, the Vanquish MIPS is all new. Giro says that, if anything, it owes more to its Arrowhead time trial helmet although it was developed by the company’s Advanced Concepts Group which is charged with coming up with entirely new approaches.

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As you’d imagine, the Vanquish MIPS design has been shaped, figuratively and literally, by CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis based on wind-averaged drag. 

“We leaned heavily on the extensive development and testing capabilities of The Dome [Giro’s unrivalled helmet R&D facility in Scotts Valley, California], the resulting helmet packs several unique features new to cycling helmets, most notably the patent-pending TransformAir design which tricks the air flowing over, and through, the helmet to dramatically reduce aerodynamic drag.”

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TransformAir? This is an aerodynamic “cliff” that features on the shell. Rather than being a smooth, continuous shape from front to rear, about halfway back (just behind the logos) the shell steps down from one level to another. The idea is that this makes the air act as if the Vanquish MIPS was a full teardrop-style time trial helmet, but in a profile that’s more versatile.

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There aren’t loads of vents – four up front leading via internal channels to four more towards rear and a couple of large exhaust ports right at the back. 

The Vanquish MIPS comes with a magnetic eye shield, called Vivid, that it has developed with Zeiss. As well as protecting your eyes, this is designed to streamline the airflow. The lens is intended to increase contrast and definition while keeping colours true. 

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When you don’t want the shield in place – when you’re on a climb, say – you can take it off, flip it, and stick it on the shell of your helmet, separate magnets holding it in place. This works really well. I must have done this half a dozen times on our ride today without any worries. It’s not really the sort of thing you can get wrong and it’s perfectly secure. 

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Giro claims that the Vanquish MIPS with an eye shield fitted has less drag than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted – the equivalent of 1.76 watts at 25mph, or the equivalent of 7secs over a 40km (25 mile) time trial at 400 watts.

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Giro also claims that the Vanquish MIPS without an eye shield fitted has less drag than the Air Attack with an eye shield fitted – the equivalent of 1.26 watts at 25mph, or the equivalent of 5secs over a 40km (25 mile) time trial at 400 watts.

Giro says that the Vanquish MIPS has lower drag than either the MET Manta or Bontrager Ballista aero helmets (yes, it would, wouldn't it?). 

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Giro also claims that the Vanquish MIPS has a better cooling efficiency than either of those rivals. Interestingly, the Vanquish MIPS is said to have slightly higher cooling efficiency with the shield attached than without.

One thing that should be pointed out is that Giro can’t measure the impact of sweat on cooling efficiency because it has no means of adding that variable into the equation.

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The Vanquish MIPS doesn’t sit all that far behind Giro’s Synthe in terms of cooling efficiency, according to the figures. I must say that surprises me because in use I felt that it was noticeably warmer, although not uncomfortably warm by a long way (and it was 27°C on today’s ride).

You might well know all about MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) by now but, if not, head over to its website for all the details and see if you’re convinced of the benefit. The idea, of course, is to provide an additional level of protection in the event of certain impacts.  

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MIPS has been used on many helmets over recent years but what’s new here is the way that it has been combined with Giro’s Roc Loc Air retention system so as not to compromise ventilation too much. Rather than the yellow plastic skullcap of old, this is a minimalist approach that’s said to do the same thing.

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The Giro Vanquish MIPS has an official weight of 305g without an eye shield and 355g with the eye shield. It comes in its own storage/carry pod at a price of £250. Additional eye shields will be available in different colours for €55-60 although we don’t yet have UK prices on those. Shipping will begin in December. 

For more info go to

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

Add new comment


RobD | 6 years ago
1 like

So reading the aero savigs chart, going without a helmet is a 15 watt saving over the Synthe helmet at 30mph? I'll just take some extra calcium and toughen up the ol' skull a bit then...

ibr17xvii | 6 years ago

I have a pair of the Adidas Primeknit trainers which are along the same lines as these & they are extremely comfy.

Having said that if you get them wet they are next to useless so although the Giro shoes look the business there is absolutely no way you could wear them all the year round in the UK.

If I was in the market for a summer specific pair of shoes though I'd be very interested in these.


nadsta | 6 years ago

Best looking aero helmet & with integrated shades too

Antithetical shoe thinking - just like laces were. I like. (The knit probably cancels all the aero from your shiny new Giro helmet though)

nortonpdj | 6 years ago

Surely a knitted shoe is a sock....

mike the bike replied to nortonpdj | 6 years ago
1 like

nortonpdj wrote:

Surely a knitted shoe is a sock....


Correct.  If you buy the wool I'll get my gran to knit you a pair of these.

bendertherobot | 6 years ago
1 like

Giro can take my money now. I'll almost certainly get the Empire E70 and the Republic in due course. 

A few things, in terms of that sort of material, this isn't new per se, football boots etc have had this exact same thing. Structure is maintained internally, this isn't just about something that looks good outside. Giro are pretty great at R&D so they will have tested that structure to destruction. The missing eyelet on the Empire's isn't really all that worriesome. It's the exact same thing on the existing Empire VR90, generally you only really mess around with the top two laces there anyway. These may be more difficult to wipe over, but they should be easy to clean. They're also likely to stand up to toe overlap abrasion a bit better than existing microfibre uppers. My Giro Factor, for example, have a small off colour section which isn't worn through but does detract otherwise from their gorgeousness.

The main thing here is Giro are being a bit revolutionary again. Others are sitting a bit still.

kompot | 6 years ago

Do I have just a toxic mindset or these shoes really don't make any sence? They are made from flexible, not durable and immpossible to clean maretial which had to be enforced to be anyhow sutable for cycling. Plus did they cheap out on not installing metal rings in each hole for the mtb version?

Christopher TR1 | 6 years ago

Good looking helmet - can we have some on-head pictures, please?

Mat Brett replied to Christopher TR1 | 6 years ago

Christopher TR1 wrote:

Good looking helmet - can we have some on-head pictures, please?

Yes, sorry, I was uploading this story at midnight (can you hear the violins?) and wasn't fully alert! There are a few in there now.



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