Giro purpose builds shoes covering every cycling discipline: Road, mountain, BMX, downhill, city, and spin shoes, in a myriad of styles and colors (some pretty wild). At Belgianwerkx we recognized the quality construction, fit, and choice offered by Giro and made them a central part of our line-up.
I’ve been racing on the limited-edition Giro Empire mountain bike shoe for most of the Cyclocross season. Most of my road season was in the Empire road shoe, so transitioning to the mountain shoe built on the same upper, was a no-brainer. While I love the Empires, I found the shoe a little too tight and uncomfortable with the thick socks I wear during CX season.
Not wanting to lay out a ton of dough, I ordered a set of the feature-packed but reasonably priced ($150) Giro Privateers. I ordered half a size up from my Empires, to make sure I had plenty of room for my comfy warm socks. From experience, I knew fit would be similar to the other Giro shoes I own. What I didn’t expect was the level of quality and performance that these shoes delivered!
The first thing I noticed was how light they are! A pair of Giro Privateers weigh only 20 grams more than Giro’s top-of-the-line shoes. The Privateers offer a breathable microfiber upper, replaceable buckle top strap, two strong offset Velcro straps, and a rubber toe cap. The sole is a high quality dual density DuPont Zytel, with an amazingly low stack height(low thickness). Thin soles allow better power transfer and usually mid-to-low end shoes suffer from unusually thick stack heights. The Privateers are only 7.2mm thick (6.5mm for Code)!
I was a bit concerned about the stiffness of these shoes when I first tried them on. I immediately noticed that they were easier to walk in, given that the toe flexed a little easier than my carbon soled Giro shoes. I rode them during a CX practice and found them to be comfortable, so I took them to my weekend cyclocross races in Waterloo. During the two races, I never noticed a “lack” of stiffness, they felt fine. In fact, besides putting them on and taking them off; I never noticed my shoes at all. My earlier concerns were completely unfounded.
It wasn’t a particularly muddy race, so I didn’t get to slip around much. The lug pattern= mirrors the other Giro mountain bike shoes I have, so I expect mud clearance and grip to be great. The low profile front lugs and the large channel that leads toward the cleat makes for easy and quick re-mounts. If you’re the type, the sole accepts toe spikes.
The insole of the Privateers are an EVA foam with medium arch support, perfect for my “normal” feet. If you have a particularly high or low arch you may want to upgrade to the Giro Gauge or Code shoe, as these offer the “Supernatural Fit System” a semi-custom insole that allows you to tailor the arch support for your foot shape. Or purchase the Supernatural insole separately, it’s only $50. Speaking of fit, the Giro Privateers come in a high-volume extra-wide model from sizes 39-48!
Of course the higher-end Gauge and Code offer a carbon sole for better stiffness and power transfer, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. The Giro Privateer (the comparable women’s shoe is the Manta) offers most of the same features and performance in a value-packed high performance shoe. I know I just found my new favorite shoes.
Nicholas Moroder is the everyday face of Belgainwerkx. He has been wrenching on bikes for 10 years and is a Certified Retul University fitter. He’s the kind of guy who can tell you what tire is best for your wet rides, or what brake pads will make your rims last the longest. He manages the service, product , fitting, and day-to-day operation of the shop.