Interbike 2016 Wrap-Up: Part 1

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I went to Interbike last week, the North American bike industry expo held in Las Vegas, Nevada every September. It was a shit show. It looked like this, times 300,000 square feet. That number is not made up.

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Giro Introduces First Boa Enabled Lace-Up Shoe

http___coresites-cdn_factorymedia_com_twc_wp-content_uploads_2016_08_J6A4701OMG THIS. It address all the concerns of my Giro Empire W ACC review and it’s white. Thanks for the first review Total Womens Cycling!

First Ride: Giro Introduce First Boa Enabled Lace Up Shoe

The Domestique Critique: Giro Amare II Helmet

Giro_H_Amare-II_BlackGalaxy_34It happens. Myself, the pavement and my helmet all meet at the same time with brute force and unfortunate circumstance. Enter Giro Amare II. I needed a new helmet and was intrigued to try something from the new Giro Chrono line at my LBS.

I was initially attracted to the helmet because it matches the rad new lace-up Empire W ACC shoes for women that Giro recently released. Look for my review of those shoes here. The Amare II comes in 5 color combinations and I chose Black Galaxy. It was the closest to solid black I could get and it closely matches the holographic colors of the shoe. giro_h_amare-ii_blackgalaxy_back

The Amare II is a mid-range helmet at $140 USD. With $270 the highest range of Giro helmets and $40 the lowest, you expect to be getting more style but less technology with this helmet. But I was very surprised to see several lower-priced models offering Giro’s brand new MIPS technology for a difference of $30 or more. Online you can see that Giro offers almost a replica helmet style for $30 less in the Sonnet, but with MIPS, so you may be better off getting that.

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The Amare II is well-ventilated. You can’t really feel the difference between 23 vents and 27 vents and I’m not riding in a wind tunnel. I am, however, riding in sun and cool breezes and this makes for a great summer helmet. But I will note that some may not like the high number of large vents because it actually exposes more head and hair to the sun. I doubt I was taking full aero advantage of the ventilation and instead ended up just baking in the sun with a slight scalp burn. If you didn’t wear a cap before, you may want to try one now.

DSC00794As for the fit of the Amare II, the helmet’s headform is a bit more round than ovoid so the main points of contact on your head are really the front and the back upon tightening. This became one of the big drawbacks of this helmet in my view. Once I tightened the helmet, I felt intense pressure at the forehead yet didn’t feel that it was secure all around my head. This pressure became a piercing pain over the course of my rides and I frequently wanted to stop and remove the helmet to relieve the pressure and give my poor head a break. For this reason I was always aware of the feel the helmet on my head, which is the exact opposite of an ideal helmet.

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The tighter I tried to make the helmet, the more the pressure on my forehead increased, yet I could slip it off with a hard shake of my head, even when tightening the system to its max. I tried on several sizes of the helmet and chose the one that matched the measurements of my skull so I doubt I have too big or too small of a size for me. It felt like the sides of the internal reinforcement skeleton did not even tighten around my head. I feel more safe and secure in the Lazer or Mavic helmet skeletons. I wore a cap for the remainder of my miles with the helmet and felt that worked better, both to relieve the forehead pressure and to secure the helmet on my head.

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The other big drawback was the stiff tightening system. To lighten the helmet weight, Giro developed their patented Roc Loc5 system at the base of the helmet. I found the turn knob to be stiff and small, even for my smaller hands. I couldn’t do it with gloves at all. The design of the system also caused my cycling cap to bunch up. It does accommodate any kind of ponytail, though.

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OVERALL

The Giro Amare II helmet has a great look for a mid-range price. But the tightening system is stiff and the pain and pressure the shape caused my head is frustrating for the money I paid. A cap makes its flaws less noticeable but overall I would not recommend this helmet.

The Domestique Critique: Empire of the Laces

Gorgeous cycling shoes made for women are finally here.

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Long have men had the stylish options from Giro in the Empire model. Purple, orange, matte black, glossy gold. ENOUGH. While there are many women with bigger-sized feet who could borrow from the men’s line, how much do they want to be known for wearing men’s shoes? Why are women’s cycling shoes tinted with pinks and pastel purples as though we are all hopping our way to the Easter bunny? Why is it so hard to answer the demand for more style and options? Giro’s release of the Empire W ACC proves that pairing a solid-fitting cycling shoe with a striking, bold design is just smart business. They retail online for $275.00 USD.

IMG_0078 copyMy previous experience with Giro shoes was the Factress and they were on the narrow side, giving me hot spots after longer rides, or even because of weight fluctuations. Asking around, this was quite common with Giro shoes, so if you know, for sure, that you have a flat foot then I might suggest giving another shoe company a try (like Lake or Northwave). Like many people, however, your foot may go flatter when you apply pressure, losing your arch and widening in the toe box. If this is the case, then it might be time to explore the world of laces. Reason being, laced shoes offer more points along your foot for adjustment, whereas Boa systems (twist-to-tighten, cable-and-dial) typically have only two criss-crossing points and buckle systems have only one secure point with up to two Velcro additional points.

IMG_0089Giro’s Supernatural Fit Kit, which provides three different arch supports to allow some customization. Rather than build arch support into the outsole of the shoe, Giro allows you to pick the arch support that works best for you. It may take a few rides to determine your favorite. I went with the maximum arch insert, which attaches securely to the underside of the insole with Velcro, but soon changed out entirely for my custom insoles from Foot Balance. (I highly recommend going to a bike fitter to study how your feet work in action to get custom-molded insoles. You’ll thank me later.)

IMG_0086 copyThe Good

-There is no flex. You keep all the power transfer from your leg to your pedal. What you put in is what you get out, it makes climbing feel easier. EASIER I SAY.

-Giro now offers several replacement laces in various colors. You can add one more accessory to you already polished #kitstyle.

-The weight. It’s a very light shoe, and weight weenies will appreciate this.

The Bad

-They are a warmer shoe. Fewer ventilation areas along the shoe make for a sweaty foot when all is said and done.

-Not easy to make on-the-bike adjustments. If you have been pedaling along and feel you need them tighter or looser, then you’ll have to ask the group to stop while your inner 5 year old re-ties the shoes. Hope they’ll stop!

Doing a hard, short hammer ride, intervals, or crit? Go ahead and lace them up tight to avoid any heel slip and ensure your foot is locked in. For longer rides though, we suggest scrunching your toes while lacing up and tying. This will create a few millimeters of wiggle room, which will give your feet some room to swell during the ride, avoid undue pressure, and keep you more comfortable.

-Size is off. I still had trouble with Giro’s sizing. The LBS didn’t offer my exact size (they didn’t want to carry all women’s sizes?) so I had to guess when it came to the smaller end of the range. I guessed correctly for my width, but the heel cup is still too big and the lacing won’t fix that. So I slide a little in the heel. It’s annoying but doesn’t directly affect my pedaling. Giro reps recommend you also checking out the men’s line (not unfamiliar with women unfortunately) for more size options.

IMG_0081*My reviews follow wear of 5 months (as you can see from the cleats!)