One look at the Giro Empire VR90 and you know something's different. Giro's use of laces on a top end XC shoe sets them apart from the rest of the laces wearing mountain bike clan by at least a couple inches of suspension travel. At the base of the Empires is an Easton carbon fiber EC90 sole the stiffest and lightest in Easton's impressive lineup of carbon fiber. Vibram's sturdy and grippy Mont outsole is then layered over the carbon, both to give you a bit more walkability in the shoes, but also to protect the carbon. Bonded to the VibramEaston combo at the sole is a one piece microfiber upper that's incredibly breathable and comfortable, but won't stretch out over time, ensuring you get the same fit throughout the life of the shoe. Giro's lauded SuperNatural Fit Kit insoles are also included. These insoles include three different inserts for low, medium, and high arches, and they're among the best we've ridden without going full custom.