Technology and design
Giro claim that a good portion of the Prolight’s weight savings is achieved by using an advanced material on the upper of the shoe. The material uses a technical monofilament mesh with Teijin TPU welding for reinforcement. I’ll put my hand up here and say I’m not absolutely certain what this means but the look and feel reminds me a lot of a refined type of windsurfer sail material. It even has the see-through panels, so for the fashionistas, be aware of your sock colour choice.
The Techlace system also works to save weight. The essence of the system is three adjustable velcro straps attached to laces. It is simple to use and allows for tailored tightness at each one of the three points.
Another place that Giro shaved off grams is the carbon sole which is developed in partnership with Swedish company Oxeon. Their TeXtreme composite sole is woven in sheets rather than weaves to provide stiffness but as it requires less resin than traditional carbon methods, it is lighter. Padding for grip off the bike is sparse under the sole with only a heel pad to prevent you from slipping.
My worn size 46.5 pair, which had picked up some dirt along the way, weighed 185 grams (right shoe) and 187 grams (left shoe). It’s imaginable that the 150-gram claim for a size 42.5 of Prolights is within reach. But how does this weight play out in the real world?
Fit and comfort
I experienced good comfort wearing the Prolight Techlace feeling somewhat how I'd expect the cycling equivalent of slippers to feel. The outer material is supple and conforms well to the shape of the foot with a stiff sole. The moulded rear cups the heel holding it snugly without causing any irritation. The toe box is bordering on narrow. While the outer material shaped itself around my medium width feet, riders with wider feet may struggle for space.
The thin upper material does well not to stretch keeping the foot within the bounds of the shoe but it does not provide all that much support. Riders who rely on the uppers for support in their pedalling technique might be disappointed with the Prolight’s thin materials. The shoe might not provide the most support but it has proved to be tough having shrugged off a few scrapes and kicks of the curb (yes, I’m clumsy).
The thin upper material breathes excellently. Perfect for those who looking for the coolest of shoes. In winter, however, make sure you have some shoe covers or the cold will creep in. In the wet, water penetrates the shoe rather easily but at the same time the shoe drains well through the underside toe vent and dries almost instantly.
The Techlace lacing system is simple to use. Each shoe has three velcro straps attached to the stretchy laces. The pressure can be evenly applied over the lacing, making for a cosy fit without the discomfort of an uneven tension. The stretchy laces do not allow for the same locked in tightness that other lacing systems can deliver.
On the bike, adjustments to the laces are difficult with the velcro straps needing individual attention. A dial-type system is far easier to reach down and tighten. A minor annoyance but the velcro pads can also be a bit fiddly, flapping about when undone during fitment or removal.
The carbon sole is suitably firm (showing no faults in the lightweight proprietary layup) without being overly harsh to cause pressure or heat spots. Pedal strokes feel efficient with the sole giving the impression that the force is being transferred directly to the pedal. The minimalist rubber heel cap (and cleat) are all that separates the ground from the slippery carbon sole when walking. It did reasonably well (combined with an SPD cleat), surviving the notoriously slippery Kalk Bay side road leading to croissant heaven at Olympia Cafe bakery.
The shoes arrive with a flat footbed and a second footbed with three arch support wedges, to best fit your arch type, that can be changed out using velcro strips. The wedge support works reasonably well but under more powerful loads it can compress. Switching between a pair of Specialized Body Geometry shoes during testing, it was quickly noticeable how little shaping is present in the rest of the Prolight footbed. Not a good or a bad thing but worth noting depending on which direction your preferences lie.
All the above considerations are probably only of minor importance considering the real reason to choose the Prolight shoes is the weight savings. Switching between a relatively heavy set of shoes and the Prolight, the Prolight’s feeling of weightlessness is immediately evident. Pedalling does feel lighter and very efficient. But, of course, switching between another lightweight range-topping shoe, the impact is less dramatic.
The price tag of the Prolight Techlace shoes is anything but light. Taking the latest exchange rates into account, a pair will set you back around R6,650. However, looking at a price to gains ratio in cycling, it’s really a trend of diminishing returns for your Rands as any product gets lighter. And with the Prolight being one of the lightest shoes on the market, it is little surprise that the price sits at the extreme end of the spectrum.
Giro's goal with the Prolight Techlace was to make the lightest shoe they could and in that aim, they've smashed it out the park. The shoe is also comfortable for all-day riding and breathes exceptionally well. But in the single-minded pursuit for feather-light shoes Giro has needed compromise in some aspects, so if you're looking for a shoe that shines in all aspects, you'll need to look to something a bit heavier.