Giro CODE Review

by Brian Mullin on July 9, 2011

They’re an impressive shoe, being comfortable, supportive and offering superb power, and plenty of useful and innovative features, such as the adjustable arch insole kit. The upper’s have a combination of a leather like synthetic fabric and scuff guards for fit, protection and durability, and the stiff carbon sole has a hint of flex for walking, and it’s finished off with thick aggressive lugs for grip. The Code uses unique offset Velcro straps, and a ratchet buckle system that was the easiest I have ever used, using a downward pressure to release, instead of the usual up.

Code Green – Pros Code Red – Cons
Insole – Adjustable Arch Kit Not the best hiker
Stiff, Powerful and great feel Premature wear on toe section
Ratchet system Slight heel lift
Protective Scuff and toe bash guards Expensive

Giro Code
The outsole is comprised of the Easton EC90 unidirectional carbon sole for stiffness and power, a grippy set of tall dual-density lug’s for traction, and a mid-foot scuff guard for grip when not clipped-in, and to protect the carbon. The upper is made from the tough synthetic Teijin microfiber, and includes a warp around welded scuff guard for durability, well padded tongue, and for closure, it uses a ratcheting buckle, and offset Velcro straps to alleviate pressure spots. The insole uses their SuperNatural Fit Kit, which has an adjustable arch support system for tuning and fit, and has X-Static anti-microbial fiber material for wicking and odor control. They come in White/Black, Black and Magnesium/Black colors, and are available in full sizes from 39-48, and half sizes from 39.5-46.5, and weigh approximately 355 grams each.

I was amazed at how much power and leverage I could pry out of the shoes, and it helped with acceleration, traction, balance, and lessened fatigue. The thin sole is stiff, and the low stack height translates into a superb tactile feeling, giving one additional feedback, response and precision. The EC90 carbon sole has some pretty nice qualities, which really help the shoe’s characteristics.

The toe bash and side scuff guards, along with the wrap around protection do an impressive job, and save the foot from injury and impacts, and mostly keep the shoe from getting destroyed and abraded. I regularly tested this system, and it kept my feet from getting smashed and hurt from rocks and tree branches. The bottom carbon plate has gotten some scratches and gouges from riding and hiking, but they seem fine for the abusive wear I have tossed at them. I am an absolute shoe destroyer, and except for some premature wear on the front toe lugs and scuff guards, they have been durable. The base Teijin microfiber works in great synergy with the scuff guards to provide comfort, snugness and a bombproof layer to protect you from the outside world.

They have gotten accelerated wear under the toe’s and front scuff guard, and I have pretty much worn down the front lugs to nubbins, which was exacerbated from my extensive hiking on rocky terrain. The scuff guards have some cuts and worn through marks, but it’s mostly cosmetic and superficial, and the underlying material seems to be protected? The lugs sometimes chunk off in peeling pieces as they wear, which can cause some premature wearing in spots, especially around the edges of their platforms, although the main stack height seems more robust. The lugs aren’t made from the stickiest rubber compound, so you can slide on smooth rocks, although their hardness does help their longevity underneath the foot, but they still have an average tread life. There was plenty of room for cleats between the lugs, and I had no interference issue with Shimano SPD pedals.

Unless the shoe is tightened down properly, which means a good crank down of the ratchet strap and middle Velcro strap, you will get some heel lift, which is more noticeable when walking. After the shoe breaks in, they perform decently for a short hike-a-bike sessions, but I wouldn’t want them for long distances, as they hurt my feet, and anything that involved an extreme amount of slick rock was problematic (they slip). I regularly hike some difficult terrain for significant distances to get to the good gnar, and they aren’t what I would call a pleasant hiker, although they are more comfortable, and easier to hike in then the usual high performance bike shoe.

I really appreciated the well-thought-out ratchet system on the top strap, as it was easy to open or loosen with a simple and light push down on the button, and it can be altered on the fly. The ratchet did accidentally pre-release on occasion, but it was usually when getting on and off the bike, and to a rarer extent when hitting rocks, bushes and tree branches. When the straps were clamped down tight, they gave a nice snug fit, and while spinning it increased the tactile feel and power, but I found they hurt the outside of my foot just below the ankle bone when I stepped off the bike, although the issue was easily remedied by loosening them for comfort. During a long ride or when your foot swells or gets hot, a simple on the fly loosening helped relieve the tension, at a small loss to heel lift and power. The offset Velcro straps prevented any hot or bind spots from happening under the tongue, and they gave them a more uniform pull across the top of the foot. The well-padded tongue helped immensely with comfort, and any sort pressure from the strap system never propagated onto the top of the foot.

The insole’s SuperNatural Fit Kit with it’s adjustable arch support system worked nicely, and the modular nature of it made fitting the shoes a breeze. I played around with the different arch heights (S, M and L) and found the highest one worked the best for me. It was very simple to pull the insole out of the shoe, detach the arch insert from its Velcro attachment strips, and replace with another height. The sole fit system is quite innovative, and it helps fit a larger variety of foot shapes and widths.

Measured Specs:
Weight – 705 grams

Bottom Line
The Giro CODE is a supremely powerful and supportive shoe when spinning and performing technical maneuvers, and the synergy of the stiff carbon sole and wafer thinness, and snug fit, give it impressive qualities on the bike. The well made and solid shoe has many excellent features, including the protective welded scuff guards and a toe bumper, the insoles SuperNatural Fit Kit adjustable arch system, and the offset Velcro straps and easy to use ratchet. I really liked how simple it was to adjust the ratchet on the fly, to give the shoe more comfort or to extract more power. The wrap around protection was a nice safety additive, and kept you feet from getting injured from trail and terrain obstacles.

The shoe is a decent but not great hiker, has some slight heel lift and the tread life is only average. The big ding mark for me was that the toe bumper and front lugs had premature wear.


  • SuperNatural Fit Kit
  • Stiff
  • Powerful
  • Tactile and Responsive
  • Offset top straps
  • Easy to use ratchet system
  • Scuff and toe bash guards protect shoe and feet


  • Front lugs and toe guard wear prematurely
  • Average tread life
  • Below average hiker
  • Ratchet can release accidentally
  • Slight heel lift
  • Expensive

MSRP – $279.99

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Giro CODE Specs:

  • Upper – Teijin lightweight microfiber shapes to your foot; Welded scuff guards provide enhanced durability; Strong and secure ratcheting buckle closure (replaceable); Offset “D-ring” at mid-foot strap helps to prevent pressure points
  • Outsole – Easton EC90 unidirectional carbon is optimized for stiffness and power transfer; High traction lugged outsole is optimized for grip and durability; Mid-foot scuff guard enhances grip when not clipped-in, and protects carbon sole
  • Footbed – SuperNatural Fit Kit with adjustable arch support system and X-Static anti-microbial fiber
  • Compatible with standard two-bolt MTB cleats
  • Colors – White/Black (Red accents), Black (Red accents) and Magnesium/Black.
  • Weight – 355 grams in size 42
  • MSRP – $279.99

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