Vibram sticky rubber lugs for excellent grip and durability
Could use a large ventilation cutout on upper
No micro loosening
Lacks sufficient sidefoot protection for Trail/Enduro riding
The Code is a high-performing, even race-ready, XC shoe that can also handle some more aggressive riding, with its tough, highly water-resistant upper and sticky Vibram lugs. The secure heel hold and carbon outsole is sufficiently stiff for most occasional racers. But it still retains a smooth flex in the forefoot for better off-bike performance and pedal feel. Like with many high performance shoes at a lower price point, the buckle is quite basic, but the fit is excellent, with a super stable heel cup.
Stiffness/Power Transfer While the Easton E70 carbon isn’t quite as stiff as we’d like it to be, the shoe makes up for this with its super-snug feet and great heel hold, so the power transfer remains quite good. And most of the flex seems to be in front of the contact point, so it doesn’t affect pedaling as much. Most casual racers won’t feel much difference between this and a high-end racing model, and they’ll gain comfort, better traction and a smooth gait off the bike.
Fit/Comfort While on the surface this shoe feels a bit stiff, and it’s not the softest interior we’ve tested, it offers outstanding fit and great comfort. The contoured interior is very snug throughout, and while it might be a bit narrow for some, I had no issues with hotspots or pinching, even when cranked. This means added efficiency since there’s virtually no movement inside the shoe – when your foot moves, it moves! This is especially so in the heel, where the heavily padded cup locks your foot tight with probably the best hold in the group. And three interchangeable arch inserts add to the glove-like fit, for various foot types. Topping it all off, the even flex in the outsole means added comfort on long rides and a more confident hike-a-bike, although a couple others in the group outperform it in this category.
Closure System The Code features the standard 2-strap, 1-ratchet buckle closure, and like so many shoes in this price range, Giro skimped here to keep costs down. The buckle offers no micro loosening, which is an issue especially for higher performance shoes like this one. But unlike some of the others, it has triple-click closure for faster tightening, and it’s moveable for fit customization. Once cranked it held tight, and the buckle function is smooth and reliable. It’s also positioned high on the shoe, keeping the ankle opening tight and secure. The two Velcro straps also functioned well, with little wear. And the center strap, which features a more centered pull than most, closed tightly and evenly over the sensitive midfoot. Testers were able to really crank this down without pinching or discomfort, unlike with so many shoes. This did leave some excess strap dangling, that could get caught in debris, but it can be trimmed if necessary.
Construction/Durability The upper is a very tough and smooth microfiber that sheds elements extremely well, yet despite its stiff feel it still allows for a contoured fit. And the outsole is made by Easton, a company renowned for their durable, high-quality carbon products. So the combination should make for a long-lasting shoe that can handle aggressive riding well. The upper exterior held up well during our testing, remaining quite clean with only minimal scuffs. Plus, it has no large cutout vents which may impede cooling, but will increase durability, thanks to fewer weak spots. A lack of serious sidefoot scuff guards will mean a shorter life span (and maybe some banged up feet) for more Trail-focused riders.
Off-Bike Performance The addition of Vibram sticky lugs adds considerably to the shoe’s versatility – what could have been more of a high-value racing shoe, is now a strong crossover performer. It’s still XC focused, but the added traction and gentle flex of the outsole provide solid, confident traction and a comfortable platform for hike-a-bike sections more common in Trail/Enduro riding. It’s also one of the most water-resistant uppers.
Breathability/Drainage The upper is very well perforated, with relatively large holes, so breathability is strong throughout. Ventilation would improve with some venting over the toes, but this would mean more water getting in, and drainage is already an issue: There’s practically nowhere for water to go when it does get in (and it will, regardless of the lack of large vents), so it must simply evaporate. It’ll perform best on hot days and drier trails.