I've owned several pairs of Giro MTB shoes over the past 5 years, and the ratchet system models have an upper seam that often irritates the topoutside of my feet. In contrast, the seamless-upper Empires create no friction points on my feet. The laces also do a better job adjusting fit, though you can't easily fine tune this while riding (which is one advantage of ratchets)...The Empire sole is super stiff and great for power transfer. I haven't used these long enough to comment on durability.
I use this SPD shoe on my road bike. For me SPD shoes are just as fast as regular road shoes and I like being able to walk around in them The Giro shoes are very stiff, which is great on the bike, but makes them a little stiffs to walk around in. Overall I really like these shoe.
There are a few reviews around the web suggesting these shoes are unusually narrow. As one who normally wears Sidi I wanted to put another data point out there to say these are no more narrow than a standard SIDI shoe. So if you think that's too narrow then fine, but this shoe is billed more a racing shoe than a CX shoe. It's light weight so if you need a trekking shoe you might consider something else.
I've had these shoes for a month and a half and have used them for both off-road riding and commuting. I normally wear size 11.5 gym shoes and ordered these in 45.5. The fit felt very snug at first but after a few weeks felt perfect. The carbon soles are very stiff and provide a great feel when pedaling. Plus, they look way more presentable than regular bike shoes. When clipped in, I'd give these shoes 5 stars.
But, after only weeks of use, the Vibram sole on my shoes is starting to break apart. The rubber used here is very hard and brittle, and rather than wearing normally, parts of the sole break off in large chunks. And, you can't get replacement pads for these shoes. For as much as I like wearing these shoes, it sucks that they probably won't last 6 months.
I only have a couple rides in with these shoes, but so far I am very impressed. As a long-time Sidi fan boy, I wasn't sure about the laces or the brand, but for some reason I was drawn to at least try these. The initial lace was like slipping on a pair of running shoes. A very good fit, and totally customization to avoid pressure points. The laces slip into a little elastic thingy on the tongue to keep them out of the cranks. My first ride was a 15 mile mtb romp on single and double track...nothing too techy but at over an hour in the saddle it was a good test. With the carbon sole you can really feel the power transfer to the pedals. It's much more like a road shoe in that regard. The vibram sole was great for the little bits of walking. If these babies hold up, I will be a long-term convert. The price is in line with most other high-end shoes. I like the laces, the look, and the light weight of these shoes, and love the feeling of power transfer.
I really like this shoe. On my old shoes with buckles, I was never able to get them to fit snugly enough without fear of over-tightening and breaking the plastic strap. This lead to issues with the shoe feeling like it was going to slip off during cyclocross run-ups. Not an issue with these babies, as you can tighten the laces in just the right spots to get a snug fit. These are great shoes.
The shoes are the most comfortable cycling shoe I've ever had by far. My guess is it's due to two things the lacing system provides a much better fit than the usual buckle and velcro and the upper is really supple. I'd love to switch over to the SLX for road shoes if they ever go on sale.