Road/crit racing - lace vs boa shoes

Hi all,

I’m in the market for some new cycling shoes. Currently I’m wearing Specialized Torch 3.0 and I have no complaints, in fact for £130, which is what I paid for them a few years ago, they have more than delivered.

They aren’t far away from giving up on me though now and are showing serious signs of wear. I will be racing road and crits this year, and I am looking to ‘upgrade’ with my next shoe purchase, so I’m looking at shoes in manufacturer’s top lines.

I’ve noticed that across the board lace up shoes tend to be less expensive, so I’m tempted to roll the dice on laces. However, I’ve never worn lace up cycling shoes so have no experiencing racing or riding them hard. Any info or opinions on this matter would be greatly appreciated!


I’ve had several pairs of lace up Giro Empire shoes and they’ve been perfect. I found the laces to be really comfortable.

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I don’t race, but I have had zero issues with Giro Empires and Republics for the last couple of years (and I’ve only just noticed the subtle Star Wards reference!). You can get them nice and tight - much better than ratchets or velcro - and the little elastic keepers on the tongues stop the laces flapping about. Laces have often been seen on track-specific shoes so they must have pretty decent foot retention and low failure rates.

However, I do want to try some shoes with Boas.

I know lots of people say laces are more comfortable, but I have never experienced any significant difference in laces vs Boa vs straps.

Add in the fact that you can’t adjust laces mid-race and, for me, Boa wins easily every time.

The only time I would use a laced shoe now would be for a TT or a Tri….and I would take the laces out and use the lace covers that some use in soccer.


Ive never had cycling shoes with laces for years, rather velcro, boas or ratchet. I don’t think anything would want to make me revert back. Just walking laces often come loose or eventually break, with the forces of pedalling I don’t think I’d like that too often. Non laced shoes are also adjusted faster if you need them tighter or loser.


Don’t discount that satisfying pop and release of the BOA(s) at the end of a tough/long ride.


I have laces and boas. The laces may be slightly more comfortable but they are a massive pain to put on compared to boas. With laces I need to sit down, loosen the laces, adjust the tongue, then tie up and possibly retie if I didn’t get the desired snugness. Boas are put shoe on standing up and quickly tighten / adjust on the fly.


Is there any difference in feel when you are riding or doing hard efforts? I can’t help but feel like the laces will loosen towards the end of a workout or race, just when the security matters the most.

Honestly, if I get the tension right at the start, I don’t often feel the need to retighten laces during a ride. Occasionally, but definitely not a regular occurrence.

But I really need to make the laces tight at the start…not uncomfortable, but tight.

I still have and ride my Empires occasionally, but IME, the hassle factor for laces isn’t worth the limited benefit. Others will feel differently…something you kinda need to decide for yourself.


Yeah that makes sense! sounds like the BOAs are the way to go then!

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Personally, I miss old school 2-3 strap velcro.

I’ve had two pairs of BOA shoes and they have been a pain in the arse. My first BOAs were one way dials so you have to fully loosen them to adjust. You couldn’t just back off one or two clicks.

My current shoes are S-Works with S2 Boas. I wear out the top pair every year. I can swap top to bottom and get another 6-12 months. For a while I was buying random replacement dials on ebay because they are really hard to find. Then I realized that all Boas have a lifetime warranty through Boa (not the maker of your shoes).

Laces - how do you tighten or loosen them during a race?

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Declare a mechanical and take a free lap.



I still use velcro strap shoes for cx. Much quicker to put on or off than other shoes. Never had the non-sticking issues that other seem to have either.

Worst ones I have are Northwave winter boots. The boots are fine, but NW use their own boa-like dials, which are a massive pita. They tighten fine, but to open them, you have to relase them click by click with a little lever. It’s about 50 clicks, and takes forever with frozen fingers and trying to get my ice cold feet out of the boots. Been thinking of just ripping them off and sticking velcro on instead.

Maybe mine are a newer version than yours, but if you pull the lever instead of pressing it, the mechanism does a complete release and you can pull all the slack you need out of the dial.


I have a pair of Giro Prolight TechLace which are a funky combo of velco + laces. They work great for what they are: lightweight climbing shoes. But for literally every other scenario, I vastly prefer my SIDI’s. They use a BOA-‘like’ contraction that allows micro adjustments and can indeed be performed whilst on the bike.

Pure lace up? No thanks.

Boas all the way. I like the kind on my S-Works 7 the best: you can tighten and losen them one notch at a time, which is amazing. This way you can e. g. retighten them or compensate for when your feet swell during a ride.

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i have laces and will never buy them again. They loosen up a little right after putting them on, so you either have to lace up too tight from the start and hopefully they will loosen up just right or untie and tighten up after riding a bit. Als, as mentioned above, you cant adjust while riding, which is annoying.

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I have both and I will tell you my experiences with each of them…

Giro Empire (Laces)-I use these shoes for short races and muddy races (ie cyclocross). Laces are great when it is muddy because you don’t need to deal with mud in boa dials. They make cleaning the shoes super easy. I know it is small but you can also cheaply change the laces to a new color and it changes things up. I do find they are more comfortable if no adjustments are needed. This is why I use them for short stuff.

Bontrager XXX (Boa)-I use these shoes for long rides/races. The benefit with these is that small adjustments can be made on the fly. As I mentioned earlier, for me the laces are more comfortable as long as no adjustment is needed. However, anything over 2 hours, I find that I like the ability to adjust, just for comfort.

These are just my options though. Good luck.


My MTB shoes were lace up and my road shoes are BOA with two separate dials (front toe area doesn’t tighten the mid foot area). I much prefer BOA for the ability to keep my toe box loose and the mid foot locked in. With laces it’s hard to achieve that and would be difficult to reach down during a ride to tighten or loosen the shoe.

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I have boa and never would consider laces because I start with the ride not cranked down then crank them down multiple times as the ride progresses. I totally don’t understand the handlebar mustachioed hipster sourdough bread making espresso after ride picture taking only in grayscale my wife does Pilates so do I lululemon is for men too I don’t even have a TV body weight exercises are all you need I soak my beans overnight crowd who wear laced up shoes.

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