Road/crit racing - lace vs boa shoes

Ohhh, thanks that works, thank you! (Its a bit stuck). I was really dreading the day when I had to get them off quickly!

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Yeah got to be a bit forceful with mine but if you lift the upper open as you hold the lever then it lets go and the spool unwinds easily (for me at least)
Happy to be of assistance!

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I’ve used laces on my road shoes since 2015, and I love them. I have a really low foot volume so laces give me the ability to secure my entire foot comfortably and microadjust. I replaced my original Empires in 2021 with Empire SLX because the upper felt like slippers. I ordered a pair of S-Works 7s to compare and the shape dug into the front part of my ankle where it meets the foot. There was also extra volume that I was unable to close up with the BOA.

That said, I had a pair of Giro VR90s (the lace up MTB shoes) and their shape was too narrow and the laces and tongue were constantly dirty. The laces would get pretty crunchy. Now I use Shimano RX8 with the BOA closure for my gravel riding shoes and I’m happy with them. They are pretty easy to wipe down and they are not too voluminous.

As for as generalities, I’ve never wanted to adjust my laced shoes mid-race/ride. When I get my laces set, they seem to flex in the appropriate places to be comfortable without being too loose.

You doing okay man?


I gotta say I’m surprised by the passionate hatred of laces. Do none of you other shoes (in life) have laces? Are you guys constantly untying and re-tying your dress shoes?

I have a pair of Giro Empire E70 Knit lace and a pair of S-Works Torch (with BOAs) and the Giro are way more comfortable. I tried the S-works 7, S-Works 7 Vent, and S-Works Ares before keeping the Torch, but none were as comfortable as the Giro. Though that may be because of the knit upper rather than laces. The SW Torch look way better (all white), just not as comfortable. And that’s not saying they’re uncomfortable, the Giro are just so nice by comparison. Maybe my feet don’t swell much but I’ve never needed to adjust them on a ride, nor have I wished to tighten them down for a sprint. I’m actually looking at the DMT KRSL lace ups for a summer shoe.

And they’re more aero.

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This is extreme triathlon nerd but has anyone used elastic laces? I’m thinking about getting giro empires and going that route. They’ll always have a small amount of compression and 90% of the force is downward anyways (since the other foot is pushing down, there won’t be much pulling if any at all)

I’m thinking laces will be marginally more aero on the order of 1 to 3 watts, depending on your foot position, and even putting an over shoe the laces will have less crinkles in the overshoe fabric. I love my pearl izumi boa shoes for training but can’t help but think the knobs sticking out come at a penalty.

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I’ll add a vote for laces. Got a pair of Giro Empire road shoes which have been great, I’ve found the fit is better than Boas and I never have to stop to adjust them. Used to race in them, never had a problem. I had a pair of the MTB equivalent shoes (I think they were called empires as well) which were equally as good EXCEPT the tread delaminated pretty fast on them, so nothing to do with the laces.

I’ve had the opposite experience of most with boas on the few pairs of shoes I have had with them: I find myself tightening them all the time. Granted, it is very easy to do, even when rolling, but I never have to stop to do that with my road shoes. I think the fit is less good, generally speaking, but that could be due to the design of the rest of the shoe as well. I’m not in the market for shoes currently, but boas certainly wouldn’t be top of the list of must haves on my next pair

As always: YMMV


That is absolutely a viable option for tri’s……a couple of guys did testing in wind tunnels and found they saved ~5w, IIRC.

I went a step further (see above). Took the laces out of my Empires and used silicone lace covers from soccer. Not a super-tight fit, but tight enough for the bike leg….that includes doing the 70.3 WC in Chattanooga that had a long climb to start the bike leg. Worked awesome.

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I mean why not do this for road and crit too? 5w is 5w. But also tri shoes by comparison sometimes can have extra doodads hanging off the sides and Velcro straps aren’t always perfect.

Nowhere near tight enough, IMO……laces / Boas / straps, etc are designed to get your shoes as tight as possible. Elastic by definition stretch.

My gravel shoes are Bontrager lace ups and my road shoes are S-works Vents, double Boa. I was skeptical of the laces but have never needed to tighten or loosen them even during 6-7 hour races and they’re at least as comfortable as my road shoes if not more.

Old skool my friend. If I could get dress shoes with these boa like things:

the world would be a better place LOL. Like when all my suits and ties went into storage.

Thankfully I live somewhere that accepts leather sandals as dress shoes for half the year. Otherwise I’d have to go island and stock up on Tommy Bahama business wear :desert_island::sunglasses:


+1 on boas. Laced shoes sound like madness… I sometimes have to re-tie my regular shoes even when they were double knotted. How the hell are you supposed to do that in a bike race? Maybe low probability if well tied (or wrapped somehow), but just seems like a bad approach for a shoe you might need to adjust while riding.

Also, someone previously mentioned the boa lifetime warranty. It’s free, easy, and fast. I think I spent $20 many years ago on new boa’s from specialized before I learned about the free boa warranty. I’ve got some old s-works road shoes that probably went through 4-5 sets of boas before the shoes fell apart (the old boa design you could adjust in either direction, but they would get loose over time).

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Kinetic powered Nike Mag cycling shoes may solve all the above problems.

And give you 99 more.

I Pretty much only wear Blundstones, Birkenstocks and crocs these days. So, yes, I hate laces all around it would seem.

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This is my idea of a dress shoe:

Or something Italian that looks similar.

Boa road shoes for cycling.

I also have Giro Empires. I only wear them for Time Trials and pay careful attention as to how they are done up prior to applying the shoe covers.

Under hard racing they maintain tightness but I would not like to be strapped into them for a longer crit or RR. You have virtually no ability to adjust them without a dismount.
Longer times in the saddle and your feet do swell, get uncomfortable, you can’t simply reach down and adjust as with dials or ratchets.

agree that laces are a super comfortable option for some but you are also comparing apples and oranges…

Giro’s have an incredibly narrow last and Specialized shoes are like wearing a pair of shoe boxes on your feet. Giros have tiny toe boxes, Specialized have enormous toe boxes.

In the 4 years I’ve owned them, I’ve never needed to readjust. But I can understand that many people would want to change the tightness. Maybe I have weird feet that don’t swell as much. I do think the knit give a little bit and that plays into it compared to a stiffer upper.

Weird, because I returned all the various S-Works shoes (SW7, Vent, Ares) because they were way too narrow, and only kept the Torch because they had a wider toe box. And they still feel tighter than the Giros.

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