When you hear Giro, you think helmets. Although the California-based company makes some other accessories as well, their stock in trade is lids. The last Giro product I reviewed was the Selector, which I absolutely love. The Selector is an important milestone in aero helmets.
But the product at hand is the Mele Tri shoe. It represents a significant effort by Giro to serve the tri market. When companies like Giro decides to compete in this space, it's ultimately the consumer who wins. And while the Mele doesn't really represent a leap forward in tri shoe design, it mostly abides by what you might call the best practices in triathlon footwear. Along with the Mele Tri, Giro is also introducing the Facet Tri, the women-specific version of the same shoe.
Let's take a look at this thing from the ground up. The sole is a nice stiff carbon composite made by Giro's sister company, Easton. It's a very stiff platform - Easton knows how to make carbon. Rubber grips front and rear make the shoes relatively walkable, as far as cycling shoes go. Sadly, the grips aren't user-replaceable as they have been on other tri shoes. So after enough use, they will wear out. On the other hand, too much walking in a tri shoe is never a great idea, especially in uncovered cleats. The requisite hole in the forefoot allows water to drain out of the bottom when riding with wet feet.
Moving up, we see a pretty familiar scene - an airy mesh upper, and a two strap closure, the top strap closing reverse. A loop on the back of the shoe aids in getting the shoe on during flying starts, and a microfiber inner keeps things nice and soft when riding sockless. The top strap (the reverse one) is shaped so that it won't accidentally pull out of its loop accidentally. All-in-all, pretty par for the course.
Now, a quick word about reverse closure straps. Personally, I don't like them. The design idea is that when the strap is open, it won't hit your cranks, making flying starts easier. But my problem is that if you like your shoes to fit tight, then you can end up with excess strap going inward when closed. What I prefer is standard, short straps. Specialized pioneered that style with the Trivent, and others have followed. That being said, some people really prefer the reverse strap for some reason. If that's you, great. But don't jump on the reverse strap bandwagon just because the industry tells you to.
Fit + Conclusions
So, with that out of the way, how does the shoe fit? A bit snug. I would recommend sizing up at least a half size. Normally I ride 43.5, and this shoe was definitely on the tight side. I'd want a 44 or maybe even a 44.5 to feel right. That snugness is in overall length and the toe box, which is fairly narrow. The rest is actually rather roomy. The midfoot especially is on the very large side. This should help with entry during flying starts.
Each shoe comes with three different inserts that slide under the insole for different levels of arch support. Giro calls it "supernatural fit" and it's a great addition to the shoe. Again, this has been done before; Specialized has multiple BG foot beds for their shoes, although you have to buy them separately. It's nice that Giro includes them all with the shoe.
As I said in the beginning, there's nothing earth-shaking here. We're just looking at a good, well-designed shoe that will work well for many athletes. The Mele Tri was designed with input from Retul co-founder Todd Carver, and hits the high points of current shoe design. It's light, good-looking, and works well. It's not breaking the mold, but fits nicely inside it.