Shoe Review: Saucony Breakthru

The Breakthru and Zealot ISO are 2 completely new “faces” to Saucony’s lineup late ’14/early ’15. They join a loaded range that’s either already here or coming to Malaysia, consisting of the updated Mirage 5, Ride 7 and Guide 8, and revamped Triumph ISO and Hurricane ISO. Throw the versatile and ever popular Kinvara 5 (K5) into the mix, the shoe shopper may be forgiven for being a little confused as to where the Breakthru stands. Despite just logging around 30K in the Breakthru, I think it’s time to put out this review before the shoe hits the shelves in the coming month (yup, the shoe’s not on sale in the country just yet). I don’t think my opinions will change much, if any at all, over the course of the shoe’s lifespan, so let’s get going.

The Breakthru is a little hard to peg down. It’s heavier and has an offset greater than the K5, yet tuned more like a racer compared to the cushier K5. The Breakthru’s shares the 8mm offset of Saucony’s support and higher end cushioning models. It weighs 8.7oz for my US10 to the K5’s 7.8oz.

The Breakthru is an undeniably striking shoe, with a rad-looking upper that resembles that of the Endorphin Racer. Unlike the sandwich open mesh of the K5, the upper we get with the Breakthru is thinner and stiffer, with no give at all. As a result, your big toe may experience some rubbing on the upper when in a state of dorsiflexion. While this was something I occasionally felt when running in them, it had not resulted in any hotspots or blisters. I’ll need to put in longer distances in the shoes before confirming if this is going to be an issue.

FlexFilm and Pro-Lock are both absent in Breakthru. While I don’t miss the Pro-Lock, the use of traditional and thicker overlays add to the weight. The wide and padded tongue isn’t gusseted yet it worked very well at all speeds including the twists and turns at the track. Never once did they slip and slide.

Closeup of the tightly woven mesh.

Around the back, the shoe has a stiff heel counter. The RunDry padding on the collar isn’t overly built up and is as comfortable as the K5’s.

There’s a slight midsole flaring on the lateral side. For a lightweight shoe, the Breakthru is rather stable.

There are some differences in the removable insoles. The K5 gets the softer and thicker SK-41 (more perforations and flex grooves cut into them as well) while the Breakthru settles with a noticeably thinner SK-51.

K5 insole (top) compares to the Breakthru’s

If you’ve not guessed already, the Breakthru is a neutral shoe, so there’s no medial posting (internal nor external). The midsole comprises of SSL (Saucony Super Lite) single density EVA foam with the Powergrid encased within.

SSL and Powergrid combo

Flip the shoe over and you’ll see why the Breakthru weighs more than the K5 – much more rubber. IBR+ injection blown rubber and XT900 carbon rubber while less exposed foam than the K5. Notice the 2 parallel black strips in the medial arch area? They’re not torsion shanks but thin rubber strips which in my opinion serve no functions. I hope they’ll be omitted in the next update. While durability should go up several notches, weight takes a hit with close to an ounce more than the K5. It is still a light and go-fast package though, make no mistake.

Full contact outsole.

With the technical part of the review out of the way, let’s get to the wear experience. The thing which impressed me most when I laced the shoes up the first time was the fit in the midfoot region. The upper just wraps around the midsection really well – snug without being over tight. As the laces are secured, they pull at the blue overlays around the midfoot area and you get the really good lockdown from midfoot to the heel. The toebox is a little less roomy than the K5’s, probably because the upper mesh doesn’t stretch. Prospective buyer should test both the actual and a half size up to be sure of the fit.

Medial view

The Breakthru also has the feel of a racing flat. It’s light, responsive, and each gait cycle has a snappy take to it. There’s a sense of immediacy to the running. The heel cushioning is not in the region of the K5, GR4 or the Boston Boost’s but more forgiving than the GOSpeed 3’s. The forefoot feels a little like a thicker version of the Boston Boost’s which means quickly pushing off the balls of your feet isn’t going to be a problem.

I’ve logged a handful of short quick runs, a 10K and a track session in them and encountered no negatives. As mentioned, no blisters, no hotspots. They certainly felt better going fast than slow, that’s for sure.

Lateral view

Saucony loyalists now have 2 choices when looking for a pair of lightweight neutral shoes which can double up for training and racing duties. If you prefer a softer feel in a 7.9oz (US10) package, go for the K5. If something firmer is what you seek, the Breakthru. Want something plusher? The Zealot ISO, Ride 7, and Triumph ISO should tickle your fancy depending on your budget. If you’re mechanically blessed and training to chase a big PR, give the A6 an audition.

Disclaimer: The Saucony Breakthru is a sample pair provided courtesy of Saucony Malaysia. It is expected to be available from Running Lab, Stadium and RSH outlets in April/May 2015.