Saucony Ride 10 Review

Like the iPhone, Saucony’s Ride celebrated its legacy with version 10 this year. Unlike the much-hyped device from the fruit-themed company, this neutral shoe doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (or kidney), nor adopts a Roman nomenclature. It does, however, prove to be the best, IMHO, Ride yet – updated, possesses responsive cushioning yet supportive. It’s also light enough for many to be marathon race day shoes. And that, readers, are sufficient to wrap up my review. But let’s go on a little more, shall we?

My recent relationship with the Ride was with version 8, which has long since been retired. The 8 took some time to break-in and until about 60K, felt clunky and stiff to run in. Once broken in, however, it proved to be a trouble-free daily trainer, providing a ride that’s on the softer side for those easy days. It was certainly softer than the Pegasus but not the least responsive like the Supernova Glide Boost. The Ride 8 (R8) had an unassuming character and quietly got the job done. Gave me plenty of miles too. I skipped the 9 as I continued my love affair with multiple pairs of the Kinvara.

Recently, the chance to run in the Ride came my way and it’s nice to see the improvements made to this shoe. The Ride 10 (R10) is a major update in nearly every aspect over the R8.

The upper now sports an even more ventilated soft heathered engineered mesh upper, with a mid to rear section that’s more structured and supportive. Flexfilm strips continue to feature on key areas, but not used as much as before. My version of the Ride has the Chroma reflective colourway which on top of providing an urban flavour on what would’ve been a staid and traditional looking running shoe, looks pretty cool with changing colours depending on the viewing angle. While the heel collar is given a “just-nice” treatment in terms of padding, I would’ve preferred a less padded tongue for weight saving and less bulk. Heel counter is the internal variety. Heel fit and lockdown are customarily very good in the Ride, and the forefoot is roomier than that of the Kinvara 8’s.

There was a slight annoyance when toeing off, however. I felt the Flexfilm strip pressing down on the top of my feet – so I simply laced up from the second row. Quite easily fixed.

As with most of Saucony’s offerings, there’s an EVERUN topsole positioned just below the removable insole. The midsole is no longer a dual-density setup with the removal of the softer crash pad at the heel area. In its place is PowerFoam which gives the R10 a more responsive wear experience to the older versions.

The shoe has a stack height of 27/19mm for an overall heel to toe offset of 8mm. The real-feel is that of a lower drop value, so runners who go about in 4mm shoes such as the Kinvara shouldn’t have any issues adjusting.

The midsole has a considerable flare especially in the medial side of the forefoot, giving the R10 a wide base. The heel is bevelled on the outer side for smoother transition especially if you’re a heel striker, while the medial side has a

The outsole is Saucony’s usual Tri-Flex design with deeper flex grooves. Where the old R8 was stiff, the 10 now has increased flexibility. It helps that the flex grooves extends a few millimeters into the midsole as well. Softer blown rubber can be found in the forefoot outsole while the high wear areas see the use of the XT-900 carbon rubber. As you can see, at 40km, the fine lines on the outsole are still visible. The typical runner should be able to get 600km in these.

With these enhancements, the R10 sheds considerable weight from R8. My US10 weighs 10.15oz compares to R8’s 10.6oz. While not a flyweight, it’s lighter than 90% of workhorse trainers from competing brands out there.

As earlier mentioned, the 10 has better responsiveness and departs from the laid back nature of the 8. The firmness of the PowerFoam midsole is tempered by the soft bounce provided by the layer of Everun. If there’s a need to pick up the pace, the R10 will be able to handle it. Each stride has a nice firm bounce and the shoe feels better balanced. Although I race in shoes weighing under 10oz, many will find the Ride 10 a perfect race day shoe over the Half and Full Marathon distances. Most will use the Ride as a daily trainer or in rotation with the Kinvara 8.

The Saucony Ride 10 Heathered Chroma edition retails at RM489.00 and is now available at Stadium, RSH and Running Lab stores nationwide.

Disclosure: The Ride 10 was provided for review by Saucony Malaysia but the opinions expressed above is based from my own personal experience and miles logged in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

Saucony Freedom ISO

 

The above is an excerpt from the Saucony blog post about the Freedom ISO. When early photos of the shoe appeared on the Internet last year, the first all-EVERUN (topsole and midsole) shoe from the company generated considerable excitement. Now that the launch in Malaysia is imminent, and that I’ve put in more than 60K in them, it’s time to put out this review.

But first, the specs…

  • Full length EVERUN midsole and topsole.
  • Engineered mesh with ISOFIT.
  • Totally rad translucent Crystal Rubber outsole.
  • Significant toe-spring.
  • Support frame for the heel.
  • Blue-black-citron colorway for men, blue-citron for women.
  • Stack height of 19mm/15mm (heel/forefoot) for a 4mm offset.
  • 9.8oz for my US10.

The Freedom ISO (FISO) comes with a spare set of flat laces. I switched the blue ones out for the yellow purely for cosmetic reasons 🙂 . The shoes look amazing out of the box, the design is one of simplicity. No superfluous overlays and strips. Even the traditional heel counter is absent, replaced by a single thin strip of plastic called Support Frame (a little more on that below). A one-piece engineered mesh upper is a little stretchy and its integrated lace loops complement the ISOFIT system. This iteration of ISOFIT has seen some refinement since the first Zealot, and I’ve not encountered any bunch-ups in all runs. Reflective elements are generous – on the tongue, logo and heel.

The wide tongue has some ribbing which cushion against pressure of the laces. So you can lace up for an even greater locked down feel. Since the tongue is integrated with the ISOFIT system, there’s no chance of it ever slipping. In your hands, the shoes certainly don’t have the flyweight feel of a racing flat. Although weighing in at 9.8oz (a tad heavier than the Kinvara 8, TPU being heavier than traditional EVA), they’re still what majority will call lightweight. Employing a minimal approach on the upper has allowed Saucony to pare away the unnecessary “fat” and thus offset the TPU “weight gain”.

Flip the FISO over and you’ll see the very colorful take on the full-contact outsole. It’s not carbon nor blown rubber but a compound called Crystal Rubber. I wasn’t able to get more information on Crystal Rubber but it has a translucent look allowing the designers to go a little wild. It’s said to be just as durable, if not more, than the traditional rubber. The shallow lugs are still in TRI-FLEX configuration and the strip of hollowed out section reveals the EVERUN material. As with the Kinvara 8 (K8), the Freedom is true to size for me. Nevertheless, it’s always good to try several sizes out at the stores. Step-in feel is very comfortable, and you do feel the 3mm layer of EVERUN topsole just under the sockliner. The upper and ISOFIT combines well and it feels like having thin socks with a slab of cushioning on. The stitching around the edges of the wide tongue were executed very well – there won’t be any rubbing around the edges for sure. You don’t get nor feel much structure anywhere around the upper. Even the so-called Support Frame is not stiff, ultimately minimalist – more of a clip than a full-on heel counter. At this point, you’ll probably be wondering how the Freedom ISO rides and how it compares to the K8 [reviewed here]. The curiosity is understandable, since both are within an ounce of each other, are light, versatile and have 4mm offsets. Well, the FISO has more ground contact feel, what with its lower stack heights. Its cushioning is a lot subtler than the softer and bouncier K8. It’s there all right, but it’s not in-your-face. The FISO’s ride is firmer and feels more planted. Those expecting a mushy run will have to look elsewhere. You’d want to go fast in the Freedom. Transition is silky smooth, offering an assured hold on the road, wet or dry. I’ve took them out in the rain, covered some sections which are pebbly and sandy and have come away pretty impressed with the Crystal Rubber material. It has an almost tacky feel like that of PWRTRAC, Saucony’s other outsole material. I’ve not had any issues with the breathability in this hot and muggy climate as ours and as with the K8, my preference has been to go with thin socks. However, if your socks collection consists of the thicker variety, I’d suggest upsizing to allow for some room in the toebox area.

The FISO joins the K8 as my go-to shoes of late and both will be in my packing list for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon this July.

The Saucony Freedom ISO will be launched very soon, and will be available in Stadium and Running Lab stores as well as selected RSH outlets nationwide. They will retail at RM529. Do follow the Saucony Malaysia Facebook page (link below) for information about the Freedom’s launch and availability.

Disclosure: I am a Saucony Malaysia Ambassador but the opinions expressed above is based from my own personal experience and miles logged in the shoes. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

Saucony Kinvara 8


I’ve worn a lot of shoes but the one consistent presence in my running the last 3-4 years has been the multiple versions of the Kinvara, way before I was even drafted into the Saucony Ambassadorial role.

It’s hard not to like the Kinvara. Light, breathable, low-drop, cushioned minus the mushiness, making it all near perfect for uptempo running and racing over all but the shortest of distances when a firmer ride works better. I’ve worn versions 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the Kinvara and while the ride changed this way and that over the years, the versions still maintain its legacy of light, cushioned and responsive. This makes the Kinvara a safe bet for a large segment of runners out there.

EVERUN TPU material and TRI-FLEX outsole configuration made their way to the Kinvara line with the version 7, but the casual wearer could be forgiven for not “feeling” the touted EVERUN hype, compared to say the Ride 9, Zealot ISO 2 or Triumph ISO 2/3. That was because EVERUN was used just as a heel insert within the midsole, unlike the topsole layers of the aforementioned siblings. In summary, the expected bounciness was less palpable. Nevertheless, I still found the K7 to be an improvement over the K5 (I skipped the 6 since I already had 2 pairs of K5 in rotation along with the Ride and Zealot) in terms of overall durability. The Tokyo and Boston editions of the K7 are still in active rotation but their usage are now under serious threat due to the arrival of the Kinvara 8!


So what’s the big deal about the 8? A fair bit actually, albeit the black/citron colorway is similar to the K7’s slime/black. Here are the high level specs, with the improvements marked with an *

  • 23mm (Heel)/19mm (Forefoot) for a 4mm offset.
  • Full-length EVERUN topsole*
  • Revamped upper which is super breathable*
  • Simplified use of Flexfilm*
  • Inner sleeve
  • Less intrusive Pro-lock*
  • Tongue is now better padded to take the pressure off the laces. It’s also long enough to accommodate full lacing*
  • Unchanged TRI-FLEX outsole configuration.
  • Slight increase in weight. Still a lightweight at 8.3oz for US10. Comparatively, the K5 weighed 7.5oz while the K7 8.15oz.

I’ve logged just over 60K in the K8 so far, which comprised of a 24K, 20K (at sub-4 MP), and many more shorter ones and I can say that I just love how the shoe feels. Moving the EVERUN from the midsole to the topsole was a stroke of genius. Skeptics will think that it’s just a marketing gimmick but it does work – the wearer gets the benefits of the springy and responsive cushioning right where it matters while minimizing the weight gain of the shoe. TPU is heavier than traditional EVA, so a full EVERUN midsole will need to have a wildly engineered upper like the Freedom ISO (my next review!) to mitigate the weight gain.

The fit is similar to the K7, while not as roomy up front as the Triumph ISO 3, your toes won’t end up scrunched together. There’s certainly enough room for foot swelling right up to ultra distances under 100K. The Pro-lock no longer feels as restrictive and with the improved padding on the tongue, I’m able to lace down further without the added pressure on top of my feet.

The K8 is surprisingly stable, thanks to the semi-rigid medial heel counter as well as the overlay on the lateral side of the midfoot. I found the recent marathon-paced 20K done in the rain to be particularly enjoyable. The legs felt less beat up due to the topsole and in case you’re unaware, the EVERUN material is less susceptible to temperature changes, retaining its cushioning and responsive qualities even in cool/cold weather.

With the K8, Saucony has taken a long-time favorite and made it even better. If I had to pull a shoe out from my rack for a last minute race, this would be it. If I had only 1 shoe to run in, this would be it.


The Saucony Kinvara 8 is already available in Stadium and Running Lab stores as well as selected RSH outlets nationwide, and it best of all, it still retails at RM429, the same as the K7. Unless you’re no fan of the new-found smooth and bouncy responsiveness or the miniscule weight gain, I don’t see why you’d opt the 7 over the 8.

Disclosure: I am a Saucony Malaysia Ambassador but the opinions expressed above is based from my own personal experience and miles logged in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

Saucony Triumph ISO 3 NYC Edition


I’ve not worn shoes weighing 10oz or more for close to a year. Even the “bulkiest” in my rotation i.e. the Ride 8, Zealot ISO and Guide 9 are all a shade under 10oz. With the Ride and Zealot approaching EOL (End of Life), I’ve to line up a replacement quickly since I’ve several races in mind up till July 2017. So I popped over to Running Lab to check out several Saucony models, namely the Ride 9, Zealot ISO 2, Triumph ISO 2, it was the latest Triumph ISO 3 NYC edition (TISO3NYC) that tickled my fancy, despite weighing in at 11oz (312g) for US10.

Here are the reasons why:

  1. Of the models I tried, the TISO3NYC has the most accommodating toebox.
  2. I was looking for a pure trainer, thus the 8mm drop on a thicker stack height was something I’m OK with.
  3. Despite its looks, it’s incredibly smooth and well-balanced (more on this later).
  4. The 11oz felt like half ounce lighter. I only weighed the shoe just before paying for it.
  5. It has all the latest tech that Saucony has put into the market.
  6. It’s slightly more flexible than the Triumph ISO 2.

Please note that I’ve not had prior experience in the pre-EVERUN Triumphs nor the Triumph ISO 2 (TISO2) other than the few minutes of wearing it in-store. Also noteworthy is the fact that the NYC edition was a special release in conjunction with the NYC Marathon and has subtle differences compared to the regular TISO3. The NYC edition has stock exchange design cues all over the upper, outsole, sockliner and even box. The light blue colored fabric around the collar and tongue of the NYC edition feel plusher and more luxurious compared to the regular version. What’s unchanged are the EVERUN midsole and TRIFLEX outsole construction – which means the regular version will share nearly all the wear experience of the NYC edition. For simplicity sake, this review applies both to the NYC as well as the regular version of the Triumph ISO 3. The regular version is only expected to land in Malaysia sometime Q1 2017.

Medial view.
Lateral view.

If you’ve been keeping count, the TISO3 is the 14th edition in the Triumph lineage. Its looks is understated probably due to the classy black and blue colorway combo. The ISOFIT inner-sleeve system which I love in the Zealot is also retained although the TISO3 sees 1 less “finger wrap” than the TISO2’s. The tongue is very well padded as is the collar, and plushness is what you’ll get when you pull them on. Because it’s part of the ISOFIT system, the tongue stays in place all the time. Flexfilm strips holds the engineered mesh upper together while around the heel, an external piece of PU Support Frame, marketing talk for “heel wrap/counter” provides some structure to that area. A large reflective strip runs vertically down the rear of the shoe.

Like the TISO2, the TISO3 also features a full length EVERUN topsole and heel insert. However the midsole of the TISO3 has been hollowed out, creating a center of pressure sweetspot with each footstrike. You can now see the EVERUN foam when you flip the shoe over. It has heel and forefoot stack heights of 30mm and 22mm respectively for a 8mm heel offset. Unlike shoes with high heel offsets (10mm and above), 8mm smoothes out the heel to toe transition and one doesn’t get the jarring effect of the difference in stack heights.

The outsole retains the now familiar TRIFLEX configuration. There’s more rubber used now, with each of the strips noticeably wider. Flex grooves are deeper which ups the flexibility of the shoe. In the case of the TISO3NYC, you get a unique 2-color outsole indicative of the up/down movement of the stock indices.

How does the shoe ride? In 2 words: smooth and plush. Regardless of you’re the sort to heel/midfoot/forefoot strike, you’re assured a very comfortable run. If you’re a heel striker, you will certainly feel the silky transition as you toe-off. It also rides stable for a neutral trainer to me. The stock sockliner doesn’t rub my feet the wrong way, no rubbing nor chafing around the arch region. The TISO3 just feels very balanced, in terms of weight distribution. The heel doesn’t feel much more overly contructed than the mid or forefoot regions – just very even, very neutral. If you were to place the TISO3 on a tip of a wedge right in the middle, the shoe will even out on both ends and not tip over at the heel nor forefoot.

Where the Fastwitch and Kinvara will get you running fast, the TISO3 will put the enjoyment back into your long and easy runs. I enjoy the miles I put into TISO3 so much that I ran in it for the whole week without any shoe rotation, with the longest run at 15K. Since I was coming off the recovery from P78, the total clocked for the week was 47K. Most of the miles were in the 6:30-40 pace range but I had no problems pushing it down to 5:45 as well. There’s a limit to how much you can sustainably push it at that quicker pace though. Its weight will eventually prove a factor. 5-7Ks of 5:30s and a sub 5:00 K tired me out. The 2oz do make a difference over the course of a marathon or ultra!

The TISO3 has no traction problems with concrete, tarmac, dirt, and loose sand but avoid residual mud. Some tiny pebbles were lodged in between some grooves but the TRIFLEX outsole (made up of iBR+ and carbon rubber) performed very well. I reckon 700K to be a reasonable number to hit for the life of this shoe.

I’d say that the TISO3NYC is a great shoe to be logging your slow to moderate miles in. It’s ultra plush and smooth, flexible and stable enough for a lot of people out there. Because it carries an extra heft, it’s best fitted into a rotation with other shoes such as the more responsive Ride 9, Zealot ISO 2 or the ever trusty lightweight and race-ready Kinvara 7 (review here). They’re all EVERUN models.

At RM599, the Triumph ISO 3 NYC edition is positioned as Saucony’s premium neutral trainer and is available on a very limited basis from Running Lab Tropicana City Mall. You’ll be able to check out the regular version of the Triumph ISO 3 in a couple of months’ time.

Disclosure: I am a Saucony Malaysia Ambassador but the opinions expressed above is based from my own personal experience and miles logged in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

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.

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara 7

My experience with the Kinvara dates back to version 1 (ViziPro version), the 3, and 2 pairs of the 5 (the Runshield as well as the regular version). You can say that I’ve a pretty good idea on how far the K has come since the early 2000s. Since major changes are put into the odd numbered (1, 3, 5) Kinvaras, I’m in a unique position to have experienced the enhanced editions. Since I’ve ran my best marathons in the 5s, I’ve a soft spot for the Kinvara.

The K5 weighs 7.5oz while the 7 has a slight increase. Do note that the K5 has a substantial mileage logged and the wear and tear is sure to have shaved off some weight. Taking that into consideration, I’d say an increase of 0.3oz on the K7 would be a reasonable guess.

The Kinvara has always been positioned as a low drop (4mm), conventionally stacked (23/19mm) lightweight trainer/racer. Its DNA have been that of simplicity, although the shoe has seen its ride qualities alternating between soft and firm. When v7 was announced last year, I was already enthused, bugging Frank when the release dates would be. The thought of a new midsole material, new upper and a rocking look only added to the impatience! Having used the Ride 8 as a slow-burn trainer, and the Zealot ISO the ultra versatile shod, I was eager to bed in the K7 quickly in preparation for the 3 marathons I’ve committed to this year. Through the help of a friend, I secured the Tokyo edition (¥9000) and promptly got down to seasoning it. The brand had a large presence at the Tokyo Marathon expo, from the looks of the photos here.

Medial side. Moderate toe spring.
Lateral side.
The aglets have the Tokyo identity as well.

Aside from the Sakura-motifs, the Tokyo edition certainly lives up to the visual aesthetics of Toshikazu Nosaka, a pro skateboarder and artist. There’s a bit of Zen in the understated black and white colorway punctuated by the green Saucony logo. It’s been awhile since I wore a shoe with this much white and I’m torn between dirtying it and giving the shoe its due (i.e. putting many miles and getting them dirty and soiled)! #firstworldissues. A consolation is that the entire range of K7’s are lookers themselves, and replacing this pair eventually will not be as painful a thought. The regular colorways that we will see in Malaysia (3 for men, 2 for the women) will no doubt appeal to many, what with the anything-but-boring dark-to-light cues. The Boston Green Line edition which is due out in time for the world’s second oldest marathon has a simpler all-green take.

K7 Boston edition. Photos released by Saucony.

The upper is an improvement over the K5 in several ways, from the greater use of Flexfilm overlays. The sleeker logo, relocated to a more forward position, is now a thin strip which means it no longer presses down onto the top lateral side of the forefoot when flexed at push-off. The mesh looked ever more refined on the K7 as well. Apparently the position of the Pro-lock has been moved back a little for better midfoot support, but the feature isn’t something I particularly needed.

From top: K7, K5, K5 Runshield

Moisture-wicking RunDry lining continues to be used on the sockliner and collar. The padding around the collar is just nice as on the tongue.  The tongue is semi-gusseted which means sliding will be kept to a minimum. What would be nice though, is for the Kinvaras to have a slightly longer tongue – just 2cm extra just so that the laces have a bit more room to secure over.

Removable sockliner is awesomely detailed as well. No Everun foam on the topsole. It lays deeper within the midsole.
The left shot shows the medial construction. Notice that it bulges out slightly, giving the Kinvara a touch of stability. Conversely, the lateral side has a curved indent, promoting a nice transition to the toe-off.
Gone are the reflective strips on the lateral side of the midsole, outsole. All that remains that is shiny is the teensy triangle with the logo. This shot shows clearly the concave lateral and convex/bulging medial sides of the midsole.

Moving along to the SSL EVA midsole, there are changes to be had as well. There are now horizontal grooves on the medial side and a concave impression on the lateral side, possibly to promote a smoother transition. The use of Everun isn’t visible in the case of the K7, unlike the Hurricane and Triumph ISO 2 where the molded PU material can be seen on the topsole as well as in the heel section. Instead, the implementation is much subtler for the K7, with the Everun layer inserted into the heel.

Comparing the outsole of the K7 (foreground) against the K5.

Tri-Flex configuration for the outsole replaces the triangular lugs. While this may seem like a design decision, I notice a subtle change in how the shoe feels. More of that when I cover the wear experience. There are sufficient IBR+ material used to ensure durability doesn’t take a drastic hit. I’ve worn enough shoes over the last 10 years to state that IBR+ is the most durable blown rubber material I’ve experienced. The heel plug remains the dependable XT-900 carbon rubber variety.

I’ve logged close to 80K in the K7 and thus have a better idea on how the shoe rides. Runningwarehouse rate the K7 as firm and responsive, and that would be pretty much my take as well. It has a performance feel to the toe-off phase, not hard but more of a fast and firm bounce, resulting in a very engaging experience. The Tri-Flex configuration makes the midfoot to toeoff transition snappier and urgent than before – I can’t explain how or why, just that it feels that way! Heel cushioning is there but it’s not what anyone would call plush (for that, look to the Ride 8 or Triumph ISO 2) since the Everun layer is placed deeper into the midsole. I like the furrow in the midsole, which extends from the heel to the midfoot area. Besides being a weight-saving move, the longitudinal groove will provide some “center-of-the-pressure” cushioning during the impact-loading phase.

The ride characteristics change as you put in the miles in the K7. Having inched closer to the century mark, I notice a mild midsole softening which should stay the same for the life of the shoe. The wear and tear signs are not as pronounced as expected, a sign that version 7 will most likely outlast my ageing K5 🙂 . The traction offered by the K7 is exceptional, which is surprising, given the understated appearance of the outsole. The K7’s hold on the wet tiled and brick surfaces felt superbly assured as I ran at pace during one rainy day.

Narrower? Same?

So what of the supposed narrower toebox? I don’t notice it at all, maybe because my choice of socks tend to be that of thinner material. The upper is still a little stretchy, no different from the previous version. That said, if your favorite socks are as thick as those traditional Thor-Lo’s, you may want to first try out the shoes in the stores before committing to a size.

You can surmise then, that the K7 is more suited for uptempo sessions than long easy runs, at least for me. For the most parts, the Kinvara 7 continues its tradition of providing a fast and lightweight ride. The fit remains true and if you’ve been a Kinvara faithful over the years, you’ll recognize it the moment you slip the it on. The slight bump in the weight department doesn’t slow the shoe down. The converse is, in fact, true. An enhanced midsole and a re-tweaked outsole config ensures that all you need to worry about is whether you can keep up with it.

The Saucony Kinvara 7 is available from today at Running Lab – Tropicana City Mall, Stadium and selected Royal Sporting House outlets, and retails at RM429.00.


Thinking of running your best marathon on a scenic and flat course? Well, entries for the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon is now open and early bird rates valid till April 28! With public holidays slated at that time of the year, join a record number of Malaysians and I in Gold Coast this July where you and your family can run and then enjoy what the world-famous holiday destination can offer. For details, please refer to my blog post here where I’ve shared some important info for you to plan your travel and race!

Shoe Review: Saucony Ride 8

Every shoe company out there has one or two designated work horses that are durable enough for daily use. For Saucony, the role is filled by more than 2 actually – Triumph ISO 2, Hurricane ISO 2, Ride 8, Guide 9 and Zealot – with the Triumph, Ride and Zealot serving those with neutral gait. Let’s take a look at what the Ride 8 (R8) brings to the table. R8 takes over from the well-received 7 as the brand’s midrange neutral offering. I wanted something with a little bit more structure yet softer than the Zealot, which I love for those speedier sessions, for the long and easy days as my PF heals up completely.

The Ride and I didn’t quite start off on the right footing. I found the ride stiff and firm the first 30Ks but as the shoe gradually broke-in, the greater my liking for it. With 120K logged, it’s definitely the one for those long fat-burning runs and recovery days. Weighing 10.55 oz (301 grams) and with a  26mm/18mm (heel/forefoot) stackheight, for a 8mm offset, the R8 isn’t exactly what you’d call a performance trainer. In fact, it feels clunky coming off something like the Kinvara. However as mentioned, the out-of-the-box feel isn’t a finality. Put some miles in them and the midsole softens up.

#FTT marked on the upper to support a departed friend when he was fighting cancer.

 

Use of FlexFilm takes over from the thicker strips.

 

Plush tongue and collar padding.

 

The upper isn’t overly-engineered unlike how a typical high mileage trainer is. Other than a few PU strips on both sides of the lateral and medial side panels and in front of the toebox, the upper has a number of thin FlexFilm welded overlays. Unless and until an ISO version is released in the future, wearers will have to contend with this traditional setup. Not that it’s an issue, mind you. The mesh design on the R8 is a little more refined compared to the 7, at least visually. I’ve yet to develop any hotspots from running in them and neither have I ended any runs wearing sweaty socks, which can only mean that the upper’s breathability is good. Toebox roominess isn’t as spacious as that of the Zealot’s but still provides adequate wiggle room for the toes. As can be expected of a cushy trainer, the Ride’s tongue and collar are very well-padded. I found myself lacing up tighter to get a snugger fit. Even with the greater all-round padding and bulk of the shoe, the fit of the Ride 8 surpasses that of the other shoe in the same category, adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 in that it hugs my better. Needless to say, it fits true to size.

One large reflective patch on the back

 

The XT-900 used on the heel is tough-wearing. This is after 120K.

 

The blown rubber looks to be pretty durable too.

 

The yellow parts of the outsole are made of iBR+, Saucony’s blown rubber.

 

Saucony relied on the usual sandwich combo for the midsole. The ingredients? PowerGrid layer and EVA with a dash of softer Special Rebound Compound (SRC) on the lateral heel side. The new Everun compound will only make its appearance on the Ride 9 sometime end of 2016. The full-contact outsole is holding up well at this point with scuff marks on the XT-900 carbon rubber and mild wear on the iBR+ blown rubber on the forefoot. Do note that I’m not the most efficient of runners so I reckon this pair can easily go 600K, more if you’re a “glider” 🙂 .

As mentioned, the initial feel of the shoe felt a little off but once they’re broken in, they felt great. So much so that I find myself reaching out for it a couple of times a week. For a neutral shoe, the Ride 8 feels remarkably stable and smooth even towards  the end of my recent 29K. Unsurprisingly, running quick miles in them poses a challenge somewhat (that’s where the Zealot and Kinvara come in), what with it built like a tank. You will feel the weight after some miles. That said, at 10.55oz, the R8 is still lighter than the Asics Cumulus 17 (11.5oz), adidas Glide Boost 7 (11.25oz), Brooks Ghost 8 (11oz) and even the adidas Ultra Boost. Make no mistake about it. The Ride 8 is and remains an utility shoe. It can do most of the tasks out there and do it pretty well. There’s no single element that stands out or define the shoe. Rather, it’s a sum of many things that work well together. It may not be the lightest nor responsive Saucony out there but at RM399, the Ride 8 is a darn value-for-money utility shoe for the long haul.


Thinking of running your best marathon on a scenic and flat course? Well, entries for the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon is now open! With public holidays slated at that time of the year, join many fellow Malaysians and I in Gold Coast this July where you and your family can run and then enjoy what the world-famous holiday destination can offer. For details, please refer to my blog post here where I’ve shared some important info for you to plan your travel and race!

Shoe Review: Saucony Zealot ISO

Most runners know Saucony from the Lexington-based company’s best seller, the Kinvara. The Kinvara continues to work well for me, having worn it for 2 of my best marathons to-date. It offers lightweight responsive cushioning in a 4mm drop configuration that’s neither too minimalist nor overly engineered monstrosities.

But Saucony has a few stalwarts in its stable of shoes too, from the dependable workhorses like Ride, Guide, Hurricane to the Triumph (review by CY here). On the lighter end of the scale, there’s the Endorphin Racer, Fastwitch (both of which unfortunately aren’t sold in this country) and Virrata. And now, there’s another which is a little harder to peg, the Zealot ISO.

Released as part of the 3-shoe ISO series (the other 2 being the Triumph ISO and Hurricane ISO) in early 2015, the Zealot is a completely new shoe. Some say it replaces the Cortana (not related to a certain IT company from Redmond!) but I’ve no experience in the Cortana to comment on that. It’s a harder shoe to define, since it’s a little of everything – it doesn’t appear as performance-based as the Kinvara, yet the Zealot is lighter than Ride (and just 0.2oz heavier that the Breakthru). Plus, it has an offset of 4mm, similar to the Kinvara. Let me try to break it down as simply as I can, starting with the upper.

ISOFIT, if you’re unaware, is Saucony’s fitting technology, an inner sleeve or bootie that wraps around the foot. The sock-like fit is then complemented by the external cage which functions like fingers extending upwards from the midsole providing a semblance of structure and support to the shoe. The ISOFIT sleeve has a soft spine running down the middle (in blue) and ventilated mesh on either side of it. The construction and choice of material of the ISOFIT allow for a fit that’s just right, never constrictive nor overly snug. The use of mesh means ventilation isn’t compromised either. The vamp sports a zigzag patterned mesh and the upper is held together by soft PU and welded overlays, as well as harder plastics towards the rear.

The cage looks like a stencil cut-out. Since the material used isn’t as thick as those from Salomon or adidas, the weight of the shoe is kept low. The Zealot’s flat laces are minimally stretchable and secures the shoe well in all my runs without coming undone. I’ve tested this via single or double knotting and I always ended my runs not having to stop to re-tie my shoes.

Although the fit is near perfect for me (forefoot is a little roomier than the Kinvara), some could experience minimal bunching of the ISOFIT spine should they cinch the laces a little too tightly. When auditioning the shoe, just try out several sizes to be sure you get your best fit.

At 8.95oz (254g) for my US10, the Zealot would be in the sweet spot for many runners as their marathon shoe. In contrast, Asics Nimbus 17 and Cumulus 17 weigh 11.4oz and 12.6oz (US9) respectively. Each ounce of weight saved without having to compromise on the support and cushioning counts a lot over the course of 42KM. Running light is even more crucial if that 42KM comes after a tough swim and an energy-sapping bike ride.


The all-round padding isn’t excessive. Saucony wisely left the plusher treatment to the Triumph ISO. So what we get on the Zealot feels just nice. RunDry material around the collar is standard in the ISO Series and Kinvara, so you can find the same here as well. Since the tongue is part of the ISOFIT system, you won’t be annoyed by any slippage.

Around the back, an external heel counter cups and locks the heel down nicely. I like the fact that the piece of plastic is configured differently – broader near the base for support and in strip form towards the collar. Again, weight savings without compromising the support.

Still on the upper, there are plenty of large reflective elements all over the shoe, even on the outsole. Added to that is the ViziOrange colorway that will ensure you stand out under all lighting conditions.

There’s a considerable amount of midsole flare here, just like what you would see on the Kinvara.

Midsole flare is quite substantial here.

The perforated sockliner is removable and sits on top of a layer of thin foam.

The task of support and cushioning falls on the PWRGRID+ (Powergrid+) midsole. The crash pad, the yellow section in the photo below, is made of SRC (Special Rebound Compound), and it’s meant to offer a smoother heel to toe transition.

The outsole is largely a full contact one. As you can see, the instep is filled in (blue triangular foam in the arch area) resulting in a pretty stable shoe. While there are scuffing marks there – it’s made of foam anyway – other sections of the outsole are without a doubt durable. The yellow lugs, interspersed with deep flex grooves, from the front to midsection are made of IBR+ (Injection Blown Rubber) which is the firmest form of blown rubber I’ve experienced. The orange bits at the heel section are Saucony’s XT900 carbon rubber, which are even harder to the touch. So how does it all come together?

I’ve logged over 50K in the Zealot and one of the reasons why I nearly always reach out for it is because of its versatility. It’s built like a traditional shoe, but has a 4mm drop similar to that of the Kinvara (my favorite marathon shoe). At the same time it’s at least 2 ounces lighter than most trainers in the market today. It has a plush step-in feel but takes on a different character the moment you take your first steps, which is when you’ll notice the firmness of the outsole. Thankfully, that initial jarring effect is tempered by the softer Powergrid+ midsole, so the firmness never gets into uncomfortable territory. The same could be said of the heel where the slight stiffness goes away once you get into a groove.

This is a shoe that will be enjoyed running at a brisker pace due to that responsive nature. Toe spring is moderate but enough to get you a smooth and snappy toe-off.

The longest distance covered in the Zealot was a 21K of varied pace and elevation. It’s light enough that I’m able to get into a quick cadence going up the hills and protective enough to dampen the shocks coming down the other side. I encountered no hotspots nor any irritation of any sort from the ISOFIT sleeve. A friend has even worn it for a 60K road ultra and raved about it.

The Zealot is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile shoes out there.  Some may feel that not having a standout quality is a sign of weakness but just look at the football giants and their utility players who can play in any position, covering end-to-end and plugging holes in the team. There’s always room for such players in the clubs. And there’s always room in the crowded shoe cabinet for a shoe like the Zealot.

Disclaimer: The Saucony Zealot ISO is a sample pair provided courtesy of Saucony Malaysia. It is available now from Running Lab and Stadium outlets for RM469.