Saucony Endorphin Speed 50KM Review

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While 2020 has largely been a year to forget, the opposite can be said of the running shoe world. Before I go further, I’d like to put it out there that I haven’t lost touch with the realities of today. Other than the ultra-rich 1%, I believe that things could be better for the rest of the world. Getting a new pair of shoes would probably be the last thing on the minds of many. To get this pair, I’d to make cuts here and there as well.

Of course, there are those who are still keeping their training miles up and would need replacement shoes but such purchases need to be more informed than ever or risk spending valuable Earth Credits (as EddBud would say it) on an ill-suited pair. We’ve to thank the shoe reviewers for continuing to put their content online, so that we’re able to make sound purchase decisions.

So, on to the Saucony Endorphin Speed (SES).

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The last pair of Saucony I owned was the Kinvara 9, back in 2018. That may just be 2 calendar years ago but in reality feels more like 5 in terms of shoe years, what with the advances in tech we’re seeing these days. Much like adidas with Boost, Saucony was stuck with EVERUN while other companies were pushing their brand of super-foams into the market. Nike had moved so far ahead of the competition with the various Zoom-X (and to a lesser extent React) models and even Reebok and NB had their well received Floatride and FuelCell midsoles.

As it turned out, the Saucony engineers weren’t really bumming out on the couch, more like taking a more measured approach to their R&D and 2020 is when the company have been hitting it out of the park with the Triumph, Ride and Endorphin series. The Endorphin series comprises of 3 models – Pro, Speed and Shift. Saucony essentially covers the top tier racing, faster-day training and easy-recovery day spectrum with these 3, similar to the approach adopted by ASICS for their Glidesole trio [GlideRide review here]. Launched July, stocks were and continue to be very limited globally. We can consider ourselves lucky to be able to try out and get the Speed here. The Pro and Shift will not be brought into Malaysia.

The SES fit true to size and weigh in at 8.55oz in my size US10. According to Saucony’s product page, the SES have a 35.5/27.5mm stack height for an overall 8mm drop. The shoes look absolutely stunning with the fluorescent highlights standing out from the white base engineered mesh upper.

While the heel cup is of a stiff variety that works really well in locking my heel in, overlays are kept to a minimum and purposeful elsewhere – example being the large logos doing double duty for branding and securing the upper. I also like how thin strips of plastics are used to provide barely-there structure for the lace eyelet chain. There are 3 knit-like (or thicker weave) strips that run diagonally across the vamp. I doubt more structure are needed around there but the strips do provide some assurance of durability.

The tongue is semi-gusseted, and minimally padded which is an interesting approach to save material and therefore weight while providing non-slip comfort. The stock laces are likewise thin and are just nice in length. No complains either on the collar. All in all, a well executed upper with no bunching even when laced up tightly.

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From the photos, you can see that the PWRRUN PB midsole foam bears some similarity to Boost. PB refers to the PeBax polymer material used but you could also be right to assume that PB denotes “Personal Best”. PWRRUN PB is used in the Pro and Speed while the Shift rides on the regular PWRRUN version. Side note: The Triumph 17 and 18 are on the PWRRUN+ (which I quite like).

PWRRUN PB may look like Boost, but they feel anything like. In fact they’re similar to Skechers’ HyperBurst to the touch, almost like pool noodle stuff. In terms of density, Boost feel squishier and a few times heavier compared to HyperBurst with PWRRUN PB somewhere in between both in terms of firmness and weight.

To put into perspective, the SES is just less than an ounce heavier than the Pegasus Turbo 2 yet provides a higher stack height (and thus better protection) and have a nylon plate to boot (and thus better responsiveness). Yup, these babies are plated! Side note: The Pro has a carbon plate.

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Flip the SES over and you’ll see that the outsole design cues follow Saucony’s familiar chevron threads in the forefoot. The hard rubber compound goes round the perimeter of the sole (similar to Nike’s Crash Rail config) surrounding the exposed foam. The same rubber is likewise placed at the heel impact area. The whole outsole still looks like new after 50km and will definitely be durable.

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Now that I’m done with the specs, let’s get to the wear experience because that’s what its all about. On first wear, the following characteristics were immediately obvious:

  • Smooth. They’re very smooth, rolls forward nicely.
  • Less stiff. Unlike the other plated shoes I’ve worn, these weren’t as stiff. In fact I wouldn’t have known there’s a plate inside.
  • Comfortable. Step in feel is great. Soft yet not mushy.
  • Secure. Easy to achieve lock-down without resorting to runner’s knot.
  • Balanced. The shoes are well designed, weight evenly distributed, not bottom heavy.

My first run in the SES was just a short 4K on a hot and muggy evening. The sort of conditions which make you come up with excuses not to go out unless going out involves testing a new pair of shoes. The shoes were very nice, they felt great – Goldilocks cushioning and protection that isn’t too soft nor too hard. Great fit, breathes well but still there was something off. I wasn’t quite sure what that was but I really liked them and so I let the issue rest.

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My second run in the SES was the 1K Virtual Run which was one of my last minute sign-ups. A 4K warm up yielded more or less the same experience as my first run in the shoes but I was in for a surprise when I kicked off the 1K. It was as if these were different shoes I had on! At a much quicker pace, I was able to engage the plate and with each loading, the shoes were able to give something back. They felt instantly more responsive and the harder and quicker I went, the more the shoes gave back.

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Then came the 3rd run – the marathon. It was probably a silly decision but I felt confident enough to go all the way in the SES. That said, I was wise enough to have the 4% stand by in the car should things went south.

I paired the Speed with Steigen socks and my feet stayed dry with no hotspots. There was no rubbing either. The Speed’s wider midsole platform felt stable throughout as well, unlike the squishier 4%. There were 2 sharp u-turns in the 6K loop course necessitating us to run 7 loops for the marathon distance. I was conscious in taking the corners the first couple of loops, after which I didn’t think too much of it. At the pace I was going, I couldn’t load the plate as much to benefit from it. If the PWRRUN PB softens up with use, perhaps the feeling would be different. Count me impressed with the shoes! You can read my “race” recap here.

Where the lighter 4% holds superiority is the very accessible bounce. The runner didn’t have to work as hard to engage the midsole and plate, and over the marathon distance, that advantage counts a fair bit. However, that would be an unfair comparison. The Speed is a trainer that can be raced in and is just a little more than half the price of the Next% while the Next% is an outright racer.

The SES is a much more pleasant shoe to run in than the bottom-heavy and significantly bulkier Zoom Fly 3 (ZF3) and offers greater comfort for the longer runs than the Turbo 2. It’s somewhat similar to the Zoom Fly SP but less stiff. That said, the SES is not the one I’d take out for easy, recovery runs – the Nimbus Lite [review] would be that shoe. They won’t be my daily trainers, the Turbo 2 already playing that role. Neither would they be my Half and Full Marathon race shoes, with the Next%’s foothold secure for those distances. For me, the Speed would be very suited to MP sessions, long steady paced training runs, and progressive workouts.

Any negatives, I hear you ask? I’d really be nit-picking here but at my 4:45 MP, I didn’t seem to be able to engage the plate as much. Get going at sub 4:30 pace and the shoes will open up. Your mileage may vary.

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The Endorphin Speed is a versatile long distance fast mover. At full retail of RM749 (RSH members enjoy a 10% discount making the RM674 more palatable), they aren’t exactly affordable. In case you haven’t noticed, running shoes are very expensive these days. Regular daily trainers are priced averagely in the region between RM500-650. You can, therefore, say that the discounted price tag for the Speed is fair  based on specs (nylon plated, PeBax midsole) and versatility. Initial observations suggest that the shoes to be durable – no signs of creases and compression in the midsole and like-new outsole, so they will at least return you 500km.

If you’re a shoe geek like I am, go give the Endorphin Speed a try out at the stores, if you can find them. The Speed is one heckuva shoe, one of 2020’s best, for sure.

*ASICS have launched the Metaracer (RM779 from ASICS Malaysia), and NB Malaysia have brought in the FuelCell TC (RM900+), choices are aplenty in the premium end of running shoes. Then there’s Nike’s upcoming Tempo Next% Flyknit rumoured to be priced around RM900 as well (apparently legit Taobao site | review by Derek Li). I may have to sell a kidney soon. 

Asics Gel Nimbus Lite 100KM Review

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Wait, what? Another ASICS review?! Ummm yes… But I thought they make clunky shoes? Errr… yes they still do but they’ve a few gems as well, like the GlideRide, Novablast and the Gel Nimbus Lite. Released February 2020, I’ve never factored the GNL mainly because I already have the Infinity Run and GlideRide in rotation as daily trainers – same category, but entirely different in construction and feel. 

Up until last month, I’ve been enjoying the GlideRide (see review here) a fair bit, confident that they will return me 600km. Smooth, fun to run in and despite their weight, they can really lure you into quicker paces. Their locked-in feel allowed me to get right back into logging those miles following a foot injury that had taken months to heal. The joy slowly dissipated, however, when I noticed some discomfort and the occasional dull pain around my right metatarsals – right about where the pivot point of the shoes are – each time I ran in them. I observed that phenomenon for 2 weeks and I wasn’t wrong. I needed 5 days for the pain to completely subside, which completely negated the GlideRide’s daily use purpose. While I could still rely on the Turbo 2 and Infinity Run, I still prefer a softer and more protective option to rotate with, one that can take me over 20Ks on weekends and still have me running the next day.

So after a Father’s Day lunch treat at 1U, I thought what better to do than go on a running shoe expedition. Shoes tried were:

  • Triumph 17: Not bad at all, if loaded with extraneous padding which obviously added to the weight. The PWRRUN+ midsole is an interesting blend of responsive cushioning and feels lighter than their build-up appearance. At close to RM600, the Triumph 17 aren’t cheap. I passed.
  • Roadblast: The RM370+ scaled back version of the fun Novablast look good but just didn’t excite me enough. Perhaps they needed to be run in.
  • 880v10: Not cheap, and with the higher end 1080v10 on sale, the 880 felt decidedly average. 
  • Pegasus 37: Well, they were conspicuously missing from the 1U Nike store. Word has it that the women’s version provides a much better ride (due to the lower PSI of the air bag) and with a friend’s 9.5 fitting me, the 37 needs to be tried on in-stores, in 9.5 and 10 and in both men’s and women’s versions.

Disappointed that I wasn’t able to at least try on the Pegasus 37, I popped into ASICS, saw the offer going on for the Gel Nimbus Lite (GNL), tried them (*mind blown*) and here we are 100km later.

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It’s a Nimbus. Only lighter.
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Lateral view. Love the wavy-like patterns rippling out from the middle of the midsole. The protruded heel is clearly seen in this shot.
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Medial view. Notice the different wavy patterns than those on the lateral side.

The GNL’s design cues diverge from today’s shoe trends, in that there are no pull tabs, no carbon nor PU plates. They also don’t employ ASICS’s own design DNA as there’s no Impact Guidance Line, no visible gel inserts, no plastic Trusstic pieces glued to the midsole, and no senseless use of materials and overlays. Instead, you get a very ordinary but still great looking shoe that’s smooth, cushioned, stable enough for most. A shoe that also breathes very well, decently light and has eco-sensibilities? Count me intrigued!

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It says Nimbus on the tongue and removable sockliner.

My US10 weighs in at 10.05oz which means the GNL is lighter than the Triumph 17, the upcoming Ride 13, Pegasus 37, 1080v10, and ASICS’s own Cumulus 22 and Nimbus 22 (yup, the company released 2 versions of the Nimbus, both priced the same). They’re just a hair heavier than the Novablast. I was curious enough to know how much the GNL’s puffy stock laces weigh – 0.1oz each – so I swapped them out with Nike’s just to shave just a bit more off. I’ll have to check if that move resulted in them coming in right at the 10oz mark. Now, contrast that with the regular version of the Nimbus which comes in at 1.3oz more (yet with a lower stack height of 31/21) according to Running Warehouse. Why would one go for heavier shoes when a lighter option fulfils the role just as well?

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The very well constructed upper. The outer mesh is lofted and made from sustainable materials.

The GNL may have an understated look but there’s an green story behind the shoes. Much of the breathable loft-like upper are made of recyclable materials and the Flytefoam midsole comprises of cellulose nano-fibre. The upper is very comfortable and breathable, one that cuddles the feet very well without a constricting feel. The padding on the tongue and collar are plush but not overdone like those in the Triumph 17 and GlideRide. There’s enough space in the toebox and the amount of padding used on the tongue and collar are just right. Nevertheless, ASICS retained their trademark stiff heel counter here.

The FlyteFoam midsole feels softer on the GNL than in the other models, probably due to the cellulose use giving the runner a soft, smooth and bouncier ride. There’s no visible gel inserts but that doesn’t mean they’re not used. Oh, they’re there all right, embedded in the forefoot and heel areas of the midsole. A pair of Asics without gel is like having Laurel without Hardy.

As if to reflect the eco-friendly nature of the shoes, there’s liberal use of green – from the accents on the tiger stripes and the wavy grooves of the midsole to the all-rubber lugs of the outsole. Speaking of outsole lugs, are they substantial! Thick and chunky but ASICS’s decision to have deep and wide flex grooves are sound to preserve forefoot flexibility and keep the weight down. I’ve yet to encounter issues with traction, having run on loose gravel, road and wet tiled surfaces.

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Generous rubber coverage.

The amount of outsole wear is mixed with the forefoot push-off areas – where soft spongy blown rubber are used – showing some wear, while the heel sections literally see no wear and tear, the ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) living up to their fabled reputation. Since the lugs are so thick, there’s little risk of the shoes not providing a good ROI. 

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Visible wear on the push off area. Blown rubber is spongy and soft but won’t wear as well as AHAR used in the heel section.

Step-in feel is soft and the cellulose-infused FlyteFoam midsole dishes out one very smooth ride that stops short of being mushy. If you’re a heel striker, your enjoyment of the GNL will be higher than that of a midfoot striker since you’ll be able to take advantage of rolling forward on that 10mm offset. My longest run in the shoes was a 21km, with the rest around the 11km mark and I’ll say that the GNL functions best as an easy pace cruiser and a comfy recovery run shoe. Lock into a zone and the miles just go by. On several occasions when I pushed the pace a bit, they were able to respond in a manner like a Honda City, which isn’t much! They’ll get up to speed but not as quickly as something more responsive and won’t feel comfortable holding that pace for long. 

Running downhill certainly feels sweeter than going uphill – the soft forefoot not quite aiding an efficient and forceful push-off. Discard your urge to speed up – there are shoes for that – you’ll enjoy your time in the shoes. That’s what the Nimbus series are made for – easy miles. I don’t have negatives strong enough to mention here and that’s a good thing, and keeping to the shoes’ understated sensibilities. 


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Similar shoes to the GNL are ASICS’s own Nimbus 22, Hoka Clifton 6 and the upcoming 7 (which weighing in at a low 9oz, looks promising), Nike’s React Infinity Run, and Pegasus 37 (based on weight as I’ve yet to try them on), NB 880v10 and 1080v10, and Saucony Triumph 17. It all comes down to price point, and how firm and responsive you want your daily trainer to be. The GNL are by no means, in my books, the daily trainer of 2020, but should ASICS drop the offset down to 8mm by shaving off a couple of millimetres from the heel and utilise FlyteFoam Propel as the forefoot midsole (much like how HOKA mixes up their ProFly midsole), I might be persuaded to reconsider. Since the RRP of the GNL remains on the premium end, and ASICS are wont to stick to their 10mm formula for their core range and let the Guidesole series be their innovation front, things will stay status quo as far as the Nimbus go.

I purchased the Gel Nimbus Lite at a discounted price of RM443 during the promo month of June. As of the date of this post, they have an RRP of RM611 from their online store.

Asics GlideRide Tokyo 100KM Review

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With a toe spring resembling a scimitar’s upturned blade, will the Asics GlideRide push the company’s fortune upwards as well?

After being the subject of jokes and snarky comments for several years, Asics is finally back. I’m not the first to say it and if the company continues to put out fun shoes to run in, I won’t be the last. As shoe geeks, we want to see innovation from companies and our frustration with the company from Kobe has been about its lethargy at getting off the blocks when other companies were innovating like crazy. If it ain’t broke *shrugs*…

The bulk of shoes that Asics produces sit at extreme ends of the spectrum. On the featherweight end, you” find the hardcore Tarther and Sortie racing flats while on the other, overbuilt blocks of foam, plastic and overlays. And Gel. The GTs, Nimbus, and Kayano you see in 2020 are essentially the same GTs, Nimbus and Kayano from 2017 albeit a shade lighter with updated midsole tech. They’re all still behemoths. It’s as if the company equates weightiness and heft with support and cushioning. Then there’s the middle-of-the-park revivals like the Dynaflyte and Roadhawk which were supposed to excite runners but ended up meh. Early iterations of FlyteFoam was too underwhelming to hold up even against NB’s Fresh Foam, much less Boost, React or Zoom X. For those of us who ran in a pair of Asics or two back in the days, it was frustrating to see how much ground the company have lost.

Things started to get a little interesting, however, in February 2019 with the launch of the Metaride. Still found on the shelves today, they have a proof-of-concept feel, highly stacked, super stiff, super heavy, super expensive (RM999 launch price, RM699 on clearance today), well you get the idea. It was as if Asics dumped all their tech on it just because they could. Little did we know that the Metaride (MR) was to be the first of three “energy saving” shoes featuring the Glidesole technology – a highly rockered midsole to reduce ankle flexion, and a precursor of things to come. While they managed to raise some eyebrows, the MR didn’t translate into mainstream acceptance. That was about to change with the second and third models in the series a few months later.

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That second shoe would be the GlideRide (GR), launched in September 2019. Asics America even had a event for that at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. You can check out the YouTube video here.  The event’s tagline of “Race with No Finish Line” – indeed one of the consultant’s muttering “There’s no finish line” survived the editing process – came extremely close to a certain brand’s tagline! As it turned out, the GR is a toned down version of the MR – all the tech but in a more accessible form factor, higher comfort level and “reasonable” price tag.  The final piece in the trifecta would be the performance oriented Evoride (ER). Launched February 2020, the ER weighs in under 10 oz and marries an extremely sweet rocker forefoot with a firmer heel for the faster days. At a very decent RM479 price tag, they will easily find a spot in a shoe rotation for the quicker days. In my opinion, the ER is a direct competitor to the Rival Fly 2, and indeed the Zoom Elite 9 (remember that?) but with more pop in the forefoot.

Now comes the question. What made me get the GR? A few reasons.

  1. With road races not happening in 2020, all the running I will be doing are going to be for maintenance and rebuilding. In fact, I’m currently alternating a 6-week base plan with a 1-week cutback. Until the future racing road map clears up, keeping things loose, fun and enjoyable are more important than being stressed up, which we already have too much of. The base plan merely enables me to run within a certain parameter. With most of the running being about maintaining aerobic fitness, the need for a durable daily trainer far exceeds that of, say a NB FuelCell TC or Endorphin Speed/Pro.
  2. My 2 daily trainers have been the Infinity React [review] and the FuelCell Propel [review]. I’ve found running long e.g. over  in the Infinity React tough. I’m not sure what it is, but after 100km, I’ve begun noticing the shoe’s idiosyncrasies a bit more. The forefoot seems to lack that bit of involvement and pop, and there’s something a bit off with the fit. The limited lacing options probably contributed to that latter observation. The Propel are counting down their remaining 200 km of life and would soon be packing it in.
  3. I’ve got a great deal for the GR. I was going to get the discounted OG red colourway GR from Asics Malaysia website (free shipping too) but snagged an offer from a shoe collector letting go his pair of unworn GR Tokyo Edition at a price cheaper than even the discounted OG. Once the Propel are retired, the GR will be rotated with the Turbo 2.

Since I entered the game late, I won’t be rehashing the tech specs of the GR here. Well, I could still glean over some tech details along the way but I won’t be covering them specifically. For tech specs and great content, let me point you to the following reviews by seasoned shoe geeks. In this post, I will put in my thoughts in relation to their reviews and add a bit more on my wear experience.

Seth DeMoor’s Top 3 road running shoes of 2019 | Seth’s 150 Mile review | Seth comparing several of Asics’ 2020 lineBelieve In The Run  | Road Trail Run’s multi tester review | Eddbud’s review | Fordy Runs

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What other reviewers say: My take:
GR is heavy but you won’t feel the heft. That’s absolutely true. My US10 weighs 10.8oz but once you’re laced up, you certainly won’t feel the weight. In fact, they felt more like 9.8-10oz shoes. They’re just so well balanced at every point of the gait cycle unlike the bottom-heavy Zoom Fly 3 (ZF3).
One reviewer suggested that the GR is what Nike aspired the Zoom Fly 3 to be. I don’t think so. I’m not sure if that was what Nike set out to do since the ZF3 was released before the GR. I feel conversely is true. Asics set out to model a trainer after the ZF3 and IMHO came out the winner. Point to note that the only ZF that I really like in the series is the SP Fast.
The GR fits true to size Agree. They’ve a comfortably snug heel and midfoot that open up at the forefoot. Plenty of room for the toes to splay. I wear thin socks with the GR.
Breathable Partially agree. While they’re breathable (and remain dry) at the vamp/upper, the thick tongue gets a little moist after my runs. Considering how much plushness they offer, that’s not too bad. For comparison, just watch the reviews of the Triumph 17 to hear the runners’ concerns about the heat build-up issues.
While they’re primarily for easy-paced high mileage use, the GR are especially fun at up-tempo paces. One reviewer even worn them at 4:00 pace and another for Park Runs. Agree. While the GR are versatile, they’re best enjoyed at moderate paces, which for me, are between 5:45/km to 6:30/km. I noticed that it’s really easy to move from 6:20 to 6:10 without much labour. It’s ridiculous to even think a 10.8oz shoe can be so fun at quicker paces. I’ve had to tamp down on the pace the first few runs I ran in them. One can get easily get carried away!
It takes a couple of runs to get used to it. No issues for me. They were fine from the get-go. Having run in plated shoes with toe spring and stiff rocker, there was no transition needed for me.
Smooth ride. Agree. While the rocker feeling was pronounced, turnover was smooth.
Stable Agree. The midsole flare and combination of softer Flyte Foam under the sockliner and the firmer Flyte Foam Propel create a secure platform whichever way I turn.
The shoe favours heel strikers. Agree. Heel strikers would be able to feel the protective cushioning of the heel and take advantage of the impact dispersion of the concave cutout where the heel sits, as they transition smoothly through the gait cycle. However, those who land slightly forward can feel that too, albeit a lesser extent.
Built like a tank. Agree, though I’d really like Asics to go easy with the padding on the tongue and collar for v2.
Asics is back! Agree to a point. The GR, ER and Novablast are such fun shoes to run in and freshest to come out of Asics for some time but there are several indications that they won’t be doing anything drastic to their staples such as Kayano and Nimbus. Variety is great and as long as Asics continue to innovate and improve on the funner outputs, we will continue to be excited.

Now back to the review, I’ve just crossed the 100K mark in the GR. The shortest run was a 4K the day I received the shoes and the longest was a 21K during the N2E Virtual 10-Miler (yes, I topped up), over the long Hari Raya weekend. At this point, I see no reason to hit over a Half Marathon distance because there’s nothing to train for. Then again, if I’ve time and some crazy friends are willing to come along, that 26K – 30K will not be disrupting any training plans, will it? We shall see. As I’ve said, “As long as it’s fun!”.

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Whether the run is a short 4K around the housing area or a Half Marathon distance, the step-in sensation is very plush. The GR has a 5mm drop but it’s not noticeable at all, the aggressive rocker being the more obvious sensation. Even though the shoes favour a heel striker, I find it hard to heel strike. I even tried forcing it but just couldn’t after 3 steps! Instead, I hit the ground slightly more forward.  I’ve also found that this is one shoe that’s hard to run really slow. Without pace discipline, one can easily transition to up-tempo paces without realising it. My sweet spot  is between 6:10 to 6:35/km. Dropping to 5:10, even 4:55, isn’t a problem but not sustainable presently. FYI Seth, whose link I provided above, ran his 13-miler at 3:50/km in the GR so the ability to manage this heft rests as much on a runner’s strength. You’d be right to ask that with many lighter options out there, is it necessary to be carrying this much weight? Definitely not, since the weight will surely ummm… weigh you down in the later miles. Nevertheless, I reckoned that logging miles in a hefty shoe such as the GR will only build strength over time and pulling on the Next% for a race would be like wearing nothing! Train heavy, race light!

I did consider the following alternatives prior to the purchase, but their drawbacks in “()” held me back:

  • 1080v10 (reports of FreshFoam X firmness, upper appear less breathable, price after discount is more than I would’ve liked)
  • Triumph 17 (upper breathability issues, even heavier than the GR)
  • Ultra Boost 20 (price, heavier than the GR, traction, I’ve worn 2 UBs before)
  • SL20 (performance and speedwork oriented)
  • Evoride (rear cushioning skewed to performance and speedwork use)
  • Novablast (less stable than I’d like, race-retired 4% that can do the same work, price)

Other than the Evoride and Novablast, the other options are pretty much traditional running shoes with updated midsoles – the exception being the Ultra Boost, still saddled with an ageing midsole. With the GR, there are so many positives from the reviews and the chance to try Asics’ new plated geometry proved too irresistible. The seller’s willingness to let them go at an amazing price pretty much sealed the deal for me. Would I have made the same purchase decision had the asking price been higher? Probably not and I’d have waited.

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If you’re intrigued by the GR, be aware that the shoes offer a smooth but firmer ride. This isn’t a Clifton, Rincon, Turbo, or Ultra Boost. And how much cushioning you feel depends on where you strike. Whichever type of runner you are, you’ll still enjoy the toe-off pop. That’s what makes the shoe so fun to run in. I did swap out the stiffer and firmer stock insole for the softer Sofsole which improved the ride and I reduced the lacing of the 7(!) eyelets to 6 to accommodate a runner’s knot. The shoe locks down well without the tweak but I felt it unnecessary to use up all the eyelets.

Asics could do better to make the entire upper less stiff, even though they’re one of the most comfortable (from the tongue to the collar) I’ve worn. The engineered mesh feels stiff to the touch, as if they’re stretched tautly over the vamp, giving you a roomy forefoot. The laces are of the non-stretchy variety but they’re long enough. The stretchy tongue is a little too padded though. It’s not gusseted but with ridge-like folds to help secure the laces, I’ve never encountered any slippage.

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Going to the midsole, a softer layer of FlyteFoam sits on top of a firmer one, giving the wearer immediate comfort and a quick and firm platform to launch into the next stride. Aided by the plastic plate that runs from the mid to forefoot, transition is smooth and as you pick up the pace, very quick. The GR is the antithesis to the Nike Free, Altra, Five Fingers out there. Pliable they’re not. Sure, there’s plenty of room up front to wiggle your toes but your feet are pretty much locked in and guided through the entire gait cycle in a stable manner. There’s little chance for ankle eversion and inversion – the bulk, stack height and stiffness pretty much limits that. Foot strike feels planted and secure. This is one stable shoe.

A sliver of Gel is present in the lateral heel and the outsole is made of a thinner than usual AHAR which, as expected, looks like new even after 100 km. The hexagonal lugs provide excellent traction on all surfaces I’ve ran on – road, sandy patches, tiled. As they’re hard compound, you’ll hear loud tapping with each foot strike, keeping the timing and pace like a metronome.

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I expected my legs to be trashed post-21km but they were fine. They weren’t mollycoddled for sure but my legs felt like they could still manage another 5km had I been fitter. There were absolutely no hotspots, nor were my socks soaked with sweat.

The Asics GlideRide gets my recommendation as an ultra durable long distance trainer and at least a must-try in-stores for those apprehensive about the brand. They totally different from what the company has put out in recent years. Due to their stiffness, rotate them with a conventional lightweight trainer so that your musculoskeletal system gets a variety of adaptations. Don’t get hung up about the weight and who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Disclosure: I purchased the Asics GlideRide new from another owner for RM420. They’re also available from the Asics Malaysia website from RM440 – RM543 (Hari Raya Sale price), a good deal for a pair that gets you a minimum of 600km.

New Balance FuelCell Propel 200KM Review

NB Propel_Banner

Note: This is yet another discovered unpublished review from November 2019. The Propel is impossible to find these days but I figured I should still post this up for completeness sake. Due to the MCO lockdown to arrest the scourge of COVID-19, all outdoor activities were barred since early March and only lifted May 4th. With the write-up already completed last year, I was able to get reacquainted with the shoes and grab a few shots with the iPhone 11 before “AirDropping” them to the iPad for editing. So here’s the short write up on the shoes having logged 200km in them.

When I started running back in the early ‘90s, Nike and New Balance were the only 2 brands I wore. NBs were made in the USA then and they were built like Volvos. Indestructible yet really comfortable, NBs were one of the most innovative shoe companies at that time. As they got overly engineered and chunky – they had ENCAP, C-CAP, Rollbar, Abzorb – and that’s not counting the needlessly complicated nomenclature, I stayed away from the brand. If you’re interested in NB history, check out this Sneaker News article.

So after being off my shoe rotation for much of the 2000s, I got reacquainted with the brand when they released the Zante in 2015 which featured a then new midsole foam called FreshFoam (FF). The FF was an improvement over the stiff and firm RevLite material. The Zante had a fantastic upper construction and were made without superfluous materials. I liked them enough to own 2 pairs even though I found them to be a bit too minimal for marathon use. My next pairs of NB would happen only in 2018 with the Beacon [review], followed by the Rebel and Propel In 2019.

With that bit of backstory out of the way, let’s move along with the Propel.

The selling points for the Propel are their lightweight cushioning properties and accommodating upper, built on a stable platform of FuelCell midsole foam. Launched as the training companion to the more performance oriented Rebel, the Propel simply offers fantastic value to the budget conscious runner, without sacrificing the key elements that make a shoe great. Despite all the positives, tough luck finding them in Malaysia. The Propel and Rebel were on the shelves for such a limited period of time and sold at full RRP that finding and making that purchase decision a ridiculous proposition. Luckily, wide versions of the shoes were available discounted from an online shopping portal and that was how I snagged my pairs.

There’s really nothing much to write home about the Propel, really. It’s a simple shoe, a daily trainer in the mould of the Pegasus, Launch, GoRun Ride Hyper, and Solar Glide. The problem is, NB’s range of shoes are so bewilderingly wide that unless you’re a geek, the Propel will be lost in the sea of 840, 890, 880, Arishi, Echo, Beacon, Tempo, And Roav, just to name a few.

How good is the Propel? Good enough to displace the Zoom Fly 3 [review] as the daily workhorse and long run shoe. Much more forgiving than the lower slung Boston 5-8s, the Pegasus 35 (I don’t have the 36 which retained much of the 35’s setup), and the Dynaflyte 3. That said, the true-to-size NB are less suited for up-tempo workouts, the domain of the aforementioned shoes from adidas, Nike and Asics.

NB Propel_1

At a surprising 8.25oz, the Propel is lighter than the Pegs and Epic React [review], most daily cushioned trainers from Asics, adidas and Brooks. Given its wallet friendly price tag, the Propel’s upper isn’t something fancy nor refined as the Rebel’s excellent knitted upper. Just the usual breathable engineered mesh with hints of trace fibre stitching. I wish there is another row of lace eyelets to accommodate a  runner’s knot, so good thing the Propel already have good heel fit and laces long enough to triple knot!

propel4

There is a thin layer of external welded overlay around the toe cap but an external heel counter is noticeably absent. The almost-too-generous fit (the shoes are wide version) turn out to be a blessing as they allow me to swap out the stock insoles for the more supportive ones from Spenco as I slowly worked through my post-injury routine. My ankle has since mended enough for me to revert back to the stock insoles.propel7

Moving down to the flared midsole, you’ll find sculpted sidewalls both on the lateral and medial sides that offer all the stability the runner needs – going around corners are all well handled. I can say confidently since a single 2K loop of my daily running route entails negotiating 12 turns! The Propel’s FuelCell midsole offers enough cushion for the long miles and is stable enough for all but the wobbliest of runners. At 200km, there are some minor creasing observed on the midsole due to compression. That’s totally normal for a midsole this soft.

propel1

The 27mm/21mm stack height isn’t particularly high, thus the shoes’ impact dampening isn’t in the realm of a maximalist shoe like Hoka. Not to worry, you’ll still get a nice step-in feel.

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propel6

Flip the shoes over and you’ll notice the full rubber contact outsole with multi-directional flex grooves, including a massive longitudinal one reminiscent of Asics’ Guidance Line. This is one flexible shoe. Along with the Floatride Run Everyday, the Propel has one of the best traction out there, grippy on all the surfaces I run on – tarmac, gravel, steel gratings and sand – wet or dry. If there’s a negative, it’s the somewhat less stellar heel durability as you can see in the photo below, expected perhaps, due to the softer rubber used. They should still last me 450-500km and as I’m working to regain my fitness, I’ll take comfort over durability.

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propel3

There’s really little to complain about the Propel. The earlier comments about the one-less eyelet, heel wear and the (almost too much) roominess were me really nit-picking a super affordable pair of shoes under RM300, after rebates and discounts. The Propel gets my thumbs up. Good luck trying to find it.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 160K Review

Note: I discovered this unpublished draft review which was written back in August 2019 (gulp!). I’ve since retired the Zoom Fly 3. The role of the daily trainer now rests with the React Infinity Run Flyknit [review]. Due to the MCO lockdown to arrest the scourge of COVID-19, there’s been no running since early March. With that, let’s get on with the review.

Midway through a recent 19K, it dawned upon me how my opinion has shifted ever so slightly on the shoes I had on. The Nike Zoom Fly 3 (ZF3) is my 4th in the Zoom Fly series, having experienced the OG and Zoom Fly Flyknit (ZFFK), with a new pair of Zoom Fly SP Fast still in storage. I’ve always had a mixed relationship with the series. I’m not a fan of their weight (they’ve always been heavy) and clunkiness, which is incongruous with Nike’s “fast” sales pitch. Nike has such depth in their range, the Epic React, Rival Fly, and Turbo being just 3 of them, which can easily handle the fast days. Yet the ZF3 are still Nike’s only carbon-plated shoes other than the 4/Next% and as of this post, the only one accorded the VaporWeave upper treatment. If you’re a shoe geek like me, the ZF is the closest you’ll get to the feel of the premier Percents. Which explains why even with their weighty misgivings, the lure was just too strong for me.

Aesthetics-wise, ZF3 takes it up a notch from the ZFFK. As expected of Nike, the shoes are just beautiful – a huge swoosh garnishing the translucent upper, a highly sculpted midsole that tapers to the rear, white colorway accentuating minimalism – their silhouette leaning to that of the Vaporfly Elite, Next % and Vapor Street. Those expecting a lighter ZFFK would be disappointed though, as my pair of US10 still weighs in at 9.8oz for the left and 10.05oz for the right. Tiny manufacturing variances do naturally occur, so I’m not sure if a 0.25oz difference is considered a huge one. The shoes feel hefty to hold compared to Nike’s other models such as the Rival Fly, Epic React 2, Odyssey React 2 or even the Pegasus 36.

At over 10oz for my US10, these are in my opinion, not conducive in tackling speed work. To each his/her own, I know, but there are certainly better options out there for your tempos and intervals. As mentioned earlier, Nike’s own Turbo and Streak or even the Epic React for example are more suited for the fast days. NB’s fantastic FuelCell Rebel being the other option. You can see how disappointed I was with this weighty issue – while regular workhorses like the Pegasus 36 and featherweight Next% have both shed weight, the ZF3 gained!

Left shoe weighs 9.8oz

Right shoe weighs in over 10oz! A little variance is expected during manufacturing but this difference in weight is quite big.

Similar to the direction taken by the Next %, the knitted upper has been replaced with Vaporweave, a TPU and TPE mix, chosen to improve breathability and reduce water retention. While the hype is going to be on Vaporweave, the upper is actually a combination of several elements and layers which include a highly perforated mesh just under the outermost weave, and an internal perforated arch band which secures the midfoot and arch which attaches to a neoprene-like integrated tongue and collar. The reinforcements around the toebox and heel cup are sufficient. A V-shaped lace loop strip adds some structure. The neoprene-like tongue is lightly padded, no undue pressure felt on the top of the feet. even when cinched up tight.

Where the ZF3’s upper falters would be the fit around the ankle. Visually, there are plenty of space and gaps around the collar when you put on the shoes, creating the impression of poor fit and lockdown. Trust me when I tell you that it’s impossible to lace up without closing off the space – I’ve tried. The best you can do is to secure a tight fit and pray the internal suede padding on each side of the ankle adequately hold down the foot. It’s a little disconcerting at first and I was quite concerned about pebbles and small stones finding their way into the shoes during my first few runs.

The ZF3 sees an increase in the midsole stack height, which probably explains their weight gain. Runningwarehouse puts the midsole at 36mm/28mm for an 8mm offset. The ZF3 retains a full-length React foam midsole with an embedded carbon fiber plate.

The outsole has been beefed up considerably as well. The forefoot sports a thicker rubber with deeper grooves. The good? The blown rubber offers excellent bite and traction, even around corners. The bad? Added weight, of course. Rear rubber coverage is limited to the high wear lateral and medial sides.

My first run in the ZF3 was a short 6K. I felt the imbalanced weight distribution of the shoes almost immediately. The front is perceptibly heavier than the rear – possibly due to the much greater rubber coverage in the forefoot. That said, the ride is very very smooth, the smoothest of all ZFs. Almost Pegasus smooth with very little trace of the stiff, rolling rocker transition. Could Nike have re-positioned the carbon plate? There were some talks of that, which would explain the tamped down rocker-feel.

After logging over 160km in the shoes, I’m please to report that the durability is top-notch. Wear and tear is excellent and the only giveaway that they aren’t new shoes is the slight yellowing of the Vaporweave material. I’ve also yet to encounter wayward pebbles entering the shoes. Another plus for me is the roomier forefoot and cushioned ride. I do wish the ZFs to be lighter although I doubt they’ll ever be in the mid 8oz region. It’s for this reason that this pair of ZF3s will probably be my final dalliance with the series. I’ve grown to enjoy the Turbo which I’ve found to be versatile and there always the New Balance Propel for a lighter training option.

If you’ve not experienced the Zoom Fly series and are curious about it, version 3 may be of interest to you.

Nike React Infinity Run – After 30K

While manners maketh man, doth injuries maketh a runner? 
I’ve been a runner for over 20 years and have managed to stay relatively injury-free. I’ve “only” had a case of plantar fasciitis which took me 8 months to completely recover from and I’m currently desperately trying to shake off a debilitating posterior tibial tendonitis. So at least for me recently, injuries doth maketh a runner. It’s just a matter of severity and the recovery time needed to be back in business.
After creating the fastest distance running shoes on the planet, the folks at Nike are now training their sights on producing shoes that will make injuries a thing of the past. Enter the Nike React Infinity Run.
Now, every runner worth his or her electrolytes knows that not getting injured is not only about wearing the appropriate choice of footwear. It’s about proper training, efficient biomechanics, and yes, correct gear. You could be wearing the best gear money can buy but if training volume and intensity are not compensated with adequate rest and recovery, an injury is just waiting to happen. Which is why along with the launch of the React Infinity, Nike are leveraging on the Nike+ Run Club (NRC) and Nike Training Club (NTC) to guide the runner along the proper way to train.
Before we dive into my first experiences in the React Infinity, I’d like to point out that Nike do have and have had several stability oriented shoes in their line-up. The Odyssey React and Structure 22 are currently available shoes offering mild to moderate stability respectively, while 6 to 7 years ago, there was the popular LunarGlide (with the Dynamic Support Lunarlon midsole) and the Structure Triax 10+ with Footbridge and firm medial posting working in concert.
The React Infinity have no medial posting, no superfluous straps and no plastic pieces embedded in the midsole. They really are simple shoes. Well-engineered yet simple.

See the vertical stitch line just aft of the Flyknit tab? That’s the separator between the Flyknit Loft to the front of the shoe and regular Flyknit to the rear.

To begin with, the upper is now 3/4 Flyknit Loft which comprises of 3 layers. The base provides smooth comfort, the mid layer adds some structure and stability while the top layer enhances breathability. Traditional Flyknit continue to provide rear upper integrity. Lacing eyelets are now decoupled into 4 separate “islands” which allows the wearer to customise the lockdown. The Flyknit upper wear like socks – snug but not restrictive. There’s certainly enough room for the toes to splay and has just enough stretch for all-day wear – I know because I’ve worn it exclusively as work and training shoes since the day they were handed to me. A thin TPU wrap provides a bit more structure without the need for a heel counter. The iconic swoosh logo is nicely, and creatively, incorporated into this wrap.

The midsole flaring is clear to see in this shot.

With the exception of the midfoot area, the wearer’s feet will sit on a noticeably wider platform of a rocker geometry. This allows the taller React Infinity to maintain a buttery smooth transition as the lower slung Epic React which I’ve reviewed here. Remove this rocker and you’ll regress to the days of motion-control shoes simply because they’d be too stiff to run in! Because the React Infinity have 24% more React foam (33/24mm stack height for a 9mm heel-to-toe offset) compared to the Epic React, there’s no need for Zoom Air. The extra React foam already handle the cushioning job well enough, is durable and inherently stable on their own. Those elements of stability and durability are the reasons why React is used to complement the Turbo 2’s Zoom X midsole.

Cut-off heel.

The pointy elf heel that we’ve grown accustomed to – and present in the Winflo, Pegasus, Vomero, Zoom Fly, Turbo, Rival Fly, Vaporfly 4% and Next% – is gone. Instead, the React Infinity sport a cut-off heel. I’m not sure if that’s a purely design call but I’m sure the 2 pieces of extended heel clips that secure the midsole and upper play a major role in guiding the feet through the gait cycle.
The full contact outsole retains the DNA of the Epic React but with greater rubber coverage at all high-wear areas. Deep flex grooves can be found at all the, um, flex points. I logged more than 600km in my retired Epic and on account of the added rubber alone, the Infinity React will be able to return similar mileage if not more given the shoes now have even more foam. Traction seems to be on point too – no face-planting myself dashing over slick tiled surfaces as I sought shelter on a drizzly KL evening.
The step-in feel is soft but not mushy, and comfortable with a very noticeable arch support. The tongue feels like an upgrade from that of the Epic React with a touch more cushion. The fit of the React Infinity is true to size. My US10 weighs in at 10.4oz (women’s US8 comes in at 8oz per Nike’s official specs) which isn’t flyweight but I find them to be so well balanced that I really don’t feel the weight at all. Go try them out yourself and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve logged over 30km in the shoes and here’s what I think in no particular order:
  1. They ride as smooth as the Epic. Those who love the Epic will love the Infinity while Pegasus wearers seeking a more cushioned ride may be convinced to rotate in the Infinity.
  2. They’re cushioned, protective and stable without needing to be outright stability/motion control-class shoes. There’s little to no excessive inward collapsing of my problematic right foot on foot strike.
  3. Best worn with medium-bulk socks. Over the period of a week, I’ve worn them sock-less (not recommended not only from the fit perspective but also due to upper bunching as a result of added space), with thin race socks (hard to get ankle lockdown) and medium-bulk socks (works best!).
  4. Overall fit is great although heel lock can be improved. Maybe it’s my narrow ankles. This can be improved by adding 2 internal strips/pads onto both inner sides of the heel counter, or adding an additional lacing eyelet.
  5. Flyknit Loft is very breathable! Gone are the days of ending workouts in soaked shoes.
  6. Pretty versatile for their weight and stack height. I’ve taken them out at 5:00/km to 6:45/km paces. Great for those fast finish long runs.
  7. The pronounced arch support I felt when I first put on the shoes disappeared minutes into the workout, and most importantly didn’t result in chafing.
Just like for the Epic React, I expect the Infinity React to break in – upper and midsole to turn softer and conforming to the wearer’s specs – around the 50km mark. While my mileage is comparatively low due to my current injury, the shoes are still comfortable enough for me to log several 10Ks so far. I can see myself pulling them out for all my easy/recovery and long run days once I’m out of this present situation. I will definitely put up a follow-up post once I put them through longer runs.
Nike’s moonshot of creating shoes that’ll see the end to injuries is an audacious one but didn’t Breaking2 start that way just a few years ago as well? The React Infinity is a solid debut in that regards and prove that supportive shoes can be designed to be like neutral shoes – staying relatively light, flexible, smooth and cushioned yet offering protection and support.
The Nike React Infinity are now available in Nike stores nationwide from today January 30th, 2020 and they retail for RM649.
Disclosure: The Nike React Infinity Run was provided for review by Nike Sales Malaysia but the thoughts expressed above are entirely my own after logging over 30km in them.

Nike Pegasus Turbo – 50K Review

Plenty of hype went into Nike’s launch of the Pegasus Turbo last year. So strong were the marketing that I got my hands on the shoes a day before the official launch. As usual, after logging some miles in them, I sat down to write a review. Only to discard the draft and a few weeks later, sold off the shoes. Let me explain.

Sold this pair off after 260km.

Firstly, here’s what I liked about the OG Turbo – they’re light (8.45oz/239g for my US10), very smooth and cushioned, and spec-wise just a carbon plate short of Vaporfly 4% material. They reminded me of the Clayton 2 but without the bulk. And even with the controversial but eye-catching, racing strip that runs down the vamp, I’ve found wiggle-room to be sufficient.

The feet sit atop the premium Zoom X foam (greyish tint) and under that is the React foam. Other than the racing strip, the exaggerated pointed heel is a Turbo giveaway.

This version has a unique print on the sockliner, which says “Run The Night”. Other than a reflective strip on the heel counter, I’m not sure if the upper material has added reactive shine properties to it.

Now, the negatives:

  1. The Turbo were not quite stable to run in. The absence of a carbon plate meant there was a need for compensating controls, literally, with the use of React foam. The midsole comprises of Nike’s high-end Zoom X foam and under that layer, React. Despite that approach, I still found them to be less stable than the Epic React. Taking turns and corners in the Turbo wasn’t as reassuring as I’d liked.
  2. They’re a tad too soft for my liking, resulting in my arches flaring up.
  3. At RM735, they’re very expensive.

Rubber in a rail-like design encircles the outer rim of the shoes. Within the perimeter are little pentagonal waffles in all the high-wear areas. Exposed React foam commands the midfoot real estate. No signs of wear after 50K.

Despite my mixed feelings, I still logged over 260km in the Turbo before being sold off. That ordinarily would’ve ended my association with the Turbo, except that I not only found myself with another pair nearly a year on, but also the updated Turbo 2! We will leave the Turbo 2 for future review and stick with the OG here. It happened when JD Sports had their sale and the Turbo were had for a more palatable RM510. Coincidentally I was on the lookout for soft lightweight trainer for all the easy running, post-GCM19. Since the first pair, I’ve made some gains as a runner and I reckoned that with better mechanics, I’d be able to finally enjoy the shoes. And after logging 50K in them, I’m pleased to report that I do like them! I’m unable to explain my new-found liking for the Turbo except to pin it to my general fitness and running form. The other fellas from the running group have always liked the shoes, and have worn them for easy long runs right through to long tempos but with plenty of time before Base Training kicks off late September, most of my running are the easy maintenance stuff. So while there’s little use of the firm and fast shoes such as the Hyper-Tri or Rival Fly at the moment, there’s plenty of opportunities for the versatile Turbo.

I appreciate the soft and bouncy ride when rotated with the much firmer Forever Floatride Energy and Beacon, and that’s a good thing when it’s all about enjoying the miles at this stage. I expect the mini-waffle outsole to hold up well as the pair I’ve sold off were in great shape even after 260km. I’ve never had breathability issues with my first pair of OGs and it’s the same here. The fit around the collar is as good as that of the Pegasus 35 with the swept heel design. And yes, the Turbo is true-to-size. It has been a little odd, getting reacquainted with shoes that didn’t quite work out the first time, but perhaps due to me being a different runner this go-around, the experience with the Turbo have been largely positive. I’m looking forward to getting plenty of miles in them!

With the launch of the Turbo 2, you should be able to find the Turbo OGs on sale in most places. While the Turbo 2 retains the midsole and outsole material and design, the upper is now sleeker, the formerly padded tongue and collar are now race-oriented. The racing strip and Flywire are gone as well. The Turbo 2 is thus lighter, befitting a performance shoe. Is the Turbo OG (or 2) for you then? There’s no clear answer – since there are folks on both sides of the divide. I’d suggest trying the shoes in-stores (e.g. Nike KLCC has a treadmill) before purchasing due to their imposing price tag.

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Update: After the initial draft of this post, I ran a couple of quicker sessions in the Turbo. The first was a short 6K, rolling off very slowly and progressing down to MP and under to wrap the workout up. No stability issues this time, despite the route being the usual twisty roads in my neighbourhood but as my right shoe wasn’t laced up as snugly around the midfoot – my own doing – every footstrike was an annoying and thoroughly distracting smack. So lace up snugly! My second run was a fast finish 12K at Peremba. The route is basically a 6K loop with 2 sharp turns. Unlike firmer and lower-stacked shoes, soft ones like the Vaporfly and Zoom Fly require a wider turning radius and you’ll need strong ankles to execute a quick turnaround. The Turbo is no different – you’ll still need to use the Vaporfly’s racing lines to negotiate the turns. Other than that those observations, I’m enjoying the shoes. They will certainly feature a lot when base training commences in 2 months time.

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Reebok Floatride Everyday – 50K Review

Launched early 2019, the Reebok Floatride Everyday (RFE) came after the releases of the elite Floatride Run Fast Pro (an eye-watering US$250) and Floatride Run Fast (US$140). At US$100, the RFE is the cheapest option in Reebok’s line of Floatride models. These 3 are, of course, progeny of the Floatride Run, a very decent daily trainer I also had the chance of running in a couple of years ago. Now that I’m slowly building the fitness back again after a 2-week post-marathon break, I’ve had the chance to finally run in the RFE. The RFE along with the Zoom Fly 3 are my go-to’s for the upcoming 8-week Foundation Phase, now that I’ve retired the Zoom Fly Flyknit and Ultraboost Uncaged.

I’ll keep my review succinct, so let’s get going.

Specs
Stack height: 29mm/19mm (per Runningwarehouse)
Weight: 9.45oz/268g (US10, as personally weighed. They’re a full ounce heavier than the Turbo but more than half an ounce lighter than the Zoom Fly 3).
Type: Versatile daily trainer.
Fit: True to size. Not sure why Runningwarehouse and some reviewers advise sizing down. If in doubt, always try them out in-stores.

Upper

  • Accommodating forefoot provides very nice toe splay and wiggle room for the digits.
  • Very breathable engineered mesh, with tighter weave in the high-stress areas.
  • Internal stiffeners for the toe-box, none of those hard and rigid stuff.
  • No extraneous strips. Just very thin strips of overlays in the midfoot section to provide some structure.
  • Tongue padding is just nice.
  • Semi-rigid heel counter with external laminated reinforcements
  • Reflective strips in the upper and on the heel counter

Close-up of the mesh and midsole. The Floatride Energy midsole material feels like Skechers’ Hyper Burst to the touch.

Midsole

  • Single piece Floatride Energy TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), which is similar to that of the Fuel Cell. Not the PEBAX used in the higher-end Floatride models.
  • A bit of midsole flare. Provides a wide base for the feet to sit on.
  • Firmer and less squishy to the touch compared to React, a little similar to Skechers’ Hyper Burst.
  • Lighter than Boost and EVERUN.

It’s got some toe spring. Don’t let the photo fool you – there’s more than enough toe box room for most folks.

Outsole

  • Full contact hard rubber outsole with mini waffle-like lugs.
  • Feels like sticky rubber to the touch. Assured traction across all the surfaces I’ve run on. I fully expect the same performance under wet conditions as well.
  • Average toe-spring. Interesting article on toe-spring

Outsole shows very little wear after 50K

Ride Character

  • The shoes are indeed versatile! They feel at home when taken slow and are totally at ease when the pace is pushed. They feel like shoes a full ounce lighter.
  • The RFE’s cushioning is on the firmer end of the scale but they are anything but harsh – firmer than React and Boost but softer than Revlite. I’ve no business with overly firm shoes, but these won’t trash up your legs. I ran a 10-miler on sore legs the day after a bruising 10K race and my legs didn’t feel as chewed up as I’d feared. I attribute the firmness to the hard rubber outsole, which took away some of the softness inherent in the Floatride Energy midsole. If Reebok replaces the forefoot outsole material to blown rubber, it’ll be even more awesome.
  • Smooth and responsive.
  • Stable, due to the shoes’ wider base.
  • I like the RFE more than the Beacon. FreshFoam of the Beacon feels dead after 200KM.
  • The outsole looks to be durable, with minimal wear after 50K. No issues hitting 500K in the RFE.
  • Breathability was great and I didn’t end up with soggy socks after my sessions.

Conclusion
The Reebok Floatride Everyday is a comfortable daily trainer that’s comfortable at whatever pace you run at. I would easily grab these for 10 milers and on days  when I prefer a slightly firmer ride. For longer distances, my choice would be the Pegasus Turbo, while the chunky and heavier Zoom Fly 3 would be for those slow draggy sessions. At RM415 after discount at RSH, the RFE presents a good value purchase. They’re no-frills shoes, durable and versatile as is something I’d pick over the Kinvara 10 and Beacon.

If you’re on a budget yet don’t want to compromise on performance, check these babies out. I expect the RFE to go sale come Q4 2019.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon – 120K Review

The Beacon may be well received by the running shoe geeks (RSG), but they weren’t really in my list of to-try shoes simply because I already have more than enough for the current training cycle. But as fate would have it, while poking around Rakuten, as any RSG worth his salt is wont to do, I spotted the shoes going for just RM260 including shipping! It was quite an easy decision to make *shrugs*.

9 days later, the package arrived. I did the usual unboxing just to check the product, marvelled at their lightweight feel and excellent upper construction but resisted taking them out for a run. I fully intended to use them only post-GCM19 as recovery shoes.

As luck would have it, the shoes were called to active duty just a month later. It was clear by then that the Rival Fly (RF) that I bought (also very cheaply from Japan) needed more time breaking in and the Zoom Fly (ZF) would not be working as go-fast tempo shoes on the roads that I run. My daily route consists of 12 90-degree turns each 2K loop, and the ZF isn’t suited to quick and constant changes in direction. I’d long ago retired my tempo shoes for GCM18 which was the Zoom Elite 9 (ZE9), something I initially hoped the RF would replace once broken in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait for the breaking-in period and after testing the Beacon out on an easy 10K, I was knew enough to know that they would be great for tempos.

The shoes are everything that others have written about – light, superbly constructed upper that’s breathable, accommodating fit. At 7.5oz (US9), 26mm/20mm stack heights for a 6mm heel to toe drop, (per Runningwarehouse specs), there’s nothing superfluous about the Beacon. They fit true to size too. You would think that not having any overlays would render the shoes unstable and sloppy but you’d be wrong. It could take the twisty roads, return a good feel of the road for a fast push-off yet providing adequate cushioning for races up to the Half Marathon from the get-go. They’re surprisingly stable too. Efficient and lighter runners will have no problems taking them to the full distance.

As mentioned earlier, the mesh upper is light and breathable. I believe they’re even lighter than knitted options that we see so prevalent these days. The stock laces are rather long and has a bit of stretch. I found myself having to tuck the extraneous parts under to prevent them flopping around. The padding around the collar and on the tongue are just nice and I’ve absolutely no complaints there.

For midsole duties, NB uses what they call Fresh Foam Ground Contact (FFGC) and they’re essentially a more durable version of the traditional FF. Visually, the stack height of the Beacon appears thick but they don’t feel that at all mainly because they’re anything but mushy. They don’t ride anything at all like the Pegasus Turbo nor Clayton 2 but there are some similarities to the Epic React, which incidentally was one of my favorite shoes.

The lateral side of the midsole features concave hexagonal cut-outs.

The medial side, on the other hand, has convex cut-outs, hence the stability without the need for a medial post.

Another view of the convex design of the medial side. Clearly shows how NB builds stability into a neutral shoe like the Beacon.

I’ve only ever worn 2 other NBs the past 5 years – the OG Zante and the Vazee Pace. Of these 2, only the Zante is made of FF, with the Vazee built on top of Revlite midsole. While I prefered the Zante over the Vazee, running in both always beat up my legs. The Beacon’s FFGC, however, has that extra bit of cushioning and over the several 13-14K tempos I’ve ran in them, my legs didn’t protest as much compared to the Zante days. I was still able to resume my easy running the very next day. The sweet spot of the Beacon is really in the midfoot area. If you’re predominantly a midfoot striker, you’re going to be in for a treat – that’s where the shoe’s cushioning and responsiveness are best experienced.

Just like the upper, the Beacon’s outsole is also a design in simplicity. 90% all-foam with the 2 small areas of rubber plugs, to provide durability on take-off and landing. The exposed foam areas wear rather well. Even though there’s noticeable wear in the center of the push-off area, I suspect the phenomenon is akin to that of the Epic React where the rate of wear tapered off after the initial 100km. Photos below show their state of wear after 120km. There should be no problems hitting 350km and, if lucky, 400km. It’s appropriate to mention that I’ve yet to run in wet conditions in the shoes to be able to comment about their traction.

While I’ve mostly employed the Beacon as faster paced shoes, they’re versatile enough for easy days as well. That said, I prefer softer shoes for those ambling miles.

Other than online sources, and perhaps NB’s factory outlets, good luck finding the Beacon now. You might as well wait for the Beacon 2 coming out sometime Q3 or check out the Fuelcell Rebel. The New Balance Beacon gets my firm recommendation.

Nike Pegasus 35 iD Review

The neutral cushioned daily trainer category is the bread and butter of every shoe company. ASICS have their Nimbus and Cumulus, adidas have their Ultra Boost and Solar Boost, Brooks’ Glycerin, Ghost and Launch, Saucony’s Triumph ISO and Ride ISO. And Nike, of course, have the Vomero and Pegasus. I’ve worn a few versions of the Pegasus intermittently since I took up running in the ’80s. ’92 (heavy, very firm, thick, stiff) ’06 and ’07 (cushier and dialed back on the stiffness, but still heavy) but my favourite then was the 2005 which I went through 2 pairs. They got progressively firmer and stiffer, not to mention more expensive, from that point on. Check out some of the early Peg models as featured by Complex here, Sneaker Freaker here and Nike here.

The Pegasus 35, launched May 2018, sees a complete overhaul in the silhouette, with it taking after some elements of the stupendously popular Vapor Fly 4% in the way the full-length Zoom Air bag is shaped to mimic the curve of the 4%’s carbon fiber plate. The Peg 35’s upper also does away with the multiple overlays seen on the earlier versions. A swept-back heel tab was incorporated, taking the cues from Mo Farah’s preference for a non-intrusive construction – not that this part of a shoe has ever bothered me. The engineered mesh upper has a tighter weave this time around and this is complemented with an internal bootie which connects to a slimmer yet extended tongue. The laces go through Flywire cords to secure the shoe as do the internal toe and heel cups. Then there’s the pointy heel seen the 4% and Zoom Fly. The Peg 35 has a stack height of 28/18 for an overall 10mm drop, within the 8-12mm standard for shoes on this segment.

This setup accords the Peg 35 a decidedly sleeker look and naturally piqued my interest as well. However, with a shoe cabinet that was already too well-stocked, I reminded myself that I would only part with my cash should I achieve my marathon goal time on the Gold Coast. As it turned out, I did (race report here), and a little reward in the form of a customized Peg was in order. The Nike iD custom took 3.5 weeks to arrive and when they did, I thought they were too nice to run in, albeit imbued with a Chinese New Year vibe! I opted for a red upper, metallic gold swoosh, speckled midsole and gum-rubber design, complete with my PR printed on both shoes and a self-reminder inscribed on the tongue.

Despite the sleeker appearance, the Peg 35 still weighs in at 9.5oz a shoe for a US10. Now, if the midsole was React instead of Cushlon, and the upper wasn’t made of such tight weave, they would perhaps lose a few more ounces. Doesn’t really matter that much to me since my use would be strictly for training.

The fit of the shoes are snug. As mentioned, I stayed true to size and if you’re one to run in thin socks, that will not matter much but I’d advice testing the Pegs out in the stores prior to purchase. Moving the first row of the laces back also frees up the forefoot area. Now less restrictive, flexing during the toe-off phase is also a pleasant experience without anything pressing down on the toes or feet. Moving to the rear, the swept-back heel tab didn’t enhance nor mess up the fit of the shoes for me. Heel lock down is secure as it is.

Lateral view.

Medial view.

The vents on the upper are only concentrated around the vamp. Breathability suffers a little in our hot and humid climate due to the tight weave of the mesh in the other areas.

Now comes the most important question – how do the Peg 35s feel? If you are not the least interested in the specs, you’d be forgiven for thinking they ride lower, as in the midsoles are thinner, than the Epic React. In reality both the Peg 35 and Epic React share the same stack height and offset! The Pegs’ use of durable rubber outsole and Cushlon midsole combine to give the wearer a certain firmness and road feel, unlike the softer and bouncier experience of the Epic. The differences are especially palpable for me coming off the retirement of the Epic. Here’s the interesting thing – I’m more susceptible to heel striking in the Epic than the Pegasus despite the latter being a full ounce heavier.

I did mention that the Peg is firm. But that doesn’t mean an absence of cushioning. It’s there and provides just enough of it and quickly send you off to your next stride. There’s very little sinking feeling with easy stride, so there’s no Hoka-type of feel here. The Peg is a little warm to run in in Malaysia’s tropical climate but not uncomfortably so. I’ve yet to finish a run in soggy socks but I’ll have to confirm that once I resume my longer runs.

Since I’m already so far behind, I thought this post would be more relevant if I work it as a 100-mile review. So while the photos were taken when the shoes were new, the video below will show the close up of the wear of the Peg after 160km. Overall, the wear and tear, or the lack of it, have been astounding. Other than a very slight wear on the left shoe along the outer edge of the heel (the usual wear spot in all my shoes due to a weaker left leg), both the left and right shoes have seen very little degradation. Even the thin grooves on the pentagonal lugs in the forefoot landing and push-off areas are still visible.

This is one shoe that will take you through the entire marathon training cycle. While advances in technology have brought us racing flats we can train and race in, you still won’t get anywhere near the miles and durability you can put into these traditional daily trainers. Dependable and durable, there’s great ROI you can derive from them. And as I’m now approaching the big Five-O, I need to be looking after myself so that I can continue chasing my running goals. These shoes offer that. Besides, “Train heavy, race light” seems like a great idea!

The Nike Pegasus 35 remains a good buy for those seeking a durable daily trainer. The latest iteration is sleeker, simpler in construction and, by golly, still the durable shoe that we know. Cushioning remains on the firmer side but still delivers a smooth ride. What I’d like to see in a future release is React foam replacing the Cushlon (although that would certainly result in price increase) and the use of a more breathable upper. The earlier colorways are already on sale under RM400 (US$100), so go check them out!