Thursday, September 01, 2016

Topo Athletic ST-2 Review -Stuck in the Middle with You

Article by Peter Stuart
The Topo Athletic ST-2 is a 6.9 ounce, zero drop, road running and cross training shoe. It’s extremely flexible, the heel collapses and the stack height is 16mm (comprised of a 4mm outsole, 7mm midsole and a 5mm footbed). $90. Available now.




Upper and Fit:
The upper on the ST-2 is fairly soft and would definitely be classified as “sock-like”. The collapsible heel makes it particularly inconspicuous on the foot. The shape of the shoe is more ‘foot like’ than a traditional trainer, but less so than brands such as Altra. I don’t mind putting these on to walk around in them. Running in them, unfortunately, has been less enjoyable.
While there seems to be ample room in the toe box, I wind up with nasty blisters on the outside of both pinky toes in these shoes. I don’t feel it rubbing initially, and I’m not sure that it’s the shape of the toe box that’s the culprit. I think what may be happening is that the shoe is so flexible that it’s creasing and causing a sharp crease just at the top of the toes. Haven’t been able to figure it out, but I’ve gotten pretty bad blisters on every run.

Midsole and Outsole:
The midsole, which Topo says is 7mm thick, seems to be made of EVA and has sections on the ball of the foot, the toe and the heel with thicker blown rubber. Traction is decent. There’s no drop and fairly little cushioning. The good news is that you feel pretty connected to the road without it feeling too harsh. Traction seems to be fine.  


Ride:
The ride of the ST-2 is sort of in the middle for me. Though they’re light they don’t feel like a race flat—they just don’t have that snap. They aren’t cushioned enough for me to want to take them out on long runs. Road feel can be a little harsh at first, but it kind of reminds me of running in Vibram 5 fingers. It feels harsh and then you adjust your running style a bit to make it work. If they didn’t give me such bad blisters I might keep them around for moderate runs when I feel like wearing a light shoe.

Conclusions and comparisons:
The Topo St-2, with its lycra and mesh upper is a pretty comfortable lightweight shoe. I might wear them casually or stash them in a backpack if I want a pair of shoes that travels easily (due to that collapsible heel). Unfortunately I neither love the ride nor the fit. I get significant blisters on the outside of pinky toes every time I go for a run in these. They are super flexible and light, but unfortunately not a great running shoe for me. As a shoe to wear around or to wear to cross train at the gym they may be a bit more useful.

Comparisons:

ST-2 vs. NB 1400 V4
The ST-2 is lighter and firmer than the NB. NB feels like a race flat and fits great, while the ST-2 doesn’t feel particularly snappy

ST-2 vs. Asics Hyperspeed 7
Hyperspeed is more cushioned than the ST-2 and fits better. Both are super light.

ST-2 vs. Skechers GoMeb 3
The ST-2 is a lot less shoe. It’s far more flexible, but may not be as forgiving over the longer miles.

 ST-2 vs. Adidas Adios Boost 3
 No comparison.

Running shoe score 2.5 out of 5

-1.0 for upper issues causing blisters
-1.0 meh ride

-0.5 for uninspiring looks.

Score as a cross-trainer/lifestyle/travel shoe 4.0 out of 5
-.5 for aesthetics
-.5 for blister potential

The ST-2 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.


Peter Stuart's Running Bio

My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.





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