Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Balance RC1400 v5 Review: Zoom!

Article by Peter Stuart with Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run

The New Balance  RC 1400 V5 ($99.95)  is a 7.4  oz/210 gram race day shoe with a 25 mm heel and a 15mm forefoot. It actually loses 0.3 oz/8.5 g from v4 according to Running Warehouse's stats. It’s a light, fast, flexible racer with enough cushion to use for uptempo and daily workouts. I think I’ve run in every version of this shoe and was able to go out for side-by side comparisons with V3, V4 and V5.

Upper and Fit:
          

The upper is now engineered mesh. The v4 had a more conventional mesh upper with overlays, in v5 the density of the mesh replacing overlays in the front of the shoe to provide structure and support. It’s light, breathable, no-sew and has some very minimal overlays mid foot to hold the foot in place.
The lacing system is simple, with 6 eyelets. The fit, while a bit narrow, is comfortable. When I first put them on I was worried that they’re too narrow in the mid-foot, but within a couple of steps that sensation disappeared. They do run a tiny bit short. I’ve alternated between true-to-size and a half-size up in the 1400. If I were going to do longer distances in these I might size up. There was no mashing of toes, but they are a hair short.   




Midsole and Outsole:

The Midsole on the 1400 is still good, old reliable RevLite. As with previous versions of this shoe it lives up to the claims of “lightweight and responsive”. I find them to have a nice bounce, particularly at speed. For a shoe as low to the ground as this, there’s a decent amount of protection. I’ve run a couple of marathons in the 1400’s over the years, and I’ve always wished I had just a hair more forefoot protection by the end of the race. I think I’d probably keep these to races of 13.1 and under.
The outsole is a mix of various shapes and sizes of blown rubber sections. There are some great little lug-like breaks in the forefoot rubber that allow the shoe to really grip and rip.


New Balance 1400 v4 PC: Running Warehouse
Sam: the outsole sees considerable changes from v4 with not only the more prominent angled lugs but more significantly a fairly deep longitudinal groove is added which improves the flex. I agree with Peter the outsole is grippy and confidence inspiring at speed.


It appears there’s still a plastic plate in the shoe, but it’s not mentioned anywhere on the site.

Ride:
The ride of the 1400 V5 is pretty sublime. It’s a fast, fluid, responsive ride. It’s not the most cushioned race shoe I have, but it holds up nicely as the miles rack up. I took it out side-by-side with both the 1400 V3 and the 1400 V4. It feels as if New Balance has really fine-tuned the ride over each version of the shoe. The V3 is REALLY firm, the v4 feels a bit more forgiving and more similar to the V5, but the V5 adds a fluidity through the transition and makes the ride feel really dialed in. The V5 feels good at any speed, but great when you pick up the speed.  

Sam: I really liked the great fit, working with the rest of the shoe in concert. It is firm but not a "stiff", a comfortable light fast shoe. My last 1400 was the v2, considerably firmer and with a very airy and also not particularly comfortable upper made of huge thick mesh "chain mail" with basically only a thin completely open mesh in the gaps.
The v2 came in at 6.4 oz with the v5 coming in at 7.4 oz.  I see we have gained some weight over the years! Not an issue for me given the more comfortable upper and more fluid, slightly softer ride of the v5. I almost dreaded running anything but speed work in v2 and did not run them much.  Not the case with the v5. Even though it is a race day type shoe it is flexible, comfortable and certainly still snappy responsive. 
I would like to see a less substantial mid foot plate or an approach which uses such a plate between outsole and midsole such as in the adios Boost or Salming instead of embedded as in 1400, Men Speed, or Zoom Streak 6. I always seem to feel something harsh, basically a plate,  from those shoes... and the v5 from mid foot to heel.
Conclusions and comparisons:

Peter: The New Balance RC 1400 V5 continues the long-line of the 1400 series being a simple and effective training and racing weapon. This is the most refined (in upper and in ride) version and at a sub $100 price point it’s hard not to recommend this little race demon.  

Sam: The 1400 V5 has what a good race shoe should have: a snug and thankfully also very comfortable upper, light weight, and a snappy responsive ride from a relatively firm midsole.

To help readers decide if and for what purposes the 1400 v5 might be appropriate we have abitrarily assigned it to races and paces and also compared it to other similar shoes.

The 1400 v5 would a good choice for:
  • sub 3 hour marathoners with a light build
  • half marathoners running 1:35 or faster
  • 10K racers running 43 minutes or faster
  • speed work and tempo for all paces.
  • any runner seeking a firm, light, responsive ride
Comparisons:

1400 V5 vs.1400 V3 and V4
Version 5 is a little more forgiving than V3 and a little more elegant in the upper than V4 while retaining all of the great things about the 1400 series.    

1400 V5 vs. Nike Zoom Elite 9 (RTR review)
These are both excellent shoes. The Zoom Elite 9 has a more forgiving forefoot (due to air pod), but both are good at slow speeds and tempo.

1400 V5 vs. Nike Zoom Streak 6 (RTR review)
Both of these are speedy little rockets. The Streak is lighter and the feel of the plate is a little more pronounced—perhaps just a hair snappier.   

 Peter and Sam's Score: 9.0 out of 10
- 1.0 We could use just a hair more protection under forefoot.

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.

The 1400 was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the authors.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Inov-8 TrailTalon 250: Excellent Shorter Distance Trail Racer but No Western States Soup for You!

Article by Dominick Layfield

Inov-8 TrailTalon 250
Manufacturer specifications:
23.5 mm heel, 19.5 mm forefoot, 4mm drop (insole included)
7.9 oz/224 grams US Men's Size 9 (per Running Warehouse)
$110. Available now.
Light, lean, functional.  Ready to race.

After years of trying to get an entry, I finally got into Western States this year, and I've been searching for the perfect shoe to race in.  Looking at the Inov-8 catalog of trail running shoes, the obvious choice appeared to be the TrailTalon 250.  Inov-8 tout this shoe for "Racing" and "Hard-packed trails" and "Ultra Marathons".  Sounds like Western States perfection, right?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 Review - Completely Revamped, Hoka Nailed It!

by Jeff Valliere

Hoka One One Speedgoat 2
9.8 oz./278 g US Mens Size 9/8.2 oz./232 g US Womens Size 8
(my US Size 10 pair weighs 10 3/8 oz. or 295 grams)
32mm heel/27.5mm forefoot/4.5mm drop
MSRP $140, Available June, 2017

In all of my time reviewing and testing shoes, there were few shoes where I was as excited as I was for the original Speedgoat 1.  Super light, lots of cushion and great traction!  I patiently waited and I was eventually able to snag a pair from the test shelf that was a size too small and then went to great lengths to find the correct size at a running shop an hour away who would trade me out.  I was sure that this was going to be my magic bullet shoe for the Pikes Peak Marathon and had very high expectations.
Unfortunately, I was quite let down, as not only did the Speedgoat 1 give me amazing blisters on my pinky toes, I found them to be incredibly unstable, to the point where I actually fell several times during the course of my (short) test period, as the last narrowed such at the forefoot and combined with the high stack, my foot just had trouble staying on top of the shoe in technical terrain. (Editor's Note: I concur with Jeff. The Speedgoat 1 was unstable towards the front of the shoe on technical terrain due to a poor mid foot wrap and thin sock liner. Substituting a more substantial sock liner helped). I am a big fan of Hoka, but the first version of this shoe just did not work for me and was a disappointment.

The Speedgoat 2 however has been completely redesigned from the ground up.  From the best I can tell, the only thing in common with the first version is the name and super cool Speedgoat logo.  Is version 2 an improvement? (OK, my title might give a hint).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% First Impressions... On My Foot! Action Shots of the Boston Winners Wearing Them.

I was fortunate to spend some time with Nike at the Boston Marathon where they let me try on a single Zoom Vaporfly 4% ($250, Available June 8 in limited quantities) I trotted around a hotel lobby to get some first on the foot impressions of this exciting new road racing shoe, worn by the men's and women's winners of the 2017 Boston Marathon a day later.
The Zoom Vaporfly 4% was designed to optimize running economy and reduce fatigue over the marathon distance as part of Nike's Breaking2 project.

Taking a completely different direction from the usual firm, minimally cushioned elite racing shoe such as the Zoom Streak 6,  the Vaporfly has 30mm of heel and 21 mm forefoot stack, taking the stack realm of well cushioned daily trainers and in fact within a millimeter or so of Nike's Pegasus and Vomero trainers. Yet... they will weigh only 6.5 oz in a men's US 10 according to Competitor.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Balance Leadville v3 - Accommodating Cushion and Comfort for Ultra Distance

by Jeff Valliere

New Balance Leadville 1210 v3
10.4 oz./295 g US Mens Size 9  8.7 oz./247 g US Womens Size 8-NB site, some sites have it 10.8 oz
29mm heel/21mm forefoot
$124.99 See sensational discount pricing at the end of the review

In it's 2nd year of production unchanged, New Balance is sticking with a great formula for Leadville v3.  The v3 is in my opinion, one of the most reliably comfortable, cushioned, stable, protective distance shoes on the market.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DryGuy Shoe Dryers - Quick and Effective Drying at Home or On the Go

by Jeff Valliere

DryGuy Force Dry - $50
DryGuy Travel Dry DX - $40

Though the air is dry here in Colorado, I sometimes struggle to dry out my shoes, especially in the winter.  When the weather is nice, I'll set them out in the sun, but often forget my shoes outside, allowing them to freeze, get more wet or warp in the hot sun.  On winter evenings, I would previously bring my wet shoes inside and set them on the air vent or use a hair dryer if I am desperate and have not remembered to dry my shoes out in time.  The air vent in the house works OK, but it can be messy, unsightly, the kids trip over them and the wife is not so keen on the idea. To add to the fray, my 6 year old daughters love to play in the snow and puddles, so we often compete for vent space in order to have dry shoes/boots for the next day.

If you live in a damp climate, shoes can stay wet for many days at a time if not actively cared for and can get quite moldy and stinky.  DryGuy boot dryers solve this issue with a variety of products aimed at drying wet shoes, boots and gloves.

The DryGuy Force Dry is able to dry one pair of shoes at a time and has a timer which will allow it to run for up to 3 hours.  It runs on a standard 120v AC household outlet and folds compact for easy transport or storage.


Simply place the shoes over the vents and set the timer.  For sopping wet running shoes, I have found that an hour is plenty.  I initially worried that these might get hot, but they blow just enough warm air to effectively dry and not burn, deform or become a fire risk.  Insulated boots with more material, winter boot liners, ski boot liners take a bit longer, which validates the 3 hour timer option.

Parked next to my trusty floor vent (only for the photo, as the DryGuy Force Dry now resides on my work bench in the garage).  The noise is minimal, just a low steady hum.

The DryGuy Travel Dry DX, is like the name implies, made for travel.  It is light, compact and can either be powered by a 120v AC plug, or can plug into a 12v DC vehicle charger (cigarette lighter).

The Travel Dry DX is not nearly as quick and effective as the Force Dry.  The fan is small and the airflow is very subtle.  From the best I can tell, it produces no heat.


The plug is very easy to convert from wall to car.

Simply insert the fans into the shoes, plug in and walk away.  There is no timer, so be sure to remember, or set an alarm.  Unlike the Force Dry, the Travel DX will not dry shoes all that quickly, as it can take several hours to get a pair of shoes mostly dry.  At home, I would certainly favor the Force Dry and if drying multiple shoes, would just line them up in succession.

The Travel DX though is certainly worth bringing along on a car camping trip, or any trip where you might need dry shoes but have trouble drying them.

Overall, DryGuy dryers are great concept and a high quality product.  Even if you don't have a need to dry your shoes in a timely manner, these are great if only to keep your shoes from going funky when stored in a dark garage or closet and are especially handy if you have kids to keep up on wet boots and mittens.
I would highly recommend the Force Dry or the Force Dry DX (which can dry two pairs of shoes at a time) for home use, or the Travel DX for car camping/travel.

The DryGuy was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's. 
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Salomon Sense Pro Max Review: Versatile & Actually Fun to Run Super Cushioned Long Hauler for Trail and Road. Comparisons to S-Lab Sense Ultra

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum
Jeff and I tested the Salomon Sense Pro Max on a wide variety of terrain from technical rocky trails, smoother Moab single track, dirt roads, and pavement.

The Salomon Sense Pro Max ($150) is Salomon's first maxi cushioned shoe with a 31mm heel/24mm forefoot stack, 6 mm drop. 
It is available now here from Running Warehouse, Amazon Salomon Storeand other retailers.

My size 8.5 US weighed 10.4oz/295g so a size 9 should weigh about 10.8 oz/306 g.  

The Pro Max is targeted at ultra and long run comfort. They have been very good on trails of all sorts as well as on the road.  This is one incredibly versatile maxi cushioned hybrid shoe with no real compromises for road and any trail runs, at moderate paces.
Salomon Sense Pro Max
Pro Max features Salomon's new EnergyCell+ midsole with effective Vibe Opal vibration attenuation inserts front and back (see description of Vibe technology here) Despite the big stack and being quite stiff, they are decently responsive and easy on the legs no matter the terrain or distance. Construction features Salomon's signature EndoFit inner bootie, SensiFit overlays, and an all purpose high traction Wet Traction Contragrip outsole with a low (3-4mm) lug height fitting the all terrains purpose.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Hoka One One Clayton 2 Review: Tuning a Super Light & Super Cushioned Speedster

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run

Hoka One One Clayton 2
Weight: My pair of US size 9 7.75 oz/220 grams
Stack Height: 28mm heel/24mm forefoot, 4mm drop
$150. Available from Running Warehouse and Amazon and other retailers

The Clayton 2 is Hoka One One's versatile long race and performance trainer suitable and is suitable for many as a daily trainer as well due to its outstanding cushion stack at a very light weight.
Hoka One One Clayton 2
The  Hoka One One Clayton 2 updates last year's popular speedy, responsive, cushioned version 1 with targeted changes:
  • a new Ortholite insole which for me eliminated the arch friction of v1, with some caveats on how to handle the first miles in the Clayton which comes out of the box very stiff.
  • a new upper on the same last using a consistent pattern of narrow TPU lattice overlays from mid foot to toe for a secure, pressure free fit along with a modified tongue construction with more mesh and fewer overlays
  • a more substantial heel counter area, still quite unstructured with a slightly more forward canted achilles collar to better lock in the heel area. 
Underfoot the midsole and outsole is unchanged. The ride is ever so slightly softer due to the new more substantial sock liner.
Hoka One One Clayton 2
For those not familiar with the Clayton it is a fabulous choice for those seeking a highly if firmly cushioned shoe at the lowest possible weight. It is a great potential marathon shoe and I enjoy training in them as they literally disappear on the foot, their light weight when combined with cushion provided, makes them a uniquely pleasurable ride. Hoka places them in their Speed category.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Yaktrax Summit Review - Supreme Traction and Rugged Durability

By Jeff Valliere

Yaktrax Summit
$90.00
Sizes Small-XL
18.5 oz. per pair (size medium)
Ideal use: Steep, rugged trails and off trail with packed snow and ice.


Yaktrax is one of the earlier pioneers in the traction game with models for walking and running (like the Yaktrax Pro) that feature a coil over thin rubber bands criss crossing underneath the outsole, providing moderate traction on moderate to mellow terrain.  I have used some of these earlier versions (though still available) and found them to be OK for casual use, jogging on snowy streets/sidewalks, walking the dog, etc... and they are really popular with mail carriers.

When used on steeper, more mountainous terrain however, the Walk and Pro versions flounder and are especially delicate.  Any use on varied terrain and your days are numbered.

Enter the Yaktrax Summit, a huge step up for Yaktrax, as the Summit offers top notch traction and durability for steep, icy, technical all mountain terrain and is in direct competition with the Kahtoola Microspikes.

The Summit is unique in that the 12 x 3/8" carbon steel points are positioned upon flexible plates in the heel and forefoot (4 in the heel and 8 in the forefoot) and secure with an adjustable Boa cable system.  The plates on which the points are attached offer greater ease in positioning, stability and double for anti balling when the snow gets wet and compacted.

The toe piece does a great job holding the toe of the shoe in place and I like that it distributes pressure, as I do not feel any discomfort no matter which shoe I am wearing.

The inside of the plates are ridged to reduce shifting and sliding.  The chains are attached to the rubber with very secure and durable rivets.

The points are extremely sharp and the front 6 are curved slightly for maximum grip at toe off.

It took me a few times to perfect my technique, but with a bit of practice, putting on the Summit is quite easy.  First position the toe of your shoe inside the toe cup.

Then pull the rubber over the heel and make sure the rubber strap is aligned around the perimeter of the shoe, as well as the plates are centered under the shoe.

Then simply ratchet the Boa knob on the heel to secure the cable.  Pressure and tension is snug and very evenly distributed.

Performance:

The Yaktrax Summit performs extremely well on steep packed snow and ice when running or hiking, are stable, secure, comfortable and versatile.  They are very easy to put on and take off and though I have not used them long enough to speak to their durability and longevity, they are very high quality and well constructed, so I anticipate years of use.  The anti balling plates work in colder conditions, but when the temperatures warm and the snow gets tacky, snow does ball up under the plates.  When conditions like this occur, I'll usually just remove them in favor of just a heavily lugged outsole anyways, so I find it to not really be an issue.


The inevitable comparison with Kahtoola Microspikes:

They each have their pros and cons.  Traction and durability are comparable, stability, ease of use, 3/8" x 12 points.

The first major difference is the toe piece, which is a bit more comfortable on the Summit than the Microspikes.  Though I rarely have an issue with the Microspikes (I transferred the toe wire from an old pair, as it is no longer available on the newer models), I have felt pressure in the toe depending on the shoes I wear and just a slight bit of pressure there can reduce circulation to the toes.  I find this to be most noticeable on cold days, when my toes go numb, but this is rare and again depends on the shoes.

With the points being connected to the plates on the Summit, positioning is a bit easier and they stay aligned a little better, but again, I never really have an issue with the Microspikes.

Size:

This is a big one for me.  Snow surfaces can vary wildly and often I'll carry my traction to use on the upper half of the mountain.  I can easily tuck a rolled up pair of Microspikes in a pocket of a running vest or tuck them into the hem of my pants or shorts.  They are quite compact and tidy.  The Summits however are much larger.  The size difference is obvious in the photo below.

Even more obvious when tucked into their storage bags.  To carry the Summit, I need to stuff them in the large main rear compartment of a running vest, which takes up a lot of room and feel significantly weighty.

Which leads me to weight.  The Summits weigh in at 9 1/4 oz. each, which is the same weight as many of my shoes.  Doubling or nearly doubling the weight of your shoe feels significant, especially when mountain running.

The Microspikes however are only 6 oz. per foot, which feel significantly lighter.

Which to choose?  I don't think you can go wrong with either.  They are both very effective at their purpose of providing great traction on steep, snowy, icy terrain, are easy to put on and take off, are high quality and durable.
For runners looking to save weight and easily stow them in a pocket when necessary, I would recommend the Microspikes for their smaller size and lighter weight.
For hiking, all day use in the mountains and for those less concerned with weight (or price, as the Summits cost $20 more than the Microspikes), then the Yaktrax Summit is an excellent choice.

The YakTrax was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's. 

Jeff Valliere's Run Bio
Jeff is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he has recently worked in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 6 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.

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