Thursday, October 29, 2020

ASICS Tartheredge Edge Review: The "Tiger Walk", a Pinnacle of Classic Race Flat Design


Article by Cheng Chen


Editor's Note: We welcome Cheng to the RTR Test Team for this his first review. Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with recent PBs of 5:29 (Mile), 1:28 (Half), and 19:45 (5K). In season, he trains at 50-80 miles per week in shoes ranging from 0-10mm drop, racing in various plated super shoes. He is 5’7” and around 145 lbs.


ASICS Tartheredge ($130)


Introduction

The more minimal a shoe is, the more critical each component becomes. Designing performance shoes with such constraints is an art that, although nearly abandoned by most brands, has been maintained and perfected among the Asian racing flats. With these shoes, there are no gimmicks, no super foams, and no carbon fiber plates. And among them, the ASICS Tartheredge is a pinnacle of design that beautifully mates performance with classic style.


The Tartheredge is actually a model among the Tarther series of racing flats, including the Tarther-Japan and Tarther-zeal. “Tarther” doesn’t mean anything in any language, but this series’ name in traditional characters is 虎走, meaning “tiger walk” - perhaps hinting at how these shoes are meant to be worn.

Stats


Weight: men’s 6.4 oz / 181 g (US8)

Official Weight: men’s 6.7 oz / 190 g (US9)

Stack Height: 25 mm (Heel), 15 mm (Forefoot)

Available: v2 $130.00


Pros:


DSP outsole creates claw-like grip especially at higher paces

Lightweight while providing just-enough support with bouncy foam

Well fitted heel counter with significant lock-in


Cons:


DSP outsole has serious durability concerns

Extremely porous upper has little to no rain protection

Comes alive only in higher paces and turnover


First Impressions and Fit


Right out of the box, the Tartheredge is unique, appearing like a shoe out of the 90s. There’s synthetic leather connected with simple, open mesh like the type found on trucker hats. At first glance, this approach appears to be uncomfortable. Leather and mesh: sounds like a stiff, inflexible construction. Yet the opposite is true upon first wear.


Relatively unknown in the West, the Asian last is a design popular among many of ASICS’ classically shaped shoes. These lasts are typically shaped with a larger and shorter toe box that quickly tapers into a narrow heel. The closest approximation in the U.S. is Altra’s fit; another is New Balance’s 2E fit.


The Tartheredge applies the Asian last with a sizing that is similar to a US-E fit with a slightly wider toe box but shorter overall length. The shoe should fit true to size but roomy for regular-footed runners, slightly hugged to those with wide feet, and overly roomy for narrow-footed individuals. Hence, those with narrow feet can be recommended to go a half size down, but caution should be taken given the shorter last.


Upper


Faux leather material is strategically used to create lightweight structure around the midfoot while providing specific openings for the mesh, especially around the toe box. These openings are anatomically aligned to where the toes splay, allowing the upper to gently stretch around the forefoot while running.


The heel counter has a similar effect. It’s anatomically molded, making it slightly difficult to step in at first. But once in, the feet feel completely secure, accompanied by a smooth feeling from the leather-like material. ASICS has done a superb job of creating a locked down yet gentle-as-air sensation.

Midsole


Taking full advantage of FlyteFoam Propel, the midsole feels more cushioned than it is. This particular blend of FlyteFoam is softer than those found on typical ASICS shoes and is far softer than others in this category. If the REVlite on New Balance 1400s has a softness of 3/10, then the Tartheredge’s foam has one of 6/10.


In addition to being soft, the shoe is also incredibly reactive, not in the bouncy Vaporfly kind, but in the responsive kind. The midsole works with the runner to efficiently compress and rebound. This sensation is not the type where more downward force produces more bounce-back, but the type where the more efficient the gait cycle, the snappier the performance. Much of this is also due to the unique outsole design, discussed shortly.


Outsole





Dual Stencil Process, DSP: this is something rarely seen among brands and is heralded as a top-of-the-line outsole feature. It certainly lives up to its reputation.


DSP is an outsole technology that is proprietarily owned by one supplier in Japan. Therefore, the DSP used on a pair of Tartheredge comes from the same factory as the one used on the now-discontinued Mizuno Wave Universe or any other authentic application of this technology. The material is effectively a multilayered injection of high-grip rubber pods on a fabric-like substrate. This creates islands of individual rubber dots that can grip the road with a degree of independence from each other. The effect is a sticky, grabbing grip that even provides a noticeable cushioning effect. ASICS applied DSP mainly to the mid-to-forefoot aspect of the outsole. Striking at this area produces a crisp feeling of gripping the road accompanied by a crunching feeling (and sound) as the feet transition to toe-off.

At the midfoot is the Trusstic system, which acts to stabilize the shoe while providing a noticeable snap. This is done by extending forked plastic segments into the forefoot, effectively acting as tension rods. While this may sound gimmicky, its effects can absolutely be felt not in the sense of having additional stiffness, but more in the way of responsiveness. Part of what makes a shoe feel unresponsive and sluggish is in the midsole not quickly re-shaping and following the feet throughout the gait cycle, especially noticeable during higher paces. The Trusstic system solves this by constantly snapping the midsole back to its original shape just in time for the feet to strike again. The feeling is one of the sole constantly hugging the foot without being overly stiff. Compared to the Takumi Sen 6, the Tartheredge is far gentler with its snap-back implementation whereas the former’s stiffer approach can become tiring.


ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) is basically a hardened rubber and is applied in the rear. While AHAR is far less grippy than DSP, it is also far more abrasion resistant, hence the name. DSP can begin to wear off or even fall off before 100 miles, especially when one is doing many workouts. AHAR, on the other hand, doesn’t even show wear until 100 miles. Heal strikers can be confident in its longevity. While DSP, AHAR, and Trusstic can sound like overly hyped marketing memes in all CAPS, the true magic comes from the detailed tuning of their implementation. 


Ride


Any brand could slap midsole shanks and DSP onto the shoe and produce similar marketing effects, but ASICS clearly took the design to another level. For instance, the DSP and Trusstic mirror each other at the midfoot with the pods on the lateral side and plastic bridge on the medial side. This makes anatomical sense in that runners at higher speeds tend to land laterally, pronating inward to spread impact forces before moving into toe-off.


The design’s lateral DSP provides the landing grip and the medial bridge assists in the transition. Further, there’s an additional outsole groove at the forefoot where the Trusstic forks stop, providing just enough additional flexibility at the toe without sacrificing the effects of the snap-back. It’s in these fine tunings of details that truly make the Tartheredge a step above its competition.


While the drop is officially 10mm, the ride feels a lot closer to 6mm. Part of this is due to the relatively soft foam allowing more sink-in and dispersion of pressure. There is plenty of rear stack to allow heel strikers to comfortable land and for forefoot strikers to tap-off when needed.


Conclusions and Recommendations


We live in a golden era of running shoes. Since the original Breaking2 project, brands have been releasing iteration after iteration of wonderfully fast super shoes to the point where the IAAF/WA had to implement limitations on the technological arms race. In this rush to maximal stack heights, the art of making racing flats has been quietly continued by a few. Here, it’s refreshing to see ASICS maintain this tradition; and in fact, at the time of this writing, there is already a second generation Tartheredge with an updated upper.


Looking back to previous generations of the Tarther series, one can observe that ASICS has been making stepwise improvements on this platform, slowly tuning and perfecting it over time. The Tartheredge is truly a unique shoe that represents a pinnacle of classic heritage. It is a perfect companion for those interested in training with a low-to-the-ground, light, yet protected shoe. 

Cheng’s Score: 9.3

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 8.0 (15%) Style: 10.0 (5%)

Value is low due to the compromised durability inherent to DSP and the narrow range of training for which this shoe shines. However, the classic white ASICS Tiger style is a look to behold!


Comparisons


Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 6


The Takumi Sen is actually quite a close comparison to the Tartheredge. Both have midfoot to forefoot forks, DSP or similar outsoles, and relatively bouncy foams. Further, both come from a heritage of Japanese racing flat design. However, the 6th iteration of the Takumi Sen fits far tighter than the Tartheredge and is an overall less stable platform. The former rolls more on strike while the latter quickly guides each step to a solid, flat landing. Further, the snap back of the Takumi Sen is far more intense than the Tartheredge’s, making it shine only at threshold or above paces. In this context, the Tartheredge can be a training companion to the race-day Takumi Sen.


Altra Escalante Racer  


Although Escalante Racer has a fundamentally different design philosophy, its ride and fit are actually similar to the Tartheredge. Both produce a low-to-ground feel while providing ample cushioning, The Escalante Racer does noticeably dampen shock more than the Tartheredge does, functions across a greater spectrum of paces, and is far more durable. However, higher paces is where the Tartheredge’s locked-down upper and grip leaves the Escalante Racer in the dust.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

RUNNING WAREHOUSE
Tartheredge Available Now!
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Tartheredge Available Now!
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ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 Initial Video Review, Details and Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 ($150)

Just in I had to take the ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 out in miserable rainy cold conditions for a first run. At in 9.52 oz /270g US9 with the same stack and 10mm drop as the first version and a touch lighter at 9.52 oz /270g US9 

It has a completely new midsole geometry but the same FlyteFoam as v1, and has a new outsole and upper. It is now a very different shoe, all good by me!  Find out how in the video with comparisons to Skechers Ride 8, Saucony Ride 13, ASICS Nova and Dynablast. It also has a strong sustainability story as well that I cover in the video. Releasing Dec. $150.

 Watch Sam's Video Review

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

RUNNING WAREHOUSE
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

HOLABIRD SPORTS
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Free Shipping on most orders over $40

ROADRUNNER SPORTS
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

REI 
Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

AMAZON  
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL



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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite Multi Tester Review: Reimagining a Classic! Simple, Modern, Consistent Riding, and more Sustainable

Article by Sally Reiley,, Michael Ellenberger, and Sam Winebaum

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite ($160)



Introduction

Sam: The Kayano Lite is the 2nd model in a series from ASICS (after the Nimbus Lite) which reimagines ASICS stalwart classics in new, modern, and lighter ways while retaining their essential focus and DNA.


As such the Kayano Lite is a new take on the venerable and fine Kayano in its classic edition at number 27, the 2nd longest "run" of any run shoe. A light on the overt stability elements with elaborate construction all of our testers (almost always neutral fans) really enjoyed the Kayano 27 so instead of "messing" with what is clearly a long time trusted favorite ASICS did something different.

You saw the word “elaborate” above. Well the Kayano Lite is designed to provide stability without being elaborate. While I may be missing something, the Kayano Lite may be the first “stability” oriented shoe made from a single density of foam without posts (GT 2000 and many others) or firmer sidewalls and mid foot plates (Kayano 27), or above the midsole “rails” (Brooks, Nike, Altra). Beyond a “Twist GEL” unit at the forefoot, a small disc at the big toe metatarsal, there is only a single density Flyte Foam midsole here.


The Kayano achieves its stabilizing through an inherently broad on the ground geometry and more vertical medial midsole sidewalls. Unseen is a new 3D Space Construction of low pillars molded into the midsole at the heel and forefoot which deform according to the runner’s individual strike patterns.

The result of this far simpler construction should be a very consistent, very well cushioned feel under foot with no add on elements. As far as the Lite part,the Kayano Lite is indeed lighter than the Kayano 27 and comes in at approximately 10.2 oz in a US9 based on our samples so almost a full ounce 28g lighter than the Kayano 27 and this weight reduction clearly felt on the run.


Topped with an engineered mesh upper with recycled content and with a cellulose nanofiber flavor of Flytefoam the Kayano Lite also has a lighter impact on the earth/ sustainability story as approximately 80% of the materials in the upper are recycled material and the midsole uses 15-20% cellulose nanofiber repurposed from sugarcane manufacturing. All packaging is 100% recycled material and starting in 2021 all ASICS shoe packaging, and for millions of pairs, will be made of 100% recycled materials.   


Stats

Approx. weight: men's 10.2 oz / 289g (US9)  /  women's 8.9 oz / 251g (US8)

  Samples: men’s US8.5 9.88 oz / 280g

                  women’s US8 8.9 oz / 251 g 

Stack Heights: men’s 31/21, 10mm drop, women’s 33/21, 11 mm drop

Available Now  $160



Pros:

Sam/Michael: Very unobtrusive stability from single density foam and an inherently stable broad geometry

Sam/Sally: Superb well locked down upper that is plush but not overly so.

Sam/Sally: Very well cushioned with a consistent heel to toe feel

Sam/Michael/Sally: Admirable sustainability story.


Cons:

Sam/Sally: A bit flat, slappy and stiff at front of midfoot especially when new. Could use more segmentation and deeper decoupling there.

Michael/Sam: Ride is mediocre at faster paces

Sam/Sally: Heel rubber a bit firm and thick in feel while forefoot rubber a bit soft and lacking in pop.

Michael: Tongue and lacing is slightly ”puffy,” impairing lockdown.

Sam/Sally: Take several runs to break in and find their groove,


Tester Profiles

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.



Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 163 lbs.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Brooks Run Visible Collection Multi Tester Review: Carbonite Powered High Reflectivity & 24/7 Visibility

Article by Sally Reiley, John Tribbia and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Run Visible Collection

Sally, John, and Sam set out to test the men's Carbonite Short Sleeve, 7” 2-1 Short, men and women's Carbonite Jackets, and the women's ⅞ CarboniteTight, all part of Brooks’ new Run Visible Collection.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

ASICS Roadblast - As much as necessary, as little as possible!

Article by Nils Scharff

ASICS Roadblast ($90)


Editor's Note: Hot on the heels of his German language review of the Roadblast Nils was kind enough to translate his review to English.

Introduction

When the ASICS Novablast hit the market in spring, it quickly became clear thatFlytefoam Blast midsole material has great potential. The Novablast with its irrepressible bounce has given many runners a lot of joy. Unfortunately, it was too unstable for me. The thick, soft midsole in combination with the rather wide fit was too much for my overpronating right ankle. 

So I was all the more pleased when ASICS announced two more models with Blast, Dynablast and Roadblast. Maybe ASICS will manage to tame the magic of the new midsole material in these shoes and make it runnable for me!? 


Fortunately, ASICS made the Roadblast available to me for this test to get to the bottom of this question! The Roadblast is the lightest cushioned shoe in the product family and is therefore presumably suitable for faster runs. At the same time, with an retail of just $90, it is a budget option on the running shoe market. In the course of this test I will find out whether it is also a buy recommendation.


Specs

Weight:

  Official: 8.7oz (men US9) / 7.4oz (women US8)

  Test shoe: 9 oz (men EU 44 / US 10)

Drop: Men 10mm (14mm forefoot / 24 mm heel)

Release: Available now. $90


Pros:

Simple, but comfortable and effective upper!

Light at 8.7 oz / 247g

Slight bounce of the great midsole material, especially in the heel!

The instability of the Novablast is gone!

Cool casual design that you can wear on the track as well as in the gym or in town!

Price!

Cons:

I would like a bit more cushioning in the forefoot!

Comparable shoes usually weigh a little less (but also cost a little more)!


Tester: Nils Scharff

I am 30 years old, born in Kassel, married to a wonderful wife and have been making Heilbronn and its surrounding vineyards unsafe for 5 years now. I've done all sorts of sports my entire life, often 5-7 times a week. In addition to running, climbing and bouldering have been my sports for several years. I've only seen myself as a runner for three years. It all started with a company run that I didn't want to start completely unprepared. At that point I just didn't stop. In 2017 it was "only" just under 1000 kilometers, in 2018 twice as much, in 2019 already three times as much. During all these kilometers, it is important to me, whether on the trail or on the road, to switch off and exercise in nature. You will rarely see me on the treadmill or with headphones. In the meantime I have run four marathons, I set up the PB of 3: 14: 49h this year despite Corona as part of a #stayathomemarathon. In competitions I basically run all distances from 5km (17: 41min), 10km (37: 33min) over half marathons (1: 25: 07h) to the marathon. However, after all of my planned competitions were canceled this summer, I reoriented myself a little and registered for my first trail marathon.