Thursday, August 13, 2020

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 Three Tester Initial Video Review: 5K Time Trials!

Video by Ryan Eiler, Jacob Brady,, and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 ($250)
Ryan, Jacob, and Sam wind up the Hyperion Elite 2, Brooks flagship long racer for some 5K out of the box: 15:11, 17:55, 23:38. You can guess Sam is the slow time!

All say a super pleasant and fast shoe. Please watch to see each tester's take and all the details.

The Hyperion Elite 2 weighs approx. 7.4 oz / 210g in a US9 and has a 37/29, 8mm drop stack. It gets a new DNA Flash nitrogen infused midsole and 2mm more stack than the Elite 1. $250, available early Sept in the US, already available elsewhere. 

WATCH THE HYPERION ELITE VIDEO REVIEW (8:27)

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

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New Balance Fresh Foam X Beacon v3 Multi Tester Review: One Foam Courageously Succeeding as Midsole and Outsole

Article by Ryan Eiler, Sally Reiley, Peter Stuart, and Mac Jeffries

Fresh Foam X Beacon v3 ($120)


Introduction

The Beacon v3 gets a snazzy new engineered mesh upper and some mysterious X changes to its Ground Contact Fresh Foam midsole. It gains a bit of weight, about 0.5 oz. Seemingly not that strikingly different looking than v2, although the midsole side wall geometry is visibly different, the key question the team set out to answer: How does it ride? How does it fit? Where does it shine ?

Pros:

Ryan/Sally/Jeff - Impressive cushion/weight ratio 

Ryan/Sally - Engineered mesh upper fits like a glove

Ryan - Fresh Foam midsole has a huge range of capabilities

Sally - Enjoyable ride that strikes that right balance (for me) of firm but soft

Sally - Good value for a very versatile shoe

Peter- Fun

Peter Great fit, great ride.

Mac: Ample fit in toe box


Cons:

Ryan - Wish the heel counter was more robust down low

Ryan/Sally - Traction suffers a bit with foam-heavy outsole

Sally: Outsole pattern is a rock magnet on gravel

Peter: my right shoe makes a ticking noise. 

Mac: Upper/Lacing tends to loosen during runs

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Review

Article by Jeff Beck

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 ($130)

Introduction

Mizuno has officially entered the next generation midsole material war, and they came to play. The Wave Rider 24 is the first running shoe featuring ENERZY (that proof of concept limited bulbous casual shoe doesn’t count) and if this is an example of what is to come then Mizuno is going to be back in the zeitgeist again. This is Mizuno’s traditional daily trainer, made to fit in your rotation as the meat and potatoes shoe that you wear a few times a week, for easy miles and even some uptempo stuff. This Wave Rider is a leap forward from previous iterations, and it feels much more substantial underfoot in the protection department, but doesn’t overdo it to feeling overweight. Like the vast majority of Mizuno running shoes, it still has a plastic Wave Plate running through the heel to midfoot, designed to give the shoe a springy ride.


Pros:

-Upper is breathable with minimal overlays

-Segmented outsole gives the shoe lots of flexibility with good traction & durability

-New midsole material is impressive, much more substantial than stack #s would suggest

-Toebox and underfoot protection both ample enough to run 10+ miles even for bigger runners


Cons:

-Segmented outsole has large gaps of exposed midsole, seeing lots of early wear

-Wave plate in heel feels like a relic of times past that adds weight but not much performance

-Wide or flat-footed runners may find the midfoot too narrow

Stats

Weight:: 9.9 ounces men's / 281g (US9)  / 8.2 ounces women's / 249g (US8)

  Samples: 10.6 ounces / 301 grams men’s US10.5

Stack Height: 20 mm (forefoot) 32 mm (heel

Available Now $130


Tester Profile

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 

Assessment of the Stack Heights of 2020 Road Racing "Super" Shoes

Article by Derek Li

Assessment of Stack Heights of Running Shoes

After recently reviewing the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% Flyknit, which does not have any published stack numbers from Nike, I did some manual measurements of the midsole/outsole stack from the outside of the shoe. Bearing in mind that the platform is scalloped in both the forefoot and the heel, I measured the stacks from the outside as follows:

Tempo Forefoot 36mm, Heel 46mm for a 10mm drop

Alphafly Forefoot 41mm, Heel 50mm for a 9mm drop

This is of course a considerable deviation from the published stack heights for the Alphafly. Advertised stacks sometimes deviate quite substantially from the measured stack, and ultimately it only matters how the shoe feels when you run in it. 


Due to the scalloped designs of both shoes, it is difficult to get an accurate measurement of what the actual stack is, especially with the glued in insole of both shoes. You can see from the pictures, that the Tempo does have a lower apparent stack than the Alphafly.

With that in mind, I decided to explore a more accurate way of measuring the stack height, one as close to the IAAF official rule standards for the measurements, short of sawing the shoe in half to obtain the numbers. I also took the opportunity to measure the stack heights of a few other shoes I had, partly to use as a reference point, and partly out of curiosity about the veracity of the stack heights of shoes, as declared by manufacturers.

Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6: Yet More for the Most Hoka! Well Refined!

Article by Jeff Valliere

Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6 ($160)

Introduction

The Stinson ATR 6 is Hoka’s most heavily cushioned maximal trail running option, with an impressive 37/32 mm stack height.  While the shoe is massive in size, the weight is reasonable for all of the cushion and protection that it provides and it is quite comfortable for recovery runs and all day plodding.  The upper has been improved, now using recycled fiber and features newly integrated eyelets for independent lacing support and comfort.  To balance such a stack height and to give more met head room, the platform has also been widened, making for not just the tallest shoe I have run in, but the widest as well!


Pros:  

Jeff V:  Comfortable and secure upper, cushioning, traction, door to trail versatility, recycled upper materials


Cons:  

Jeff V:  Price, massive platform, and /weight may be a deterrent for some


Stats

Official Weight:: men's / (US9) 11.7 oz/332 grams  /  women's / (US8) 9.8 oz/278 grams

Sample: US Men’s size 10: 12.3 oz/350 grams

Stack Height: 37/32

Price:  $160. Available Now


Tester Profile

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. 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 hundreds 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 10 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Xtep 160X Review: Bounce n’ Roll Racer/Trainer

Article by Michael Ellenberger and Derek Li


Xtep 160X ($140-$160)

Michael is a patent attorney and 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. 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.

Derek is a family physician based in Singapore. Having dabbled primarily in triathlons before, he has been running more seriously since 2013, and owns personal bests of 1:17 and 2:41 for the half and full marathon.

Introduction

Michael: Xtep has been making running and road racing shoes for a number of years, but with their flagship 160X, they’ve launched themselves into the global “Great Plate Race.” The 160X has a monolayer (surprisingly stretchy!) upper, a Pebax-based midsole (“X-Dynamic Foam”), and a carbon fiber plate with a bifurcated curve. This shoe was worn for the second-fastest Chinese marathon ever (Dong Guojian, 2:08:28). I won’t be running (nearly) that fast, but I did get to try out the Xtep over a variety of terrains and paces and - guess what? It holds up - but you might not want to rush out and buy it right now. 


Derek: I first became aware of this model a couple of months ago when a friend of mine in the running industry bought a pair to train with, and had positive feedback on this shoe. I got mine through online marketplace Taobao and was cautiously optimistic that this shoe would make for a good uptempo trainer at a competitive price.

Stats

Weight: 6.9 oz (EU42)

Derek measured a EUR43 (US9.5) using a Zin measurement system (using IAAF standard at center line of the midsole) and got the following stack, including the sockliner:

Forefoot 28mm, Heel 31mm (3mm drop)

AliExpress (Knit Version) approx. $160, AliExpress (Mesh Version) approx. $140


Pros

Michael: Midsole bounce with plate yields a springy effect; smooth enough for even slower-paced training

Derek: Bouncy relatively soft midsole


Cons

Michael: Slightly sloppy upper; tongue and lacing concerns 

Derek: High volume upper; color bleeds from upper; transitions a bit slow for a carbon plated shoe.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Salomon Wildcross Review

Article by Jana Herzog and Jeff Valliere


Salomon Wildcross ($130)


Editor’s Note: We welcome Jana to the RTR test team with this her first review and for a shoe right in her specialty of high mountain runs often off trail.


Jana Herzog took up running in 2016, after her back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, she started with shorter ultra distance races, and quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner. 

She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climate, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She runs about 100 miles per week: 40 miles on road and 60 miles trail mostly at high elevations. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.


Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 


Introduction

Jana: Salomon shoes, mainly trail but also road, have been a staple in my shoe rotation for years now. Light weight, comfort, great fit, breathability, and steady performance in any terrain are just a few signature trademarks of the Salomon running shoe family. My all time favorite has been the S-Lab collection, both Sense and Sense SG line. From dusty/dirt trails to technical ridgeline crossings, they have delivered comfort, stability, and performed well in all conditions.

The Salomon Wildcross is built to navigate steep, muddy, snowy, and rocky terrain, maintaining a steady grip in all kinds of weather conditions. As a mountain runner, I put this shoe to a great test and enjoyed it very much.

Jeff V: The Wildcross is a lower priced version of the Cross Pro, with the only discernible difference being the upper, sharing identical outsole, same weight and stack heights (though the midsole differs slightly).  While both shoes have many similarities, they also look, feel and perform quite differently.  


Pros:

Jeff V:  Traction, secure fit, overall protection, all mountain/off trail performance, breathable

Jana:  Fast drying and still lightweight while wet, great traction, secure and easily adjustable fit, breathable


Cons:

Jana: None that I found.

Jeff: Lacing/overlays a bit tricky to dial in, could benefit from Profeel Film


Stats

Official Weight: men’s size US 9 - 10.2 oz/290 grams, women’s size US 7 - 8.8 oz/250g  Samples: men’s US10 - 11.25 oz./319g,  men’s size US8.5 - 9.95 oz ./282g

Stack Height: 29.5mm/21.5mm (8mm drop)

Available Now $130.00

Saucony Triumph 18 Review: Bottomless Cushion and Comfort Above All. Too Much of a Good Thing?

Article by Jacob Brady and Sam Winebaum


Saucony Triumph 18 ($150)


Introduction

Sam: Yup, no question the Triumph is Saucony’s super plush, highly cushioned neutral trainer with its quite bouncy PWRUN+ TPU midsole, big 32.5mm /24.5mm stack height and fairly substantial weight at 11.1 oz /312g.  


I tested the Triumph 17, and while many on our team loved it (RTR Review), I was less of a fan. The then new PWRUN+ midsole was a great replacement for Everun but the crystal rubber outsole in the mix dulled the ride and pop, and it was on the stiff side. 


The 18 replaces the crystal rubber forefoot with a full coverage of high abrasion XT-900 rubber, retools the midsole side walls and heel geometry with less sculpted side walls and with more of and a flatter rear midsole overhang . 


The engineered mesh upper is more conventional in design with higher achilles collars while retaining,, and not sure why as the upper is so stout and mid oot so broad.. a bootie type tongue..I was very curious to see where all the changes led and where the Triumph would fit with other trainers such as Endorphin Shift, Ride 13, and even the light stability Omni 19  which all ansi saw substantial updates. And Saucony has not disappointed with a single shoe in 2020 as all have substantially and well updated. 

Jacob: The Triumph is Saucony’s plush, high-cushion, premium neutral trainer. The previous version 17 was a dramatic update to the Triumph line, introducing Saucony’s flexible and bouncy PWRRUN+ expanded TPU bead midsole and dropping the ISOFIT upper technology. In comparison, version 18 is a minor update, but it still sees some significant changes. The Triumph 18 keeps the big slab of PWRRUN+ but changes the forefoot outsole from the softer, more flexible crystal rubber of the 17 to a more responsive blown rubber. It also trades the 17’s large, highly-padded, unique heel collar for a more conventional heel design.


This is my first time running in any iteration of the Triumph, but I really enjoyed PWRRUN+ in the Freedom 3 and Switchback 2. I’m a fan of soft and bouncy midsoles in general and liked the springy, flexible, yet solid feel of PWRRUN+, so a huge stack of it as in the Triumph 18 sounded great. The Freedom 3 was a decent moderate pace, medium-to-long run shoe but was a bit light on heel cushion for some days, unless at a faster pace.


I was hoping the Triumph 18 would keep the enjoyable bounce and smooth, free feeling of the Freedom but provide enough cushion to cruise through runs of any length (20+ mi) will a more relaxed feel underfoot. Overall I was expecting a durable trainer with a fun ride for long runs or recovery runs.


Sally's Women's Colorway

Stats

Weight:: 11.1 oz men's / 315g (US9)  /  women's 9.7 oz / 275g  (US8)

  Samples: 10.8 oz /306g (US8.5), 13.3oz/376g (US M12)

9.7 oz / 274 g (US W8) 

Stack Height: 32.5mm / 24.5mm, 8mm drop

Available August 2020.  $150


Pros:

Sam/Jacob: Great combination of bottomless,, slightly bouncy cushion and response from outsole

Sam/Jacob: Muted, protected ride but not overly soft with a decent if mellow move-along sensation

Jacob/Sam: Well-sized, slipper-like and dense upper holds securely but softly without pressure or tightness, almost a performance fit

Jacob/Sam: High quality materials and polished design, excellent expected durability

Jacob: Effortless, “shoe-running-for-me” feel on downhills—epic on steep downhills


Cons:

Sam/Jacob: weight gain of 0.5 oz /14g is felt

Sam: overbuilt upper for shoe’s more mellow purposes, warm

Sam: PWRUN+ softness and so much of it leads to more quad fatigue 

Jacob: Running uphill is a chore

Jacob: Somewhat plodding ride

Jacob: Not very fun on tired legs which lowers versatility