Monday, December 01, 2014

Review: Saucony Triumph ISO-Firm Under Cushion. Outstanding Any Foot Upper

The Saucony ISOFIT Series Triumph is a 10 oz M, 8.7 oz W very well cushioned yet quite firm at road contact trainer.  Fit me true to size.  Saucony lists the stack height as 29 mm heel/ 21 mm forefoot so this is at the edge of what one might call a maximalist shoe as generally I like to say anything over 22mm of forefoot stack height is maximalist so shoes such as Hokas and Altra Paradigm. 

My first runs in the Triumph have been outstanding. "Whoa" as Saucony marketing claims!  Quite a contrast to the "softer" shoes such as Hoka Clifton and Altra Paradigm I have been running in lately. It has a very firm podded and segmented outsole  yet with plenty of cushioning, decent flex and no harsh stiff feeling. Not a seamlessly smooth feeling as say Pearl Izumi but a kind of purposeful forward motion,  with  a sense of getting off the heel fast towards a somewhat less firm yet cushioned toe off. ISOFIT Triumph
Saucony IOSFIT Triumph

The Triumph features Saucony's new ISOFIT upper, a sock like very soft upper with the mid foot supported by foam bands generally only attached to the lower portion of the upper. This innovative approach provides a very easy to dial in fit for a wide variety of foot shapes and allows the foot to flex and swell without the usual constraints of sewn or welded overlays. Love the upper but worry a bit that the very front of the toe box is a bit too soft and that on steep downhills the toes might slide forward. This said I have had no issues to date.

Midsole and Outsole
The cutaway below illustrates the construction.

Saucony ISO Seires Construction
Saucony says its PWRGRID+ has 20% more cushioning than standard foams. Not sure exactly what that means as many manufacturers tweak their foams, for example Hoka and their RMAT.  My somewhat accurate durometer measures the firmness of the midsole in the low to mid 40's, similar to Altra Paradigm, New Balance Fresh Foam 980 and Zante yet even with its very firm outsole the Triumph feels well cushioned. There is more to the "cushion" feel than just materials. Also in the mix: stack heights, midsole geometry, as well as outsole firmness and geometry.

The outsole material is very firm and very thick. You will get many many miles out of the Triumph outsoles. The outsole is beautifully segmented so that the firmness does not translate to stiffness, although the Triumph is fairly stiff but not noticeably so,  or a harsh ride. Quite an engineering feat!

Comparison to  Hoka Clifton and Huaka, Kinvara, Pearl Izumi N2 Road, and New Balance Fresh Foam 980.
In contrast to Hoka and its popular Clifton with soft midsoles meeting soft outsole materials, Saucony has engineered a road feel that on contact is firm,  gets progressively somewhat softer under heel as midsole is compressed and then quite rapidly moves the gait forward, no bottoming out or mushy heel feeling as in Clifton given the Triumph's very firm outsole and relatively firm midsole. The Huaka has a firmer midsole and lower heel at 26mm than the Clifton and I prefer it to Clifton for this reason. See my Clifton Huaka comparison here.  

I have not run in Saucony Kinvara for a couple of years but for sure the forefoot contact in the Triumph is more stable and better cushioned. I always found the Kinvara lugs soft and mushy upfront.

The Pearl Izumi EM Road N2 v2 recently reviewed here or New Balance Fresh Foam 980 reviewed here  is closest in materials firmness to the Triumph as best as I can measure with my durometer but the rides are very different.  The more segmented outsole of the Triumph, while firmer material than either of the others,  when combined with a touch more stack height in the heel and its PowerGrid+ midsole,  makes for a somewhat less firm overall ride than either the Fresh Foam 980 or Pearl Izumi N2, yet with a very firm initial ground contact.  Interestingly the Pearl Izumi is a smoother overall  ride but the somewhat lower forefoot and heel height and less segmented outsole makes them firmer and a bit stiffer feeling than the Triumph. The 980's unsegmented outsole and firm midsole make them harsh and stiff for me. The new Fresh Foam Zante is a far smoother and more cushioned ride than the 980 for me due to its more segmented outsole and one might say smoother than the Triumph as the firmness of outsole and midsole materials in the Zante are far closer than Triumph's mix.   

Saucony Triumph compared to Saucony Zealot
The ISOFIT upper is also featured on the Saucony Zealot (available February 2015)  which I reviewed here, a somewhat firmer shoe, too firm in the heel for me.  I see the Zealot as a touch more of a stability shoe as well as a shoe for midfoot forefoot landing runners. The stats on the Zealot tell the tale with 25mm heel/ 21 forefoot and also with a more substantial mid foot midsole platform. The 29mm of heel stack in the Triumph and less substantial mid foot support  make all the difference for me between a somewhat harsh overly firm landing on the Zealot with my foot struggling to roll forward over the mid foot contrasting with the firm and directed heel transitioning to the forefoot of the Triumph. Interestingly the forefoot seems to have not only the same stacks on both but also the same road feel. 

Note above that the only noticeable differences between the underfoot areas of the Triumph (left) and Zealot(right) is the more substantial blue medial support of the Zealot and somewhat larger forefoot pods of the Triumph.

Ride and Recommendations
Really enjoying the Triumph. No mush in the heel here, yet plenty of cushioning. Feedback and purposeful forward motion and feedback from the firm at road contact outsole, then the well cushioned midsole below  You will get many miles out of the outsole.  Quite a nice contrast to smooth, soft running shoes such as Hokas. The Triumph is more a VW GTI than a Lexus. The upper is outstanding and should fit many foot types. The Triumph is a great choice for runners seeking an everyday trainer or marathon racing shoe that is very well cushioned yet not mushy, while at the same time responsive. It has great road feedback through its firm, thick, well segmented outsole. An outstanding combination!

MSRP $150. On sale now including via the links to City Sports below. Fits me true to size. 
(The Triumph was provided to me by Saucony at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely my own.)

Fellow Running Shoe Geek Derek Oxley's review of the ISO Triumph here
See Saucony's Triumph overview here

Purchase your Triumph ISO at the links below. 
They are available from Running Warehouse: Men's hereWomen's here

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Anonymous said...

Great review. Just 'discovered' your site - awesome!
Thanks for this. Can't wait for these Triumphs to arrive.

Unknown said...

I recently fell out of love with the Kinvara, so I'm hoping these will do the trick. Your review certainly helped make up my mind.
Can't wait for the Zealot, too !