Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review-adidas Ultra Boost: An Experiment on the Soft and "Natural" Side. A Shoe for LSD: Long Slow Distance. Comparison to Energy Boost.

The adidas Ultra Boost is a 11.4 oz (323gram) , 27mm heel 17mm forefoot 10mm drop shoe (according to Running Warehouse's description). Available now.  $180!  I am calling it a 2nd generation Boost "training" shoe for slower miles and for those seeking great cushioning, a very comfortable stretchy upper and a sort of "natural" ride on the road.  It is packed with innovative features, some that work for me, others not so much, particularly the overall softness of the ride. The Ultra Boost was a personal purchase. It fit true to size.
I first read about Ultra Boost through my friend Frederic Brossard, a mighty fine blogger over at I attempted to translate his impressions from the original French here.

The Ultra Boost features:
  • adidas Boost material, 30% more of it in the midsole and no firmer EVA layer at the toe and as stabilizing ring around the outer perimeter just above the insole as in other Boost runners such as the Adios Boost and Energy Boost,  
  • an innovative incredible comfortable single piece and stretchy PrimeKnit upper, some will be able to run without laces,
  • instead of a full heel cup, two plastic heel wings leaving the achilles supported but not pressured, 
  • a new outsole, the Stretch Web a soft conforming layer on the road,
  • The Boost stabilizing Torsion plastic is embedded in the midsole instead of placed just under the outsole under the midfoot and there is none in front to support the forefoot as in other Boost shoes such as Adios Boost, Boston Boost, and Energy Boost.
This adidas promotional video illustrates the construction of the Ultra Boost and calls it "The Greatest Running Shoe Ever". I am not so sure it is the Greatest for me but in terms of innovations it is packed with them, more a platform to show off several new technologies.

All of "it", the technology innovations, add up to one relatively heavy shoe at 11 oz plus (1.4 oz heavier than the Energy Boost). Ultra Boost is soft under foot on the run particularly the forefoot:
  • considerably more flexible than the Energy Boost without the distinctive snap flex.  
  • less responsive than Energy Boost, my go to marathon race shoe (review here)  or Adios Boost my 2014 Shoe of the Year (review here), or the well cushioned and smooth New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay (review here).
The details and what I thought about running in the Ultra Boost click on Read More

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Salomon S-Lab Sense X-Series- Salomon Hits the Road without Forgetting the Trail

The Salomon S-Lab Sense X-Series is a 7.7 oz, 218 gram, 19mm heel/11mm forefoot $160 racing shoe that adapts the Sense mountain/trail racing platform towards a mix of roads and smoother trails. Salomon calls the X-Series, a shoe for "urban" racing, for varied terrain including trails and pavement. I think many will run and race these in the mountains  as well as the road. They are that versatile.

An incredible amount of versatility is provided at a very light weight. Think about it this is a very capable trail and road shoe that weighs about the same as the Kinvara 5 or Fresh Foam Zante (review)  and almost half an ounce less than the Adios Boost 1 (review)

The craftsmanship and care put into the design and construction,as with all the Sense shoes, gear, and apparel is outstanding, a work of shoe art! Salomon's S-Lab Sense line was my 2014 Innovation, Gear, and Apparel of the year (article). I have not run much in conventional Salomon shoes for years as the narrowness under the arch made them a non starter for me. No such issues with the X-Series understanding it is still snug under the arch and all over as a race and trail shoe should be in my opinion.

The  Sense X-Series is a trail road hybrid. My running in them to date, road and treadmill due to our 6 feet of snow on the ground, tells me that their "ideal" use will be for fast running on a mix of smooth trails and pavement where the lugs of the other Sense models: Sense, Ultra, and Ultra Softground are not required but a snug supportive upper, stable platform, and a bit of forefoot rock protection is called for.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay-2nd Generation Fresh Foam "Excellent Ride"

The New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay is a 9.1 oz 261gram M US9, 7.7 oz 216 gram W US 9 trainer. 4mm heel toe drop. Retail $120. Available now.
Fresh Foam Boracay represents the second generation of New Balance Fresh Foam line and is the training cousin of the excellent Fresh Foam Zante racer/trainer reviewed here.
New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay

The Fresh Foam Boracay has fundamentally the same midsole construction, foam firmness and last as the earlier Fresh Foam 980 I reviewed last year. I was told by NB that the midsole platform is a bit wider up front and I could feel the extra and welcome width. I found the original  980 to be quite stiff and firm not really matching the marketing message at the time of a plush cushioned ride.

The Fresh Foam Boracay,due to a number of subtle changes,  rides for me like a completely different shoe than the 980. Very smooth and quite responsive, no longer somewhat stiff and firm with a cramped feeling upfront. It has a a somewhat softer ride than the similar riding Pearl Izumi E:Motion line.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: Skechers GORun Ride 4- Solid Update. Improving the Ride in the Right Direction

The Skechers GoRun Ride 4 is a 8.4oz light weight trainer. It has an 8 mm drop (heel/toe) with the included insole but can be run without the insole on a finished footbed for a 4mm drop. Conveniently, it is also supplied with 2 types of laces: flat non stretch and a round lace.
Skechers GORun Ride 4

The GoRun Ride 4 has a number of significant yet subtle improvements over the Ride 3, I reviewed last year. These include:

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Outdoor Retailer Winter 15: Nathan Sports Run Safety: Zephyr Fire 100 & 300 Hand Torches, Orion Belt Blinker and Light, Fire Run Specific Headlamps

Nathan Sports wooed me with superbly designed run safety lighting at Outdoor Retailer. While reflective and bright colors are a must for those dark times run having very visible lighting to see the way and also warn traffic is essential. Nathan was kind enough to give me both the Zephyr 300 and 100 hand torches and the very nifty Orion waist blinker and flashlight combo. Both available now, to help get us through this rough winter safely.