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:

  • a new upper: more supportive over the mid foot with a bit less sloppy fit over the forefoot
  • a far more substantial and closer fitting heel collar and heel cup yet still not a rigid heel cup. The Ride 3 had no structure to the heel cup area.
  • a slightly narrower heel outsole midsole towards the heel-about 1/4" narrower by my measurements in the area back of the 2 rear orange GOimpulse sensor wear pads. I think this narrowing may move the foot off of the heel more rapidly as there is less softish midsole overhang.
  • not exactly an improvement, Skechers are still a great value but the price goes from $80 to $85.
What remains unchanged:

  • a smooth softish ride on largely single density midsole material riding over the GOimpluse Sensors, the outsole wear pads.
  • a roomy unconstricted toe box.
  • weight is unchanged at 8.4oz 
  • still has M-Strike the slight raising of the mid foot midsole to encourage mid foot strike but less noticeable again maybe due to the narrowing of the midsole in the heel.  Good for me as I... heel strike 
  • durometer or firmness of midsole is unchanged at 47C, fairly firm for a midsole but as there is not much yet firmer outsole material still a fairly soft ride.
This meticulous, careful approach to improvements is characteristic of Skechers, an "underdog" in the performance running shoe market ,yet one rising rapidly on the "heels" of not only their star athletes such as Boston winner Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher but on the attention to feedback from many old slow pokes like me.

I have been involved for about a year in wear testing for Skechers and while I have not done wear testing for the Ride 4, I have for several other shoes. They welcome and listen to feedback and iterate very rapidly in subtle ways but also by completely changing direction if feedback tells them a design will not be able to meet an intended purpose. I have also run a bit in some of Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher's favorite Skechers the upcoming Strada  and find its ride very different than the Ride 4, far more supportive, overly supportive for me in the mid foot midsole/outsole materials, proving Skechers also listens very carefully to these elites particular needs and executes. If I ran as fast and as long as these two did day in and day out my feet might want some extra support too!

Upper and Heel Construction
The Ride 4 has far fewer stitched overlays than the Ride 3 featuring more welded overlays. The mid foot upper in particular is well reinforced with translucent overlays including the larger "S" Skechers logo which is in my opinion a functional part of the upper. The result is a much improved hold of the mid foot, not constraining but there.
GORun Ride 3 (left) GoRun Ride 4 (right)

The heel construction is the most significant update to the Ride 4. Whereas the Ride 3 had basically a slipper like very soft heel collar and no heel cup the Ride 4 has a very thin flexible heel cup. a raised notch for the Achilles and the Quick-Fit hole. I guess the Quick-Fit may help with putting on the shoe. I felt it may relieve a bit of pressure on the Achilles. The adidas Ultra Boost (review soon) also breaks the continuity of the heel cup using 2 wings of plastic and nothing other than the PrimeKnit over the rear. 

GORun Ride 4 (left) GORun Ride 3 (right)
 The picture below shows that the Ride 4 is no slipper as the Ride 3 was. This translated for me into a much more stable heel landing. Combined with the slightly narrower midsole at the heel I felt far more directed with less of a mushy unstable feeling on landing.
GORun Ride 4 (left) GORun Ride 3 (right)
Ride and Recommendations
While the GORun Ride 3 was a decent shoe it was not one I reached for frequently after my review. Too soft and unstructured an upper for my taste. They now make a great around the house recovery shoe. The GORun Ride 4, while not a radical redo, runs very differently for me. I actually ran with the 3 on one foot and the 4 on the other to compare. More directed, smoother, a little firmer maybe as the heel midsole is narrower, more structured and supportive upper. I will not hesitate to use it for a half marathon or tempo runs. Not a long run shoe for me, it will be a moderate tempo player.  A good choice for those who like the Saucony Kinvara but would like to try something similar but with a bit wider more roomy toe box and with a more stable forefoot landing and push off.

The GORun Ride 4 were provided to me at no charge for review purposes. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

Pick up the GoRun Ride 4 at the links below and you will also support my blog. Thanks!

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