Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review Saucony Ride 9: A Balanced, Refined, Verstaile... Ride.Comparisons to Kinvara 7 and Triumph ISO 2

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run
Saucony Ride 9

The Saucony Ride 9 is a neutral trainer sitting right between the Kinvara 7, a racer trainer (review) and the Triumph ISO 2, a "premium" trainer (review). It magnificently perches at the balance point between speed shoe and trainer with
  • light enough weight, 9.2 oz/261 grams,  men's US 9 
  • stable, just firm enough heel and a forgiving but not mushy forefoot
  • responsive cushioning including a thin top sole of TPU based Everun.
  • the chevron based forefoot outsole, Tri-Flex, which provides plenty of durability and has a long, very smooth flex in transition
  • superb any speed and distance and performance except maybe for speedy runners at 10K and below
Saucony Ride 9
The fact is all three of Saucony's neutral lighter trainers share these characteristics in only slightly different ways. The Ride 9 sitting in the middle puts them all together a touch better than the others overall and has provided me the most versatility. And just how much do I like them... The Triumph ISO 2 was my trainer of the year in 2015 and I distinctly prefer the Ride.

Comparative Stats

While the last Ride I ran was the Ride 3, I see the Ride 9 loses 0.5 oz compared to version 8 according to Running Warehouse with the most distinctive change the shift from a podular outsole to Saucony excellent Tri-Flex design.
The Ride 9 is a great choice overall and the most refined and versatile trainer I have run so far this year, a year of incredible shoes, far ahead of 2015 in the quality of trainers in particular. Of the three Saucony, it would be my choice for the runner seeking one shoe that can perform at most all speeds and distances.

Upper and Fit
Saucony Ride 9

The Ride 9 fits me true to size but it is narrow. Fortunately, Saucony provides the Ride in 2E wide. The initial try on was not promising at all... very tight over the met heads. No hot spots but I was forced to take my first runs in my thinnest socks.  After 15 or so miles the forefoot upper stretched to a snug fit, less snug than the more race fit Kinvara 7 but by no means roomy.  So patience is advised, if you usually are true to size and have a narrower foot or like a snug fit they should break in. I would not size up half a size unless I knew I would be using them for a marathon or ran long distances (15 miles plus) in high heat.  I suspect the Flex Film overlays shrank after production and needed some seasoning. Saucony should consider substituting paper packing in the toe for something more substantial. Still and my only knock on the shoe I think a bit more room  upfront would be in order, something more akin to the roomier Triumph ISO 2. The midfoot and rearfoot hold is perfect , well held never lose or constraining.  Lace up with the flat laces is fuss free once and done.

The Run Dry plush lining at the heel really holds the rear of the foot well by not being overly soft. The tongue is puffy with the textured outer mesh holding it in place, no side slipping.
Saucony Ride 9
The mesh upper is nothing unusual these days with seam free overlays but does have a substantial overlay on the medial side towards the heel and stitched on strapping around the heel counter.
Saucony Ride 9

The front toe bumper is soft and is a touch higher and firmer than the Kinvara 7's.
The sock liner is particularly nice and the way I like them, a dense very light foam similar to adidas insoles.

Midsole and Outsole
Saucony Ride 9 Everun top sole

The midsole "starts" with a thin layer of Everun, a top sole. This TPU based material similar to adidas Boost provides a responsive rebound that is more long lasting and more stable across temperatures than the usual EVA midsole material. In the Ride 9 the Everun layer takes a bit of the "edge" off. Not a particular sensation of rebound but a slight and comfortable softness on contact and toe off.
Saucony Ride 9
Below the topsole we have Saucony's SSL EVA the same material and as far as I can tell, at approximately the same firmness, as in the Kinvara 7 and Triumph ISO 2.  I find it has a great balance of cushion and responsiveness in all the shoes.
Saucony Ride 9 SRC Crash Pad

At the heel on the lateral side  the Ride  has Saucony SRC Crash heel pad insert whereas the Kinvara and ISO 2 have an Everun heel insert. On the medial side the side walls are vertical for some stability, a design common to the Ride 9, Kinvara 7, and ISO 2.
Saucony Ride 9

The Ride's heel is for me a touch more stable than Kinvara in large part I think due to the fact the heel construction and landing zones extends further back. So, those who are heavier on the heels as I am or who are running at slower paces may find a smoother landing and transition with the Ride.
Kinvara 7 Left, Ride 9 Right Extended SRC Crash Pad

Where the rubber hits the road and how Saucony interfaces the outsoles and the midsoles is from what I can tell where the secret sauce of the Ride 9 lies.
The Kinvara 7 and ISO 2 are both stiffer up front than the Ride 9 with the Kinvara noticeably so.
Saucony Ride 9

The Tri-Flex outsole/midsole construction of the Ride features deeper flex grooves whose depth extends further into the center of the mid foot than Kinvara's.
Saucony Kinvara 7
And there are more and deeper flex grooves and releasing elements on the Ride, a total of 14 on the lateral side and 8 on the medial side with the Kinvara and ISO 2  effectively having 8-9 on the lateral side and 9 on the medial side. The greater number of flex points from heel to toe on the Ride in my view translate to its incredibly smooth adaptable transitions.  Whereas the Kinvara has an exposed EVA on the medial towards the rear ,the Ride has a blown rubber outsole piece, a very light stability element.
The ISO 2 has a similar forefoot construction but with 4mm more foam front and back thus less flexibility and of course a touch more cushioning as a result. The outsole in front of the heel is considerably more built up and continuous on the ISO 2 making the transitions less fluid than the
Saucony Triumph ISO 2
The forefoot outsole rubber of the Ride is softer than Kinvara or ISO 2's from what I can tell.

I like that Saucony provides a consistent approach at the medial side wall design, SSL EVA and Tri-Flex outsole. You know you are getting, variations on a theme for different run purposes.
The result and punch line... of all these differences... The Ride 9 is considerably more flexible and has an incredibly smooth yet stable transition. The greater overall stack of the ISO 2 contributes to it being a bit more ponderous, slower shoe. With the Kinvara, the shallower flex grooves, fewer forefoot wear pads with an overall stack very close to the Ride 9 is a stiffer flexing somewhat more snappy shoe than the Ride, one more suited to fast days and races.

Ride... of the Ride and Comparisons
This is one smooth protective shoe. It is plenty stable, plenty flexible, and plenty responsive often a rare combination. I have focused my Ride running on a combination of slower runs and moderate tempo and it has handled them equally well. It has become a daily reach for shoe, supplanting the Hoka Clayton in recent weeks.

The flexibility and relative softness of the forefoot outsole assures many miles of comfort but is a touch less snappy and directed than the Salming Distance 3 ballet line approach where there is a fairly distinct rolling motion to toe off.  I do see more wear in the forefoot than on my Kinvara and ISO 2 so that soft feel may come at a bit of penalty in terms of longevity but the rubber is thick and one should get many hundreds of miles from the Ride.

The heel is stable and responsive, slightly less rebound than Kinvara but one feels a very smooth heel landing and then roll forward due to the extended heel area and flex grooves. I do like the 8mm drop of the Ride, finding the 4mm of the Kinvara a bit low for slower days. Clearly it is less ponderous than the ISO 2 Triumph and lighter too and ISO 2 is one fine shoe, It's just that the Ride is more balanced and refined in its ride. I find that once forefoot cushion goes much over above 21mm and the heel 29mm as it does in the ISO 2 some of the faster fun goes out of shoes except maybe for the Hoka Clayton. While a similar shoe in terms of stack heights, the fine Brooks Launch 3 review (27/17 for Brooks 27/19 for Ride 9) the 0.6 oz heavier Brooks with its podular outsole and higher 10mm drop is not quite as smooth or fun, a bit lumpier blockier under foot from heel to toe.

The Saucony Ride 9 is a superb daily trainer for slow to moderate and tempo paced running. It is versatile with a design and materials that brilliantly balances weight, cushion, flexibility, stability, and responsiveness. At close to 9 oz they are a lot of shoe for the weight. I would not hesitate to race a marathon in them. Their touch of stability, medial vertical midsole walls, overlays, and outsole could make them a good choice for those transitioning away from milder  stability motion control shoes. If you are a runner who prefers a durable one shoe quiver they are a superb choice. While narrow, they do stretch and wide sizes are available. Highly recommended and a finalist for my Trainer, Update, or Shoe of the Year.

Our review of the Kinvara 7 here
Our review of the Triumph ISO 2 here

4.85 out of 5
-0.15 for narrowness over met heads and front of shoe, especially when new.

The Saucony Ride 9 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Interested in other 2016 shoes? Road Trail Run has reviewed 30 different models in the last 6 months! Click here for our summary page with links to all the reviews.

The Saucony Ride 9 is available from Running Warehouse
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Men's here Women's here


60 said...

I had bought it in blue, and found it to be way too tight. Also, a piece of tread was coming off.

I read your review, so went back into a store and tried the red/blacks on. It felt like a totally different model - much more of a relaxed fit, and after a few miles of walking I can tell the material is relaxing more. I do like the feel of the outsole - it has a nice rubbery feel.

Thanks Sam.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Winebaum said...

Indeed Jeremy the Ride is softer than the Zealot, for sure less harsh under the mid foot in particular due to the less extensive and less firm outsole rubber. I found the Zealot close to a stability shoe in that area of the shoe. The forefoot is also more cushioned in the Ride, maybe not quite as snappy but still plenty responsive. Thanks for reading! RTR is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Unknown said...

Awesome, I'll give them a shot! I check into your blog every day and appreciate all your work. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Just want to say thank you for your review. I just bought a blue pair of Ride9 and found it's very tight in met head area too. As you suggest to give it around 15 miles for the forefoot upper to stretch. I will give it a go. Apart form the met head issue, this is one of the best runners I ever had.

Again, appreciate your review.

Sam Winebaum said...

Chupong Kitisopakul, Thanks for reading! Sorry they are a bit tight. Mine loosened up but it is still a snugger fit. You might also try not lacing through the first lace hole. Also they are available in wide sizes.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

I love how thorough your review is! Thanks.