Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Topo Athletic Fly-Lyte 2 Review: Great Ride but with a Big Catch...

Article by Peter Stuart

Topo Fly-Lyte 2
The Topo Athletic Fly-Lyte 2 ($100) is a moderately lightweight (8.4oz/28 g for size 9) daily trainer with a wide toe-box and stack heights of 23mm in the heel and 20mm, 3mm drop.

For those just following along, Topo was started by Tony Post, formerly of Vibram. The first Topo shoes had a split toe and they've been inching towards more traditional running shoes. Their toe boxes are anatomical and roomy to allow toe splay. This is going to be a short  review--read on to find out why...

Upper and Fit:
The upper is made of a very light mesh with a fair amount of overlay. They hug the feet nicely and the foot is held well. They're not the most exciting looking shoe out there, but they're not ugly. 
Large tip of the tongue flap
The big issue I have with the Fly-Lyte is the material at the base of the tongue. The first pair I received had a relatively huge flap of fabric hanging over the spot where the tongue is sewn onto the upper. Topo were kind enough to send another pair, and while they were slightly better, there's still a big friction spot where the tongue is sewn on. 
It protrudes onto my toes and causes blistering on both feet. I don't think it's a manufacturing error--I think it's a design flaw. For me it makes the shoe a non-starter. I just can't run in them because it hurts too much. If you try them and don't have a friction point there, they're a nice shoe. it's a shame because other than that I really like the ride of the shoe.
Editor's Note: I checked a pair in my local running store and felt the same very large flap. Far larger than for other shoes and brands I checked.

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is full-length EVA foam at a nearly ideal level of firmness and cushion. Topo says it is slightly softer and more flexible The outsole is very decent full-length rubber.

The Fly-Lyte 2 rides really well. it's a really nice transition from landing to toe off, a good balance of firmness and cushion and largely disappears on the foot as the miles tick by. 

Unfortunately, I can't run in the Topo Fly-Lyte 2 because it digs holes into the tops of my toes. I wish this wasn't an issue because I generally like the ride and the feel of the shoe. I'm hoping the next version of the shoe corrects this issue.

Fly-Lyte vs. Skechers GoRun 5
The Fly-Lyte is a bit firmer than the GoRun, but has some of the same 'lace-em up and go' elements. Of course the GoRun doesn't dig a hole in my foot, so...
Fly-Lyte vs. Altra Escalante
The Fly-Lyte is more shoe, a bit firmer and probably more protective for longer miles. Again, if you don't run into the tongue issue, it's a great option. 

For over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews visit our index page here
We have reviews for the excellent Topo MT-2, Terraventure and Ultrafly which did not have tongue defects at the index page.

Peter Stuart's Run Bio

My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

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Unknown said...

Hi Stuart,

I'm so sorry the excess material at the base of the tongue appears to have caused a blister on your foot. The excess material probably created a deeper break across vamp near the base of your toes. Unfortunately, this IS a factory defect, it is not how the shoe was designed. It occurred on some early production shoes and we have worked to address and correct the issue going forward.

We appreciate your candid feedback and I've shared it with design, development, manufacturing, and the factory. All of us at Topo feel badly about what happened, but I'm the one who takes full responsibility for this error.

Despite this issue, Fli-Lyte 2 has been our best selling model over the last two months, with almost no returns. I'm not saying we didn't make a mistake in how some early shoes were made, only that it appears this issue may be limited to a relatively small number of production shoes or people who have been affected.

Lastly, please know that good or bad, we always appreciate honest feedback and critique, it only helps us get better. Again, my sincere apologies for delivering an unsatisfactory experience. I hope we can do much better in the future!

Unknown said...

Sorry, meant to say PETER, not Stuart.

Sorry again Peter...

60 said...

I have no issue/defect in a pair of orange size 13s.

SoFL Runner said...

I just received my pair of Fly Lyte2s ordered online. The shoe fit is good for me, but the overlays all across the top of the shoe at the base of the laces dig into my foot when I flex it just walking (as well as some real easy in-home test running)...from one side of my foot to the other, so it's not just a tongue issue for me. I think it's a design issue as that is not typically a problem for me in other shoes.

Anonymous said...

I got this same blister in my original pair of Fli-Lyte 2s. My feet are similar to yours in that my second toe is slightly longer than my first. I found that the shoe length was shorter than the said size. (My size 8.5 custom orthotic would not fit inside the size 8.5 Fli-Lyte 2 shoe). These shoes run short which for people like us with hammer toes causes that second toe to bunch up when running. When I sized up a half size (after contacting the company about the same blister), I no longer had the issue. Just thought I'd mention it as I've not seen any one say anything about how short these shoes run.

Unknown said...

I love that you compared the Fly Lyte to the Escalante, which is what i'm currently running in and almost love more than any other shoe i have run in, EXCEPT for the ultra stretchy upper. im curious if you have run in the ST-2 and how that compares to the escalante.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Elissa, Peter did run the ST-2. His thoughts are below. It does have a fairly soft and sock like upper which was an issue for him, some blisters on pinky toes which he thought may come from the ST-2 flexibility http://www.roadtrailrun.com/2016/09/topo-athletic-st-2-review-stuck-in.html
Sam, Editor

Nick said...

I had exactly the same experience with my Fli-Lyte 2 shoes. Really a shame because the original Fli-Lyte's were the best running shoes I've ever owned - even though my toe popped through the upper mesh after only about 250 miles or so.

SoFL Runner said...

I need to amend my previous comment. Before returning my Fli-Lytes, I decided to go and just walk on them on the treadmill to see how they felt. Despite what my first steps at home were like, when I was walking on the treadmill that band did not dig into my foot. I tried a few short run segments, and was OK then as well. so, given that experiment, I transitioned into running in them on the road, and the overlay has not yet been a problem. I gave them that 2nd chance because my MD at the University of Florida Performance Center (Running Clinic) highly recommended them to me due to a number of foot, leg, hip issues I've been dealing with. Thus far, they are the only shoes that have not exacerbated old PF and knee problems out of many different shoes tried in recent months. Having said that, I do wish they had a little more cushioning, but I can run in them as is. I'm recovering from a significant 10 month old butt area injury so I'm on a conservative running plan, but I have used the shoes on multiple runs of 5-6 miles as well as runs of 13.1 and 14+ miles.

Sam Winebaum said...

HI SoFL Runner,
Glad they are working for you! Curious did you go true to size and what weight socks do you typically wear in them?
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated.

SoFL Runner said...

Sam...I wear a thicker sock like DryMax Max Protection. Since I have a AA foot I need to fill up space a bit.In street shoes I wear an 8.5 AA and in all previous running shoes I wore a 9.5 AA. In TOPO the 9 fits me. I'm a little concerned this week after 5 weeks of wearing them (about 126 miles) as my whole foot is hurting on both feet when I am running. It's not a PF flare-up. I'm wondering if they are dead already or if I have something else going on. To be continued.

Unknown said...

Hi SoFL Runner, Tony Post here from Topo. Thanks for your comment, good or bad we always appreciate hearing honest and candid feedback. Please feel free to call our customer service team at 617-831-4100 if you have questions, you can tell them I told you to call.

I'm a little worried the Topo Fli-Lyte might be too wide for you? While I appreciate your support and interest in Topo, the Fli-Lyte 2 has a more generous fit that might not be a good match for your AA width foot? Our ST2 has a little slimmer fit, but it's a 16mm 0 drop platform -- not sure if you want something that thin. Our 5mm drop Ultrafly could be another possibility if you are looking for a more cushioned shoe that still provides some ground feel.

I hope we are able to help you, but if not, Hoka, Salomon, and Inov8 all make some great shoes for more narrow feet. I'm sure you can find some helpful reviews on this site. Good luck, and stay healthy!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi SoFL Runner and Tony,
Tony- thanks for commenting and offering SoFL assistance and advice.
SoFL- you can find all of our 2017 reviews including for the ST-2 most Hoka and Salomon models and a couple of the newest Inov-8 at our index page here http://www.roadtrailrun.com/p/blog-page.html
Sam, Editor

IvoX said...

I have a pair of Topo MT-2 and I am very pleased with the overall ride and the balanced cushioning. I am considering buying Fli-Lyte 2 for road use, and since their specs look the same, I am wondering if the sense of ride and cushioning is similar to its trail sibling MT-2?