Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Salming Speed 6-If Looks Could Kill

Article by Peter Stuart with Sam Winebaum

The Salming Speed 6 ($130) is an uptempo (duh, check the name) more racer than trainer--coming in at 7.4 oz./210g for a men's size 9, 6.5 oz./ for a women's size 8 according to Running Warehouse. It loses a full ounce in weight from the Speed 5.  
It has a heel height of 23mm and a forefoot of 17mm, 6mm drop. It's a firm shoe underfoot with looks that make me think of Blade Runner or a Japanese street corner. 

There is so much branding on this shoe it's hard to believe. But how do they run? Are they speedy? Read on to find out what we think about the ride and relative ups and downs of the Speed 6. Let me just say, in advance, that I'm glad there were only two SPEED movies, and we could have done without the 2nd. That said, here are the reviews:

First Impressions and Fit
Sam: Wow! Peter is right about the branding. I kind of like the loud look in a combination of bright fading to green yellow and muted swampy green. 
Sam: The build quality and finish from Sweden based Salming is among the best of any shoe company, and it sure shows here. These are beautifully build and finished shoes.
There is plenty of durable rubber, a surprising amount for such a light shoe. 
My pair is a half size up from my normal 8.5 with the fit a bit roomy. I could easily go true to size with thinner socks.  Salming has lost the more substantial overlays of its Exo Skeleton found in prior models and this is a good thing as it makes the fit more consistent from heel to toe. The fit is what I would characterize as higher volume and "tubular" feeling over the foot meaning with no sensation of a change in pressure from the rear to the front, decently roomy at the forefoot and as with prior Salming a bit pointy up very front of the shoe. I did not run in the Speed 5 so can't compare but have run in the Distance D4 and EnRoute.

Sam: The upper is a two layer very fine mesh with extensive overlays. The foot is stabilized by the thin Exo Skeleton overlays, the yellow green lattice and strips in the pictures. I did not find the upper particularly breathable but also certainly not overly warm. Compared to the Distance and En Route the upper is more comfortable overall, less snug than the Distance (RTR review) with its thicker external Exo Skeleton overalays  and easier to dial in than the somewhat sloppy upper of the Enroute (RTR review).
Peter: Sam, I love when you handle all of the technical stuff! I'm a big fan of the upper on the Speed 6. As busy as it looks, it works for me visually. I find the fit to be true to size and it holds my foot well in all the right places. I love the high reflectivity as I've been heading out for pre-dawn runs lately. It's a very deluxe and dialed-in upper.

Speed 6 puts on an incredible show under the lights!

All dark areas of the upper are actually highly reflective as seen when flashed with the camera.
The flash photo also highlights the thin strips securing the mid foot.

Sam: The midsole is made of Salming Recoil foam in 2 grades of firmness with what is called out as a softer Recoil R heel insert embedded in a single density or Recoil. I must say the heel did not feel soft but it sure is decently responsive if quite firm. I think the shoe could benefit from a deeper central cavity just in front of the heel to allow some more deflection of the heel and overall slightly softer foam with more actual "recoil".
Some will appreciate the responsive firm snap of this midsole, and I certainly did at faster tempos less so when run slow but after all this is a Speed shoe by name. It is firmer at the heel than the Enroute which I found to soft there.  Interestingly the EnRoute also has a similar Recoil R heel insert yet I found that shoe's heel to soft at least in contrast to the firmer fore foot. Maybe the Recoil R insert in the Speed is firmer or more likely the overall EnRoute midsole is softer.
Again this is a performance/racing oriented shoe with a midsole feel along the lines of the ASICS Roadhawk FF which is more trainer and  New Balance 1400,  or even Nike Zoom Streak 6 racer, two others I find overly firm for all but shorter racing. ASICS with its firm FlyteFoam seems to get more of a rebound sensation out of its firm foam.
Peter: Man oh man is this a firm feeling foam. Unfortunately I don't get a lot of recoil from the recoil--it just feels firm. Sam, I disagree on the 1400 and the Zoom Streak 6. While they are both on the firm side, the 1400 has some give and the Zoom Streak 6 is so much snappier. 

Sam: The defining feature of Salming shoes is its Natural Running Support System which combines a mid foot Torsion Guide System to stabilize the foot after which, at 62% of the length of the shoe from the heel, there is an anatomically correct flex groove at a 75 degree angle towards the medial side just behind the first orange forefoot outsole band in the photo above. This location is called the ballet line.  As with all Salming there is a distinct sensation of plenty of stability at mid foot followed by a very natural feeling and smooth toe off.
Peter: It's funny, given the ballet line, you'd think this shoe would transition through the gait cycle effortlessly, but that isn't the case for me. I feel like I have to PUSH through each stride. The outsole feels both stiff and firm for me and it's just not a smooth transition. I've hoped that it might break in, but hasn't done so yet

In addition to the 75 degree angle first flex point, three other flex grooves are located further forward in an approach similar to the Enroute. 

Sam: This ain't no mushy ride! The ride is firm and responsive as a fast shoe should be but... I do think the heel is overly firm especially in contrast to the agile smooth running forefoot.  Salming tells us the forefoot midsole is firmer than the heel but I don't feel this.  I think  due to 62/75 design with the perfect flex and the deep flex grooves the contrast between heel and forefoot is a bit more jarring than I would like. A somewhat more relaxed heel ride, followed by the mid foot stabilizing Torsion Guide System, a feature similar to what adidas puts in its softer midsole Boost performance shoes such as the Adios, would really help me dig this shoe as a half racer and faster daily trainer.

Peter: Rarely I have I wanted to like a shoe more (based on looks and what, on paper, is my kind of shoe). Unfortunately it's just not a shoe that works with my body mechanics. The ride is really clunky for me. I feel like I'm fighting with the shoe to get through a run. I'm not expecting a shoe to do the work for me, but every once in a while a shoe just seems to get in the way of running naturally--and this shoe seems to do just that. I've tried a variety of tempos and distances in these and I just can't get a great feeling run in them. 

Peter: The Salming Speed 6 wasn't a great fit for me. The upper is terrific and I like the shoe in theory, but couldn't get a great feeling run in them. They are super firm and pretty stiff. If they work with your biomechanics I think they'd be a great race shoe, they're just not for me. I'd love a substantially more flexible version of this shoe that was a little less firm. 
Sam: I agree with Peter on the upper being terrific. Rarely has a more race oriented upper felt so great without the usual "lock down" mid foot constriction and/or cramped toe box. And the look says fast.   I do like a race weight shoe I can run with some comfort and ease on other days for example the adidas adios Boost 3 or the lighter yet Vaporfly 4%. Here the ride is just a bit to firm overall especially at the heel.

Comparisons to the Speed 6 (7.4 oz)
Salming Distance D4 (7.6 oz.) RTR review
Sam: The 2016 Distance is slightly softer underfoot and for me and is not as responsive. While I raced a half in them they just don't feel as speedy as the Speed 6.  The upper is pointier up front and the denser Exo Skeleton overlays more noticeable. They sit somewhere between firmer trainer and softer racer with less focus than the firm, fast Speed 6. 
adidas adios Boost 3 (RTR review)
Sam:  The class of comfortable racers. Somewhat heavier and with not nearly as refined an upper the adios can still make mid packers or world record holders smile in comfort and at speed at a variety of paces and distances. 
Nike Zoom Streak 6 (6.4 oz) RTR review
Peter: The Streak 6 is similarly firm, but way snappier. It's a race shoe that is just aching to go fast. Works better with the way I run. 
Sam: While the Streak 6 is snappier it has a rough narrow heel landing for me and the snappy part only kicks in at race paces. I reserve mine for 10K or shorter races and never for training. I would not hesitate to take out  Speed 6 for tempo and faster runs. 
New Balance 1400 v5 (7.4 oz) RTR review
Peter: The 1400 V5 is shaping to be one of my 2 or 3 favorites of the year. It's more flexible and softer than the Salming. Good at any tempo and perhaps the most natural feeling runner of the year (The Zoom Elite 9 is the other contender)
Hoka One One Tracer 1 (7.4 oz) RTR review
Sam: Also a firm shoe and identical weight. The Speed 6 to be a more refined overall package and ride, the Tracer being stiffer and more awkward for me although having a slightly softer but lower  heel and about identical forefoot stack.
Skechers GOmeb Razor (7.7 oz) RTR review
Peter: Speed 6 and Razor are pretty similarly stiff, but the Razor has a little more give--feels better at tempo to me. 
On The Cloud (7.4 oz.) RTR review
Sam: While its upper is a bit "casual" fitting with its optional bungie lace for faster running and to snug with real laces,  under foot the Cloud is softer and easier on the legs despite being firm. The Cloud Elements really work in this shoe. My denim and muted green Cloud also goes casual with less of the bright lights of the Speed!
Saucony Kinvara 8 (7.8 oz) RTR review
Peter: If the Kinvara 8 works for you, the Speed 6 might work too. They feel similarly clunky to me. 
Sam: While the Kinvara 8 tend to bottom out at the heel for me, leaving me lingering back there in transition, the Speed 6 heads in the other direction at the heel, firm and without much give wanting me to get off it as quick as possible which the forward part of the shoe 62/75 design facilities. Upfront the Kinvara has a stiffer feeling transition. The Speed 6 upper is superior in fit and comfort.
ASICS Roadhawk FF (8.1 oz) RTR review
Sam: I feel this may be the closest comparison. While the transition of the Roadhawk is not as smooth due to excessive firm outsole rubber upfront making them stiff  its equally firm midsole is more forgiving and dynamic but has a more awkward to forefoot transition. At $30 less the Roadhawk upper while very decent is snugger, rougher feeling and doesn't disappear on the foot as the Speed 6's does
Altra Escalante (7.8 oz,) RTR review
Peter: These two are polar opposites. The Escalante is flexible, soft and barely there. 

For Peter and Sam's run bios visit our reviewers' page here

The Speed 6 was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Vic Dinovici said...

Never heard of this brand (I read Salomon at first instead of Salming) but these shoes look really good. Looking at the pictures I was afraid the toe box might be a bit squishy and indeed Sam confirmed that the space around toes is a bit cramped.

What would it be a great shoes model that have a comfortable toe box? I'm not wide but I have an ingrown nail at my small right toe and it always bother me, I wish I can find the perfect shoe. Thanks.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Vic,
Given you toe I think you want to look for shoes with a more rounded front of the shoe and a softer toe bumper along the sides that does not extend to far back on the lateral side. Also look for shoes with few or no overlays in the front with softer upper materials including knit type uppers. Nike Lunar Epic, Saucony Zealot ISO 3 or upcoming Triumph ISO 4, 2017 adidas Energy Boost, Brooks Glycerin 15, Skechers Ultra Road R2, the upcoming Salomon Sonic RA, and the Altra Torin 3 but not the 2.5. The Nike Zoom Fly actually fits the bill but durability may be a concern.
See many of these at our index page here
And 2018 previews page here
Sam, Editor
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amadeus303 said...

Thank you guys for the "quick hit" comparisons with other shoes. I was considering the Salming Speed 6 as a replacement for the Razor as my speed shoe, but I don't want to give up much more in the way of flexibility. I also count the Altra Escalante as my favorite shoe of the year, so this shoe is clearly not for me! Thanks for saving me the time!