Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Saucony Triumph ISO 4 Review with Comparisons to Triumph ISO 3 and Others in its Class

Article by Sam Winebaum,

Saucony Triumph ISO 4
Weight: test sample US9 11.3 oz/ 321 g M9, W8 9.6 oz/272 g
Stack Height: 28mm heel/20 mm forefoot, 8 mm stack
Price: $160. Available now.
Triumph ISO 4
The Triumph ISO 4 is Saucony's heavy duty, neutral daily trainer. While containing significant changes and weighing more it runs similarly to its predecessor the Triumph ISO 3 (review here)

Midsole and Outsole
The big change from its predecessor, the Triumph ISO 3 is that instead of an Everun TPU heel insert embedded in the PWRGRID+ EVA midsole, the ISO 4 has a full Everun TPU midsole. It is nicely energetic, but unlike similar full adidas Boost TPU midsoles without EVA or plastic pieces to stabilize such as the Ultra Boost, it is stable, firmer and well tamed due to the burly outsole. Everun is also somewhat firmer than Boost.

Everun when compared to EVA, including Saucony's flavors, is less susceptible to changes in material characteristics due to temperature variations and should remain more consistent in feel during runs and through the life of the shoe, so it should be durable and stable over time allowing for many miles of use when combined with the substantial outsole.

The downside of the full Everun midsole is weight, 11.1 oz/315 g for a size US M9 according to Running Warehouse. with my pre production sample weighing 11.3 so at the higher end of weights for even premium trainers. My ISO 3 weighed 10.7 oz
LEFT: Triumph ISO 4 RIGHT Triumph ISO 3
The redesigned decoupled outsole with longitudinal grooves up front vs. Tri-Flex with more cross grooves inf the ISO 3 along with the Everun make the ISO 4 stiffer and a bit more stable too than ISO 3. 

They transition to toe off not quite as smoothly as the ISO 3 while at the same time are ever slightly more cushioned, barely noticeable as this is a very heavily cushioned shoe to begin with. At the heel the pop from the higher energy return Everun is slightly more energetic and with less shock on landing but again ever so slightly so. At the forefoot,they are noticeably stiffer with a longer less pronounced flex, So we see an improved heel area landing and a step back in response and agility up front, a mixed bag.

The upper is similar to the ISO 3's featuring Saucony's ISOFit which is designed to accommodate different foot shapes by using deeply separated straps wrapping over an inner stretch bootie. With the ISO 4, Saucony returns to three ISOFit straps as seen in the ISO 2 with the third ISO 2 strap further back from the toes than in the ISO 4. The ISOFit straps were scaled back to two in the ISO 3 with the last ISOFit replaced by lace loops for a bit more give and room over the metatarsals. I miss this approach.
LEFT: Triumph ISO 4 RIGHT Triumph ISO 3

As a result it is slightly snugger overall and more supportive. I was sized up half a size from normal in both versions. In the ISO 3 I now see that a true to size would have worked better. It's a bit loose if very comfy. In the ISO 4 I likely would size up the half size to the 9, as in my sample, especially with heavier socks although as a result of sizing up they are a bit long, something I hadn't noticed until just before finalizing the review. Let's just say the fit is more performance oriented and less comfort oriented in the ISO 4 than ISO 3.
The differences can be most clearly be felt at the metatarsals where the third ISO Fit strap is added back in and is backed by fairly thick material and a new last center lace passage is included with everything copiously reinforced with thickish overlays. This is in contrast to the ISO 3 where the overlay was a thin pliable fabric stitched in line with the laces and there were no other overlays or last ISO Fit band
This change creates a more secure fit for sure as the ISO 3 was frankly a bit sloppy fitting there but a snugger one, more performance oriented and the most performance oriented fit overall of any of the recent premium trainers I have tested recently which include the New Balance 1080v8, Brooks Levitate and Glycerin, and adidas Energy Boost. I think Saucony went a bit to far, reducing comfort somewhat and could have made the last ISO Fit band different, lighter and less reinforced than the other two which do provide essential mid foot support.. 

Wider feet are not left out as the ISO 4 is also available in wide.

The new molded heel collar, a trend seen in many 2017 higher end run shoes, provides excellent support and improved comfort and has sleeker lines than the ISO 3's external support frame
The tongue is heavily padded and puffy and with the long laces make for a somewhat sloppy look in my white trim sample. I am not sure why such a puffy tongue was specified as the ISO 3's slimmer profile was just fine.

While very well cushioned, the ride is firmer and more stable than one might expect from the TPU midsole, a material known for being bouncy and soft in adidas Boost. Part of this can be attributed to Everun being firmer than Boost and part to the full coverage outsole.

The Everun effect can most clearly be felt at the heel when compared to the ISO 3. The heel pop is more energetic with a slight but noticeable increase in bounce. 

The ISO 4 has a considerably longer flex than ISO 3 extending almost to mid foo,t seemingly due to those longitudinal flex grooves, but it is a stiffer flex as the deep crosswise flex grooves of the ISO 3 are not present. As such the transition to toe off is more labored particularly at slower paces than ISO 3, Brooks Levitate or New Balance 1080v8. At pace the ISO 4 ride and its performance fit starts to liven up I am guessing as the firmer Everun is then more fully engaged. All of this said the 11 oz plus weight is noticeable, more noticeable than in the more flexible, more energetic, softer and similar weight Brooks Levitate.

Conclusions and Recommendations
When I first ran in the ISO 4 I thought it was a step forward over the ISO 3 as the Everun was clearly slightly more energetic and the upper more to my liking, snugger and with a more performance oriented fit. As I tested further, and side by side with ISO 3, I now feel that this update is a 50/50 maybe a bit less. The additional pop of Everun is outweighed, literally, by the additional weight and the stiffer flex of the ISO 4. 

In particular the longer and stiffer flex made the ISO 4 more ponderous to run at slower paces than ISO 3. As the pace picks up the ISO 4 has increasing response and rebound especially at the heel but this is not a shoe for faster miles for me. I would lean to the Zealot ISO 3 or Ride 10 for that in the Saucony line. All of this said this is one heck of a durable heavy duty daily trainer which I expect will last many hundreds of miles. It is supportive and stable, very well cushioned without being sloppy and mushy as some in the class, and has a comfortable upper that can accommodate many foot shapes.

Score 9.6/10
-0.2 for stiff, long flex leading to more ponderous toe off especially at slower paces than its predecessor or other shoes in its class.
-0.2 for weight. The full Everun midsole weighs more than the previous Everun insert. The benefit of some firmish additional energy return and pop is outweighed by the overall additional weight and stiffness of the shoe,

New Balance 1080v8 vs. Triumph ISO 4 (review soon)
The more than half ounce lighter the 1080 has cushioning similar to the ISO 3, so very well cushioned, but with a bit less bounce than the ISO 4 with its Everun. The 1080 upper is superior in both comfort and consistent hold over the ISO 4 and deals with the front of shoe and foot hold without constraining but with a secure soft hold. The 1080 has a forward snappy flex making it easier and more fun to run at all paces.

Brooks Levitate vs. Triumph ISO 4 (RTR review)
At about the same weight we have two heavyweights to compare here. The more flexible Levitate is easier to run at all paces especially slower paces. Its PU midsole is "softer" with a smooth piston like loading and then return of energy whereas the ISO 4 has a ride more like that of a more conventional mid sole. As for the uppers the Levitate has impeccable foot hold mid foot to rear with no pressure points beyond a bit to much top of metatarsal snugness. It's front toe is pointier and has stiff over the toe knit so not quite as comfortable as the ISO 4 at the very front of the shoe,

Energy Boost 4  vs. Triumph ISO 4 (RTR review)
ISO 4 is somewhat smoother running at slower paces than the heel heavy TPU based Energy Boost. At pace the Energy Boost is more lively and nimble if this can be said of these heavy shoes,

Gel-Nimbus 19 vs. Triumph ISO 4 (RTR review)
ISO 4 has a more refined less constrictive upper than the overbuilt Nimbus's. It has a more consistent heel to toe midsole feel underfoot. The Nimbus is less stiff with a good toe flex. I do think the GEL inserts (in similar fashion to the Everun insert in the ISO 3) is more effective in the Nimbus to provide some rebound and shock attenuation than the full Everun midsole in the ISO 4 also making Nimbus more flexible due to the insert's lower profile in the midsole mix

Nike Zoom Vomero 12  vs. Triumph ISO 4 (RTR review)
The Vomero is another shoe with a stiff, long flex in its case due to the front Nike Zoom Air unit. Vomero also has a snugger upper and a more refined fitting and sleeker looking one. Vomero is more than half an ounce lighter and I can feel it. The Vomero ride is smoother and softer by a small margin with its stiffness, as with ISO 4, getting in the way of a smooth toe off at slower paces for me,

Brooks Glycerin 15 vs. Triumph ISO 4 (RTR review),
ISO 4 has a firmer more stable heel than the very soft Glycerin although for upper comfort and toe off flexibility the Glycerin is superior. Here I would lean towards the Triumph over Glycerin.

For Sam's bio see our Reviewers Bio Page here
The was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Sam

Great review as always. I found your comment about the Levitate feeling lighter and more responsive than the Triumph 4 to be very interesting, however. I actually had both shoes in a size 9.5 and when weighed on a scale, the Levitate was 0.3 oz heavier. At first I enjoyed the novel feeling of the Levitate’s cushioning but after running in them a few times, the shoe’s weight really got to me (perhaps this was due to the weight distribution) and I could never ignore it. The Levitate also left my body feeling beat up after even only short runs (possibly due to the lack of horizontal expansion upon foot strike) so much so that I returned the shoes. I switched to the Triumph 4 and while still heavy, the weight distribution suited me much better. I also experienced no soreness after my runs in the Triumph 4 and am very happy with them. Guess that’s why it’s important to try out (to the extent possible) shoes before purchasing as even shoes with similar objectives may affect individual runners very differently.

Love the site! Great source of information.

Anonymous said...

Just tried the Triumph iso 4 with my triumph iso 3 today. I agree with your review - very slightly more responsive but slower transitions. I found the iso 3 more comfortable overall both underfoot and the uppers. The iso 4 felt like they lost a bit of comfort compared to the iso 3's. The 4's
were also a little firmer on the front ( to firm for me) and I found them a bit to snug midfoot. Overall I prefered the older iso 3's for running and walking in. Also tried the levitate briefly, didn't like them - to stiff, heavy and didn't feel as stable in them. Looks like the iso 3's will have to do awhile longer.

Mark said...

Hi Sam,
Been running in the 3’s since they first came out and just recently bought the 4’s and for me the 4’s feel like a downgrade. I buy the Triumph for a comfort shoe and it seems Saucony is trying to turn them into more of a performance shoe. They are a firmer ride with a tighter fitting upper. For performance I can buy the Freedom, but would still like to have a comfort cruiser, which the ISO 4 is straying from. I like Saucony shoes, but don’t holdout much hope that they’ll feel fix the Triumph back to what it used to be for awhile.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Mark and Anonymous,
Thanks for commenting. I agree with you both that the Triumph ISO 4 has lost some in comfort. They went a bit to far towards a performance fit and ride overall maybe to distinguish it more from other in the premium trainer class?
Sam, Editor
Sam. Editor
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