Friday, February 09, 2018

Skechers Performance GO Run Forza 3 Review: Seamless Underfoot Stability, Light Weight, Smooth Ride

Article by Sam Winebaum, Derek Li, Peter Stuart and Dave Ames

GOrun Forza 3 

Introduction 
The light stability Forza drops 1.4 oz/40 g from version 2. Skechers calls it a "fast stability" shoe,
The weight drop in large part can be attributed to the new FlightGEN midsole foam, a very light, springy yet dense feeling material. At 9.2 oz this is a very light shoe for its stability features, upper support and overall substance. The FlightGen foam used in the midsole is the same density material but in three different firmnesses or durometer, moulded together in a special process and with geometries which eliminates the sense of any firm post.   


Stats
23mm heel/17mm forefoot, 6mm drop 
9.2 oz/261 g (M9), 7.3 oz./ 207 g (W8). 
My sample US M8.5 weighs 8.8 oz/251g so a size 9 should be just under the spec.
$120. Available now including Running Warehouse here.


First Impressions and Fit
Dave:  As Ace Ventura said in Pet Detective when parking the car:  “Like a Glove.”  The Forza 3 feels the way a true trainer (neutral or stability) in my mind should be - - An outstanding upper via the 3D structural mesh, molds the foot beautifully and and wraps the arch of my foot with ease.  Year after year, I’ve slid stability shoe after stability shoe on my foot and the first thing digging into me is the over pronounced stability bar.  One or two runs in and my IT band is on fire and I can feel the beginnings of plantar's.  However, with the Forza 3, you get none of this.  This shoe truly changes the way we look at stability and via the full length “guidance” which is stiff, yet soft, it allows the runner to have a tad of support, while allowing full range of motion through his or her gate cycle.  9 out of 10 stability shoes out there tell your foot where to go, the Forza 3 just gives it a little help, while allowing an ever so smooth stride.  Note:  I used to be the East Sales Rep for Skechers Performance and have worn every generation of Forza since it came about.  This is by far the best stability shoe I’ve ever put on my foot.  My size 9 was perfect and had no issues with lacing or slippage in the heel.

Peter: Stability Schmability--a shoe either works for me or it doesn’t. I’ve had “neutral” shoes that feel invasive and terrible and “stabilty” shoes that feel pretty natural (hello Fast Twitch). That said, the initial impression of the Forza 3 is wow, what a great fitting, natural feeling shoe.The upper is nice, weight is low, and step in is comfy.

Derek: I haven't had much luck with stability shoes in the past. The only ones I liked were the Nike Lunarglide 5 and the Brooks Ravenna 5. The Forza3 is something else though. The stability elements are very subtle and don’t get in the way.  The initial step in was solid. Fit is definitely true to size.

Sam: I tested true to size and the fit was excellent if a bit low over the front of the toes. The look is subtle, rich in upper depth with the thin cross knit bands/cords over a less dense lower knit. The firmer medial side foam is called out with blue foam, the rest of the midsole being white. I hope this contrast, which says firmer medial side, doesn't scare people off as the variations between the three different midsole firmnesses are seamless in terms of feel.

Upper
Sam: The upper is a circular GOknit with a denser medial side panel for more support there, see below.
The fit is consistent, pressure free and supportively snug in my sample at true to size. The overhead toe room is somewhat snugger than the Ride 7 due to its denser mesh cord overlay construction. The lines running across the toes are not overlays but a fine cord like structure woven into the somewhat more open knit below. So the consistent, secure, and pressure free fit likely comes from using the same kinds of yarn at differing densities of knitting and with less of a "flat" structure than say the Ride 7. The fit and feel is outstanding.

Dave:  The 3D structural mesh is outstanding.  Get a few runs in in this shoe and it molds your foot perfectly, allowing each and every time you step in, it remembers you.  This allows an easy lace up and you’re out the door.  I do have a narrow foot and I do notice a good amount of volume in the upper, especially overlapping the “throat” of the shoe, so I do need to really crank down on the laces.  Normally, that is an issue, or I have to lock lace, but I did not notice a need for that at all.  I got the upper wet at the beach the other day here in SoCal and actually had no issue with it.  We just don’t get rain here, but I see the 3D structural mesh most likely performing fine on a rainy or snowy day, upper wise (Don’t totally quote me as I’m brainwashed by good weather in LA nowadays)
Peter: Pretty flawless upper. Breathable, light, pull-tab if you need that sort of thing. Skechers uppers have always fit me well and this is no exception. I put them on, laced them up and haven’t thought about it since. Super solid.

Derek: This upper is the best of the 2018 Skechers line for me. Excellent breathability, with very good lockdown despite using very soft and comfortable materials. They should have just used this upper for all their shoes. They nailed the shoe volume with this one for me. Only slightly snug around the navicular, but plenty of room for toe splay up front. It was very easy to get a good lockdown in this shoe without having to tighten the laces much. 

Midsole
Sam: The FlightGen foam used in the midsole is the same density material but in three different firmnesses or durometer moulded together in a special process.  The heel is the softest durometer (hardness) … transitioning into the lateral sidewall, which is harder… and the medial sidewall (dark colored foam), which is the hardest. The medial colored side foam is the firmest but unlike a conventional post is slopes to the center of the shoe, acting as stabilizing thinner sidewall then getting thicker as it approaches the outsole so that the initial landing/transitions at mid foot does not have the customary stiff firm post feel but the stability at ground level is along the lines of shoes with plastic inserts at mid foot but without a sense there is a "plate' under foot,

Dave:  FlightGen is the bomb.com.  There is no way around it.  It’s the best midsole material I’ve ever felt in 26+ years of running (My first shoe was the Saucony Jazz, btw)  FlightGen feels soft when walking, but when you run, the technology truly comes alive!  Soft enough for recovery days and aerobic cruiser miles, but when hammering the pace, it becomes vibrant and snappy unlike any other.  Add the M Strike (Midfoot Strike Technology) that has been in Skechers Performance footwear since the beginning, and stride after stride is fluent with a level landing.  Heel strikers will love the “help” you get from M Strike combined with FlightGen.  The key here with the Forza 3 being a stability shoe is that the FlightGen takes control of the shoe.  Yes, the “guidance” is in there for you stability wearers, but it’s smooth enough for the neutral runner looking for a firmer ride on maybe those excessively long runs or on recovery days when feeling beat up.   Absolutely outstanding job with FlightGen from Kurt and his team at Skechers Performance.

Peter: Agreed, FlightGen is legit. Flight Gen is what I was hoping to get from the new line of Reebok shoes but didn’t. Lots of energy return and a nice comfy ride. That said, this is a firmer shoe than the Ride 7. I’m so in love with the Ride 7 (RTR review) right now that it’s tough not to see the Forza as a little too firm. It’s not harsh at all, and in fact really starts to open up as you run in it. If you like a firmer shoe that gives just a hair of support you may prefer the Forza. It also does its “stability” job and assists the foot through the gait cycle without any obvious stability ‘features. It’s a pretty neat magic trick.

Derek: The shoe doesn’t feel like it has three distinct layers of foam at all. The firmer “stability” part melds very well with the softer foam and creates a very seamless smooth feel underfoot. Very well executed. It is firm but not jarring, and has plenty of pop if you choose to pick up the pace. 

Outsole
Sam: The full contact rubber outsole, a first for a Skechers that I have tested, in combination with the firmer medial side midsole, translates into stable landings and good distinct pop off the road starting at the heel.
GOmeb Razor 2
The other new Skechers such as the Ride 7 and Run 6, except maybe the new GOmeb Razor 2 with its firmer midsole, have lower coverage "parametric" outsoles leading to a softer, maybe smoother and more consistent feel but less distinct responses. I prefer Forza's, new for Skechers full outsole and response. and particularly the full coverage heel. The combination of midsole and outsole is quite stiff, fortunately decently mitigated by the significant rocker sole geometry.
Dave: The triple density outsole is quite nice. It’s very smooth and doesn’t overly add weight to the shoe like you see in the dud (IMHO) newest New Balance 1080.  Reebok outsoles are looking a tad like the Forza 3 outsole as well, today.  I kinda like this new concept.  The Forza 3 doesn’t look like it has much grip, but it’s there.  I purposely got the shoe wet to see how it handled and I had no problems with it whatsoever.  Thinking the Forza 3 will hold up to some solid mileage in the 350 range.

Peter: Plenty of rubber, not so much weight. The Forza is certainly built for the long haul. Good grip, solid contact, smooth roll.

Derek: I was initially a bit wary of the full contact outsole, as they have to potential to make the ride rather harsh, or make the shoe excessively stiff. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t think about the outsole at all during my runs. I’ve had no issues with grip, though I did note small bits of dirt and pebbles have accumulated a little between the very narrow grooves of the outsole. 

Ride
Dave:  Outstanding.  The ride was an awesome run right out of the box-10 miles, feeling ever so smooth.  I was able to also run a nice Progression in this shoe and it performed well when stepping on the gas.  Again, the FlightGen really shines at higher paces.  For a neutral runner like myself, I had no problem with this being a stability shoe.  I can’t stress this enough to runners who may be just looking for a firmer ride.  This shoe is a workhorse and will easily be a favorite for your long runs.  I just can’t see the support becoming an issue or leading to hot spots from firm foam posting digging into you (because it wasn’t developed that way!)

Peter: A little firm for me, but I think it will start to open up as the miles accumulate. The firmness means that there’s very little energy lost in the ground contact and through the stride. If you like a nice, firm ride that’s pretty forgiving this shoe is a treat. I’ll report back after a few more runs.

Derek: The ride is incredibly smooth and consistent, and the rocker design works well here to provide a good transition. I don’t notice the firmer medial side midsole at all during the run, which is always a good thing. I liked this shoe more for daily moderate pace runs than anything very slow. It handles pace injections very well, and feels lighter than its weight suggests on the run. 
I think for the slow recovery runs, I would prefer something a little softer underfoot like the Ride 7. Although the ride of the Forza3 is on the firmer side, there is plenty of vibration dampening in this shoe. In retrospect, the snug feel around the navicular in this shoe could be a deliberate stability feature to prevent early stage over-pronation.
Sam: The ride is firmer and more responsive than other Skechers to date for me except the Razor. I have run varying distances and paces and always experienced a lively directed ride with cushioning on the somewhat firmer side. While I appreciate the soft Skechers forefoot feel of the Ride 7 and Run 6, as a heel striker those Skechers heels while not super soft often seem to have a landing "thunk" to them on the run for me, not a bottoming out, but a lack of pop. The Forza goes to a 6mm drop, and I think in combination with the full contact outsole, and the varying densities of FlightGEN, gets rid of the "thunk" while also providing a stable ride yet at the same time and this without forcing the stability, or making it noticeable as many even "light stability" shoes do, There is no sense of a medial "post" just a sense of firmer stable support towards the rear of the shoe so this neutral runner has had no issues at all with the stability features here and I think many shouldn't either. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dave:  Whether you fall into the neutral category and want a shoe with a firmer ride, or you are a pronator, the Forza 3 is the go to.  It is hands down one of the best trainers out there right now in both categories and is perfect for your half marathon and marathon training.  Newer runners may like the mix of cush and snappyness via FlightGen, with a little support to make mile after mile feel confident.  Seasoned vets will like how for a stability shoe, you can still get out there and cruise.  General aerobic miles, long runs with some marathon pace work and even longer tempos will be my choice for the Forza 3.  Outstanding job by the team at Skechers Performance.  Still think Skechers shouldn't be in the run game?  Well you were late to the party and you’re now very very late.  Get a pair and see for yourself.

Peter: A solid buy here. It’s a nice, firm daily trainer that’s good for any sort of workout. For me it lacks the magic of the Ride 7, but it’s a totally solid choice. I think it will be great for heavier runners and for runners who want to feel a little more shoe under their feet. It’s in the Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride category in many ways, but is considerably lighter.

Derek: This is probably the best feeling stability shoe I’ve ever used. The ride is firm and stable, and incredibly smooth, without being jarring. I think it would work well for moderate pace runs even for neutral runners. I personally prefer a slightly softer forefoot but the heel firmness is fine. In many ways, it is similar to, but somehow works better than, the likes of the Brooks Launch and Saucony Ride. Fans of the Nike Lunarepic, and the older Lunarglide 5, will appreciate the same smooth uniform underfoot feel of the Forza3 here.

Sam: The Forza with its tri density midsole moulding without sharp transitions in feel is the least "stability" feeling shoe I have ever run. Forza 3 is for me the "performance" daily trainer in the 2018 Skechers line up.  It has a firmer, more dynamic ride than the similar weight Ride 7, which while highly cushioned, is less responsive and softer overall so a choice for me for easy miles and recovery, with the stock soft sock liner out.

The Forza 3 is a great option for any runner, neutral or stability oriented, seeking a light stable daily trainer for faster long tempos, speed work, and even daily miles- if you prefer a somewhat supportive firmer ride, are a heel striker or heavier runner.  Fans of stability shoes seeking a less overt, more seamless dose of serious support will be delighted with the Forza 3

Dave’s Score = 9.75/10
-.25 for runners with narrow feet.  Had to really pull on the laces to get a secure fit the way I like it.  The “throat” is too wide for me and I find a tad too much room in the toebox for my foot.  Runners with an average to wider foot, will be just fine!
Peter’s Score: 9/10
Solid for me, but not transcendent. I’m still getting used to the ride of it. 
-.50 for overall firmness
Derek’s Score: 9/10
-0.5 for slightly narrow fit around navicular. 
-0.5 I prefer a slightly softer forefoot in a daily trainer
Otherwise a very solid stability trainer here.
Sam's Score: 9.75/10
-0.25 for flex stiffness and forefoot firmness. A touch less of both would perfect the Forza.
And LeeRoy's Score...?
Comparisons
Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Forza 2
Dave:  Forza 3 for the win.  You know what the beautiful thing about Skechers Performance is?  Year after year, while other companies struggle to put solid product out, Skechers just keeps on getting better and better.  How high is the bar?  Forza 2 was a fine shoe, but durability issues plagued the shoe as the 5GEN compound for me lost it’s “zap” after a while.  The posting (even though full length in Forza 2) dug into my arch and here the support underfoot is seamless.  Forza 2 had durability issues with the outsole coming apart (I sold a crap ton at expos and caught a few defects)  - - but the Forza 3, with the full rubber outsole will be just fine!  An outstanding update.

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Brooks Adrenaline
Dave:  Do you want the future of stability or a shoe that tells you where to go?  Never understood the Adrenaline.  Forza 3 all day.

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Brooks Ravenna 9 (RTR review)
Dave:  Here is an interesting debate, because I truly believe both for 2018 are the future of stability.  I had epic runs in both...and as a neutral runner, both were completely safe for me.  I’ll go with Forza 3 here, because FlightGen trumps BioMogoDNA for reals.  But don’t sleep on the Ravenna 9.  One of my top 5 “way to early of 2018” picks (coming soon!!)  It’s a sleeper.  Like the cinderella team of March Madness.

Derek: I only ever used the Ravenna 5, but I find the Forza 3 and Ravenna 5 to have similar durometer, with the Forza getting the edge for smoother transition. Otherwise both shoes are excellent executions of stability trainers that are versatile over a fairly good range of paces, without being overbearing on the stability elements.

Sam: The Ravenna has more noticeable rear medial support from its distinct but not over done post. I say noticeable as it it there in the Forza 3 as firmer medial side but just not felt as distinctly or even at all. The Ravenna has a 10mm drop while the Forza has 6mm and I do notice the extra rear cushion in the Ravenna.   Upfront the Ravenna is notably softer and more flexible and not quite as responsive, while the Forza 3 is stiffer, and despite this, snappier in transition and take off I think due to the rocker. For high performance up tempo running with stability the Forza 3. For use as an all around daily trainer with some support, Ravenna. 

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Go Run Ride 7  (RTR review)

Watch our YouTube Comparison of GOrun Forza 3 to GOrun Ride 7


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Peter: Both of these shoes have great comfortable uppers and are really enjoyable to run in. The Ride 7 is the free spirited, fun teenager of the line and the Forza is the slightly more sedate and firmer older sibling. They’re both really good—preference will depend on whether you want a firmer, more traditional ride with a little support (Forza) or a softer landing with a  bit more bounce (Ride 7).

Sam: The Ride 7 is the neutral cousin sharing weight and heel to toe drop with the Forza 3 with 1mm more overall stack, and in the mix less outsole coverage. It is a considerably softer shoe than the Forza and is more flexible. I found the softness with the included sock liner somewhat ponderous on the run at slower paces. Removing the sock liner, one can run on the finished foot bed or insert a thinner spare sock liner, improved the performance considerably, but... made the fit more problematic. The Forza, firmer and more supportive underfoot and more decisive at all paces was a better overall and more versatile choice for me by a small margin.

Derek: Forza 3 has the more ventilated upper, and has the firmer, more stable ride, while the Ride 7 is significantly softer but has a thicker and more snug-feeling upper. The soft midsole of the Ride 7 requires a very neutral gait, so you need any stability at all, I would lean toward the Forza 3.

Dave: The major difference for me between Forza 3 and Ride 7 is you'll get a firmer, more directed heel to toe transition in Forza 3.  That combined with FlightGen gives a overall firmer ride, whereas without the guidance full length posting in Ride 7 (as in Forza 3), you will have a softer and smoother Ride, but not lacking the essential snap.

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. adidas Tempo 9 (RTR review)
Sam: The Tempo 9 goes about its light stability in a more "complicated" and cobbled together fashion than Forza: an EVA layer above the bouncy Boost midsole, plastic Torsion elements at mid foot and forefoot, and a thin vertical medial stabilizing layer at mid foot. With this its ride is not as seamless as the Forza's molded in layers. This said Tempo is a slightly more agile, faster shoe. As for uppers, no contest, the Forza 3's is far more comfortable and polished while the Tempo's is quite frankly crude and narrow but nonetheless has a good performance oriented foot hold while Forza's is more relaxed and training oriented.

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Saucony Liberty ISO (RTR review)
Sam: Much as with the Tempo ,the Liberty provides an element of stability by an add on plastic side wall and a more continuous outsole than its wilder cousin Freedom. The bouncy Everun in the Liberty ISO midsole needs some taming and here it is done quite lightly making Liberty more a somewhat supportive neutral shoe than a stability shoe. As with the Tempo, if some light to moderate stability is in order Forza accomplishes this in a more seamless and elegant fashion.

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Under Armour HOVR Sonic (RTR review)
Peter: These two are in the same zone for me. The Sonic is neutral and a tiny bit less firm. I love the upper on the Sonic, but if you need a little more stability/guidance, the Forza is the pick.
Sam: I concur with Peter but feel the Forza is for sure firmer than the HOVR, which is definitely neutral focused through and through despite its firm EVA sidewalls carrying the soft HOVR core, with Forza somewhat more responsive and stiffer as well in the forefoot. 

Skechers Performance Go Run Forza 3 vs. Nike Lunarglide 8
Derek: I think the Forza has the more breathable upper and the roomier toe-box. Both shoes are subtle in the stability department, though I find the Forza 3 to have the smoother transitions and the more enjoyable ride. Lunarglide 8 feels a little bit dead by comparison. I prefer the Forza 3.
Reviewer Bios
Peter Stuart is a late 40's avid LA based runner with recent sub 3 hour marathons and sub 1:25 halves.
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running and shoe geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half.
Dave Ames is the Founder and Head Coach of Ame For It Run Coaching, a nationwide run coaching business, training athletes of all ability levels from 5K to Marathon.
Derek Li is a family physician who lives in Singapore. He has been running marathons for the past four years with a 2017 marathon PR of 2:41 and a 2018 1:17 half marathon PR. Derek is focusing on  a bid to run all the World Marathon Majors. In his free time, he likes to review running shoes and related products at his blog Running Commentary.

Photo Credit: Dave Ames
The Forza 3 was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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12 comments:

Paul said...

Thanks for the in-depth review. It sounds like at least one of you thinks the Forza is a better choice for a wider foot than the Ride 7. Is that the general consensus? What about if the sockliner is removed from the Ride 7? Thanks.

sam winebaum said...

Paul,
Width about the same for me. Taking out the stock liner in the Ride will give you a bit more toe height. Sam,Editor

sam winebaum said...

Paul,
Width about the same for me despite different mesh. Taking out stock liner in Ride will give you a bit more toe height. Sam, Editor
Sam,

Anonymous said...

Sam how do you like the Forza and Ride compared to the Hoka Mach?

sam winebaum said...

The Mach is lighter by over and ounce and about as firm as the Forza and a faster more shoe. The Ride is softer, bouncier and not quite the stable platform of the other two. Depending on uses...Mach over the 2 Skechers for faster paces or racing as I like a bit of stability. Ride for easier training. Forza for tempo if already tired. Sam, Editor

Kip Count said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
demian sims said...

Hey Guys,

Great review. How's the road feel on this shoe? I tried to like the GoRun Ride 7's but it's still to marshmelllow for me and for someone like me who has mild pronation, it's too much and caused some flair up of peroneal Tendinitis in my left ankle.

I love the road feel of shoes like Boston 6 or even the Mach (got blisters with these). Does the Forza has this especially in the forefoot? As a heavier runner, I really need to know what my feet are doing in relation to ground. Since I run in the Boston 6 for speed work, should I keep it Adidas and go with the Tempo 9?

Thanks,
D

sam winebaum said...

HI demian,
Take the sockliner out of the Ride and try it that way or put a thin one in. It gets somewhat more stable and firmer I found by doing this. Forza is firmer and more stable but without the post feel of control shoes. The Forza has a similar fit for me to Ride but a bit lower over the toes mainly I think as the knit is denser more reinforced than Ride's but after a few runs molds to the foot. Tempo 9 has a snugger lower volume upper especially upfront than Ride or Forza and is more stable than Boston for sure but not overwhelmingly so. You will feel the ground in both the Tempo and Forza more than in Ride.
Tempo 9 review is at the index page below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links to all shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun 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

demian sims said...

Hey Sam,
How would you compare the Arahi to the Forza 3?

demian sims said...

I'm almost 100% onboard with this shoe and may run in it for the NYC Marathon (I'm not a -4 runner). Can anyone recommend a replacement insole that might have a slight softer heal and also make the shoe a bit more snug? I have bad luck with shoes and sizing somewhere between 10.5 and 11. It's not terrible but I feel I need to really lock down the laces to get a nice ankle lock and snug upper.

demian sims said...

So after going for a long run in these today, these are keepers. At first the firmness is very apparent but then you're so glad it's there as the miles mile up. You can really dig into them as you're body tires. The rocker really helps propel you forward and the shoes are so stable yet light. Bravo, Sketchers!

sam winebaum said...

Hi demian,
Glad you like them and agree. Thanks for commenting! Firmer but fair and as you say the support as the miles pile up outweigh that as a softer midsole of the same material such as in Ride 7 can get wobbly and tiring while early on in a run it is more "fun" to run.
Sam, Editor