Thursday, October 25, 2018

Salomon Running Predict RA Review: Top to Bottom Designed for the Foot in Motion and Comfort

Article by Sam Winebaum


Salomon Predict RA ($160)
Introduction
The Predict RA is brand new, light approximately 9.4oz/266 g well cushioned trainer incorporating, top to bottom, upper to outsole, a carefully considered biomechanical design which allows the foot to follow its natural movements and this for a variety of foot shapes, strike types and paces. We think its best use is as a moderate pace daily trainer.
The upper, midsole, and outsole are designed to follow those foot movements even incorporating flex grooves mirroring the outsole’s just under foot in the midsole. There are ten platforms of support corresponding to the bones in the foot, all decoupled by the grooves on both sides of the sole so the shoe can adapt to the runner's foot strike type and motion.  

Heather Pieraldi of Salomon presents the design and construction of the Predict
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The ride is on the soft, flexible and easy side and is softer than any prior Salomon, yet with very adequate stability from the full coverage outsole. There is a distinct sense of a smooth transition and a particularly proprioceptive yet well cushioned but softer forefoot feel. You can really feel those individual pads and sections upfront working with the foot in motion. The fit is also a departure for Salomon, no trail shoe straight jacket here. The upper is very roomy toe to heel yet is adequately secure if not a “performance fit”. They are so comfortable that I have literally not had them off my feet since Salomon sent them.
The low rear heel counter and soft, lightly padded and slightly stretchy single piece molded rear area and plentiful room make them among the most comfortable of any shoes I have ever worn running or otherwise. Not to worry while this shoe can join you 24/7. I think its subtle classy looks “dress up” well although they are first and foremost a serious running shoe.


The Predict RA was designed from the ground up as a road shoe. Salomon’s earlier Sonic shoes were really adapted trail shoes and even the more road focused 2017-2018 Running Avenue Sonic RA models, while incorporating road focused features and some of the biomechanical principles seen here were firmer and very supportive, reminding of more “traditional” run shoes. They were a jumping off point on the way to Predict RA.
Women's Color Way
The Predict RA does draw on Salomon’s expertise in materials and manufacturing (Contagrip outsole rubbers, Energy Cell+ midsole foams, and Sensi Fit type upper design) but was designed from the ground up as a road running shoe. The team includes Simon Bartold, a world renowned sports podiatrist long involved in road running shoe design, Heather Pieraldi Salomon Director of Road Running with long experience in upper design and manufacturing, Brent James, Product Manager Road Running, and Marlene Giandolini Salomon’s Biomechanics Product Manager Road Running and lab director.


During two initial seasons where some of Simon’s bio mechanical design concepts were tested in Running Avenue, in particular decoupling of the geometry to ease transitions and toe offs via outsole design, and the introduction of Vibe Opal tibial vibration reduction inserts which came from Marlene’s work, development proceeded towards the Predict, a completely clean slate to bring to life the most recent research and Simon and Salomon’s decades of bio mechanical and shoe design knowhow into a shoe that can adapt to the runner. The concept according to Salomon is to try to reduce stress on the hips and knees by recognizing and designing to anatomy, foot function, and gait biomechanics, breaking away from traditional design and the trap of focusing on “cushion and control”. 

Simon Bartold and Marlene Giandolini present the science behind the Predict
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Five rounds of testing in Salomon's internal lab to measure the effects of the shoe on joint load were conducted. The testing showed an average reduction of frontal plane knee torque of 12% in the 24 subjects, such torque can be a cause of knee pain and injuries, and a reduction of 4% in sub talar knee joint eversion, so less pronation when compared to non Salomon neutral shoes measured in the testing (see Salomon Soorts Science video here). And this despite the Predict being a quite flexible more neutral oriented shoe.  

For our part we tested the Predict on the road and came away very satisfied, Read on for the details.



Stats
Official Weight: 9.1oz/258 g (US M9), 7.7oz/218 g (US W7)
Sample Weight:  9.13oz /259 g US 8.5. Approx. 9.4 oz/266 g US M9
Stack Height: 25mm/17mm, 8mm drop
$160. Limited release USA only Nov.1, 2018. Full global release Feb. 1, 2019
Upper and Fit
The Predict fits me true to size with heavier socks. This is a high volume shoe all around so those with low volume feet may want to size down a half size. I would in a next pair to be able to wear thinner socks and I rarely size down.
If you want the performance snug fit of most all other Salomon, including the recent Road Avenue Sonic RA models, you won’t find it here. If you are a fan of Altra and Topo in particular or have a wider foot you could be at home. I also think the Predict will accommodate orthotics and other inserts without issues. All of this said... Salomon tells us the last is the same as on the “snugger” Sonic RA line. The new upper is what they call the 360 degree upper and the articulations in it which should make it fit more runners.
The upper is made of various densities of fairly conventional mesh, no knits and such here. The forefoot has a very soft, very pliable mesh with plenty of toe overhead room and width.

The toe bumper is high and is firmer right up front and then softens to the sides. I had zero issues with upper or toe bumper pressures anywhere. This toe box is considerably more accommodating than the Sonic RA which had a narrower more performance oriented fit which I also found to be fine for my foot.
The midfoot is the same mesh but backed by underlays (white) which wrap the foot with straps similar to Saucony’s ISOFit but here the bands are all stouter and provide more structure and support due to their underlays.
While the more open mesh areas of the midfoot between the white underlays appear to be of the same mesh as the forefoot, they seem to be coated with some glue to give the mid foot more structure and to make them more of a whole with the underlay backed straps.


The fit is not snug per say and neither is it to loose and soft as many ISOFit uppers such as the competing Ride have, particularly just around the lace up. The support design is integral to the movement and flex of the foot in motion and to the rest of the design.


The tongue is a single piece of molded material and very effectively pads and stabilizes the thick sausage like laces. 

The tongue foam was selected to resist compression better than the usual materials in a tongue. The laces were clearly selected to wrap the side wings over the foot. There is no bootie here, unlike many Salomon with their trademark EndoFit booties. None is really needed but in a lighter more performance variant it might be a good idea.
As illustrated in the photos above, we can see how the omission of the white underlay corresponds to the front flex grooves in the midsole with the lateral side (top photo) having a less dense pattern of overlays especially around the metatarsals than for the lower shoe which is the medial side. One can see also  that there are three flex grooves on the medial side for more support and four on the lateral side for easier release and toe off. The 360 degree articulated design is effective as one can clearly feel the foot moving through the gait without undue interference from the upper with some early support and stability at the heel then a slight roll on the lateral then toe off.


These upper flex areas also correspond to the flex areas in the outsole and then to flex areas in the top of the midsole underfoot. All of this works brilliantly in motion. There is no sense the upper is in the way of the foot in motion up front although as stated above the shoe has more of a comfort fit than performance fit. I do think its volume could be somewhat reduced.
The rear of the upper is single molded piece and is very soft, somewhat suede like in outer feel and slightly stretchy. It was manufactured in a process very similar to bra cups. 
So far it has not gotten unduly scuffed. Not exactly a stretch snug cuff more a gentle yet decently secure hold. The whole rear of the shoe is incredibly comfortable on the run and apres! The soft molded heel construction compliments the grooves in the midsole and is designed to hug the foot and support it without restrictions. It is a 360 degree approach that is intended to hug and support the foot without restrictions and to work with the body and not against it according to Salomon. We agree.
The actual plastic heel counter is on the low side as It ends just above the S above but this is also a bit of an optical illusion as the foot sits down in the rear midsole walls down to the shadowed crease above on the midsole. As the midsole foam is soft and the upper broad and adaptable we felt no pressure from the sidewalls which extend forward about to mid foot. Bottom line though the collar for the ankle and achilles is quite high but soft.
The rear upswept tab and top half inch or so of the collar has no padding and is very soft and easy on the achilles. The hold below the achilles tab to the sides is good enough but I would wish for a touch denser padding in the area above the S, more like the Sonic RA series but not quite as firm.
Unlike many such soft ankle and most “knit” collars the hold to the rear of lace up is more than adequate if gentle. The mesh lining the collars is among the softest and easiest on the foot of any and along with the easy pull on make the Predict’s upper one heck of a comfortable all day shoe as well as of course comfortable run shoe.. and that’s before we even get to the underfoot feel.


Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is a single density compression molded Salomon Energy Cell + EVA foam. I find it remarkably bouncy for a compressed EVA midsole, much more so than the earlier Sonic RA models and typical compressed midsoles. Maybe it is less dense as the shoe is light for the cushion provided.
The midsole and outsole are clearly one integrated design in this shoe despite of course being made of different materials.
The lateral side (top shoe above) has four deep grooves in the side walls and across the bottom of the shoe with the medial side having three. One feels a touch of support but no posts on the medial side then an easier softer release on the lateral side coming from the midsole  design.
Most, but not all, of the midsole bottom flex grooves and decoupling lines are mirrored just below the foot bed. 

This approach gives a consistent bio mechanically sound flex, flow and feel all the way through the midsole when in motion through the ten platforms of support and the grooves corresponding to the foot bones and foot motion.


Salomon calls this approach Mirror Articulation or “the pattern of decoupling that is inspired by the foot, its articulating joints and its biomechanical function.”



There are no “dead areas” in transition, no interruptions in flow but as stated above this is a relatively soft midsole foam, yet it is backed by extensive firmer rubber especially at the heel.


Outsole
Yes we have Salomon’s famous durable, grippy Contgrip. The red triangle tells us this!
The outsole has two densities of rubber: firmer light gray at the rear, softer forward of that. The ten areas of the outsole correspond to the bones of the foot with grooves providing the flexibility and decoupling to follow the foot in motion.
The rear light light gray areas are moderately firm with plenty of thickness despite the light overall weight of the Predict.
I do notice that while the medial side (top above) of firmer rubber is bulged out even if it is shorter than the firmer rubber on the lateral side, Usually firmer rubber would be on the medial side. The system works well as there is plenty of heel stability without resorting to “pronation control” although on the run one does feel that extra medial width of platform but overall the feel here is of a neutral shoe. Those used to extensive pronation control will have to comment on its performance for them but for me who usually runs neutral shoes with a stable heel Predict is just about right is just about right for me with my only comment that the medial bulge could be tuned down a touch


The front rubber is softer and the wavy outsole pattern likely deflects as pressures are applied to provide the quiet ride of the Predict, way quieter than the stiffer prior Sonic RA models which were quite slappy. I do find the forefoot a bit thin and soft as there is only 17mm of forefoot stack here. I wonder what taking 2 mm of heel stack, thus reducing drop to 6mm and putting it up front would do or slightly firming up the outsole rubber or making the bars less deflecting.
The shoe would yet more flexible but for the webs connecting the outsole pods. The webs by connecting and stretching slightly on flex seem to provide some snap to the toe off. Hand flexing the shoe I can clearly feel this snap. Without them I bet the deep grooves and soft rubber would be mushier and less snappy on toe off.  A touch more firmness up front might help with response as while the design is clearly able to respond and pop the feel is quite soft ,so more a cruising shoe than a fast shoe but it does feel smooth as the pace picks up.


Ride
The ride is easy going and smooth with an fairly soft forefoot feel and a distinct sense of the foot working in concert with the shoe. The foot always feels in contact with the road and flowing forward. The heel is stable and well cushioned but not as soft feeling as the forefoot although this is not a firm or harsh heel by any means. The Predict is very enjoyable at moderate paces.  It is a touch heel firm if one lingers on the medial rubber and bulge at very slow paces and a bit less directed and locked down at fast paces due to its upper volume for me. The proceiption provided by the front part of the shoe, those midsole and outsole grooves and the decoupling lines had me very aware, in a good way, of my landings and take offs. There was something special as the foot worked its way forward through the gait with no impediments from upper, midsole, and outsole. Salomon calls this approach Mirror Decoupling where the goal is to minimize the movement not in the movement plane and maximize movement in the movement plane.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The Predict is very, very comfortable top to bottom and relatively spacious. Its volume should make it a great choice for higher volume feet and those seeking a roomy upper with good foot hold. Overall I see it as a very solid light, natural feeling daily trainer with softer cushion and good stability from the extensive outsole coverage. There is no “fancy new foam” or exotic material upper here but there is incredibly careful attention to biomechanical design based on the anatomy of the foot and running dynamics.They are fun to run, smooth, flowy with always a full contact on the road and easy on the legs, if not exactly rocket ships. Their subtle good looks and overall comfort can take them from runs to anything else with ease.
Score: 9.8/10
-0.05 for over spacious upper volume for my foot requiring heavy socks at true to size. Are the mid foot straps to rigid?
-0.1 for softish thin forefoot. A touch more cushion stack, snap and response would be welcome
-0.05 for price. While the low weight for the cushion, innvoative biomechancially sound design ,the overall substance, and quality workmanship is commendable there are no apparently pricey materials or elaborate manufacturing challenges apparent.

Women's Colors


Comparisons
Reebok Sweet Road 2 (RTR review)
At about 0.3 oz more and $60 less, the ride of the Sweet Road is the closest comparison The Sweet Road also has a soft yet stable forefoot and a stable firmer heel. The Sweet Road’s heel is somewhat firmer overall and less consistent in feel. It’s forefoot is less articulated but a bit more dynamic. The Sweet Road’s simple upper fits me perfectly at true to size and is softly comfortable yet supportive. The Predict is more suitable as a daily trainer while the Sweet Road leans towards performance training despite weighing a touch more.
Saucony Ride ISO (RTR review)
Slightly heavier with 2mm more cushion front and back the Ride ISO provides a somewhat faster, livelier ride than Predict but its accommodating soft upper lacks the lace up area support of the Predict as the ISOFit bands are just not substantial enough or as effective as the Predict’s similar system. The Ride upper and lower just don’t mesh and articulate as well as Predict. Overall the Predict will better accommodate a wider variety of foot shapes
Nike Epic Nike Zoom Epic React (RTR review)
1.5 oz and noticeably lighter the Epic React just doesn’t do it for me. The upper midsole combination, particularly at mid foot is for sure not articulated as the Salomon’s is, and actually gets in the way of my transition and overall the ride is dull and stilted in comparison to Predict.
NIke Pegasus Turbo (RTR review)
Nike’s Zoom X foam is the silkiest smoothest running foam out there and contributes to a bit more than an ounce lighter weight than Predict and $20 more at the cash register.. The combination of Zoom X and React in the Turbo works quite well but it seems Nike didn’t put nearly as much biomechanical design effort into the shoe as Salomon did from the plasticky upper and visually stunning but annoying Racing Stripe up front and very narrow unstable rear heel landing. Yes a bit more exciting and fun to run than Predict but not for everyone and not as solid a choice for most for daily training that is not boring.
Brooks Ghost 11 (RTR review)
Basically take the Predict and add 4mm more heel stack and you have the Ghost. The Ghost heel feels high for sure and with the new DNA Loft is now also more softly cushioned than before. The transitions as a result while fine are just not as silky smooth as Predict’s but the ride overall is a touch more forgiving if not quite as much fun. The Ghost’s upper is snug and taut, does the job very well and is a touch more supportive but is not as comfortable or accommodating as the Predict’s almost any foot friendly upper.
Salomon Sonic RA and RA Max (RTR review)
Firmer, snugger, noisier on the road the Sonic RA’s are somewhat more responsive and more stable with a more traditional overall ride. The Predict is softer, easier transitioning leaning more towards every day trainer for most.
Skechers Performance Ride 7 (RTR review)
Weighing about the same there is clearly more cushion and livelier cushion in the popular Ride 7 and at a cost a very significant $65 less than Predict. I would call both fairly soft shoes. Where the Ride starts to fall down for me is in its forefoot stability and toe off feel and control which doesn’t hold a candle to the Predict’s bio mechanically sound design. The Ride 7 is a good choice for lighter efficient runners with good form, the Predict for the rest of us.
Hoka One One Clifton 5 (RTR review)
Take the very popular Clifton, shrink the midsole stack (7mm less in the forefoot, 2 mm less in the heel), and give it a non rockered more flexible midsole and you get close to the Predict. The Predict is…more predictable, less fatiguing as the miles go by and while on the soft side, more stable, with a superior upper, and is a better choice for heel strikers such as me where the Clifton’s soft beveled heel and thinner rubber is not a good combination especially run slow for me and  while improved it is still not the most stable. As stated above, the Predict’s forefoot is a bit thin and could use more but of not all of the Clifton’s front cush.
Available Nov 1, 2019 at the stores below, USA only
General release February 2019
NYC Marathon Expo
Reno Running Company – Reno, Nev.
TC Running Company – Minneapolis
San Francisco Running Co – Mill Valley, Calif.
Shoes and Brews – Longmont, Colo.
Marathon Sports – Boston
Gazelle Sports – Grand Rapids, Mich.
Salt Lake Running Company – Salt Lake City
Footzone – Bend, Ore.
Fleet Feet Sports – Rochester/Buffalo, N.Y.
Salomon Brand Store – Salt Lake City
Online
Running Warehouse – San Louis Obispo, Calif.
The product reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments Questions Welcome Below!
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24 comments:

Thomas D Compton said...

Hey Sam. Stocked to try this shoe. Could you reach out to Salomon and ask about a shoe they had posted on their web site. I saw a S Lab Mesh cz trail runner. Looks like a similar upper to the new road shoe. Want to know if it will be released in the us.

Thanks. Keep up the great reporting.

Tom

kiwirevo said...

If lower volume feet should size down, how's the length?

sam winebaum said...

Hi Kiwivero,
The length seems true to size and not excessive so one would have to try on to be sure. The other option as I am doing now is to use a somewhat heavier sock at true to size.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth 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!

Bobcat said...

Thomas, I think the shoe you are thinking of is the SZ LTD EDITION.
As the name suggests, it's a limited edition made to commemorate the Sierre-Zinal trail race and were only made available in Switzerland. So no way you can get in the US, and if want ME:SH shoes you will have to go to France. Not sure how successful ME:SH shoes have been and whether Salomon will be roll them out internationally...

Thomas D Compton said...

Thanks!

CHiEZ said...

How's the size compare to S-Lab Ultra?

Anonymous said...

hi
this is one the best running shoes review sites ive seen. it should be near the top when you google search. i like how you go in depth and not just post a short review.

im looking for running shoes that will be used for walking. what would be your top 5 or 10?

i have these in mind, what do you think?

brooks ghost 11
brooks glycerin 16
saucony ride 10
saucony kinvara 9
cumulus 20
brooks launch 4 or 5
any other saucony?

kiwirevo said...

Thanks Sam, how is the foot hold on sustained down hill. I'm struggling with a bit of slide forward in the beacons.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Chiez,
Compared to 2018 S/Lab Ultra length is about the same BUT toe box width and volume of Predict RA is greater. In particular there is adequate side width up front on the sides where the Ultra was very narrow for me. Overall the Predict is a higher volume shoe for me with a more relaxed fit than any other Salomon road or trail I have run
Sam, Editor

sam winebaum said...

Hi Kiwivero,
No sustained long downhills yet. The upper on Predict is less stretchy than Beacon so expect less stretch and maybe slide forward but is fairly high volume overall.
Sam, Editor

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
A fine list of walking shoes to which I would add this new Predict RA for sure, Saucony Triumph ISO, Skechers Max Road and Hoka Bondi. As for your list I would select the Brooks Ghost or Glycerin first then Cumulus 20 if you want a bit more stability.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

sam winebaum,

which version of the saucony triumph iso is the best for walking?

Anonymous said...

same winebaum,

also thinking about new balance shoes.
890v6 and 880v7, these good for walking.
any other nb shoes good for walking? thx.

Anonymous said...

sam winebaum,

ok i just realized that some of the shoes i listed have a 12mm heel, not something im used to wearing.

will have to do some more research lol.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
NB 880 a great choice for walking. 890 not so much as stiff. Also look at Topo Ultraventure review here: https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2018/09/topo-athletic-ultraventure-initial.html
Well cushioned. Quite flexible. Good grip on all surfaces.
All our reviews are below, 100's of them!
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth 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!

Anonymous said...

sam winebaum,

ive been reading more of your reviews and im leaning towards a pair of sauconys and narrowed it down to these 5, which are most suitable for walking?

triumph iso 5
ride iso (there is an issue with the lacing system?)
zealot iso 3
ride 10
kinvara 9 (these might be too racer oriented?)

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
My pick for walking would be the Triumph ISO 5. The Ride ISO's lacing issue would not effect walking I think as it is only noticed running when the pace picks up, a lack of support at lace up.
Sam, Editor

Thomas D Compton said...

Sam, Reno running got their shipment. I tried it on in a half size smaller than my normal length. The ankle collar rubbed and the heel felt loose. Does that get better?

harris said...

Sam got the shoe today the first one sold. Did 6 miles on it total and love it. Just wondering with all the biomechanics in it and the relationship to the bones in the foot does one even need orthotics? I ran today with my orthotics and felt great but does the orthotics mess with the biomechanics in the shoe? I am going to try tomorrow without orthotics to see. Great review thanks for the great work you do. Oh are you going to have some of your other testing crew try it out?

sam winebaum said...

Hi Harris,
Thanks for the kind words about RTR! We're going to keep at it!Were you the lucky first at the NYC Expo? Glad you like them. A very special new shoe. Not a speedster per say but I truly believe Salomon went all out to design based on foot bio mechanics first and foremost. As for orthotics or not hard to tell as I do not know why you have them and am not an expert in their appropriateness. Quite frankly from what I hear from Simon Predict scientific designer who is a world renowned sports podiatrist they can be over prescribed as are motion control shoe. I might suggest easily running without to see but with caution initially. Pairs are very tight but we expect more testers come January closer to the full production release.
Sam, Editor

harris said...

Yes I was the first one to buy a pair got all the signatures on the box. The orthotics are to help with my over pronation on my right foot. This is due to the ankle being weak due to a number of sprains. I will give it s try without orthotics but with caution

Thomas D Compton said...

Sam, I purchased my normal running shoe size off the website last week. Reno Running had not got their order yet. I did get a call a couple of days later and went to the store to try them on. I sized down to an 11 which seemed ok. I was getting some ankle bite. Does the collar get more comfortable?

Thanks as always.

Tom

sam winebaum said...

Hi Tom,
You must have sensitive ankles as I have zero bite! After all the rear design is either made in, or using the same process as bra cup construction so... In fact wish for a touch more support but only a touch. This said the collar is high so I would advise decently high socks.
Sam, Editor

Thomas D Compton said...

Sam, you were right. The shoes got delivered yesterday. I put my power plus insoles in and I can say the shoes moves naturally and is the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn.

Tom