Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Brooks Launch 6 Full Review: Steak and Potatoes for Launch

Article by Peter Stuart, Sally Reiley, and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Launch 6 ($100)
Reviewer Profiles
Sam is 61 with a 2018 Boston qualifier of 3:40 and 2017 1:35 half. He runs 35-40 miles a week with most training averaging 9:20 per mile. Sally is in her late 50's with a marathon PR of 3:29 (Boston 2017) and 44:04 10K PR. She peaks her training at around 50 miles per week with paces around 8:15. Peter is 51 and recently ran 3:00:14 at the California International Marathon and has a half PR under 1:25.

Sam: The Launch is the Brooks up tempo and longer race shoe. It slots into the Energize collection. My Launch 6 sample checks in at exactly the same weight as the Launch 5 (RTR review) in my size US men's 8.5: 9.17 oz / 260 g, so about 9.4 oz in a size 9 with a women's size 8 at approximately 8.1 oz / 230 g.  It has a 10mm offset 

The primary changes to the Launch 6 are its new engineered mesh upper and added cushion in the forefoot. It comes in a very reasonable $100 and is available now.

Peter: The Launch 1 changed my life. No, really, it did. Way back when John Schrup used to write word poems about shoes he made the Brooks Launch sound like the greatest shoe ever made. It was simple, light and functional. To quote John Schrup from his open letter to Brooks to save the Launch when it faced discontinuation,  “There was a time when we joked that we could open up a store selling just the Launch.  We understood the brilliant, simple design, the functionality, the breadth of appeal. It is arguably the best shoe in decades.”.  

Ok, Great, so how did that change my life? Well, long story short I made a pilgrimage to Rogue Running in Austin, bought a pair of Launches, liked them, started writing about shoes, occasionally trained with Rogue over the years (lured in by their ‘JFR’ campaign) and now I’ve moved to Austin where I train with Team Rogue. Enough about me--back to the Launch. The beauty of the Launch was that, at the time it came out (2010-11?) it was a rare breed. Light and cushioned--able to go fast or to go long--a good shoe for pretty much anyone. It was a gem.

In the passing years, lots of things have happened. One of them is that John Schrup doesn’t write about shoes as much--which is a shame--because when he does it’s still a delight. Another is that lots of shoes have come out that are in the same category as the OG Brooks Launch: Roughly 9 oz, decently cushioned and versatile as all get out. So how does the Launch 6 face up to all of the competition in this iteration? Read on to find out.

Brooks Running 2019 Previews: Adrenaline GTS 20, Ghost 12, Revel 3, PureBeat, Cascadia 14, Pure Grit 8

Article by Sam Winebaum with Shannon Payne and Peter Stuart

Brooks Running previewed updates to the best selling Adrenaline GTS and Ghost trainers, a slimmed down Revel, a major update to the Cascadia, an update to the Pure Grit and a new light run and workout shoe the PureBeat.
Watch our YouTube Preview 
Adrenaline GTS 20, Ghost 12, Pure Beat, and Cascadia 14

A key focus for Brooks was to highlight the pairing of the Ghost 12 (left below) and Adrenaline GTS 20 (right below).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Altra Running Timp 1.5 Review: A Maximal Trail Shoe with Distinctive Personality

Article by Dominick Layfield and Jeff Valliere

Altra Running Timp 1.5 ($130)

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  Wow. I didn’t think I was going to like the Timp.  Previous incarnations of the Lone Peak have provided enough rock protection and support for me to run hundred mile races in them, and I couldn’t imagine wanting much more.  High stack shoes often have stiff soles that remove much sensation of the ground underfoot Moreover, extra protective trail shoes often come with stiff “supportive” uppers that overly restrict the foot.  To my surprise and delight, the upper of the Timp is very soft and light, and the sole is flexible and compliant. Instead of being a whale, these shoes are a delight to run in.

Dom:  My sample pair felt a little large, but I assume this is deliberate given that the Timp is targeted more for long distance than cruising than for fast, high G-force efforts.  The spacious fit allows room for a little foot swell. But notably, cinching down the laces to take up extra midfoot space somehow doesn’t result in the uncomfortable squeezing that it does in some shoes.

Jeff:  I too was initially quite impressed with the Timp 1.5 as I took them out of the box and first tried them on.  The upper is very sleek and stylish, yet subtle grey with orange accents contrasting nicely. It feels lighter in the hand and especially lighter on the foot than it’s 11.5 oz. weight would imply.  Comfort/cushion feels amazing and the outsole looks very capable in a variety of terrain. Quality feels top notch with seemingly good protection and a protective toe bumper.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

ON Running 2019 Previews: Cloudswift and Cloudstratus

Article by Sam Winebaum with Peter Stuart and Shannon Payne

ON Running

I have been a huge fan of ON's "textile" capabilities. Textile technology, production and machinery has been a long time strength of Switzerland where ON is based. Their run apparel is spectacularly comfortable and functional. I am going on my third winter in their Running Pants and picked up their Lightweight Running Cap and stylish High Socks, featuring them in our 2018 Gift Guide here. Their shoe upper designs are modern and beautifully executed shoe after shoe.

Swiss Engineered ON run shoes with their distinct channel through CloudTec elements and stabilizing and propulsion Speedboard have not,  beyond the light and fast Cloud and Cloud X, really been to my liking over the years. With firm heels they are often stiff with the run feel kind of dull  I struggled to enjoy them. I have not run the more flexible Cloudflow though.

Well for 2019 ON has my attention with two new shoes: The Cloudswift, a daily faster trainer with a new midsole foam and the Cloudstratus, a heavier duty trainer with dual heel layers of CloudTec elements focused on maximum cushion and a stable ride.

Watch our YouTube as ON presents Cloudswift and Cloudstratus to RoadTrailRun

Friday, December 07, 2018

Reebok 2019 Previews: New Forever Floatride Energy! Updates: Float Ride Run 2.0, Grasse Road 2 ST, Harmony Road 3

Article by Sam Winebaum with Peter Stuart and Shannon Payne

Reebok was one of the big surprises at last year The Running Event, essentially relaunching the brand in the run game with a decent  trainer the Floatride Run and two spectacular up tempo and race shoes the Fast and Fast Pro.

Reebok is leaving great alone with the Fast and Fast Pro unchanged but for new colors, tunes up the Run, launches a light midsole foam Floatride Energy in a new shoe the Forever Floatride Energy and uses it to update their trainers Grasse Road (now a much more stability oriented model) and Harmony Road  (neutral).

Floatride Energy is an expanded pellet TPU (think Boost) foam that it said to be more responsive and springy and lighter than traditional EVA foams. The foam here is clearly not Boost (Reebok is owned by adidas but does its own thing from everything we can tell)  as the pellet grains seem much smaller and it appears lighter. It is also allows Reebok to offer "super foam" based shoes at a great price as Energy comes in at $100, Grasse Road at $120, and Harmony at $120.
Reebok presents 2019 in our YouTube below

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Topo Athletic Terraventure 2 Review: A Well Balanced Buffet of of stability, rock protection, and ground feel

Article by Dominick Layfield.

Topo Terrraventure 2
Stack height: 25 mm heel, 22 mm forefoot (3 mm drop)
Official weight: 10.8 oz / 306 g (US M9)  8.2 oz / 232 g (US W7)
Test sample (US M10) weighed 11.4 oz / 322 g
Price: $120. Available late November 2018

First Impressions
I thought this was a splendid-looking shoe, dressed in rich yellow with a fly red sole and black accents.  Beyond the bright and cheerful color, the exterior of the shoe is relatively plain, with overlays that match the egg-yolk color of the mesh.    

I’ve found in the past that Topo shoes fit my feet well, and I appreciate their functional design philosophy.  The Terraventure 2 was no different: as soon as I put them on they felt comfortable and familiar.

On the foot, the Terraventure 2 fits like other Topo shoes, with a relatively wide toe box, a snug midfoot, and modest (3 mm) heel-to-toe drop.  I recently tested the Ultraventure and the two shoes have a lot in common, in terms of shape, feel, construction, and style.The reader is advised to at least skim the RTR review of this shoe which may cover details not mentioned here.

In my experience, and echoed by most other reviewers, Topo shoes are consistently true-to-size.  The Terraventure 2 is no exception, and my US Mens 10 felt perfectly sized.

Topo shoes may not ideal for people with very narrow feet, nor excessively wide.   But for for most runners, I suspect Topo nails a happy middle ground. The wide toe box provides room for toe spread and good ground feel, but remains snug enough to avoid the shoe feeling sloppy.
In addition to the exuberant yellow colorway of our test pair, the Terraventure 2 is available in more muted olive and dark red colors for those who prefer to fly under the radar.

Structurally, the upper is very nicely designed.  The primary fabric is a relatively open mesh that strikes a nice balance between stretch and foot retention.  The overlays seem functional, rather than cosmetic.
As with the Ultraventure and Runventure, the principal structure of the heel counter is external, and also provides attachment points for Topo’s proprietary gaiters.  I discussed my experience with these in other reviews.  Briefly, I found they mostly worked well but putting them on in poor visibility or with numb fingers was definitely difficult.

The heel collar of the Terraventure 2 is overall a little lower than in the Ultraventure.  I prefer the Terraventure: the lower heel still grips well and makes the shoe feel more nimble.

The tongue is nicely padded and fully gusseted.  No minuses there. Similarly, the laces are a good thickness, easy to grip, the right length, and have just enough stretch to stay tied.
The signature characteristic of the Terraventure 2 is the rockplate embedded in the midsole.   As rockplates go, I think Topo’s implementation is highly competent. A perfect compromise is hard to titrate.  With too stiff a rockplate, a shoe can feel very dead, lacking sensation of the ground underfoot. A stiff rockplate can also make a shoe feel unstable and ‘tippy’, teetering on prominences. On the other hand, if a rockplate doesn’t provide enough protection, then it is worse than useless, making a shoe heavier and more expensive to construct, with no tangible benefit. (This was my feeling about the Altra Lone Peak 4.0.)
Caption: Topo Terraventure 2 (top) alongside its sibling, the Topo Ultraventure (bottom)

The rockplate in the Terraventure 2 gets the balance about right.  The shoe maintains good flexibility and ground feel, while providing decent rock protection.  My quibble, though -- and I appreciate this may a matter of taste -- is that I don’t really see the necessity of the rockplate in the first place.  Topo’s new Ultraventure shoe weighed 606 g (per pair US M10), and the Terraventure 2 644 g, so a difference of 19 g (0.67 oz) per shoe.   The Ultraventure doesn’t have a rockplate, but offers almost as much protection by virtue of extra forefoot stack height (25 mm vs 22 mm in Terraventure 2), and   In theory, stability ought to be better in the Terraventure 2; but in testing I found the difference to be slight.

Consequently, I’m left scratching my head to understand the role Topo envisage for the Terraventure 2.   The rock plate in Topo’s excellent Runventure 2 shoe makes sense as this lower, lighter shoe would otherwise be very lacking in protection.  But with the Terraventure 2, it’s hard not to observe that the Ultraventure offers similar performance at a lighter weight.
Caption: Outsole on Terraventure 2 (left) is almost identical to Ultraventure (right)

The outsole of the Terraventure 2 is made from Vibram XS Trek, and appears to be identical to the outsole of Topo’s Ultraventure shoe.   For the Ultraventure, all of RTR’s reviewers felt that outsole traction was excellent, including in the wet, and that mud/snow clearance was also very good.
I tested the red outsole of the Terraventure primarily in dry, dusty Southern California conditions, but also in the snow on a trip to Utah.  As expected grip was great, and durability looks promising.

The Terraventure 2 is an excellent trail shoe.  It serves up a well-balanced buffet of stability, rock protection, and ground feel.  Traction from the Vibram XS Trek outsole is outstanding. The refined upper is clean and functional, and provides excellent foot retention, comfort and breathability.  The overall shape of the shoe, in common with Topo’s other shoes, feels natural, following the anatomic form and leaving room for toe splay.

My only critique of the shoe is the weight.  In isolation, it’s another highly-competent offering from Topo.  But I can’t help but compare the Terraventure 2 to its sibling, the Topo Ultraventure, which offers a similar experience at a lighter weight.  My assumption is that the extra weight of the Terraventure is due to the rockplate embedded in the midsole.

Overall score:  9.7 / 10
  • This shoe does everything well, but weight is disappointing: It should be lighter than the Ultraventure, not heavier.

Comparisons (Links below are to our reviews)
Topo Terraventure 2 vs Topo Ultraventure
If you like rockplates, the Terraventure 2 has one; the Ultraventure does not.  Otherwise, the shoes are similar, with the Terraventure 2 having a slightly less supportive upper.  The Ultraventure has a higher stack (30/25 mm vs 25/22 mm) but surprisingly is lighter (606 g vs 644 g per pair, in US M10 sample shoes).  The Ultraventure has a softer, more cushioned heel, due to its compression molded insert there that is a little friendlier to heel strikers. Stability of Terraventure 2 is marginally better since it rides closer to the ground.  Personally, I’d give the nod to the Ultraventure.

Topo Terraventure 2 vs Topo Runventure 2
The Runventure 2 is lower, lighter, and feels like a more minimal shoe.  The Terraventure 2 is a better choice for longer runs or rougher terrain.

Topo Terraventure 2 vs Altra Lone Peak 4
Both have rockplates, but the one in the LP4 doesn’t provide much protection.  Stack height in LP4 is 25 mm front and rear; Terraventure 2 is lower at front (25/22 mm).  Both shoes tip the scales a little heavier than they should, at essentially the same weight (Sample pair of LP4 648 g, Terraventure 2 644 g).   Terraventure 2 a little firmer underfoot.

Topo Terraventure 2 vs Altra Superior 3.5
With its removable rockplate installed the Superior is surprisingly similar to the Terraventure both in weight (Superior 3.5 heavier by 10g per pair) and underfoot feel.  The Terraventure has better wet grip, and better foot retention (unless you downsize the Superior, which I think runs a little large). The removable rockplate of the Superior may be an attraction for some.

Topo Terraventure 2 vs Hoka Torrent
Stack height is almost identical.  I prefer the shape of the Terraventure 2, which is a better anatomical match for my foot.  The Terraventure also has the edge on rock protection. Grip from both shoes is excellent, and picking a winner would depend on precise usage scenario.   I prefer the lower heel collar of the Topo, and felt that the Torrent was overbuilt in this area. Torrent however, has a significant edge in weight: Torrent is 86 g (3 oz) lighter per pair, which would be a big factor if you plan to race in them.

Reviewer Bio

Dom Layfield  lives in Southern California after several years in Park City, UT.  He is an avid trail runner who likes to race. He holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT, and has worked as a researcher in orthopedic biomechanics. 
His 2017 achievements include first place in the dead of winter 2017 108-mile Spine Challenger race in the UK, breaking the course record by an hour, first place in the Quicksilver 100K in California, and 14th at the Western States Endurance Run. In 2018 he ran 2:46 at the Los Angeles Marathon, and then, coming back from foot surgery finished 50th at UTMB.

Photo Credit: Dominick Layfield
The Topo Terraventure 2 was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Comments Questions Welcome Below!
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Saucony 2019 Run Shoe Previews: Liberty ISO 2, Ride ISO 2 & Mad River TR

Article by Sam Winebaum with Shannon Payne and Peter Stuart
Saucony showed RoadTrailRun a substantial upgrade to the light stability Liberty ISO, an update to the Ride ISO, and a new customizable trail shoe, the Mad River TR, at the recent The Running Event.

Watch Saucony present the 2019 models here to RoadTrailRun in our YouTube below

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Altra Running 2019 Previews: Vanish-XC, Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush, Escalante 2, King MT 2, Tushar Hiker, Grafton and Wahweap Approach Shoes

Article by Sam Winebaum with Peter Stuart and Shannon Payne

Altra as always presented in detail and in depth at The Running Event. The season's preview was presented by Brian Beckstead, Altra co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer.
Watch our video preview here

Vanish-XC ($80)
Available May 2019
Weight: 5.5 oz
Stack Height: 15 mm

Monday, December 03, 2018

New Balance 2019 Previews: Fuel Cell Rebel, Fresh Foam More, Fresh Foam Beacon 2

Article by Sam Winebaum with Shannon Payne and Peter Stuart

New Balance was on a roll at The Running Event with two new run shoes, a speed oriented trainer the Fuel Cell Rebel and their first max cushion trainer the Fresh Foam More. Not left out we also saw a strong upper update to their popular Fresh Foam Beacon.

New Balance presents the Rebel and More in our YouTube 

Hoka One One Fall 2019 Previews: Rincon, Clifton 6, EVO Mafate 2

Article by Sam Winebaum

At the recent The Running Event in Austin, Texas Hoka One One previewed updates to the Clifton and EVO Mafate and a new shoe, the Rincon, which could be called the lighter, more responsive, faster days and race Clifton.

UltrAspire Legacy Race Vest Review - Large Capacity & Stable Ride

Article by Jeff Valliere

UltrAspire Legacy Race Vest
Capacity: 10 Liters
10.4oz. without bottles
Sizes:  One size fits most

UltrAspire photo

The UltrAspire Legacy Race Vest is a secure, high capacity vest that can carry a reasonable amount of essential gear on longer runs or all day summer outings.  As the name implies, the Legacy can be used for racing and is better suited toward longer mountain races where more gear, or mandatory gear, needs to be carried, but most would find it too large for shorter, faster racing.