Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Salomon Sense Ride 2 Review: Road to Trail Masterpiece

Article by Hope Wilkes and Sam Winebaum

Salomon Sense Ride 2 ($120)

The second edition of the Sense Ride improves on Salomon’s road trail hybrid and moderate terrain trail runner with a slightly more relaxed fit, a more flexible forefoot, and a slightly softer feel from its Vibe tech combination of Energy Cell+ foam and an shock reducing Opal insert at the heel. 

Watch out for labels here! Equally adept on moderate terrain trails and harder surfaces, including pavement, it now leans ever so slightly further towards the “road” side of things and is mighty, mighty fine on road for a "trail" shoe. And that is a good thing as Salomon has plenty of more technical trail specific models, This said as it loses close to half an ounce in weight to about 9.5 oz it now becomes a better yet moderate dry terrain trail racing option due to its cushion, flexibility for climbing and decent enough protection from the ProFeel film upfront.

Hope/Sam: Comfortable, smooth and quiet ride even on pavement
Sam: Improved comfort, more relaxed yet still secure upper
Sam: Slightly softer feel with a more distinct further forward flex point smoothes transition and toe offs.

Hope: lace garage is underneath the top row of laces, speed laces have to be cut to adjust the number of eyelets used, no conventional laces included
Sam: the more relaxed upper has a touch less mid foot to rear of shoe support leaning the shoe more towards road.

Estimated US 9 Weight: 9.5 oz / 269 g
Tested Samples:  9.17 oz / 260 g US M8.5  / 9.17 oz / 260 g US W9.5
Sense Ride 1 sample weight: 9.91 oz / 281 g US 9
Stack Height: 27mm heel / 19mm forefoot, 8mm drop
$120. Available now.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.

First Impressions and Fit
Sam: I was immediately impressed how much easier to slip on and comfortable they are at size 8.5 than my Sense Ride 1 at size 9 with a clearly easier on the foot slightly broader mid foot hold and this on top of that with the Sense Ride 2 on my broader left foot and Ride 1 on my narrower right, The fit is more relaxed and softer on the foot. but still secure as the inner EndoFit bootie remains unchanged while the the SensiFit overlays just behind the toe box are thinned out with less pressure felt over the ball of the foot and a touch more width as well.
The front toe box overlays are also more pliable and that was also immediately noticed as a little less pressure over the toes. At the heel collars again we see less extensive overlays and also a lower achilles collar.
I think I will somewhat miss the very secure heel hold of version 1 there on rougher trails but not at all on the smooth so far where my running in them has been to date. My “sense” is that the combination of changes to the fit will have those who may have sized up in the first version staying at true to size.
I also immediately noticed that the Quicklace cords are softer and thinner than previous Salomon. On the foot I felt less bite from the new laces.
As for color my Hawaiian Blue are loud and fun but with a little trail dust tone down nicely!

Sam: Salomon stays true to its classic upper technologies here.   We have Sensi Fit external overlays which are pliable and foot conforning, an internal relatively snug and stout internal EndoFit bootie to lock the foot to the platform, and a stout toe bumper which becomes less firm the further back it goes.  It is a great fitting upper and one, in the more relaxed new overall configuration, which should fit more feet than the usual Salomon. I actually prefer it to the more rigid Salomon Sonic RA Standard road shoe upper.
Hope: Salomon makes some of the best uppers, period. Their only close peer in terms of quality construction and classy good looks is probably On. The stylish overlays on the Sense Ride 2 meaningfully contribute to lockdown.
Every detail on the shoe has been carefully considered and it’s there because it needs to be.
Fit for me is true to size in a W9.5. The toe box allows enough room for splay, but doesn’t have so much room that my foot feels like it’s swimming in the shoe.
My chief complaint is that the garage for the speed laces is occluded by the first crisscrossing of those same laces — it’s a bit annoying to get the excess tucked away.
That said, lacing is otherwise quick and precises. I didn’t notice any top-town lace pressure even with the ultra thin laces.

Sam: The midsole appears unchanged from version 1 but does feel a touch softer especially at the forefoot which may also be attributed to the now more flexible toe off. The midsole is dense, quite firm and consistently stable but in no way harsh in fee. Salomon Vibe, the combination of technologies in the midsole includes Energy Cell+ foam found in most Salomon trail and road shoes with an Opal heel insert. The Opal is a TPP insert which looks a bit like a dense brillo pad. It is designed and has been tested to reduce tibial vibration and sideways shear forces as it is not glued down but covered by the board but can be seen in little heel window if you remove the sockliner,

According to Salomon scientists tibial vibration accounts for about 35% of input impact loads to the legs with shock making up 50% and rebound 15%. Reducing vibration can help reduce fatigue and make for a more pleasant ride is the idea behind Opal.

I think it works and well here as it has in other Salomon shoes with the tech but in Sense Ride 2 the smoothness of the ride, the transitions and the flexibility take the concept to another level on harder surfaces, even when compared to Salomon’s stiffer more platform oriented Sonic RA road shoes which also include  Vibe. As always it is the particular combination of geometries and materials which make a shoe great not just the tech itself.

Hope: This fancy new Energy Cell + foam with vibration attenuating Opal insert? I like it. Vibe’s cushioning feels consistent and snappy. My knees, hips, and quads were happy going up and down hills, so I was happy. One thing I’ll note is that after the first run the foam showed a lot of creases. This makes me nervous about its long term durability.

Hope: I felt sure-footed over hard packed dirt, gravel, and on roads. There’s no soccer cleat feeling with the Sense Ride 2. It’s a great “door-to-trail” option. Many moons ago I happily raced the Big Sur 21 Miler in the Salomon X-Scream, another road-friendly trail shoe from the brand. I’m not surprised that they’ve continued their tradition of producing trail-ready shoes that can comfortably take on pavement.

Sam: The Contagrip outsole with 3.5 mm lugs is as Hope says is definitely not like riding on soccer cleats. There is more than adequate grip for most trails, except the muddiest and loosest ,yet on pavement and hard surfaces the lugs largely disappear in feel transforming the shoe into a mighty fine road shoe with a snappy forward flex.
I have about 50 miles on them including 40 miles of Swiss trek with a 22 lb  / 10.5 kg pack a good part on pavement and there is no noticeable outsole wear as shown in the photo below

Hope: The Sense Ride 2 is fun: the Vibe foam keeps things comfortable without imparting a softness that could feel sluggish. Turnover is quick; I found myself running faster than expected. I could see racing a trail 10k or half marathon in these. If the cushioning holds up, it feels good enough that it should work well for longer efforts.
Sam:  I agree with Hope the Sense Ride is a super fun shoe to run and in my case also hike with heavy pack over 40 miles in.  My feet were very happy in this shoe despite a lot of pavement in the mix. The forefoot is agile and responsive, while the overall Vibe system delivers a firmer ride on road but without much of the usual shock and a just right stable yet cushioned trail ride.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Hope: The Sense Ride 2 is going to be hard to beat in this category. You can get Salomon quality at a regular running shoe price. The Vibe midsole technology is a nice touch in a snappy, smooth-running model with good road manners. I think all but the biggest/heaviest runners would be happy in the Sense Ride 2 (I’m concerned about midsole durability). I love how stable the heel is — this is a neutral shoe that might work for those in need of some more support. People eying a one-shoe rotation for trail use (probably most people, including yours truly), the Sense Ride 2 is a great choice.
Hope’s Score: 9.7/10
-.1 midsole may lack durability
-.1 lace garage placement is annoying
-.1 should throw in some normal laces as an option

Sam: I always have a fond place in my runner’s heart for lightly lugged road to trail hybrid type shoes (appreciating the Torin 2.5 and New Balance Gobi among others) as many of my Park City runs mix pavement surfaces with dirt and gravel and generally the trails are moderate. I can’t wait to get them out there as the V1 was excellent on that terrain, I also dig shoes that can serve multiple purposes during travel and otherwise: running, walking, and just wearing around...although my Hawaiian Ocean blue pair is a bit loud!  More conservative colors are available.

The Sense Ride 2 totally fits the bill and is a masterpiece of the door to trail genre as it can be a very fine light enough at 9.5 oz road shoe, with plenty of vibration dampened cushion,which can morph into a light and decently protective and secure trail runner as soon as you step off the pavement. It’s that versatile. While maybe not having the ankle midfoot support of a dedicated trail runner (or quite of its predecessor), they also performed well with the noticeably easy on the legs Vibe cushion as a moderate terrain hiker for two days in Switzerland with a heavy pack, much of it on pavement. I think a mid-helght version with a waterproof breathable upper (a GTX low top is sure to come for next winter and such uppers can be a bit stiffer and more supportive) would be a sensational lightweight trekking/fast-packing shoe and winter road runner where the Contagrip lugs and shoe flexibility to dig into hard snow and slop would be great.

The Sense Ride 2 is about as close to a do any type of run on any surface, and in comfort, shoe as I have tested as a single shoe in the quiver option.  Sure there are compromises, and it isn’t optimal for every circumstance of terrain or distance, particularly more technical trail terrain or deeper looser snow and mud, but it gets very close all around. Highly recommended.
Sam’s Score 9.75 / 10
-0.25 for rear of shoe hold and stability. I think Salomon went a touch to far in softening and relaxing the rear of the upper. I miss the version 1 stout rear support.
Watch our Video Review

Brooks Caldera 3  (RTR Review)
Hope: I really like both. The Caldera 3 is actually a touch lighter, but the Sense Ride 2 runs a bit lighter. Haven’t tested either over the long haul (I’m a roadie mostly), so would be curious as to which feels lighter at mile 30. The Sense Ride 2 is a bit more stable. If you really want built-in gaiter attachment plus a more flexible outsole and are willing to fork over an extra $20 to get those things, I guess go for the Caldera. Otherwise I think I’d lean towards the Sense Ride 2.
Sam: It’s simple the Caldera 3 definitely leans more toward trail while the Sense Ride 2 towards more moderate terrain and road.

NIke Zoom Terra Kiger 5 (RTR Review)
Sam: At almost exactly the same weight, the Kiger is clearly a trail runner and not a road trail hybrid with strong trail capabilities as the Sense Ride 2 is. The Terra Kiger is clearly stiffer due to the added protection of its rock plate but as much fun to run on road or very firm terrain, where it really doesn't belong. It's cushioning from React foam and rear Zoom Air unit is roughly equivalent at the rear and firmer and somewhat more stable at the forefoot. Some of our testers thought its heel landing was unstable, I didn't find this to be so but did find the Sense Ride 2 landing is more stable but its rear upper hold there a touch less secure. Upfront the Terra Kiger has a broader but lower feeling toe box. While the Terra Kiger is a very good mid distance trail shoe for varied terrain but not for super sloppy or highly technical terrain due to its "incomplete" outsole at mid foot, the Sense Ride is a great road and moderate trail terrain hybrid which should be able to handle most all trail terrain the Kiger can.
Nike Zoom Vomero 14 (RTR Review)
Sam: Surprised by this comparison? Well the Vomero leans more towards road than the Sense Ride but it has an almost as deeply lugged outsole in a tighter pattern, has superior rear stability to the Sense Ride while sharing a relatively flexible forefoot with its Zoom Air unit providing a touch of protection as the Profeel does in the Ride. I ran them a lot this winter on harder pack moderate grade snow trails exactly where I will take the Sense Ride 2 next winter.
Salomon Sense Pro 3 (RTR Review)
Sam: With a more rigid upper and sole along with deeper lugs, the Sense Pro has a longer stiffer flex from what I assume is a longer ProFeel rock plate. It is also torsionally stiffer and lighter by about ½ ounce. It has an Energy Cell+ midsole but less of it as it is lower stack and has no Vibe. You will feel the terrain here, to much so for me for much road or hard pack terrain unlike the Sense Ride. Good for short steep rocky runs and races it does not have the overall comfort or versatility of the Sense Ride if your terrain is more moderate,
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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kiwirevo said...

Keen to see some actual comparisons against road shoes as I like Salomons but have had issues with the fit of RA series (incl RA 2) have been thinking about running in sense rides for training runs. So whilst the rides are good for some road are they good as pure road shoes?

roy hampton said...

Many thanks for the in-depth review. How does the Sense Ride 2 compare to the Terra Kiger 5?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Roy, Worthy comparison Kiger 5. Thanks! Added to formal comparisons above.
Sam, Editor
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Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Kiwirevo, short answer for me yes they are worthy road shoes. Less of the RA’s “platform” feel to forefoot. More flexible for sure. About equal heel cushion to Sonic RA What fit issues have you had?

Awan Diga Aristo said...

comparison with the hoka torrent? I find the torrent to be fairly good on pavement too.

kiwirevo said...

With the original series I get numb little toes after 4kms in all of them (pro, max, reg) I tried a couple of sizes too. Then I ordered the RA 2 Pro in my usual uk10.5 and they felt too long but similar feel across the little toes so didn't want to risk running in them and being stuck with them. Wasn't keen on reordering an different pair and having to pay to return (as I also got some floatride fasts at the same time and they feel great)
Love Salomons and still run marathons in SLab Sonic 2s but need new marathon shoes as well as new training shoes.

Malcolm said...

I know you liked Salomon Elevate so I[d be interested to know your thoughts on how they compare. Do you have a preference?

Basti said...

What about a comparison with the Saucony Koa TR ? They both seem to serve pretty much the same job.

By the way, love your work and reviews guys, you are the best !

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Malcom, while the Elevate is very good on firm and even road with a highly responsive ride it is for sure more focused on technical trails than the Sense Ride 2. It is stiffer has heavier duty lugs and a more stable (on technical trails) and protective forefoot ride and upper. The two would make a great pairing: Sense Ride for mix of road and easier smoother fast trails, XA Elevate for more technical mountainous terrain but still good on the firm.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi I was just wondering how the protection/groundfeel on trails compares to the Challenger atr 5?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Haven't run latest Challenger ATR but compared to earlier ones I would say it has a touch more protection while the Sense Ride 2 has more ground feel.
Sam, Editor

michel said...


Could you compare these to the Pegasus 36 trail ? curious to read that !

Thanks a lot in advance ;)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Michel,
Comparison to Peg 36 a good one indeed! As soon as we have our pairs we will try to compare.
Sam, Editor

David D said...

Hello Sam,

I'm curious about you guys saying these are true to size. I am a 9 in dress shoes, 9 1/2 in New Balance, and wearing size 10 in Nike Pegasus as well as Brooks Glycerin. (Your site says all of these other than the Glycerin are true to size) I tried these on in 9, and they felt a bit tight width wise around my pinky toe, so I went with 9 1/2. They would seem to fit length and width wise, but it seems there is a fair amount of extra material over the toes on the medial side that pinches the tops of my big toes when flexing a certain amount. Sometimes painful, other times not noticeable. Did none of you guys run into this?

Gmx said...

Hey guys,

I am a 49yo in my first year of running. Based on your review and recommends I bought the salomon ra and really dig it - big thanks! I have switched gears slightly and am now planning on running a 12km trail race. The course is in BC and is a climb and a bit of a scramble up an old down hill mountain bike race course and the descent is a steepish hard pack twisty trail with a few flat sections.

I have tried the topo mt2 and found them to be a little light on the grip (I felt I had to really pay more attention to my footing) and the brooks cascadia 12 which felt stable but bulky/awkward. Would the sense ride 2 bridge the gap between these 2 or would the xa elevate be better suited? Or would I be better off looking at another shoe?

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks for your great questions and also for providing context which is always super helpful. The Sense Ride 2 would be a great choice for your race given distance of 12km and what you describe. It could serve as a great door to trail option as well. The XA would also be a great choice. Its advantage would be in more technical terrain as well as softer looser surfaces. It is very fast on all surfaces but I found a bit stiff on very steep ups where the Sense Ride would have the advantage. On the downhills the XA would be better for me as it is slightly more stable top to bottom and has better grip.
Sam, Editor

David D said...

Hey Sam,

Looks like you may have missed my question/comment above...

Gmx said...

Much thanks Sam! After dithering between these and the new cascadia, a pair of elevates and sense rides darkened my doorstep today. Still undecided on which pair I'll keep but sounds like each has its advantages but either one will do the job. Apparantly the 1st couple km is a hike for most mortals so am edging to the xa for the descents. Cheers and thanks for the awesome work!!

dicom said...

First of all, congratulations on your articles and the help you provide us via the reviews & ratings!

I run on road about 40km/week at a pace of 4-5 min/km wearing saucony kinvara 10 after reading your review.(many thanks)

I have a 25km trail race 50% trail road & 50% paths and I was thinking about the following shoes
Hoka Challenger ATR5
Salomon Sense Ride 2
Saucony Peregrine ISO

Which one you consider to be the best choice?

Thank you very much!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Dicom,
Thanks for kind words about RTR! Much appreciated!
I would lean towards the Sense Ride 2 for 25K given you train in Kinvara. If it was a longer race the Challenger ATR. The Peregrine is to much shoe IMO
Sam, Editor

Swedendurance said...

Hi! I feel the sense rides hard outsole 90° edges with that firm foam makes the Ride a bit hard to navigate on rocky terrain. This also the case with the S/Lab Ultra 2 I think. As soon I the foot lands a bit tilted it is felt and I loose some balance Maybe it is the higher drop that makes me land further back? I don't feel this problem with Scott shoes or the Akasha due to softer rubber, or Inov8 for that matter. I feel much faster in VJ Maxx on technical terrain. Otherwise a nice shoe.

Luke P. said...

The right shoe of the Salomon Sense Ride 2 Marathon Mont Blanc Limited editions starts to squeak in each run at around the 2 to 3km point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtc_DO4KJ3M

Pretty annoying but otherwise a great shoe.

Marcel said...

Hi Sam & Team, question only indirectly related to this review, but i do not know where to ask it alternatively: Do you plan to review the trailrunning shoes from Asics? As this brand make great innovations with the Novablast and the Glide-Series, i would be very interested in reviews especially of the Fujitrabuco *Lite*. Even more, as the Salomons become very narrow during the last couple of years (still in love with the good old S-Lab Sense Ultra and its upper). What do you think?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Marcel, We have asked before and just recently. ASICS has a minimal trail shoe presence in US now but planning new stuff!
Sam, Editor

Marcel said...

Hi Sam, thank you for your quick reply. looking forward to it. also looking forward to the upcoming review of the Merrell MTL Long Sky. According to the pictures it might have a wider toebox.