Sunday, July 28, 2019

Saucony Type A9 Review: Loud and Light. A True Old-School Racing Flat Designed for One Thing: Speed!

Article by Mac Jeffries

Saucony Type A9 ($89.95)

Mac: There are precious few companies that offer true racing flats in a size 14, so when I see one, I try to snatch one up. I haven’t worn many Sauconys - except for the Freedoms - but the A8s were so well received that I was super pumped to get to try out the update, the A9. This is an old school, as light as possible, show’nuff racing flat, for better or for worse, and while there are newer technologies in midsole foams out there, sometimes you just need something super light that will let you feel the track beneath your feet. If that is you, then you need to give these a look. 

Mac: Very lightweight. Great upper. Screams “fast”; if you get lost in the woods, people will be able to spot these from a mile away. 

Mac: Very thin EVA midsole is better suited for very short road races or the track than your weekend 5k over broken asphalt. The great upper may have a tad too much material. 

Tester Profile
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.

Weight: 5.9 oz men's / 167 g (US9) ::  5.2 oz / 147 g women's / (US8)
  Samples: US men's 14: 7.5oz
Stack Height: 17mm heel, 13mm forefoot, 4mm drop
$89.95, Available now (men’s at women’s) including Running Warehouse here

First Impressions and Fit
Mac: Loud and Light. Exactly what a racing flat should be. Also of note is that there is a decent amount of outsole, which may account for these being a few tenths heavier than Nike Zoom Streak LT3/4s or Skechers GOmeb Speed 5.  On foot, a two characteristics stand out: 
  • They disappear on your foot, like wearing a heavy pair of socks. I am wearing them as I type this, which is notable mainly because I had forgotten I had shoes on until I started typing this. The light weight, the ample toebox… they just feel great. 
  • The SSL EVA midsole is thin - really thin - at 17mm heel, 13 mm forefoot. This will protect your feet from a stray Lego in the living room, but not much else.  

Mac: Definite strong point. Racing flats are supposed to have very secure fitting uppers, but most companies translate that to “just make it super narrow and a half size smaller”. The upper on these, however, keeps your foot snug as a bug in a rug - without feeling tight. (I have found that I am more comfortable in some models in an EE, but I found no discomfort in these, despite the fact that they are very much built on a racing last.) The mesh is perforated and airy light, but it feels plenty durable. One tiny complaint: the upper tends to bunch up ever so slightly when you cinch down the laces. It is cosmetic - I cannot feel any difference - but if I am nitpicking a great upper, I will say I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t seem to fit exactly to my foot. 

Mac: The midsole is what it is: an old school racing flat, with a thin slab of EVA between you and hard pavement, that dares your competition to wear something even lighter. If you want to pay an extra half ounce to 6.5 oz, you can get a futuristic midsole such as the Nike Vaporfly Next% that will spring you over tall buildings with tons of cushion as well… but if you want just enough foam to protect your feet during your fastest, shortest races, then this may be your baby.

Mac: As I said earlier, there is nearly full outsole coverage on these. They provide good grip - wet and dry - at the expense of a little durability. These shoes aren’t lasting anyone 500 miles, so Saucony opted for a softer, grippier rubber than most trainers, and the result is superb traction to add confidence to the low profile sports car on your feet. 

Mac: There was a point in time that I would have loved the way these ran. (Yes, I read Born to Run. Yes, I ran in Merrell Trail Gloves. And Yes, I got an impact stress fracture… that was about 10 years ago, and the process DID help me to become a more efficient runner.) What I have decided since then is that while cavemen might have run around barefoot, they weren’t doing it on asphalt. All of that is a long winded way of saying that these don’t leave much road feel to the imagination: you are gonna sense every pebble and every crack in the asphalt. I love them on the track, but they were just too much for me on the roads. The best way to describe these may be “true”: they won’t give you much spring or cushion; what you bring to the table is what you have to give for that day’s workout or race. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Ride is just too harsh to wear for anything other than track workouts for me. I cannot see myself even wearing these for a 5k. A lighter, more efficient runner will could recall love the road feel here; they just aren’t for me. Fit and Style are top notch. It is well priced at $90, but I don’t expect them to last very long. 


Nike Zoom Streak LT3/4
Mac: Possibly the old gold standard when it comes to lightweight racing flats, the ZSLT3/4 (same shoe, updated upper) packs 18/22 cushioning into a 5.5 oz package with a sleek fit. Even though the LT3 has more cushion, I found it to be a good deal firmer. Both great kicks, but someone with a slightly wider foot will enjoy the fit of the A9s.

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro (RTR Review)
Mac: I have only tried on - never run in - the RFRFP, and that was only in a size 13. However, I have talked to enough people to consider the RFRFP the *new* gold standard in racing flats. Plenty of high-rebound cushion in a sub-4oz racing flat, to the tune of $250. If going for a Personal Record, take the A9, but if going for an American Record, take the Fast Pro. 

Nike Zoom Streak 6 or 7 (RTR Review)
Mac: The Streak 6/7 (same shoe, different upper) is a tad beefier than the A9, both in terms of cushion and weight. I find the fit to be similar, with maybe just a touch more room up front in the A9. A9 for mile to 5k, S6/S7 for 5k and longer. 

Skechers GOmeb Speed 5 (RTR Review)
Mac: Probably my favorite pure racing flat, the GMS5 has the same specs as the LT3/4 on paper, but I found the FlightGen foam on the GOmeb much more cushioned and springy than the LT3/4. I would take the GMS5 up as long as a 10k, but I can’t imagine taking the A9s anything past the finish line of a road 5k.  

Reebok Floatride Fast (RTR Review)
Mac: The RFRF is about half an ounce heavier in a size 9, but the Pebax foam midsole makes a WORLD of difference in the cushion and spring. I am actually considering the RFRF for my upcoming marathon, which would be crazy for me in the A9s. This is a great example of tradition vs new technology, and I will take the new tech of the Floatride Fast and eat the extra weight on my feet every time. 
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

USA  Men's & Women's HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
Europe Men's HERE

Join VIP Family and get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, details here

AMAZON  Men's & Women's HERE

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

No comments: