Thursday, October 24, 2019

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 Hyper Multi Tester Review. Speed Indeed!

Article by Peter Stuart, Derek Li, and Mac Jeffries

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 Hyper ($140)

Peter: The Go Meb line has been producing reliably light and fast racing flats for years now. 
I’ve enjoyed some models more than others, but overall they’ve been great. The 5 was a really solid shoe, and didn’t feel as stiff (or punishing) as earlier versions. With the Speed 6 we’re looking at the introduction of HyperBurst foam and the new Goodyear outsole. I’m very curious to see how this all affects the ride of theSpeed. I’m also eager to see whether there are any substantial differences between the Razor 3 and the Speed 6. Word from Skechers Performance is that stack height is 22/18, compared to 23/19 in the Razor. The HyperBurst Foam in the Razor and the Speed 6 is the same hardness/durometer.

Pros and Cons
Peter: best looking Skechers yet, light, fast, smooth
Derek: Great looks, superlight and cushioned
Mac: Lacing is secure, upper lightweight, good looking, explosive midsole

Peter: You may fear the race fit.
Derek: Narrow fit
Mac: Fits snugly, but that is only a con if you aren’t expecting it. 

Tester Profile
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
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.

Official Weight:: men's 5.2 oz / 147g(US9) unisex sizing
Sample: US9.5 161g / 5.68oz
Stack Height: 22 mm heel / 18 forefoot, 4mm drop
Stack height same as prior GO Meb versions.
Available now, $140 including at Running Warehouse here

First Impressions and Fit
Peter: I read that these might be running small and one our other testers Sally has had to send hers back for a larger than her normal size due to low and short toe box, so I was aware there might be fit issues. Nope. They are a racing flat, they fit like a racing flat. For me the fit is completely dialed in. The Speed 6 feels like an extension of my foot. Granted, I have a fairly low volume foot, but I’m also sort of a princess, so I’ve had fit issues in plenty of shoes. If I were using these for long, slow distance I might size up--and I think they’d be fine sized up--but for racing, they’re true to size for me. I didn’t have any blistering, toe rubbing or ankle issues, and they didn’t feel too narrow for me. They look terrific, they’re so light it makes you giggle a little bit and Skechers Performance has made a completely excellent upper. 

From a design standpoint, I think Skechers has finally found their stride. This is a terrific looking shoe. At least 3 different people asked me what shoe I was wearing this morning!

Derek: The big question on everyone’s minds surrounded the fit for this shoe. Running Warehouse put it out there that everyone should size a full size up in this shoe! Fortunately initial step in for me was just fine at my normal 9.5. Sockless, I could get a full finger breadth between my big toe and the front of the shoe, and even more for the rest of the toes. With thin socks, there is still enough room in front of the toes. That said the fit is fairly narrow across the midfoot and met-heads when you first wear these puppies. The upper feels stiff when you first wear the shoes, and the external rigid heel counter is very obvious because the rest of the shoe is pretty unstructured. The first run I did in these shoes, I felt a constant pressure along the inside of my big toes in both feet. Fortunately, the upper started to stretch a little after the first 3-4 miles and that feeling went away. Aesthetically speaking, the colors are spot on. Skechers can churn out some really classy designs and this is definitely one of them.

Mac: Fortunately for me, I had no hard decisions to make regarding the size: 14 is the largest size they offer, so that is what I took. As it turned out, my fears were misplaced; the shoe has a nice snug racing fit, but my piggies still have a little room to wiggle, so I am happy with that aspect. Fit is similar to previous GOmeb versions - maybe a TOUCH narrower - but the fit should inspire confidence to dart around competitors and sharp corners at high speeds. As my relief set in, I was finally able to appreciate the very cool aesthetics of this shoe: a very sweet color combo on a translucent upper (the lemon-yellow you see in the forefoot below is not the upper, it is the sock liner of the shoe that you can see THROUGH the upper.)  

Peter: The upper of the Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 is a study in minimal perfection. 

Most of the upper is a translucent mesh, with strategically placed sections of slightly thicker mesh at the toe and at the bottom of the laces. 
My foot is held perfectly in place with no hot spots or slip anywhere. It’s not a wide shoe, but again, it’s a racing flat and the fit reflects that. 

The tongue is very thin and ventilated with just a touch of padding down the center of it, so there’s no lace pressure on the top of the foot. 
The most structured part of the upper is the molded Pebax heel counter. 
The My heel is well held and the shoe is probably a bit easier to get on and off due to the rigid molded heel cup. 
There’s a little bit of padding at the back of the heel and around the ankle collar. It’s an ideal amount of padding to just hold your foot solidly in place without being at all obtrusive.

Derek: As I mentioned above, the upper does feel a bit stiff when you first put the shoes on. They used a thin rip-stop type upper for this shoe and while it is thin and translucent, there aren’t any obvious ventilation holes in the upper. This said it is thin enough that I do not have any issues at all with heat build up in this shoe despite the tropical conditions I typically run in. The upper reminds me a bit of a cross between the Razor 3 and a Nike Zoom Fly SP (at true to size fit; not the half size up that people often use for the Fly SP). It is snug and does not stretch at all after the initial break in, and it provides very good forefoot lock down, without having to put much tension in the lacing. Ultimately, the fit for me is very similar to that of the Brooks Hyperion, but at true to size. I do like the heel cup but would have preferred it not to ride so high up the back, as I feel it could contribute to some rubbing for some people. There is an internal toe bumper up front in the form of a rigid suede-like underlay, and this helps to give the toe box a little more vertical height.

Mac: As stated above, the upper is translucent; I can clearly read Darn Tough on my socks through my shoes. It is a really cool effect. The ripstop material hugs the foot securely, and the laces have a little “stick” to them, so there is no slippage there when getting these on nice and snug. Ditto Derek on the heel cup and underlay; neither gave me issues, but folks with severe achilles issues may want to take note.

Peter: Hyper. Burst. Is. So. Good. It really is. There’s a weight/cushion/firmness ratio that HyperBurst just gets right. It’s such a terrific material and Skechers just nails the use of it in this shoe. The midsole thickness feels great at race paces and is not punishing when going slower. There’s an injected Pebax midfoot plate which can be seen through the bottom of the outsole. I’d be interested to know just how far that plate extends. The effect of the plate seems to be that I snap right through toe off with just a hint of propulsion (unlike in the Hoka Carbon X where I felt like I had to push through the plate). 

Derek: It is actually very hard to tell unless you hold the 2 shoes side by side, then you realize that the Speed 6 is in fact almost a full 1cm lower in stack across the board compared to the Razor 3. Using the very unscientific squeeze test, the HyperBurst foam in the Speed 6 is definitely feels a few ticks firmer than that in the Razor 3. The Razor 3 prominently lists a durometer of 47 on the midsole. I think Speed 6 is closer to 50. Not necessarily a bad thing, as I think the firmer feel, especially in the heel, helps the shoe to roll through faster due to less bottoming out on initial heel-strike. I think most people will notice that the bounce is a bit tamer in the Speed 6 vs the Razor 3, and really shines more at race paces. There are some subtle but very effective stability elements in this shoe. 1) The midsole rises up a little on the sides along the heel and midfoot, to give a bit of a guide-rail effect and prevent the foot from spilling over. 2) There is a midfoot Pebax plate. It doesn’t aid propulsion but helps with stability. I will talk a bit more about that in the Ride section.

Mac: This is the best iteration of Hyperburst yet. Hyperburst is is soft-yet-explosive, and the thin internal plate turns that soft feel into something secure that you can really push off of at high speeds. This is simply one of the best true racing flats I have ever tried - maybe THE best - second only to the Reebok Floatride Fast Pro (at twice the price and half the weight), which actually WAS too small for me to put any significant miles on. Usually, the firmness of a racing flat borders on harshness - or risks bottoming out if it is too soft - but these seem to be the perfect blend of comfort and high end performance. 

Peter: Skechers has teamed up with Goodyear for the outsole on this models and some other models including the Ride 8 Hyper and Speed Elite TRL Hyper. The outsole pattern and material have both changed since the Speed 5. All for the better. The Goodyear outsole rubber provides excellent coverage, grips well and, though thin, I think it will hold up for a decent amount of mileage.

Derek: The Goodyear rubber is a big improvement over the previous rubber compounds that Skechers used. I think many people will be pleased not just with the durability, but with the overall improved grip of the material. Nothing much else to add, really. It just works.

Mac: Outsole traction has been my main complaint with all of the Hyper series, but these are night-and-day better. The liability has become a strength. 

Peter: The Speed 6 rides like a modern version of a classic racing flat. It’s low to the ground, snappy and fast--but not at all harsh. The ride is very stable and makes me feel like I’m running efficiently. I’m not saying I’d run a marathon in them, but I would certainly consider them for a half marathon. 

Derek: The shoe is FAST. I own the Skechers Speed 3, 4, 5, and now 6. I paid full retail for the first 3 versions, and I would gladly pay that for version 6. No question it is their best Speed model to-date. It is the most cushioned and lightest Speed so far. There is definitely enough cushioning here for at least a 10-21km race for me. In terms of underfoot feet, there is a subtle bounce and cushion that develops once you get up to race pace, that isn’t noticeable at slower paces. I did a 10 mile effort right out of the box with 10x1km repeats and I felt really fresh at the end. Transitions are very smooth, with a surprising amount of flexibility through the forefoot.
I did not address the midfoot plate earlier, but I’ll talk about that here. With the position of the plate as it is, it does not improve the snappiness of the shoe one bit, because it is situated in a part of the shoe where the human foot does not flex. What it does do, is dramatically improve the stability of the shoe at midfoot, which is a place where there is supposed to be maximum supination, in a shoe that is using a midsole that is relatively soft by racer standards. (It is, for example, softer that the NB FF Rebel) Overall the shoe is very stable for cornering, despite having a fairly narrow last, because of the raised midsole and midsole pebax plate. Very cleverly done by Skechers.

One thing I did notice with thin socks (I went with Steigen for my first run) was that towards the end of the run, as the upper broke in, my foot moved fore-aft a little with each stride, and I started to get some rubbing on the inside of the met-heads of both feet, right at the point where the internal toe bumper starts. It is not so obvious with thicker socks, but I know many people race sockless or in very thin socks, so this is something people may want to pay attention to. As a reference, Both Speed 4 did not have a very obvious internal toe bumper so I did not notice anything. Speed 5 had an external toe bumper and used a very good ventilated upper and I had zero issues with it.

Mac: Soft (for a racing flat) yet explosive. Frimer than the Razor 3, but not at all harsh. It lacks the catapult-like feel of a Vaporfly, but it is crazy light and melts onto your foot; exactly what a racing flat should be. Imagine the fastest racing flat you have ever worn; now imagine it with a more comfortable impact and more explosive push-off.

Conclusions and Recommendations

I like a shoe that makes me feel fast. The Speed 6 makes me feel fast. It makes me want to run fast, it makes me want to race. I’m a big fan. I love the Razor 3, and thought that there might be too much overlap to differentiate the Speed 6. I was wrong. At under 6 oz and with a fit and ride that just scream SPEED, it’s a no brainer. The Speed 6 is going to be on my feet for anything under a half marathon and for any speed workout I do. It’s a remarkably light and efficient shoe . If you’re needing Vaporfly level cushioning, this isn’t the shoe for you, but if you want to go out and run fast and have fun, give them a try. Did I mention how FUN they are to run in? No? They’re very fun. Very very, very fun.  
Peter’s Scorer: 9.8/10
Just to nitpick slightly, the tongue is very thin and wants to fold over from the edges, making it necessary to double check that it lays flat--otherwise--perfection. 

Derek: This is a very solid racing flat that packs a lot of cushioning into a very light shoe. I think most people would have no problems using it for at least 5-10km races. Lighter and more efficient runners will likely be able to handle it for the 21-42km races. Obviously, the goal-posts have moved quite a fair bit over the the last 2-3 years. I will just say that if you used to be able to do the full marathon in a Adidas Adios Boost, Nike Lunaracer, NB 1400, Reebok Run Fast, or ASICS Hyperspeed, then you would have zero problems doing it in the Skechers GoMeb Speed 6, because it is at least as cushioned as all of the above, with a significant weight drop.
Derek’s score: 9.15 / 10
Ride 40% 9, Fit 40% 9, Value 10% 9.5, Style 10% 10
It is the best non-plated racer on the market at the moment over the 10-21km range for me and a beautiful one at that. In my opinion, it makes shoes like the Reebok Run Fast and ASICS gel 451 look quite ordinary by comparison. Fit will be tricky for people with wide feet for sure, but the lockdown is really very good with almost zero lace tension. I would still pick the Reebok Run Fast Pro for 5km and below. I gave the ride a 9, because, well, we are all spoilt by carbon-plated racers aren’t we?

Just a fantastic racing flat. RIDE is superb. I suppose the Ride isn’t as good as the Vaporfly… but it is still a 10. I guess I need to give the VF bonus points :-) The FIT is exactly what a racing flat should be, but that doesn’t mean I cannot wish for something with just a little more room in the toebox. The VALUE may actually be the low point here; $135 for a racing flat is definitely high, even if the Hyperburst foam will outlast most any other racing flat in the same category. Overall, the Speed 6 is #4 on my list all-time. That’s strong. 

Comparisons  Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Go Meb Speed 5 (RTR Review)
Peter: The Speed 6 loses just a tiny bit of weight and gets new midsole and outsole materials. The upper on the 6 feels more refined and the shoe feels leaner and faster to me. I liked the 5 a lot, but I think the Speed 6 is a more refined race machine. I think the Goodyear outsole will grip a bit better than the parametric web outsole of the 5. If you liked the 5, you’ll love the 6.

Derek: The Speed 6 makes the Speed 5 feel very firm by comparison. The Speed 6 just feels smoother and less harsh. I preferred the upper and overall fit of the Speed 5 as it was higher volume and more accommodating for a wider range of foot shapes, but in terms of ride quality, the Speed 6 is a big step up.

Mac: The Speed 5 was my favorite true racing flat, even over the Zoom Streak LT3/4. The Speed 6 is lighter, more explosive, and better traction. Yes please! 

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Skechers Razor 3 (RTR Review)
Peter: Both great shoes. I’d race a marathon in the Razor, shorter races in the Speed. The Speed is dialed in for race day in a way that the Razor isn’t. I’d say train in the Razor, race in the Speed. Both are evidence of HyperBurst’s excellence. Even though the durometer (firmness measurement of the midsole) is the same, the Speed is snappier and the ride feels a little less cushy than that of the Razor 3.

Derek: For a marathon it would be a close toss up for me. If it were NYC I’d probably go Razor 3, just for that extra bit of cushioning. If it were Berlin, I’d go Speed 6. The Razor is softer feeling, and has a higher volume fit, but the Speed 6 with the new GoodYear outsole has the better outsole grip, and is the lighter and snappier shoe.

Peter and Derek nailed this one. For me, at 6’3” 200lbs, I would take the Speed 6 from a Mile to a Half, and the Razor in a Half or a Full. As it is, the Razor will become my main workout shoe, and I will be racing in the Speed 6 or Vaporfly.  

Peter: Totally different approaches to speed and comfort. I love me some Vaporflys, and would use them again in a marathon. I do like the amount of cushion and protection--and tend to feel less beat up in them than in other shoes. That said, I feel faster in the Speed 6’s. For shorter distances and speed workouts I’d go with the Speed 6. I’ve also had issues on heavily cambered roads in the VF’s due to stack height. No issue with the low to the ground Speed 6. 

Derek: Not really fair to compare a shoe with a forefoot carbon plate with one without. No question the 4% is the king of the marathon at the moment. I think for wet races, and for races with a lot of cornering, I would go with the Speed 6. The Speed 6 has really good grip and stability, even better than the Next%.

Mac: Two very different shoes. If I had to pick one, it would be the Vaporfly for all but the shortest distances… but I am glad we don’t have to choose :-) (It IS worth mentioning that you can buy 2 pairs of Speed 6s for the cost of a single pair of VFs…)

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Asics Hyperspeed 7 (RTR Review)
Peter:  I know that the Hyperspeed is out of production, but it was my favorite racing flat. These are as close as I’ve found to the Hyperspeed. There may be slightly less cushioning on the Speed 6, but there’s a similar level of fun. 

Derek: The Hyperspeed was a softer shoe that was a crowd favourite with many people. I preferred the Hyperspeed 6 over the 7 myself, as it had a better more secure upper for me. I prefer the Speed 6 for the better responsiveness, and no bottoming out problems in the shoe. The bounce of the Speed 6 is also more prominent at faster paces, while the Hyperspeed tended not to bounce back as well at faster paces.

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. New Balance RC 1400 (RTR Review)
Peter: The 1400’s may be my favorite shoe. They are great for anything. Total utility player, cushioned enough for distance, light and fast enough for racing. For any race shorter than a half I’d reach for the SP Speed 6 first. They’re significantly lighter and provide a similar ride. Speed 6 is faster, 1400 can go longer. 

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Hoka Carbon X (RTR Review)
Peter:I wanted to like the Hoka Carbon. I wanted to love them. But I didn’t. I found the plate in the Hoka Carbon made it hard to push through my natural gait, and they were too heavy to feel genuinely fast. The Speed 6 on the other hand just works with my natural running style. 

Derek: I like the Carbon X for the very comfortable upper and ride. It shines best with a midfoot strike though, and once you start to land more on your heel the ride isn’t quite as good. Overall, I like the Carbon X for longer runs, not necessarily fast long runs but more of a medium pace run. The Speed 6 is a very different animal that really feels great at faster paces, but feels a bit out of sorts at anything slower.

Mac: Apples and oranges. Speed 6 for race day, Carbon X for Long and Recovery runs. I know some people consider the Carbon X to be a long distance racer. I do not, but even if I did, I just don’t see any overlap here. 

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Reebok Run Fast (RTR Review)
Derek: I will preface by saying the Run Fast is a good racer but did not blow me away as I do not feel the shoe that others report, compared to other racers like the NB 1400 or ASICS Gel 451 in its class. The Run Fast is for me a shoe with very good vibration dampening, grip, and stability elements for a racer. The same can be said of the Speed 6. The Speed 6 wins in terms of weight and snappiness and has a livelier firm bounce to it that the Run Fast lacks for me. The Run Fast is still the more cushioned shoe so maybe for the long races, it will still be a better option for some people. Another big difference is fit. The Run Fast has a wider and more accommodating fit for people with wider feet. 

Nike Zoom Streak 6 (RTR Review)
Derek: The Streak upper is wider across the toebox than the Speed 6. The Streak tends to run short so most people go up a half size in the Streak though. With the Speed, the length is right with enough space in front of the toes but the width is narrower. You will definitely notice that the Speed has more heel cushioning than the Streak. Both shoes have pretty good firm bounce in the forefoot. Overall, The Speed is a more cushioned shoe, and is a full ounce lighter.

Editor's Note: Michael Ellenberger wrote a separate race report and Speed 6 review. He won a recent 10K in them in a fine time of 32:45. Below his comparisons.

Skechers Performance GoMeb Speed 6 vs. adidas adizero Adios 4 (RTR Review)
A friend and I were recently discussing how, in the age of carbon fiber racers, the Adios remains an absolute underdog. While the A3 was narrow (even on my narrow foot), the A4 is non-carbon-flat perfection. The Boost material gives it enough bounce to carry you to a marathon and - without being superbly light - the Adios 4 is competitive as a 5K and 10K racer . But the Speed 6 is new, and undoubtedly terrific - so how do they stack up? I would take the Adidas for anything over a half-marathon, and for a shoe that won’t beat up your legs over tempo runs or workout days. But for pure racing at 13.1 and down, I think the propulsion of the Speed 6 gives it a (slight!) advantage. 

Skechers Performance GoMeb Speed 6 vs. Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro (RTR Review)
The Run Fast Pro was $250 of extravagance - undoubtedly one of the highest dollar-to-ounce racers in recent past, but with performance to back it up. You could tout the Reebok from a mile to a half and have success (though, while I ran a big PR in the Pro, my calves were sore for days). The Speed 6 will handle 13.1 better, for sure, but anything under is a closer call - if you can spend the cash, the Reebok is a great choice. For those on a budget, I don’t think you’re leaving much on the table by picking up the Skechers. 

Skechers Performance Go Meb Speed 6 vs. Hoka One One Evo Rehi (RTR Review)
The Hoka was one if my favorite racers of last winter, and primarily because of its simplicity - it was just light and flat, in an age of technology. While that hasn’t changed - the Rehi remains one of the “purest” racing flats - I think the Speed 6 is the same concept, but refined. Yes, there’s some sort of “plate” here, but it’s not nearly as hyped (or expensive) as Nike’s Vaporfly or Skechers upcoming (and much hyped!) Speed Elite. At a discount, the Evo Rehi certainly won’t do you wrong - but at full price, I’m taking the Speed 6. 

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Jim Duyck said...

I'm very curious to see how this compares with both the Reebok Floatride Run Fast and Run Fast Pro.


Greg S said...

Is the shape the same as the razor? I found it too narrow in the midfoot

Jeremy said...

thanks for the detailed review.
How'd you compare it to the streak 6? I understand through this review that the speed should be much more accommodating in its upper as well as more cushioned without losing any this correct?

jgt11 said...

How would it compare to the nike streak 6/7?

Sam Winebaum said...

From Derek: The Streak upper is wider across the toebox than the Speed 6. The Streak tends to run short so most people go up a half size in the Streak though. With the Speed, the length is right with enough space in front of the toes but the width is narrower. You will definitely notice that the Speed has more heel cushioning than the Streak. Both shoes have pretty good firm bounce in the forefoot. Overall, The Speed is a more cushioned shoe, and is a full ounce lighter