Sunday, October 27, 2019

Topo Athletic Zephyr Multi Tester Review: Zip Along in Comfort!

Article by Jeff Beck, Hope Wilkes, and Sam Winebaum

Topo Athletic Zephyr ($130)

Sam: Striking in its simple blue with that wider natural shape toe box and secure fit we have come to expect from Topo, the Zephyr’s underfoot platform is the big news here. A somewhat softer 5mm drop platform (for Topo known for lower to zero drop and firm midsoles), the Zephyr has an insert of ZipFoam a TPU blend first seen in the the slow and easy Phantom embedding it in an outer EVA carrier frame. That’s not all.. Below the ZipFoam, in a broadening shape as it goes from mid foot to toe, we have a quite stiff Pebax elastomer plate to stabilize that relatively soft front Does it provide a propulsive effect as well? 

Jeff: Here is is - the brightly colored, well-cushioned running shoe with a plate in the middle that’s causing all kinds of debates over technology in running and if shoes should be declared illegal- wait, nope. Nevermind, wrong shoe. This is the Zephyr, the latest road road shoe from Topo Athletic using an EVA outer frame with an inset  ZipFoam core. Like all Topo shoes, the Zephyr boasts a wide, foot-shaped toe box and relatively low 5mm drop. What sets the Zephyr apart is the inclusion of an elastomer plate that gives the shoe extra stability for a better toe off. The big question, does it work? Massively, but keep reading for more details.

Hope: Here’s a hot take that speaks to Jeff’s same point: if you’re going to be racing in the Next%, you should be training in the Zephyr. The synergy between these two models from two widely different brands (one scrappy, one monolithic) is undeniable. I’m using strong statements because this is a strong contender for shoe of the year and it really does pair well with the racer that’s on the feet of so many elite marathoners.

Jeff, Sam & Hope: Upper is breathable, toe box is top notch, midsole is plush without being mushy, relatively lightweight for how much shoe there is.

Jeff: The concave opening for the plate can give a slight horse hoof noise on landing.
Hope: Break-in required. First few steps in my first run had me thinking “these feel like a bad prototype” because the midsole felt so stiff and inflexible. Have the patience to let them soften up after a few miles and you’ll be rewarded.
Sam: not a great shoe for slow paces if heel striking, as I do. The heel feels a bit low. Best run fast.

Approx. Weight: 9.5 oz / 269 g
Samples: 8.5 men’s: 9.2 oz / 261 g
      10.5 men’s 10.1 oz / 286 grams
Stack Height: 28mm heel / 23 mm forefoot, 5mm drop
Available November 2019.  $130

Tester Profiles
Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39 both he is working to demolish with help from his coach Dave Ames as he trains for his first 50 mile race in December 2019.
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.
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 around 1:39, training 30-40 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.

First Impressions and Fit
Jeff: My pair of 10.5 fit true-to-size, and represent the next step in Topo’s constant improvement in design and material quality. There are a number of small touches all over this shoe that are subtle, but add up to a dramatically better shoe than its predecessors (more in the respective areas) without launching the price into the stratosphere. Step in feel is very nice, just barely crossing what I’d term plush both in midsole and upper feel, and at 10 ounces in my size 10.5 for a well-cushioned shoe, I’m impressed with the weight.

Hope: My first impressions don’t match my final impressions of the Zephyr, so I almost hesitate to share them here. But if you’re going to be ordering this shoe or checking it out at your local running store, you need to know what to be aware of (and to potentially ignore as a non-issue) so you don’t miss out on a great shoe. Out of the box the Zephyr is mega stiff. As in, I could not bend them at all without using a lot of force (and I didn’t want to damage the plate). It’s so stiff I was convinced I’d been sent a bad prototype. Why put a plate in a shoe when the sole geometry and aggressive toe spring are doing all of the heavy lifting in terms of propulsion? How wrong I was! As Jeff noted, the Zephyr is nice-looking and is obviously built from quality materials. It doesn’t read as “luxury” as some shoes do (I’m thinking of plush neutral trainers that come in at or above the $150 price point), but the materials are durable and have been thoughtfully used. 

Sam: I said in the introduction and will say it again here. The Zephyr is striking in its looks and elegant simplicity. Form meets function here as the fit is totally secure, comfortable, and as the others have said just what is needed without extraneous design elements or over stuffed support. Always tricky to pull off the wide natural shaped, toe box holds my medium narrow foot in a true to size very securely yet allows noticeable and welcome toe splay and at all paces. My only fit comment, the tongue could be a touch more padded,

Jeff: The Zephyr upper is one of those “less is more” situations. Topo hasn’t done anything fancy, they’ve just done things well, and well executed simplicity is rarely a bad thing. The mesh upper breathes very well; this shoe could be run in the middle of summer anywhere. It has minimal overlays, and doesn’t overcomplicate the design. The heel collar isn’t overly padded, and feels pared down compared to the Phantom, Topo’s well-cushioned trainer released earlier this year. I didn’t experience any heel slip whatsoever, but the extra eyelet at the top gives runners options if they have very narrow feet/ankles. 
Jeff: The tongue is very thin, but I didn’t have any lace bite issues as a result as Topo continued to use their design from the Mtn Racer. Instead of putting a single loop in the center of the tongue for laces to pass through to keep the tongue centered, they used a pair of loops, each slightly off center near the top. It’s a cool design touch that works very well - this tongue isn’t moving at all. That’s a minor win, but so many shoes have had that as a minor loss, and it can be frustrating. All told this is one of the more comfortable no-frills upper I’ve run in this year.

Hope: I love seeing mesh like this in a world of knit uppers. Jeff essentially covered everything I would say about the Zephyr’s upper. It’s got everything I need and nothing I don’t. Fit is impeccable and I have enough room to flex and splay my toes without feeling cramped while still feeling well-contained.
Sam: With fancy engineered mesh and knits all the rage, Topo keeps it simple with a very soft thin mesh which reminds me of the Salomon Sense Ride 2 with support provided by a lattice of thin equally pliable overlays. 

It is clearly and visibly very breathable.

The rear and mid foot hold is totally secure and miracle of miracles, despite all that soft mesh and pliable overlays, there is no bootie tongue as often seen with such uppers and none needed. The upper works in concert with the midsole to hold the foot. as the foot sits down in the midsole. 

Jeff: What do you get when you take a super plush and squishy midsole and put a hard plate in the middle? A great balance between firm and plush, that takes some of the beating your legs would take but doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish on every step. I wish I had a funnier punch line, but it is what it is, and it’s a huge step forward for Topo. The Ultrafly 2 was a great, if somewhat unremarkable, daily trainer, and I was elated to get my hands on the Phantom with Topo’s ZipFoam, thinking something named ZipFoam would be bouncy and energetic, somewhat like Skechers Performance Hyper Burst. Instead ZipFoam is one of the most plush midsoles around, and as much as I wanted to like the Phantom, I found it hard to run in for anything that wasn’t a dedicated recovery run. But this is the Zephyr, and this is what I was looking for. I put 11 miles on them right out of the box, and near the end of the run my legs felt great. What’s more, they feel even better during faster runs - definitely speedwork approved.

Jeff: The stack height looks a little misleading. The contours Topo put around the midsole gives it a low slung look when you look down at it on your foot.
 From the side it looks like a normal height, but straight down its lines remind me of the De Tomaso Pantera, with angles in places that just work.

Hope: Jeff and I had similar experiences with the Phantom and I agree completely that the misleading name of its plush midsole compound would be better suited to the snappy yet forgiving Zephyr midsole. I conquered some of the longer runs of my most recent marathon build-up in the Zephyr and was thrilled by how the midsole material kept my legs feeling fresh after double-digit miles. The goodness of the plate + foam combo is further enhanced by the geometry of the midsole. Careful readers of Road Trail Run will have probably picked up on my favorite feature in go-fast shoes: aggressive toe spring. The upward sweep of the toe encourages fast transitions, rolling you through the gait cycle smoothly. Topo has executed it brilliantly here, with a toe spring that’s aggressive enough to have a meaningful effect while not so aggressive that it causes foot fatigue.
Sam: The combination of outer firmer EVA carrier frame, which is not overly firm as for example the UA Sonic HOVR’s was for me, the inner rebounding TPU blend Zip Foam and the front Pebax Plantar Flexion Stabilizer plate all work wonderfully in concert with each other. The midsole is  not overly firmly cushioned, is stable and yes has some front propulsion snap from the front plate. 
Not to soft as Phantom was, or harsh as Magnifly 1 and 2 were for me, this is a  combination designed to move fast with some snappy stable spring from the stiff but not completely rigid longitudinally but torsionally stiff front plate. There is a bit of an if for me as at slower paces where I am clearly a heel striker. The heel feels a bit low at slow paces, not bottoming out by any means or unstable (those midsole side walls and the outsole taking care of rear stability) or soft as say a NB Beacon feels to me  but the 5mm drop and further forward plate providing stability and stiffness contrasts a bit more than I like with the rear of the shoe’s lower somewhat softer feel. I wonder what a slightly easier flexing plate as we see in the Skechers Elite TRL might do to smooth out the transitions. 

I think this midsole design clearly favors faster paces and a mid foot strike over slow paces and hard heel strikes. Not a major issue, even run slow and an encouragement for me to get off those heels ever so slightly more to find the groove up front, Every run when I got up to even my slowest tempo pace and certainly faster that feeling went away and they were fantastic. 

Jeff: Part of keeping a well-cushioned shoe under or around 10 ounces is not overusing rubber in the outsole, and no one would accuse Topo of that. The heel has solid rubber coverage, with effective coverage at the ball of the foot forward, but there is a lot of exposed midsole to take the beating. However, with more than 20 miles on my pair, I’m not seeing any accelerated wear on the EVA. The shoe has small pods that may wear down some, but I don’t expect that they will affect the ride or traction in any way if they wear down around the 100-150 mile mark. The concave gap that shows the neon yellow plate can create almost a horse hoof landing noise depending on how the shoe hits the ground - but it’s a minor complain at best.
Hope: I haven’t gotten (and hadn’t imagined!) the slappy horse hoof sound, but otherwise I’m in agreement with Jeff. Durability and grip are excellent.
Sam: An excellent outsole with coverage where needed and none where it would add to weight or make the shoe stiffer yet. Outsoles can contribute to stabilizing a soft shoe and sometimes are overdone. Here the plate and raised sidewalls help with that duty. 

Jeff: As I mentioned in the midsole portion, this shoe balances firm and plush very well. I could see this being a great half to full marathon shoe for many runners - it’s cushioned enough not to beat you up, but it also has a little pop in the step so it isn’t just a big lumbering trainer. The ride means this is a Swiss Army Knife running shoe, it does everything very well.

Hope: I feel like the Zephyr is a better companion to the Next% than anything else in the Nike lineup. In fairness, I haven’t run in a Zoom Fly since the OG version (which I loved), but it didn’t match its more premium stablemate Vaporfly's soft, yet extremely propulsive feel (I’m talking about the OG Vaporfly 4%). It looked similar and also featured a plate (albeit of different material), but really didn’t feel at all similar. Now don’t get it twisted: the Zephyr is no Next%, but it does mimic that snappy yet forgiving forefoot feel impressively. I’ll bring in another sport for an analogy: in baseball, sometimes you’ll see players warming up with ring-shaped weights on their bats. Remove the weights when it’s time to face the pitcher and whoa, the bat feels so much lighter, making fast swings with the same bat feel effortless. Similar principle is at work here. Train in the heavier Zephyr then put on the Next% to race and it will feel like the Zephyr you know and love, only faster.

As Jeff said, the Zephyr has mastered the combination of plush and firm to deliver a shoe that is protective yet can still haul.

Sam: Zephyr’s first “plated” shoe has a lively well cushioned ride that favors moderate to faster paces for me. There is plenty of snap up front when the plate is fully engaged by a mid foot strike yet there is no strong sense of a hard layer in the sandwich here. Just a stable decently plush and directed push off with that wide toe area providing lots of platform for the toes. At slower paces, the plate's spring action fades a bit and the sensation for me is of a fairly low heel. They are in no way harsh in landing at the heel given the ZipFoam core and relatively soft EVA frame and certainly not as harsh at the heel as the zero drop Magnifly was for me. 

Conclusions and Recommendations
Jeff: This is the shoe I’ve been waiting for from Topo. A number of their shoes have been good, but always came with a caveat of “They’re good, but” of some flaw. The Phantom’s midsole was a fatal flaw to me, but most other flaws were minimal. The Zephyr doesn’t come with a caveat. It’s a well-cushioned shoe that isn’t heavy, isn’t sluggish, breathes well, and has one of the best toe boxes in running shoes. It holds up well if you are stacking up a lot of 10-11 minute miles or if you are sprinting up hills or even running laps at the track. My biggest criticism of this shoe is its timing - we are in the midst of a murderer’s row lineup of amazing trainers, and I’m afraid this one is going to get lost in the conversation.
Jeff’s Score: 9.5 /f 10. 
Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)

Hope: Another homerun from Topo -- on par with the M3 which earned a stellar score from me. I can think of a number of other fast-friendly trainers that should be sweating the arrival of this new model since it’s going to be hard to beat. As Jeff said, it’s adequately light (you’ll find lighter shoes, but not with a plate + foam combination this good), primed for speed yet well-mannered for more relaxed efforts, and breathable.
Hope’s Score: 9.9 / 10. 
Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 8 (5%)

Sam: I have always been crazy about Topo’s uppers with their unique combination of seamless in feel very secure hold with in the mix that oh so comfy, foot friendly, natural shaped toe box. Until the Zephyr I have found the Topo ride firm and quite unforgiving with the Phantom the opposite, overly soft. Here Topo really pulls it all together with a daily trainer that fits wonderfully and runs fast and friendly. My only negative is that that ride really kicks in as the pace kicks up, potentially limiting its one shoe in the quiver potential for slower runners and more pronounced heel strikers. The 5mm drop and stiffness of the plate seem to conspire to make it feel a bit heel low and a touch slow and firm as I move off the heel at those slower paces. These are relatively minor quibbles, and my score reflects this,  for this wonderfully riding and fitting shoe, and Topo’s finest to date for me.
Sam’s Score: 9.1 /10
Ride: 8.5 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Fuelcell Propel (RTR Review)
Hope: Other RTR testers liked the Propel more than I did (too soft for my taste), but I did appreciate its bootie construction upper. The zippier feeling Zephyr is the clear favorite for me.

Sam: Quite a contrast here. Bouncy Propel vs. stable snappy Zephyr. While I love the Propel bounce for easier days, I would select the Zephyr for faster pace runs and for its stability. 

New Balance Beacon 2 (RTR Review)
Sam: Lighter by 2 oz with a 6mm drop vs 5mm for Zephyr the Beacon has a bit lower overall stack and less rubber. The result is a somewhat less cushioned and less stable and  potentially faster shoe closer to racer than trainer for most. Zephyr provides a more dynamic toe off and for me a more secure and roomier upper, has more durable rubber and leans more towards trainer. 

Hope: The OG Beacon was one of my favorite shoes of 2018 and the Beacon 2 delivered more of the same softness and speed all dressed up in a lighter, more breathable upper. Tough call as I think the Zephyr soft midsole + snappy plate is really special in a shoe at this price point, but the Beacon 2 is just so comfy, so reliable, and so crowd-pleasing. I’ll say Beacon 2 by a hair.

Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. I’m with Hope, both are great shoes, and until I had one on each foot I hadn’t considered them against each other - mostly due to the 2 ounce weight difference. But most of the weight is the extra rubber (and plate) in the Zephyr. Both uppers are great, Zephyr has a monstrous Topo-shaped toe box, while the Beacon 2’s toe box is just good to great. Both feel great on the foot, but I have to give the slight edge to the Beacon for the softer and more comfortable ride.

Salomon Sonic RA Max 2 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size, and very similar in height and weight. The Salomon has much more rubber on the outsole, and has a firmer ride, while the Topo’s toebox is substantially better and the ride has more of a pop to it. It is $10 more, but I’d recommend the Topo.

Skechers GOrun Ride 8 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. Lots of similarities between these two shoes, and they are both great for daily/long use or uptempo efforts with creative rubber use to give good traction and durability without costing any extra weight. The Zephyr upper breathes better and the toebox is much better. But the GRR8 has Hyper Burst, and a lot of it, underneath the foot. I like the Zephyr a lot, but I have to go GRR8 for how good it runs.

Hope: Ooh, tough one. I am a Hyperburst junkie and I’m impressed by the hard-wearing Goodyear rubber on the GRR8 sole, but I prefer the smoother, faster transition of the Zephyr. Had the firmness of the Hyperburst landed somewhere between the level featured on the Razor 3 and the current setup on the GRR8, I think this could be a different story. I love that Hyperburst bounce and it’s absent in the GRR8.

Sam: Slightly lighter, the GRR8 has a superior midsole foam in Hyper with its springy ride but the Zephyr’s combination of EVA and Zip Foam is not far behind. I found the GRR8 not as effective as Zephyr in toe off dynamism at faster paces with the GRR8 better for more moderate paces. For versatility, unless the fantastic toe box of the Zephyr is essential, the GRR8. If faster pace running uses (and toe box room) are what you are seeking, Zephyr.  

Nike Epic React  (RTR Review)
Hope: I love both the ER1 and the ER2. This is a shoe so good that Nike barely had to tweak it in the update. Nonetheless, I find the Zephyr more supportive and better suited to long runs, so it’s my pick.
Sam: Zephyr has a way more comfortable upper and a much livelier faster ride.

Brooks Revel 3 (RTR Review)
Hope: I thought of this shoe as a good comp for the Zephyr, so I’m glad Editor Sam listed it here. While the Revel 3 might seem like a budget-minded model only and lacks the latest tech Brooks packs into other shoes, the DNA midsole is just wicked good. It’s the platonic ideal of midsole feel: a Goldilocks level of responsiveness, softness, and flexibility. If you want to spend no more than $100 and have a fun time running daily in the 4-7 mile range in a no-frills shoe, the Revel 3 is probably the best shoe available right now. If you have the Next% in your closet and want to prepare to race in it, go with the snappier Zephyr. Zephyr upper offers better support over the long haul, too.
Sam: I concur with Hope here. Both shoes are fast fun in different ways: Zephyr stiffer,  directed and snappy, Revel bouncy, flexible, and more easy going in ride and fit.  

New Balance 1080v9 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. The 1080 has much more rubber on the outsole, weighs half ounce more, has a good upper with a decent toe box (though has some heel slip issues), and a firm but cushioned ride. The Zephyr is $20 less, has a better breathing (and foot holding) upper and much better toe box, and a slightly more explosive ride. 1080v9 is one of my favorite trainers of the last year, but give me the Zephyr.
Hope: Something in me loves how sneaky-fast the 1080v9 is despite its burly looks. That said, I still have to go with the Zephyr for the same reasons Jeff cited: better heel hold and even better pop. I see that the 1080v10 is coming out soon and I can’t wait to see how NB has addressed the sloppy heel fit of this otherwise amazing trainer (heel lock lacing worked for me), so bear in mind that this comparison only applies to v9.
Sam: I concur with Jeff and Hope with one caveat. If your runs are mostly slow and easy or you do big big miles I would lean 1080v9 for its added drop and heel stack height with the added option of moving along faster if you wish.

Topo Athletic Phantom (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. The bigger brother to the Zephyr, the Phantom shares a number of elements with the Zephyr, including rubber to outsole ratio, great toe box, breathable and comfortable upper, but the game changer is the plate in the Zephyr. That inclusion makes the Zephyr an all-around great shoe, while the Phantom’s squishy ride means it is exclusively for easy efforts. Give me Zephyr all day.
Hope: The Phantom rides like an old Cadillac Coupe DeVille: big and soft. It has its place on recovery day, but it isn’t suitable for anything else for me. Clear win for the more versatile Zephyr.
Sam: Plate and ZipFoam contained in a lighter slightly firmer EVA frame vs the Phantom all and heavier Zip Foam midsoles make the rides and purposes completely different. Phantom for max cushion easy runs, if a bit on the dull side; Zephyr for more excitement for sure and faster paces.. 

ASICS Glideride (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. The ASICS came out of nowhere to surprise a number of us, and similarly to the Zephyr its plate likely has a lot to do with how nice it runs. The Topo is $20 less, has a better toebox, and weighs more than an ounce less, but the Glideride’s geometry makes it run that much better. Very slight edge to the Glideride.
Hope: I appreciate the Glideride’s aggressive toe spring, but unlike the Zephyr which started stiff and softened up, the Glideride stayed stiff. I also felt an awful burning sensation under my forefoot (both feet) for about half of a 17-mile run in the Glideride. For me, the Glideride isn’t there yet, but I like the direction ASICS is going. Another win for the Zephyr.
Sam: Both fit true to size with the Zephyr having a broader front of toe box. The Glideride runs faster or slower paces equally well. Its cushion feel and movement through the gait is consistent no matter the pace. Nod to the Glderide overall for its versatility but if faster pace efforts are the purchase's focus and weight is a consideration as the GR weighs 0.6 oz more, Zephyr

Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size. ZipFoam with a plate works very well, but PWRRUN+ is a joy to run in. The Saucony weighs ~1.5 ounces more, has a more plush ride and upper, and has much more rubber down below - and despite the extra heft feels even better at tempo. No question for me, Triumph 17.
Hope: I must have been one of the few people who liked the ISOFIT uppers! I appreciate that Saucony is listening to runners and rolled back a piece of tech that wasn’t connecting with people. The star of the shoe in the T17 is its midsole which feels like Boost done right. I prefer the firmer feel of the Zephyr, but I think the updated T17 is going to make a lot of people happy.
Sam: The Triumph 17 is a thoroughly modern plush daily trainer with a bouncier midsole and better accommodation for heel striking Zephyr leans more towards faster days or mid foot strikers
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The Zephyr will be available November 2019

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

AMAZON Men's & Women's

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


terry said...

Thanks for the review. Interesting shoe.

I have the revel 3 with 150 miles on it. I am thinking to get a second pair and had my eye on the GRR8. given I have the revel, would say Zephyr over GRR8?

Also when you say faster paces, what pace you mean or is this relative? I run in 7:30 to 8 min/mi range about 20 miles per week, 5 to 6 miles per run.

Stan said...

Great review, I love in in-depth review and the information that you and your team bring to a review. I especially like the comparison with other shoes, it is great to see how shoes match up against others.
I do love Topo shoes but I have a love hate relationship.
The Magnafly2 fit great and the first version of the Ultrafly but the Ultrafly2 and the Phantom not so much, the forefoot is fine but the upper in the midfoot area just doesn't wrap around enough, I have space between the upper and the tongue. I do have a wide foot but the forefoot space is great.
My question is, how do you feel the Zepher matches up against the Altra Torin4 Plush.
The Plush is a really good shoe for me but I am looking for another shoe to start a rotation with.
Thanks for your input and great reviews.

Wes Arnold said...

In your Glideride review you compared it with Carbon X. Sounds like the Zephyr is even closer still to the Carbon X. What do you think? Thanks. Looking for a fairly stiff responsive ride to get me to a sub 3’45 marathon.

Anonymous said...

I have to endure very hard training for the next six months, I'm a midfoot runner, and the training will involve a lot of tough workouts.
I can only buy a pair of shoes.
What shoes do you recommend?
Add: I hate Nike and hoka.
I love this review site.I hope this community doesn't go away.

Σπύρος said...

One of the few breathable running shoes.

Will said...

Great review! How does this compare to the Hoka Rincon? I had to get something a little stiffer and a bit of a drop (as opposed to my normal Altra and my TOPO MT-2) due to injury but my orthotics don't give me enough room in Hokas.

Oh, and speaking of sizing, I found that the MT-3 was a little shorter than the MT-2 and really mashed my toes. Since I'm size 13 I can't size up. Do these feel true to size?


Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Will,
Zephyr is firmer (less stack plus foam) and overall I find more stable due to that wide forefoot toe box. I did find the heel a bit low at slow paces, and lower feeling than Rincon likely due to stiffness What is your injury?
As far as sizing see review but for me true to size.
Sam, Editor

Will said...

Thanks, Sam! Sounds worth trying. The injury is capsulitis of my second toe. Happened in July, rested two months, then came right back so I got orthotics and am really trying to loosen up my calves, etc. We shall see!

Natalie said...

I'm on my fourth pair of Ultrafly 2s right now, and I'm tempted to try the Zephyr. The Ultrafly 2 is the only shoe I've found that doesn't irritate my metatarsalgia or posterior tibial tendon. How did the Zephyr feel on the ball of your foot, compared to Ultrafly 2?

Will said...

Oooh, I’m excited to hear the answer... metatarsal support is really necessary for me right now

Andrew Knox said...

Personally, for me, these have been the best running shoes I've owned. Knocked out a half marathon last weekend with absolutely none of the issues that I've suffered from in the past with foot rolling in and causing me ankle tendon pain. Previous shoe was an Altra Torin 3.5. Feel this is quite a firm ride, though in a good way. Foot feels so stable when I'm landing. I'm 6 ft 3, 190lbs. Size 13 (US). These are definitely going to last longer.

Think I'm going to replace my Altra Superior 3.5's with the new RV3 from Topo when they're done. Which is any week/month now!

PS: Love your multi-user reviews, I don't buy anything now without checking them out here!

Jeff said...

Hi Natalie,

Sorry for the delay, but I'd compare the UF2 and the Zephyr feel as very similar. Their extra width over most shoes is the most similar, and I'd say that the Zephyr is slightly firmer, though with similar levels of actual cushion underneath the ball of the foot.

Hi Andrew,

I could not agree more - it is a firm but still cushioned ride. And while I wouldn't term it a "stability" shoe, the platform is plenty stable. Really a great shoe for faster or longer runs. Glad you are enjoying it.

Jeff said...

Hi Natalie,

I just wanted to follow up, I started testing the Ultrafly 3 this morning, and if you can hold out until May you probably should. The 3 feels like a quantum leap forward from the 2, but still very similar. We will have a full multi-tester review in the next few weeks, but initial impression is very good.