Monday, March 23, 2020

Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate Multi Tester Review: Hill Loving, Quiet, Low Vibration, Responsive Speedster

Article by Adam Glueck, Joost de Raeymaeker, Jeff Beck and Sam Winebaum

Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate ($130)

Stats
Estimated Weight men’s US 9: 8.3 oz / 235g
  Samples: men’s: US8.5 8.15 oz / 231g, US9.5: 243g/8.57 oz
Stack Height: 24mm heel /18 mm forefoot, 6mm drop
Available now $130

PROS
Joost/Sam: 
Very comfortable shoe, easy to get into. The foot feels secure, thanks to a very good midfoot lockdown of the Internal SensiFit™.
The ride is dampened and lively at the same time. You really get the feeling that you’re running on a softer surface. The Optivibe is fantastic on fast downhills.
It’s also a very quiet shoe to run in and has great traction on roads and wet roads.
The system used to keep the heel in place (two pillowy rolls on either side of the heel) is well thought out and is great for people who have an easily irritated achilles’ tendon.

Sam: 
Smooth transitions to toe off at all paces including slower
Great road feel with superb vibration and shock reduction at heel and more than adequate at the front in a relatively low 24mm/18mm stack shoe
Despite low stack plenty of cushion plus denser rebound and easy transitions from the decoupling for both slower and for sure faster paces. 
Fairly priced for the performance and quality

Adam:  
Incredibly smooth and quiet, even at very high speed.
Comfortable upper with seemingly no pressure points, especially compared to original Sonic RA Pro, good heel hold while not aggravating the achilles. 
Still feels soft and stable at low speed, with a smooth transition to a snappy toe off at high speed.  
Excellent on descents, I can decelerate heel striking and it should be way more harsh for how responsive and low it is. 

Jeff: 
Punches above it's class in foot protection, might be the most effectively cushioned shoe for the weight/stack height outsole of the carbon plated super shoes.
Toebox is borderline spacious, upper holds the foot well
Total sleeper, runs so much better than its pedestrian looks 

CONS
Joost: 
The laces are very long, but stay tight, contrary to some of the other shoes I’ve run in recently.
The run a half a size long for me, so I will probably have to use heel lock lacing to keep my foot from sliding to far forward when picking up the pace. 
Joost/Sam: The top of the heel collar is a flimsy thin piece of fabric above the two excellent pillow-like rolls that keep the heel in place. The thin collar is what you push on to put the shoes on and even without much pulling has started to look a little sloppy already.
Sam: 
I wish the vibration reducing insert was a tiny touch less firm.
Weight. Nature of the foam which is so effective but wished they weighed a touch less
The outsole could use more lug patterning for grip on loose surfaces and for light trail use.
Adam:  
Although I can run fast in it, I’d love to see a more race biased version with one of Salomon’s light, thin, S/Lab uppers, since I’d still be hesitant to race in a shoe this heavy.  
Again, not what this shoe is designed for, but the sole is heavily road biased, and although the rubber there is sticky on wet pavement, it’s pretty useless on mud.  I’ve taken them on trails and they perform ok, but in mud and ice they’re incredibly slick. 
Jeff:
Laces way too long, and thin/stretchy in a way I didn't enjoy
Heel collar flap is awkward

Tester Profiles
Editor's Note: We welcome Adam Glueck to the RTR test team. He is top level nordic skier at Dartmouth College where Editor Sam went to college, and did some of the sam,e and where the runners ski and the skiers run and fast! Notable practitioners, in addition to Adam, include Ben True (13:03 5K) and Rob Kempainen , a two time Olympian in the Marathon. 


Adam is a cross country ski racer from New Hampshire.  
Along with skiing, he’s a big fan of endurance sports in general and does a lot of running.  He’s much faster at skiing, recently participating in the curtailed NCAA’s skiing for Dartmouth College, but can run a 4:43 mile (in trail shoes), 16:59 5k (earlier this week wearing the Sonic 3 Accelerates), and has won a few small trail races you’ve never heard of.  His mileage varies depending on how much snow is on the ground, but he trains about 700 hours a year including 1200 miles of running and 4000 miles of skiing and roller skiing.  You can follow him at his IG: @real_nordic_skier, his blog: https://adamglueck.wordpress.com, & on Strava https://www.strava.com/athletes/9267222




Joost is a Belgian in his 50s living in Luanda, Angola, Africa, where he faces the heat, humidity and general chaos to run anything between 60-100 miles per week. He’s on a mission to win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and has completed half of his project, with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He ran in primary school, but then thought it would be a lot cooler to be a guitar player in a hard rock band, only picking up running again in 2012, gradually improving his results.

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. In December he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 


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 just sub 1:40 range, 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.

Introduction
Joost: This is the second shoe I officially review, so bear with me in order to get the pace going with terminology and comparisons, of which I will have relatively few, for the simple fact that I have gone through quite a lot of shoes, but not from that many brands.


It was great to actually receive a shoe from a brand I had never worn before testing this one. Probably not a shoe I would order online or pick up at a store somewhere, and judging from my experience, wrongly so, but more on that later.


So, lo and behold, the Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate showed up at my Luanda doorstep, brought by a friendly DHL bike courier. All the way from the USA to Southern Africa in under a week, ready to be tested in the tropical heat of Angola (for people of the USA, that’s Angola, the country, not the prison). The Accelerate is the uptempo shoe of the Sonic 3 series, the others being the Confidence and the Balance. I got the discreet Black/White/Quiet Shade version in men’s size 9.5.


Everything about Salomon shoes is basically new to me, although some of the things are pretty standard, or have seen similar standard variations in shoes of other brands. There are a lot of ™ and ® words. There is Geometric Decoupling™, Optivibe™ and Internal SensiFit™ and Molded OrthoLite® plus a OrthoLite® Impressions tongue. Let’s dive in to see what it all stands for and means.


Sam:  The Accelerate is the uptempo offering in the three shoe Sonic 3 line. It shares the vibration and shock reducing Optivibe midsole, at differing stack heights  and model specific geometric decouplings with the daily trainer Balance (RTR Review) and the Confidence (RTR review soon) a more support oriented model without posts or rails. All three are priced the same at $130.


The key feature of all models is the Optivibe midsole. Optivibe is made up of a Dow Infuse polyolefin main midsole (white) along with a dense teal green above viscous memory foam heel insert designed to reduce vibration shock.  The prior Sonic 2 road line had a different less dense vibration reducing insert and a more conventional, and less energetic, despite name,more conventional EVA Energy Cell+ midsole.The Optivibe midsole tech also moves into trail in the Sense Ride 3 and Sense Pro/4. 


The Accelerate succeeds the Sonic 2 Pro, a shoe I found quite firm and harsh. Having really enjoyed the Sonic 3 Balance daily trainer with Optivibe,  I was curious what a lower stack height version with less outsole coverage and more flexibility would run like. Would it have enough cushion for a variety of uses? Was it fast at uptempo paces?Could it be a more traditional style racer? My experience with the lower stack Sense Pro/4, a wonderfully agile yet well cushioned trail speedster hinted at what the Accelerate might deliver.


Adam 
Most of the Salomon road shoes I’ve tested are either harsh but responsive (Original Sonic RA Pro), or smooth with low energy return at high speeds (predict RA).  I was hoping that the Sonic 3 Accelerate would be an improved version of the original sonic RA pro, which I found responsive at high speed, but harsh with an upper with a few too many pressure points around the toes.  The sensifit upper and vibration reducing Obtivibe seemed like they might increase the comfort and reduce the harshness of the shoe. I got a black/white/quiet colorway in men’s size 11, which is what I wear for most shoe brands.  

First Impressions, Fit, and Upper


Joost: 
The Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate slips on your foot very easily and has a very comfortable fit. The midfoot is held firmly in place with the Sensifit system, while the heel counter is a two piece pillowy roll on either side of your ankle. 
No rubbing of sensitive Achilles’ tendons here. Skechers has also been doing this in the models I’ve run in and I really like this way of securing the heel. For comparison, the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% also has a similar heel counter, but doesn’t leave a gap around the Achilles’. The fabric itself above the heel counter looks a little flimsy and will probably bulge in some areas from grabbing it while putting on or taking off the shoes. Maybe a little tab in the back of the shoe to pull on would have been a nice idea.

The forefoot is wider than it looks at first sight. My usual size 9.5 was a little longer than normal, and my foot slipped forward a little, making the heel feel fit a little less secure, but never too loose so you could feel too much slippage on tight corners or so. Heel lock lacing would probably solve this for my particular case, but if you have the option of trying the shoe out in a LRS, make sure to also try out half a size down for fit.
Sam: The fit is true to size for me. The only time I thought they might be a bit long was on steep downhills, not so much jamming forward, but a sense of toes coming up more than I would like and also extra length. This could be due to the quite soft toe bumper not extending quite far back enough? 


Given the relatively dense non stretch thin but pliable engineered mesh upper and the more performance oriented fit compared to the Balance I was worried they might be overly snug but this was not at all the case as other than the SensiFit underlays there are no overlays at all here.
I think the longitudinal ventilation slits (black above)  allow for some targeted give to individualize the fit. Lock down is excellent as the flat thin and relatively wide laces (which are to long!)  work superbly in concert with a thin but well padded molded Ortholite Impressions tongue,relatively pliable lace through frame, and the SensiFit underlays.


The unusually thick densely plush internal ankle collar and Joost describes it exactly right as “pillowy rolls” really locked my rear foot down superbly with no issues in what is a relatively low heel counter and collar. Unlike Joost I had no slip forward. The somewhat floppy fabric top, not sure what it does or why it is in the mix at all. I imagine those for whom high ankle collars can lead to rubbing will like this design. 


Adam:  The fit is true to size, and my foot never seemed to slide around in the shoe even running fast.  The upper doesn’t have many stiff overlays and seems quite seamless, so the lack of stretch holds your foot in place very securely.  
There are two pads on either side of the achilles, which do a good job holding the heel in without putting pressure on the achilles, which I appreciate since I’ve had trouble with retrocalcaneal bursitis in the past.  The top of the tounge is a little thin for my taste but I haven’t had any trouble with it scrunching or getting stuck to one side over the course of a run. The well placed reflectors are a nice touch too for running in low light conditions.

Jeff: I got the shoe a little later than everyone else (my stupid popular size 10.5 was hard to source leading to the delay), and they showed up with the Sonic 3 Confidence, which was my main priority - but running against the Accelerate's biggest brother was an eye opener. While the Accelerate won't win any fashion awards, it became apparent right away that this shoe is very good. The toebox fit looked a little narrow, but on the foot it isn't a problem at all. You won't confuse it for a Topo, but you'd need full fledged Hobbit feet for the toebox to be a dealbreaker for this shoe. The Accelerate is somewhere between a little big and true-to-size fit. I like a full thumb's width between my big toe and the end of the shoe, and I have just more than that. If I was trying them on in a store I'd definitely grab a size 10 to see if that closed the gap (or if it went too far) but out running I never thought this shoe felt too big. 

The others described the upper very well so I won't revisit the breakdown, other than to say I like it. The pillow rolls around the heel collar do their job well, but the flaps on the outer edge are very odd. They don't really seem to do much, other than distract - but that's just putting them on or taking them off, I don't notice them a bit during the run. That said - if Salomon had included a pull tab on the back I'd be very happy. Those flaps always had me second guessing where I should grab the shoe. 

Lastly, the laces aren't great. First, they are way too long, requiring a double or triple knot just so the extra large loop doesn't get stepped on. Secondly, they are very thin and have a little bit of stretch to them. I know, I know, you can change them out, and I did. But all of that really points to how great the shoe is - my single biggest gripe is the laces.

Midsole
Joost: The Optivibe wedge in the heel really makes a difference on impact, even for a runner like me, who lands on the lateral side of the ball of the foot first. Probably also due to the midsole foam itself and the generous amount of rubber, it is an incredibly silent shoe to run in. If you go fast enough to have the wind blow in your ears, it’s almost inaudible. I’ve scared a couple of walkers on my usual route in passing them, because they didn’t hear me coming. The Optivibe is also fantastic on fast downhill running, really saving your legs from impact and vibration. The rubber outsole has great grip on dry and wet roads.


Sam: Sonic 3 features an Optivibe midsole which combines a very lively energy returning Dow Infuse Olefin main midsole with high elastic properties and a single proprietary rear JPAD shock and vibration reducing viscous memory foam heel insert. 
The JPAD tamps down vibrations which leads to reducing  muscle activations and thus is said to reduce fatigue and improve recovery. The new Optivibe system was described by Salomon as the difference in vibration between riding on a gravel road (usual midsoles) and on paved road (Optivibe). Optivibe improves vibration dampening by 15%  and improving shock absorption by 8% while also not changing rebound according to Salomon.


Sam: This midsole package is serious business in the sense that you won’t get a bouncy big sensations ride. The Optivibe vibration reduction is exactly what I feel on the run especially on downhills. The midsole is both dense (especially the heel), providing great firmer cushion for stack and a feeling of great stability and measured responsive rebound so a balance which delivers high performance with protection. As always the combined geometry of midsole and outsole plays a big role in performance. The deep rear cavity dissipates enough landing shock with the outsole rubber surrounding stabilizing,  while the exposed area at mid foot smoothest transitions. With the groove furthest to the medial side of the three Sonic 3 models the intent is uptempo running and the result is very quiet, easy to transition shoe with a moderately snappy and stable toe off, a platform which has performed well at all paces and on uphills, downhills and flats in my testing. The flex is long with the most distinct flex where the front rubber ends and unlike say adidas there is no distinct forward flex point. This said transitions are super smooth on all grades, tribute to the overall geometric design and the materials in the midsole and outsole .  Need a touch more forefoot stability, and there is plenty here, look to the Balance, yet more the Confidence.


Adam: At low speeds the midsole feels smooth and cushioned without wasting energy, so the shoe is quite easy to run in.  What surprised me though was that at high speeds, the midsole felt even better. I took these out for a tempo run last Wednesday, and ran a 16:59 5K then an easy four mile cool down. The Obtivibe makes a huge difference on downhills, and seems to smoothly absorb decelerating heel strikes and then quickly transition to another toe off.  On the original Sonic RA Pro, these impacts were very harsh, and running downhills fast would make me quite sore. Overall the midsole excellently combines smooth impact absorption with high efficiency uptempo running.  

Jeff: This is where the magic happens. While I really didn't enjoy the midsole in the heftiest shoe in the Sonic 3 lineup, in the Accelerate the midsole is a monster. Not many shoes feel this thin and designed for speed while also excelling during easy runs. I'm a midfoot striking supinator, so I don't spend much time on my heels (so I don't have too much of an opinion of the Optivibe wedge in the heel), but the forefoot cushioning has a density that I didn't expect. Unlike other faster shoes, this lightweight trainer feels just as good running a 10-11 minute mile as it does a 7-8 minute mile - and that should be celebrated. There's plenty of flex, so the result is a smooth running easy-to-uptempo trainer that doesn't feel like they just bolted an upper to a block of foam.

Outsole

Sam: The outsole is Salomon Contagrip with a firmer high durability flavor at the heel and a slightly softer flavor at the forefoot. There is a copious thickness of rubber here which may add a bit to weight but which should allow for plenty of miles. Heel wear has been superb, zero wear at about 30 miles. The forefoot is seeing some light scuffing on the lateral side but nothing concerning at this point. 

The grip on dry and wet pavement is outstanding but don’t mistake this Contagrip outsole design for a Salomon trail shoe pattern or even the sibling Sonic 3 Balance’s. 
The pattern here is non profiled high contact surface area lugs whereas the Balance (left above) has more patterning and if you will “lug-age”.  As such I found on even a touch of sand on pavement the grip only average. While clean road grip is outstanding and the ground contact in those conditions leads to the oh so smooth ride I am a bit disappointed that there is not more patterning so that the Accelerate could be more suitable for fast running on moderate trails where the rest of the platform underfoot and the upper could really make it shine as we found with the Balance.

Adam:  I’m primarily a trail runner so I’m not usually impressed by the grip on road shoes, but I’ve never had an issue with these on dry or wet pavement.  The Contragrip rubber is quite sticky, and it helps the shoe feel stable in high speed cornering, but that said once you get off paved roads the shoe gets a lot less grippy.  In my tempo run earlier this week, the shoe gripped ok on a freshly graded dirt road at 5:20/mile pace, but on smooth slippery surfaces like mud and ice, the grip is very bad.  Without a more patterned outsole I don’t see these being useful for anything beyond dry light trails.

Jeff: As the guys said, the ContraGrip rubber has plenty of grip and durability in the high wear areas. The exposed foam central section could be a wear issue down the road, but not before 250-300 miles. I can't speak to their wet grip, but their dry grip is up there with anybody. I did find myself knocking four or five small rocks/pebbles out of the various notches after each run, but that's just part of the design. I had the same issue, albeit amplified several times over, with the Sonic 3 Confidence.

Ride
Joost: The Accelerate is the uptempo shoe of the Sonic 3 series and it lives up to its name. It was very easy to pick up the pace, has a great ride, transitions well and made my stride feel bouncy and easy. During a fartlek session with the group I sometimes run with on the weekends, I could pick up the pace very easily to marathon pace (around 3:30 min/km) without much effort. My legs and feet felt fresh afterwards. 


I use a Stryd on all my runs, so I could compare some of the metrics for the Accelerate to some others. One of the metrics I checked is the FP/Power ration, which is the ratio of Form Power to Total Power. Form power is the power you use just to move (basically wasted power for vertical and lateral movement), while the remainder of your Total Power is actually used to go forward. On a 1km stretch at Tempo speed (around 3:20 min/km at the moment), my FP ratio with the Accelerate was 0.21 (the lower the better). Only the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit I’ve been doing some long tempo runs in was slightly better at the same speed. So, the Sonic 3 Accelerate is a very effective shoe for me, in spite of its weight. I could be persuaded to actually run a marathon in these.
Sam: Going to repeat… serious business the ride here. No pillowy or bouncy feel, except those collar pillows. You get a dense, highly shock and vibration absorbing ride in a relatively low stack shoe with lots of get and go and responsive rebound yet one also able to handle slower easier paces as well. I have been running in Park City where many runs involve climbs and descents and have set some segment PR’s on the uphill stretches and even some flats. When the tables turn to downhills I have opened it up more than usual as I know the rear viscous memory foam insert clearly takes the edge off while providing a ton of response and uncanny rear stability. The ride is versatile for sure.

Adam:  Similar thoughts… these don’t feel like a bouncy or pillowy shoe.  What I have noticed is that they’re the smoothest uptempo shoes I’ve run in.  Usually getting a shoe that speeds up this easily requires something firm and harsh, but this manages to be smooth and silent, letting you speed up on downhills knowing that the Optivibe will soak up the harshness, and let the tempo rise on uphills without a soft midsole slowing you down. The silence and stability hide the speed of the shoe so well that you usually don’t even notice you’re speeding up.  

Jeff: If you could send these shoes back in a time machine to five years ago, runners would have been losing their minds. That isn't to say they feel dated, more that there are a number of super bouncy and highly cushioned super shoes that have changed how many runners look at shoes, and the Accelerate isn't a part of the new school trend. Instead, it is a very smooth yet firm ride that doesn't have much bounce to it - but somehow still feels energetic. I usually prefer a nice bouncy ride, but I found myself grabbing the Accelerate even though they aren't my typical go-to shoe. If you told me the day they showed up that I'd hate the very well cushioned Confidence and adore the much smaller stacked Accelerate, I'd say you haven't read any of my reviews. But after logging mileage in each there's no question - the Accelerate takes the win.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Joost
The Accelerate is a joy to run in, specially at marathon to tempo paces and in spite of the vibration reduction and dampening effect, it feels very lively. Great value for money, a great ride. It could easily be a marathon shoe for people who don’t like carbon plates and don’t mind a little more weight. That being said, it is a fantastic all-round trainer, and is at the very top of my list of shoes I would take with me if I had to go somewhere for a couple of weeks and could only take one pair of running shoes with me. Just this morning, I picked it over another 15 or so pairs that were all there looking at me to go for a nice 75 minute run down by the ocean side. Highly recommended. If you’ve never bought a pair of Salomon road running shoes before, like me, this is the right time to change that.
Joost’s Score: 9.3/10
Ride: (9.5 - 50%) Fit: (9 - 30%) Value: (9.5 - 15%) Style: (8 - 5%)


Sam: Going to echo Joost here. It’s been a while since I have really enjoyed a lower stack uptempo shoe for just about any pace I have thrown at it and for flats, uphills and especially downhills. The Optivibe really is effective, far more effective than the original Vibe system in reducing shock and vibration via the heel insert while providing an energetic ride from the main Infuse midsole. Usually easy on the legs means a boring ponderous ride or an unusual one (VF and clearly VF is lighter and more cushioned). Here Salomon effectively threaded the needle: you know that the road is below, yet it doesn’t punish and there is plenty of get up and go. The ride is traditional but different, as while seemingly “firmer” or dense, particularly at the heel, don’t expect bouncy pillows here, yet with shock and especially vibration far lower than comparable shoes. I found a distinct yet measured rebound and response,  impeccable stability, and smooth transitions at pretty much any pace, even slow.  


I wish the heel insert was a touch softer and that the outsole had more profile to it so it could also serve as an agile door to trail shoe now that the Sense Ride is far heavier and more protective and the excellent Sense Pro/4, with similar midsole, has a more aggressive trail focused outsole and somewhat less stack. 


As Joost said, I find it is a shoe I want to reach for even as I have yet more shoes in test or available than Joost’s 20!  and for just about any kind of run except maybe very long runs. While serving for most all training if you like a lower stack agile shoe, it can be an excellent race shoe as well,  particularly on hilly courses. Highly recommended.
Sam’s Score: 9.4 /10
Ride:9.4 (50%) Fit:9.4 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 8.5 (5%)


Adam:  I’m a big fan of uptempo shoes, and I like running fast, but I usually am hesitant to take them for most of my runs since the associated harshness makes me really sore.  The Sonic 3 Accelerates however are so smooth and quiet that I’ll take them out for my easy runs, and unknowingly turn up the pace because they feel better the faster they go.  The Obtivibe is extremely effective, and even if it makes the shoe heavier, I think the smoothness on downhills would make an Obtivibe equipped shoe faster than one without it. It’s still a firm and responsive shoe, and it balances between a shoe I’d be willing to race in and a shoe I can train in without beating myself up.  These are excellent versatile road shoes. Highly recommended for anyone who likes going fast without feeling beat up.  
Adam’s Score: 9.3 /10
Ride:9.6 (50%) Fit:9 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 8 (5%)

Jeff: The Accelerate feels like a throwback to how speedy shoes used to feel, but it doesn't feel dated, and every run in them made me want to wear them more. I have no doubt I could wear them for a fast half marathon, and if I had a 5K or 10K coming up, they would absolutely be on the short list of what to wear on race day. I'm with Joost, Sam, and Adam, this shoe outperforms what the marketing says, and most runners should at least give them a shot. As much as I liked last year's Predict RA, I can say without any hesitation the Accelerate is my favorite Salomon shoe I've run in. Sometimes a shoe is greater than the sum of its parts, and the Sonic 3 Accelerate is the poster child for that.
Jeff's Score 9.1 / 10
Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 7 (5%)

WATCH SAM'S INITIAL IMPRESSIONS VIDEO REVIEW

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Salomon Sonic RA Pro (RTR Review)
Sam: While sharing the same stack height and fluid transitions at any pace, the new Optivibe midsole completely changes the ride for the better (more protective and less punishing)  and the new upper is far superior to the rough near trail shoe upper of the original 2018 model. I scored the Pro equally at the time but times have moved on for sure and there is little comparison. 
Adam:  Although I enjoyed the Sonic RA Pro, I like the Sonic 3 Accelerate better in every way.  The upper lacks any of the pressure points that I felt in the Sonic RA Pro, and the midsole/outsole loses most of the harshness while maintaining that quick transitioning uptempo feel.  


Salomon Sonic 3 Balance (RTR Review)
Sam: The first shoe from Salomon with Optivibe, I  have very much enjoyed the broader platform, slightly more stable and roomier Balance, one of the best of the early 2020 shoes. In comparison the Accelerate is lighter, not quite as cushioned, smoother and faster yet. Balance could serve as the more cushioned daily trainer in a Salomon rotation but not by much. New to Salomon pick the Accelerate.
The Balance (top) has a broader on the ground platform, more outsole rubber coverage and a decoupling line further to the medial side for more forefoot stability

Salomon Sonic 3 Confidence (RTR Review)
The biggest brother of the three Sonic shoes proves that more is not always better. The Accelerate feels better during fast miles and even better during the easy ones. Even if you are a heavier runner like myself, consider looking at the sveltest sibling of the group, there's plenty of cushioning and a great ride to be found in the Accelerate.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo  (RTR Review)
Sam: Tempo comes in at a full ounce or 28 grams lighter and $20 more. It shares copious outsole rubber with the Accelerate and has a stable, uptempo ride. Positives aside, it is not nearly as well decoupled for transitions with an overly firm outsole which contrasts sharply with its excellent midsole with just not the smoothness of feel and transitions for the Brooks compared to Accelerate. I found the uppers about equivalent in construction and fit. No contest if you are seeking a versatile up tempo shoe with a superior underfoot platform the Salomon.

Skechers Performance Razor 3 Hyper  (RTR Review)
Joost: The Skechers is a very fast shoe with a completely different feel to the midsole foam and ride. The Accelerate is more comfortable and a more traditional shoe. Hyperburst has a different feel altogether, feeling more squishy, but fast at the same time. I do wish Skechers would have better uppers, like the Accelerate's. For day to day training and maybe even a marathon for a non-carbon plate option, the Accelerate wins hands down. The Razor is a fun shoe wanting to pick up the pace, but I would feel more secure with the Accelerate at the starting line.

Jeff: 100% with Joost. Very different feel, and while the Hyperburst feels great, the planted nature of the Accelerate means it'd be on my foot come race day. The flawed upper in the Razor makes it even that much easier to grab the Accelerate instead.

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel  (RTR Review)
Joost: The Fuel Cell Rebel is a shoe like no other I’ve worn because of that protrusion on the lateral side, exactly where I land. It forces me to pronate more rapidly than normal because of this and has given me some issues with my feet. The upper of the Rebel is a great fit and the foam is good, but I prefer the Salomon.

Jeff: I'm with Joost, and I also disagree. I love the extra flange on the lateral side, and it doesn't give me any issues. While I like the Accelerate a lot and appreciate how smooth it is during easy runs, the Rebel is better at faster speeds. If you are one of those runners who uses one shoe for all, go Accelerate. If you treat running shoes like golf clubs (different shoe for different jobs), I'd recommend the Rebel.

New Balance Fuel Cell TC  (RTR Review)
Sam: Heavier by a not really noticed ounce, pricer for sure at $200, carbon plated, and bouncier the TC is so far my other big smiles reach for shoe of 2020, Whereas the Accelerate relies on a more traditional decoupling approach to transitions, the TC has a very lively plated rocker approach. Its soft bouncy heel landing contrasts with the Accelerate’s denser, more stable, vibration reducing heel feel. Both are excellent with the TC a better long run shoe and the Accelerate the more traditional uptempo option modernized. If price is not an issue I would give a slight nod to the TC.
Jeff: Sam nailed it. Two similar but very different shoes, and the biggest variance has to be the price tag. Ultimately, if you can stomach the $200 barrier of entry, go TC. If not, the Accelerate is a great runner up at quite the cost reduction. But more than any other costly shoe, the TC could be worth it. With more than 100 miles on my pair, the fun hasn't gone away and the durability seems as good as the day they came out of the box. So it could be one of those issues where you spend more up front, but you get far more on the back end.

ASICS Evo Ride (RTR Review)
Sam: Firmer and stiffer for sure with a rockered ride the Evo is less versatile and for me more punishing, if  somewhat more dynamic due to the rocker.
Jeff: The Evo Ride is all about the Guide Sole rocker geometry, and while it makes for a very lively uptempo run, it doesn't work well at easy paces. Give me the Accelerate all day.

ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)
Sam: Softer, more cushioned and bouncier the Nova leans more towards daily training but is less stable (particularly at the heel) and less directed. It is more modern and “fun” in feel but not nearly as polished top to bottom. Priced the same as Accelerate, that extra cushion adds over an ounce to weight. The Nova upper is not nearly as easy to fit as it has stiff overlays unlike the Accelerate. As Nova sits somewhere between daily training and uptempo for me, I prefer the more focused and faster Salomon. 

Nike Vaporfly Next% & Vaporfly 4%
Joost: A completely different ride. The Accelerate is a lot more stable and comfortable to wear, but a little heavier, a more traditional shoe. You can easily train in the Accelerate every day. I wouldn’t advise to do that in the Vaporfly.

Adidas Boston (RTR Review)
Joost: I really like the Boston. I’ve worn a pair of Boston 6 for over a 1000km and they were still going strong. My current pair of Boston 8 is as great an all-rounder as the 6. The Boston is an extremely well made, solid shoe, but the Accelerate is a lot more fun to run in and more forgiving on my feet and legs. I’ve been leaving the Boston at home since I’ve started logging some distance in the Accelerate.

Adidas SL20  (RTR Review)
Sam: Two different approaches to an uptempo shoe at very close to the same weight. Both are on firmer side but the adidas transmits considerably more shock and vibration and this despite the SL20 having 5mm more heel stack.  They actually share a similar outsole design with the SL20 having that characteristic adidas forward flex point enhanced by the Torsion system further back. The Accelerate relies on the decoupling and as such is far easier to run slower paces and due to its midsole package less punishing. I might still lean towards the adidas for shorter racing as it is so snappy but for training and longer and hillier races no contest the Accelerate

Saucony Kinvara 11  (RTR Review)
Sam: The classic Kinvara has more forefoot cushion stack, 6mm more, and far less rubber and weighs about half an ounce less. It is more ponderous to transition and its lower drop at 4mm is felt. In the uptempo that can also be a trainer category I give the nod to Accelerate for its expected better durability, vibration reduction and easier smoother transitions. 

Brooks Revel 3  (RTR Review)
Sam: Softer, bouncier and fun to run the $100 Revel 3 weighs half an ounce more and has a comfy if less secure upper. Comes down to ride preferences but for me the Accelerate is a more versatile more stable and secure option with again superior vibration reduction at the heel 


Reebok Floatride Energy (RTR Review)
Sam: A touch heavier with a relatively crude upper in comparison, but a price tag $30 less, if you like the Floatride Energy I think you will prefer the smoother running, more effectively cushioned (again as with the SL20 having 5mm less at the heel) Accelerate.

Reebok Floatride Fast  (RTR Review)
Joost: Completely different feel. The midsole of the Reebok is quite harsh on impact, in spite of the pebax midsole foam dampening impact a little, and the ride is that of a more like that of a traditional racing flat. The Foatride Run Fast is easily one of my favorite shoes ever (I’m on my 5th pair), but if I could take only one with me on a trip, it would currently be the Accelerate, because it’s more of a universal type of shoe.
Sam: I concur with Joost!
Jeff: Joost is right, they do have a very different feel - though I think I slightly prefer the landing feel of the Reebok. However, everything else about the Accelerate is better than the FRRF, from the upper to the transition and toe off. I want to like the Reebok more than I do, meanwhile the Accelerate just continues to impress.

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

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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

First off really appreciate the great reviews! Keep up the good work (conditions pending)!
I have a question:
Is this a good running shoe to travel with? I like to travel with just one pair of shoes which I can walk around in and also run with (for general city use). In the Sonic Balance review Sam mentioned he really enjoyed the Balance while walking around for two days during the Running Event. And after reading this review I sort of get the sense that these are simply better running shoes... so what would you guys recommend?

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Anonymous,
Yes they would be an excellent shoe for travel run and walk. The Balance would have a slight advantage of a roomier toe box and a bit more forefoot stability. While Balance is superb for daily training, Accelerate is more fun and faster if somewhat less cushioned.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Anonymous said...

Got it, thanks for your reply Sam! Stay safe out there.

vitch said...

Hi RTR Crew,

I just wanted to say that thanks to your site, I've bought the sonic 3 balance (sorry this message is not on the correct review). For the moment I only ran 3 times in these, but I trully love them ! My first impression is that these are amazing !

So thanks a lot, without your review I would have never bought these, or even consider salomon running shoes.

Keep on with the great work guys !!!

Cheers from France

MechaDriver said...

How would this shoe compare to the Skechers GoRun 7+?

Bentos said...

Any comparisons with the Peg Turbo?

Thank you in advance.

Jeff said...

Bentos-

My pair of Accelerate just got here so I haven't contributed to the review yet - still working on getting mileage. But after this morning's run in them I can chime in some. I'm a much bigger fan of the Peg Turbo 2 over the 1 (the improved upper, but also the midsole of the 2nd iteration felt much more structured while the 1st felt sloppy in a number of ways), and compared to the Accelerate the Peg Turbo 2 is similar but different. The Accelerate has a little more dialed in fit upper-wise, with a much firmer midsole. Really a matter of preference, if you like soft and bouncy, Peg Turbo would be better, but if you like a firmer and snappier ride, go Accelerate. Also, if you are thinking as a race day shoe over faster/lighter trainer, I'd give the edge to the Accelerate, while if you want more of a lighter trainer, go Peg Turbo 2.

MechaDriver-

The midsoles are almost polar opposites - the Accelerate midsole is incredibly dense, while the HyperBurst feels super light. The Skechers upper is also less structured, while the Salomon upper feels really dialed in. Kind of similar to the Peg Turbo comparison above, if you want a dialed in speedwork shoe that you can race in (and also train) then I'd favor the Accelerate. If you want a shoe that you can train in, but also do some speedwork or racing, then the Skechers would be the call. Both can be good for easy daily runs and faster stuff, but I think the Salomon excels more at fast, while the Skechers is better for easy. Does that make sense?

bringmemyfix said...

I just bought these, largely on the basis of your review - thanks. I was looking for something to go in rotation with some Boston 8s for long/easy/tempo efforts, but perhaps a little more forgiving. After testing yesterday, I completely agree with your findings: a fantastic shoe for descending, excellent for tempo including up and down climbs, and very smooth at easier paces. The one area in which it was lacking compared to the Boston 8 was during some short and shallow hill sprints. It didn't have the firmer toe-off which is one of the Boston's strengths.

So I'll happily use this combo – adidas for more aggressive days, Salomon for the relaxed side of long/tempo, plus routes with lots of descending.

I got my usual UK10 in the Accelerate and it comes up very similar in dimensions to a UK10.5 in the Boston (the adidas is one of the rare shoes in which I need to size up due to the pointy toe box aggravating my third toe). It's good for my narrow feet, and stays put despite not feeling conventionally snug around the heel. I use a lace-lock for all my shoes. The lack of a stiff counter is greatly appreciated by my tendinopathy-ridden Achilles.

Thanks again. Might get some Sonic 3 Balance for my wife as she's a fan of the Brooks Revel 3 which is compared favourably in that review :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks bringmemyfix. Glad they are working out and thanks for the feedback. Yes that characteristic adidas front flex and torsion system snap.
Sam, Editor

Bentos said...

How does this compare to the Atreyu shoe?

Bentos said...

Also, thank you Jeff for your earlier comment!

MK said...

HI Sam,

Just curious: as time has passed, what are your thoughts on durability for the Accelerate?

Take care, and thanks!

Joost De Raeymaeker said...

Hi MK
Joost here
I just checked and I’ve now put 200km (125 miles) on the Accelerate. I took them out as recently as last night for an easy 20k run inside my 2km lockdown radius. The outsole rubber has maybe just a sliver shaven off at the medial ball of my foot, which is where I strike. I can’t see any other wear and the upper also looks and feels the same, so I expect to get at least 4 times my current distance out of them. Still loving them!

MK said...

Hi Joost,
Thanks for the update! Glad you're still enjoying them!

BC said...

Got a pair of these on Sam’s recommendation as an alternate to my beloved Bostons. (Thanks, Sam!). And since I love Salomon trail shoes, I gave these a shot.

Very typical Salomon. Incredible build and material quality. Emphasis on durability (all that Contragrip!). And a little different than typical running shoes. Salomon makes the shoes you need, which maybe don’t always feel like what you want when you first try them on. But trust them.

The midsole sets this apart. Dense, with a ton of rebound. It’s a material that I don’t think anyone else is using. (Typical Salomon.) I can’t really comment on the brand’s hupe about vibration reduction (as denser materials would transmit more vibration—simple physics) but it does an outstanding job of soaking up higher impact footstrike, like descents and fast starts. You can plod along at an easy pace, but they come alive at tempo. Salomon defies the current trend of maxi stack cushioning, and they give you the shoe you need. I found it to be very comfortable and smooth at tempo, But it is firm. Salomon trail shoes tend to be firm, too, as they factor in the softness of the trail. But their road shoes tend towards firm with an aim to be efficient. These are. The midsole is firm, provides responsive cushioning when you run at tempo with good form.

The upper is different, too. You really have to lock your heel down, which may require the heel-lock lacing, in order to get the right fit and roll-off. The unique heel/achilles system works, when you lock your heel down. The midfoot grabs and holds, like Salomon trail shoes, but with a lighter hand. It all works. My only complaint about the upper is ventilation. But I get the sense it will last a long time. (My beloved Bostons had the Boost and Conti that lasts FOREVER, but the uppers always fall apart first).

These will have a familiar feel to those who run Salomons on the trail. To those new to Salomon, you will not be getting a shoe designed to match the other hot new trends in a magazine. You get smartly designed shoes built to the highest quality with premium materials. This is a shoe designed for running at tempo. If that is what you do, this is the shoe you need.

It’s kind of like shopping at an old store in Europe. You don’t browse. You tell the shopkeeper exactly what you need. S/he listens. And they cone back with the Sonic 3 Accelerate.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks BC!
Great feedback!
Often runners get hung up on brands and the same model over and over. Your shopkeeper analogy is spot on!
Sam,Editor

JC said...

Hey guys, the Accelerates sound pretty nifty, just wondering if these would be roughly in the same style of shoe as the Hoka Rincons, and if so how do they compare? Thanks!

Sam Winebaum said...

Much more rubber and expected durability for Accelerate. This comes at a cost of weight 1.2 oz heavier. The ride in Rincon may be more fun and race worthy but overall as a light trainer/ even daily trainer Accelerate is a better pick.
Sam, Editor