Thursday, September 03, 2020

Skora Kyori Review

 Article by Michael Ellenberger

Skora Kyori ($155)

Michael is a patent attorney and 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon.


It’s been a while, but I’ve run in Skora offerings before. When I worked in run specialty in high school and college, we sold a number of their offerings, including the wild Skora FORM (see below), and the slightly more “regular” Skora Tempo. At that time (and for much of their history), Skora was primarily aimed at zero-drop runners (shoes with no offset between the heel and toe), and while that wasn’t a geometry I necessarily subscribed to, I found their shoes to be well-designed - maybe a bit too Vibram-esque, at times, but hey - a lot of us got swept up in that for a while. Regardless, Skora developed somewhat of a cult following.

Several years later, I was sad to see reports that Skora Running was closing its doors, and I truthfully had forgotten about the brand… until now! 

Fortunately, Skora Running is back (and with some running pants that honestly look awesome). Those of us receiving targeted ads have likely come across blasts for the Kyori and Pulse recently - I know I have! - and I eventually added the Kyori to my lineup in a very sleek “Patriot Blue/Sky Blue” colorway - with the offset lacing and the speckled midsole, I think this is an attractive athletic shoe, to boot. But how does it run? 


Weight: 11 oz.

Heel-to-Toe Offset: 6mm (22mm heel - 16mm forefoot)

Price: $155

Availability: Now


  • Handsome and well-constructed

  • 6mm platform is perfect and can handle fast and slow runs alike


  • Heel lockdown issues 

  • Overly stiff at the midfoot, with overly dense foam

  • Upper - even if nice! - is overbuilt at the toe, causing some irritation

First Impressions and Fit

I won’t lie, the first impression out of the box was, well, this thing is heavy. There are similarly-weighted trainers on the market, to be sure, but something about the outward appearance of the Kyori suggests a more nimble platform - compared to, for example, the Saucony Omni 19. The asymmetrical lacing is a nice trick, though - something that’s been conserved across all prior Skora models I’ve seen - and fortunately didn’t present any issues with my Stryd footpod. Sizing-wise, I think 8.5 (TTS) was the right option, athough the combination of a snug toebox and loose heel collar didn’t fit me quite right (more on that below).

Even so, there was sufficient lockdown through the midfoot, so with my Kyoris on and the return of Skora on my mind, I set out for my first run….


I’ll give you the skinny, first: Skora has done a lot of things right on this upper, and while I do have some nitpicks, I think it’s the strongest part of the shoe (well, or the outsole!). It’s thick enough to feel durable and premium without coming across as overly hot. 

Up front, there is a series of overlays or toe-cap elements that I think could be eliminated; I immediately noticed some added pressure on my big toe when running in the shoe. It did loosen over time - especially in subsequent runs with thinner socks - but, with the exception of the reflective strip, I think much of it could be shaved off for a more open, airy toebox. The tongue is on the thin side but, I think owing to the asymmetrical lacing, not problematic. 

Around back, the Kyori has a microfiber heel cap and inner heel lining. I did notice a little heel slippage here - I think maybe the heel collar doesn’t come up quite high enough, and that’s leading to some feeling of insecurity. I can tell you the laces didn’t seem to be the problem; I was able to get them sufficiently tight for even faster running (and cornering), and didn’t have any irritations with the whole lace-tongue arrangement. Instead, I think it just needs another millimeter of heel collar (or a lace system that comes closer to the ankle opening) to really nail the fit. This was not a huge issue - I didn’t have any achilles blistering or anything - but something to keep in mind. Paired with the snug-feeling toebox, it does create a strange illusion of being simultaneously loose and tight.

Oh, and something we don’t address often enough at RoadTrailRun - the sockliner (insole) here is really well done. It’s memory foam (or some equivalent), and it’s quite comfortable without coming across as mushy or dense. 


As far as I know, Skora doesn’t have a name for the foam used on the midsole in the Kyori, but their website does describe it as “soft-to-moderate midsole hardness,” which is not a descriptor I would necessarily use. 

Instead, I would describe the Kyori’s midsole as “moderate to firm,” or perhaps just “firm.” Indeed, the Kyori is pretty rigid and (perhaps unsurprisingly if you’ve looked at the photo), especially so in the midfoot. And while firmer midsoles can still be springy, if formulated with sufficient energy return and “bounce,” I didn’t really find that on the Kyori. Instead, it’s a somewhat flat-feeling ride, with a decent forefoot toe-off (I think aided by the 6mm drop), but not a lot of “bounce” from the midsole. 

Now, there are some positive elements baked in here, too. For one thing, I think a firmer midsole - even if it doesn’t necessarily feel as “plush” as an ultra soft (think Propel v1) midsole - is better for faster running. In that regard, I think the Skora Kyori is a pretty competent shoe for runners who like both a firm ride and want a shoe for uptempo running. But…. that’s tempered a fair bit, to be sure, by the weight. You can have both - a faster running trainer that is still on the heavier side (think of the Endorphin Shift!), but I don’t think the Kyori quite reaches that. More of that in the Ride section.


Skora has rolled out a proprietary high-abrasion outsole on the Kyori and let me tell you - it’s going to last! Seriously, this “worn” photo (below) was taken part way through my review process - about 15 miles in - and I think with a little soapy water, they’d look brand new. Plus, the thickness of the tread - heavy as it may be - means the Kyori isn’t sliding anywhere in rainy or (I assume!) snowy conditions. The Kyori has you covered.

Even though the outsole is scored for increased flexibility (something we often ask for here at RTR!), the thick slab of midsole atop the outsole sort of moots any added flexibility. Still, it’s well-intentioned and does likely lend some flexibility, especially at the toe-off. 


The Kyori is (unsurprisingly, if you’ve read above) a pretty firm ride. There’s road feel, to be sure, but perhaps a little too much at times - I wish these were just a little more lively when moving at faster clips. At slower paces, I wasn’t overly impressed - but that’s the case for most super firm shoes: they tend to get better as you get moving. Yet, even on faster runs in the Kyori, I never quite felt that “pop” that I was hoping for. 

Part of that dullness (I can only assume) is from the weight - the Kyori is heavy, at 11 ounces, and feels bottom-weighted at the forefoot with that big midsole slab. But even so, I wish the         geometry was just a little more aggressive - like what we find with Hoka’s Metarocker or Saucony’s Speedroll technology. As it is, once you get to the forefoot of the Kyori, there’s decent toe-off, but it takes a lot of energy to get there, between both the lack of flexibility and the weight. 

So I didn’t like it at slower speeds, and I was underwhelmed at faster - where does that leave us? Well, I don’t want to say there isn’t a slot for the Kyori in your lineup - there is, if you want it. I think it’s cushioned enough to handle long runs at moderate clips, and the durability of it means (if you’re okay with carrying this much heft around!) that high-mileage runners who just want something to grind miles in won’t be disappointed.


I tipped my hand there in the last paragraph of the “Ride” section, but I think I want my takeaway of the Kyori to be this - this is not a shoe I can wholeheartedly recommend, but it’s certainly not a trainwreck, either. There are a lot of strong elements of the Kyori - the lacing is comfortable and a nice addition, the insole is well-done, the upper is quite breathable (if heavily overlay-laden), and the outsole seems to be one of the most promising in the field. 

But ultimately, a shoe is often defined by its midsole, and I think Skora has just missed the mark here. It’s firm - which I do prefer to mushy, to be sure - but it’s just not particularly exciting, nor springy underfoot. At nearly 11 ounces, I would hesitate to reach for the Kyori for anything other than easy running. Now, that statement in itself isn’t damning, but there are plenty of daily trainers that offer road protection and durability with more lively rides. The Skora Pulse (a 2mm drop companion to the Kyori) looks to have a different midsole and a slightly faster profile - I’d be curious to see if that fits the bill. No matter what, I am genuinely glad to see Skora back in the game, and hope to see more innovative trainers coming from them soon!

Michael’s Score: 5.5/10


Nike Zoom Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Two firm options, to be sure, but the ride on the Peg is a little smoother. Both have slight lockdown issues, but the toebox on the Pegasus is better done and the weight and responsiveness of the React foam give the Nike an edge, especially at faster paces.

Hoka One One Clifton 7 (RTR Review)

I came too late to our Clifton review, but the Clifton 7 is actually the first Clifton I’ve ever worn and… I’m not sure I’m sold! The upper is secure, but the ride was softer (nearing mushier) than I expected, and there wasn’t quite the pop I imagined. Still, I think the Hoka has edges over the Kyori - namey in weight and overall fit. I wouldn’t rush to promote either, but I think the Hoka is going to fit a few more feet better. Certainly runners who want a firm ride will prefer the Kyori.

Hoka One One Clifton Edge (RTR Review)

The Clifton Edge is a shoe I couldn’t quite “click” with - I found it sort of clunky at slower paces, and hard to activate at faster clips. Still, for all its volume, I appreciate its relatively lightweight and versatile ride. As with the Clifton, I think runners who really want to maintain ground contact and road feel will like the Kyori - but the general consensus is that the Clifton Edge is a better performer.

Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

This was a comparison I drew frequently during the review, just to suggest that a shoe’s weight doesn’t preempt it from being a sluggish ride. In fact, the over-10-ounce Shift is one of the liveliest trainers I’ve tested in 2020, thanks to its tremendous SpeedRoll geometry - resulting in more than 200 miles onboard in my review cycle. So it should come as no surprise that I prefer the Shift to the Kyori.

Newton Fate 6 (RTR Review soon)

A newcomer to my feet (though I’ve worn its faster companion, the Distance 9, before), the Fate is driven by Newtons’ proprietary lug technology underfoot. The ride is not necessarily innovative if you are a forefoot striker, but I think that’s exactly the point - activate the Fate (and any Newton) correctly, and you’ll have readily accessible forefoot cushioning. Gimmicky? A little, but I found the Fate adequately smooth, and a better daily trainer for forefoot strikers than the Kyori.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. 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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Anonymous said...

What size are you? The shoes seem really heavy for their stack. The price also seems ridiculous considering how generic the midsole seems.

Michael said...

Size 8.5. They are indeed quite heavy. Price-wise, it’s not entirely out of the realm for what we see for higher-end trainers, which is what they were aiming for here. Not saying it’s worth it - just saying, it’s not like they’re cheap-feeling in any way.

Curt said...

The Skora resurgence does seem a bit misguided. I love their minimalist designs, but the new line-up seems clunky and generic. I'm not really sure what they're going for here and I'm not sure they have deep enough pockets for a few cycles of mixed success and/or failure.