Sunday, November 22, 2020

Diadora Mythos Blueshield Volo Review

 Article by Michael Ellenberger and Jeff Beck

Diadora Mythos Blueshield Volo ($135)

Introduction


Pros: 

Michael: More nimble and flexible than it looks (and hey - it looks good!)

Michael: Nice balance of cushion and agility 

Michael: Durable and solid, it’s sure to be a mileage hog’s dream

Jeff: Plush comfort all the way around

Jeff: Durable outsole, midsole, and upper, this is a big mileage shoe


Cons:

Michael: Slightly firm without any real spring

Michael: Finicky lacing, especially around the tongue and ankle 

Michael: Sizing quirks (go a half-size down)

Jeff: Uninspired ride

Jeff: Fit is off in every dimension


Stats

Approx. Weight:: men's 10.5 oz / (US8.5 most will size down so US9 approximate) 

Samples: 10.3 oz / 292g  (M8) 11.2 oz / 316g (M10.5)

Stack Height: Total stack unlisted, 11mm published drop

Available now.  $135


Tester Profiles

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. 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. 


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. 



First Impressions and Fit


Michael: They’re here! My first ever Diadora, the Mythos Blueshield Volo isn’t just a mouthful - the shoe is jam packed with features to back up all those syllables. At $135, with a 11mm offset and approximate weight of 10.8 oz in a US9 (most will size down so more like 10.5 at a US9 in fit), it’s Diadora’s lightest (and in my uneducated opinion, best looking!) trainer to date - but can it hang with the big dogs of the running shoe world? I went with a size 8 (a half-size down), on Diadora’s recommendation, and found the fit to be great - without knowing, I’d have guessed it’s an 8.5.

Jeff: My initial response was very similar to Michael’s - this is my first Diadora, and they are quite the sight. However, I didn’t get the “go down a half size” memo, so I went with my true-to-size 10.5, and it’s decidedly not a great fit. I have a full thumb-and-a-half width in front on my big toe, which might be fine for throwing these bad boys on for a Home Depot trip, but to log some serious mileage - it’s not great.



Upper

Michael: Setting aesthetics aside for a moment, the Volo has a really well-done upper - and in an unexpected method, no less. By that, I mean when looking at the upper - a traditional (if open and airy!) mesh, significant toe and heel overlays, and no gusseted tongue - I don’t see anything I love. But what’s why we run the shoes! I think ultimately, the upper of the shoe is perhaps the best part. 


Let me knock out some negatives quickly - the laces are too long (not a big deal), and the tongue is slightly uneven (in that it slides laterally, even when laced tight). 


But! There are a lot of positives here. The mesh, as noted above, is superbly breathable and nice, and holds the foot securely without too many overlays. And the otherlays that there are - the big logo, the toe bumper, the rounded heel counter - all do what they need to do without getting in the way. Another surprising positive? The dual tabs (on on the heel, one on the tongue) that make putting on this shoe a cinch (pun fully intended). 


Jeff: I wouldn’t go so far to say that Michael is “wrong” per se, but I didn’t enjoy the upper nearly as much as he did. He describes it well, but it took me three runs to get the fit dialed in, and even then, it’s far from dialed in. I don’t have a narrow foot in any way, but now I know what narrow footed runners experience with the shoes that I usually rave about.. It didn’t matter if I was on the treadmill or running streets, I felt constantly unstable in this shoe. Which, of all things you can be constantly in during a run, that’s gotta be near the top of the list of things you do not want.


I opted to try a runner’s knot, but that didn’t give the shoe any greater hold. Ultimately the midfoot section is just too big. When I pull it tight enough to hold the foot well, the upper wrinkles up on itself and creates hot spots. I had to double check that this wasn’t actually a 2E/4E width, but it was a standard D.


Lastly, I agree with both of Michael’s criticisms, the laces are too long, and the tongue isn’t planted, but compared to the other issues I had, these feel like complaining about seating assignments on the Titanic.

Midsole

Michael: There are a couple elements to discuss here with regards to the midsole - the “traditional” elements of the midsole (a “morpho base” carved from foam) and Diadora’s signature Blueshield, which Diadora says “combines cushioning and responsiveness by minimizing asymmetrical behavior in feet.” 


You can actually see the Blueshield peeking through the outsole. 

 

It’s a firm and traditional ride (as will be covered, below) - but I do think the combination of materials gives the shoe a bit of a boost that we may not see in a purely-EVA (for example) midsole. Of note here too? The heel-toe drop is 11mm, which is, well, significant! It’s quite a steep drop, but I’m pleased to report that it does not feel nearly so severe - it’s not as much for a forward-slanted midsole as the 12mm ASICS DynaBlast and, heck, it could have passed as 8mm to me. Don’t overthink the offset stat.


Durability-wise, I’m also impressed with the midsole (and outsole). I pounded the roads and treadmill for dozens of miles with very minimal wear or compression of the midsole . With its thick stack and a durable build, I really think the Diadora should be targeted by those stacking high mileage weeks. There’s enough here to handle easy recovery jogs without really holding you back on those runs where you choose to pick it up. 


Jeff: Michael absolutely nails it. There’s some extra stuff going on under the hood, and ultimately it provides a decently cushioned ride with plenty of durability. My heavier frame has put some wrinkles on the sides of the midsole less than 40 miles in, but they don’t feel any different thus far, and I think this is largely cosmetic. I’ll go into it more during the ride portion, but the big knock I have against this midsole is that it’s perfectly fine - and we’re right now in the middle of a glut of big mileage daily trainers that leave “perfectly fine” in the dust. But more on that in a minute.


Outsole

Michael: I worry less about outsole on a trainer versus on a racer (especially a trainer that’s unquestionably on the heavier end, even if it doesn’t quite feel it), but the Diadora checks all the boxes it needs to. The rubber is certainly thick here, and distributed across the platform. Fortunately, there are adequate outsole grooves, and (as mentioned above!) the shoe punches above its weight in terms of nimbleness and flexibility. Even on some slick roads (our first [very light] snow!), I had no issues with the Volo’s traction. 


Jeff: As a supinator I tend to put a lot of wear on the outer edge of the midfoot, and the strategic placement of the brown pad of rubber makes my idiosyncrasy a non-issue. The little bits of exposed midsole aren’t in a spot that will lead to premature failure or an uneven ride, and the rubber provided doesn’t turn the shoe into a stiff brick. All that plus solid durability and good grip? The outsole works well, and would be the most consistent part of the shoe for me.


Ride

Michael: Let’s get to it then, shall we? The Mythos Blueshield Volo is a fun ride, if a slightly uninspired one. What does that mean? Well, the Volo is, at its core, a bit of a chunky trainer - not bad, by any means, but still not a “lightweight trainer.” On the run, you wouldn’t guess its weight or stack, but you wouldn’t mistake it for a performance trainer, either - it’s somewhere in the comfortable middleground. 


But the “bad” news, speaking comparatively, is that there are some really, really good “chunky” trainers. I’m thinking most specifically of the Saucony Endorphin Shift (10.4 oz) which is slightly heavier than the Volo, but rides even more smoothly, owing to its “Speedroll” geometry. 


On the move, the Volo is smooth enough, but not necessarily a standout. Taking it for some strides, it was noticeably heavy (which is fine, considering what it is!), but at slower paces (say, sub-tempo), I didn’t have many issues with the Volo. What it lacks is that “something special” that others (namely the Endorphin Shift) have. There’s not a ton of spring or bounce here - it’s firm, and it’s not dead, but it’s not particularly lively either. 


Jeff: Michael said it more poignantly than I planned on -  but here goes anyway. The ride is adequate..if this shoe came out three-to-five years ago, I think we’d all be singing its praises. But it was released in 2020, amidst a murderer’s row of shoes that weigh about the same and run so much better. Maybe there was too much pre-release hype, declaring this shoe something special, but ride wise, it is anything but special. 


Conclusions and Recommendations

Michael: I’m extremely pleased with my first Diadora. Is it a perfect trainer? Not by a longshot. But with a terrific upper, a pretty-good ride, and standout aesthetics, I think the Diadora Mythos Blueshield Volo is the shoe that should truly put Diadora on the mainstream running map. 


I put a lot of words in the “Ride” section about its middling performance on the run, partially owing to its nearly 10.5-ounce platform, but I don’t want prospective buyers to get hung up on what’s essentially a matter of degrees. It’s a damn good shoe, in a beautiful package, at a reasonable price - and I look forward to trying more Diadoras soon.

Michael’s Score: 9.0/10


Jeff: This is the most Ford Taurus shoe I’ve run in or reviewed in years. I wouldn’t even go the vanilla route, because vanilla can be outstanding. It isn’t terrible by any means, it’s the best example of “whelmed” I’ve experienced in a shoe. I could probably get past the uninspired ride if the upper wasn’t as much of a trainwreck as it is - and you could argue that had I gone down a half size I wouldn’t have so much disdain for the shoe, but I disagree. This shoe fits my foot so poorly in so many aspects, going down a half size would effectively be a rounding error. I appreciate the price point being where it is, as more and more shoes break, and in some cases go flying past, the long time $150 price point for well-cushioned daily trainers. But it doesn’t do enough even remotely right for me to recommend anyone give these a shot when there are so many truly incredible shoes available right now.


Jeff’s Score: 6.7 out of 10

Ride: 6 (50%) Fit: 6 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


ASICS Dynablast (RTR Review)

Michael: Two high-drop shoes that will undoubtedly fly under the radar a little. Both are terrific options, and both could have a place in your rotation. The Volo is a little less agile and should be geared towards easier running, whereas the Dynablast has a little more get-up-and-go. Like I said, I think you’d ideally have both, but for those choosing, just weigh what you want - a little smoother of a ride (Diadora) or a little more zip (ASICS).


Jeff: Polar opposite for me, the Dynablast fit and ride are shockingly good, and it punches way above its pricetag to be an unsung hero of 2020. Not enough shoe for me to make it a big mileage daily trainer, but it finds a spot in my rotation much easier than the MBV can.


ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)

Michael: Here, that “little more zip” from the Dyanblast becomes “a lot more zip!” The Novablast is a super squishy, super energetic shoe. Those who want a firmer, more traditional ride will prefer the Diadora, but those looking for something new and different - and quite fun! - should try the Novablast. 


Jeff: I’m a little ashamed to admit I’ve gotten into more than one internet argument about the Novablast, and how unstable the shoe is (and I don’t have stability problems!) but it’s otherwise a truly amazing shoe. Compared to the MBV, it’s a slam dunk.


Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

Michael: I drew this comparison several times throughout the review, but I think the Endorphin Shift is the ideal high-cushioned trainer. For a shoe that weighs in over 10 ounces, the Shift rides almost like its little brother, the Endorphin Speed, owing to its Speedroll geometry and well-done cushioning scheme. The Diadora is quite good, but between these two, I do think the Saucony is more dynamic and overall a better buy.


Jeff: I spent most of 2019 banging the drum that the Saucony Triumph 17 was the shoe of the year, and while the 18 is arguably better, it’s no longer the best big mileage daily trainer Saucony makes. The Endorphin Shift is on my short list for shoes of the year, while the MBV is one of the bigger disappointments. The extra $5 for the Saucony is the best $5 you will spend this year and it isn’t close.


Hoka One One Rincon 2 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Rincon is a lightweight, streamlined trainer, but we found it quick to wear down (with very scant rubber across the outsole). The Diadora shouldn’t have that problem, but is a little more of a dinosaur (a more traditional riding trainer) in comparison. Those who value outsole longevity and a more stable ride should look to the Diadora, but if you can get away with the Rincon 2, I think it’s a more fun option.


Hoka One One Clifton Edge (RTR Review)

Michael: Hoka’s lengthy Clifton Edge has a long platform that aids stability, but it comes at the cost of weight (or more accurately perceived weight at the rear as it weighs almost 2 ounces less than the Volo)  and general oddity when running. I ultimately found it to be too much of a “good” thing, as I could never really hit the “groove” with the lengthened heel. I prefer the more traditional Volo, even for faster running.


Nike Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Michael: Nike’s longest-running trainer underwent some major changes in 2020, and they weren’t particularly well received (at least by me!). The new Zoom Air platform is firmer and simply less enjoyable to run in than Diadora’s Blueshield cushioning. The Pegasus has a slight edge in faster running, but I think most runners should choose the Volo.

Jeff: I liked the Peg 37 more than most reviewers, but I would agree with Michael that the Pegasus platform is firmer, and isn’t as cushioned as the MBV. That said, I find it much more fun to run in, at any speed, and while the upper isn’t nearly as plush as the Diadora, it holds the foot in a way the MBV cannot. I’d favor the Peg.


Nike React Infinity  (RTR Review)

Jeff: I had to do some shoe surgery to add an eyelet to the Infinity because the heel slip was bad - but once I did my issues with the shoe went away. I’m back and forth on how much I like React as a midsole material, but compared to the Blueshield, it’s far more lively. I don’t appreciate the abbreviated guide rails in the Nike, but it’s a minor grievance compared to the many in the Diadora.


adidas Ultraboost 20 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Knit uppers seem to be finally on the way out, and Boost as a material is roughly the same age as my daughter - who’s in first grade. The adidas comes through heavier and much more expensive, and it’s those two attributes that make me consider the MBV over the UB20 in the battle of attrition.


Saucony Triumph 18 (RTR Review)

Jeff:  The slightly improved version of my favorite shoe of last year, the Triumph 18 weighs more and costs more, but the upper is a mile better and the midsole is also much more fun to run in.


Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Saucony’s more mid-grade daily trainer, the Ride brings more to the table than it should as a very well rounded daily trainer. It’s head and shoulders better than the MBV when the pace picks up, and its cushioning holds up better during long slow runs as well.


Mizuno Wave Sky Neo (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Mizuno hasn’t yet been officially released in the states, and its price with exchange rates is enough to hurt your feelings - but its upper is absolutely sublime and the midsole has great bounce and protection. Both attributes are the polar opposite of the MBV. Is it worth the price difference? Hard to say for sure, but ...probably.


Brooks Glycerin 18 

Jeff: Brooks big daily trainer has been slightly reworking their successful formula for a few years. The 18 is a little long in the tooth, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The MBV feels like a shoe trying to be this nearly year old Glycerin, but it doesn’t succeed in the basic ways. You should be able to find the G18 for a deal (the 19 is coming soon), but even if you can’t, it’s worth the slight $ premium.

 Read reviewers' full run bios here

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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