Monday, December 07, 2020

ASICS Tartheredge 2 Review: The Tarther Tradition Continues

Article by Bryan Lim


ASICS Tatheredge 2 ($140 USD, $180 AUD)


Introduction


Bryan: As in Cheng’s RTR Review of the Tartherdge (version 1), the Tartheredge is one in the Tarther series of racing flats, including the Tarther-Japan and Tarther-zeal. Whilst not objectively well known in the “Western” running scene, the Tartherdge is probably the best known Tarther flat. It is the only Tarther version readily available, at least in Australia.


With the widespread proliferation and popularity of high stacked carbon plated racers, a select few remain loyal to the traditional racing flat, and yet are able to deliver stellar performances in them. The Asics Tartheredge 2 was very recently used to topple Sweden’s women’s half marathon record. The recent implementation of stack height limitations on shoes, and lower stack limits for track events supports the racing flat’s relevance on the track, notwithstanding fierce competition from the recent popularity of technology laden and cushioned spikes such as the Nike Dragonfly and adidas adizero Avanti.


Pros and Cons


Pros: DSP outsole providing ample traction. Cushioned midsole providing protection over longer distances. Spectacularly dialled in fit.

Cons: Quality control issues with weight (see below). Dull at slower paces. Stale design, which is not necessarily a con if you are a fan of the 90s look.


Stats

Weight:: men's (US9) 6.91 oz / 196 g (LEFT shoe), 7.23oz / 205g (RIGHT shoe) 

Stack: 27mm / 17mm (10mm drop)

Available now. $140 USD, $180 AUD


Tester Profile

Bryan is a road and trail runner living in Melbourne, Australia. He is a consistent sub 1:25 half marathoner and is presently chasing a sub 3-hour marathon. He is 176cm/ 5'9" tall and weighs about 63kg / 140lbs.

First Impressions and Fit


Bryan: Having seen but not worn Version 1, the Tartheredge 2 looks very similar to its older sibling out of the box. What impressed me the most was that it looks far better in person than its advertised image on the Asics website. Fresh out of the box, the Tartherdge 2 looks like a pair of shoes kept in a time capsule locked away in 1995. Excitement aside, therein lay a critical issue. The left and right side had a weight difference of 9g / 0.32 oz, with the lighter side still weighing 12g / 0.42 oz heavier than the advertised weight. As a racing flat, weight is crucial, and the traditional notion of having the most minimal shoe as an advantage seemed to have been overlooked.


It is true to size, length and width-wise. As expected, the fit was dialed in but not as snug as other racing flats. An Asics’ Frontrunner ambassador notes that Version 1 is narrower than the 2.


Upper

Bryan: The most noticeable change is the dropping of the  虎走 or “tiger run” motif on the heel counter. Instead, the motif has been downsized as in the image below.

Like Version 1, the faux suede eyestay and double stitch provides structure to the upper and a housing for the mesh upper and vamp. The mesh used in Version 2 looks far more modern than that on Version 1, with Asics opting to use a more perforated, ventilated and soft forefoot vamp. Note that the vamp pictured two images above has a thin true mesh layer that sits underneath. The mesh utilised on the side is more rigid, with the Asics vector providing even more structure to provide a dialed in fit on both lateral and medial sides.


The tongue takes on and continues the front vamp’s soft double layered mesh. As one would expect from a well designed flat, it is both thin yet sufficiently cushioned and secure.


Asides from dropping the motif from the heel counter, there seems to be little change from Version 1 in design and construction. Both are anatomically molded and this is crucial to the shoe’s secure and locked down feel.

As in the image above, the adidas Takumi Sen also offers a similarly constructed heel counter. The Asics however provides a more secure feel with a higher cushioned cuff. A subtle, but crucial difference in terms of comfort.


Overall, the Tartheredge 2 offers a totally secure, locked down feel that while seeming overly rigid at first, wears in to feel like a second skin that will remain in place at top speed.


Midsole

Bryan: The Tartherdge 2 has 2mm of stack height added as compared to its predecessor, both in the rear and forefoot, retaining its 10mm drop. This is surprising given the aggressive nature of most racing flats. For example, the adidas Takumi Sen features a 6mm drop and even the Asics Metaracer features a 9mm drop.


Referring to the image above, the 27mm stack height of the Tartheredge is apparent when compared to the Takumi Sen. To put it into perspective, the Tatheredge 2 has the same total stack height as the adidas Ultra Boost PB, and is about the same as the Nike Pegasus 37 (28mm), adidas Boston 8 (26mm)  with the Asics Metaracer at 30mm. (All total stack heights from Running Warehouse. ASICS most often lists midsole only stack heights.)


The combination of a relatively high stack with Flytefoam Propel, which is advertised to promote a high-energy return that increases the bounce effect with a responsive energy return, does provide for a cushioned yet responsive ride which is surprising for a racing flat. The Flytefoam Propel is softer than the Flytefoam used in the Metaracer, notwithstanding the plate found in the latter. Naturally, Flytefoam Propel is firmer than Asics’ Flytefoam Blast midsole found in the Dynablast and Novablast.


Outsole


Bryan: This is probably the most unique feature of the shoe. It is the only Asics shoe (on the Australian market) that features the extensive use of the DSP waffle outsole. As Cheng mentioned in his review of Version 1, the DSP technology is proprietarily owned by one supplier in Japan, hence its limited use. 

Left: Tartheredge 2 Right: Takumi Sen

The adidas Takumi Sen is another one of a rare breed of shoes with a DSP outsole. Referring to the image above, the individual waffle piece used in the Tartheredge 2 is larger than the Takumi Sen. There is no noticeable advantage for this, but the strategic use of the waffle further up into toe wrap would provide a slight advantage in a dead sprint. The DSP waffle delivers unparalleled traction and is most satisfying when it can be felt crunching and almost grinding into each bitumen nodule. It is loud before the waffle eventually wears in.


The rear of the outsole features strategically placed AHARPLUS rubber c.f. AHAR used in Version 1. Asics provides that AHAR™ has an abrasion resistance about two times higher and AHARPLUS™ about three times higher than our conventional rubber. While this is favourable, DSP traditionally starts wears out after about 100 miles / 160km, which essentially defeats the purpose of the AHARPLUS. In saying that, while this may benefit a heel striker, the conundrum would be that he or she would then not realise the benefits of the DSP forefoot. 


This shoe also implements a torsion and stability plastic arch system that provides stability and likely adds to the responsiveness in its ride. Referring to the image above, the “Propulsion Trusstic” system utilised is similar to the adidas’ Torsion system, except that in the Tartheredge 2, the plastic plate extends well into the forefoot and almost mimics the Metaracer’s wishbone shaped carbon plate. Similar to the carbon plate in the Metaracer, the bottom-loaded plastic feature adds to the shoe’s responsiveness, like a spring.


Ride


The ride is where all each component of the shoe comes together very nicely. In the age of high profiled super shoes with each manufacturer claiming the benefits’ of its new technology, the Tartheredge 2 presents the opposite - a no-frills ride. No plate, no Energy Rods, no Pebax. The classic use of DSP and a strategic wishbone shaped ‘Trusstic’ torsioning system that provides needed stability at quick paces is clever. It also adds to the midsole’s responsiveness akin to a carbon plate, but more forgiving naturally that it is plastic. Like the Takumi Sen, the Trusstic system provides medial support and aids in the transition of one’s gait. For a racing flat, the relatively high stack and severe drop of 10mm is welcomed and would be an easy flat for the modern runner to transition into. Overall, the ride is smooth and snappy, presenting itself with a fine balance of responsiveness, flexibility and protection


Conclusions and Recommendations

The largest letdown of the shoe, which is not reflected in my score below, is the weight imbalance between the left and right sides, and that it is heavier than advertised. In addition, the average of both sides (201g / 7.09oz) is the same weight as the Metaracer, 40g / 1.41oz heavier than the adidas Takumi Sen 5 and 91g / 3.20oz heavier than the Reebok Run Fast Pro V2, but lighter than the similarly cushioned adidas Adios 3/4/5 and Boston 8/9. Despite that the racing flat is meant to be minimal and conversely, lightweight, the Tartheredge 2 seems to have diminished these concerns.


Asics has done a good thing here by continuing the legacy of the racing flat in a modern package from a ride perspective. The improvements made have been gradual, as there seems to be stepped but crucial changes from Version 1. No dramatic changes were implemented like what we would see with the current crop of super-shoes superseding its predecessors. The ride as mentioned is superb, and so much so that the weight imbalance was almost forgotten. 


The relatively high stack Tartheredge 2 is essentially a modern shoe with the ride of a traditional racing flat. It presents superb value retailing at close to half the price of most super-shoes and significantly less than its closest sibling from another brand, the adidas Takumi Sen, noting that adidas (in Australia) has revised the price upwards on most shoe models. What we have with the Tartherdge 2 is a unique piece of history firmly positioned in a swath of technology loaded racers.

Bryan’s Score: 9.45/10 

Ride: 10 (40%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value (including durability): 8 (15%) Versatility 9 (10%) Style: 7 (5%) 


Comparisons


Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 3 / 5 

As mentioned, the Takumi Sen could be the Tartherdge’s closest non-Asics sibling. Both are Japanese designed racing flats utilising DSP outsoles and a torsioning system. The Takumi Sen is more minimal in its construction and weight. Grip wise, there isn’t much between them. However, the Tartheredge 2 is more stable, cushioned and forgiving. The Takumi Sen snaps back far more aggressively than the Tartherdge. A runner choosing a racing flat over a modern super-shoe could be expected to embrace the Takumi Sen over the Tartherdge, where the former embraces the notions of the traditional flat more closely. The Tartherdge however is a more versatile and fun flat, as contradictory as it sounds! 


Adidas Adizero Adios 3 / 5 (RTR Review)

In terms of ride, the Adios 3 is a close sibling to the Tartheredge 2. Whilst less stacked and slightly heavier, the Adios 3 is both bouncy and responsive, grippy and also traditional looking (note the similar use of suede). Despite the lower stack height, the Boost midsole foam is slightly more forgiving than the Flytefoam Propel. The Adios 5 is less versatile with the utilisation of Lightstrike midsole hardening the ride and making it more akin to a pure flat. In terms of aggressiveness, ride comfort and smoothness in transitioning, the Tartheredge 2 fits in between the Adios 3 and 5.


Asics Metaracer (RTR Review)

One could say the Metaracer is the plated, metarocker-ed version of the Tartheredge 2. Without the plate and with the softer Flytefoam Propel midsole, and reasonable price point, the Tartherdge 2 appears now to be the entry-level racing option in Asics’ lineup. The Metaracer’s flat outsole and Guide Sole metarocker presents a smoother but more muffled ride (and sound-wise) to the Tartherdge’s DSP waffle and non-rockered construction which is far snappier. Despite being one of today’s super-shoes, the Metaracer is lower stacked at 30mm heel vs 27mm for Tatheredge.

Top to Bottom:  Tartheredge 2, Fast Pro v2, Takumi Sen


Reebok Run Fast Pro v2 (RTR Review)

The Run Fast Pro is the lightest ( at 3.88 oz / 110g  )and arguably most responsive flat on the market at the time of this article. It is snappy and very quick. It is a true racer that has embraced a Pebax midsole with SpeedTrac lugs akin but also different to the DSP waffle (see image above, Reebok in the middle). The upper is far more minimal and does not offer a moulded heel cup. For a strong runner, the Run Fast Pro is unparalleled and is capable up to the half marathon. For some, it may be a good option for shorter distances. However, the Tartherdge 2 is far more forgiving with a 10mm drop and 27mm stack against the Run Fast Pro’s 3mm drop and 20mm stack, and would serve as a more versatile shoe and better training partner. Price naturally has to be taken into consideration, with the Run Fast Pro v2 retailing at $250 USD, $330 AUD, coming in close to double of the Tartherdge 2 at $140 USD, $180 AUD

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

Anonymous said...

A little correction: Run Fast Pro v2 has raised the drop to 6 mm.