Monday, December 14, 2020

Saucony Kinvara 12 Multi Tester Review: Back to the K Shoe's Origins!

SHOP HEREArticle by Mac Jeffries, Joost de Raeymaeker, Sally  Reiley, Peter Stuart,  Adam Glueck, Ivan Luca Corda and Sam Winebaum


Saucony Kinvara 12 ($110)


Introduction

The Return of the mighty K! Kinvara 12 arrives in bold colors--a feast for the eyes, but how about the feet? The Kinvara 12 shaves 0.4 oz of weight from the 11 weighing the same as the Kinvara 3 and looks to be moving closer to the OG Kinvara roots and farther away from the stiffer and more built-up, Kinvara 11. 


As we’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to overstate what a revelation the original Kinvara was as a super-lightweight and flexible, yet cushioned daily trainer when it came out. In the ensuing years there have been many shoes flooding the same zone and the Kinvara has been less of a standout--but let’s see how the K12 fares. 

Pros: 

Joost/Mac/Sally/Adam/Sam/Ivan: lightweight, incredibly comfortable upper

Joost//Sally/Adam/Sam/Ivan: flexible, fast uptempo to race “traditional” non plated, non rockered low drop ride

Joost/Sam/Ivan: Truer to K shoe’s more “natural running” origins than stiffer heavier K11

Peter/Sally/Adam/Sam: bold looks--stunning, AMAZING and comfortable upper.

Joost: Durable

Adam:  extremely stable, directly responsive feel

Sam: Welcome drop in weight to 7.72 oz / 219g, the weight of the K3!


Cons:

Joost/Mac/Adam/Sam: ride is a little firmer than what I have gotten used to

Peter/Sally: I’d say harsh more than firm. I feel like my forefeet get a bit of a beating in these.

Joost/Sam/Ivan: Dated midsole feel

Adam: Midsole doesn’t feel as special as PWRUN PB in the Endorphin Speed/Pro


Stats

Weight: men’s 7.72 oz  / 219g (US9). women’s 6.4 oz / 183g (US8)   

  Samples: men’s 7.72 oz  / 219g (US9). women’s 6.4 oz / 183g (US8)

Joost: M9.5 220g (7,76 oz) left 221g (7.8 oz) right

Kinvara 11 men’s US9: 8.11 oz / 230g

Stack Height: 28.5mm heel / 24.4mm forefoot, 4mm drop

Unchanged from K11

Available  Feb 2021 $110


First Impressions and Fit

Mac: Down here in the Deep South, businesses pay decent money for these high-contrast billboards to advertise their businesses (see inset).

I have to wonder if the Saucony design team didn’t have something like this in mind when they came up with the color scheme for the K12. Different? Yes. Eye catching? Absolutely. Good looking? Someone half my age will probably say “yes”, so I will assume that Saucony is happy with that :-) 


While I am torn on the color scheme, what is NOT up for debate is the fit of these. These may be the most comfortable shoe I have ever tried on. The only thing that rivals how the size 14 upper just perfectly hugs my 13.5E foot is the NB Rebel. All in all, we are off to a good start.


PS - the swallow tail is super cool.  


Ivan: I can’t really decide how I feel about the look of the shoe. I think I mostly like the bold new colorway, but probably would have toned it down just a bit. Perhaps I would have preferred not having “screaming green” laces to match, but maybe it’s just me getting old and boring. My first impression was that this was a very minimal shoe and so was the fit. However, despite receiving half a size too big, the shoe immediately felt great on foot with a thicker pair of socks on. 


Adam:  When I first saw the K12, my initial thoughts were that Saucony’s design team is killing it, and that they have an incredibly comfortable upper.  Even compared to the endorphin pro, this is minimal enough it doesn’t get in my way, yet padded and supportive in all the right places.  The absolutely beautiful colorway and well integrated swallow tail don’t hurt either.  


Sam: I totally second Adam and Mack. Modern and cheerful in appearance without overdoing ti with "neons" the K12 fits like a glove. I was sent a half size up from my normal and wore thicker Smart Wool running socks and with thinner socks would have been just right at true to size. 

Sally: I was wowed with the colorway of this shoe right out of the box. Yes, as Adam says, Saucony is killing it in the design department! The fit is true to size and very comfortable from the get go.

Peter: Not much to add. If you like ‘em, you love ‘em. Nice to see bold color choices. 

Joost: The Kinvara 12 look great straight out of the box. A bold colorway that transmits joy. People were definitely looking during their photo session in the grass outside. Upon first putting them on afterwards, I was struck by their comfort, in spite of being a more minimal type of shoe. They fit true to size for me and accommodate my wide feet without issues.


Upper


Mac:As stated before, the upper on the K12 is a 10/10, no questions asked. The FormFit (an update to the hit-and-miss ISOFit) design is simply spot on. Even though these don’t look like a “foot-shaped shoe”, they fit like one, with plenty of room for the toes to wiggle while keeping the foot locked firmly in place. 


Ivan: I have to say I really enjoyed the really light upper. The right amount of padding in the heel and a thin soft piece of mono mesh. So simple and yet a really good lockdown. No heel slippage, tighter race fit around midfoot and not too restricting up front. Thin, breathable and not noticeable at all during runs. Just as I like it. 


Adam:  This is a 10/10 upper.  There are some uppers I prefer slightly more in other ways, some are a little more supportive, some on trail shoes are actually waterproof and have toe bumpers, but in terms of comfort it is amazing, and easily supportive enough for an uptempo shoe.  There are overlays where needed, and none where not, which makes the upper conform to your foot even if it’s relatively traditionally shaped. The rear has really good heel hold, better than the Endorphin Pro actually, and doesn’t bother the Achilles at all.  

Peter: Agreed, as good as an upper gets. Zero issues with fit, lacing, sizing or toebox. Completely excellent. 

Sally: It looks like we all agree that this is a very well done upper! Zero negatives. I like the fact that it is simple - there is literally no stitching but for the heel cup - and yet so well fitting. 


The tongue is usually only mentioned when it malfunctions, but let me say that this tongue is exemplary. It is padded just enough in just the right places, has just enough fabric to grab when pulling the shoe on, and is gusseted just so. Well done, Saucony! So yes, 10/10 on the upper.


Joost: I wish more shoes had such a simple and well done upper. No hotspots, room enough for my toes and still very secure. 

The heel counter is relatively low, compared to some other shoes, but there’s no slippage whatsoever. There’s a firm part that comes up to the plastic detail with the name of the shoe on it and that actually has a little lug to help you pull them on. The rest of the counter is soft and doesn’t irritate my troublesome achilles’ in any way. The tongue is relatively thin, gusseted to the inner layer of the upper and has just a tad of suede to cushion the laces. The midfoot is held securely by the formfit construction and the printed on logo and other details add just enough structure to the upper without adding additional weight. Very well executed!


Sam: My colleagues have described the mono mesh upper well. It is fantastic in its simplicity and effective comfortable hold. Much credit must go to the mono mesh type material, a very thin, very pliable and dense engineered weave of fish net-like fibers that conform to the foot gently and very securely, without stretching and with minimal moisture absorption.  All the decorative overlays play a clear function in holding it all together. And this is for sure not the rigid mono mesh such as the original Skechers Razor 3 had. 

Gone is the soft slipper like considerable thicker mesh of the K11 with its comfy but more tenuous hold and the overplush collars and tongue. In the picture above you can see the floppy loose upper of the K11, which on foot worked OK while the K12 has inherent structure from the material and overlays even as pliable as it is.


Midsole

Mac: Saucony has developed an impressive stable of midsole foams here lately, but this one falls short of their recent offerings. They went with their basic PWRRUN, and I unfortunately cannot tell the difference between this and a basic EVA from any shoe from 10+ years ago. The silver lining is that it is very lightweight; these have a great stack-to-weight ratio… but that stack just doesn’t translate to a very comfortable ride. 


Adam:  Honestly I was a little underwhelmed by the K12’s midsole.  It has some very good qualities, since it’s remarkably light, very stable, and rolls quickly off the toe despite being flexible and unplanted.  Unfortunately, the foam isn’t very responsive, and I found myself wishing Saucony had stuck a thin layer of their amazing Powerrun PB in these. This is probably a bit better for my foot muscles than rockered bouncy shoes, but it’s fun to go fast and hurt less doing it.  


Peter: I want to love this midsole, but alas I do not. The foam is just particularly responsive. It’s a little harsh and doesn’t bounce back or provide enough cushion on toe-off. It’s not bad, it’s just not anywhere near some other shoes, like the Endorphin speed or Skechers Razor. 


Sally: I was underwhelmed by the midsole. Like Peter I found it a bit harsh, not quite as responsive as I would like. I never felt like the shoe was giving back all the energy I was putting in - it was a struggle to get my pace to match the effort. And my feet felt beat up after 6 miles or so. Yes, we are spoiled by all the great shoes available now, including Saucony’s own Endorphin Speed, but this midsole disappoints.


Joost: My first run in the Kinvara 12 was a 30 minute recovery/easy run and my feet hurt. I’m not sure if the shoes were the reason, or just the fact that my feet had had a pretty tough beating the previous days. My second run felt completely different. Maybe they just need a little breaking in, or maybe I was more prepared for what was coming. Since then, they’ve grown on me. I wouldn’t go as far as to call them harsh, but they’re definitely firm. The longest run I took them on was an easy half marathon and my feet weren’t complaining in the end. Like the others said, PWRrun isn’t very responsive, so your feet and legs have to do a lot more work than with some recent foams, but giving your foot muscles a good workout is actually a good thing.


Ivan: The midsole on this one is very basic as mentioned already. Not a lot going on under foot. One “simple” piece of POWERRUN (EVA) which is extremely flexible and very traditional - bringing me back to the feeling of those more minimal racers. I rarely experience foot fatigue so it doesn’t bother me. Also, stack height is fairly high for such a traditional choice of midsole.


Sam: My colleagues are pretty tough on this POWRUN midsole, a midsole foam we all liked in the more substantial Ride 13. The natural type low 4mm drop, flexible ride and minimal rubber do transmit more road “feeling” and the flexibility makes feet work harder that is for sure than many recent stiffer rockered shoes.


The K12 is far more flexible than the K11 right out of the box  and the new midsole geometry is now somewhat less vertical on the medial side with a more pronounced rear and front rocker.  

All of these changes now have the Kinvara leaning more neutral than the recent versions which were often seen as a light more stability oriented trainer/ racer. This may lead to more work for the feet and a firmer, faster snappier feel than the K11 as I noted in my A/B Test run video here and more like the earliest Kinvara but with a far superior upper.


On the minus side the PWRUN itself is firm, more responsive in feel than bouncy and springy taking the shoe for most out of the daily training game or longer tempo runs  and likely racing as well with so many options available and moving it to shorter quick workouts and intervals.

Top: Kinvara 12        Bottom: Kinvara 11

The portions of the midsole that serve as outsole likely also contribute to the firmer and snappier feel as their front ridges are not as prominent, flatter on the ground and more closely spaced so maybe not providing as much cushion effect as they deflect under load even with the overall stack height the same in both per the specs.


Outsole

Peter: Considering there is fairly little actual rubber on the outsole of the K12, I am thrilled with the traction. I’ve run these on several rainy mornings and found them to have terrific traction. There’s just enough rubber to meet the road. I haven’t noticed any heavy wear on the exposed parts of the outsole either. The outsole performs better than it looks like it would.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fancy looking swallow-tail design. It looks nice, it makes it very easy to take shoes off without bending down and I presume provides a slightly softer landing for those who land on the heel. I never hit the heel, so I’m not sure I’m in the best spot to judge--but it looks nice. 


Mac: I am a fan of the less-is-more mentality of outsoles, and these definitely fit the bill. The bottom is essentially exposed midsole foam with a little tread for traction and wear - no issues of slippage on the wet cement - producing a quiet ride. Does the midsole compliment what the K12 is attempting to achieve? Hard to say, but at a minimum it definitely gets back to the K’s minimalist roots.


Sally: The outsole is definitely minimalist, and I think I would like to see a bit more rubber. But it does provide good traction, and it does not pick up stones/gravel in the grooves like the earlier Kinvara 9 and 10 did. To be honest, I couldn't feel the benefit or the downsides of the swallow tail - I guess I don’t land on my heels enough for that. But yeah, it looks cool.

Joost: The outsole is just right for a more minimal shoe. It maintains good traction and has just a little bit of extra rubber where most people hit on the outer heel, and where they toe off, on the medial front. I’ve now run 74km in my pair (46 miles) and I don’t see any noticeable wear, so I would think they should last a very long time. 

The swallow tail doesn’t make any difference for me, since I land further up front. It’s also an almost full contact outsole (there’s just a little curve on the lateral midfoot), adding to stability.


Adam: I was initially concerned with outsole durability and grip due to the lack of visible grip, but I’ve been very positively surprised by it.  Running in the wet and even some easy trail, the K12 hasn’t slipped yet, and shows no signs of visible wear.  Even in snow, it grips surprisingly well.  Also compared to some higher stack height racing shoes with less grippy outsoles, the combination of the wide base and swallow tail relative to stack height makes this shoe very agile and responsive in corners.  


Ivan: Grip has been fairly good for me too despite the minimal amount of rubber. The lack of it makes for a more flexible and quiet run. With all those new stiffer and often also noisy supershoes on the market it was actually nice for a change. I didn’t especially notice the swallow tail, but landing felt pretty stable, so this new type of crash pad might have contributed to that.


Sam: What outsole? Just enough to protect the highest wear points and less even the K11 had more but the foam if it like the K11 should prove durable. As far as the swallow tail I sense it providing a defelcting crash pad on the lateral side and then a touch of very momentary medial stability just after landing much as the Hoka Mach 4 provides but milder yet in feel and impact  


Ride

Mac: The midsole on these was just ok for me. Lightweight, yes, but firm - bordering on harsh - and just not a lot of rebound. Maybe I am just spoiled by some of the super-shoes I have been trying out lately, but I was honestly pretty disappointed by these. Obviously, these aren’t the Endorphin Pro, but I was hoping these would be at least as nice of a ride as the Ride 13s, and they just aren’t. It’s too soft to be a racing flat, but too harsh to be a trainer; I just feel like Saucony - who’s been killing it lately - missed the mark on the ride here. 


Adam:  I took these out for a tempo run, and they feel fast, they keep my tempo high, and compared to some of the softer foam shoes I’ve run in, they were reassuringly stable and dependable.  They made it very easy to forget I had any shoes on my feet both due to the quick response, sublime upper, and light weight.  


However, not feeling like you have shoes on your feet is a different feeling from having energy returning impact redirecting deeply enjoyable springs like the Endorphin Pros.  Obviously this shoe is in a completely different price range and is intended to be a light, simple, uptempo trainer not some high end super shoe, but it did feel a lot less fun than those.  After that 10km tempo run, and especially on the downhill sections of it, my legs were sore, which isn’t really surprising since I was running hard, but having done similar runs in shoes with more advanced foams made me question if those sore legs are necessary for a light and responsive shoe.  Overall I’m torn on the ride of these as for what they’re intended to be, a light, affordable, simple, stable shoe, they’re excellent, but given the existence of the Endorphin Speed, I’m not totally sure they’re worth it.  

Peter: Adam, you nailed it. I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe it--you’re exactly right--the forefoot feels like “you don’t even have shoes on”, which leaves me feeling beat up rather than light and free. The ride is stable and pretty quick--even enjoyable--it’s just missing that extra piece--that responsiveness--that some other shoes have. There’s probably less foam up front in the Skechers Razor, but I feel it spring off the road in a way that the Kinvara 12 just doesn’t do. 


Sally: I am totally in agreement with Adam and Peter. This is a traditional ride, a light and minimal shoe that lets the runner do all the work. Great shoe for the purist! But there are other shoes out there that give greater returns for your investment energy wise. I personally prefer a bouncier, livelier ride that cushions my feet a bit more. 


Joost: The Kinvara 12 transitions very well and it’s easy to pick up the pace in it, with great ground feel. As the others said, we’ve been spoiled by some of the more responsive and light foams, so it can feel a little dated. But as I mentioned before, they’ve grown on me. It’s actually quite refreshing to have a traditional riding shoe that’s also pretty minimal and in spite of having a 4mm drop, doesn’t seem to irritate my achilles’. There’s something at work that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe the fact that it makes me aware of the work my feet have to do makes me run with a better stride. 

Sam: I concur with Joost.  The  K12 transitions very well and better than the K11 where there was more of a sense of mid foot support. Toe off is flexible and snappy. The 4mm drop is less noticed than in some shoes and surprisingly so as there is so little heel rubber telling me the combination of the underfoot geometry moving me forward and relatively firm foam is keeping me from lingering at the heels. 


The ride is about ground feel with adequate cushion and as intended a more natural riding shoe with better manners than the earliest K shoes whose quite sketchy uppers made for a wild ride underfoot. 


This is a ride for shorter fast runs, intervals, and workouts for me.  It is not a modern springy and bounce ride. For that Saucony Freedom might be a better choice. I personally have found such a relatively low stack ride from the TPU in the earlier Freedom 1 and 2  overly bouncy and not as well controlled as the denser PWRUN here with not nearly as polished an upper.


Ivan: I think I totally get what Saucony are trying to do with their new Kinvara 12. By going back to the roots of the Kinvara lineup, Saucony also separates it from the rest of the lineup which continuously is getting lighter. Both the Endorphin Pro and Speed are in the same weight class and the Ride is also getting closer. 


No need to fight the “new superstars” on the block and I think going minimal with this one, was the right...and maybe only choice. It’s definitely not a choice that will please everyone, but ‘purists’ will probably love it. 


Personally I’ve become very accustomed with a more cushioned and bouncy ride. However, in time I actually started to really enjoy flexibility and good old ground contact feel. At no time did I feel that the ride provided too little protection. Will it be my first choice for my workouts? Probably not, but I actually think it will be a great alternative after all those runs in high stacked supershoes ensuring that I vary the load on my body and to help keep my feet and ankles strong.



Conclusions and Recommendations

Peter: Overall the Kinvara 12 is a beautiful looking shoe that doesn’t quite perform as spectacularly as it looks. It’s comfortable, good looking, smooth and has fast turnover. The ride, however, is a little harsh and tends not to return much energy. It’s tantalizingly close to being great--maybe they’ll throw a layer of PWRUN PB foam in there in a next version and have a killer shoe. 

Peter’s Score 8.5/10 

Great fit and looks but the ride is unexceptional bordering on harsh. 

Sally: The Kinvara 12 is a solid, great looking, lightweight minimalist shoe that will thrill the Kinvara diehards out there. But the Saucony family has expanded, and there is a new golden child: the Endorphin line. The Endorphin Speed might be my favorite shoe of 2020 (and there have been many amazing shoes to come out this year!). 


I equate the Kinvara to the traditional straight ski: the modern shaped skis might enable an alpine skier to carve beautiful turns with less effort, but there are still the holdouts who insist on skiing on their old straight skis. Similarly, a runner now has so many technically advanced shoes to choose from, but some might still want to stay loyal to their tried and true. They just don’t know what they are missing! 

The K12 is a solid lightweight trainer and an improvement over the K11, but still… a throwback. 

Sally’s Score: 8.4/10  

Fantastic upper, modern look, old school ride (harsh)


Joost: I’ll repeat it a final time: the Kinvara 12 has grown on me. It’s easy to understand it has a faithful following out there, and I think the fans will really enjoy this version, which I feel is closer to what it was in its first few iterations. I agree with the others that there are more exciting shoes out there at the moment, such as the Endorphin line, but I think the Kinvara has a place in the lineup for those who look for that more traditional ride, ground feel and some much needed foot exercise. At $110, they’re great value too.

Joost’s Score: 8.9/10 

(50% Ride, 30% Fit, 15% Value, 5% Style)


Sam: An interesting retake on a classic from the earlier days of lower drop, flexible, more natural type run shoes. As the KInvara ran up in model numbers, it became a light trainer racer with a heavier, stiffer profile shoe with a touch of stability focus. 


Here we return to the shoe’s origins more squarely than in many versions with a superb upper to keep all that newly rediscovered flexibility underfoot under control and it does so very well indeed with stunning colors in a highly functional design.  


One could argue that it is now a less versatile shoe and it seems a bit harder on the feet than the more support oriented, stiffer and maybe a touch softer K11. Could be but that approach was clearly dated given all the “super shoes” and new foams so Saucony chose a retro ride here with an incredible upper which come together for some fast shorter run fun and  ground feel more like the old days. 


At $110 this beautiful shoe is a very good value for its looks and those purposes but I wished for a touch more forgiving and modern foam ride to extend its range.

Sam’s Score: 9.06 / 10

Ride: 8.6 (50%) Fit: 9.7 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)  


Adam:  I don’t think these compete directly with many of the light and bouncy racing shoes, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.  The upper is phenomenal, the grip seems good, even on wet leaves, and they’re light and responsive. Recently I’ve run in shoes with supercritical gas and/or Pebax foam midsoles, and I’ve enjoyed running fast in those shoes a lot more. If you’re looking for a light and simple shoe, especially if you’re a more efficient runner than me, or if you’d like to train quickly in a shoe that lets you run more naturally without plates and rockers but with reasonable protection and excellent stability, then the K12 could be a good shoe for you. If I hadn’t ran the Endorphin Pro before, these would probably become my go to road tempo run shoe, and short road racing shoe.  As Joost said, at $110, these are excellent value for a traditional light and fast shoe with a sublime upper.

Adam’s Score:  8.35/10

(50% Ride, 30% Fit, 15% Value, 5% Style)


Mac All Shoe Ratings from Mac Here

The Kinvara 12 probably has the highest standard deviation of any shoe I have ever tested.  I love - LOVE - the upper, and it looks really cool (even if the looks are polarizing, these will be a conversation piece). However, the midsole is simply too lackluster to carve a niche into today’s market as a running shoe. HOWEVER, if you are looking for a super cool athleisure shoe that you will occasionally run in, these may be the kicks for you. 


Ivan: A shoe for the purist. For its intended purpose this is a great no nonsense shoe. Nothing getting on the way of a ride free of too many overlays, too much stack or outsole. Just a light, simple, flexible ride, However, not groundbreaking either and personally I was really missing some “Oomph”. The lack of excitement makes it hard for me to give it a very high score, even though I do acknowledge the need for diversity in the Saucony lineup. 

Ivan’s Score:  8.7/10 

(-1.0 Midsole/Ride, -0.3 Style/Aesthetics)



Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Kinvara 11 (RTR Review

Peter: The K12 is a step back in the right direction. The 11 felt like a Kinvara in name only to me. I prefer the 12!

Sally: The K10 (W8) was a fun shoe, the K11 (W8) a disappointment. The K12 is definitely an improvement in everything but the ride.

Sam: Clearly an improvement and return to the K shoes roots compared to the K11. For some this will be welcome for others the stiffer profile and the greater stability focus of the K11 will be missed. For me the retro ride and great upper distinguish the K12 from a crowded field of about 8 oz shoes more than the K11 did as a light and yes it loses 0.4 oz flexible more natural running shoe whereas the K11 approach had a shrinking place in the line up given shoes such as Endorphin Speed among many others for numerous brands.

Watch Sam's Initial Video Review with A/B Test Comparisons to Kinvara 11


Skechers Razor 3 Hyper (Razor 3+ Review)        

Joost: Talking about modern foams: the Razor: 3 is an example of a relatively close to the ground shoe with one of those bouncy, energy returning wonder foams, in this particular case called Hyperburst. If the Kinvara 12 had the Razor 3’s foam, it would be difficult to beat. What lets the Razor down is an overly narrow upper, partially made up for by a more forgiving version in the Razor + Hyper. If I could only pick one, my choice would go to the Razor, but they can both have a place in your rotation, especially if you like to give your feet a decent workout once in a while.

Peter: Yup, the Razor forefoot on the Kinvara 12 upper would be hard to beat! I prefer the razor overall. I don’t have any issues with the Razor upper and I find them to be more fun to run in and to leave me feeling far less beat up than the K12

Mac: Do you want an ugly shoe that performs, or do you want a cool shoe that is a little meh? The R3 and the K12 are actually mirror images of each other. Now that I think about it, if you could take the upper of the K12 and put it on the Razor 3, you may created the best non-plated running shoe in history. 

Ivan: I prefer the upper and great lockdown of Kinvara 12, but I enjoy the ride of the Razor 3 more. Just a lot more bounce and roll from the midsole just makes it feel extremely effortless and also more versatile and various paces.


Fresh Foam Beacon 3 (RTR Review)

Peter: The Beacon 3 was my favorite daily trainer of 2020. It’s a little less sleek, but it rides better. The Beacon 3 gives back and is fluid and supportive in the forefoot whereas the K12 is a little harsh. 

Sally: The Beacon 3 (W8) has it in spades over the K12 (W8) in the energy return department. NB Beacon 3 for the win.

Mac: The Beacon out-simples the Kinvara. Again, take the upper of the K12 and the midsole of the B3, and you’d have yourself a very good shoe… but the K12’s upper isn’t enough for me to choose it over the Beacon as a running shoe.  


Hoka Rincon (RTR Review)

Peter: Interesting comparison here. If the Beacon 3 is ideal, the Rincon is just slightly firmer and the K12 is another step towards being too firm/harsh. The Rincon 2 was my second favorite daily trainer of 2020. Go Rincon.


Hoka Mach 4  (RTR Review)

Peter: The Mach 4 is a surprisingly excellent shoe. It’s got TONS of forefoot spring and support. I’d take it all day long for any run except a short or tempo one over the K12.

Joost: The Mach 4 is my current favorite everyday shoe. I would take the Kinvara 12 for workouts and the Mach 4 for just feeling pampered.

Sam: At a few tenths of an ounce more in weight, the Mach 4 is thoroughly modern in its lively foam with a more forgiving yet also with as flexible stable ride as the K12 has. It is the Kinvara of the new age while the K12 is a modern take on the original in design and upper but not so much ride which remains more true to tradition. 


Reebok Forever Floatride  Energy  (RTR Review)

Ivan: The FFE has a lot more energy return and cushion. I would definitely prefer it for those longer runs. However, fit is not as great and you lose some of the ground contact feel.

Mac: The Forever Energy will always hold a place in my heart, simply because it was such a nice midsole - back when everyone but Nike was still stuck on EVA in reasonably priced shoes - and it is only $100. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: the RFFE has a much nicer midsole, and the K12 has the more comfortable upper. It’s worth noting that the RFFE has about twice the drop of the K12: 8mm to 4mm.


Brooks Revel  (RTR Review)

Sam: Softer and bouncier the Revel competes directly including on price. Its upper (my last being the Revel 3) is nowhere near as polished or effective but its ride is livelier and more forgiving.


adidas Boston (RTR Review)

Joost: I haven’t run in my Boston 8 in a while, but I was using them for the type of runs I would use the Kinvara 12 for: giving my feet a decent workout. The Boston is a more constructed shoe. The Kinvara feels more minimal and more comfortable at the same time. Currently, I would take the Kinvara out for a spin over the Boston 8. 

Ivan: The Boston is one of my all time favorites, which I can take almost everywhere at any pace. Just like the K12 it can feel a bit firm up front at times, but I rarely feel like my form is breaking down even on my longer runs. As Joost is mentioned, the Boston is more constructed and should be able to handle some rougher terrain better.


Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate  (RTR Review)

Adam:  The upper of the Kinvara 12 is better in pretty much every way, and they’re lighter and more stable, but the Sonic 3 Accelerate is more cushioned and feels much less harsh on downhills.  If you’re just looking to go fast and want the best upper/stability, go for the K12.  If you’ve got a lot of downhills or are going beyond a 15km race distance, I’d pick the Sonic 3 Accelerate.  

Sam: I agree with Adam. If you want a protective fast traditional riding shoe at just over 8 oz the Accelerate is the way to go. It does not have nearly as polished an upper but its vibration dampening midsole while not as snappy will take you further and for the extra half ounce you will also get far a more extensive coverage outsole.


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

Anonymous said...

In reading all of your comments on the midsole and ride I noticed how similar they were, nearly all commenting on the harshness of the ride. The fact that your feet and legs were all sore from running in a more natural shoe would seem to indicate that perhaps you need more strength training in your routine, or maybe you're becoming dependent on "super shoes." If your goal is to be a better, faster, or more efficient runner it would seem that strengthening your feet, legs, and gait with various exercises or by running in more natural shoes like these(not necessarily barefoot) would then make your runs in the "super shoes" that much more efficient or better. I feel runners need to do a better job appreciating how much better they could perform (and reduce risk of injury) if they learned how to run strong and efficiently without the assistance of "super shoes." Then when they introduce these shoes it would make that much more of a difference.

Anonymous said...

Why is every reviewer comparing these to the Endorphin line? Different shoes built for different preferences. They're not SUPPOSED to compare.