Monday, January 11, 2021

Topo Athletic Cyclone Multi Tester Review: Nails the Basics. Runs as Good as it Looks!

Article by Michael Ellenberger, Joost de Raeymaeker, Cheng Chen, Sally Reiley and Sam Winebaum

Topo Athletic Cyclone ($120)


Offiical Weight: men's 7.9 oz / 225g (US9)  /  women's 6.4 oz / 183 g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  7.65 oz / 217g (US8.5), 8.5 oz / 240g, (US9.5), 7.48 oz / 212 g (US 8)

                  women’s 5: 6.4 oz / 183 g

Stack Height: Midsole: 19mm/ 14mm.Total: 28mm /23mm. Drop: 5mm

Available Feb. 2021. $120  


Sam: The Cyclone continues Topo’s focus of anatomically shaped toe boxes, low drop (5mm), relatively firm and responsive trainers. The Cyclone gets at totally modern thin engineered mesh upper, sub 8 oz weight, a dual density midsole of Zip Foam core (EVA/TPU blend)  and EVA carrier and great styling. 

Identical in stack height and base midsole and outsole materials to the 2020 Zephyr (RTR Review) the Cyclone loses the TPU stabilizing mid to front plate and the very fine but heavier overlay based upper. As a result it loses close to 1.5 oz  / 42g over Zeyphr to come in at 7.9 oz / 225g  moving the shoe from daily trainer class weights to uptempo if not race weights. I struggled with the quite frankly unnecessary Zeyphr’s front plate as the 4mm outsole rubber provided plenty of response and stability making an already stiff shoe cumbersome at all but faster tempo paces. I was very curious to see how a far lighter less rigid take on the exact same platform would ride. 

Michael: I think the Cyclone is the shoe that can genuinely move Topo Athletic into the mainstream. It’s not only one of the best looking recent trainers , but is also a springy and nimble everyday trainer with speed-racer characteristics and distinct Topo DNA. 

While the Cyclone isn’t the most well-cushioned trainer out there, it should compete well in the light- to mid-weight category, and holds its own against the perennial best sellers.

Joost: The Cyclone ticks a lot of boxes. A light, responsive, wide, low-drop, springy, well-fitting daily to uptempo trainer for $120. I have to agree with Michael that this is the shoe that could move Topo into a more mainstream brand. The fact that it’s also a great looking shoe can only help.

Cheng: Topo’s new Cylone is a game changer. Following what Michael mentioned, I also believe that this shoe is uniquely positioned to take off in a niche way, similar to how Newton’s and On’s did among the triathlon crowd. Specifically, this is a shoe that firmly allows Topo to be seen not as just a natural-running-Altra-alternative, but a lightweight and possible race shoe in its own right.



            Forget it is there upper with an anatomical toe box and secure midfoot hold

Great up tempo option for wider feet,

Responsive forefoot at faster pace, reasonably well cushioned firmer heel for slower  paces   

Sally/Joost: Great looking dare-I-say “un-Topo” styled upper

Joost/Cheng: Nicely done extra lace loops on tongue to avoid slippage

Michael: Light, springy, and responsive; the 5mm drop is perfect; best looking Topo ever (by far!); comfortable upper.

Sally: Super light like a race shoe, comfortable like a daily trainer 

Cheng: Upper is not just lightweight, but extremely breathable and plush, allowing for possible sockless running.


Michael/Sam/Sally: Slightly (slightly!) sloppy upper; could do with a little more cushion feel  all-around.

Sam: Minimal heel counter and collars do not have a totally solid hold for narrower/lower volume feet even with thicker socks at true to size. 

Sally: heel collar was too low for secure hold, struggled with lockdown for my narrow feet (and I sized down ½ size at Sam’s recommendation)

Joost: The toe bumper material is a little too stiff. I got a hot spot on my first run.

Cheng: Upper is too lightweight and breathable to be comfortable in winter while being too close-fitting to allow for extra thick socks.

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. 

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.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November 2019  finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 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 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.

Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with personal bests of 5:29 (Mile), 1:28 (Half), and 19:33 (5K). In season, he trains at 50-80 miles per week in shoes ranging from 0-10 mm drop and races in various plated super shoes. He is 5’7” and around 145 lbs.(@MrChengChen)

First Impressions and Fit

Michael: When I saw Sam testing the Topo Athletic Cyclone, I knew I had to get my feet in it - not because of my enjoyment of previous Topo offerings, though of course that doesn’t hurt - but because wow, does this shoe look good! It’s an immensely handsome offering, both sporty and clean. But! Looks aren’t everything, and it took several runs, indoor and outdoor, to learn more.

My first try-on thought of the Cyclone was that, even in my native 8.5, it was slightly wide, and had just a tinge of excess upper material. I have a pretty “standard” width foot and arch (D-width), and found this problem to exist on the Topo Phantom (though it’s less of an issue here). 

All said and done, while this didn’t become a major headache on the run - the heel collar, as discussed below, does a great job keeping your foot locked in - I feel confident in saying those with wider feet will not have an issue with the Cyclone! 

Sam: A stunning modern look from typically conservative styled Topo. The all white upper with cherey lime midsole and hint of black from the outsole really makes the shoe stand out. Unencumbered with overlays or dark colors the anatomical toe box is really on display as a key feature.

The upper mesh instantly reminds of the Endorphin Pro, Hoka Carbon X 1, or Reebok Fast and Fast Pro a very thin very pliable material and here softer yet. It seemed impossible that the midfoot could be well held and the toe box secure in what is clearly not only a minimal upper but a high volume one upfront. As with other recent Topo I notice an internal full ventilated suede like laminated panel at midfoot.

Indeed, the midfoot and toe area is very well held at my true to size! Kind of shocking really that they could pull this off. And so much friendly disappear on the foot comfort all around.

The heel area is also minimal with a t vertical mini achilles stiffener, an external suede like strap and some below the top edges of the ankle collars of thin but dense padding

I noticed that my narrower right foot with thicker winter run socks was not totally secure at the heel at true to size. I had to crank down pretty hard on the laces to get a secure rear hold while my wider left foot was considerably better held but also required some cranking of the laces. While the tongue is superb in its no slip side to side hold and wrap, lower volume feet could use a touch more tongue padding to accommodate a tight lace up.  

Sally: My first Topo running shoe! I have been loving Topo’s Vibe recovery shoe, but was wary of Topo because of their reputation for catering to high volume feet (I have a narrow foot). The hype about this Topo had me intrigued, and Sam advised me to size down and give them a try. I was impressed with the modern yet simple and eye-catching appearance of the minimal upper. But I was even more impressed with the out-of-the-box comfort of this shoe. Half size down (I have W7.5, where I normally wear a W8) was the right call - there is still plenty of space at the front of my big toe. Let’s see how they run!

Joost: My first Topo as well, and I was really impressed when I opened the box. These are some very good looking shoes. Putting them on the first time was easy enough. The tongue is not gusseted, so there’s lots of opening to get your feet into the wide toe box. One of my first thoughts was that this must be how people with normal and narrow feet feel when they’re putting on a standard pair of running shoes. Lovely to have all of your forefoot accommodated without your little toe trying to poke a hole in the upper. The midfoot is a lot narrower than the forefoot and together with the insole gives you a bit of arch support. Another nice touch. Unlike Sam, I had no issues with heel lock down. The two pillow like padded areas on the sides of the heel are also not to thick and are actually only on the outside of the shoe, just providing enough soft structure to an otherwise soft heel (my achilles’ say thank you to the designers of the Cyclone).

Cheng: It fits like a Topo, and I’m not being tongue in cheek. If you’re interested in this platform, it’s likely that you’re looking for a natural running shoe with an anatomically shaped fit. Topo is squarely in this category and the Cyclone lives up to the reputation with its large toe box. I perceived a perfect fit in US 8; but, bear in mind that my dress shoe size is 7.5 (EE). In this regard, one concern with naturally shaped shoes is the lack of lockdown due to a loose midfoot or heel. The Cyclone, however, does not exhibit this problem. Read on to find out more!


Michael: I noted above that there’s just slightly too much upper material, but don’t let that distract you from the real takeaway here - Topo has done an excellent job with the upper on the Cyclone. It’s clean, with very few overlays or stitches, but largely secure in its lockdown. The mesh is open and very breathable. Topo has always done uppers well, in my experience, but never quite so stylishly.

The most interesting elements of it arise in the rear third of the shoe, with a protruding “ring” of cushioning lining the ankle and a heightened (and swoopy!) achilles and ankle collar. The high collar didn’t noticeably change the fit for me, or materially affect the feeling of the shoe on my achilles, but it didn’t cause any issues, either! No rubbing or irritation to speak of here, with socks high and low.

Sally: The upper is simple and not overly complicated, with minimal overlays. And yes, a very wide toe box! As Michael points out, it is a very breathable upper, which would be a huge bonus in hot weather (and for my New England winter runs, we now know to wear wool socks for warmth). I am a huge fan of the tongue of this shoe - it does everything it needs to do and doesn’t try to do more. The length is just right, and it has this cool faux suede feel. 

Those lace loops to the side at the top of the tongue are ingenious! The midfoot hold was fine, but I struggled with the heel hold. 

I had to stop mid run to snug down the laces in an attempt to secure the heel (particularly noticeable on hill climbs). Runners with narrow feet are forewarned.

Joost: As said by the others, the upper is a very well executed lightweight mesh that’s also very breathable. Since we don’t have winters over here in Angola, I don’t have to worry about getting cold feet, quite the opposite, so the excellent breathability is a plus for me.

My feet are probably more than wide enough to stretch out the upper material and not have any issues with too much of it. It’s just right. The tongue is nicely done, with the extra lace loops being a great touch to avoid slippage. The suede-like material of the tongue and the eyelets does get dirty quite easily, but there’s nothing much you can do to keep a white shoe impeccably pristine for too long. Pity, because the Cyclone is quite a looker and one of the few shoes my oldest daughter didn’t roll her eyes for when she saw them!

Cheng: The Cyclone’s upper reminds me of ones from well designed racing flats like the ASICS Tartheredge (RTR Review). To achieve maximal lightweight while maintaining structural support, Topo went with the tried and true single layered mesh + synthetic suede.

The entire upper’s shell is a single layer of synthetic mesh. The material is extremely porous with a wealth of rice-sized strategically placed holes. While the fabric itself isn’t very stretchy, the large pores effectively allow the material to stretch in a 4-way plane.

To this end, many ultra-lightweight flats implement similar thin meshes, but are expected to tear after a few races. To counter this, Topo implemented the aforementioned synthetic suede. At the heel, the suede is bonded to the mesh, creating a semi rigid structure. The suede then continues to the midsole and eyelets, but is no longer bonded to the outer mesh, allowing the layers to move semi-freely. This effect creates an “inner cage” sensation of lock down at the midfoot while providing tension to the heel for a secure fit.


Michael: Topo has packed a Zip Foam core (TPU/EVA blend)  into the Cyclone’s main EVA midsole - as the name suggests, “Zip Foam” is a faster, springier material, similar to Saucony’s PWRUN. Topo has marked the midsole stack as maxing out at 19mm (with the 28mm total heel stack height coming from a 5mm footbed and 4mm outsole), and, to the extent that’s noticeable, I’d say the cushioning is adequate, if not spectacular. What I mean to say is, while there’s some zippiness here (branding aside), it’s not an overly soft or “deep-feeling” cushion, either - the Cyclone feels more like the Atreyu base model or Brooks Launch than (for example) upcoming Brooks Glycerin or New Balance Beacon. 

Sam: I would agree with Michael that the midsole is not “deep feeling”. The midsole, and let us not forget the copious 4mm thick firmer outsole, lead to a firmer responsive feel overall with a touch of noticed bounce from the ZipFoam. Zip Foam as implemented here is a great mild softening addition to Topo’s usual firmer foams including the carrier EVA foam surrounding the ZipFoam core. 

With a total stack of 28mm / 23mm we are within 1mm of say a Clifton but here we have more firmer outsole in the cushion mix and a relatively firm overall cushion feel with plenty of what I would call a quick sharp pop rather than bounce or spring. While there is more than enough cushion for daily training for me the feel is more suited to up tempo faster running than cruising daily miles. 

The geometry is stiff, with not much front flex, and when combined with the 4mm outsole of firmer rubber, and the geometry it does not have much of a rocker effect. This is especially noticed at slower paces (9:30 mile or slower) with a sensation similar to Newton of a raised front platform. This said there is no sensation of the heel bottoming out ( as say the Skechers Razor does for me) at any pace due to the relatively firm midsole and again copious thick rear rubber. As pace picks up the front raised platform sensation is transformed into a broad, stable dynamic toe off platform. All of this high stiff front is quite dramatically improved over the Zeyphr which through in a mid foot to forefoot plate and its extra weight.  

Sally: I am happiest in an uptempo shoe (who doesn’t like to see their pace on Strava faster than they thought?). This shoe feels very light on the feet, but is not overly cushioned nor “bouncy” in its ride. I am unaccustomed to low drop shoes and found the geometry threw me back a bit into a flat footed stride, with the low heel more pronounced and a forward rocker sensation lacking, but this midsole grew on me. In contrast to many of the 2020 shoes we have seen, this is more of a “natural” feeling shoe, and can accommodate a range of paces and styles.

Joost: I must have been running too much in the Kinvara 12 I reviewed before this shoe, so I thought the Cyclone was actually quite cushioned, although not in a soft way. It’s probably a matter of what you compare it to. The Zipfoam is happy to “zip” along (hence the name, probably) and for a mid to forefoot striker like me, it never bottoms out and gives enough protection for faster and longer runs. The rubber stiffens the forefoot a little, adding a bit of responsiveness and stability. The 5mm drop is ideal in this shoe and didn’t give me any issues with my achilles’. If you’re a heel striker, you might feel like you have to “overcome” some of the forefoot rubber, which reminded Sam of the sensation of Newton shoes.

Cheng: The Cyclone’s midsole is a lightweight EVA/TPU blend (Zipfoam) that’s somewhere in between Nike’s React and New Balance’s REVlite. That is, if you take away the plushness of React but combine its bounciness with the light firmness of REVlite, you’d get Zipfoam. I will discuss functional aspects of thermoplastic elastomers in an upcoming review, but in short, Topo has done a decent job of selecting a foam blend that appears to specifically target tempo and above paces. I’ll discuss how this works in the Ride section.

Similar to other Topo’s (RTR Review), the Cyclone also features a unique midfoot arch support. It does this both via the Ortholite insole and a unique implementation of 5 mm drop. Instead of a linearly sloped footbed, the Cyclone has a significant rise at the arch area across the medial to lateral plane. When standing still, this creates a sensation of arch support that’s not unlike that of an orthotic. Forefoot runners will probably perceive this as a regular drop while midfoot and heel strikers will certainly perceive a significant arch support during transition. I personally land more midfoot and certainly appreciate this effect as I recover from a plantar fascia injury.


Sam: Serious rubber depth here with 4mm of relatively firm rubber everywhere it is present.

Topo always has outstandingly durable outsoles with great grip. 

I personally think it could be slimmed down or softened up front to reduce weight and give the front of the shoe more flex and maybe a touch softer ride.

Michael: There’s 4mm of rubber in the Cyclone’s outsole here, and I found that to be adequate even on a run where - after a consecutive string of 20°- 40°- 20° days - there was plenty of ice to slip on. There’s nothing particularly hearty about the outsole - those seeking a road-trail hybrid, as Topo has often delivered, may be out of luck - but it’s more than adequate for road and light off-road settings.

Joost: Lots of rubber and good grip on concrete and road. It should also be quite durable.

Cheng: Revolutionized by Hoka, strategic rubber with exposed midsole is now standard practice for lightweighting the outsole. There’s not much to complain about in the Cylcone’s implementation. The rubber segments are distributed with an outer bias, favoring the whole natural running approach of landing laterally and pronating across the transition. 

There’s also a wishbone shaped cut out running through the midfoot but without a plate. This design serves another common function: to split the transitional forces for better torsional stability while promoting the sole to flex towards the front. Overall, it’s difficult to perceive what’s rubber and not while running, aiding the runner to focus on just his or her form.


Michael: The short version of this section is this: The Cyclone is fast, nimble, and a lot of fun. There’s no fancy plate (or even all that fancy of a midsole compound), nor is the Cyclone super light (like, say, the Skechers Horizon Vanish or Atreyu base model). Instead, the Cyclone just hits a lot of middle notes really, really well. It’s a natural-feeling shoe - that is, a simple put-it-down-and-pick-it-up profile, with a solid road feel without coming across overly minimal. Again - middle of the road, but in a good way!

I took these on a light progressive tempo on the treadmill, and found them equally enjoyable at faster paces. Indeed, I think the Zip Foam really comes alive when your cadence is up slightly - it alleviates that slight “bottoming out” feel that you might come across when jogging. While there still isn’t quite that “kinetic” feeling of a plated shoe (or even a rocker-based shoe, like ASICS’s Glideride or Evoride), the Cyclone still provides a plenty enjoyable platform for a variety of paces and run types.

Sam: The ride for me is for faster paces off the heels and onto that broad and responsive forefoot platform and its thick rubber. As stated above, they felt high at the forefoot at slower paces but far less so than the very rigid Zephyr. Small heel hold issues aside, and not really ride, but worthy of mention is that the upper disappears on the run, so roomy and comfortable with the sensation that the action is under foot. The light weight for the stack also contributes to that feeling. 

For me the Cyclone is an uptempo to race option due to the responsive feel. This is not a soft and bouncy, more flexible ride such as the similar stack Hoka Mach 4 delivers or a firm flexible ride such as the Kinvara 12’s. As Michael says above there is no easy rocker groove to be found here with the ride favoring midfoot to forefoot striking and faster paces for heel strikers.

Joost: The Cyclone is one of those do-it-all shoes for me. It can do easy, uptempo, recovery and sits between the Hoka Mach 4 and the Saucony Kinvara 12 like Sam suggests. The wide forefoot really makes it feel more comfortable for my duck feet and the upper does indeed do the disappearing trick when you run in them, a hotspot on my left big toe because of the toe bumper aside, but that was only on the first run.

Cheng: Sam mentioned that the shoe lacks a significant rocker feel but yet has a dynamic toe off. This appears to be intentionally designed. The midsole’s firmness helps the shoe retain its shape across the gait cycle, transitioning to a late stage toe spring. At higher speeds, the sensation of firmness becomes a consistent rebound that seems to smoothly vector from landing to toe off.

By not being overly plush, the shoe cues you to run with more attention to form. The lighter you land, the smoother the transition; the smoother the transition, the better the rebound. You’re incentivised to efficiently land each step, nimbly working with the shoe as opposed to mindlessly stomping. At slower paces, this effect is still there, but my view is that the Cyclone is squarely positioned as a tempo trainer and certainly not an easy day shoe.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Michael: I went into the Cyclone with a relatively mellow attitude (besides, as noted, having been enamored by the looks of it). In that regard, the Cyclone absolutely exceeds my expectations. In fact, with the exception of the slightly too wide upper, there’s very little to complain about here - and heck, that added width will probably push wider foot runners into this shoe. Indeed, Topo Athletic has made a shoe that runs as good as it looks - and checks a ton of boxes, without doing anything revolutionary or strikingly different. Sometimes, just nailing the basics is more than enough.

Michael’s Score: 9.3/10

Sally: My first Topo, and I am sold. The Cyclone checks all the boxes and will fit the bill for a wide variety of runners, especially those looking for a lightweight, uptempo trainer that can accommodate a higher volume foot. It is easy on the eyes with its modern simplicity and eye-popping colors, and can keep up with the best of them if the pace is pushed. Nothing superlative here, but all-around solid, which makes for a winner.

Sally’s score: 9.2/10

Ride: 9 (50%)  Fit: 9.3 (30%)  Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Sam: A giant step forward for Topo here with a beautifully styled modern shoe with plenty of firmer yet friendly enough cushion. It breaks the 8 oz barrier delivering an uptempo and race worthy option for those seeking a lower drop with a broader anatomical toe box and midfoot fit in a super soft, highly breathable and comfortable upper.

The rear  of the shoe needs more structure for a more secure hold for narrower lower volume feet but “bigger” feet should be overjoyed.  I think the outsole rubber thickness could be toned down to drop yet more weight (or trade for more heel area structure) and to soften the ride a touch and give the front more flex. 

The Cyclone is most specifically a very solid new uptempo and race option of the responsive, firmer yet well cushioned snappier variety for fans of “space” and upper comfort.

Sam’s Score: 9.18 /10

Ride: 9.1 (50%) Fit: 9.1 (30%) Value:9.3  (15%) Style:10 (5%)

Joost:There’s actually nothing really noteworthy about the Cyclone (except for the looks), and I consider that a plus. It’s an unassuming, well-built shoe with a great ride that can take anything you throw at it.

Joost’s Score: 9.1/10

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

Cheng: If you’ve read my past reviews, you might believe that I’m partial to brands like Topo. I am, but I’m also very critical and realistic. In this case, I think that while the Cyclone’s is well-balanced in weight and liveliness, it’s not for everyone. The platform is well designed for natural running, providing a decent support while queuing you to run efficiently. However, its nimble ride could also be too delicate of a ride. How you relate to the Cyclone will depend on your personal running goals. If you’re looking to transition toward natural running and zero-drop Altra is too intimidating, start here. Feel free to comment below or message me via Instagram (@MrChengChen) for discussion.

Cheng’s Score: 9.15/10

Ride: 9 (50%), Fit: 10 (30%), Value: 8 (15%), Style: 9 (5%)



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Topo Zephyr (RTR Review)

Sam: Faster, smoother, and considerably lighter the Cyclone is a better choice in every way. except if your narrower foot may not find enough support in the Cyclone. While adding to weight, the Zeyphr upper was superb for me, a perfect 10, and in the Cyclone while super comfortable lower volume feet may struggle with the rear hold. Losing the weight and the unnecessary (in my view) stabilizer plates of the Zeyphr leads to a big improvement in weight and ride.

Topo Phantom (RTR Review)

Michael: In my review of the Topo Phantom - a slightly beefier, higher-mileage cruiser - I wrote, “The more I ran in the Phantom - and the more I put together this review - I kept coming back to the Phantom as a ‘medium’ shoe. Price, aesthetics, weight, performance - none of them stand out, and none of them fall flat.” Sound familiar? In both cases, Topo has gone for a balanced, respectable shoe - but while the Phantom tipped towards the boring side, the Cyclone does the opposite, and comes across a success. Those who want a really soft ride should go for the Phantom, but most runners will have better luck in the Cyclone.

Sam: Agree with Michael. While more cushioned and softer cushioned the Phantom is boring and lumbering in comparison. 

ASICS Evoride 2 (RTR Review)

Michael: The ASICS and Topo here are actually very similarly situated. The EvoRide has a more significant rocker sensation than the Cyclone, but both have a relatively similar road feel - stripped back, but not minimal, with 5mm drops. Ultimately, I think runners who want that additive element - ASICS’s forefoot rocker - should pick the ASICS, but those who want a more traditional ride will be happy in the Cyclone!

Sam: I lean towards Evoride 2 in this match up as its rocker is more effective than the Cyclone’s front platform that you have to get on to get it to go approach and especially so at slower paces which the Evo handles easier. The Cyclone upper is lighter and is easier on the foot but doesn’t have the overall security and hold of  the Evoride’s. The cushion feel is similar although I find the Cyclone to be not as thin feeling as the Evoride up front.  

NB FuelCell 890v8 (RTR Review)

Sam: Firmer and more awkward the 890v8 leans tempo only for me while Cyclone has a greater range of paces.

Hoka Rincon (RTR Review)

Michael: The Rincon is light (0.2 oz less than Cyclone), fairly minimal, and a fun up-tempo trainer - but I think the Cyclone is ultimately a more approachable and well-rounded pick. Runners who need a wider fit will like the Cyclone, too, since the Ricnon is quite narrow although underfoot it has a wider platform, and somewhat less rubber.

Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Mach 4 is an awesome trainer - with some funky stylistic elements (that heel!), but ultimately represents a strong iterative change over previous generations. And while I do think the Mach 4 is a better option than the Cyclone for many runners, those who don’t want a shoe to be so noticeable (the Mach 4 has a lot of tech going on underfoot) may still like the Topo.

Sam: Mach 4 weighs the same, has about the same stack height and has a completely different ride. Overall softer with a thick layer of rubberized foam as the outsole, vs the 4mm of firm rubber on the Cyclone,  the Mach 4 is about an easy flow at all paces while the Cyclone is snappier and firmer with a focus for me on uptempo. While losing a bit of toe off pop in the match up, Mach 4 is any pace friendly. The Mach 4 upper is lower volume, somewhat snugger and more secure so especially broad feet would do well to consider Cyclone.

Joost: (9.5 in both). As Sam said, the Cyclone is snappier. The upper of the Cyclone is superior, but the Mach 4 is still my current favorite shoe. 

Altra Rivera

Cheng: I’ve only briefly tested the upcoming Altra Rivera, a new platform that mates the stack height of the Torin with an Escalante’s EGO midsole. Specifically, this iteration of EGO appears to have less elastomeric components, lending to a ride that’s similar to that of the Cyclone. However, unlike the Cyclone, the Rivera lacks significant toe spring and arch support, defaulting instead to a more spartan zero-drop ride. Your preference will depend on which side of the natural running camp you’re in.

Altra Torin 4/4.5 Plush (RTR Review)

Cheng: Although similar in stack height, shape, and fit, the Torin Plush and Cyclone have polar opposite ride sensations. Even after replacing the extra plush insole of the Torin to limit the cushioning, the platform is still far more bouncy due to its eTPU strobel layer and the softer Quantic foam. The Altra is also far more flexible than the Topo. So, in this context, the Cyclone can feel like clogs in comparison to the Torin. I’m using the former for more speed work and light trail runs.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)

Cheng: I’ve only ran in the first version of the Beacon, but my impression is that the midsole has not changed much since v1 although the newer Fresh Foam X is supposed to be slightly softer and bouncier. Here, the Cyclone is somewhat similar to the Beacon with the former having the more uptempo/firmer feel. Where the two diverge is in geometry. The Beacon has a relatively linear design without significant supportive elements while the Cyclone has a more drastic arch support and toe spring. In terms of overall ride quality, the Beacon is far closer to the Altra Torin than it is to the Cyclone.

Saucony Endorphin Speed (RTR Review)

Sam: The Speed has a nylon plate and springier PEBA based midsole. It weighs about the same as Cyclone. They both have a relatively firm ride and both are uptempo. The Speed with its Speed Roll rocker is easier to toe off at faster paces but somewhat less stable at the heel at slower paces.  If I had to pick it would be Speed with the $40 additional cost giving pause. 

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: While considerably heavier, the Ride 13 also has a TPU/EVA midsole foam similar to Zip Foam which is the whole midsole and not just a core as in the Cyclone. As such it has a bit more forgiving daily training ride. They are similar in that both use thick forefoot rubber for response with the Ride 13 more flexible bars approach and geometry easier to turn over at slower paces while the Cyclone is snappier and more dynamic at faster paces.

Joost (9.5 in both): The Ride 13 is a nice shoe, good for your easy days, but its ride is a little clunkier than the Cyclone, which also has the better upper. My choice goes to the Cyclone.

Skechers Razor+  & Razor Elite (RTR Review)

Joost (9.5 in both): The Skechers are very different feeling shoes to the Cyclone. Comfort-wise, the Cyclone is the better shoe because it suits my wide feet better, but the ride of that Hyperburst is such a joy that you almost forget the constrictive uppers. 

The Cyclone is available now at Topo here and at our retail partners below

Products reviewed were provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
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Xavier said...

Excellent review, I think I might be sold on this Topo! And how would it compare to a Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate?

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Xavier,
The Accelerate is somewhat more cushioned and vibration absorbing, more flexible, and I would say more versatile too. It is a bit heavier. It's upper is OK more secure for me but not as whisper light and comfortable. While drop is similar 6mm vs 5mm the Accelerate does better with heel striking at slower paces than Cyclone, less of a sensation of a high feeling front platform
Sam, Editor

Xavier said...

Thank you! And thats a good point about heel striking in the Accelerate, the heel area is very prominent but has gotten better as the shoe broke in.

Dean said...

Thanks for the review, this shoe sounds like it might finally be another good one from Topo, after the Ultraventure and Ultrafly 3. Would you say that if a 12US men's fits me pretty much perfectly in the Ultrafly 3, that I should also go for a 12US men's with the Cyclone? Or, would a half size down be better?

Dean said...

Thanks for the review, this shoe sounds like it might finally be another good one from Topo, after the Ultraventure and Ultrafly 3. Would you say that if a 12US men's fits me pretty much perfectly in the Ultrafly 3, that I should also go for a 12US men's with the Cyclone? Or, would a half size down be better?

MrChengChen said...

Dean, I would not size down. For reference, these shoes are slightly shorter than their Altra counterpart in the same size.

Dean said...

@MrChengChen thank you!

TReilly56 said...

I appreciate the nicely multi-faceted reviews of this shoe. We have carried Topo shoes for some time but I wasn't aware of the stodgy styling reputation of Topo, but some runners want the most anonymous styling possible, so no problem there. Several years ago now in the era of the then-pervasive day-glo bright-for-bright-sake color ways that were offered we had so many people ask "Do they all have to be neon colors??! Don't they make these in black??" So, the companies collectively decided to do about every shoe in black, dark grey or navy blue to an excess! Hard to get noticed on the shoe wall when everything is dark. Seemed only a matter of time before brighter colors re-emerged. I like the feel of the Cyclone, light, responsive, affordable. Well done.

Anonymous said...

I love Topo Cyclones. I wore one pair exclusively July 2022 as vacation/hiking/running/river shoes. I put about 200 miles on them in that month. Perfect perfect perfect shoe. I'm now rotating in another pair, and have two still-in-the-boxes pair for 2023. Best shoe ever. I also just ordered and received Atreyu Saffron but haven't tried those out yet. I love the yellow, and they were $68. We'll see on them.