Saturday, February 13, 2021

La Sportiva Cyklon Review: Is it a trail runner or very light highly technical terrain boot?

 Article by John Tribbia and Jeff Valliere

La Sportiva Cyklon ($160)


John: Coming in at approximately 11 oz (311 grams) in a 42 EU size with a 8 mm drop, and an MSRP of $160, the Cyklon is destined for sky racers and mountain enthusiasts who gravitate toward off-road technical terrain for short to medium distances.

A few months ago, I wrote about and reviewed the La Sportiva Karacal. In that review I mentioned a recent interview with Jonathan Wyatt (multi-time World Mountain Running champion and La Sportiva Running Product Specialist). In it he compares the Karacal and soon to be released Cyklon.

Although the Cyklon is similar to the Karacal with design attributes built for technical terrain, Wyatt indicates the Cyklon is a completely different beast of a shoe altogether. Sportiva was looking to design a shoe that excelled in challenging terrain and in mixed climbing and running situations, La Sportiva manifested the Cyklon to provide adventure seekers the highest level of stability and security. To that end, the customizable, precise, and secure fit of the Cyklon is thanks to a sophisticated Dynamic Cage design feature that fits over the midfoot and is controlled by a BOA system. 

The one-two punch of the Cage and BOA allow on the fly micro adjustments that are adaptable to the changes in foot volume over the long haul, thus ensuring maximum comfort in long distance objectives. 


John: precise and customizable fit, very stable and predictable, well protected, and very efficient in technical terrain. 

Jeff V:  Fit/security for technical terrain, traction, protection, stability


John: boot like, harsh ride and transitions when running

Jeff V:  not very versatile, limited to more technical terrain

Tester Profile

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva , Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.

Jeff V.  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 


Sample Weight: 11oz / 311g men's / (US9) 

Stack Height: 28mm Heel / 20mm Toe

Available  Spring 2021. $160.

First Impressions and Fit

Jeff V:  I was pleasantly surprised that the Cyklon was a bit lighter than I anticipated and more like a running shoe than a boot, as I had imagined from the photos.  With the high top design, I found it a bit challenging at first to slide my foot in (it is more like work your foot in), but once in, the fit is very precise and low volume for my thin foot even, with the Boa providing a very secure lockdown over the midfoot.  I would say overall fit is true to size if you want precision fit for technical terrain (which I do, as this is what the shoe is designed for), however my toes are right up at the front of the shoe and there is no extra room.  This has not been an issue for me and even on steep technical downhills, I never have had any bashing since the midfoot fit is so secure, but something to keep in mind.  I would probably go up a half size if you prefer a bit more wiggle room.

John: The La Sportiva Cyklon is incredibly comfortable and almost boot-like given the amount of support I feel in the shoe. The BOA system is well designed and holds my heel and forefoot securely in place. The structured heel is stiffer than other shoes I have run in, but not in an uncomfortable way. The upper is comfortable on the foot with no abrasive spots, breathes well, and works well in tandem with the BOA lacing system to envelope the foot. 


John: With the combination of breathable and high abrasion resistant 4-way mesh and a multi-layer thermo adhesive side panel overlay, the upper of the Cyklon is an excellent combination of breathability and protection. The heel collar is high and constructed sock-like and stretches to envelope the foot. I find the padding and material to be very comfortable, especially for a higher cut heel. 


There’s an external heel cup that also supports the BOA system and provides structure to the upper and greatly enhances the heel hold. In fact, it is almost a boot-like feel, which is great in technical terrain where ankle rolls can be commonplace. Related, the midfoot hold is excellent . With the combination of a secure heel and midfoot, the high customizable fit in the forefoot / toe box allows for swelling and splay, which I find gives me better control on the technical terrain. 

Overall, the upper security is exceptional, especially on steep technical terrain.

The BOA system with external guides is accompanied by Spyral tongue and Dynamic Cage that yield an efficient quick one-hand lacing adjustment. The design of the lacing system wraps over the foot and pulls the upper over the forefoot like a blanket (as opposed to pulling the two sides together) and in my opinion provides a much more secure fit than any other BOA system I have tried before. 

I would say, too, that the BOA is the star of this shoe as it provides an on the fly, easily adjustable, lacing system that conveniently and efficiently supports my foot really well. Minor adjustments, on the fly and in cold weather, are extremely easy!

Jeff V:  John describes the technical components of the upper very well and I find the Cyklon to be very very competent in technical terrain, much of that having to do with the exceptionally secure and protective upper.  

I agree with all of John’s observations here, but the only point where we differ slightly is how much room the toe box offers.  My foot has no extra room, but will also concede that even on longer, warmer runs, this has yet to be an issue for me and I appreciate the snug, locked in feel for the technical terrain for which I would choose this shoe.  

The implementation of the Boa here is perhaps the best I have encountered, providing a very even and secure mirco adjusted lock lockdown that is very easy to add or relieve pressure on the fly.  Several times I have bumped the Boa dial on rocks, though have yet to observe any damage from this.  An occasional concern I hear is “what if the Boa breaks?”, which has crossed my mind as well, but I think the likelihood of that is slim and even if it did happen, at least with the Cyklon, I am confident I could easily complete my run with little to no inconvenience given the overall snug fit of the shoe and high top booty like design.  

While not a breezy, airy shoe, I find breathability to be reasonable in temps up to the 80s F, but any warmer, they feel a bit hot.


John: the midsole of the Cyklon is a compression molded EVA with two co-molded medial and lateral TPU stabilizing inserts to provide stability and protect your feet from sharp and uneven rocky paths. Like many of the La Sportiva models I have run in, including recent tests  of the Karacal (RTR Review) and Jackal (RTR Review), I didn’t find the cushion to be highly conducive to running fast and nimble, nor did I find the sensation underfoot to be plush, responsive, or bouncy. All of this said the midsole feels exceptionally stable upon impact and there is some cushion thanks to the Ortholite insoles and 7mm lugs on the outsole.

Jeff V:  As John alludes to, the midsole here is unremarkable and very much in line with most of the other La Sportivas, not particularly plush or responsive, but for its intended purpose of rocky and technical terrain, I find it adequate and have never find myself longing for more.  While the cushioning is firm, it is very stable and predictable, with enough forgiveness for hours of use on rough trails and above treeline.


John: The FriXion XF 2.0 mudguard outsole with 7mm lugs provides great traction and security in all types of terrain. When running / hiking on rocky trail, mud, ice, gravel pack trail, snow, and off camber grassy slopes, I felt very secure and was able to be aggressive in almost any terrain. The 7mm lugs offer exceptional traction, foot protection on rocky terrain, and cushion on hard terrain. They attach well to a variety of surfaces in both warm and cold temperatures. The TPU toe guard is protective and I had no uncomfortable issues with my foot in the shoe.

Jeff V:  Those familiar with the Mutant or Crosslite will find the outsole here very familiar.  With sticky rubber and deep 7mm lugs, the Cyklon is well equipped for any terrain.  Grip is excellent on dry rock, slab, wet rock, mud, snow, loose dirt and off trail scruff.  On a recent run in the mountains, over a wide variety of terrain, with road, buffed singletrack, mud, grass, boulder hopping, steep granite slabs both wet and dry, frozen over snow with some ice, steep dirt, loose scree and above treeline ridge traversing, the Cyklon felt very surely planted at all times, without so much as a slip.


John T:  I wouldn’t say the Cyklon has a particularly plush, smooth, or an upbeat and lively ride, but I found it to be protective and predictable. At 11 oz, the Cyklon is comparably lightweight for the type of terrain it is intended for and I really enjoyed how it performed on steep technical terrain. Moreover, they excel at fast paced hiking / speed walking when pushed and are very predictable and stable in technical terrain. 

The structured heel helps keep wobbliness and ankle rolls at bay. 

Jeff V:  John sums up the ride well, protective and predictable.  While definitely not particularly speedy or responsive, I find the ride to be very suitable for rough, rocky, technical terrain and can easily handle quick running on less technical stretches of trail with no issues, but it is definitely most at home in rugged terrain (and thus typically slower speeds).

Conclusions and Recommendations

John: La Sportiva’s Cyklon is in a category of its own. If you are looking to add a shoe that is ideal when moving efficiently through technical mountain terrain over medium to long distances with a crossover feel between a  boot and a trail runner , the Cyklon is a top choice. The shoe is light, comfortable, and supportive. It offers the option via the BOA of a precise and dialed-in fit. It was secure, predictable, and stable when running across varied terrain, and can withstand long days in the mountains. I envision using this shoe in Sky Race type events where the terrain is ankle bending or even longer fast packing and thru-hike adventures where foot support is a necessity.

John’s Score: 9.1/10 

Ride: 9 (not ideal for fast paced running, but at its best in high alpine technical terrain)

Fit: 9 (BOA system is amazing)

Value: 8 ($160 is not bad for the shoe and its purpose, but not great either)

Style: 9  

Traction: 10 (best in class)

Rock Protection: 9.5 (toe protection, firm cushioning, outsole and durable upper)

Jeff V:  The Cyklon is one of my top picks, if not my top pick for rugged, above treeline running, scrambling and all mountain adventure where protection, security, stability, predictability and traction are paramount.  While they work fine for hiking or as a daily trainer, I reserve these shoes for more serious adventures.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.3/10

Ride: 9  Fit: 9.5 Value: 9 Style: 9 Traction:10 Rock Protection : 9


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Salomon SpeedCross 5 (RTR Review)

John: The SpeedCross 5 is lighter, faster, with less protection. I think the SpeedCross does well in most terrain, but lacks an edge compared to the Cyklon in rocky, super technical, and uneven terrain. The Cyklon is well suited for technical trail and off-trail sections where superior traction and protection are mandatory.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro (RTR Review)

John: I found these shoes to be very different from each other, despite sharing BOA lacing systems and general use cases. The BOA system on the Cyklon wraps over the foot while on the Terrex it pulls the two sides of the upper together. I personally prefer the Cyklon’s design and found it to be more secure. The Terrex has a water resistant overlay that zips up above the ankle and the Cyklon has a sock-like heel upper that prevents debris from getting in the shoe. The Terrex is quite a bit heavier (by 3 oz / 85g or sot) and yet it has a more lively ride from its Boost midsole and geometry. On the other hand the Cyklon is more structured and efficient through steep technical terrain. The price for Terrex is $200 compared to $160 for the Cyklon

La Sportiva Akasha (RTR Review)

John: Both the Akasha and Cyklon weigh around 11 oz, but their use cases diverge. The Akasha has slightly less drop and upper protection, while having more cushion and agility, which translates to a better longer / ultra distance shoe for rolling terrain. On the other hand the Cyklon comes with deeper lugs, a 2mm greater heel-to-toe drop, and greater overall protection and security, which makes it best for steeper and more technical terrain.

VJ Ultra (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The VJ is lighter, better cushioned, more responsive and believe it or not, has better traction.  The Cyklon however has a bit more protection and rugged build for rocky talus above treeline outings.  The VJ is very close in all mountain performance and is MUCH a much faster shoe for high end efforts.

La Sportiva Bushido II (RTR Review)   

Jeff V:  The Bushido 2 feels a bit more cushioned underfoot and would be my pick for longer days It  is a bit more stiff and protected in the forefoot which for prolonged hours or days talus hopping would be an advantage.  Overall performance and usage between the two mostly overlap, however the Cyklon has more pronounced lugs for more loose terrain and snow, then the Boa is really handy and effective.

Salomon XA Alpine (RTR Review

Jeff V:  Very comparable in overall performance and usage.  For more smooth slab and focus on scrambling, the XA Alpine with dedicated climbing zone sticky rubber in the forefoot may be an advantage, but on more varied terrain, loose, snowy, the Cyklon has better traction.  The XA Alpine is a bit more stiff underfoot and has better rock protection, while  Cyklon has a bit better ground feel.

Saucony Peregrine 11 (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The Peregrine is a bit more “runnable” option, with slightly better response and better cushioning, though it is not plush by any means.  Peregrine traction is very good and comparable to the Cyklon on loose terrain and snow, but the Cyklon has more sticky rubber which grabs better on rock and in the wet.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Kyle said...

Please let us know how this compares to the mutant!

John Tribbia said...

Hey Kyle! Thanks for your inquiry. I don't have a ton of hours in the Mutant, but I can give you a few basic comparisons I noticed. The two differ in upper protection and fit/security. The Cyklon feels more built up and ready for a trekking adventure (though it is still runnable), which was most noticeable in the secure and well protected heel fit. Moreover the BOA lacing allows for precision in the overall fit too. Both are great in technical situations. TL;DR I would use the Cyklons for a longer, slower outing up 14er/13er terrain and I would use the Mutants for more runnable options like an approach and scramble up Boulder's Flatirons or Salt Lake City's Olympus Slabs.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks again!


Kyle said...

Awesome, thanks John!

Anonymous said...

ich laufe den Jackal für Strecken von 50-über 100km.
Ein Klasse Schuh, perfekt.
Sehen Sie den Cyklon als Alternative im langen Bereich?


Roughneck said...

Looks a great shoe. What is the width like compered to say the new Inov8 Trailfly, Akasha or Topo MTN racer 2


Brian said...

A thorough review. Thanks John. I’m considering the Cyklon. Currently I’m a Ultra Raptor and Akasha fan for trail running and an avid Akyra fan for hiking because I find the Akyra very supportive and more stable. Sounds like the Cyklon might be a more capable Akyra—what do you think?

Jeff Valliere said...

Mike, comparable to the Akasha, but the Akasha is a bit more stretchy, where the Cyklon feels more locked down. Much narrower and low volume than the Topo.

Brian, for running, the Cyklon is much more capable than the Akyra, which I essentially found to be just a low top hiker that looks like a running shoe. I found Akyra traction to be not so great and the Cyklon is among the best out there.

Kyle, I agree with John here on all points. On longer outings on technical terrain, I found my feet getting really tired from lack of support underfoot in the Mutant, but on similar outings in the Cyklon, I feel more protection and support.

Brian said...

Jeff, thanks for your firsthand comments.

Anonymous said...

In these times when we pay even more attention to how we spend our hard earned money I think that many people and me, would really appreciate some focus on durability issues in your reviews which I have found recently lacking. Many shoes you find brilliant, I after some digging, see people being more critical about than what you post on your website.

Pedro Cordeiro said...

A bit off-topic but I run a lot in the past with Akasha and Muttan and I am looking forward to get the GTX version (of the Cyklon) this Fall for the winter alpine running. I used the bukly Tempesta GTX in the past and latelly the SG4 gtx, but they just doesn’t bite the snow as well and I often have to reach to the microspikes.

Tyler said...

How does sizing compare to the Mutant. I currently wear a 46 in the Mutant and am quite comfortable with a little extra wiggle room.

Jeff Valliere said...

Sizing is consistent.

Anonymous said...

Older early 70s runner, 190 lbs, mostly desert trails, rocky singletrack. Akashas are great all round n the fav. The kaptivas i find are stffer n slower but killer on point to point, no trails. The cyclons have little cushioning in comparison but my fav in Bowl of Fire, or sandy squishy terrain like desert canyon bottoms with sand. Since they have a built in gaiter, nothing gets in and i can run my hours without having to empty my shoes of rocks n sand. I rate them poor however on rocky stuff the other two shoes plow thru. Toe box plenty of room, I add a half size and fine.
3 shoes, so i just pull out the proper weapon for terrain and go romp here in the Vegas area.
The runner formerly known as Fasteddie!
Great website Samster!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eddie! Great feedback and comparisons! Sam