Friday, April 09, 2021

Saucony Axon Review: A Friendly, $100, Mellow Riding, Max Cushion Trainer

 Article by Sam Winebaum, Sally Reiley, Bryan Lim, and Allison Valliere

Saucony Axon ($100)


The Axon is a max cushioned neutral daily trainer on a rigid rocker type profile. It shares a 38 mm heel/ 34mm forefoot stack height with the Endorphin Shift and a similar but not identical ride. At $100 it is $40 less than the Shift and due in large part due to its simpler upper and toned down heel counter and pronation controlling construction weighs about 1.2 oz / 36g less at 9.3 oz / 264g in a US9


  • Great value in a versatile, max cushion daily trainer/recovery run shoe-Sam/Sally/Allsion/Bryan
  • Softer PWRRUN provides a forgiving daily training to recovery pace ride-Sam/Sally/Allsion
  • Moderate rocker helps move the rigid profile high stack along-Sam/Sally/Allison/Bryan


  • Toe box lacks some structure, some moderate side to side motion below lace up noted--Sam/Sally
  • A somewhat less pliable and more "engineered" mesh might be in order--Sam/Sally
  • May run a ¼ to ½ size small-Sam/Sally
  • Overly simple, overly generous toe box was sloppy on my narrower foot: SallyLaces are ridiculously (Altra like) long: Sally
  • Stiff  Allison/Bryan
  • Firm ride Bryan


Approx. Weight: men's 9.3 oz / 264g  (US9)  /  women's  women’s 8.4 oz / 237g (US W8) 

  Samples: men’s 9.3 oz / 264g  (US9),  women’s 8.4 oz / 237g (US W8)  

Stack Height: 38mm / 34mm, 4mm drop

The same stack height Endorphin Shift weighs 1.2 oz /36g more

Available now. $100.  

First Impressions, Fit, and Upper

Sam: In a mellow kind of soothing and a bit dull, sea foam blue with black, olive green, and silver highlights the Axon projects a friendly demeanor which contrasts with the more serious fun looks of the identical stack height Endorphin Shift.

One is immediately drawn to the white midsole with no “camouflage” paint hiding its big 38/34 stack height as well as the hint of stability provided by triangular arrow shaped midfoot outsole rubber rising up the sides. 

One is not reminded of the massive external heel counter dipping down low on the medial side and more substantial midfooot rubber areas rising up the sides of the Endorphin Shift.

The upper is a soft, very pliable single pattern (so not “engineered” with zones of mesh support) air mesh. Basically a more old school more conventional type of upper. The Axon has a substantial well held heel counter and comfortable collars. 

Clearly not the massive externally supported heel counter of the Endorphin Shift the Axon’s rear stability is fine but given the huge 38mm stack might benefit from a bit more rear stability from a more minimal (than Shift) external exoskeleton of support.

Pressing the midsole I could tell it was softer PWRRUN than in the Shift and Ride 14. 

Looks, materials, and general first impressions told me this was going to a more mellow, easier going, softer sibling to the Endorphin Shift. 

My sample was a half size up from my normal 8.5. Length was about right. My right wider left foot fit perfectly if a bit short, my right narrower had some side to side play but still fit decently well. I think wider higher volume feet should consider sizing up and narrower lower volume ones consider staying true to size.

At about 9.3 oz / 264g US9  I am struck at how light it is for its max cushioned stack height. 

Sally: At first look, a very classic old-school like shoe with a very simple upper, but with a massive stack and PWRRUN midsole. It is a great looking shoe that will do well for casual wear if I don’t like the ride, so let’s get running! Initially it feels quite firm, so time will tell. 

The fit is basically true to size, though wide and perhaps short in the toe box. 

I like the simplicity of the upper, with a very comfortable cushioned collar and heel counter, and a gusseted lightly padded tongue of a just-right length. But the laces? Like the rest of the shoe, you get big bang for your buck - way more lace length than you could ever need or want. Reminiscent of some Altras I have known...

Allison:  I like the mellow look of the seafoam Axis and the shoe is streamlined, yet very highly stacked and surprisingly light for the amount of cushioning.  While a budget shoe, the materials feel good and well put together.  Sliding the Axon on, they are comfortable and fit true to size.  The toe box fits my narrow foot well, with a bit of room, but not much.  The lacing is precise and it is easy to get the right snugness on the first try and I appreciate the gusseted tongue, well padded heel collar and overall security, which is essential for a shoe that rides this high off the ground.

Bryan: My first impression was that the Axon looks like a modern trainer with vibes of the Endorphon Shift put together in a more traditional package with a very simplistic construct, and rightly so for an entry level shoe. Nevertheless,the Axon feels like a quality product, for its price. The shoe was true to size in my M9, with no issues with width nor volume. Its one of those shoes that never concerned me with fit and consequently lockdown, which I will confirm again later when discussing the upper. However, being spoilt with the upper end of trainers and racers with their sophisticated technology both in their uppers and midsole, I felt that the Axon lacked character with its single layer air mesh and bleached white PWRRUN midsole, but that’s just looks! 


Sam: The midsole is PWRRUN, and EVA/TPU blend alos found  in the Endorphin Shift, Ride 14, and all current Saucony trail shoes except the Switchback and Xodus which have full TPU PWRRUN+ midsoles.  The midsole feels by pressing and on the run to be softer than any of the other PWRRUN midsole shoes. 

The midsole feel is soft and forgiving but not mushy but don’t mistake the feel for the responsive snappier feel of the Shift. It has a touch more bounce not found in the firmer PWRRUN shoes. 

The Axon has a rigid rocker geometry. Even after several runs it does not flex. Transitions are smooth and easy with a gentle and effective rocker at final toe off. This said it is not the more noticed SpeedRoll final toe off effect of the Shift and that’s OK for the shoe’s more mellow vibe and purposes. 

Sally: I found the midsole of the Axon to be fairly firm, similar in a way to the Kinvara, but with more stack. Brick-like on my first run or two, the good news is that this shoe seems to break in and soften and get more responsive over time. I have not had the pleasure of running in the Endorphin Shift ( though one of my favorite shoes of 2020 was the Endorphin Speed), but the midsole is similarly PWRRUN, as Sam points out. But the Axon is only $100, a bargain in any book. The forward rolling rocker is indeed rigid, but effective. I am not typically an insole insert kind of runner, but this shoe might be improved for me with a more cushioned sockliner. Easily added.

Allison:  I agree with Sally, the Axon at first feels exceptionally brick-like and rigid, where the cushioning feels very firm, though it does soften a little bit over time.  I find that the rocker helps some in forward motion, but I never found this shoe to be all that quick or responsive no matter how much I broke them in.

Bryan: I think both Sally and Allison covered this well in that the Axon felt like a hollow brick on its initial uses, very light for its stack but its rigidity accentuates its 38mm stack height a little too much. The rocker was effective and provided sufficient responsiveness in toe off but in line with the price and its purpose, it was by no means on the same level as other higher end trainers, albeit not having run in the Endorphin Shift as a comparison. 


Sam: The outsole is a mostly full coverage fairly thin rubber. In particular, and in contrast to the Endorphin Shift, the forefoot coverage is full here. The Shift (seen below) has longitudinal bars of firmer (than Axon’s rubber) with exposed midsole between. 

The Axon’s front black longitudinal bars are firmer in feel than the rest of the front full coverage outsole but I think that is because they are thicker not actually firmer rubber.

The main front outsole is a full coverage “plate” of rubber with raised chevrons. It clearly stabilizes the softer foam and big stack upfront but is not the kind of rubber that delivers a sense of responsive pop off the forefoot as the Shift's does. Again, clearly focus here is on a more mellow max cushion ride and not as dynamic a faster long training one as the Shift delivers. 

The two black midfoot rubber areas that also wrap up the midsole sidewalls  are firmer and clearly provide a touch of support and are not as extensive as Shift’s (see above) .

The rear rubber is a bit softer than the midfoot areas and is of adequate thickness for long wear. At about 25 miles in the only  wear noted is some light scuffing at the lateral heel.

Sally: The outsole has a generous amount of rubber, so I would suspect it will be very durable and long lasting. The traction on wet (and dry) surfaces was fine. One big plus is that there are no grooves and nooks and crannies that can collect stones - a major problem in the aforementioned Kinvara. It is a fairly stiff outsole, but rolls along nicely.

Allison:  Sam describes the outsole well and I found traction to be very good on pavement, cement paths, be they wet or dry.  Traction is adequate for light trail use (flat to low grade gravel paths or smooth singletrack), but being a road shoe, obviously traction is iffy when things get at all loose or technical.  Durability thus far seems very good.

Bryan: Both Sam and Allison have covered the outsole well. I found there to be ample traction plus being its simple and yet effective design which does not pick up much grit and debris in wetter conditions. Despite the exposed midsole, I would not be concerned with its durability.


Sam: The ride is pleasant and quite soft with a touch of bounce-more bounce and softer than Shift when run one on each foot. The shoe rolls along well at all paces but should not be considered an uptempo or big big smiles kind of ride. Friendly and forgiving, the giant stack, due to the geometry and outsole, is not in the way or ponderous. Recall we come in a very light for the stack 9.3 oz /264g. The light weight is noticed and combined with an effective geometry the shoe is just as easy to move along at slower paces as moderately fast daily training paces. 

Sally: Forget running your uptempo miles today and simply relax and enjoy some mellow easy miles… this shoe won’t disappoint for the moderate pace daily training and miles. Not quite soft enough in my book for the true recovery days - there are now so many marshmallow soft, more forgiving shoes out there for that purpose, the ride is somewhat firm but with an effective forward rolling rocker geometry. It is not as harsh and forced a rocker as the Endorphin line, but the rocker is very noticeable nonetheless.

Allison:  I agree with Sally entirely.  The Axon is good for mellow easy miles and short bursts of moderate pace, but definitely does not inspire speed in any way.  Cushioning could be a bit more plush and forgiving given the high, deep stack of the shoe, at least that is what I was expecting.

Bryan: Again in agreement with Sally on that the Axon is well purposed for easier runs. I would have expected it to be plusher given its stack. Otherwise, and for a little more money, there are lower stacked trainers that offer a more versatile ride e.g. Saucony Ride 14. The overall ride is sufficient in its purpose but not inspiring in any way.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The key takeaway for the Axon is that you get a fine max cushioned ride at a great price. It is the first max cushioned trainer at a budget price yet it doesn’t leave much out when compared to far more expensive similar platforms. The weight at 9.3 oz /232 is equally admirable for so much "big" shoe.  The Axon doesn’t have many wrinkles in delivering a friendly and forgiving ride suitable for moderate paced training. If you liked the concept of the Shift but wished for a bit more of a plush and easy going feel they are definitely worth a try. Clifton fans wishing for a touch more overall stability and yet more cushion, you too! 

The upper is just fine but is not quite as locked down as I would prefer but something had to give I guess to bring the rest of the platform in at $100 and 1.2 oz / 36g lighter than the identical stack height and $40 pricier Shift. 

Sam’s Score: 9.15/10

Ride: 9.1 (50%) Fit: 8.9 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 8.5 (5%)

Sally: The Axon provides the latest technology of a maximum stack height PWRRUN midsole combined with a very simple practical upper at a very affordable price. This is a great entry-level shoe at a great price point for runners interested in the Endorphin line. It is a fairly firm shoe that encourages mellow, easy, comfortable daily training runs. It is also a very attractive and no-nonsense aesthetically pleasing shoe that will look and feel great as a casual street shoe (and take you on your runs when the urge presents itself). I would also prefer a tighter more locked-down upper, but all in all a fine new shoe.) 

Sally’s score: 8.9 /10

Ride: 8.8 (50%)  Fit: 8.5% (30%)  Value: 10 (15%)   Style: 9 (5%)

Allison:  The Axon is a high quality, maximal stack shoe for a reasonable price, but I find the ride to be a bit firm for my liking.  It runs fine at slower paces and OK at moderate paces, but I kept longing for a softer more plush ride.  That said, I like the look and overall comfort of the shoe, so it has become my go to casual shoe, for walking and especially for long days on my feet where I appreciate the supportive feel of the midsole.

Allison’s Score:  8.5/10

Ride: 7 (50%)  Fit: 9.5 (30%)  Value: 10 (15%)   Style: 9 (5%)

Bryan: The Axon to the Endorphin range is like the Samsung Galaxy A series is to it’s S series. There is evident trickle down design and technology combining a simple yet well thought out upper with a moderately efficient midsole. Unlike Sam and Sally, I did find that the Axon provided me with sufficient lock down for its purposes. Whilst not a fan of the aesthetic, I would recommend the Axon for runners on a budget looking for a versatile trainer and not wishing to build a rotation. It is a firm shoe that offers enough protection for daily runs and mainly lacks in performance on closer to race pace efforts. The Axon is a worthy addition to Saucony’s line up and my only wish for it is if it were a little more plush.

Bryan’s Score: 8.4/10

Ride: 7.5 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 6 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

We have discussed the differences and similarities. Bottom line: the Axon delivers all the cushion of the Shift is a softer flavor with a bit less pop and response and at a lower price.

 Watch the Shift vs. Axon A/B Test Video Review (6:43)

Saucony Axon, Hoka Mach 4, Nike ZoomX Invincible Run, and New Balance Fresh More v3

Saucony Ride 13 or 14 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride 14 and almost identical 13 is a more traditional (in the sense that it flexes rather than relying on a rocker) higher drop daily trainer. It is somewhat firmer, less cushioned and more responsive with a more polished and secure upper. 

Sally: W8 in both. The Ride is a dependable traditional shoe that does it all just fine, just no superlatives. The simplicity of the upper of the Axon unfortunately translates to an insecure hold of the midfoot/forefoot for me, whereas the Ride upper works well. Both shoes work well for the easier daily training run, different geometries.

Bryan: The Ride 14 is a traditional trainer with a lower stack that does not rely on a rocker. I found both to be equally firm although the Ride was firmer with a purpose (in that it is a lower stacked trainer that offers a more responsive toe-off and overall ride). Whilst the Axon’s upper worked well for me, the Ride is on another level. I would prefer the Ride over the Axon in any given run, notwithstanding the USD$30 difference in price.

Nike ZoomX Invincible (RTR Review)

Sam: The Invincible at $180 and about ½ of an ounce heavier sits on a broader platform of very soft very bouncy ZoomX foam. With a stack height of 37/28, it is about the same at the heel and lower at the forefoot.  It is more fun, dynamic, and faster but not as stable. 

Sally: W8 in both. The Invincible is almost twice the cost, but easily twice the fun. I love the soft, bouncy, fast ride of the Invincible, and find I reach for that shoe when I need a reminder that running is enjoyable. The Axon is a much, much quieter shoe, better for sneaking up on your training buddy unawares, but the ride is meh in comparison.

Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Mach 4 is lighter at 8 oz, has a somewhat lower stack on a more flexible riding rocker than Axon. Mach 4's upper leans performance fit while Axon is more easy comfort and not as secure for its big stack height and with a more unstructured toe box fit. Mach 4 is more stable and responsive. While Axon is a more mellow ride the Mach 4 is an all around daily trainer.

Hoka Clifton 7 and 8 (RTR Review)

Sam:The new Clifton 8 is comparable in softness. It is somewhat lighter and its combination of rocker and some flexibility favors it a faster paces for me over the Axon. The table turns at slower paces with the Axon more stable at the heel and smoother.  Both shoes have softer more unstructured uppers and comfortable (overly comfortable) toe boxes.

New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (RTR Review)

Sam: At $165 the More is considerably.. more. It has an equally roomy but better secured toe box, a somewhat more energetic and softer ride, is a touch more stable and has a combination of rocker and flex that allows it to move along at all paces a bit more smoothly than Axon.

Skechers GO Run Ride 9 (RTR Review)

Sam: The May releasing Ride 9 weighs a bit more than an ounce less and with a 34/28 stack of lively springy Hyperburst, so 2mm less at the heel and 6mm less at the forefoot giving the Axon a clearly more cushioned (and softer) ride.  The Ride 9 is a more versatile, near maximally cushioned all around daily trainer with a more agile toe off from its decently flexible platform. This said if your use is more towards recovery easier paces or you want lots of forgiving cushion go Axon.

Tester Profiles

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 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.

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 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.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from Saucony. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!
Shop for Axon at Saucony HERE

Available Now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

Available Now!  

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Montavilla Steve said...

Currently in the Novablast for my dailys and long-ish run shoe. I think the heel stack height is similar between the two shoes. I find the Novas are great for me for anything under 10 miles, but I have to be conscious of my form the longer I go. I find my last few miles of a half-marathon have me crashing inward if I'm not paying attention (or have my form a little sloppy 90 minutes in).

I'm curious how you'd compare the stability of the Axon to the Novablast?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Steve,
With you on the Novablast stability... narrow platform, high heel stack one needs to keep well aligned. The Axon heel area is not wider but its sidewalls are far more vertical and its mid foot midsole more filled in. All the carving out at midfoot of Nova I think what has you collapsing inwards. Up front the first part of the Axon forefoot is clearly wider with front about the same, really continuation of filled in midfoot plus the rising outsole pieces of the Axon. So bottom line for me Axon is more stable.
Sam, Editor

Montavilla Steve said...

Thanks for this info, Sam. I'm 200 miles into my Novas, so I'll probably reach for this shoe, or the shift or Skechers Ride 9 in couple months. I'm all about that cushion!!

Thanks for RTR, it's a wonderful resource!

Anonymous said...

How does this compare with the Glideride 2 and NB Fresh Foam 1080v10/v11?

Asai said...

Hello Sam,

Could you compare this to the NB Propel in terms of toe-box width? Also, would you say that this would be suitable for short distances ( < 10 miles ) at leisurely speeds (10-13 minutes per mile)?


Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Winebaum said...

Propel v1 didn’t run v2 has a thinner mesh structured toe box so maybe a touch wider. Mach about the same but denser thinner mesh. Axon suitable for those paces but might suggest a lower stack shoe as heel is high or Shift if firmer
Sam, Editor

Mark said...

Thank you for the great review! I now run in the Saucony Triumph 18. Is there a reason to choose the Axon over the Triumph? Is it a softer ride than the Triumph? Thanks for your response.

Wes Arnold said...

Axom vs Glycerin as purely a recovery shoe - one better than the other?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Wes,
Sorry haven't run recent Glycerin. About equal cush I would think with main decision do you want a flexible recovery shoe (Glycerin) vs. rigid rocker (Axon). Also note Axon about an ounce and $50 lighter.
Sam, Editor

Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our index page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
Shopping through links on articles and our pages help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Mark,
Triumph 18 is considerably heavier and more expensive. In terms of cushion about equal. Softness about equal but Triumph 18 with all TPU is springier than Axon. I found Triumph 18 kind of flat and ponderous in comparison to more rocker based Axon although Triumph has a superior more secure upper.
Sam, Editor

Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our index page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
Shopping through links on articles and our pages help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Wes Arnold said...

Thanks Sam - also just realised the Glycerin is 10mm and I generally run 0mm to 5mm so Axom could be good. I also have the Shift as my daily trainer - so as long as there is enough difference between the two to make sense having both then this could be my next Recovery Easy day shoe.

Mark said...

Thanks Sam - sounds like it might be to my advantage to move to the Axon next running shoe instead of buying the Triumph again. Appreciate your response!