Thursday, May 20, 2021

Atreyu Running The Artist Review: High Performance, Great Value Carbon Racer Trainer

Article by Joost de Raeymaeker

Atreyu The Artist ($100)


Introduction

Joost: Atreyu is a small company founded by two brothers based in Austin, Texas. Michael Krajicek is the CEO and main man behind it. They currently have a small active team of three. Things started with what they call their Base Model (RTR Review), which has a number of different colorways with phrases like “The Battle Lies Within” printed on the medial side of the upper. 


Their design philosophy is simplicity and they created a bit of a stir last year in the running shoe geeks community, not in the least when they launched a subscription model for running shoes. As far as I know, they were the first  to do this, before ON launched their model based on recycling. 


On subscription, the base model will cost you $55 and you decide how many times a year you want a new pair delivered. As a one-off, they cost $75, which is still very inexpensive  for what is basically a very good, no frills natural running shoe that doubles as a very good looking (and comfortable) casual shoe.


Last year they also announced a carbon plated model called The Artist and offered it for pre-order at $100. Let that sink in. That’s half of the average carbon plated shoe currently out there. The Artist has the same upper as the base model, but sports a carbon plate and supercritical EVA-based foam. Contrary to the base model, it has a threadless 1mm outsole to increase traction. 


A couple of our reviewers received some of the prototypes for testing, while Atreyu were fine-tuning foam firmness and other factors, but the pre-order model was my first encounter with The Artist. That first batch of pre-order shoes sold out fast and were sent out to customers at the end of March, but a new batch is coming. So how does it compare to the other supershoes out there? Read on.


Pros:

Incredible value - Joost

Great responsive ride - Joost

Light for a supershoe - Joost

It must be said, good looking and a conversation starter - Joost


Cons:

Upper might be too unstructured for the rigid structure underfoot - Joost

Durability of thin outsole - Joost

Insole durability - Joost


Tester Profile

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. His Strava is here:https://www.strava.com/athletes/reimaka


Stats

Official Weight: men's 7.8 oz / 222g (US 9)   Official:    

  Sample: men’s 231g / 8.15 oz (US 9.5)

Stack Height: 24mm/30mm midsole stack height. 30mm/35mm with the 5mm liner

   

First Impressions and Fit

Joost: A small bag was delivered to my door by the local mail service after a month traveling between Texas and Angola, Africa; after being “scanned into sack/container” for a while and then lingering at “arrived in destination country” for two weeks. The fact that the phone number on the national postal service of Angola site (Correios de Angola) was disconnected and the last number I knew to work was offline too didn’t really help to find out where the package was exactly. Thinking positively, the element of surprise adds to the excitement of receiving new running shoes. 


Inside the package was my pre-order pair of The Artist. No shoe box (and frankly, why do you need one?), no frills, just a pair of brand-new $100 carbon-plated supershoes from Atreyu. All white with the fly logo and company name printed on the sides. The bag felt light and the scales confirmed that. The shoes weigh in at 231g (8.15 oz) for my M9.5. The bottom of the shoe sports a simple threadless (like racing car tyres, according to Atreyu) outsole and a cutout in the middle with an embossed fly, the company logo. A nice touch. The outsole is reminiscent of the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro and that’s not the only resemblance. 


My first impression on putting them on (they fit true to size by the way) was that the feeling underfoot is very much like the Adios Pro. This was confirmed on my first couple of runs. Let’s see what the rest of the shoe is like.


Upper

For those who have run in Atreyu’s base model, the upper is the same. For those who haven’t, it’s an unstructured affair, with a thin layer of fabric that has no stretch to it, but molds to the foot. Atreyu calls it a sock-like feel. 

There is some extra material inside to make a minimal toe bumper. The same applies to the heel. 

Some extra thin suede-like material on the inside forms a heel counter and is stitched to the outer fabric with padding going around from the top eyelets to the heel to create some padding for the heel collar. The same internal material is stitched around the tongue opening to create some structure and strengthen the eyelets. 


On the outside, there’s a thin TPU overlay in the same areas (toe bumper, heel and eyelets) that continues as a perforated TPU overlay going from the lateral and medial lace outlets down to the midsole. It’s basically a single piece molded to the upper to add support where needed and helping with lace lockdown. That’s all there is to it, except for a pull tab on the heel, also in some suede-like material. 

The tongue is reasonably well padded, non-gusseted and I didn’t experience any pressure points or slippage. There’s also a lock lacing eyelet for those who want or need to use heel-locking.


The upper works very well on the base model, which is meant to feel as minimal as possible, but might be a little too unstructured to secure the rigid plated underfoot structure in The Artist. I never really felt it was too loose for me, but I have very wide feet. Because of the more rigid midsole structure, the upper did pull a bit more on the back of my heels and since I was wearing very thin socks, I almost got a blister on both sides. Something to keep in mind if you go for a long run in them out of the box (or the bag, in this case) with very thin socks.


Midsole


In line with the simple single piece of midsole of the Base Model, the midsole of The Artist also looks like a single piece of foam, but appearances elude the eye. It is a slab of supercritical EVA foam (think FuelCell, Hyperburst, DNA Flash and other Nitrogen or otherwise infused foams) with built up walls. On the inside lies a sloped carbon fibre plate and on top of that another layer of foam.


The supercritical EVA foam itself feels relatively soft to the touch, but definitely not as soft as ZoomX or even the FuelCell version in the New Balance FuelCell RC Elite 2. It’s more in line with the firmness of the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro, and as I said in my First Impressions, it feels very much like it underfoot, even though the Lightstrike Pro foam of the Adidas is supposedly supercritical TPU.


The midsole stack height is 24/30mm. An added 5mm sock liner makes it a  29 /

35mm stack shoe . Atreyu considers a 6mm drop the sweet spot and it feels ok to me. The Artist is World Athletics approved for road races. Contrary to the base model, the sock liner is glued pretty fast. Theoretically, you could remove it and use your own. I’m mentioning this, because my sole gripe with the Base model is that the fabric layer that’s glued to the actual insole came loose from sweating and heat here in the tropics, and the insole itself still felt a bit sticky afterwards and didn’t allow any movement of my socks. In the base model, you can easily take out the insole and substitute them for another one you might have lying around. Hopefully, they’ve upgraded the glue so this won’t happen in The Artist.


Outsole

Joost: There’s not a lot to be said about the outsole. It’s a thin, threadless (like a race car, according to Atreyu) 1mm layer of rubber. Yet another similarity with the Adios Pro. I had no issues with traction in normal conditions, but haven’t run them on wet surfaces yet, for the simple reason that the dry season has just started here in Angola. No rain until October. 1mm of rubber is not a lot, so I have some doubts about durability. However, if it’s anything like the rubber in the Adios Pro, it should last a couple of hundred miles, which is great for a racing “flat”. 


Ride

Joost: I’ll just keep on repeating myself: a lot like the Adizero Adios Pro. Just like that shoe, the first couple of strides might feel a little unbalanced, but as soon as you get going, that impression disappears and it’s easy to pick up the pace. Contrary to the Adios Pro, I find The Artist also quite runnable at slower paces. At marathon pace or faster, the shoe feels bouncy, responsive, relatively firm and the effect of the late stage rocker really helps to keep my legs turning over.


I mentioned it in the part about the upper, but I’ll touch upon it again over here: The upper is a little too unstructured for the stiff plated bottom. Personally, I don’t mind my feet moving around a little, but folks who like a very secure lockdown and have narrow feet might not enjoy making tight bends with The Artist.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Joost: Atreyu has made inroads in the running community with their base model, philosophy of simplicity. Their entry into the supershoe segment was awaited with great excitement (at least by me). At the price point of $100, pre-orders went swiftly. What brand sells a carbon fiber plated shoe for $100? Most of the other plated offerings are $80 to $100 over the price of their plateless offerings, so for the price of a carbon fiber plate, you basically get a whole shoe.


While I will probably still reach for my pairs of Next%, Adios Pro or FuelCell Elite 2 for my next marathon, The Artist has found a place in my rotation for faster workouts and time trials. It’s a fast, snappy shoe that won’t let you down and at the cost of less than most other unplated shoes out there, it’s a no-brainer.

Joost: 9.20/10

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


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Hoka  One One Rocket X vs.The Artist (RTR Review)

Joost: M9.5 in both

Both are plated shoes, but they have a very different feel to them. The Rocket X has a more traditional ride quality than The Artist, and also feels a bit more stable and has a better upper for the type of shoe. For going faster or racing, I would choose The Artist. For moderate to tempo paced training runs, it’s a toss-up.


Nike Next % vs.The Artist 

Joost: M9.5 in both

The Next% is still the shoe to beat. Even Nike themselves don’t seem to be able to top it. It’s also over double the price of The Artist, so if you can afford both, I would use the Atreyu shoe for training and keep the Nike for racing and save some money in the long run. They feel different as well, with the Next% being softer.


adidas Adios Pro  vs.The Artist (RTR Review)

Joost: M9.5 in both

I’ll repeat it once more. Both shoes feel very similar to me in terms of ride quality. The Adios Pro has the superior upper. It depends on how much more or less a structured upper factors into your decision. Apart from that, you can get two pairs of The Artist for the price of one pair of Adios.


New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 vs.The Artist  (RTR Review)

Joost: M9.5 in both

Both have a different ride. The RC Elite 2 is much softer, forgiving and stable (due to a wider platform) than The Artist. The upper in the RC Elite 2 is also quite loose in my experience, so it comes down to personal preference and wallet size. On race day, I would go for the RC Elite 2, but for all other purposes, The Artist would be my trainer of choice.


The initial run of The Artist is sold out but you can sign up to be notified when its next pre order may occur here


Tested samples were a personal purchase. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Tom said...

I thought these might be a nice replacement for my Metaracers as a speed day shoe, unfortunately the international returns policy makes sizing a bit of a risk! Might take a look at the Rocket X instead.