Thursday, August 26, 2021

Atreyu Running Base Model V2: The Fun & Goodness Continues! Now with Supercritical Foam and a New Upper

Article by Michael Ellenberger with Sam Winebaum

Atreyu Base Model v2 ($85)

Michael: As with last year, I’ve put more than 100 miles on the Atreyu base trainer in preparation for the review. From easy miles to workouts, 95° heat to… well, just like 70° heat, and across all sorts of road surfaces, I’ve tried my best to really see how v2 of the Atreyu compares to its predecessor, my 2020 Shoe of the Year. Need a spoiler? Atreyu has done it again - but I don’t necessarily know that runners who were diametrically opposed to last year’s model will be swayed here, either. Read on - lots to say here!

Sam: Atreyu shocked the running industry in early 2020 with a low cost, very light, high performance trainer The Base Model which had a simple effective design with no frills (but great looks). Our testers Michael and me, loved the concept and ride (RTR Review) that was fun and surprisingly durable. They followed the Base Model in 2021 with The Artist (RTR Review), a $100 carbon plated super shoe. Full of spunk, passion, and careful attention to the essential details, Atreyu is on the map!

Pros: Improved midsole; vastly improved upper; minimized heel slip; sub-$100 price. Michael/Sam


Cons: Outsole remains a mobile rock collector; as with 2020, the single model trainer approach for the line may not pass muster for everyone; not as durable as a full-rubber outsole. Michael/Sam


Stats

The weight of Base Model v2 is 5.87 oz / 164 g US8.5 so a US9 should come in about 6 oz or 170g. This is a slight weight gain of 6g over V1 and is largely due to the inclusion of a TPU sockliner instead of the prior EVA. Michael Krajicek, Atreyu founder, tells us this choice was made to make the sockliner stay truer to form over miles and to add a little pep and resilience to the ride. The upper also has more overlays. Regardless this is super light for a shoe with a stack height of about 15.5mm/21.5mm, with liner 20.5mm/26.5mm  which remains about the same.

Upper and Fit

Michael: In a surprise twist, the revised upper is actually, in my opinion, the largest improvement over the v1. I didn’t have any issues with the lockdown on v1, but I know many did, and the wraparound overlay element implemented on v2 should resolve any concerns - this shoe is really quite stable and under control, even when running fast workouts. Running hard around a track, or taking sharp corners to avoid traffic is noticeably more comfortable in the v2, and though I think the added elements detract slightly from the no-frills appearance of the v1, I think the improvements are ultimately worth it.

Sam: The upper is now a thin very pliable mesh with the structure, which was somewhat lacking in v1, provided by external thin solid overlays which wrap the midfoot in a saddle and then extend lower down through the collars to rise up and wrap the entire rear. There is also an internal heel underlay and some suitably dense padding of the collars.  As with V! there is no plastic heel counter. 

The fit is very secure while at the same time light on the foot.  I noted some difficulty pulling them on, as while super thin and pliable the overlays, do not stretch. A good thing as this is what provides the security from mid foot to rear. The fit remains true to size for me with the toe box’s soft mesh and very pliable toe bumper very comfortable and lockdown. There is decent room for splay,

Midsole

Michael: With a new supercritical EVA compound onboard, I was keen to try the new midsole on the v2 - but I admit, my takeaways were mixed. Fortunately, I was able to run A/B (and on one run, A/B/C - with a pit stop shoe change) against previous iterations of the Base model. My feelings are summarized as follows: The midsole is bouncier and poppier than last year’s, but it’s not quite as dramatic as Skechers’  Hyperburst. I think my nearest comparison would be to Brooks’s DNA Flash midsole - if you’re familiar with midsole cushioning, you’ll readily be able to tell it isn’t plain old EVA as before, but it won’t exactly knock your socks off, either.

But I should also say - I don’t think that makes this shoe a let down. I compared it directly (one shoe on one foot, one on the other) to two previous pairs of Atreyu's - one that was brand new (Butters) and one that had about 150 miles on them (Standard Greens) - and the most fun ride was undoubtedly the v2. There’s improvement to the midsole here - it just isn’t massive. I don’t need to tell you that’s fine by me - you’ve seen me gush over this shoe plenty - but I say it just as a “warning” to those who want something markedly different from v1 - you probably won’t be satiated here.

Sam: The midsole is now a supercritical, chemically modified EVA processed with CO2. You may immediately say wait, that is how Skechers Hyperburst is processed but here it leads a less bubble focused final midsole foam as Hyperburst is. 

The feel walking around and running them  is closer to FuelCell as found in the New Balance RC Elite 2 and Rebel v2, so bouncy and energetic, as opposed to denser and springier as Hyperburst is. 

It is more energetic than the Base Model v1's midsole was and somewhat softer as well but is not mushy.

Outsole

Michael: The midsole-as-outsole concept is actually one of my favorite features, and besides being a repeat offender when it comes to rock and stick collection, I think the concept remains a good one. I tried to track “outsole” wear here - the top-bottom photo below shows the outsole after one run (top, when I received them from Sam) and after about 90-100 miles (bottom). 

You can see wear at the forefront, and on the lateral side towards the heel. Despite some visual wear, I haven't noticed an appreciable difference. I have two pairs (my original “Voyager,” and the “Fear Only Regret” pair) that each have over 300 miles, and have some distinct outsole wear… but are still fine for casual wear or as a backup shoe. I do think that the outsole may be the limiting factor here, and I do think the shoe is probably slightly less durable than your average trainer, but I would have no trouble getting 350-400 from a pair. If you’re the kind of runner who puts 600+ on a shoe (respect to you!), this may require a change. 

Additionally, the feedback we have heard is that heavier runners (or anyone with a harsher footstrike) tends to wear through this exposed foam more quickly. I’m approximately 130 pounds and tend to run pretty efficiently/light on my feet, so I can’t speak to all wear patterns. What I can say is that the durability of v2 after 100 miles is equivalent (to the extent I can tell) to that on v1; I don’t think anyone should expect anything different from the outsole from the previous iteration.

Finally, just a note on wear patterns - I did wear these several times when walking Waffles, so there’s probably an extra 5-10 miles of walking, which obviously wears a shoe out differently.


Sam: The midsole is the outsole as before. Testing will determine comparative and long term durability. The midsole/outsole is an outsole grade supercritical EVA foam before it was an outsole grade EVA foam. 

Ride

Michael: All this talk of refreshed midsole means, of course, that the ride returns as peppy without being extravagant. There’s definitely some spring here, but the fairly limited stack (compared to the mega-cushion trainers we’ve seen churned out lately) does perhaps cap the amount of dampening you feel. In my review of the v1, I compared the underfoot feel here to Nike’s Lunarlon - and I continue to stand by that in my v2 review, with a caveat that the midsole is now slightly bouncier than Lunarlon (or v1’s midsole). 

Moreover, the limited stack of 15.5mm/21.5mm, with liner 20.5mm/26.5mm keeps the v2 feeling like a more traditional racing flat. I know we’ve moved towards high-stack, high-cushioned racers, but there’s still a place for low-slung, more aggressively-positioned racers, and I’ve successfully integrated the v2  into my long runs, tempo runs, and other workouts without issue. It’s not plated - Atreyu’s The Artist will handle that - but it’s plenty fast for anything uptempo. 

Sam: I had one run in the Base Model v2 before sending our pair onto Michael. I found the ride more energetic than v1 with the upper also playing a big role aligning me better and keeping me moving forward. As Michael said, the relatively limited stack is for sure a factor but I would not hesitate to use them for any kind of run, but just not everyday for me. Those who enjoy a more minimal ride, one still with plenty of cushion will likely be overjoyed.  Below is my initial video review.

Sam's Atreyu Base Model V2 Initial Video Review (8:06)

Conclusion

Michael: I’m happy to report that the v2 met the high expectations I had set for a refreshed Atreyu base model. And, really, it’s just that - a refresh, not a reboot; a facelift rather than an overhaul. That’s fine, of course - why mess with a great thing? I loved my original pair during my test period, and actually came to love them more as I put them through extensive mileage, workouts, and weather conditions. Heck, I plan on putting many more miles on this pair, and subsequent pairs in the future. Atreyu is discontinuing their ultra-cheap subscription model, but still coming in well below the market average at an $85 price point. We don’t often give too much weight to shoe price - it can fluctuate substantially as a shoe ages - but I think the low price is yet another strong factor here.

Ultimately, if you were turned off by the relatively low stack on the original Atreyu trainer, or disliked the midsole-as-outsole concept, well, the v2 isn’t for you. Fortunately, it is for me - and it’s already one of my favorites of 2021.

Score: 9.8/10

Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


NB Fresh Foam Beacon v3 (RTR Review)

Michael: Both shoes with exposed outsoles! I like the upper on the Beacon v3 a lot, but it’s not markedly better than the Atreyu. I think the Atreyu is better suited for workouts and races (though Atreyu offers a plated model - The Artist - for racing), and the Beacon for longer sessions where you just want a little more cushion underfoot.


NB FuelCell Rebel v2 (RTR Review)

Michael: For me, this is by far the most interesting (and closest) comparison. New Balance took the original Rebel - a fine, sort of one-off shoe - and made it into absolute dynamite. The Rebel v2 has been my go-to recommendation when friends ask  (I just added more pairs to my lineup, and fellow reviewer Jamie Hershfang has put thousands of miles across several pairs). So what’s the verdict between v2s? The Rebel is a little more fun, and I think just an overall bouncier, livelier ride. Where the Atreyu scores is stability - we found the Rebel to be slightly wobbly, especially when running faster - and the lockdown on the revised Atreyu is superior. So… it’s a tossup!

Sam: I concur with Michael here. 


Hoka Rincon (RTR Review)

Michael: Again, exposed outsoles battling it out. Honestly, another terrific set of shoes - while I didn’t review the v3, the Rincon v2 is a fun, nimble, fast trainer. But again, as with the Rebel, I think it’s stack height can (not will - can!) work against it. There just isn’t the same feeling of being locked in as there is with the Atreyu v2. Probably best to try them both out. I’ll give a slight edge to Atreyu.

Sam: The Atreyu is lighter and more fun. The Rincon is more versatile and has more cushion if somewhat heavier. A nice pairing if you like light trainers. 


Skechers Go Run Razor + (RTR Review)

Michael: Yet another close call. I think the midsole on the Skechers is more fun, but the harsh-feeling drop and narrow last (plus that slightly-too-tight upper; classic Skechers stuff!) hold back the Razor+ from greatness. I do wish we had a slightly more Hyperburst-y feel on the Atreyu, but I think the overall package is still superior.


Puma Liberate Nitro (RTR Review)

Sam: A bit more money at $110, almost as light but not quite at a mere 6.5 oz vs.about 6 for the Base Model. Liberate is equally energetic from its similar supercritical foam and adds a a substantial outsole. It has a decent but not quite as well polished upper. It is a good value and more versatile for me.


The Base Model V2 will release late September for $85 and by single purchases only as Atreyu will be retiring their subscription model.

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago and is a patent and intellectual property attorney. 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 also has a 2:31 marathon PR from the 2018 Austin Marathon. 


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 if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. 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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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an interesting shoe. Thanks a lot for the review, Michael and Sam. Will the Atreyu Base Model v2 accommodate wide feet? (One of my feet is a D+, the other D-.) And how about the breathability? And last but not least, can it be used as a medium- to long-run shoe? Thanks again again for the great review!

Michael said...

Thanks, Anonymous! The toe box is wide, but not overly so - I would be hesitant to recommend it to an overly wide foot without a try on (note that they do allow returns, FWIW). The improved upper overlays should help with any flat footedness and/or instability, though.

Breathability is great - I've been consistently running in 85°+ and high humidity (been a long midwest summer!) and they're one of my favorite shoes for this time of climate.

Finally, I wouldn't hesitate to do long runs in them - I've done 15 in mine a couple times now, and will tackle more soon - though note that the stack height is not as high as you can readily see in other trainers, nowadays - so if you really like the max cushion/high stack approach to long runs, you won't find it here!

Mike said...

Thanks for the review. How flexible is the forefoot? Is the ride much different from the Hyperion Tempo (which does have a very durable outsole)?