Friday, January 05, 2024

Salomon S/Lab Spectur Review: 6 Comparisons

Article by Ben David

Salomon S/Lab Spectur  ($250)


Introduction

Admittedly, this is the first Salomon shoe I have ever run in. Like many who run primarily on the roads, Salomon has not been on my radar until quite recently, when they began to make greater ‘inroads’ into road running. I know that they have had moderate success with shoes such as the AeroGlide and AeroVolt, but I never wound up getting those on my feet. I was super excited to receive the S/Lab Spectur 2 to test. 


If nothing else, Salomon is a brand symbolic of the fact that the running shoe industry is expanding exponentially before our very eyes. While only a few brands had a near monopoly on the sport, now we see various companies challenging even such behemoths as Nike and Adidas. What separates Salomon from an upstart brand like Atreyu, for instance, is that Salomon has been making high-quality trail shoes for a long time with their famous S/Lab prototyping trail shoes, apparel, nordic and alpine skis to the specifications of elites entirely in house at their Annecy HQ (RTR Editor Sam visited in 2018 Article). It was only a matter of time until they brought this level of expertise to the road game as well. 


The S/Lab Spectur 2 is fascinating for other reasons too. This carbon-plated shoe is designed specifically for non-elite runners, those whose marathon time is over 3 hours with the S/Lab Phantasm 2 (RTR Review) for faster racers. 


The fact that they are catering to more of a niche audience piques my interest as, unlike carbon-plated offerings from Nike, Adidas, Asics, New Balance, etc.. these shoes are designed for runners much more like myself with a 3:15 marathon, 1:30 half PR’s. As much as I like the idea of racing in the same shoes that Eliud Kipchoge does, I find it hard to believe that we have the same mechanics, goals, stride, wear patterns and needs. Is this the shoe I’ve been waiting for? Let’s get to it. 



Pros:

Light, lively, highly responsive, fun 


Cons:

May not be the "aggressive" racer some runners are looking for

Not a true-to-size fit; my size 9 was a bit long and baggy 

Bulky, exaggerated tongue feels unnecessary

On the heavier side when compared to other carbon-plated racers

Stats

Sample Weight: men’s  8.84 oz / 250g US9

Stack Height: men’s 38 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec) 

$250. Available May 2024


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

While the shoe is highly comfortable upon step-in, my size 9 felt a bit roomy as the mesh is quite soft, pliable and unstructured for a “race” shoe. Consider sizing down a ½ size (especially for those looking for a true race fit). 

That said, this is a highly enjoyable, lively and upbeat race shoe from Salomon. It’s bouncy upon step in. 

The soft mesh upper seems highly breathable and ready for most climates. I suspect that this shoe will work for large swaths of runners,, including those who have never before run Salomon (like myself) and those with wider feet.  


RTR Editor Sam is a true to size US8.5 and found the US9 sample I tested to be large and would go true to size


It is not harsh or overly aggressive, living up to its marketing to non-elite marathoners. This shoe is designed for those who will be on their feet longer as “the super shoe for everyday runners” according to Salomon’s YouTube channel and thus, for those whose needs are quite frankly different than a 2:30 or 2:15 marathoner. 

The S/Lab is smooth and bouncy and certainly should be considered by those looking for a race option that is not only light enough, but both fast and accessible.  



Midsole & Platform

The winged, bifurcated heel provides a wide platform for both support and, according to Salomon, for those who may be heel strikers as well as also reducing weight.

The shoe is not overly narrow. It is comfortable, sleek and stable. The platform feels wide and sturdy, not always the case in, say, the Vaporfly line or Adios Pro. 

The midsole consists of both PEBA underfoot with below Salomon’s Energy Foam, an EVA olefin copolymer block foam found in all their trail shoes which helps deliver some stability and long term durablity.

The winged carbon plate is sandwiched between the 2 foams and is more extensive and higher at the lateral heel (shown above) than on the medial side (shown below) 

The “squish” is undeniable without being overly pillow-like. Your foot does not disappear into the foam as the rebound is swift and palpable. 

The plate is not harsh with the shoe having some front flex, especially at faster paces. It is certainly propulsive, not to be mistaken for merely a daily trainer and is certainly a strong contender for race day at most distances.The plate brings the runner in this joyous shoe even more joy.


Outsole

The Contagrip rubber outsole (same type of rubber as Salomon trail shoes is broad, highly supportive and grippy, all of it feels like a nod to Salomon’s trail running DNA. 


The winged heel does not get in the way but does seem to provide greater support on the run. Again, this seems to be in place for those runners who intend to spend more time on their feet than those at the front of the pack. 



There is a cutout and narrow midfoot platform through which we see the plate. While it might be there to save weight, streamline the shoe and and/or also ease transitions, it does not diminish the fact that this is just a heavier race shoe. Is that a tradeoff you’re willing to make for a shoe that fits well, is effectively but not overly aggressive propulsive  and is nicely catered to your race speed? Maybe but I’m not sure. Most runners I know will sacrifice comfort for PR’s. As a trainer or tempo shoe,when comfort is key. it’s a much different story, That may be its sweet spot: as a fun, energetic tempo to long run shoe.  


Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations


This is a great shoe for those looking to dip their proverbial toe into the Salomon running scene. It’s accessible, lively, upbeat, never harsh or irritating. While somewhat bulky (and with a tongue that is frankly outrageous), it will likely work for mid-packers looking for a highly wearable shoe on race day not likely to leave Achilles destroyed or feet blistered. 


As a niche shoe, I imagine that this will not be the last of its kind as carbon-plated racers become more and more nuanced and designed for specific distances, running types and paces (think here, for instance, of the MetaSpeed Sky+ and Edge+ with their respective focuses on stride length and cadence). 


The shoe is joy-inducing and bouncy, even if not overly ‘fast’ per se. It is a safe, reliable and deeply pleasurable shoe to run in. My guess is that it will work best as a training companion to a race day shoe such as Salomon’s S/Lab Phantasm 2 but we shall see. 

Score: 8.5/10

😊😊😊😊(4 out of 5 possible smiles)


6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 


Hoka Rocket X 2 (RTR Review)

The Hoka has better lockdown and more pop, but can feel unstable and far from smooth at slower paces. As an overall shoe that works for both workouts and races of nearly any length, I’d go with the Salomon. 


Hoka Mach X (RTR Review)

While the Hoka works well as a trainer and an occasional workout shoe, it’s not nearly as dynamic or exciting as the Salomon, where the plate is more energetic and propulsive. I found the Mach X to feel dull more often than not. The Salomon has greater oomph and zest. 


Nike Alphafly 3 (RTR Review)

The AlphaFly 3 is in a different class: energy-saving, great bounce, superior lockdown, great at any pace. That said, for those who perhaps fear the overall size and geometry of the AlphaFly, the Salomon might be perfect for you. 


Asics MetaSpeed Sky+ (RTR Review)

The MetaSpeed Sky + is much more aggressive and clearly designed as a race shoe. The S/Lab Spectur is much more approachable, and wearable and performs better as both a trainer and racer. If you’re looking for something less extreme and opinionated, the Salomon is for you.


New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 (RTR Review)

To me this is a very good comparison. Both shoes work well for workouts and races of virtually any distance. Neither are overly harsh or aggressive. Both are fun and highly democratic, functional for those of various speeds and abilities. I believe Salomon has the slightest edge as it is more ready to push the pace when asked. 


Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2 (RTR Review)

Never run in it but now I really want to!!

RTR Editor Sam’s review has it considerably lighter at 7.4 oz / 210g. The Phantasm 2 has a 37.5mm heel and 28.5 mm stack height with a dual density PEBA midsole and of course a carbon plate. 


Sam’s review Pro’s include: friendliest carbon plated race shoe I have ever run: if  off the heels and a decent pace (9:00 miles or faster), geometry and flatter plating does not force or over prescribe any particular landing or take off,very stable and consistent feeling for a super shoe from midfoot forward, its preferred strike point. 

His Cons included: runs lower than its 9mm drop would point to due to soft lower layer heel foam and geometry, could use more dramatic assisted roll from the rear and through midfoot for heel strikers and slower paces.

This last interesting as the “slower” paces focused Spectur handles heel striking well.. 


The S/Lab Spectur will be available May 2024

SALOMON RUNNING

SHOP HERE

Tester Profile

Ben is the Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, PA. A cancer survivor, he has run 21 marathons. He holds PRs of 3:15 for the marathon and 1:30 for the half. At 46, he still enjoys pushing himself and combining his running with supporting a variety of causes. Follow him on Instagram: @RabbiBPD or Twitter: @BDinPA 


Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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