Category Archives: Gear
Word of caution: Please exercise vigilance when plugging in during an outdoor workout. Be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. The majority of my listening happen in the gym, at the KLCC Park (where there are high human traffic) and 1K loops around my housing area. I don’t recommend running solo with the ears plugged. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume, nor for an extended period of time.
With more than half of my week’s running done in the gym, I’m pretty much plugged into my iPod whenever I’m at it. Stock earphones that come with the media devices and smartphones just won’t do it for me. They’re sonically harsh to the ears and don’t fit well, often dislodging from the ears as you get progressively sweaty.
While you can wear just about anything (including over-the-ear types provided you don’t care about the sniggers you get from others) when working out, it’s always more practical to go with sports models which are weather/sweat/shock/dust-resistant. Consider as well, those that come with multiple sized ear-buds and in-ear hooks (usually made of silicone, example here) for a customized and secure fit, or how some brands are supposed to be worn. Case in point, Shure’s recommended method of fitting (see here). As you can expect, there are a bewildering variety for which to choose from and much depends on your preferences and budget.
Since I’ve had experiences with IEMs of varying price-point and brands, from Sony, Yurbuds, Ultimate Ears, Shure, JBL, Bose, and Griffin to Jabra, I thought I could point out some obvious and not-so-obvious tidbits for you, what with the holiday shopping season coming up.
First, some pros and cons on each type.
- No-brainer connection – Stick the 3.5mm jack into the portable and you’re ready to rock and roll.
- Cheap to expensive – Prices can start from RM70 to RM450. Non-sports models can even sport a RM1,000 price tag, but you won’t be using those in the gym anytime soon!
Audio quality – You get what you pay for due to the components (e.g. drivers, cabling) used in the production of the IEMs. Since audio quality should always matter if you love your music, a general rule of thumb is to stay away from those sub-RM100 models.
- Pesky cords – You’re hard-pressed for time and want to just go but untangling those bits are a pain. These days, many manufacturers tend to put some attention to the design by using braided or flat cords to reduce tangling but it still happens to some degree.
- Fit – Cheap IEMs may not come with replaceable ear tips and the last thing you’d want is your IEMs getting dislodged due to sweat. Noise-isolating types will improve sound quality as well.
- Choices – There are a wide variety to choose from. Finding one that fits you well, provides good audio quality and yet doesn’t bust your wallet is often a maddening process of trial and error.
- Wireless! ‘Nuff said.
- One-time setup/pairing – In theory. In the case of Jabra, switching devices will require a reset on the IEM and a fresh pairing on the new device. This is regardless if the 2 had been paired previously, which is annoying. Other makers may have different setup.
- Audio quality – You get what you pay for, although in a critical listening scenario, a wired headphone will almost always trump a wireless one.
- Pairing – If you’ve multiple devices in which your media files sit, such as an iPod and an iPhone, you may need to unpair the previously set device. I’ve only ever use Jabra and that’s one of their misgivings.
- Battery life – Typically maxed out at 5 hours and below. OK for the most part but may be too short if you race an ultra, for example. Additionally a micro-USB cable or a proprietary charging dock (in the case of the Sony Smart B-Trainer) is necessary for recharging purposes.
- Needs charging – Full charge typically takes 2.5 hours
- Pairing – May not be a consistent experience, depending on the brand. Refer to the same point under Pros above.
- Cost – Typically twice (or more) the price of a corded variety.
So here are my preferences:
- Sony AS800AP
- Jabra Sport Rox Wireless (reviewed here)
- Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless (iPhone required since it works best with the app. Reviewed here)
The RM317 (10% rebate if you hold a MySony membership) waterproof Sony AS800AP has been a real joy to use. It has all the ruggedized features, great fit courtesy of the in-ear hooks and multiple-sized buds, and simply sounds fabulous. Its wide frequency response of 5Hz to 25KHz provides a controlled low-end (necessary in a workout setting) yet has enough of the mids and highs to keep you engaged in the train ride home. The AS800AP would be the one I’d bring along anywhere. There’s a significantly more expensive Bluetooth version as well but that one has a 5-hour battery life and a narrower frequency band.
Since we’re at it, I might as well cover a little on home listening. My favorite unit at home is the Sony MDR-1A (reviewed by What Hi-Fi | Head Fi). While there are esoteric and hi-fi brands out there which cost an arm and a leg, recent models from Sony have been fantastic, providing excellent listening experience each I put them on. While home listening doesn’t require the thumping bass of sports IEMs, the music doesn’t need to come out flat either, and the MDR-1A has an ultra wide frequency response to handle just about the genres I typically listen to. The amount of clarity alone was the best I’ve experienced. It works fantastic with the 64GB Mi Note which has a built-in DAC and amp (that bit of power brings the music to live and able to drive most headphones). Additionally, the Mi Note handles uncompressed and lossless formats like FLAC, APE, and DSD, among others, like a charm out of the box. If there’s one media device you should get as a portable media player, it’s the Mi Note (I’d use it like an iPod Touch). And yes, it’s a fine Android phone to boot. Since relinquishing the Note to my wife, I’ve resorted to pairing the RM250 Fiio headphone amp to the iPhone 6+ to get a bit more punch. The Fiio is very transparent in its duties and add no noticeable coloration to the sonics.
Hopefully there are enough tips in this post to get you started on the path to better audio-on-the-move. Keep in mind that great products need not be super expensive. Happy shopping!
Smartphones are ubiquitous these days. If you’re one of those not in possession of a hand-me-down, you would know that the price of a smartphone is hardly pocket change – a month’s paycheck if the brand is that of a certain fruit ;). It makes sense then that you will want to protect that investment of yours. Nope, not insurance (well, at least not what I’m alluding to in this case) but physical protection like the Rhino Shield .
That’s the Rhino Shield Crash Guard you see in the photo. Launched as a Kickstarter project, it was the highest backed iPhone project on the crowdfunding site. The Crash Guard is a 2.5mm slim profile bumper unlike the bubble-wrap thick ones you’ll find in some stores. Weighing under half an ounce you certainly won’t feel like you’re lugging a rhino. Instead of a smooth surface, the designers wisely opted for a matt texture for easy grip. An important consideration since I consider myself a somewhat power user. Unless you’re hardcore butterfingers, you won’t be dropping your phone anytime soon. Even if you do, you can count on the Crash Guard as your final line of defence against phone annihilation. All ports remain accessible with the bumper on, including Beats cans, if you’re one of those users. No issues plugging in my Sony MDR-1A and Shure SE, nor the Fiio headphone amp.
The Crash Guard comes in a nice box and includes the back protector and tools to help you fix the said protector. “Hang on, how about the front screen protector?”, I hear you ask. That’s where the separately sold Rhino Shield Screen Protector comes in, which I’ll cover below. But first some photos of the Crash Guard which comes nicely packed. The bumper comes with a back protector which can be found in a slide-out envelope/sleeve.
So what’s so special about the Rhino Shield Crash Guard? EggDrop Technology. On the inside of the bumper (made of a new polymer blend) is a series of honeycomb-shaped texture which disperses the impact across the entire bumper – much like how running shoes’ midsole material do their job – thus saving your phone.
Before the bumper is fitted, you’ll need to first install the back protector. The thin layer is hardly noticeable as you can see below.
The back of the phone taken care of, it’s time to get the Rhino Shield Screen Protector (see the yellow envelope with the large “Impact Protection” words in the photo at the top of this post) onto the face of the phone. Now, the Screen Protector is the special one in this protective detail if you ask me. Sold separately, it’s just 3 times the thickness of a sheet of paper (0.029cm to be precise) yet offers 5 times the impact protection of Gorilla Glass 3. The Screen Protector is of the clear type and has the following properties.
Finally, fitting the Crash Guard bumper is easy. Snug and secure there’s no sliding around. It’s pretty much a personal preference but I thought the black bumper would complement the space grey model better.
The manufacturers claim that installing the Rhino Shield Crash Guard along with the Screen Protector can protect your device against more than 225 pounds (or close to 100Kg) of pressure. Now, I wasn’t about to use my phone as a test unit but check out the videos below.
The first is the 11 feet drop test. Unless you’re truly confident of your product, this isn’t something one would be doing. You can also watch David Pogue’s test here.
And how strong is the Rhino Shield Screen Protector? This strong. Mind you, I was wincing throughout the video! It’s crazy, man!
With the launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the Crash Guard and Screen Protector tag team couldn’t have arrived on our shores at the right time. Per their website, they’ve solutions for popular models from HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, OnePlus, Google, and Motorola too but you’d have to buy direct from their website http://www.evolutivelabs.com/pages/rhinoshield. Incidentally, Evolutive Labs was founded by some boffins who dabble in Material Science and Metallurgy from the University of Cambridge. Brilliant nerds, I say.
Now, the iPhone owners can get their units from the list of stores nationwide below. The Rhino Shield combo set which includes 1 Rhino Shield Crash Guard bumper and Rhino Shield front and back impact resistant screen protector. The set retails for RM298, a small investment for an expensive device, won’t you say so?
- 1 Mont Kiara – iStore
- Bangsar Village II – epiCentre
- Cheras Sentral – IT World
- Lot 10 – Machines
- Low Yat – Mac Studio & ID Wholesale Smartphone
- Fahrenheit88 – epiCentre & Connect
- Mid Valley – Machines & Connect
- Nu Sentral – Machines
- Pavilion – epiCentre & Connect
- Publika – iStore & My Chameleon
- Suria KLCC – Machines
- The Gardens Mall – Machines
- AEON Anggun Rawang – IT World
- Atria – Mac Studio
- Bukit Tinggi – Machines
- eCurve – epiCentre
- Digital Mall – iStore
- Empire Shopping Gallery – Machines
- Encorp Strand Mall – IT World
- IOI Mall – epiCentre
- Jaya Shopping Mall – Mac Studio
- KLIA 2 – Machines & Connect
- Lim Kok Wing University – epiCentre
- Paradigm Mall – Mac Studio & My Chameleon
- Setia Mall – Machines
- Sunway Pyramid – Machines & Connect
- The Main Place – Machines
- The School Jaya One – iStore
- First Avenue – iStudy
- AEON Seri Manjung – IT World
- AEON Station 18 – IT World
- AEON Taiping – IT World
- Ipoh Parade – IT World
- Palm Mall – IT World
- City Square – Machines
- Desa Tebrau – Machines
- Komtar JBCC -Ascentouch Resources
- Danga City Mall – Ascentouch Resources
- Sutera Mall – Ascentouch Resources
- Batu Pahat Mall – Ascentouch Resources
- KB Mall – IT World
- Ba Zhong Commercial Centre- Pronova
- Prima Square – mc.com
- Bintang Plaza – Optiprimus
Disclosure: The Rhino Shield Crash Guard and Rhino Shield Screen Protector set is provided courtesy of Distexpress (M) Sdn Bhd, the authorized distributor of Rhino Shield in Malaysia.
Note: Be sure to read to the end of the review to know how you can get the Altra shoes at a special time-limited price!
I’ve been intrigued by the shoes from Altra for a number of years. Alas, they were not sold in the country, and are not as widely distributed in other parts of the world which I’ve visited. What captivated me was the trademark wide toe box (marketed as FootShape) their shoes come in as well as their take on Zero Drop which adopts a cushioned approach as opposed to the “ground feel” approach taken by other companies. The only cushioned zero drop shoe I know before the Torin was Saucony Virrata.
The sizing of Altra shoes are slightly different. For example I typically wear a US10 (exceptions are 10.5 for certain adidas models or even 11 for some of Nike’s), but fit the US9.5 on the Torin. The best way to be sure of your Altra sizing is to utilize the Shoefitr Guide Altra included in their product page. Enter your current shoe brand and size and you’ll get the Altra equivalent.
Since the Torin 2.0 is my very first Altra, I’m unable to comment on how it measures up against the 1.5 or other models although I read from other reviews than the 2.0 has a lower toe box (but same width) than the 1.5. Stack height of the 2.0 are 27mm front and back, so it’s not as close to the ground as most lightweight performance shoes out there. In comparison, the 11.1oz GOrun Ultra Road (US10, reviewed here) has a 30/26 stack height.
The entire upper is made of close-knit mesh. Due to the prevailing air quality issues, I’ve not been able to take the 2.0 on long runs to determine the breathability of the upper. I’ve not had sweaty feet from the couple of short ones I’ve managed, though.
Welded overlays with generous reflective strips go round the shoe. The Torin’s upper has a soft feel to the touch. Lacing is the regular type and the flat laces are non-stretchable. Incidentally, the lace eyelets are pretty snug, so a one-handed approach to removing the laces won’t be as easy.
The Torin 2.0 has a segmented midsole which makes for a soft and flexible ride. Comprising of dual layer EVA with A-Bound foams which Altra claims to result in less compression over time
Finally, FootPod outsole mimics the bones and tendons of the human foot where lugs are mapped to the foot. The pods are both foam and rubber depending on the areas of wear. It’s nice to note that solid rubber are used directly under the toe off zone of the shoe because I expect that area to be stressed the most. Deep flex grooves cut this way and that throughout the outsole, attracting small pebbles along the way.
The wear experience of the Torin 2.0 is unlike any I’ve experienced before. Its pillowy plushness is reminiscent of the Skechers GOrun Ultra (GRU) yet with a lower stack height and a zero drop configuration, the Torin 2.0 provides better road feel (albeit still considerably muted) and added nimbleness to the wearer’s movements. Its interior has an almost sock-like feel. All that in a package that are a couple of ounces lighter than the GRU.
There’s a noticeable midfoot bump when you first put on the shoe but that feeling goes away as you start your run. There’s always a hint of bounce that came along with every midfoot landing and forefoot toe off. At first, I was quite conscious of my gait, this being a zero drop shoe and all, but after a few Ks into the run, my pace started to pick up and I was able to settle into a nice momentum. The smooth and bouncy ride was one that was easy to like. It certainly felt refreshing to step away from the “if-you-don’t-feel-the-road-you’re-not-wearing-the-right-shoe” school of thought because heck, it was pretty enjoyable running in the Torin, short the runs may have been. Once well and fully adapted, the runner should have no problem taking the Torin for marathons and beyond.
Nevertheless, the shoe is still a zero drop and thus, some transition is necessary to work yourself into the new way to run on top of letting your body adjust to the added loading on the achilles. Altra has done a great job in providing plenty of tips and information on how to transition to their shoes on their website. Below is the recommended transition period as suggested by the company.
From the purveyors of Zero Drop and FootShape toe box comes the Torin 2.0, a cushioned and lightweight take on the zero drop movement. In my limited time in them, I really like the roomy toe box and its blend of plush cushioning with bouncy responsiveness. Which is why I’m so darn frustrated of not being able to run outdoors with the continuing smog.
Runners Unite has kindly offered readers of this blog a special 30% discount. All you’ve to do is to quote ALTRAJAMIE when making your purchase online by visiting and sending a PM via www.facebook.com/RunnersUnite or Whatsapp Miss Tan at +60124230661. Offer ends Oct 12th 2015, so if you’ve been wanting to try on an Altra, now’s the time!
Disclaimer: The Altra Torin 2.0 was a review pair provided by the Runners Unite and I continue to be frustrated by the air quality and thus missing out on more runtime in the Torin!
Most runners know Saucony from the Lexington-based company’s best seller, the Kinvara. The Kinvara continues to work well for me, having worn it for 2 of my best marathons to-date. It offers lightweight responsive cushioning in a 4mm drop configuration that’s neither too minimalist nor overly engineered monstrosities.
But Saucony has a few stalwarts in its stable of shoes too, from the dependable workhorses like Ride, Guide, Hurricane to the Triumph (review by CY here). On the lighter end of the scale, there’s the Endorphin Racer, Fastwitch (both of which unfortunately aren’t sold in this country) and Virrata. And now, there’s another which is a little harder to peg, the Zealot ISO.
Released as part of the 3-shoe ISO series (the other 2 being the Triumph ISO and Hurricane ISO) in early 2015, the Zealot is a completely new shoe. Some say it replaces the Cortana (not related to a certain IT company from Redmond!) but I’ve no experience in the Cortana to comment on that. It’s a harder shoe to define, since it’s a little of everything – it doesn’t appear as performance-based as the Kinvara, yet the Zealot is lighter than Ride (and just 0.2oz heavier that the Breakthru). Plus, it has an offset of 4mm, similar to the Kinvara. Let me try to break it down as simply as I can, starting with the upper.
ISOFIT, if you’re unaware, is Saucony’s fitting technology, an inner sleeve or bootie that wraps around the foot. The sock-like fit is then complemented by the external cage which functions like fingers extending upwards from the midsole providing a semblance of structure and support to the shoe. The ISOFIT sleeve has a soft spine running down the middle (in blue) and ventilated mesh on either side of it. The construction and choice of material of the ISOFIT allow for a fit that’s just right, never constrictive nor overly snug. The use of mesh means ventilation isn’t compromised either. The vamp sports a zigzag patterned mesh and the upper is held together by soft PU and welded overlays, as well as harder plastics towards the rear.
The cage looks like a stencil cut-out. Since the material used isn’t as thick as those from Salomon or adidas, the weight of the shoe is kept low. The Zealot’s flat laces are minimally stretchable and secures the shoe well in all my runs without coming undone. I’ve tested this via single or double knotting and I always ended my runs not having to stop to re-tie my shoes.
Although the fit is near perfect for me (forefoot is a little roomier than the Kinvara), some could experience minimal bunching of the ISOFIT spine should they cinch the laces a little too tightly. When auditioning the shoe, just try out several sizes to be sure you get your best fit.
At 8.95oz (254g) for my US10, the Zealot would be in the sweet spot for many runners as their marathon shoe. In contrast, Asics Nimbus 17 and Cumulus 17 weigh 11.4oz and 12.6oz (US9) respectively. Each ounce of weight saved without having to compromise on the support and cushioning counts a lot over the course of 42KM. Running light is even more crucial if that 42KM comes after a tough swim and an energy-sapping bike ride.
The all-round padding isn’t excessive. Saucony wisely left the plusher treatment to the Triumph ISO. So what we get on the Zealot feels just nice. RunDry material around the collar is standard in the ISO Series and Kinvara, so you can find the same here as well. Since the tongue is part of the ISOFIT system, you won’t be annoyed by any slippage.
Around the back, an external heel counter cups and locks the heel down nicely. I like the fact that the piece of plastic is configured differently – broader near the base for support and in strip form towards the collar. Again, weight savings without compromising the support.
Still on the upper, there are plenty of large reflective elements all over the shoe, even on the outsole. Added to that is the ViziOrange colorway that will ensure you stand out under all lighting conditions.
There’s a considerable amount of midsole flare here, just like what you would see on the Kinvara.
The perforated sockliner is removable and sits on top of a layer of thin foam.
The task of support and cushioning falls on the PWRGRID+ (Powergrid+) midsole. The crash pad, the yellow section in the photo below, is made of SRC (Special Rebound Compound), and it’s meant to offer a smoother heel to toe transition.
The outsole is largely a full contact one. As you can see, the instep is filled in (blue triangular foam in the arch area) resulting in a pretty stable shoe. While there are scuffing marks there – it’s made of foam anyway – other sections of the outsole are without a doubt durable. The yellow lugs, interspersed with deep flex grooves, from the front to midsection are made of IBR+ (Injection Blown Rubber) which is the firmest form of blown rubber I’ve experienced. The orange bits at the heel section are Saucony’s XT900 carbon rubber, which are even harder to the touch. So how does it all come together?
I’ve logged over 50K in the Zealot and one of the reasons why I nearly always reach out for it is because of its versatility. It’s built like a traditional shoe, but has a 4mm drop similar to that of the Kinvara (my favorite marathon shoe). At the same time it’s at least 2 ounces lighter than most trainers in the market today. It has a plush step-in feel but takes on a different character the moment you take your first steps, which is when you’ll notice the firmness of the outsole. Thankfully, that initial jarring effect is tempered by the softer Powergrid+ midsole, so the firmness never gets into uncomfortable territory. The same could be said of the heel where the slight stiffness goes away once you get into a groove.
This is a shoe that will be enjoyed running at a brisker pace due to that responsive nature. Toe spring is moderate but enough to get you a smooth and snappy toe-off.
The longest distance covered in the Zealot was a 21K of varied pace and elevation. It’s light enough that I’m able to get into a quick cadence going up the hills and protective enough to dampen the shocks coming down the other side. I encountered no hotspots nor any irritation of any sort from the ISOFIT sleeve. A friend has even worn it for a 60K road ultra and raved about it.
The Zealot is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile shoes out there. Some may feel that not having a standout quality is a sign of weakness but just look at the football giants and their utility players who can play in any position, covering end-to-end and plugging holes in the team. There’s always room for such players in the clubs. And there’s always room in the crowded shoe cabinet for a shoe like the Zealot.
Disclaimer: The Saucony Zealot ISO is a sample pair provided courtesy of Saucony Malaysia. It is available now from Running Lab and Stadium outlets for RM469.
Note: Be sure to read until the end of the post, to find out how you can purchase the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 at a very special price.
The second half of the year is typically extremely busy. As such, I very much prefer my key races to be over and done with in the first half. Exceptions, however, can be made for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) since it’s the home marathon and the organizing team is one which engages fellow runners instead of just focusing on reeling in the numbers.
I was invited by adidas Malaysia to the launch of the official licensed merchandise of the SCKLM yesterday. Since I was going to be out of the office to settle a few pressing matters in the Bangsar area, I took the opportunity to first spend an hour at the adidas outlet in Gardens. One of the products to be featured was the Supernova Glide Boost 7 (SGB7), a neutral cushioned trainer.
adidas first debuted the Boost midsole material on the Energy Boost and has since updated many of their shoes to the midsole platform with much success. The Boost midsole has been one of the best I’ve experienced and if there’s one downside, it would be that their shoes are increasingly generic looking. The SGB7 is as generic as they come. To the casual observer, it could very well have been the Sequence Boost, Response Boost or even the grand-daddy Energy Boost. While I don’t have the Sequence and Response, I’ve enjoyed wearing the Boston Boost 5, Adios Boost, Energy Boost, and Ultra Boost [review]. And also plenty of other brands. So hopefully I can put the SGB7 into perspective.
The SGB7 isn’t a flyweight shoe. At 11.25oz for US10, it’s a full ounce heavier than the Energy Boost [review], the extra baggage comes from the additional layers of mesh (see photo below where the green layer peeks out from under the top layer mesh) as opposed to the Techfit upper used on the Energy Boost.
The toe box is surprisingly roomy, uncharacteristic of adidas. My toes were able to splay and the upper is a little stretchy. As such there’s no restriction even if you dorsi-flex your toes. There’s a thick welded overlay across the front of the toe box and moving to the midsection of the shoe, the 3 stripes work in unison with the lacing system to give a secure fit. There are no
The external heel counter is quite substantial, similar to that found on the Energy Boost. There are plenty of reflective elements all over the shoe, with the branding stripes, and the logo and model name providing different levels of passive shine.
Step-in feel leans towards soft rather than plush and the same feeling extends to the toe-off as well. The SGB7 isn’t as plush nor pillowy soft as the Ultra Boost but your feet will still be pretty pampered, with the dampened road feel. I’d say that the forefoot cushioning sits nicely between that of the Ultra Boost and the Energy Boost.
The tongue is integrated with the upper in the form of a sleeve/bootie, so there’s no chance of it sliding around over the course of a run. Since the bootie is pretty thin, the shoe’s breathability isn’t compromised. The SGB7 isn’t as airy as the GRUR but at least I didn’t end up with a soggy shoe on a very hot run.
The SGB7 has a flared midsole especially towards the rear of the shoe, which provides some degree of stability. If it isn’t obvious enough already, you’ll notice that the shoe’s midsole comprises of 2 layers of foam where a firmer green EVA layer sits on top of the softer Boost. Interestingly the green material doesn’t cover the entire forefoot – I discovered this after removing the sockliner (a thin material carpets the surface under it) only to reveal 2 cutaways exposing the Boost foam instead of the green material which I now believe occupies only the fringes of the forefoot section. This setup creates a softer push-off for the runner, with the road feel in that area more muted than that experienced in the Energy Boost.
Continental rubber outsoles used on several Boost models have proven their durability and traction qualities, and it’s nice that the SGB7 is accorded the same treatment as well. AdiWear rubber is used in the heel section. Connecting both forefoot and heel is the TPU torsion shank. Again, these are typical configurations used on adidas shoes. Forefoot flexibility is adequate.
The 7th version of the Supernova Glide Boost is a fine shoe for long runs. It offers a good balance of durable cushioning and support, and substantially cheaper than the Energy Boost. I’ve read from other reviews that other comparable shoes are the Saucony Ride 8 and Nike Pegasus 32 but it pretty much comes down to your preference of fit, responsiveness, cushioning and weight. If you’re running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon and are interested in snagging the SGB7, be sure to read the offer stated in the Disclosure below.
Disclosure: The adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. Initial review is based after running and walking in them for close to 30K. Its available now at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM430. For a limited time only, the shoe is offered at a special price of RM299 to registered runners of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. All you need to do to enjoy the price is to show proof of your race registration when purchasing the shoes at the adidas stores.
The GOrun Ultra has been Skechers’ softest riding shoe, its thick midsole sets it apart from its more cousins such as the GOrun 4, GOrun Ride 4 and GOMeb Speed. The GRU’s soft ride make it a popular shoe for long runs yet many may not know that the GRU was designed with the trails in mind. That, however, didn’t stop most fans from wearing the GRU over the course of road ultras more than in the trails. Among the few flavors of the GRU, I like the Nite Owl edition most. With the glow-in-the-dark upper, it’s the most practical shoe for the long slow runs for me, despite not being known for its durability.
There is now a road specific version of the GRU. Called simply the GOrun Ultra R (R denoting “Road”), runners who want a soft ride but can’t fit into a Hoka (which generally fits narrow) have a alternative.
The GRUR is built from the GRU platform and for the most part retains many of the characteristics of its predecessor in that it’s still a thicker shoe, very cushioned and geared to protect the wearer over long distances. The GRU platform a gradual increase in weight over the years. The original version weighed in at 9.25oz, the GRU2 breached the 10oz mark, coming in at 10.05oz. The GRUR is even heavier at 11.10oz. Only the Ultra Boost was heavier at 11.35oz albeit at a half size larger. There’s certainly no allusions then that the GRUR is meant to be a long haul shoe than a nimble feet performer.
There are differences, of course. The most striking of which is the Fitknit upper. The colorway is one of the best I’ve seen in an upper recently but I felt that Skechers missed out on making it great. You see, the knitted mesh is overly stiff to the touch. The GRUR still flexes and fits at the right places but the Fitknit is hardly as refined as that implemented in the GOrun Ride 3 Bolt. If a wearer dorsi-flexes his toes, they will feel the roughness of the Fitknit material on the inside. The knitted upper is also very breathable, which could pose problem if you typically run on gravelly and dusty roads. I large pores will let dust, sand and small pebbles (not Nick’s pooch!) in. And you can peek right into the interior of the shoe.
It goes without saying that water goes right in too but in this case, the GRUR has a trick up its sleeve in the form of 2 large (everything is large with the GRUR!) down-facing drainage ports on each side of the shoe. Positioned just below the perforated and removable sockliner, water will drain right off just as quickly. Weather’s been hazy and dry for the most part and I’ve been unable to test the drainage features out.
There’s plenty of reflective detailing on call – 2 on each side of the heel counter, 2 in front of the toe box. Being a runner who hits the road at 5am on weekends, it’s a welcome feature. I fail to understand why shoe companies choose to omit this simple touch.
The GRUR employs a dual-density Resalyte foam midsole with the black layer you see in the photos noticeably softer than the orange layer. It has a 30mm/26mm heel/forefoot stack heights for a 4mm offset.
While there are exposed parts in the outsole there are no drainage ports located under the sole and since the shoe is of thicker stack heights, there’s a little bit of protection should you step on puddles. Water will definitely enter the shoe from the upper but not from the outsole.
Rubber plugs for high wear areas are present. I counted 21 nubs excluding the front rim bits. As the nubs are thin, I don’t think they’ll see extraordinarily long service. Nevertheless, the GRUR’s durability will still be several notches above the GRU’s.
The responsiveness is quite apparent. Make no mistake, the GRUR is still a soft shoe, just not as pillowy as the GRU. Personally I like the new tuning as it helps with faster pace running segment (I’ve logged a 6K at 5:10 pace in them) inserted into a more languid long run, without the sinking feeling. I’ve mentioned about the stiff upper which needs to be improved and the GRUR is certainly not a shoe to go sockless in. In fact, it’s best to go with medium bulk socks to add a little more comfort and protection to the twinky toes and nails. Other than the above, the GRUR is a purpose-built shoe for those long sweaty days on the roads which is equally suited for jaunts in the tropical thunderstorm when you simply can’t miss a workout.
Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra Road is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. The GRUR will be retailing at RM499 and RM469 for the men and women models respectively and are expected to be available in Skechers stores in the country in mid-September.
How do you review a shoe which started out with the same name as one half of 2 trailblazing shoes but looks completely different from that classic, had that name changed in the middle of its product cycle resulting in 2 confusing labels in the market, *draws breath* and yet bears a striking resemblance to yet another updated model? By going back to 2008.
Back then, the Beaverton company released what I’d call a game-changing midsole, the Lunarlite. I covered the product launch in this post. Done reading that?
OK, the pair of shoes launched back then were the Lunaracer+ (review) and LunarTrainer+. Of course, the “+” has been dropped some time ago since the company stopped integrating the NikePlus sensor into their core line of shoes. The gaining popularity of wearable tech such as GPS watches and smartphones saw to that demise. Coming back to the shoes, the Lunar midsole generated as much hype as adidas’ Boost did in recent years. Deservedly so, in my opinion, because both midsole technologies were 2 of the best I’ve worn to-date with the Lunar material holding an edge over the Boost in that it’s lighter. I ran the 2008 New York City Marathon in the Lunaracer, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Note: When I mention Lunar midsole, I’m actually generalising since Nike has several flavours of the midsole from Lunarlite in the case of the original Lunaracer+ and LunarTrainer+, to Lunarlon we see today.
I’ve a love-hate relationship with the Lunaracer 2+ (a dreadful misfire – review here) and subsequently Lunaracer 3 (which I didn’t review). The issue I had with them was primarily the toe box, which was extremely constricting to my feet. More often than not, I’d end up with blackened toenails after my marathons. Then along came the LunarTempo (LT) earlier this year. A completely new shoe, there’s more than a passing sense of familiarity with it since it bears a lot of resemblance to the Lunaracer.
When it was first launched, the label on the LT read Lunar Trainer, which was misleading. If you’re a Nike devotee, you’d think that this is a reboot of the original Lunar Trainer. Several months later, new colorways of the LT started emerging on the shelves bearing the new LunarTempo moniker. The pair used for this review still bears the old name though.
So how does the LunarTempo feel like? Pretty amazing. Gone are the restrictive upper, the LT has a wider forefoot and fits truer to size. Even though I could wear the US10, I opted for a 10.5 just so that it’s more accommodating. Toe box height is a little more than the Lunaracer’s but it’s really about the updated engineered mesh which is now softer and forgiving as opposed to the stiffer and unyielding variety found in the racers of yore. I obviously love the fact that the 10.5 weighs only 7.15oz, thus keeping to its lightweight lineage. To put the weight into perspective, 7.15oz for US10.5 is even lighter than the US10 Free 3.0 v5 (reviewed here). Yet for all its lightness, the LT still provides adequate support and cushioning for distances up to the marathon for me.
Along with the updated upper, the first eyelets have been moved further up, allowing for a more relaxed fit around the forefoot are. The padding on the tongue and heel collar are neither too thin nor too plush. There’s a certain balanced feel to the shoe. Everything feels just right.
The Flyknit strands, which have plenty of reflective accents, now peek from under the outer mesh in both the lateral and medial parts of the upper. There are also greater use of reflective materials, most notably in the heel counter. All in all, the upper now looks tidier compared to the Racer’s mess.
There’s no wayward stitching on the walls of the interior, no exposed seams and there’s a layer of thin mesh (the black portion in the photo above) which prevents the Flywire strands from rubbing on the feet. I also stuck my hands inside feeling around for any potential hotspot areas but couldn’t find any.
The midsole design retains a similar (but not exact, in particular the lateral heel section) look to the accordion folds of the Racer and thus offer the same lightweight smooth ride. The LT has a softer ride than the Adios Boost, Boston Boost 5, Hitogami, ST Racer, Breakthru and Zante but a touch firmer than the Kinvara 5.
The outsole now sports more (and thicker) solid rubber plugs which should add greater durability. As mentioned, the ride is quick and smooth. Though there’s no overt flex grooves, the Lunarlon midsole is quite flexible – not as supremely bendy like a Nike Free or Skechers GObionic 2 but more than sufficient for a performance trainer.
The heel cushioning is more than adequate and while the toe-off is firm, it retains a tangible softness to it. Most fans of the LT will wear it for uptempo runs and as a marathon shoe but it will be quite at home at slower pace as well. For trackwork, however, I’d go with a firmer shoe.
I snagged the LunarTempo at a great price of RM230 (RRP RM379) at Sportland IOI Mall. Gems such as the LunarTempo (and Lunar Launch) are not sold in Tier-1 Nike boutiques but rather Sportland and Stadium outlets, so when shopping for running gear, be sure to also look to the smaller retailers for great deals.