[dropcase]I[/dropcasef shoe development can be described as a footrace, Skechers Performance have been engaging in a sprint, building iterations upon iterations at a furious pace over the past 2 years. The exercise was understandable for the then-fledgling company. They need to change the serious runners’ perceptions of the brand. Having continuously enhanced the core models such as the GORun (GR), GORun Ride (GRR) and GOMeb Speed (GS), the latest versions are their best yet. I reviewed the first version of the GR back in April 2012 and how much have the shoes evolved since then. I’ve taken the latest GR4 and GS3 for a handful of very short runs and my favorite choice is already becoming clear, even at this stage.
Note: I wear a 10, so the weight shown below are that of my size.
The original GORun was Skechers Performance first model back in 2012. Until recently, the GR3 was the best version produced in the series. Now, the GR4 looks set to continue that upward progression. Revamped entirely, the shoe looks unrecognizable. The stretchy upper, which features little chevron motifs, is now made of a single piece construction. Unlike the older versions, there are very prominent reflective strips at the heel section. There are no detectable wayward seams inside the shoe. Thin overlays crisscross the upper, some fulfilling their cosmetic obligations while some reinforce stress areas. Typical of the performance models, 2 sets of elasticated laces are provided and they run through a somewhat tight tab on the moderately padded tongue. The tongue isn’t gusseted. The heel counter is now a touch stiffer towards the back but perhaps the most obvious update is the “Quick-Fit” pull tab at the collar. Replace the stock laces with bungee cords and you have your self a tri shoe.
The Resalye midsole is more sculpted than ever. Deeper grooves sweep diagonally up and backwards lending a fast look to the shoe. The GR4 has a forefoot and heel stack height of 14mm and 18mm respectively for an overall of 4mm drop without the supplied (but optional) sockliner. In terms of softness, it has a 50 durometer midsole which leans more towards the GRR4’s 47 than the GS3’s 57. The higher the number, the firmer the shoe.
On the outsole, the changes are quite obvious too. The pods (now called Power Pillars, instead of Impulse Sensors) are now more prominent and deeper. They should be more durable but we’ll see if they’re pebble magnets. The GR4 weighs in at 7.65oz without the sockliner and 8.25oz with.
I’ve since put on a some miles in them, outdoors and on the treadmill and here’s my preliminary take. The GR4 now feels (and looks) more like a traditional shoe. There’s less sock-like feel of the GR3 and depending on your preference, that may be a good or bad thing. I’ve no particular preference as long as the shoe remains light, flexible yet provides good support and cushioning for the marathon. And the GR4 certainly has those on tap. There’s more structure in the midfoot but amount of flexibility is thankfully retained. The midfoot bump is now almost non-existent and the shoe wears like a traditional performance trainer/racer in the veins of the Lunaracer 3, but without the restrictive toebox of the Nike.
The tongue secures very well and I’ve yet to encounter any slipping and sliding. There’s a little more padding here and there but there’s been no rubbing and hot spots so far. The initial apprehension on the Quick-Fit tab rubbing on the Achilles proved unfounded since I don’t run sockless. Compared to the GR3, the 4 feels a little snug in the midfoot with a tapered front. I’m not sure if it’s just the upper re-tweak or there’s been a change in the platform. I’d strongly suggest trying a half size larger before purchasing just to make sure the tapered front poses no issues.
I’ve been experimenting the shoes with thinner and thicker sockliners and found the thinner ones to work best in providing a nice blend of cushioning and responsiveness. I’ve no complains thus far and the GR4 is following me back to Penang where I’m getting some longer runs in.
The GORun 4 will be available at all local Skechers boutiques in December.
GORun Ride 4
Other than the upper, the GRR4 remains pretty much unchanged in terms of its midsole and outsole. The upper, which has been given more whizz, no longer possess a sterile look with the color gradation providing a decidedly modern feel. As you can see, it’s also given the “Quick-Fit” pull tab at the collar. There are 2 large reflective strips on either side of the tab.
The GRR4 has a forefoot and heel stack heights of 13.5mm and 17.5mm respectively for an overall of 4mm drop without the optional sockliner. While the stack heights are very close to the GR4’s, the GRR4 possesses a softer 47 durometer Resalyte midsole which is felt largely in the heel. In terms of overlays, there really isn’t much going on topside, which is kept very simple – a strip and there, that’s about it.
The GRR4 weighs in at 8.0oz without the sockliner and 8.65oz with. I’ve not run in the GRR4 but they feel roomier than the GRR3 [review here] just walking around in them. That had me wondering a bit until I did a comparison of the 3 and 4. If you look closely, the 4 no longer sports another layer of synthetics in the front lateral and medial areas (where the pinkies are). The reduced structure no longer restricts the further splaying of the foot. I hope that won’t result in the foot sliding around too much, though.
It remains to be seen if the GRR4 has a more involving feel than its predecessor. It will, however, make for a good recovery shoe or one to pull on for a relaxing 10K.
The GORun Ride 4 will be available at all local Skechers boutiques in December.
GOMeb Speed 3
The most responsive shoe among the 3 has to be the GS3. It was the shoe which Meb wore to his 2014 Boston victory. His was obviously customized to his narrower last but in the mass release version, I’m really glad that the latest Performance Fit sports a slightly wider feel than previous versions. The GS3 definitely feels less restrictive as well with a reportedly smaller DuPont Delrin stability plate in the midsole.
Like the GR4, the GS3 also has a seamless interior. I put my hand in and couldn’t feel any rough seams or stitching. As with the other models in the same release, the GS3 has a snazzy upper with added trims and highlights which look outstanding.
The GS3 has the same stack heights as GR4 with a forefoot and heel of 14mm and 18mm respectively for an overall of 4mm. However, at 57 durometer, it’s the firmest of the lot. The GS3 with its non-removable sockliner weighs in at 7.95oz which is means the GR4 sans the sockliner is 0.3oz lighter! Interestingly the GS has grown progressively heavier with each versions: GS1 was 6.75oz and the GS2 was at 6.95oz. The GS3 is a full ounce heavier than version 2! You can read the earlier review here.
Being a racing flat, the GS3 has a narrower fit throughout yet opens up just enough for the toes. There’s even some room for the toes to wiggle around. The heel is securely locked down and the minimally padded tongue doesn’t slide around nor bunch up. In my opinion, it’s the best fitting GOMeb Speed yet.
Compared to the GS2, the GS3 has a palpable softer feel, yet it retains the snappy take off of the older shoe. I suspect the softer foam has something to do with that, a really nice tuning job. Another minor tweak is the positioning of the rubber plugs, where 2 have been moved further back towards the heel. See a trend there?
Unfortunately I’ve yet to take the GS3 on an extended run around. The couple of very short runs I’ve done in them wasn’t that enjoyable due to my current fitness level. The body took a battering from the grueling 56K under the hot sun and has yet to recover. Just couldn’t shake the fatigued feeling off. Regardless, I’ll bide my recovery time and focus on strength work in the gym. Can’t wait to be back on the fast lane!
The GOMeb Speed 3 will be available at all local Skechers boutiques in January 2015, in time for your new racing season!
Disclaimer: The Skechers GORun 4, GORun Ride 4 and GOMeb Speed 3 are media samples kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia. Opinions stated are my own.
Like a bolt (ooops!) out of the sky, the soon-to-be-in-stores Skechers GOrun Ride 3 Bolt (GRR3 Bolt/Bolt) landed on my laps quite suddenly last Friday. Because it was so totally unexpected, I braved the Friday+Downpour+5pm-KL-Traffic phenomenon to fight my way to the Skechers office after work.
Let’s get on with some of the nuts and bolts (ooops again!) of, ummm, the Bolt.
You wouldn’t be wrong if you dismiss the Bolt, just by looking at the photos, that this is another example of a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. After all everything other than the eye-catching upper’s the same as the GRR3 [my review of the GRR3 here].
But then, there’s the knitted fabric upper. As it is, the upper found on the GRR3 is already well made, as with most of the Performance series’. FitKnit isn’t unlike other knitted upper that’s marketed by other sports companies and I’ve worn several of those (and liked them a lot too). It’s basically iterations of stitching technology that see a tighter weave around the stress-zones, for example, the toebox, heel counter and flex areas. The result is a single piece seamless upper that has good breathability.
In terms of weight, the GRR3 (with sockliner) sits between the Bolt with and without the sockliner. Even at its heaviest 8.9oz for US10, the Bolt is featherweight compared to Zoom Elite 7, Pegasus 31 and even lighter than the Boston Boost 5 (review coming up).
If you’ve not worn any shoes with a knitted upper before, you’d be interested to know that there are subtle differences to the wear experience. Due to the absence of overlays, you’ll discover a little bit more real estate in the toebox. Indeed, my US10 felt roomier than usual. My first run in the Bolt was a hilly 12.5K. I didn’t lace up as tightly as I normally do when I race. While my feet didn’t slide to and fro even when I hit the downhills, there was a slight sideway movement in the forefoot region. There wasn’t any blisters though, and there was room to lock down the lacing further. No real issues but I just thought it’s something worth mentioning to guide you when trying the Bolt out.
Interestingly, as opposed to other brands’ knitted uppers, Skechers FitKnit retains the stretch properties used in the mesh models like the GRR3. There’s not a stitch on the Bolt that adds to a stiff wear experience, even where the knit are most dense.
Coming into the scene late in the adoption of knitted uppers, Skechers GOrun Ride 3 Bolt expands the brand’s tradition of great uppers with FitKnit. The result is an all-round improved package for the runner in the tradition of the GRR3. Those looking for a lightweight cushioned trainer suitable for up to the marathon distance should check them out. They’ve the looks to go with jeans and will make an excellent and versatile shoe. Wherever I travel to, I’ve always packed an extra pair of running shoes for my exploratory runs. With the Bolt, it will serve as a 2-in-1, suitable for sightseeing and putting in the mileage while traveling.
The Bolt will hit the local stores from this weekend and will retail for RM419 (men) and RM399 (women).
Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ride 3 Bolt is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. I’ve only put in approximately 20K in them but the ride is similar to the GRR3.
I was on the lookout for possible footwear in the weeks leading to Starlight (race report here). because, believe it or not, I didn’t have a pair that met my criteria for a road ultra: lightweight (under 10oz), breathable, not over-engineered, perfect blend of responsiveness and cushioning (meaning, not ultra soft), medium-stacked, with just a hint of structure/support to carry me as I straggle like a zombie towards the finish. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. Little did I realize that I am that hard to please when it comes to shoes!
The original plan for Starlight was to go with 2 pairs – the GRU Nite Owl for the first half before swapping it for the Kinvara 5 Runshield for the second leg – but I finally decided to keep things simple by going with a single-pair approach. The GRU wasn’t an option as in the lead up towards the race, it caused some blistering on the top of my 4th toe. I even contemplated cutting out a hole where that problematic overlay ran over. The last time this happened was when I wore a overly small GR3. I was puzzled that this cropped up in a correctly sized GRU. The crucial question was then, “Which pair should I go with?”. The Strada and the regular version of the Kinvara 5 weren’t available as well.
With a few days to D-Day and in desperation, I’d tried on the asics Excel 33, Electro 33, adidas Revenergy Boost (photo). I found the silky smooth Revenergy too heavy (felt like over 10oz for my size 10) to be carrying over 84K, while the 2 asics just didn’t feel quite right and a little too thin on the forefoot midsole. I also checked out the several Nikes but they also felt off.
Just when I was this close *holding up my thumb and index finger* to giving up, I chanced upon the adiZero Ace 6 (aZA6). The aZA6 weighs under 9oz for my US10, which makes it lighter than the GRU, DS Trainer 19, Revenergy Boost, Zoom Fly, Zoom Elite 7, Pegasus 31 and Launch. More importantly it felt just right in the store – not too snug in the midfoot, sports a roomy forefoot (a shocker since adidas typically runs narrow) and has a little toe spring. It also didn’t feel like one with a high offset, more like between 6-8mm.
The upper of the aZA6 shares the same design philosophy as GR3 and GRR3 – simple, minimal overlays over just the necessary areas. Interestingly, there’s an area just behind the forefoot flexpoint that is a little stretchy allowing the foot to splay further. This small area is reminiscent of the Biomorphic Fit found on the DS Trainer 9. The entire upper of the aZA6 down to the laces, tongue, padding, heel counter, is likewise kept simple. In all the miles that I’ve covered in the shoe, I’ve found the ventilation to be excellent.
Midsole is typical adidas with the firmer adiPRENE®+ employed in the forefoot and regular adiPRENE in the heel for cushioning duties. Where the Boost midsole accords a smooth and cushy ride, the adiPRENE setup creates a more responsive ride. It has that snappy feel to it, though not to the extent of the GOspeed.
adiWEAR material can be found in the high-wear areas while the lighter Quickstrike in the other areas of the outsole. Sticky rubber is well deployed on sections of the outsole and I’ve found the forefoot grip to be astonishingly good. I certainly felt very assured wherever I ran, even on wet surfaces. Exposed midsole foam are evident throughout the outsole too. There’s a tiny strip of TPU which I don’t think serves any purpose due to its size. If I had a say in the design, the strip wouldn’t have found its way into the shoe. Flexibility is, however, just average.
The ride? The aZA6 is somewhat similar to the Wave Rider 17 but definitely firmer than the Kinvara 5 and Boston Boost. While I wore them over 84K, alternating between running and walking, it’s definitely a shoe that’s more suited to faster-paced running. I’ve also found that I needed to lace up tighter in order for the shoe to lock down better. Although there were no blisters post-Starlight, my feet slid back and forth a fair bit especially on the descents.Lacing up tightly wasn’t an option at that time due to foot swelling encountered over the course of an ultra. The aZA6 would definitely be more comfortable tackling quicker-paced runs and marathons than slow burns.
All things considered, the Ace 6 would find itself in the company of traditional performance trainers such as the Kinvara 5, DS Trainer 19, Zoom Elite 9, Zoom Fly, 890 v4, Launch, Wave Rider 17, Wave Sayonara 2. At 9oz for the US10, the aZA6 is the lightest of those I mentioned above. However, if you prefer an even lighter, softer and way more flexible option, you won’t go wrong with the GOrun Ride 3 (8.7oz).
It needs to be mentioned here that I’ve never taken to adidas shoes, even as a shoe geek for 15 years. I’ve found their training shoes to be too narrow, too clunky and heavy while their racing shoes too hardcore (read: ultra minimalist, firm). Lately the company seemed to have made some good moves addressing the middle ground. I’m impressed with the Boost midsole material. Its durability (my Energy Boost has logged over 300K with the outsole showing hardly any wear and tear) and that of the adiWEAR outsole is excellent. Of course, durability without a ride that fits the wearer is pointless. The Ace 6 thankfully has that. It won’t make waves in the running circle because it’s an understated shoe. Added to that, it’s not easily available.
I’ve logged over 110K in the adiZero Ace 6 and the shoe is available from the adidas boutiques in 1Utama and Sunway Pyramid for RM360. Information is scant on the Ace 6 unfortunately, but head on to the brand’s UK site and you’ll be able to see it there.
There is arguably no other shoe that’s more identifiable (read: popular) to Saucony than the Kinvara. While Saucony, a company founded in 1898 and headquartered in Lexington, may have the Mirage, Virrata, A6 and Ride in its stable, it was the Kinvara that got runners excited when it debuted in 2010 to a handful of accolades. Kinvara is Saucony and Saucony is Kinvara in my books. Saucony is also one of the very few companies to only focus on the running segment. Hence you won’t find cross-training models made by these guys.
My past experience with the Kinvara was the v2 ViZiPRO (retired and donated), followed by Kinvara 3 (K3, also retired). I wasn’t that fond of the K3, mainly due to the very tapered forefoot. I skipped Kinvara 4 entirely but reviews generally covered its issues rather than how well they performed.
I was recently reacquainted with the series, the Kinvara 5 (K5), specifically the weather resistant version called the RunShield. Unlike the dreary colors of other weather resistant versions of other brands, the K5 RunShield comes in a catchy blue-gray colorway with silver reflective trims along with orange ViZiPRO logo. Do note that I don’t have the regular version of the K5 for comparisons but the 4mm drop platform, midsole material and outsole configuration are the same as the stock version. Only the upper sees the adoption of a FlexShell upper, a polyester fabric with weather resistant membrane.
Lightweight FlexFilm welded overlays continue to be employed since the K3. This time, Saucony incorporates the ProLock lacing system to better lock in the midfoot. ProLock is similar (but not identical) to Brooks’ Nav Band, which I’m no fan of. The photo below shows how the ProLock integrates with the tongue and entire midfoot upper resulting in a snug fit around the middle. The internal sleeve reminds me of Salomon’s Endofit. I noticed that keeping the midfoot lacing a little loose works best for me. Inside, the K5 sports a RunDry lining for moisture management.
The 2 little padding on either side of the achilles in the K3 have been replaced with a thicker and plusher material, which I prefer.
The K5’s midsole is made up of single density foam marketed as EVA+. There’s an embedded PowerGrid with the foam and the K5 sees an increased use of carbon rubber plugs. Even the outer lateral side is now more filled in resulting in more ground contact. It’s clear the designers wanted to make the shoe more durable while not going overboard with added bulk/weight. Still, the K5 has gained some weight over the K3 (see below), but do note that my K5 is half a size up than the older shoe. I’m unable to confirm but the use of weather resistant upper could’ve possibly contributed to the increase. It’ll be interesting to check out the stock version of the K5 measure up.
My wear experience has been great, right from the get-go. My feet instantly feel secure when I slide them into the shoes even without tightening the laces. The ProLock definitely lends a snug fit around the midfoot area. The added bit of padding on the tongue and around the collar gave it a noticeably comfortable feel unlike the thinner and stiffer setup of the K3. Given the Runshield is a weather resistant version, I had concerns that I would wind up with soggy shoes from all that sweating after every run. Thankfully, I’m glad to report that such fears proved unfounded despite the current heatwave. Sweaty feet were largely a non-issue. Runners who leave pools of sweat on the ground *urgh* are best advised to stick to regular versions though .
It’s been ages since KL saw a downpour and I’ve not stop casting my eyes at the skies for any hints of rain clouds. When that happens, the Runshield will finally get to play in the rain. Oooh, I miss those days!
I’ve since put in 97km in the K5 RunShield and I like it a lot. Even more so when it’s my marathon PR shoe . Unlike the firm K3, the K5 provides a smoother, more forgiving ride, very welcome in the late stages of a marathon. So far, the durability has been outstanding, with negligible wear and tear. The K5 is a tad soft for trackwork – for that I rely on the GOSpeed 2 or Hitogami – but works very well on the road and gravel. With the 5, the Kinvara is definitely back and is a solid choice for anyone seeking a high mileage lightweight trainer/racer.
Disclosure: The Saucony Kinvara 5 RunShield is a sample pair provided courtesy of RSH (M) Sdn Bhd. It is expected to be available, along with the regular versions of the Kinvara 5 and Ride 7, from Running Lab, Stadium and RSH outlets in September 2014.
Note: The GObionic 2 (GB2) shares the same DNA as the original GObionic (GB). I recommend checking out my take on the original [link] before reading further.
As Skechers Performance Division’s most minimal offering, it certainly took a while – close to 2 years since its debut – for this update to come around. The GB2 has been tweaked just enough such that the update now sports a refreshing look. The change takes place on the upper, a design approach that completely transforms the somewhat dull look of the original into something more pleasing to the eye.
The revamp, thankfully, retains all the good that the shoe is noted for i.e. flexibility and fit in a lightweight package. The weight has nudged up slightly with the removable sockliner but the numbers you see below are a bit misleading because the original GB is a US9.5 while the GB2 a US10. Couple with the new 3-ply upper, we’re still looking at a very respectable 7.05oz. The sockliner if removed, turns the GB2 into a zero drop ride. Personally I’ve always left it on for a 4mm experience, and I’ve always worn it with socks.
The last of both versions are essentially the same. You get the same wide and rounded front, noodle laces, integrated tongue which is a little stretchy compared to the original. The GB2 sports a neither-here-nor-there offset lacing, which is neither straight nor as deviated as the assymmetrical take on the, say, Brooks Pure Drift.
The heel counter still manages to retain its soft and flexible feel despite having a tinge of structure added to the section.
I’ve worn the GB2 whenever I do my drills, core and short runs on the treadmills. Their low profile platform engages all the foot and lower leg muscles in ways that “thicker” shoes don’t give you. I love how the GB2 feel when I run on the gravelly and sandy stretches around my home. The ground feel with a little cushioning, the scrunching sound, the short and quick cadence, all adds to an amazing running experience. I’ve put in 40K in them and have not encountered any issues. No hotspots whatsoever. There are some solid minimalist shoes out there in the market and it’s great that the GB2 continues to be the flag bearer for Skechers in this segment.
This short review would not be complete without a cautionary note. Runners seeking to add the GB2, or other minimalist shoes for that matter, into their shoe rotation should take it slowly. The GObionic 2 warrants a serious audition if you’re in the market for a well-designed minimalist shoe. A pretty good looking one at that too!
Disclosure: The Skechers GObionic 2 is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. They’ll be available in Skechers stores in Q3 2014 and will retail for RM399.
Note: I highly recommend that you pop over to my review of the GOrun Ultra (GRU) prior to continuing this post as the GOrun Ultra Nite Owl has minimal changes over the GRU.
The GRU was designed to go long on the trails, which may be a surprise to some of you, but it’s been my go-to shoe for long slow burns on the tarmac including the TITI 50. At least that’s the case until a road version of the GRU is released in the future. In total my pair has logged 210km. It’s not much as I’m heavily rotating it with a large pool of shoes. At the same time, I was saving it for Starlight 84.
The grinding routine of GCAM and the Starlight training was one day broken by the excitement of the surprise arrival of the GRU Nite Owl (GRUNO). The news was out of the blue, totally unexpected, but who am I to complain? This owl has swooped in at just the right time before Starlight. Let’s get this review done so that I can head out for a run, shall we?
The GRUNO isn’t the first shoe to be “night-enabled” in the performance series. I’ve previously reviewed the GOrun Ride 2 Nite Owl, which you can read all about here. The Nite Owl essentially are photoluminescent treated shoes to provide the wearer with a higher degree of visibility while out training in low light conditions. Photoluminescent technology beats reflective strips as the former emits glow rather than depending on a light source (e.g. headlights from a passing car) in the case of reflective strips. Running along unlit stretches of Balik Pulau will no longer feel so intimidating, safety-wise.
Like the GRR2 Nite Owl, the GRUNO comes with a similarly colored glow-in-the-dark band, a card explaining the tech behind the glow, a booklet catalog and some marketing blurbs. IMHO, Skechers can do a bit more to reduce the in-box marketing collateral. Less carbon footprint and that sort of thing, if you know what I mean.
As I’ve said, there’s very little that separates the GRU from the GRUNO. In fact, the overlays, the design elements down to the lace trims are identical. The difference between the variants is only in the photoluminescent treated overlays. I’d put the half ounce difference in weight down to the Resagrip outsole wear of the GRU, which is expected after over 200km of use.
How then is the wear experience? I’m pleased to report that after a short mid morning run in sweltering heat, it’s also exactly the same give or take a little extra bouncy from the older pair. That’s to be expected with midsole compression from the wear and tear. You see, this review is becoming rather boring, but in a good way. The GRUNO has gone back into the box where it will stay until Aug 23. I’m glad Skechers released this flavor of the GRU. Given that my long runs are undertaken when most are still asleep be it very early in the morning or dead in the night, the added visibility in a familiar package helps. In fact, I’m making my future GRUs the Nite Owl version!
Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra Nite Owl is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. It is already available in Skechers stores throughout the country and retails for RM419.
My last run-in with the Kayano was back in 2007, the Kayano 12. The shoe had been a purchased – at 50% off retail, I still had to fork out a hefty RM299. Of course, inflation and higher cost of labor means RM299 is a bargain these days. You can read my review of the Kayano 12 here (sure brings back memories!) and do check out this amazing photo gallery of the Kayanos that came before version 20.
The Kayano was, and still is, Asics’ top-tier stability offering. This year sees the 20th anniversary of the venerable shoe. You know it holds a special place in a shoe company when they make a 3-part video of it! Named after designer Toshikazu Kayano (read the interview here), only the Nike Pegasus surpasses its vintage. There’s a reason for its longevity. Many loved its plush and supportive ride, and typical of the company’s training shoes, the Kayano is one heck of a durable shod. As a bonus, thanks to advancement in shoe technology, # 20 has shed some weight too, if only a little.
The upper is arguably very flashy but not in the garish manner of the Noosa. Gone are those boring utilitarian look, the 20 sees the first use of FluidFit, spiderweb-like bands that occupy the flex points of the upper, allowing the upper to conform to how the feet move. The bands have a little give and are able to stretch to provide that glove-like fit. The upcoming update of the Nimbus (16) will also get the FluidFit features. Other than their lightweight performance trainers and racing flats, asics have always embellished their core models with plenty of overlays – sometimes a bit much complicating design elements – and the Kayano is no different. Other than FluidFit, there are several strips of overlays that provide even more structure to the shoe.
Other areas of the upper are the usual open mesh. The well-padded tongue isn’t integrated but wide enough to eliminate the side-to-side movement. Lacing system is the traditional and not the asymmetrical type which I’m ambivalent to. All other areas of the shoes are sturdily constructed from the equally well padded memory-foam collar to the medium-density exoskeleton heel counter.
The FluidRide midsole is made up of 2 layers of foam. A softer layer sits directly under your foot lending some softness while a thicker Solyte layer goes under that. Asics mentioned that this is to give the wearer a blend of soft yet responsive ride. There are also 2 large slabs of gel placed in the heel and forefoot sections of the midsole. The Kayano 20 also has a Dynamic DuoMax medial post and an extensive plastic shank in the midfoot section. Yes, there are a lot of “control” elements built into the shoe!
The outsole comprises of forefoot blown rubber and hard wearing and bomb-proof AHAR. Flex grooves are cut the length of the outsole and across offsetting a bit of the stiffness. Per Asics America website, the Kayano 20 has a 10mm drop (stack height of 12mm/22mm forefoot /heel) and my scales showed it to be 11.7oz for my US10.
As I’ve mentioned, running has been disrupted of late with several long events, followed by the choking haze that enveloped the country as a result of prolonged drought and bush fires. My time in the Kayano was limited to a couple of short runs around the KLCC Park. Do note however, that the Kayano is marketed as a “stability” shoe and is much more shoe than what I run in these days. At 60kg, my weight would hardly qualify me as a large person. Do bear those points in mind as I put my quick take on the shoe.
The K20 is a fully loaded shoe. For a person whose shoe cabinet is 95% filled with shoes of simpler construction, flexible and light in the weight department, running in the K20 isn’t an easy experience for me. From the very first steps, the shoe immediately feels stiff in the midfoot, resulting in a clunky feel right out of the box. The plushness isn’t felt that greatly on the run as opposed to when walking around. I was conscious of the fact that my experience with the Kayano of yore proved that the shoe required some amount of breaking in, with the wear characteristics changing only after 70-80K. Since I’m gearing for a race in April, I’ve not toyed around with my footwear much, sticking to my current tried and tested shoes under rotation. There’s also a pronounced toe lift at the front, something I felt when I was running. If you’re a heel striker you’ll definitely feel the forward roll.
The upper fit feels just fine. Asics tends to put a lot of materials into their production, yet the fit quality hasn’t been jeopardized. There was no cinching of materials and the mesh has good breathability. The FluidFit webbing wraps the foot well yet have some give to accommodate the changes in foot movement through the gait cycle. There’s enough room in the toe box too, which I appreciate. Finally, the Kayano is still a beefy shoe, make no mistake about it. It looks sleek and rides a tad lower than other beefy shoes such as the Structure, Adrenaline, Supernova Boost but as you can see from the photo above, the scales don’t lie. Nevertheless if you’re heavier set than I, you may appreciate the support it provides.
I realize that I don’t have much positives to report on the K20 but the fact remains that the Kayano series has been around for a long long time, venerated and sold by the truckloads. Undoubtedly, the shoe works for a lot of people. Perhaps I’m just a scrawny person who requires much less shoe and where the Kayano may shine is on the feet of larger built runners. If you’re that person, and if you’ve been running in stability models, like the Adrenaline, you should give it a try.
Disclosure: The Kayano 20 is already in the market, retailing for RM599 and was kindly provided for my review by Gigasport, authorized distributor of Asics in Malaysia.
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