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Archive for February, 2012

New Balance 730 – Our Take

February 15th, 2012

New Balance 730 Women's and Men's Shoes

Our Tweet

730 is the number to know if you want a light, low and fast road running shoe that feels simple on your feet while you rack up the miles.
(View Men’s 730 and Women’s 730)

Big Features

  • Light and Low Platform: With stack heights of just 13mm in the forefoot and 16mm in the heel, the 730 is one low shoe. The midsole of the 730 is made from ACTEVA LITE, an EVA foam that retains its structure over time for increased durability.
  • Lightweight Upper: Open mesh keeps weight down and breathability up. Overlays provide just enough structure to keep your foot secure throughout the gait cycle.
  • Shaped for Midfoot Striking: Built on the NL-1 last, the 730 has a wide and low toebox that gives your foot room to expand laterally on foot-strike.
  • Widths Available: We are carrying the Men’s 730 in 2E sizes.

Road Test

A Minimus collection shoe in almost all respects except the name, the 730 is about as light as it gets for a daily trainer. You’re looking at 7.0 oz for a Men’s 9 and just 5.5 oz for a Women’s 8. The lack of heft is noticeable both when the shoe is in your hand and on your foot.

The 730 is the perfect example of a “barely there” upper. It fits well – anchoring your heel, giving you structure in the midfoot and offering plenty of room in the toebox. This shoe is built on the same last as the MR10 / WR10 and MT110 / WT110, shoes that we’ve praised on many occasions for their upper fit. The 730 actually feels more deconstructed than either of those models, with light mesh that doesn’t quite hug the foot.

The mid/outsole of this shoe is what surprised many of our testers. It offers good protection given how little material separates you from the road, but most of us thought the shoe would feel softer than it does. The 730′s platform is flexible in all directions, but it’s also firm. We attribute that to the ACTEVA LITE midsole material, which prizes lightweight durability over cushion and softness.

Even though the 730 offers a firm ride, it stays away from the harsh feel of some other shoes with similarly low stack heights. The 730 skews more minimal than the Minimus shoes of just a year ago, and we think it ticks enough boxes to appeal to a wide range of runners today.

Runners Say

“I’d be comfortable in this shoe up to about an hour. It’s not soft, but it’s not as harsh as some other shoes with stack heights in this range. I’m impressed by the amount of protection given the midsole’s thickness.” – Jonathan

“There is a lot to like in this package. I think any runner would give the upper a thumbs up – it just fits so well – and for the person who wants to get in touch with the road, this shoe gives you enough protection to go further than just around the block.” – Matt

“Lightness doesn’t truly capture the feel of the 730. It’s more about simplicity for me. New Balance made some smart choices about where to strip down the shoe so that no part feels compromised.” – Joanna

Matt Running Shoes , ,

Nike Zoom Mamba 2 – Our Take

February 14th, 2012

Nike Zoom Mamba 2

Our Tweet

The dominant steeplechase spike and a reliable 1500-5K shoe, Mamba 2 carries over the mid/outsole but gains a refreshed upper.

Big Updates

  • New Upper: In addition to offering a serious dose of flare, the redesigned upper feels a bit softer and fits a bit better than the upper in the outgoing model.

Track Test

No real surprises here, folks. Nike knows they have a winning formula in the Mamba, which is a go-to shoe for steeplechase and athletes competing in 1500m-5K events. The mid/outsole is completely unchanged, meaning that Nike focused its updates on the upper. The upper now is made from a softer mesh that is still plenty breathable. That’s good news for runners who like the airy feel of the original Mamba, and great news for steeplechasers, who rely on this model to shed water quickly.

The Mamba 2 provides some cushion in the heel (relatively speaking, of course), and is pretty flexible all around with a carbon fiber shank and flexible Pebax spike plate. The textured plastic grip on outer heel helps you get a little traction in the water pit. A few testers were looking for a heel design that is just a touch more stable.

The new design of the upper looks sharp, though with the popularity of this shoe, athletes are unlikely to stand out very much from the crowd. Strange to say for a shoe that’s bright red and neon green, but that’s the state of the spike market in 2012.

Runners Say

“A few years back, I ran the steeplechase in the Nike Zoom Lanang ST. The Mamba 2 is a better spike overall. The extra heel cushion is a plus for landing after jumping barriers and water jumps.” – Isaiah

“There aren’t a lot of options that work well for the steeplechase, and the Mamba 2 still has a lot to offer. The upper drains quickly and the spike plate provides a good foundation for toe-off.” – Daniel

Matt Running Shoes , ,

Saucony ProGrid Xodus 3.0 Our Take

February 13th, 2012

Saucony ProGrid Xodus 3.0 Men's Running Shoe

Our Tweet

Run on trails that eat up your feet? The Xodus 3.0 has you covered – literally – with a protective platform and sturdy overlays.
(View Men’s Xodus 3.0 and Women’s Xodus 3.0)

Big Updates

  • Lower Drop: The heel of the Xodus 3.0 drops 3mm while the forefoot rises 5mm. The result is a flatter shoe with a drop of only 4mm.
  • Lighter but Not Lightweight: The Men’s Xodus loses almost an ounce lighter and is now down to 11.3 oz. The Women’s model only loses a fraction of an ounce, and is now at 10.4 oz.
  • More Aggressive Traction: The Xodus 3.0 still has a durable Vibram outsole, but the lugs have been beefed up to improve grip on inclines, declines and loose terrain.
  • Closer Fit: The Xodus 3.0 wraps your foot closely, with a narrower heel and forefoot and a low toebox. The upper feels less “there” than the upper in the Xodus 2.0.

Trail Test

The Xodus 3.0 looks and feels nothing like its predecessor. That’s a positive thing in our eyes. While the Xodus 2.0 was a capable and durable trail shoe, it offered a fairly stiff ride that kept you at a distance from the trail.

With the Xodus 3.0, you’ll be back in touch in a big way. Responsive and smooth are words we heard repeatedly from shoe testers. The mid/outsole moves very well with your foot, and also left testers feeling confident and grounded. Credit the thick lugs that rim the shoe’s wider base for the grounded feel.

There have been a lot of striking shoe designs in recent years, but the Xodus 3.0 really stands out in our eyes as a shoe that advertises its ruggedness. In addition to adding to the look, the shoe’s overlays do a good job of locking down the midfoot.

The lower heel-to-toe drop is noticeable, especially for testers who regularly wear higher offset shoes. We think most runners will settle in with a gradual transition to the new offset. The Xodus 3.0 competes in a class of more traditional trail models including the Brooks Cascadia, Salomon Crossmax, and Adidas Response Trail, but it’s the only “traditional” model with such a low offset. Still, for the runner who wants protection on the trail, the Xodus 3.0 is about as good as it gets in 2012.

Runners Say

“This shoe gives me confidence on the trail. The splayed out lugs help me feel anchored to the ground, and the overlays on the upper really lock you in place.” – Joanna

“For me, this is a way better package than the Xodus 2.0. The transition is so much smoother, which ups the runability factor significantly.” – Matt

“Feels lighter than it is. I really appreciate the flexibility and grip. It’s nice to see Saucony putting thought into its complete line of trail shoes and giving trail runners a lot of options.” – Daniel

Matt Running Shoes ,

Adidas 2012 Boston Marathon Apparel Is Here

February 13th, 2012
Adidas 2012 Women's Boston Marathon Track Jacket

Adidas 2012 Women's Boston Marathon Track Jacket

This just in: the Adidas 2012 Boston Marathon apparel is now available on our website. We have a large selection of pieces, with a few more on the way near the beginning of March.

Men’s Apparel Available Now

Adidas Boston Marathon Apparel Logo

Adidas 2012 Boston Marathon Apparel Logo

Women’s Apparel Available Now

Arriving Early March

  • Official Jacket (Men’s and Women’s)
  • Short Tight (Women’s)
  • Long Sleeve (Women’s)

Matt Running Apparel , ,

Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Sneak Peek

February 10th, 2012
Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Women's Shoe

Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Women's Shoe

The Sequence series from Adidas updates to its fifth version this Fall. Nothing earth-shattering about the redesign of this moderate support, moderate feature shoe, but a fresh design and lots of little tweaks should help it appeal to a broader range of runners.

As with past shoes in the series, the Supernova Sequence 5 will be available in Men’s and Women’s models. It releases in July 2012 at a price of $115.00. The Men’s model will be available in the Tech Grey/Bright Gold color seen below along with a Bright Green/Silver version. The Women’s Sequence 5 launches in the Tech Grey/Hyper Green model shown above and in Bright Red/Tech Grey.

What to Watch For

  • Better Upper: Adidas changed the last of this shoe for an improved forefoot fit, redesigned the heel collar, and crafted the upper with a welded microsuede for a softer fit and better forefoot flex.
  • More Grip: A larger Continental rubber outsole delivers over 20% more traction in wet and dry conditions.
  • Lighter Weight: Adidas estimates a weight of 12.0 oz/10.2 oz (Men’s 9/Women’s 8). That’s just about a half ounce less than the current Men’s model and over three quarters of an ounce less than the current Women’s model.
  • Gender-Specific Design: Subtle changes to the outsole vary flex points for Men’s and Women’s models, and the PRO-MODERATOR pronation control system also receives tweaks based on gender.

Men’s Colors

Women’s Colors

Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Men's Shoe

Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Men's Shoe

Matt Running Shoes , ,

2012 Running Trend Predictions

February 10th, 2012

We got out our crystal ball, gave it a good spit shine, and came up with 10 running trends to watch in 2012. What do you think will be hot in the wide world of running this year?

Click on each trend to read all about it!

1. Olympic Fever

2. Minimalism…with a Twist

3. Streamlined Trail Shoes

4. Record Race Turnout

5. Bold Shoe and Apparel Colors

6. Crazy Races

7. Personal Coaching

8. High-Tech Apparel

9. Fitness Apps

10. Focus on Recovery

Matt Running Sport ,

Adidas Adizero XT 4 Sneak Peek

February 9th, 2012
Adidas Adizero XT Prime Men's Running Shoe

Adidas Adizero XT 4 Men's Running Shoe

The XT series from Adidas has always been about a stripped-down experience for performance-oriented trail runners. In this respect, the original XT that launched in 2009 was a bit visionary. As we mentioned in a recent blog on streamlined trail shoes, we expect 2012 to be the year when more elemental models really catch on.

The XT 4 is a bit of a fresh start in the XT series. The design is new from heel to toe. It definitely looks the part of a lean and mean trail race shoe, and at 10.2 oz should compete well with models like the Salomon S-Lab Fellcross, Saucony Peregrine 2, and Inov-8 Mudroc 290.

Given that the XT 4 carries the Adizero name, some of you may have thought that this shoe would slot into an even lighter and leaner class of trail shoes. But shoes such as the Asics Fuji Racer, New Balance MT110 / WT110, Brooks PureGrit, and Saucony Kinvara TR all come in well under 10 ounces and are even lower to the ground thanks to slimmer lugs. We’d love to see Adidas release an 8.0 oz trail shoe with stack heights under 20mm to compete in this class, which is the hot spot of the trail shoe market right now.

The XT 4 releases in July 2012, exclusively as a Men’s model. MSRP will be $100.00.

What to Watch For

  • Redesigned Last: The XT 4′s upper looks and feels more like that of a racing flat than a trail shoe. It’s close fitting from the heel through the midfoot, with a wider forefoot for a more stable transition during offroad running.
  • Low Drop: Like prior XT models, the XT 4 is designed with a 6mm offset. Combined with the redesigned last that gives more room in the forefoot, the shoe should be a comfortable match for midfoot strikers.
  • Seriously Luggy: The TRAXION outsole lugs are engineered for stable grip in the heel and secure push-off in the forefoot. The outsole is also designed to prevent mud from sticking in the lugs.

Colors

Adidas Adizero XT Prime Men's Shoe Outsole

Adidas Adizero XT 4 Men's Shoe Outsole

Matt Running Shoes , ,

Adidas Adizero Tempo 5 Sneak Peek

February 8th, 2012
Adidas Adizero Tempo 5 Men's Running Shoe

Adidas Adizero Tempo 5 Men's Running Shoe

The Tempo series goes on a diet for its fifth version, releasing in July 2012 at an MSRP of $110.00. Already a lightweight trainer, the Tempo 5 slims down about 1.5 ounces in both Men’s and Women’s models compared to its predecessor.

Expect a more streamlined shoe that now lives up to its name as a true tempo trainer. As you can see, the Tempo 5 shows off its speed with much brighter colors than prior generations.

What to Watch For

  • Lighter Weight: The Men’s Tempo 5 is estimated to weigh 9.0 oz (size 9). The Women’s model is set to come in at 7.6 oz (size 8).
  • Mid/Outsole Updates: Adidas removed the FORMOTION decoupled heel to reduce weight and added flexibility to the outsole in the forefoot.
  • Lower Heel: The Tempo 5 is spec’d out to drop 1.5mm in the heel compared to the Tempo 4. We’ll give you full stack height and heel-to-toe offset measurements when the first production models arrive in our warehouse.
  • Upper Updates: Sprint Web overlays are strategically placed on the microfiber suede upper to provide lightweight structure and durability.

Men’s Colors

Women’s Colors

Matt Running Shoes , ,

Asics Gel Lyte33 Sneak Peek

February 8th, 2012
Asics Gel Lyte33 Women's Running Shoes

Asics Gel Lyte33 Women's Running Shoes

Lightweight? Check. Flexible? Check. Streamlined upper? Check. A spiritual successor to the Gel Lyte series from the late 80s and early 90s, the Gel Lyte33 is the lightest shoe in the Asics33 collection and one of the company’s lightest shoes period.

While many of us here in the office and many of you out there in Runnerland have lamented the passing of the Sky Speed series, fans of the Sky Speed should give the Gel Lyte33 a hard look. It’s a lightweight trainer that comes in several ounces lighter than the Sky Speed, and we expect it to become a popular choice for speedwork and racing.

At its June 2012 launch, the Gel Lyte33 will be available in the three Men’s colors shown below, along with a Black/White model. Women’s colors on initial launch include the Yellow/Pink shown above and Black/White/Blue. MSRP on this model is $100.00.

What to Watch For

  • Uber Flexible: The picture says more than we can say in words. The Solyte mid/outsole is ready and willing to work with your foot.
  • Light Weight: Asics claims weights of 8.6 oz (Men’s 9) and 6.8 oz (Women’s 8). We measured three Men’s samples and they averaged 8.0 oz. Still, the shoe’s not quite as featherweight as the Brooks PureConnect or Saucony Kinvara, which are both close to an ounce lighter.
  • Lower Offset: According to Asics, this shoe was built on a platform with a 6mm heel-to-toe drop in order to reduce weight, not to encourage a midfoot strike. Still, the lower offset is welcome news for runners who are fans of the Saucony Kinvara, Brooks PureProject shoes and other elemental shoe models.
  • F.A.S.T. Technology: This too-cute-by-half acronym stands for Featherweight Asics Speed Technology. The Gel Lyte33 combines several technologies including the removal of the heel counter and the aforementioned lower offset.

Men’s Colors

Women’s Colors

Asics Gel Lyte33 Men's Running Shoes

Asics Gel Lyte33 Men's Running Shoes

Matt Running Shoes ,

Salomon S-Lab Sense Sneak Peek

February 7th, 2012
Salomon S-Lab Sense Men's Trail Running Shoe

Salomon S-Lab Sense Men's Trail Running Shoe

If you don’t know the name Kilian Jornet, chances are good that this shoe’s not quite right for you. For those of you who are familiar with Kilian’s achievements, you might have noticed the shoe you see above on his feet when he was first across the finish line at The North Face 100K in Australia. And the 2011 Western States 100. And the 9th UTMB. And the Table Mountain Challenge 2011. See a trend?

This is a very special shoe. We use the term “shoe” loosely – this model is more like a precision trail instrument for the ultra runner. It has been designed new from the ground up specifically for trail racers who need ultimate performance.

The S-Lab Sense will be produced in very limited quantities for its official release date of July 2012. Can’t wait that long? We’re expecting our shipment in early May. MSRP is $200.00.

What to Watch For

  • Amazing Upper: A close, comfortable fit was a priority when designing this shoe. The Sense’s EndoFit technology is an internal sleeve that wraps the foot, providing comfortable structure along with regulated breathability. You can run sockless with complete confidence in this model. Simply put, the Sense has one of the most comfortable fits of any running shoe on the market.
  • Rabid Weight Reduction: Salomon shaved weight wherever they could, paying particular attention to the midsole and outsole design. They even redesigned the toggle for the Quicklace system, just to cut a fraction of an ounce. The result? An estimated weight of just 6.5 oz (Men’s 9).
  • Innovative Rock Protection: Instead of a rock plate that would weigh the shoe down, Salomon engineered the Sense with a thin TPU mesh film in the middle of the midsole. This provides poke-through protection while maintaining a flexible forefoot (a design feature Salomon is calling “propriotection” – no, we don’t think that term will catch on).
  • Dynamic Traction: The outsole of the Sense looks pretty smooth for a trail shoe. But this is a case of looks being deceiving. The outsole is able to deform in order to provide grip specific to the type of terrain it encounters.
  • Low Offset: Even though the shoe is designed for forefoot strikers, it offers a 4mm heel-to-toe drop to provide some extra cushion and protection at the tail end of a long-haul race.
  • Low to the Ground: As designed, the midsole height is 9mm in the forefoot and 13mm in the heel. We’ll give you full stack height measurements when the shoe arrives in inventory, but expect those numbers to rise by 4 to 6mm if you’re comparing the shoe to other stack heights listed on our site.

Colors

Matt Running Shoes , ,