Inov8 Bare-Grip 200
Now available at Running Warehouse
Inov8 was making minimalist trail shoes before it was hip to be minimal. A UK company, Inov8 (pronounced: innovate) was founded on the principle of providing trail shoes that would be engineered to work in extreme conditions. Unhappy with the unstable, high-off-the-ground trail shoes that were available in the market, Inov8 set out to provide trail shoes that were close to the ground and thus inherently stable. Furthermore, trail shoes needed to be able to provide excellent traction and shed mud. Think about the damp landscape of Great Britain seen in the movie Braveheart, and you get a good idea of the conditions that Inov8 sought to conquer with its first trail shoe.
The first shoe produced by Inov8, was the Mudroc 290. This award wining shoe is known as the original Fell Racer. Fell racing involves racing from here to there, without a course, and undoubtedly over some hills (fell is a word used to describe a hilly landscape in parts of England). As such, Inov8 trail shoes were originally designed to provide supreme traction on steep climbs and descents, while also being able to shed mud. Inov8 now has a full spectrum of trail shoes designed to tackle a variety of terrain, ranging from hard packed ground, to loose covered trail and soft, mushy fields.
adidas adizero Pro Ekiden Shoes
Adidas has garnered a great following with their adizero line of shoes. Light in weight and built following a philosophy of including only what is essential, the adizero shoes fit perfectly in the current trend of less is more. The line has had great success over the past several years, so this September adidas is introducing a special edition Ekiden series of adizero shoes that will be available at Running Warehouse.
An Ekiden is a long distance relay race popular in Japan. The adizero Ekiden series draws inspiration from Japanese culture and the result is a unique look that, in this writer’s opinion, is fantastic. The only difference between the adizero Ekiden shoes and the normal adizero shoes is the cosmetic appearance of the upper.
Covering a spectrum of neutral shoes, the Ekiden series will include versions of the adizero Pro (the high performance racer is back), adizero Adios (the marathon shoe of choice for Haile Gebrselassie), adizero Rocket (versatile flat) and adizero Boston (lightweight trainer). So if you want to stand out this Fall be sure to pick up a pair. View all the shoes after the jump. Read more…
Asics Fall 2010 Neutral Shoes
In the realm of running products, it is common to hear a company’s sales representative describe a good, better, best story. The idea is that good suits the needs of the everyday runner, better adds a bit of a technological advantage for improved performance and best is hands down superior to anything else within a product line. With apparel, this is often easy to observe. The best top dries faster (stays drier longer) than the better top, which exceeds the good top. With shoes, it’s little harder to observe the difference. A technologically superior shoe does not necessarily translate to a better feeling shoe or a faster shoe, but the goal generally is for better technology to translate into an improved experience for the runner. So how do things shake out with the Asics Pulse 2 (“good”), Cumulus 12 (“better”) and Nimbus 12(“best”)?
[Take me to the Men's Nimbus 12, Cumulus 12, Pulse 2 or Women's Nimbus 12, Cumulus 12 or Pulse 2.]
What makes each shoe unique?
Taking advantage of trickle down technology, the Nimbus 12 incorporates the Guidance Line design that was first introduced in October 2009 with the Kinsei 3. Guidance Line is a groove that extends from heel to forefoot, which aids in the repeatability of each foot-strike along an efficient path throughout the gait cycle. At the time of this review, Guidance Line only exists in the Kinsei 3 and Kayano 16 and now the Nimbus 12.
Long known as an outdoor sportswear apparel company, Columbia began as a hat manufacturer in 1938. It wasn’t until 1960 that Columbia Hat Company became Columbia Sportswear. Then, back in 1993, Columbia begins producing outdoor footwear. Now in 2010, Columbia makes strides in the trail running category. This evidenced by the Trail Runner magazine’s designation of the Columbia Ravenous in men’s and women’s styles as an Editor’s Choice Best Debut award winner.
Columbia Ravenous for Men
Salomon has three new trail running shoes for Spring 2010. Two shoes are updates, the XT Wings 2 and the XT Hawk 2, and the XA Pro 5 is a new introduction. Before we get into the specifics, let’s have a brief review of Salomon trail running footwear. Salomon designs trail running shoes to provide rugged trail performance over a vast variety of terrain. All Salomon shoes incorporate a Sensift upper design for a secure midfoot fit. This design keep your foot well grounded in the shoe and reduces slippage so that the foot and the shoe move as one entity. Another unilateral feature is the Quicklace sytem, which allows for easy-on, easy-off entry and egress of of the shoe. The Quicklace system is also easily stowed under a stretch mesh situated at the top of the tongue. This handy feature prevents the laces from getting caught on wayward branches or other trail debris. Each Salomon shoe uses a specific outsole and midosle combination to meet specific needs and well touch on these specifics as we discuss the new shoes below.
Salomon XT Wings 2 for Men
Award winning shoe gets a new midsole material.
When the XT Wings debuted in January 2008, Runner’s World designated the shoe as a Best Debut and for good reason. The XT Wings delivered a superb, snug fit for great control on the trail. Yet as good as this shoes was on the trail, it provided superb comfort for road running. The versatility of the XT Wings is no accident. From the outset, the XT Wings was designed to address the needs of runners who love the trails but live in environments where roads are unavoidable. Instead of having to drive to the trail, Salomon felt you should be able to run to the trail and keep going with just one shoe. Hence, the XT Wings was born.
Built on the concept of a human body analogy, the XT Wings consisted of skeleton, muscle and tendon components. The skeleton is Salomon’s Agile Chasis System (ACS). Structural integrity and stability are afforded by the ACS. Just as muscles contract to initiate or resist movement, the AC midsole flexes to absorb impact. To aid in energy return, the AC Tendon outsole elongates and snaps back to its original shape. The resulting combination of all three components is an enjoyable ride quality that is adaptive to varied terrain.
With the XT Wings 2, little has changed. The upper lines have not changed, so the XT Wings 2 provides the same great fit as its predecessor. A slight modification the to mud guard that reduced weight and increased flexibility without sacrificing protection is the only significant upper change. AC2 replaces the original AC midsole. AC2 provides greater resiliency relative to weight. Thus the XT Wings 2 weighs 0.3 ounces less than the original, but has greater cushioning durability. No changes were made to the outsole.
Nike Structure Triax+ 14 Men's Running Shoes
Coming out December 2010, the Nike Structure Triax 14+ continues along the path of its predecessors. Using the same tooling as the Structure Triax+ 13, which means the midsole has not changed (still uses Zoom Air for added cushioning), the latest version makes minor tweaks to the upper. Since the ride quality of the 13 is well liked, maintaining the midsole/outsole configuration on the new version is a good thing. This continuity allows past users a greater chance for success with the update.
In October, for the last several years, Nike has been producing winterized versions of two of their best selling running shoes: the Nike Air Pegasus and Nike Zoom Structure Triax. What Nike does is they take the normal road versions, add a GoreTex membrane (waterproof/breathable) with minor tweaks to the upper and poof, you get shoes ready to take on the wet and cold of winter. The only drawback in the past has been a slight change in fit, which was the result of a stiffer upper that changed the toe-box shape compared to the supple mesh used in the regular versions. For October 2010 that all changes. Thanks to a new toe-lasting process and material improvements, the Nike Air Pegasus+ 27 GTX and Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 13 GTX are intended to provide the same fit of the mesh versions. We will have to wait and see if this holds true once the production versions arrive, but the samples looked good.
Men's Zoot Energy 2.0 and Advantage 2.0
To be a serious player in the running shoe market it is essential to have a good selling neutral shoe and support shoe at or around $100 MSRP. In 2009, Zoot attempted to accomplish this with the introduction of the Energy (neutral) and Advantage (support) at $110 MSRP. While the shoes were decent performers, they had no wow factor. They were often see as a more affordable alternative to the go-fast TT and Tempo. Well, that has now changed.
Click here for the Men’s Energy 2.0 or Advantage 2.0
Click here for the Women’s Energy 2.0 or Advantage 2.0
Noticeable improvements without a price increase.
From the initial step-in, the improvements made to the Energy 2.0 and Advantage 2.0 are apparent. Caressing the foot in a glove-like manner the two shoes just ooze refinement. The feel underfoot is has been greatly enhanced. Although the midsole materials have not changed, the distribution of the shock absorbing Z-Bound material has been separated into two distinct zones. A resdesigned outsole is a bit thicker and aids in providing better cushioning. The result of these changes is a ride quality that is much more lively than last year’s shoes. Reminds us a bit of the Brooks Launch, which has been selling in huge numbers.
Why all this talk of the two shoes together?
The Energy 2.0 and Advatnage 2.0 share the same tooling (chasis) and have nearly identical uppers. Some may be wondering if it makes sense to build a neutral shoe and support shoe from the same mold. Well this is not new. The first Asics Landreth was a neutral version of the popular Asics GT-2000 series. The Brooks Defyance is a neutral version of the preceding year’s Brooks Adrenline GTS and until recently the Saucony Ride and Guide shared the same tooling. Although the level of success of these different models has varied, runners have certainly found a favorite in a shoe that may otherwise not have existed.
For several years now, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS has been a category leader in the maximum support category. Shoes in this category offer support just beyond moderate over-pronation but not so much that they become motion control shoes. This niche is filled by other shoes like the Mizuno Alchemy and Saucony Omni (Ultimate now 8), but the Adrenaline has been the sales leader and is one of the most popular shoes in the industry. Thus any update to this shoe is always critical.
1. The heel design has greater decoupling and a beveled angle to slow the rate and degree of pronation while also providing a smoother ground impact and transition.
2. The medial TPU support has been removed, as it is no longer needed as a result of the heel redesign.
3. Asymmetrical midfoot wrap has been added to provide a better fit.
4. Profile Sockliner replaces standard sockliner for greater cushioning and enhanced arch contour.
Does this version run better than last years?
No longer just about good pronation control and a reliable fit, The Adrenaline GTS provides a noticeably smoother ride compared to past models. Our wear testers were all in agreement that the ride of the shoe was fairly smooth and, in comparison, the ride of the Adrenaline GTS 9 was a bit abrupt. Jonathan and Phil felt the shoe was a bit softer than average, whereas Bonnie noted the shoe was a bit firmer than average. All wear testers assessed the energy return as good but felt there was a slight delay in the energy return. Another consistent evaluation was the flexibility of the shoe was a tad toward the stiffer side. Read more…
K-Swiss gets serious and enters the racing category.
New for Spring 2010 is the K-Swiss K-Ruuz racing shoe. With it’s three color upper, a top down view of the K-Ruuz looks strikingly like a bowling shoe. After trying it on, I noticed it fits a bit like a bowling shoe. You know, like the one’s you rent. It’s very roomy in the forefoot and runs a little big (better size down). The K-Ruuz even feels a little like a bowling shoe in as much as it’s very light and close to the ground. But when it comes to performance the parallels end.
It better be light and flexible with a good road feel.
It is. At 7.1 ounces (size 9) the K-Ruuz is an average weight racing shoe. With a 19mm-9mm heel-to-toe ratio the shoe offers a good road feel and smooth ride. A multi-piece outsole is quite flexible and delivers great traction. The roomy upper is super breathable, light and provides a great option for runners with wider feet. Rounding out the shoe construction are drainage ports in the sole, which allow excess fluid to drain out and keeps the weight down.
How does the K-Ruuz compare to the competition?
As a support racer, the K-Ruuz is most comparable to the adidas adiZero Mana and Mizuno Musha 2. It’s lighter than both the adiZero Mana and Musha 2 and sits closer to the ground than the adiZero Mana. However, the low weight comes as a result of less pronation control. Granted, the Mana doesn’t offer all that much more control, but the Musha 2 does a respectable job for bio-mechanically challenged runners. Thus, the K-Ruuz is best suited for mild over-pronators or neutral runners competing in 5k and 10K distances and has the range to carry faster runners over longer distances.
K-Swiss enters the racing shoe market with a very mild support shoe, that has a roomy fit and weighs a touch less than it’s competitors.
Click here for the Women’s K-Swiss K-Ruuz