Big changes are coming from Saucony. Over the last few seasons, Saucony has introduced new shoe models or updates with a 4mm heel-toe drop (see: Kinvara, Kinvara 2, Mirage, Type A4, Fastwitch 5). The thinking is a 4mm heel-to-toe offset puts the foot in a more natural position and better enables a midfoot strike compared to the traditional 12mm differential. By providing shoes with a 4mm offset, Saucony has sufficiently answered the call for “natural running” footwear. Taking the movement one step further, Saucony introduced the zero drop Hattori in May 2011. This thin, level shoe provides essentially no cushioning, but protects the skin of the foot to allow for running on man-made surfaces.
While the 4mm and 0mm selection of Saucony shoes has provided solutions for some, many runners still seek a traditional feel or want to move toward a more natural platform, but find a 4mm offset to be too drastic a change. The Saucony solution, as evidenced by several updates for Spring 2012, is to provide runners with shoes built on a platform with an 8mm heel-toe offset. This platform will work for heel-strikers, and at the same time it won’t interfere with a midfoot strike. Another debatable benefit is, as the midfoot-striking runner fatigues the foot-strike will move toward the heel, thus the platform will provide better function at the end of long runs.
Leading the way in the 8mm revolution is the Saucony Triumph 9, and the 8mm heel-toe drop is not the only change with this dramatic update. In addition to the 8mm platform differential, the Triumph 9 swaps out ProGrid cushioning in favor of PowerGrid with PowerFoam, which is being introduced in the new Saucony Cortana (July 2011). The advantages of the technology shift are reduced weight and a softer yet responsive feel. Furthermore, the Triumph 9 moves to an injected molded foam construction that further reduces weight and increase softness. While these changes may alienate some of the current Triumph loyalists, this is not the first time the Triumph has undergone radical changes. Saucony reinvented themselves with a very fresh and polarizing Triumph 4, that was lighter, softer and more colorful than previous models. The change resulted in a hugely popular shoe that changed the look of future Saucony shoes. Over the years, the Triumph has crept up in weight and firmness and thus has had hard time competing in the premium neutral-cushion category. With the Triumph 9, Saucony becomes relevant again.
The Saucony Triumph 9 has an MSRP of $130 and the weight specifications indicate 10.9 ounces for a men’s size 9 and 9.6 ounces for a women’s size 8, which is over an ounce lighter than the Triumph 8. However, and this has happened before with Saucony, the production weight will probably come in a tad lighter. The Triumph 9 has a projected release date of November 2011 and will be available online from Running Warehouse.