Saucony Kilkenny XC4 for Men
One of the nice bright spots for Saucony in the recent past has been the sales of their cross country racing flats and spikes, in particular the Saucony Kilkenny, which has been an industry sales leader the last two seasons. Cross Country racing shoes don’t sell in particularly large numbers, but they do tend to show up on the feet of young high school runners and if your goal is to reinvent your brand to appeal not only to the traditional middle-aged jogger, but to their youngster as well, you need to get into this arena and make yourself relevant. This was an important step in Saucony’s plan to reinvent themselves several seasons ago. Now a few short years later, they are one of the hippest brands in the industry.
The Kilkenny sells very well and has a solid following, but the shoe was getting stale. Since the Kilkenny has been so successful, any update has to deal with the challenge of not screwing up a good thing. The Kilkenny XC4 got it right. By leaving the midsole unchanged, the feel of the Kilkenny XC4 remains familiar. To freshen up the shoe, a lighter weight air mesh upper, similar to the Kinvara, has been used and synthetic suede overlays complete the new look. Both of changes should make the shoe more breathable and comfortable. The plate switches from a 6 pin configuration to a 4 pin design which should offer similar levels of traction but increase flexibility and comfort.
Overall a nice update. The new Kilkenny XC4 should attract new fans with its bold colors. The $55 MSRP flat is projected to come in for men at 6.4 oz (women 6.0 oz) while the $60 MSRP spike is at 6.7 oz (women 6.3 oz). Expect to see men’s and women’s versions at Running Warehouse in June 2011.
Saucony PowerGrid Cortana for Men
What happens when Saucony applies principles of minimalism to a shoe that ain’t so minimal? The world is about to find out this Summer with the introduction of the Saucony PowerGrid Cortana. Saucony clearly understands minimalism, when it is defined by the “less is more” concept and small heel-toe drops. The Saucony Kinvara is a perfect example of this philosophy. With its light weight, simple upper and 4mm heel-toe drop, the Kinvara was the right product at the right time. Sales have been terrific and the shoe has received rave reviews. Saucony has decided to strike while the iron is hot and fill in available market niches with other low heel-toe drop shoes as evidenced by the upcoming Mirage (4mm heel-toe drop), which is basically a slightly supportive Kinvara and the Hattori (zero drop), which gets you close to being barefoot.
The new Cortana applies the 4mm heel-toe drop and light weight concept from the Kinvara, to the high-end, max feature, all the bells and whistles category of trainers. It starts with a new midsole composition and features PowerGrid with PowerFoam, an injected molded, lighter and more responsive midsole than the SSL-EVA and ProGrid package that you’ll find in other Saucony models, such as the Triumph and Hurricane. The Cortana also differs from the the other Saucony 4mm drop shoes by providing an additional SRC cushioning unit in the landing area of the heel that ties this shoe in with the more traditional shoes in the Saucony line. Sauc-fit: replaces arch lock and improves midfoot and heel fit of the upper. The outsole/midsole features a fairly built up area beneath the medial arch that looks to add pronation control to the shoe. However, Saucony labels the Cortana as Supportive Cushioning, which means it is likely to be best suited for neutral runners or slight over-pronators. The jury is still out on this, but we think it will likely be better for mild to moderate over-pronators.
The PowerGrid Cortana has a predicted weight under 11 oz in a men’s size 9.0 and is scheduled to arrive at Running Warehouse in July 2011 with a full retail price of $135. Although not first to market, the Zoot Kane and Kalani are maximum featured shoes under 11. oz, the Cortana does add a new twist to the premium class of shoes by not only being light weight, but also having a low heel-toe drop. Will it be a success? Only time will tell, but if it feels anything like the Kinvara then Saucony is about to turn the industry on its ear.
Saucony Hattori Men's Shoe
For Fall 2011 Saucony looks to build on the success of their minimal lineup of shoes, lead by the Kinvara, with the introduction of the Hattori. The Hattori will be the most minimal shoe in the Saucony line and one that has its target squarely set on grabbing market share from various smaller shoe brands that have their own ideas on what constitutes a minimal shoe.
The new Hattori is a zero drop running shoe that sports a reported midsole height of 10 mm and weighs in at a reported 4.5 oz for a men’s size 9.0. The upper features ultralite mesh with synthetic exoskeleton lockdowns and soft suede overlays. A velcro closure replaces traditional laces and another velcro strap around the heel offers additional customized fit options. The midsole is made up of compression molded EVA that features XT-900 outsole compounds in key wear areas.
Being very light, extremely flexible and while 10mm may sound thick, the shoe is indeed quite thin, and is thus a viable option to runners seeking a more “barefoot” running experience. Additionally, the Hattori should prove a compelling offer to runners looking to transition from the 4mm heel-toe drop of the Kinvara, Mirage and new Cortana or as a different option for fans of minimalist shoes that are currently in the market. The release date for the Hattori has the shoes tentatively slated to be available at Running Warehouse on May 1, 2011. The new Hattori will have a list price of $80.
Saucony ProGrid Xodus 2.0 for Women
Trail running shoes are generally broken down into two primary areas of focus. The first are what can be referred to as true trail shoes, those model designed to work exclusively on soft surfaces. The second are cross-overs, basically road shoes that are given a more aggressive outsole and a brown upper treatment that results in a outdoorsy version of a popular road shoe.
Saucony Grid Type A4 for Men
Another great update from Saucony this summer is the new Grid Type A4. Man, this is a nice update. Saucony’s 6.4 oz neutral racing flat with a great mesh upper that has a fast look with a cool flame treatment in the heel while maintaining the Saucony DNA. Add a SSL EVA midsole and a XT-Lite Outsole (very similar to the Asics Duosole) for grip and durability and you have yourself a flat that should speak directly to those who would likely be seen sporting a “O2DEBT” personalized plate on their ride. This should be a great flat for those looking at a minimal neutral racer suitable for 5k – 10k distances.
Saucony Grid Type A4 for Women
Saucony ProGrid Kinvara for Men
One of the most anticipated new models due in this summer is the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara: a lightweight, minimal neutral trainer that features a one piece midsole/outsole with carbon triangle lugs for added durability that look like they were taken directly from the outsole of the original Jazz. A three-piece upper provides a good amount of support, is breathable and sports a cool graphic treatment. A small, lightweight ProGrid Lite cookie is placed in the heel for a touch of extra cushioning.
Over the past few seasons Saucony has quietly transformed themselves from the shoe company of your grandparents to the shoe company of their grandchildren largely through improved styling that holds ties to traditional styling cues while improving each new update with consistently fresh and modern cosmetics. Add to this a renewed focus on the types of shoes that younger runners tend to wear such as lightweight trainers, cross country flats and spikes and you have a recipe for growth within the younger generation while still maintaining contact with their more conservative customer base. The newest updates from Saucony for Spring 2010 should help keep the momentum built up the past few seasons rolling forward.
Saucony ProGrid Triumph 7 for Men
Saucony updates for Spring 2010 start with the new Saucony ProGrid Triumph 7. Saucony has always been known for producing shoes that have a soft, plush ride as well as having a snug fit in the arch area. The Triumph is Saucony’s premium neutral cushioning model that has traditionally highlighted these qualities. To this end Saucony has addressed several areas in this newest update that exemplify the soft ride and snug arch Saucony is known for. Saucony has increased the Super Rebound Compound (SRC) in the heel of the ProGrid Triumph 7 for improved cushioning on impact plus they have added more blown rubber in the outsole for a softer road feel. A less bulky Arch Lock improves the fit, while the addition of an eye stay within the Arch Lock improves lockdown of the midfoot. A newly added midfoot support bridge should help support the arch better. The fit and performance of the ProGrid Triumph 6 was pretty spot on, so Saucony took the approach of minimizing the “improvements” in search of a better end product, which was the correct path for this particular model. This new edition will likely please the current fan base of the Triumph series and continues to be an attractive model for runners looking at a new high end neutral trainer to consider switching to.