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Summer 2011 Shoe Gear Guide

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With shoes being the one essential piece of equipment that all runners need in order to ‘practice’ our sport, the Modern Athlete team considers a comprehensive shoe guide like this an absolute essential – especially since there are so many shoes out there to choose between, with so many design features and technologies. However, take note that the aim of this guide is not to catalogue every shoe on the market – we’d probably need another four (or more) pages to do that! – but it is to tell you what is new. In other words, we’ve reviewed only completely new models, or tech upgrades of previously available models. You will find a whole lot more shoes in stores, so make sure you check them all out before buying.


We could have written half a page on each of these shoes, listing every little piece of technology they contain, but many of these technologies are standard across all brands and models, so we’ve kept it simple and concentrated on important new technologies, designs or changes. The weights supplied, when available, are there for you to compare shoes within each category, while prices listed are only suggested prices from each of the shoe brands and may differ from one store to the next. Of course, the most important part is you actually going to the store and trying the shoes on, so read up on them, then strap them on and give them a try.


Coming soon: This guide focuses on conventional running shoes, but there is big move currently in the shoe industry towards minimalist / barefoot shoes, with many shoe brands having brought out or about to bring out extremely lightweight, low-profile shoes in this category, like the Vibram FiveFingers or Nike Frees, We’ll be reviewing these shoes in a separate Shoe Guide in the next few months.


NEUTRAL


Adidas Response Cushion 19
Lower-end stablemate to the Supernova (middle) and Adistar (top) ranges, the Response has long been a solid performer in the neutral category, and the 19th edition doesn’t disappoint. The biggest update is to the forefoot flexibility, where a flex bunion window has been added on the outer side of the upper, to accommodate all foot shapes more comfortably, while adidas has also tweaked the forefoot flex grooves to increase flex. The Formotion movable heel crashpad offers great shock dissipation on landing.
M: 334g / W: 310g; R999, available January 2011


Adidas Supernova Glide
The Glide is a continuation of the Supernova Cushion – not sure why adidas decided to change the name again after standardising things a few years back and making their ranges easier to understand – and this latest model is built on the same midsole and outersole as last year’s model. That means we normally wouldn’t include it here, but the change to the upper swung our vote. The split eyestay design – the bottom lacing eyelets are separate from the rest – allows for better flexibility and comfort of the forefoot area on top of the foot.
M: 320g / W: 290g; R1199, available January 2011


Adidas Adistar Ride 3
Natural successor to the Adistar Cushion range, the new Ride features a similar lacing design change to the Supernova Glide to improve forefoot flexibility and comfort. It also has a new full-forefoot of Adiprene + rubber for optimal propulsion at toe-off, and the Adiprene crashpad in the heel, coupled to the Formotion moving plate, has been increased in size for even better cushioning and shock-reduction. The outersole of the women’s version differs slightly to better suit a women’s foot. Overall, a smoother, more comfortable ride.
M: 350g / W: 320g; R1399, available January 2011


New Balance 1080
This shoe takes over from the 1064 (New Balance has totally revised its numbering system, with 80 representing neutral from now on), and offers a lower, racier profile, snugger fit and smoother ride. The forefoot flex grooves are not as deep and the midfoot has more rubber for more ground contact overall, while the forefoot has more blown rubber for a softer feel. The N-ergy Abzorb pillars in the outer heel have been beefed up, providing still more shock-absorption and cushioning for heel-strikers than that of the already impressive 1064.
M: 342g / W: 298g; R1199, available January 2011


Puma Complete Ventis 2
Puma’s top of the range neutral shoe, the Velocis 2, has only been given a new colourway for this summer period, so isn’t reviewed here, but the next-in-line Ventis 2 has arrived. It has more ventilated mesh in the upper now, especially in the forefoot, and the great arch support that the first model was known for, is now even better. The shoe also provides great cushioning, with duoCell and two idCell inserts in heel and forefoot, and it has been complimented by wear-testers for its comfortable and roomy forefoot.
M: 340g / W: 283g; R1299, available January 2011


Puma Complete Veris
Considered the lower-end shoe in Puma’s three-model neutral range, the new Veris offers a similar package to the Ventis 2, but the idCell cushioning insert in the heel does not extend into the midfoot area and the Archtech midfoot bridge is wider and a bit more rigid, so the ride is not quite as cushioned, and not quite as responsive. But don’t let that detract from what remains a good shoe, ideal for runners with a neutral foot looking for a hardy training shoe.
M: 351g / W: 294g; R1099, available January 2011


Reebok Premier Verona Supreme
This is a new shoe on the SA scene, and offers a fairly straight-forward package. The main cushioning features are the DMX Ride and DMX Shear inserts in the forefoot and heel respectively. The Shear system works on the principal of pillars of cushioning with gaps in between, where the force of landing can dissipate. The pillars are anchored to an extended plastic Transition Bridge through the arch, so the shoe offers good heel-to-toe support. And in the upper, the KineticFit panelling promotes flexibility in critical flex areas.
R999, available January 2011


Reebok Premier Premier Verona KFS 2
The women’s Verona is quite different to the men’s hence being included as a separate entity in this guide. It doesn’t have the DMX Shear cushioning and shock-reduction pillars in the outer heel, instead relying on a more conventional insert of DMX Ride foam rubber, and the plastic Transition Bridge in the arch is significantly more prominent, extending higher up into the inner side arch, which thus makes this shoe more stable than the men’s – ideal for women with meutral feet who still require a bit of inner side support.
R999, available 2011


Saucony ProGrid Jazz 14
Coming in 12 grams lighter than the previous model, the new Jazz has a larger SRC Impact Zone rubber section on the outer side of the heel for better shock-eduction and more blown rubber in the forefoot to give a softer ride overall. The softer forefoot is particularly noticeable. Saucony has also filled in the midfoot arch area of the midsole to give more ground contact for the foot and make the transition from heel to toe smoother.
M: 303g / W: 246g; R895, available February 2011


Saucony ProGrid Triumph 8
The Triumph has always been praised – and loved – for its superbly cushioned heel, and Saucony has improved it even more by adding more SRC shock-reduction rubber for extra cushioning and increasing the ‘play’ on the heel crashpad. In the forefoot, they’ve made the flex grooves deeper to increase forefoot flexibility and used more blown rubber to give a more cushioned toe-off. But best of all, they’ve shaved 30 grams off the weight in the process.The lighter a shoe gets, the more runners like it!
M: 337g, W: 300g / R1350, available February 2011



STABILITY


Adidas Supernova Sequence 3
Having taken over from the Supernova Control, the latest Sequence now introduces a more flexible forefoot upper thanks the split eyestay in the lacing (the bottom eyelets are separate from the rest). A bunion window has also been added on the outer side of the forefoot upper to increase comfort and fit, while the whole forefoot is plusher for a more cushioned feel. Most importantly, the men’s model now has a full forefoot made from Adiprene + to help with the propulsion at toe-off – the previous women’s version already introduced this.
M: 356g / W: 302g; R1199, available January 2011


Adidas Adistar Salvation 2
Taking over from the Adistar Control, the Salvation offers a stable ride for mild to moderate overpronators and is top of the adidas stability category, with a sizable antipronation Pro-Moderator post on the inner side of the midsole and extended Torsion system through the arch that provide the stability. What’s new is a section of Ortholite foam rubber in the forefoot of the sockliner, which further enhances forefoot stability onc the foot has rolled past the post, and the Active Formotion section of material in the outer side upper improves the shoe’s fit and comfort.
M: 340g / W: 305g; R1399, available January 2011


Asics Gel-1160
The big change in the 1160 is the new full-length SpEVA lasting. What this means is that Asics has added a section of softer cushioning foam rubber in the footbed, under the sockliner, to make the ride softer and more comfortable. This is on top of the Gel insert in the heel that already adds more cushioning to the ride. Otherwise the shoe is pretty much the same, offering good support and cushioning for mild over-pronators. The midfoot still features a sizable anti-pronation Duomax post and Stability Trusstic plastic bridging shank to give the necessary anti-pronation support.
M: 308g; R999, available December 2011


Asics GT-2160
While very similar to the previous 2150 and coming in at the same weight, the 2160 has a new full-length guidance groove to guide the foot better from heel to toe transition, and a much plusher (thicker) collar to provide a softer, more comfortable fit around the ankle while reducing possible slippage. More importantly, Asics has tweaked the SoLyte midsole rubber to make the overall ride softer and more cushioned, but at the same time give a bit more stability in the heel, so the ride is softer without being mushy.
M: 334g; R1250, available December 2011


Asics Gel-Kayano 17
The latest Kayano features similar tweaks to the new 2160: a new full-length guidance line in the outersole and midsole, more cushioned collar, and tweaked SoLyte midsole materials for a more stable heel, but also now has a full-length two-density cushioning insert in the footbed, under the sockliner. The women’s version has been more substantially tweaked, with a 3mm higher heel counter to protect the Achilles, and gender-specific midfoot Space Trusstic bridging arch, softer forefoot cushioning insert, and a softer top on the Duomax antipronation post, all designed to accommodate a changed foot shape caused by hormonal changes.
M: 351g; R1600, available December 2011


Nike Luna Eclipse +
One of four new models in Nike’s Lunar range of Dynamic support shoes, the Eclipse offers mild anti-pronation support, not through a conventional post in the midfoot, made from a harder rubber compound, but instead through an angled wedge of softer rubber embedded in the midsole. It is thicker on the outer side, thus offering all runners a great cushioned landing on the outer heel, but by being thinner on the inner side, an over-pronating foot will have more stable support from the slightly harder Lunarlite midsole. The Eclipse is the heaviest and most cushioned of the four models.
M: 345g; R1300, available December 2010


New Balance 860
Replacing the 760 in the revised New Balance numbering system (60 denotes a shoe in the stability category for mild to moderate over-pronators), the big change is that New Balance has dropped the two-density TS2 anti-pronation post in favour of a single density post – no more three different densities as you transition from heel to toe. Other changes include beefed up N-enery Abzorb pillars in the outer heel for better shock-absorption on landing, shallower flex grooves and more midfoot rubber for more road contact, and more forefoot blown rubber for a springier toe-off.
M: 334g / W: 283g; R999, available January 2011


New Balance 870
This is new shoe falls in to the mild over-pronation category, providing less anti-pronation support than the 860, but in a sleeker, lighter shoe that feels racier. The N-ergy shock-absoprtion pillars in the outer heel are smaller and further forward than the 860, so it won’t provide as much cushioning for heel strikers, but then this model is better suited to going a bit faster, which naturally promotes midfoot or forefoot striking. As with most latest New Balance releases, there is more rubber in the midsole to give more road contact and responsiveness.
M: 300g / W: 244g; R999, available January 2011


Puma Complete Itana
This is a new shoe in Puma’s range, aimed at mild overpronators, while the Vectana and Spectana (already in stores) are the next shoes up in the range, catering for moderate to more severe overpronators. The Itana has a sizable antipronation M2D post running two-thirds of its length, but just as noticeable are its lightweight feel (the midsole material is mostly KMS Lite blown rubber) and sleek look, despite a roomy forefoot. Extra cushioning is provided by the DuoCell (heel) and idCell (rear footbed and forefoot) inserts in the midsole.
M: 345g; R1099, available January 2011


Reebok Premier Road Supreme 2
The main feature of this mild anti-pronation shoe is its Stability Span post – the slightly darker grey section of rubber in the midsole, which slows the inward roll of the foot as you transition to toe-off. It is connected to the plastic Transition Bridge in the arch, which further stabilises the foot. Extra cushioning is supplied by the pillar-design DMX Shear cushioning insert in the heel, while an insert of DMX Ride + rubber in the forefoot increases springiness and propulsion at toe-off.
R1099, available January 2011


Saucony ProGrid Guide 4
Saucony say that this model is growing in popularity. It remains the stability half-brother of the Ride model, although here in SA the Ride 3 is still in stores. The new Guide is 12 grams lighter and has more blown rubber in the forefoot for a plusher feel on toe-off, and the upper features less overlays and more open mesh to improve breathability. Saucony has also given the shoe a faster, more aggressive design – what they call a more masculine silhouette – but the shoe retains its great cushioning and stable support.
M: 329g / W: 286g; R1195, available March 2011


Saucony ProGrid Phoenix 5
The Phoenix is essentially the stability version of the neutral Jazz, and thus it has been given a similar upgrade – larger SRC Impact Zone in the heel area and more softer blown rubber in the forefoot, both to increase the cushioning and shock-reduction of the shoe, plus a filled-in midsole in the arch area for a smoother heel-to-toe transition. The upper also features more welded overlays, which increases the upper’s support. The shoe is 12 grams lighter, but actually offers a more stable ride than its previous model.
M: 306g / W: 249g; R995, available March 2011



MOTION CONTROL


Asics Gel-Evolution 6
The Evolution is now in its sixth generation and remains one of the best MC shoes on the market. The forefoot vertical guidance flex line has been added to guide the foot through heel-to-toe transition, and a bunion window (softer material without overlay welding) has been added on the inner side of the upper to increase comfort in this flex zone at the widest part of the foot. The key anti-pronation feature remains the substantial Duomax post, the grey section of denser rubber compound in the midsole, which effectively slows the inward roll of the foot.
M: 387g; R1300, available January 2011



LIGHTWEIGHT


Asics Gel-DS Trainer 16
Still seen as a flagbearer in the lightweight category after all these years, the latest version introduces an interesting floating heel counter and clutch system. Instead of a solid cup around the ankle and built into a one-piece upper, you now have a cut-away cup with winglets around the sides, which is contained in a separate material section inside of the main upper and attached to the lacing system. This allows the upper to stretch to fit your foot in the forefoot while still providing a snugger fit and reducing slippage in the ankle.
M: 280g; R1100, available December 2010


Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 6
The Noosa is essentially similar to the DS-Trainer in terms of midsole materials, cushioning inserts (including full-length footbed cushioning) and anti-pronation posting, but its upper is, well, from another planet. Aimed specifically at the triathlon market, the design is eye-catching, to say the least, but take note that it isn’t just all cosmetics. The open-weave mesh of the upper, which has been made even more breathable in this new version, provides the super-ventilation that triathletes love. The big difference, besides cosmetics, is that the Noosa doesn’t have the floating heel counter of the new DS-Trainer.
M: 250g; R1050,  available January 2011


Reebok Premier Zigfly
Quite an interesting concept here! The wavy zig-zag-shaped sole is designed to work like a slinky spring toy, passing energy through itself to propel it forward. In other words, the force created when you land on the heel is then transferred through the waves to the forefoot, where it helps propel your foot off the ground again. Reebok claims that this will reduce wear and tear on key leg muscles by up to 20%. A full-length cushioned footbed adds further comfort and cushioning.
R999, available 2011


Saucony Kinvara
Already having won several awards around the world and flying out of local stores, this shoe is a true neutral lightweight trainer at just 218 grams. It offers ample cushioning – as much as Saucony’s top of the range neutral Triumph model – despite the lower profile heel being dropped by 4mm compared to Saucony’s conventional models. This gives the shoe a sleeker, racier look and feel, and this is further enhanced by the super-breathable upper, which has a padded heel area instead of more conventional rigid heel counter.
M: 218g / W: 190g; R1095, available December 2010


Saucony ProGrid Mirage
This new model is a lightweight training shoe for slight overpronators, offering the same slightly lower heel profile as its stablemate Kinvara , 4mm lower than most other Saucony models, which promotes midfoot striking. However, it differs by featuring a supportive TPU plastic arc in the midfoot arch area that slows the rate of pronation – it’s not a conventional anti-pronation post, but does the job well. The Mirage also offers more supportive welds in the upper than the Kinvara.
M: 252g / W: 224g; R1095, available February 2011



RACING FLAT


Adidas Adizero Adios
This new racer is the development from the adizero CS and LT models, combining the CS heel and LT forefoot following input from world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie, who now runs in the Adios. That’s why this special edition is finished in Ethiopian flag colours and decorated with some of Haile’s 27 world record times, including his 2:03:59 marathon record. The Adios provides a high rebound forefoot thanks to a full forefoot adiprene + insert and extended torsion midfoot bridge, designed to save you energy early in a race and give you extra protection when you tire.
Unisex: 210g; R1199, available January 2011


Puma Complete SLX Fuujin
This new model will replace the popular Road Racer that Puma were bringing into the country. Why? Because the Fuujin is even lighter! As with all good racing flats, this shoe has few bells and whistles. A low-profile, super-lite midsole of KMS-Lite blown rubber only features one extra cushioning insert, a idCell heel crashpad on the outer side, and a small but effective Archtec midfoot bridge to help with heel-to-toe transition. The upper is equally sparse, with minimal use of welded overlays. Depending on your biomechanics and weight, you could race this shoe from 5km to the marathon.
Unisex: 197g; R999, available January 2011



TRAIL


Adidas Kanadia TR3
This shoe falls into the new Perfect Essentials range, meant to be more accessible and affordable for entry-level runners, but don’t think that makes it ‘cheap and nasty.’ The outsole has a mud-release surface in between the tightly packed lugs, for improved grip and smoother ride with enough ground contact to make this shoe usable on the road as well. The EVA midsole features an insert of Adiprene rubber in the outer heel for extra cushioning on landing, and the toe area is well protected with a toe cap.
M: 335g; R799, available January 2011


Adidas Supernova Riot 3
Adidas has enhanced the durability of the upper and made it more flexible around the bottom lacing eyelets, much like many of their latest road shoes, but the most important change is in the outsole, where Continental rubber has been used to give better traction – testing shows the shoe to have 34% better grip in wet conditions and 39% on inclines. A full-width Formotion crashpad does a great job of reducing shock on landing, while mild to moderate overpronators will benefit from the Pro-moderator anti-pronation post.
M: 400g; R1199, available January 2011


Adidas Adistar Raven
Top of the adidas trail range, the Raven has a dual-compound outsole, combining sticky rubber (light grey) and adiwear (black) for a perfect blend of grip and durability. The outersole lugs and glossy-painted midsole sides are designed to release mud, but the main feature of the shoe is the Formotion360 crashpad, which is bonded directly to the heel counter and then extends into the forefoot, which enables the foot to be lower to the ground for better ground adaptability, but with the same level of cushioning and protection.
M: 340g / W: 305g; R1399, available January 2011


Adidas Adizero XT
There’s only one word for this shoe: Aggressive! Besides its light weight and low-profile racy look and feel – its built on the adizero last, which is also used for the adidas racing flats – it also has angled outersole lugs along the outer edges, to give really great grip on loose surfaces. Adidas has also trimmed the midfoot to speed up the transition between landing and toe-off. The shoe’s other claim to fame is that it uses substantially less rubber thanks to several construction changes, including less sepreate sections and colours, plus reusing off-cuts.
M: 290g / W: 245g; R1199, available January 2011


Columbia Ravenous
The most notable feature of the Ravenous is its external plastic heel counter, what Columbia calls its Heel Capture System. Instead of an internal shaped board heel cup, they’ve turned the heel inside out, and the result is a smoother, firmer fit around the heel. Together with the cushioning Techlite rubber midsole that includes a softer crashpad, this all helps to eliminate heel motion and provides a well cushioned ride and comfortable fit. Also available in a stability version that features an anti-pronation post on the inner side of the midsole.
M: 322g; R899/999, available February 2011


Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity
There are two notable features in this eye-catching new shoe: it has a S.U.Z.E. (Seamless Upper Zone Engineering) one-piece upper, designed to reduce hot spots and blisters and offer ultimate support in a weight-saving, breathable upper. The second is the combination of Hi-Tec’s 3D counterbalance midsole, with three different densities of rubber used to slow the rate of pronation in the heel, provide comfortable cushioning throughout, and aid propulsion in the toe-off phase. A plastic arch bridge provides further heel-to-toe support.
M: 300g; R1099, available February 2011


Merrel NTR Seismic
The midsole on this model is now 10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more ground contact and control, but it’s still thick enough to house an air cushion in the heel for extra cushioning and a shock absorption pad in the forefoot. A smallish plastic arch bridge provides transitional support between heel and forefoot then extends into the forefoot to form a rock-stop plate to protect the foot on rough surfaces, and the outsole is made from Merrell’s sticky rubber, called TrailBlast Sole. Available in three colour options.
M: 325g; R1100, available December 2010


Montrail Rockridge/Badrock
Even though the Rockridge has been available in stores for much of 2010, we’ve included it here so that we can tell you about its half-sister shoe, the Badrock, which is built on the same midsole, but includes an anti-pronation post made from four different densities of rubber, starting with the firmest at the back and gradually softening as you move forward, providing a really comfortable ride for mild to moderate over-ponators. Two other features are the roomy toe-box and snug-fitting ankle, both of which are noticeable as soon as you out the shoes on.
M: 325g / W: 260g; R950/1095, available December 2010


New Balance 915
The 915 is the first shoe to launch in a revamped New Balance performance trail line of simpler, more streamlined shoes. To this end, it has fewer overlays in the upper and a simplified midsole/outsole design, with a reconfigured RockStop plate providing a more flexible outsole, but which protects the foot well from rocks or sharp objects. Abzorb cushioning in the heel and forefoot ensure a more comfortable ride, while Stabilicore cup components cradle the heel, support both sides of the foot, and allow for a smooth heel-to-toe transition.
M: 316g / W: 269g; R1199, available January 2011


Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral 1
This is Salomon’s first hybrid trail/road shoe, and furthermore, it’s the first neutral shoe ever produced by the trail shoe specialist – although there is also a stability version, called the Crossmax Guidance 1. The outersole lugs are therefore closer together to give a more stable and cushioned ride on harder road surfaces. A central feature is the full-length OS Tendon torsional strip that wraps the back of the heel in the midsole and runs all the way to the toe, to provide the foot with both support in transition as well as propulsion at toe-off.
M: 280g; R1399, available January 2011


INOV-8 F-Lite 230
At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a conventional low-profile racing flat for the road instead of a trail shoe, but look closer and you’ll see that the outersole lugging is ‘rougher’ for gripping loose surfaces, making it ideal for racing cross-country or on hard-packed smoother trails. Not recommended for rough or rocky trails, obviously – a racing flat cannot provide enough protection for the feet. Another feature of the midsole is the Fascia Band, a transitional bridge of rubber through the arch that is designed to aid propulsion at toe-off.
Unisex: 230g; R995, available March 2011


INOV-8 X-Talon 212
Similar to the F-Lite 230, this shoe is also a lightweight low-profile off-road racing shoe, but offers a much more aggressively lugged outersole and more rugged upper (including a robust protective toe-cap), so it will handle rougher terrain while offering more cushioning and foot protection as well. We still recommend it for cross-country and shorter trail races on less challenging trails, though. Like its stablemate, it has a super flexible midsole, both in the arch and forefoot, and the Fascia Band running through the arch smoothly links the heel and forefoot while aiding toe-off propulsion.
212g; R1250, available March 2011

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