Salomon have built up an enviable reputation in the trail running world for their robust and reliable off-road shoes, which provide great cushioning and even better support and grip out on the trails. One of their latest models is the Salomon Sense Ride, which has been referred to in some circles as a “quiver killer,” and I can see why – BY SEAN FALCONER
In archery terms, the quiver holds an archer’s supply of arrows, his ammunition, and ideally he will have different arrows for different shots. Similarly, a runner has various shoes in his or her arsenal, for different running surfaces (rocky, sandy, compact, loose), conditions (weather, heat, wetness), or racing plans (long and slower versus racing flat out). A ‘quiver killer’ is designed to cover all these needs in a one-shoe-fits-all way, but no surprise that it is rare for a single shoe to be able to meet all runners’ needs. There are just too many variables in trail running… but the Sense Ride still comes damned close to covering all the bases.
Soon as I took my new pair of Sense Rides out of the box, I was in love with the bright red and orange colours – personal preference, I know – and couldn’t wait to put them through their paces. And my feet started happy, because the Sense Ride provides what feels to me a slightly roomier forefoot and toe box than other Salomon models I have tested. I have the good old one slightly wider foot issue, hence I usually wear an 8.5 UK sizing for that wee bit extra width, but I still find some shoes too tight on the left foot. Not here, because these felt great from the outset.
I also really like the stretchy Endofit bands running from the tongue to the footbed. The tight ‘neck fit’ does force you to ‘work’ your feet into the shoes, but along with the Sensifit bands in the upper design (those prominent orange triangles you see on the outer sides), these ensure a snug fit once your feet are in, which in turn is enhanced by the iconic Salomon Quicklace system – just pull it, tuck it in and go, no need for tying bows.
On the run, I found the shoe to be cushy, comfortable and smooth-riding, as the Vibe Technology combination of EnergyCell+ (high rebounding midsole compound) and Opal (cushioning, vibration-absorbing midsole compound) did its job, especially when I came pounding down a steep mountain side near my home in Stellenbosch. On that run I also appreciated having a Profeel Film rock plate in the forefoot for added protection, because I was landing on some uncomfortable stones and rock heads with impact. That said, I still found the forefoot gave me the flex that I enjoy, since I am a midfoot striker and thus like a flexible forefoot.
I did find the shoes a little on the stiff side for my taste at first, notably in the heel, given that I normally run in lightweight, low profile shoes – again, personal preference – but the more I ran in them, the more comfortable they became. Oh, and for those that focus on heel drop and stack height, the heel and forefoot measurements are 24mm and 16mm respectively, for an 8mm drop, which is pretty conventional these days.
Meanwhile, the bi-directional Contagrip outsole provided solid traction on the various surfaces I took the shoes on, soft or hard, sandy or rocky, wet or dry – and they were even comfy on the short tar section to get to my favourite trail head. This outsole is not quite as aggressively lugged as Salomon’s popular Speedcross model, but is still right up there with most top-end trail shoes. As for the upper, I found the breathable mesh did its job to keep my feet cool, and I didn’t mind the close fit of those Endofit bands around the middle of my feet on warmer days. Even if I had, I would still have said that I prefer a snug, secure ride to a wee bit more ventilation.
A REALLY GOOD BUY
The bottom line is that this is a shoe that most trail runners will find suitable for most of their runs. Yes, there are more technical shoes that some will prefer for the most technical trails, while others may look for a more minimalist design to get ‘closer’ to the trails, but the Sense Ride offers a great one-shoe-fits-all option, which is especially welcome in the current financial climate where buying more than one pair of shoes is tough. I thoroughly enjoyed running in them, and look forward to many more happy kays on the trails in them. Plus, I may have mentioned this already, but I really like the red and orange design!
Get them here: The Sense Ride is available in men’s and women’s versions at Cape Union Mart and other Salomon stockists at a recommended price point of R2499. (Prices may vary from stockist to stockist.)