Sunday, January 19, 2014

Certified Fresh! Initial review of New Balance Fresh Foam 980.


The Fresh Foam 980 on display at the New Balance concept store, Singapore.

This is a brief review of New Balance's latest offering, the 'maximalist' Fresh Foam 980. It is NB's first foray into this 'new' TLD (Tall Low Drop) category, perhaps pioneered by shoes such as the Hokas and the Altras. Skechers Performance Division also got into the game, via their max-cushioned Go Run Ultra.

NB's 'maximalist' (FF 980) vs. its own 'minimalist' (Hi-Rez)

If shoe trend comes in waves, I guess the minimalist wave is transforming into the maximalist one, the latter somewhat defined as follows:
  • cushioning of 20 mm or more
  • heel-to-toe drop of 6 mm or less
  • weighing less than 360 grams (12.5 oz) for US size 9
  • adequate toebox room

So how does the FF 980 fare?

FIT

Early reviews of the Fresh Foams indicate they are narrow. As I have wide feet, my immediate reaction upon reading the articles on the 980 = "not happening!" 

When I visited a running specialty store which has the 980s, they only had the 980 in 2E (wide). Hmm.. "perhaps this is meant to be. Let's try it on."

The 980 in 2E fit my foot perfectly. Snug in the middle to forefoot, adequate toebox, and perfect length. 

The 980 with the Altra Torin

When I stood in the FF 980 for the first time, I was expecting "plush sofa" soft, but instead I felt an Altra Torin's firm-but-not-hard footbed. The slight difference was the New Balance felt just a tad more plush. Long story short, the 980 came home with me.

The 980 features a no-sew upper with welded overlays. Combined with the new Fresh Foam midsole, the overall package is beefy-yet-snug-and-light.

Very thick tongue, which fortunately didn't cause any discomfort in terms of fit and ride.

There is adequate toebox room, aided by the fact my pair is the 2E version. In other words, wide-footed runners may want to stay away from the regular D version.

This is 10.5 (US) in 2E width


RIDE and COMFORT

At 290 grams (10.2 oz, for size US 10,5) per shoe, the FF 980 is a LIGHT maximalist.


With a stack height (from RW's blog) of about 26/22 mm (heel/toe), the FF profile is similar to Skechers' Go Run Ultra (see photo immediately below this paragraph). This NB feels unique during the run, with the midsole a tad more plush than the Altra Torin, but not as soft as Skechers' Resalyte.


Unlike the Hokas, there is no rocker midsole to aid stride transition. With the shoe being neither flexible nor stiff, the ride will largely depend on the 'fresh foam' midsole.

The Fresh Foam side-by-side with the Hoka Bondi Speed.

After two test runs, I am happy to report the FF 980 is a responsive shoe, with slightly muted road feedback, and plenty-of-protection feel. 

Plush foam extends to the heel cup area.

**note** A few runners who've tried running in the FF are saying the ride to be hard towards harsh; a firmness which I didn't feel.  I believe the runner's weight comes into play here. As a heavy runner (I am 180 cm / 93 kg , or 6 ft/ 205 lbs), I find the ride to be adequately plush with a touch of (welcome) firmness. There is no 'bucket-seat' enveloped sensation a la the Hoka's, but there is also the absence of the slight marshamallowy ride of the Go Run Ultra (the latter is a good thing).

TECHNOLOGY: 

I am always wary about shoe-related "technology," as I believe that the primary "technician," i.e. the runner, is the most important part of the endeavor. The Fresh Foam midsole is claimed to be a new technology, where the different sizes of the hexagonal patterns (see photo immediately below this paragraph) of the EVA midsole supposedly translate to a cushioned-yet-light-and-smooth ride. 


Runner's World on the FF 980 = "Soft foams can easily deform under weight and create an unstable surface. So, the data, basically a report of ground reaction forces, influences the shape and size of hexagonal structures around the midsole and the bottom of the rubber outsole to deliver a soft yet stable ride. Areas that experience higher impact get larger hexagonal structures. And areas that need added support--such as the medial (inner) edge of the heel--take on a concave shape so that there's more material there to give light stability under foot. A convex design is placed in areas where the shoe should compress more, like the outer edge of the heel or inner edge alongside your big toe."

The different sized hexagonal patterns extend to the full-layer of rubber outsole.

In practice, I am finding the ride of the Fresh Foam to be unique. Neither as soft as Skechers' Resalyte, and nor the snug-sofa feel of the Hoka. 

The 980's different-sized hexagonal patterns, from mid to outsole, provides, at least to me, a cushioned-yet-bouncy ride.

CONCLUSION:

After being largely underwhelmed when I first ran in the Skechers GoRun Ultra (subsequently better running experience with the GRU afterwards, by removing the insoles), I was curious but not keen to try NB's foray into the tall-low-drop game, the Fresh Foam 980 (FF 980).

The 980 so-called "Fresh Foam" (not actually new material, still same ol' EVA, but drawn up differently from the design phase) is proving to be different than other midsoles I've tried, including the Adidas Boost.


The FF's fit is snug at the mid-to-forefoot, even for the 2E pair that I purchased. The tongue is curiously thick but fortunately didn't distract in any way. The no-sew upper (welded overlays) envelope my feet securely. For wide feet, stay away from the D width.

Overall, this NB didn't feel tall. The FF 980, at least for me, provides a smooth ride, with enough protection felt through the Fresh Foam midsole, as well as good (not great) road feedback.


Temporary verdict = this FF is personally "certified fresh!" until more runs say otherwise.


Certified Fresh!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Six Feet. Under Ten - A Compareview

Two trends seem to be underway in early 2014, running shoes that are light yet cushioned. With 10 oz / 280 grams (for US size 10 Men) as the maximum weight for this compareview, it allows the inclusion of Skechers Performance Division's latest shoe (December 2013 release), the GoRun ULTRA, heretofore referred to as GRU. 

As Skechers' first foray into the ultra-cushioned segment, the GRU, with a stack height of 27 mm heel/23 mm forefoot (from +Peter Larson's recent blog post on the GRU), is one rather tall shoe. Here's a photo comparing the GRU to the stack-height King, the Hoka Eva Stinson Tarmac:



This compareview will take a look at the following six shoes:


  1. Nike Free Flyknit
  2. Topo RR
  3. Skechers Go Run Ultra (GRU)
  4. Skechers Go Run Ride 3 (GRR3)
  5. Karhu Flow 3
  6. Under Armour SpeedForm

Not all of the six are cushioned. But each of them is below 300 grams for my size 11 (and definitely below 10 oz for size 10) and chosen for specific reasons.


The Topo because it's Tony Post (ex CEO of Vibram) first creation after he left the five-finger perch, and because of the unique "ninja" look.



The Karhu because of its Fulcrum technology.



The Nike because of the unique combination of a full Flyknit upper and Free midsole.



The Speedform because it is UA's first inroad to the "serious runners" market (whatever this means).



Last but not least would be the 2 Skechers, because I've been a fan of their Peformance Division's products starting from the original GoRun.


Though all six are light, these shoes range from minimalist to "maximalist." Let the compareview begins.

FIT and FINISH:



I have wide feet, which plays a lot into my shoe choice. Fortunately, all six shoes fit my foot well from toe to heel.

I was a worried when I first looked at the Skechers GRR3, since they seem to have too many mixture of materials/overlay going on at the top (compared to previous iterations). The occasional upside of having more materials is a more structured (secure fit) shoes. Fortunately, in the GRR 3's case, this proves true, the shoes being more solid in feel than previous issues of the GoRunRides.



All six shoes have adequate to plenty of toebox room.


As the above photo shows, all six shoes provide ample toebox room, passing with flying colors in this department. The unique shoe here is the Topo, as its construction frees up the single big toe to point in any direction!

In terms of being most minimal, both the Nike and Under Armour take the crown. The Nike, with its one piece knitted-flexible-cloth upper, fits like a real sock, one that has the Free 5.0 midsole "attached" at the bottom.


The UA Speedform is also a work of wonders, having been conceived in a bra factory, using the logic that a woman's breast is the hardest to "cup" securely yet comfortably (it DOES sound like the challenge on the minds of shoe manufacturers/wearers). Combining bra "technology" and a spacesuit was presumably how the UA Speedform came about.



In terms of "technology at work," I would say that the Nike has won out against the Speedform, in terms of achieving the second-skin effect, shoes that disappear on your feet upon wearing (not necessarily when running in them).

The UA is no slouch either, being one of the most flexible shoes out there, and a seamless construction from front to back. The last of the minimal breed in this compareview is the Topo, with its ninja (tabi) split-toe construction, and BOA lacing system. The Topo is, thank God, comfortable to wear with a good fit and excellent construction quality.

The next three shoes are Karhu Flow 3, and the two Skechers. The Karhu has a fairly firm heel cup, while the Skechers GRR3 offers only slight heel support from the play of materials at the back of the shoes. The GRU has a heel counter, which is perhaps necessitated by its tall stack height (to help secure the highly-positioned feet in place).

Most important of all would be how all of the above work in real life, in terms of fit and finish. Here's my personal ranking from 1 (best) to 6 (least best):
  1. Skechers GRR3
  2. Nike Free Flyknit
  3. UA Speedform
  4. Karhu Flow 3
  5. Topo RR
  6. Skechers GRU

HEEL to TOE:

These six shoes range from zero drop (the Topo RR) to 9 mm differential in the Nike Free Flyknit (according to Running Warehouse). The Karhu is at 5mm and the UA is at 6mm.

Of interesting note would be the Skechers, since the insoles in both is designed to be removable. Without the insole, both Skechers are at 4mm drop. With the insole, both Skechers become an 8mm drop shoe.


Here's my initial verdict on this removable insole "system" of the two Skechers: 


** REMOVE the insoles for a better running experience **


WHO'S TALLER? YOU or ME?

The Nike (9mm drop) looking somewhat similar in profile to the 0 drop Topo

Two FRESH (!) minimal shoes, the Flyknit and the UA SpeedForm

Karhu Flow 3 holding its own vs the Topo "ninja"

Both under 299 grams, yet worlds apart.

GROUND FEEL

More ground feel does not necessarily translate to more comfort, thus the separate category here. As expected in shoes weighing less than 10 oz (US size 10 Men), the shoes here give good to great feedback, with 1 being the best to 6 being the least-best:
  1. Topo RR
  2. Nike Free Flyknit
  3. UA Speedform
  4. Skechers GRR3 (w/out insole)
  5. Karhu Flow 3
  6. Skechers GRU (w/ out insole)

It is no coincidence this particular ranking correlates closely to the weights of the shoes, with the Nike being the exception. Although the Flyknit is heavier (and higher-drop than the Speedform), its sock-like construction really produces great road feedback, more so than the lesser-weight UA.

All six shoes are less than 10 oz at US size 10.



RIDE and COMFORT

More important than all the above would be the feel, i.e. the ride and comfort of these six shoes.

In addition to construction and weight, another important comfort factor is usually the shoe's flexibility.


The photo shows all six as plenty flexible, with the GRU being the least limber, due to the thickest midsole in the group.  

At one end of the spectrum would be the Topo, which gives the best ground feel and feedback, without much of a "ride." The tabi split-toe construction of the Topo does enhance the barefoot feel, ideal for days when we want to really connect with the pavement. 

This spectrum's other end would be the GRU, which at 27 mm heel stack-height provides a soft ride, with considerably less road feedback. Right smack in the middle would be the Karhu, which is a light all-around trainer. I don't feel the 'fulcrum' (inverted triangle in midsole area), which is perhaps a good thing. Nothing stands out and scream "new tech" in the Karhu, but the shoe just works like the middle-class is wont to do. Just below the Karhu, in terms of being minimal, would be the Under Armour. The Speedform is a special shoe, and it feels different when you first hold it. Riding this UA makes one feel fast (actual speed differs from one runner to another, slowpoke here speaking), an ideal speedwork or 5K race shoe.

My unscientific belief is a flexible shoe will increase our proprioception, heightening our awareness of foot-strides vis-a-vis our balancing act while running. In this regard, the Nike Free Flyknit, with its socklike (second-skin) fit and flexible Free midsole, provides the best combination of protection and comfort, while still allowing great road feedback.

The caveat is in the long-haul 'protection' department, as I have only taken the Nike up to 9 miles in one outing. I would hesitate to use the Flyknit, UA, Karhu and Topo for more than a half-marathon distance. For 13 miler and up, my shoe of choice in this group would be the GRR 3, without the insole.


The GRR3 (right) with the Newton Energy NR

The GRU (right) with the Altra Torin

The GRR3 (right) with the Adios Boost

Where does this leave the Go Run Ultra? The GRU, at least to me, feels a bit "tall" and marshamallowy, this coming from someone who enjoys the Hoka Bondi Speed (not so much the Hoka Eva Stinson Tarmac). Initially, I was not sure if it was Skechers' Resalyte compound being too soft to be thick, or the absence of a Hoka-like bucket seat platform, but my first ride in the GRU (with the insole) was a disappointment. Thankfully, things change for the better once I took the insoles out. The GRU, sans insole, is light yet very suited for recovery runs. It still feels tall (as would any shoe with stack height over 25mm), but with the insole out of the way, I am enjoying more road feedback, with my foot sitting deep enough in the shoe to be secure, and able to utilize the ultra-cushioning to full (positive) effect.



The GRU (right) towering over the original Go Bionic Ride

In terms of ride and comfort, the ranking from 1 (best) to 6 (least best) would be:
  1. Skechers GRR 3
  2. Nike Free Flyknit
  3. Karhu Flow 3
  4. UA Speedform
  5. Skechers GRU
  6. Topo RR

The Topo is listed at no. 6 simply because it does not provide a comfortable ride for the long run. It provides the plentiest road feedback, and it is great as a "stride don't strike" training shoe. It's just not a comfortable shoe that you want to "ride" in for the long haul, day in day out.


SUMMARY:

The six shoes here end up serving a different purpose for different days. If I have to name a favorite amongst these six, I'd have a hard time choosing one. 

For days when I need cushioning, I can reach out to the two Skechers in this group. 

For runs to remind myself to "stride not strike" and connect with the road, I would wear the Topo RR. 

For speedwork and races up to 10K, I'd grab the Nike first, the Karhu second, and the UA third. For races above 10K, the GRR3 would be my shoe of choice in this group.

These shoes have one thing in common, and that is each one has a sticker price. Though I cannot rank these six shoes in one category, I can give my subjective opinion on VALUE. Based on the Retail Price of each shoe at time of writing (shop diligently, many of these are available for MUCH LESS at time of writing), here is the order of BEST VALUE to LEAST, taking into account build quality and the overall utility equation:
  1. Skechers Go Run Ride 3 (US$ 80)
  2. Nike Free Flyknit (US$ 110)
  3. UA Speedform (US$ 120)
  4. Karhu Flow 3 Trainer (US$ 115)
  5. Skechers Go Run Ultra (US$ 80)
  6. Topo RR (US$ 130)

Mari Lari! **


** bahasa Indonesia for "Let's Run!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Compa-review of the Adios Bionic Bondi Energy Wave Ride


This Compareview will take a look at six shoes (from left to right):
  • Newton Energy NR
  • Mizuno Wave Sayonara
  • Adidas Adios Boost
  • HOKA Bondi Speed
  • Skechers Go Run Ride 2 (GRR2)
  • Skechers Go Bionic Ride (GBR)

The "anomaly" from these sixsome would be the HOKA, which has been included because it is HOKA's 'racing' shoe.

I had reviewed the first iteration of the Skechers Go Run Ride and the original Go Bionic, both amongst my favorite shoes. The question is, has Skechers improved upon these two models?

The HOKA Evo Stinson Tarmac and the Altra Torin had been subjects of my previous compareview. In brief summary, while the Torin is Altra's 'tallest' shoe, the Evo is HOKA's 'most-cushioned' version. Imagine a sponge cake, and throw a heap of marshmallow on top, turn the concoction into a shoe, and you get the idea of the Evo Stinson Tarmac. Not everybody can stomach the latter. Would HOKA's Bondi Speed be any different?

Mizuno's Proprietary U4ic (euphoric!) midsole material, more cushion at less weight.

The Mizuno Wave Sayonara piqued my interest because of all the accolades it's received. I've been curious to try Mizuno's proprietary u4ic (read: euphoric) midsole compound, just as I had been very intrigued by Adidas' BOOST styrofoam midsole when it first came out. When the Wave went on 30% discount + 10% off with a certain credit card, it was time to pull the trigger.

The Adios Boost needs no introduction, the star in Adidas' boost series, having been worn by the men champions of the New York AND Berlin Marathons this year.

Last but not least would be the Newton Energy NR. This brand has always fascinated me, for its campaign on "Hello better (running)!". I do find it ironic their webpage (as of November 12th, 2013) states:


"..<snip> When you were a kid running on the beach or out in the streets, you didn’t need an instruction manual or a wedge of technology under your heel to help you run better.

The famed Newton's midfoot "lugs," wedged just under the brand's stamp.

Okay Newton... we didn't need a wedge under our heel, and now we need one under our midfoot (to run better)? 

Anyways, I believe most runners would have no problem using any of these up to a full marathon.

Let's see how these six non-minimalist shoes fare, particularly in terms of ride and overall comfort. 

FIT

I have wide feet, which plays a lot into my shoe choice. The five shoes here range from US 10.5 for the GBR to 11.5 for the Mizunos.

In general, all five shoes fit my foot well from toe to heel, with the Mizunos a tad long in the back.

Almost exquisite (and busy) detailing on the HOKA's upper.

Both Skechers', and the Newton's, uppers are very flexible and comfortable. The Adios Boost's upper is also synthetic mesh, perhaps the most plasticky feel of all the six shoes. The HOKAS may have a little too much material/stitching going on the upper, but fortunately it doesn't lead to hotspots during my runs thus far. The Mizunos are very comfortable but they are a bit tight around my midfoot in size 11, and just a hair too long on the 11.5 (I chose the latter).

Fit-wise, using 'snug-yet-comfortable' as the parameter, from best to least = Skechers Go Bionic Ride, Go Run Ride 2, Newton Energy NR, Adidas Adios Boost, Hoka Bondi Speed, and the Mizuno Wave Sayonara.

TOEBOX: 

Some runners would classify these shoes as 'transition,' for those going from max-cushioned to minimalist. Yet others may classify these as "all-around" shoes a.k.a. trainers, wearable from short races up to marathons. Regardless of classification, I believe adequate toebox room is an important "feature" in any running shoes, to allow the toes some freedom to 'splash and splay' during ground-impact and toe-off.


  

The toebox rooms of each shoe apparent from above photos, 
the best being the Newtons and the Skechers, with the Adidas the most narrow.


As the above photos show (photo of the Altra Torin, the king of toebox space, has been included as a reference), all six shoes provide ample toebox room, with the Skechers, Newton and Adidas aided by the flexible synthetic meshy upper. I would say these six pairs are all very good in this department.

HEEL to TOE: 

I'm not good enough of a runner to differentiate between a zero drop and a four milimeter drop shoe. In general though, I prefer heel drop in the single digits.

In terms of heel-to-toe drop numbers, here is what the manufacturers claim for these six shoes:
  • Skechers Go Bionic Ride = 4mm
  • Skechers Go Run Ride 2 = 4mm
  • HOKA Bondi Speed = 4,5mm
  • Newton Energy NR = 6mm
  • Mizuno Wave Sayonara = 10mm
  • Adidas Adios Boost = 10mm

The Adios Boost, similar profile with the Newton, despite the Adidas' 10mm drop.

Similar height and profile: Skechers GoRun Ride 2 (left) and Newton Energy NR
Skechers GoBionic Ride sitting lower, and flatter, than Adidas Energy Boost (right)

The Adios Boost compared with the ultra-flexible Nike Free Flyknit

The Mizuno looking taller, and more 'dropped', than the Newton.

Both the Adidas and Mizuno at 10mm drop, with the Wave sitting taller.

The stack-height king HOKA Bondi Speed, towering over the original GoRun Ride
The Adios Boost sitting lower than the original Energy Boost.

More important than the numbers would be the feel, and none of these five feels 'heel-heavy.'  The Wave Sayonara and the Adios Boost both have double-digit (10mm) heel drop, yet they run like a 6mm drop (or less) shoe. Amazing!

This brings us to the litmus test of shoes in this all-around category = the ride.

RIDE and COMFORT:

My first 'favorite' shoes were the Skechers GoRun, which has a middle-bump to promote mid-foot strides. Many people feel this bump and dislike it, especially when walking around trying the shoes. I feel the bump standing still in the GoRun, but once I'm running I don't mind them at all.

The original Go Bionic was an alternative for people who like the GoRun but wanted a flatter platform (zero drop) and a no-middle-bump shoe. 

The other alternative was the original GoRunRide, offering the most cushion in the GO line, and less middle-bump compared to the original GoRun.

In addition to midsole technology and effective cushioning, flexibility also plays a significant role in the overall comfort of a shoe. The following photos show the Skechers GoBionic Ride as the most flexible, followed by the GoRunRide 2, the Mizuno, the Adidas, the Newton and then the HOKA.


  


  




My unscientific belief is a flexible shoe will increase our proprioception, heightening our awareness of foot-strides vis-a-vis our balancing act while running. The curious shoe in this bunch would be the HOKA, which is not flexible, yet doesn't exactly feel stiff. My guess is the rocker sole has something to do in 'smoothening' the Bondi Speed's overall ride.

I also prefer light shoes for the quick-strides they facilitate (or the perception of it). 

These six shoes range from one end of the weight spectrum (the Skechers Go Bionic Ride at 210 gr / 7,5 oz ) to the other (the HOKA Bondi Speed at 360 gr / 13 oz). The Adidas is pretty light at 260 gr / 9.5 oz. The Mizuno and Skechers Go Run Ride 2 weigh in at a very respectable 280 gr / 10 oz (similar weight). The Newton at 340 gr / 12 oz is relatively heavy compared to the Skechers and the Mizuno. The HOKA at 13 oz feels clunky yet somehow doesn't feel like a heavy rock.

   

  

  

Whether a shoe is light or heavy, its ride would perhaps depend more on its midsole. Skechers has their Resalyte while the Mizuno has the new u4ic (euphoric) midsole compound. Adidas, of course, has their styrofoam-looking boost. Both HOKA and Newton also have effective midsole material that support their line of shoes very well, judged by the buzz surrounding these two relative newcomers to the running-shoes scene. 

Battle of the midsole = Mizuno's u4ic vs Adidas' boost

I've been a fan of Skechers' soft Resalyte midsole since the original GoRun. As my mileage accumulates though, and after having a chance to try more than a dozen different shoes in the past two years, I've found that a softer midsole is not the holy grail to the perfect ride. 

My experience with the HOKA Evo Stinson (ES) underscored this softer-is-not-necessarily-better supposition. I like the sense of protection that the HOKA Evo gives me, and my knees seem to agree, but I find my ankles more sore after outings in the ES (compared to my other shoes). This led me to purchasing the HOKA Bondi Speed (BS) in this review, which is listed as HOKA's least cushioned model, a.k.a. its 'racer' (..I'll wait until you're done laughing..). 

After more than 100 miles in the BS, I can confirm they are more firm than the ES. The Bondi Speed, at least to me, has that ideal level of protective cushioning (or the perception of it) for a long-run shoe, perhaps enhanced by its bucket-seat (foot sits IN the midsole as opposed to on it) technology. The only drawback is its weight, which is still a bit clunky for my preference.

This brings us back to the Skechers. Though their Resalyte midsole is generally soft, it can feel different between variations of the GO Line. In the original GoRun, you can feel this softness, perhaps punctuated by the extra material in the mid-foot bump. The original GoBionic, on the other hand, has a flat Resalyte midsole and less overall material than the GoRun, resulting in a firmer ride, perhaps even moving towards the harsh spectrum in runs over 10 miles. 

Enter the Skechers GoBionic Ride (GBR) and the GoRunRide 2 (GRR2), both retaining the soft edge of the Resalytes, without being harsh nor squishy. The GoBionic Ride and the GoRunRide 2 are definite improvements over their original models, with the GBR getting ample time in my shoe rotations for runs up to 15K, and the GRR2 for runs above that.

The Newton is unique, since its midsole cushioning feels just-right, striking an almost ideal balance between firm and soft. Its overall ride, though, has been hampered by the 5 protruding midfoot lugs, at least for my feet. I actually feel these lugs during my runs in the Newtons, which after 5K upwards become a pain in the foot. I know four Newton users in Jakarta (there are very few Newtons in Indonesia); three swear by it, and one has been injured from it. It is not a large sample to draw a deduction from, but it is safe to say that Newton is not for everyone. I do like the Newtons and I have kept them as a 'tool,' to 'encourage' midfoot striding from time to time.

The Mizuno and the Adidas are my most recent purchase, and I haven't had a chance to use them as much as the other four shoes. From the couple of runs that I have gone in the Wave, I've loved them! The shoes feel light, and the relatively high heel-drop didn't bother me. The u4ic cushioning, combined with the waveplate running from the midfoot to heel area, strikes a good balance between soft and firm, translating into a responsive platform. Overall, the shoes feel quick yet adequately cushioned, a great combination.

The Adidas has almost the same ride quality as the Mizuno, with the boost midsole giving the Adios an edge in responsive feel. I am looking forward to more runs in the Adios, which was not the sentiment I had after running in the original Energy Boost. Adidas got it right with the new Adios.

Rounding off this part of the review would be the outsoles.

The Adios, proudly identifying its rubber outsole from Continental tires.

 
Skechers Go Run Ride 2 outsole (left) showing the mid-foot 'sensors,' 
compared to the Go Bionic Ride anatomical-inspired outsole. The Adios has the torsion plate in the middle, perhaps to stabilize the styrofoam boost midsole.

  
From Left to Right: the Altra Torin with its MetaPods outsole,
the HOKA Bondi Speed with a rigid and rockered platform, 
the Newton Energy NR with the five PROTRUDING midfoot lugs, 
and the Mizuno Wave Sayonara with a mixture of materials from front to back.


SUMMARY

So many things come into play when determining the right shoes to wear. If I have to name a favorite amongst these six, I'd have a hard time choosing one. This comes back to the question, does that one perfect shoe exist?

The six shoes here end up serving a different purpose for different days. For days when I feel sore and need protection, or for recovery runs, I always reach out for my HOKA Bondi Speed. Though it's clunky, and ugly, I feel the Bondi Speed is the 'right' HOKA for me, compared to the Evo Stinson (which was just too squishy for my taste).



For days when I want to connect with the road, for more than 10K but less than 15K, I'd go for my GoBionic Ride.



For runs above 15K, I would be comfortable with my GoRun Ride 2 and the Mizuno Wave Sayonara.




I am not sure yet how far I can take the Mizuno, since it's a relative newcomer to my shoe rotation. As for the Newton Energy NR, I want to love these, but they just 'talk back' too much during my time with them. Alas, when I feel like getting lectured on the benefits of midfoot striding, I still take the Newtons out for a nice time around the block, not too far from home though.


Closing out this summary would be the Adios Boost. I was not too keen on the original Boost shoes, the Energy. The Adios, though, is looking, and feeling, very good. They will definitely get much playing-time in my shoe rotation.


CONCLUSION:

These shoes end up being very different from one another and I cannot rank them in one category. What I can do is to give my subjective opinion on VALUE. Based on the Retail Price of each shoe (shop diligently, many of these are available for MUCH LESS at time of writing), here is the order of BEST VALUE to LEAST, taking into account build quality and the overall feel of the shoe:
  1. Skechers Go Run Ride 2 (US$ 75)
  2. Mizuno Wave Sayonara (US$ 115)
  3. Skechers Go Bionic Ride (US$ 75)
  4. Adidas Adios Boost (US$ 140)
  5. HOKA Bondi Speed (US$ 160)
  6. Newton Energy NR (US$ 119)



Mari Lari! **

** bahasa Indonesia for "Let's Run!"