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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Compareview of the zero Hi-Rez and the three Sum

When I saw the pre-production photo of the 3-Sum shoes by Altra, I was smitten. I have a largely positive experience with the Torin, and the 3-Sum looks like a lighter, handsomer Altra, sans the tongue!

The 3-Sum with its brethren Torin

The other shoe in this compa-review is the NB Minimus Hi-Rez, footwear that looks so thin and fragile, you wonder how it would ever get into mass-production.

NB Hi-Rez with its Minimus brethrens

Let's take a more detailed look at these two orange zero droppers.

NB's ultra-flexible Hi Rez and Altra's 3-Sum

Before we go into the review, I'd like to once again thank +John Shepard for doing some magic in getting the shoes to my feet, 10K miles away.



My first running shoe is the Nike Free 3.0, which has the integrated tongue. I really like this "feature," because there is no tongue slippage when I put on the Nike Frees. IMO the shoes look much "cleaner" without the tongue all over the place when unused. The 3-Sum's integrated-tongue made the purchase decision a snap. Even though these Altras are made for triathletes (with the presumed need for quick slip on and slip off from swimming to biking/running), I will only be using them as road shoes.

When I first put them on, I was glad that the 3-Sum's mid-to-forefoot area fit my wide feet well. In terms of length, there is a small gap at the back (heel) of the shoe, which is a little disconcerting for me.

In terms of build quality, the 3-Sum has proven itself, during a 'bumped-by-motorbike" incident, where I practically scraped the front of the shoe (and my knees) falling forward in them. Though the 3-Sum looks battered, everything was practically still intact, as the following photo shows:

The 3-Sum bruised and battered, but ready for another go-round.

The Minimus Hi-Rez is a different breed altogether, minimus being the operative word, EXCEPT for road-feedback, where it would offer the opposite = maximus.

"Paper-thin" upper.

Minimus. Indeed!

If I were their branding man, I would've suggested NB to consider naming the shoe "the Minimus Maximus." As it is, I believe the model's name Hi-Rez refers to the "high-resolution" feedback that your feet get when using them.

The summary (first number is the Altra 3-Sum, the number in brackets is the NB HR):

• FIT = 7,5 / 10  vs. (9 / 10)
• BUILD QUALITY = 9 / 10  vs. (9 / 10)
• APPEARANCE (subjective) = 9,5 / 10  vs. (8,5 / 10)

TOEBOX: I like to feel my toes having the freedom to "splash and splay" within the confines of the shoes. I truly believe an adequate toebox helps allow a more natural running motion, especially when one runs sockless, or use 5-finger socks (I always wear the latter for running). Both shoes are simply excellent in this department.

RIDE and COMFORT: I like running shoes that are light (nothing over 400 grams / 14 oz, the lighter the better), and preferably with heel-to-toe differential of 6 mm or less.

In both weight and (zero) drop, again both shoes are top notch. Considering the amount of decent cushioning, I was pleasantly surprised to see the 3-Sum weighs in at a relatively light 240 grams / 8,4 oz, for my size US 11 (!)

At 120 grams (4,2 oz) though, the Hi-Rez is in a different weight-class altogether! It is almost weightless, and it has the material to show for it.

A shoe's weight, or the lack of it, is a very important 'feature' to me; and I believe, to most runners as well. +Peter Larson cited an SGB Weekly study in his recent blog-post "The future of minimalist running," which seems to point towards one common trend, cushioned or minimalist notwithstanding: the consumer's desire to carry less weight on their running shoes.

The hundred twenty five dollar (the two shoes' median price) question is, what does less weight, and zero drop, give you in terms of ride?

Altra names its midsole compound "Abound," comprising of dual-layer EVA to enhance effective cushioning. The outsole is "mapped" like the metatarsal bone-structure of the human foot (photo below, right hand side).

Same size (!), yet very different (sole) appearance.

The sole of the 3-Sum looks rather stiff but it is in fact quite flexible:

The Hi-Rez is, again, very different down there. There is practically no midsole, save for the "rubbery-plastic" skinny layer. The outsole consists of "pods," each one "magically" attached to that midsole skin-layer.

Both shoes have 'pods' on the outsole, but the On Cloud's (TOP shoe in photo above)
are glued to a non-flexible midsole

What, then, does "all of the above" do?

After taking the 3-Sum for a couple of runs (10K and 5K), I am happy to report that the ride is wonderful. It is neither soft nor harsh, and its zero drop platform facilitate a natural ride. The adequately flexible sole also gives plenty of great road feedback.

After two runs in the Hi-Rez (3,3 km and 5 K), I am happy to report that my legs (and bones) escape unscathed. Seriously, you feel everything in these shoes. And I mean every single thing, including uneven surface, gravels, pavement vs asphalt, etc.

My other most-minimal shoes would be the Vivo barefoot, followed by the more cushioned Skechers Go Bionic:

Vivo barefoot and the Hi-Rez

Skechers Go Bionic and the Hi-Rez

The Go Bionics are shoes I enjoy wearing, while the VIVOs are used sporadically, on those few days where I want to connect to the pavement. 

Neither of the above can hold a candle to the Hi-Rez in terms of "ground-feel." 

In fact, the NB Minimus is a "feel everything" shoe, it tells you the "truth" about:
  • what kind of ground you are stepping on
  • which part of your foot is making contact
  • how efficient/sloppy your strides are

The question to the wearer of the Hi-Rez is = "can you handle the truth?"

The 3-Sum, on the other hand, feels much more like a 'normal' shoe. In terms of ride, it compares favorably with the GoRun 2, with the latter having a softer feel.

The 3-Sum's midsole is relatively firm with a touch of bounce, albeit not in the same league as the Adidas Boost:

IMHO the litmus test of any shoe is how comfortable you are running in them, how you feel "they are not there," yet they are able to provide confidence through effective cushioning, for moments where you want to pick up a bit of pace, or go up and downhill without trepidation. 

I mentioned earlier about the 3 Sum's small gap at the heel area. During the two runs in these Altras, I felt my heel unsecured, and I became worried about getting blisters from heel-rubbing (due to the loose fit back there). 

IMO the Yankz' lacing system has not added any value to the whole package. In fact, I swapped to Lock n Lace with better results, in terms of comfort and fit over my midfoot.

The 3-Sum, lock 'n laced.

As for the NB Minimus Hi Rez, they fit like, well, a pair of socks. These shoes are meant to be worn sockless, as their material is already sock-like in terms of thin-ness and almost total flexibility.

I don't like sockless running as I like to have a layer of sweat absorption between my foot and the shoe, and the next best thing is wearing the 5-finger socks. Wearing normal socks, particularly the thicker ones, may defeat the purpose of the Hi Rez.

Wearing socks with the Hi Rez? Go with 5-finger socks, brand notwithstanding.

Comfort-wise, though the NB Hi Rez provides great glove-like fit, they are not a comfortable pair of shoes, in the cushioned sense of the word. If your definition of comfort is maximum no-holds barred road-feedback, then the NB Hi Rez is for you.


I very much want to love the 3-Sum, but the unsecured heel is proving to be too much of a distraction. That said, I believe the 3-Sum are absolutely great shoes, for feet that fit securely in them. In other words, don't buy these mail order (or buy from web stores that allow free return shipping).

As for the NB Hi Rez, it is a bone-breaking ..I mean ground-breaking piece of footwear. 

The Hi Rez correlates with the word proprioception to a tee (defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary as "Perception of stimuli relating to position, posture, equilibrium, or internal condition. Receptors in skeletal muscles and on tendons provide constant information on limb position and muscle action for coordination of limb movements"). If you want footwear that gives you maximum sensory perception, and you can handle the 'truth,' by all means go for these hi-resolution ultra-minimalist shoes.

As for me, these two pairs of shoes will only get occasional use in my shoe rotation, for all the aforementioned reasons.

Going back to the SGB's report, I too am finding myself gravitating towards low-drop but effectively-cushioned shoes, with lightness as a very important purchase-decision factor. More cushioning, even if they are light, is not always better. Effective yet light cushioning is the operative word.

Going along this train of thought, there are two shoes that come to my mind, the HOKAS, which pretty much shook the market with their relatively light "bucket-style-sofa-seat" cushioning, and Skechers' upcoming GoRun Ultra (I have no clue what the latter would be like, my only guess comes from the GoRun Ride being one of my most favorite shoes).

It would take the 3-Sum on top of the Hi-Rez, to match the Hokas' stack height!

In my previous post comparing the Hoka Stinson Eva Tarmac and the Altra Torin, I mentioned the possible trend of runners wanting to get that "natural" feeling (via minimal heel lift), but still feeling protected (via effective cushioning) in their running shoes. It seems we must add another factor, a shoe's desirable lightness of being, as perhaps a crucial 'feature' moving forward.

What about your preference? Given the recent development from extreme minimalist to cushioned-barefoot (oxymoron alert), what has or has not worked for you?  

Everyone is different, and this is what makes it all so interesting, minimal or otherwise.


Zero-drop = NOT a zero-sum game?