Saucony has redesigned three of its most popular shoes, the Guide, Triumph, and Hurricane, reducing their heel-to-toe drop from the standard 12 mm to 8 mm. They did this in response to the increasing popularity of minimalist shoes with heel-to-toe drops of 4 mm or less, including the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2, which has quickly become the #2 selling shoe in the Saucony line.
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9 and talk with Saucony’s Head of Footwear, Pat O’Malley, their Head of Biometrics, Spencer White, and Senior Designer, Chris Mahoney.
The Saucony team said that they didn’t know the reasons for the decades-old 12 mm standard heel-to-toe drop. In developing these new shoes, they built 12 mm and 8 mm drop versions of each shoe and tested them both. Their lab testing and the feedback from runners who tested the shoes convinced them that the 8 mm versions were superior.
By changing from a 12 mm to an 8 mm drop, these shoes promote a more efficient mid-foot strike. The slightly lower heel doesn’t put as much stress on the Achilles tendon and calf muscles as shoe with a drop of 4 mm or less, helping to prevent injuries and ease the transition to minimalist footwear.
The new shoes are 1.5-2.0 oz lighter than the previous models. That doesn’t sound like much, but the rule of thumb is that each 1.0 oz reduction in shoe weight means that you can run 1.0-1.5 seconds faster per mile, so these shoes might give you an edge of 1.5-2.5 seconds per mile.
The Saucony ProGrid Guide 5 ($100) and the PowerGrid Triumph 9 ($130) are on sale now. The PowerGrid Hurricane 14 ($135) will be available in Feburary 2012.
The Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9 is a neutral shoe for runners who have little or no tendency to pronate. A men’s size 9 shoe weighs 10.9 oz and a women’s weighs 9.6 oz. The shoe uses injection blown rubber in the outsole and an injection molded foam midsole for lighter weight and improved cushioning.
Here are my impressions of the Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9:
- The shoe looks good, offering some great color combinations for both men and women.
- The toe box is very roomy. This can be good or bad, depending on the width of your foot. I had to pull the laces in pretty tight to keep my forefoot from moving around in the shoe, causing a serious wrinkle in the upper.
- If you are used to a higher heel, you may notice that the 8 mm offset in the Triumph 9 stretches your Achilles tendon a little more that you are used to. Just take it easy for the first few days in these shoes and switch off with your old shoes, if necessary.
- The outsole of the Triumph 9 seems to be made of a harder, more durable rubber compound. While this should help to extend the life of the shoe (we’ll have to see how it does after more miles), it tends to make for a somewhat harsh landing. To me, it feels more like the sole of a trail shoe-designed for durability, not comfort.
- I’m normally a pretty quiet runner, but these shoes are much noisier than what I’m used to (because of the harder rubber outsole). I won’t be able to sneak up on anyone in these shoes.
- While some people have accepted the higher prices of running shoes in the last few years, I refuse to pay more than $100 for a pair of running shoes. Research studies have shown that higher priced shoes don’t provide any measurable benefits over lower priced shoes.
Have you tried the new Saucony 8mm shoes? What do you think? Tell me in the comments.
For another viewpoint on the Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9 shoes, check out Thomas Neuberger’s review at Believe in the Run.
Disclaimer: I received a pair of Saucony PowerGrid Triumph 9 shoes for evaluation.