The Rundown: Saucony Ride ISO
The Saucony Ride ISO is a form-fitting, cushioned training shoe with plenty of spring underfoot.
THE RUNDOWN: A form-fitting, cushioned training shoe with plenty of spring underfoot.
Surface: Road Stability: Neutral Heel/Toe Drop: 8mm Weight: 9.7 oz. (men’s 9)
The Saucony Ride ISO mixes forgiving cushioning with an energy return midsole for a peppy everyday training shoe. From the first strides the rebound and sturdy cushion are apparent and the pace on my routine runs dropped by roughly 20 seconds. Another contributor to that extra spring was the 8 mm offset which rolled my feet forward and made me toe off more than usual. That’s the kind of fun this shoe adds to a well-cushioned training shoe.
Weight: 9.7 oz. (men’s 9), 8.5 oz. (women’s size 10.5)
Heel/Forefoot: 27/18 mm (men’s)
Midsole: Pwrfoam midsole
Outsole: Tri-Flex outsole
Upper: mesh upper
100 Miles In: The Review
For runners familiar with the Saucony Ride, this is essentially version 11, but took on a new naming system because of the updated fit. The brand’s Isofit and Formfit adapt to the shape of the runner’s foot, which may be why my preference for a wider toe box wasn’t an issue in these.
Lacing these up for the first time, the upper seemed limp and waiting for a foot to wrap around. After the first run, I could see my big toe had left an impression in the mesh upper. The upper is lightweight, breathable and mostly sparse except for overlays on the side for reinforcement. The upper’s side has three deep cutouts between the sections that wrap over the tongue. These spaces make room for the top of the shoe to flex, instead of pinching together and stretching out. The tongue is attached to both sides to alleviate pressure from the laces and the ankle cuff is well padded. Both stay comfortable throughout long runs. Another adaptive aspect is the heel pocket, where the fit deepened over the first few miles and the ankle cuff felt more secure.
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The neutral ride is accompanied with an outer sole that disperses the impact of foot strikes, even missteps. This is part of Saucony’s Tri-Flex sole, used on several of its shoes, and it provides some dampening without interfering with the usual rotation of the foot as it lands on an outer edge and rolls inward. The sole uses different density rubbers, putting harder tread in high-wear spots. Though these shoes kept me on my forefoot, there’s always an occasional heel strike which the shoe’s crash pad absorbed well.
These shoes saw mostly road and sidewalk wear with the occasional dip onto hard-pack trails. After 100 miles, the tread showed no signs of wear. It’s a safe bet that the cushioning in the soles will break down before the tread on the outer sole.
There’s the Rub
These are really great for everyday training, and critiques only become apparent by taking the ISO Ride out of that performance expectation. The biggest rub may be the weight. At 9.7 ounces, there are lighter trail shoes with big lugs underfoot, but this weight is comparable to other cushioned training shoes like the Nike Pegasus and Brooks Ghost. Of course, running in a heavier trainer can make shoes for race day—or strides day—seem like track shoes.
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On longer-than-normal runs, all that cushioning can translate to stolen energy as the rebound from the sole seems to fade over time when tired legs aren’t as receptive to it. Saucony has lighter, better options for marathons or longer. Another slight knock is the responsiveness, which along with the pliable mesh upper can leave feet feeling lost atop the cushioned soles. On one occasion, 10 miles into a long run, something under the toepad seemed to bubble up. I initially thought some cushioning had blown out, but could not replicate that feeling on later runs. At times the rebound seemed too far forward and I could feel the spring under the toes but not the forefoot. That is likely because the landing on the forefoot compressed the shoe further than the toes, but it created a slight disconnect in the overall ride.
Consistent heel strikers should note that the shoe’s heel isn’t beveled or rounded, so there could be a wearing down process. The heel counter and adaptive fit around the cuff provide a secure feeling, but that gave the perception that the shoe around the ankle didn’t fit as snug. Runners who like to lace their shoes tight in the midfoot may find the tongue is too bulky, especially if their feet are wider than the average. One other design nitpick: A pull-strap would help slide feet in past the snug ankle collar.
The ISO Ride is lightweight for a cushioned trainer, but those springy soles will come at a cost on Long Slow Day. The cushioning and ride make training runs more comfortable and likely faster. The fit is secure and shapes to your foot without getting too tight on long runs when feet swell and laces can tighten.
What it lacks in responsiveness it makes up for in forgiveness. Part of being able to run further and faster is protecting legs and feet during the grind of everyday training, which these shoes do with aplomb. The midfoot may feel too narrow for some and those who prefer a wider toebox may find that the pliable mesh upper gets roomier after time.
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M.T. Elliott is a freelance writer and late-to-the-game runner. Based in Denver, Colorado he has a preference for off-road running, trailblazing through urban detritus and stopping to look at birds. You can follow his mischief on Instagram.