Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

Great review Britt! Though I have the Mizuno's, I nearly went for the A4s too. But I decided to try the Nike Streak XC 2 for the hell of it (and ~$48 discounted on RW sealed the deal). They have a little more material than the A4, but the 4mm drop is pretty great and they are super light. All in all, it seems there are a lot of good minimalist options in racing flats. No need to spend $160 on Evos (which I've heard are really heavy) when $50-$80 will get you something potentially better.

08/18/10 @ 10:39
Comment from: britt [Member]  

Thanks, Lindsey! Those Nikes do seem like a great deal. Have you gotten them yet? How do you like 'em? I may order some too.

08/18/10 @ 10:47
Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

I LOVE them. I've taken them out a handful of times and like them even better than my Mizunos. I think these will be the flats I use this fall instead, just because they do have a little more of a sole/cushion on them which helps save my feet a bit. I've had some reoccurring TOFP in my right foot, so after some rest I decided to do most of my running in the Nikes now, and supplement with some more regular barefoot training, and the occasional VFF run (instead of focusing only on VFF running). So far it's working well. The foot feels great and I'm back up to where I left off mileage wise. Ran a PR for the 1.5 mile in them too a few days ago. I'm pretty satisfied with these.

I think the only thing about the Nikes I don't like (aside from the color scheme) is the slightly narrower toe box than the Mizunos. It's not really restrictive, but it's not as wide as I'd ultimately like. After several months in VFFs, my toes like their space. I just wear thin socks with the Nikes and that seems to help.

Ground feel is ok, not great, but it's surprisingly easy to keep good form in these. They don't get in my way like I thought they might. And at 5.4oz, I can't complain about weight. Overall, I think they're a great deal for the price, especially if someone needs a little more between their foot and the ground.

08/18/10 @ 11:50
Comment from: tak555 [Visitor]
tak555

hey britt, this is greg. great review! the only comment i'd have is that i actually do wear them casually alot. i had no idea people think they're ugly! ha

08/18/10 @ 12:48
Comment from: britt [Member]  

greg, Oops! Maybe it is just me. Thanks for letting me know about these. I run in them a lot.

08/18/10 @ 12:54
Comment from: ashegam [Visitor]
ashegam

I do the same thing when running, switch between bikilas and my racing flats and can never go back to any other combination. Well maybe move towards barefoot but not the other way around :)

I went with the Asics Piranha SP 2. Very roomy toebox and a 4mm drop. Midsole Height: Heel (14mm), Forefoot (10mm) and it only weighs 4.2 oz, amazing shoe.

the sp2 is hard to find and it's on clearance at most places but the sp3 has replaced it, pretty much the same shoe except it weighs 4.7oz but still that's pretty light.

so a thumbs up for this shoe if anyone is looking into racing flats.

08/18/10 @ 13:44
Comment from: seret [Visitor]  
seret

Nice review I think you've sold me! I've been interested in VFF running alternatives and didn't even know what to start looking for. Now I know. and knowing is half the battle.

08/18/10 @ 22:44
Comment from: britt [Member]  

Seret, I hope I didn't over sell. It is not barefoot running by any means. Barefoot is best! Also, I ordered some of the Nike Streak XC 2s per Lindsey and Edward Edmonds recommendations. I'll let you know how those are.

08/19/10 @ 10:16
Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

I agree wholeheartedly with Britt. Barefoot is definitely best. Even though I've been doing the majority of my running in the Nike Streak XC 2s, I've been increasing the frequency of my barefoot running as well. I'm usually doing a few minutes at the end of each run, and I'm really enjoying it more than anything else. I never thought my Sprints would feel clumsy, but after my grass hill workout yesterday (all barefoot, plus some barefoot on concrete) even the Sprints felt oddly cumbersome. Still my favorite VFF though. :)

I was seriously looking at the A4, but before I pulled the trigger on those, I saw the price on the Nikes and went for those instead. Not regretting the decision, as they're working wonderfully for me. But not having tried the A4s, I can't say if the Nikes have any sort of advantage other than the price. I want to say for sure that they're higher off the ground than the A4s, but I'm having trouble digging up the numbers.

08/19/10 @ 11:44
Comment from: Michael [Visitor]  
Michael

Britt: thanks for a great review! Had just one quibble, being a bit of a stickler for precision. When you write, "... when I run barefoot in Five Fingers Bikilas ...," did you mean barefoot OR in Five Fingers Bikilas? I suppose I'm a bit of a purist, but running in Five Fingers is not running barefoot. It's, well, running Five Fingers. :)

Again, great review. Thanks.

08/23/10 @ 16:58
Comment from: britt [Member]  

Michael, You definitely caught me there. How about a compromise? I changed it to have the word barefoot in quotes since it is a figure of speech that seems to be picking up steam. Also, it is a great lead in to another article I am writing about the term, "barefoot running shoes", which is a total oxymoron, but has seen huge internet search growth. I can see where this is aggravating for a barefoot running purist, but the definition of barefoot running, as a figure of speech, is being stretched. The new "Merrell Barefoot" line of shoes is an example of this.

08/23/10 @ 17:42
Comment from: Gustaf [Visitor]  
Gustaf

I haven't tried the A4 but I had the Saucony Grid Type A3 for a while.

At first it seemed like a great shoe, a good alternative to my completely worn out Asics Piranhas that I loved.

But then the problems came:
The shoe itself is very nice but there is one major problem in my opinion:
The holes though the sole.
You wrote: "drainage holes built into the soles...allow water to drain through the shoe"
That's correct.
But as you mentioned, water tends to “drain” the wrong way, which is INTO the shoe.
If you're running on wet ground or in puddles, water will spurt into the shoe for every step you take, making your feet wet in no time.
Getting completely soaked after five steps when planning to go for a 10 miler, isn't that nice.

Second, as you described, small stones and pebbles will enter the holes during the run.

Sure you can take them out after the run but what about DURING the run?
I want a pair of shoes I can use on a lot of different surfaces.
If I come across a gravel road during my run, I don't wanna avoid it just because I have shoes with holes in my sole.
And also when running on a asphalt road, gravel at the road side will occur.
Getting small stones into the soles during a run will irritate you in two ways:

Your feet will begin to hurt when you run with thin soles holding a number of stones. You might not notice this the first miles but after a while your feet get really bad.
Or if you're unlucky (as I was a couple of times) you will step on a very sharp stone with a tip facing upwards. The tip went through the sole and right into my forefoot which hurt like hell.

The option then is to regularly remove the stones from your soles.
Endless stopping will make you crazy, though.

Apart from hurting your feet, the stone collecting will eventually damage your shoes.
After only 3 months and not that much running I noticed my inner soles were already penetrated by the stones stuck in the outer sole. There were a couple of holes in both inner soles where the stones had gnawed, first through the mesh inside the shoe and then through the inner sole. Next are your socks and fragile feet...
The reason for wearing shoes at all is to avoid stepping directly on stones and other hard objects.
Having stones coming into your shoes and starting to scuff your feet is not OK.

The outer soles were also damaged and weakened by having stones making the area around the holes more porous by the endless friction cause by every step took with stones in the sole.

I returned my A3's to the store and got a refund.
I wouldn't go as far as blaming my A3’s for a missed Marathon and half the season spoiled, but I got a lot of forefoot problem (pain) during this period and having stones gnawing my already sore feet was for sure not helping me getting any better.

I know some people love their A3's and A4's but you should be aware that the holes in the soles can cause more problem then you might first guess...

08/24/10 @ 04:25
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]
Steve

Nice review. I tried the A4's a few months ago, but they were too narrow for my feet. They buckled oddly, and didn't fit right. When I went up a size, they were way too big. I ended up with the Addidas Adizero Rockets instead. I use them on the road and track. New Balance MT100's for trails. Occasional VFF use for shorter runs. Barefoot typically when I'm running home from the bars. I run in flipflops to the pool.
Well, that's my catalog of running footwear.

08/24/10 @ 23:19
Comment from: Lory Tepper [Visitor]
Lory  Tepper

I barefoot run once a month with my newton running shoes and it works well

--

09/08/10 @ 12:36
Comment from: Gilbert [Visitor]
Gilbert

Love Saucony's A series, but I think they made a major mistake on the outsole of this shoe. Durability has been a huge issue for me -- I'm sure my footstrike is part of the problem, but I imagine I'm not the only one with a slightly imperfect stride. The rubber triangles wore off the outsides of the midfoot after 65 miles; by 80 miles, I was running on pure midsole foam. Great shoe until then, but be warned.

09/10/10 @ 10:43
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Chris

Thinking of picking a pair of these up but perhaps I should grab a tube of shoe goo to fill in the drainage holes too?

11/09/10 @ 22:47
Comment from: Jon Wiley [Visitor]  
Jon Wiley

Awesome light weight flats... Except that the "drainage holes" are filled with small rocks within the first 20 minuets. I wouldnt purchase them again.

07/02/11 @ 14:29