A review of the Saucony ProGrid Ride 5 running shoe.
In 2000, Saucony released the Grid Azura cushioned running shoe. For a supposed neutral shoe it was a pretty stable runner due to its low profile stance, almost straight last, and durable rubber in the forefoot. It was a lightweight and airy shoe for its time, and I was warned that it might hold up for only a couple of hundred miles. Now, more than twelve years later, it’s a running shoe that I still use a few times each month, and there’s little indication that it’s nearing the end of its useful days.
I had expectations that Saucony’s fifth iteration of the ProGrid Ride would be a current day version of the Grid Azura. They seem to have a few things in common. The Ride is a low profile shoe with a lowered heel height and a close to straight last that’s unique for a neutral, cushioned runner. Appearance wise, it almost looks like a direct descendent of the Azura, even down to the triangular lugs in the front of the shoe. However, the Ride 5 has ultra-soft blown rubber in its forefoot. Surprisingly, the Ride 5 seems to be not just as stable as the old Azura, but even more so which can present issues for some runners.
First, let me point out a few accolades for this shoe. The new Ride looks to be beautifully constructed, has a nice, comfortable feel (size up a half-size), and brings with it some very functional flat shoelaces that stay tied. Unfortunately, this is about it for the positives. I expected that with the lower profile – somewhere in between that of a standard running shoe and a minimalist running shoe – the Ride would feel like a racing flat. No such luck.
I quickly found the Ride’s ride to be overly, surprisingly stable perhaps due to the hard plastic support bar found underneath the arch (the Azura had no such mid-foot support device). I felt as if my feet were being pushed outward on every step, something that would surely result in some fast wearing down of the heels. And the ride seemed indistinct, as if I could feel neither my heel planting nor the soft rubber up front. This was so surprising that I found myself constantly looking down – had I mistakenly put on an old pair of New Balance cross-trainers?
If I were to attempt to describe the feel of the Ride in one word, I would have to use the dreaded technical term “mushy” – generally not a word used in the laudatory sense.
Saucony has made much of the fact that the Ride 5 is an ounce lighter than the Ride 4, because of less cushioning in the midsole and less rubber on its sole. I’m not sure this is such a good thing, as both my feet and my ankles were sore even before the end of my first test run in this version.
Perhaps there are ultra-efficient, blessed runners who’ll run on their toes in the Ride 5 and find it to be an exceptional lightweight trainer. For this runner, it was an experiment that didn’t work. On to the Saucony Virrata or the Grid Fastwitch 6?
The Saucony ProGrid Ride 5 sells for $109.95.
This review was originally posted on the Blogcritics Sports site: