Tag Archives: Saucony Grid Fastwitch 6

Running Down A Dream

Saucony Grid Fastwitch 6 (2)

Running Shoe Review: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Is the Saucony Fastwitch 6 the antidote to too much cushioning in a street racer?

I was hoping that the new version of this lightweight street racer would prove to be the brightly shining star in Saucony’s galaxy of running shoes. Well, sometimes dreams come true and sometimes they don’t.

On first impression, the Fastwitch 6 is a beautiful shoe with a stunning orange and black color scheme that will be especially pleasing to graduates of Princeton, the University of the Pacific and UTEP. It’s also quite protective for a shoe that weighs in at slightly less than 7 ounces. Some of us likely have some old wool socks that weigh more than that!

The Fastwitch is unique in delivering a firm ride for a racing flat, feeling more like a European model than an American runner. Pull out the supplied insole and you’ll see that the top of the midsole feels rock hard. This seemed promising for runners who have become weary of overly-cushioned models.

The Fastwitch provides more than a modicum of control – it’s a performance stability racer, perhaps too stable for most runners looking for a low-to-the-ground flat. (I found myself wishing that it was a bit more neutral.) One of the positives about this shoe is that its structure supports a mid-foot landing. The heel cushioning is fairly neutral – neither overly stiff or soft; it’s just “there.”

Unfortunately, the Fastwitch 6 seems to be afflicted with two quite serious flaws. The first is the fit problem. I had to order a full size up (since I had heard rumors that it ran unusually short), and yet the shoe barely fit. I have narrow feet. Still, I had to put on an old thin, ragged, worn-out pair of Buffalo Chips Running Club socks in order to manage to squeeze my feet into the ‘witch 6. But this is not the worst of it…

The second problem is the innovative, irritating Flex Film upper from Saucony that’s used to reduce weight. That it does but at quite a cost. The Flex Film material is of the non-stretch, unforgiving sort. There’s not a tenth of an inch of “give” in it – there’s apparently no way of reducing the grip of the material on the sensitive upper part of the runner’s foot. It becomes a bit torturous rather quickly, and my body began to repeatedly send my brain a single message, “Let’s take this shoe off as soon as possible!”

If I had to run a half-marathon in the Fastwitch 6, I imagine that the top of my feet would look like Tillamook shredded cheese after completing 13.1 miles. It’s not a pleasant thought.

There’s much that’s promising about this edition of Saucony’s attractive road racer. Let’s hope that the folks at Saucony get on the case and fix the two big flaws in the Fastwitch when they release version 7.0. With a couple of repairs in place, the next Fastwitch might be more than just a daydream.

Joseph Arellano

This article originally appeared on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-saucony-fastwitch-6/

Interestingly, these comments about the Fastwitch 6 appear in the current (March 2013) issue of Men’s Fitness magazine: “Road warriors get going with the supportive yet flexible Fastwitch 6. Its breathable upper and water-drainage ports make this Saucony one of the best all-rounders.” (Water-drainage ports? I didn’t see them on this shoe.)

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Ride Captain Ride

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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?

Joseph Arellano

The Saucony ProGrid Ride 5 sells for $109.95.

This review was originally posted on the Blogcritics Sports site:

http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/running-shoe-review-the-saucony-progrid

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