Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Skechers GoRun Bolt FitKnit Review


In the midst of testing the GRB FitKnit after the unboxing and it has been good so far. The GoRunRide3 (GRR3) ride is predictable and did not differ much. The cushioning and road feel were the same for me at least. OK, maybe it is a bit better perhaps because it is new (and hence the bounciness).

Fitting
My usual size for Skechers is US10 or US11, depending on the cutting as some like GoMeb or Speed is known to have narrow toe box (and for that I went US11). My feet may had grown slightly over the past year and I requested for US11 from Skechers HQ. 10 is ok, but 11 would allow me to test the shoes out with the insole, and perhaps socks. 

This shoe was fitted with socks in the morning and that was a good choice going with the US11. Again, as general rule of thumb, always ensure 1-finger spacing at the back of the shoe between your Achilles and the shoe collar. Bear in mind that when you run downhill, your feet will slide in front and you need those space else you may end up with painful toes, or toe nails that may fall off after a long race. 

First Feel
US11, at first feel, was great. Superb toe room without being overly roomy. Pull up the laces tight and the shoes just wrap up the feet like gloves. And it did felt like "gloves". The claimed seamless construction gave the shoe inner felt like you were wearing a socks (to be describing it correctly as gloves is for hands ;-)). It was tested without the insole placed inside and from experiences with Skechers' shoe, I know I have room to play with the insole. 


The GRB is a 4mm drop shoes, same as the GRR3. For those new to the term, what this really (drop) meant is the differences in height between the front/midsole and the heel height. Traditional running shoes are heavier stacked/height at the back, which lends to the possibility of the heel striking or landing first when you run.


I am running without socks and with the insole as I enjoy the more cushioned feel and to allow for a more accurate representation of how many would use this shoe. 

As the ride, as I mentioned, is same as GRR3, hence this review will try to share as much as I "felt" with the new FitKnit.

Run FitKnit


For this test I looked for the route that has a mix of well paved surface, slippery surface and uneven surface; just to feel if the knitted material effects the lateral movement and support. 
Uneven surface : I started the run on the uneven surface that is the bicycle lanes in Taman Tun. The route has never been re-paved since it was built in the 90's. Roots of trees that lined the main road and non-maintenance created a trip-galore route. Nothing better than this short 500m from the Mosque to the junction of Dato Sulaiman to test quick changes in direction. 

Verdict: Good feel. Minimal lateral movement. Good support on arch. No instances of the shoe sliding under landing. Gets more confident to bounce around after a while. Changes in direction is good with positive grip. Cushioned Resalyte absorb pretty much the loose gravels and root-bumps under the feet upon landing. 
I set my JVC Adixxion XA2 to capture images and video of my run to see what and how the shoe will moves under normal run. Took me a while to capture a good 5 seconds and going through the video yields good images of how the shoe actually moves with my feet as well. The picture on the right shows how the toe area/forefoot were firmly attached to the ground while the metatarsal (top of feet) were free to move without restrictions. What appeared to be the GRB losing shape was actually how the GRB allows the feet to move as naturally as possible.                                                                                                       Paved road: Predictable surface provides an opportunity for speed work. The power transfer were good as I increase the stride.
Verdict: The lateral movement due to the faster stride did not change significantly from the 5:00-5:30 pace I ran earlier. What was evident was the insole sliding a little as I push off more forcefully. This could be because the shoe was still new. 
is that heel striking???
Running In Park
Running in TTDI park provides good mix of elevation. This will allow me to see how the GRB holds up with the uphill push and downhill charge.

Verdict: On the uphill push, the shoe did exhibit slight lateral movement. I must try to tie the laces a bit more snug and verify again. Otherwise, the FitKnit perform as claimed (support and lateral movement).
GoImpulse pods similar to GRR3
Hot upper?
The run were short and did not allow me to check for any potential hotspot (blister forming spot). The fitting and the seamless inner does felt promising for a longer run. The FitKnit did not make the feet felt hotter than the other Skechers that I've worn. 
I've been asked to consider wetting the FitKnit and run with it to test for color run and how well the material expel water. A shoe that is waterlogged is bad and will certainly causes blisters to the feet. I am up for that challenge. 
Hill repeat with GoRun Bolt
From the first two days of using it for an easy review run and the next hill repeat run, the GRB performed as expected. I did hold the feet well, providing support and doesn't lack the lateral support. The shoe is cushy as expected and provide positive traction and feedback. It doesn't sink in as you push off despite the super flexible sole and upper. 

If there is one thing, the color (currently Red/Black or Navy/Grey) may not appeal to those wanting a more colorful pair - but that is not a bad thing either, as there are many out there that love (and long) for a subtle colored pair, that allow them to blend in as a casual wear and takes off the next moment as a performance shoe. 

I will update here again, once I get the chance to wet the shoe, and run in them. Stay tuned!

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRun Bolt FitKnit is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is launched this week (today!). Retailing at RM419 for men and RM399 for women (Semenanjung). RM10-20 more for East Malaysia.

Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Skechers GoRun Bolt FitKnit Unboxing

Performance FitKnit

The ball has started rolling for the new release from Skechers with the FitKnit in GoRunRide3. I was called to the Skechers HQ to collect it. As I've just retired my GoRunUltra NiteOwl after almost 500km, this pair will jump straight into service and will be used for runs from now onwards.
First Impression
When I was told that I will receive a "woven fabric" shoe as Deo, my teammate received his ahead of me, I was skeptical. I knew that another brand do have something similar and they (Nike) call it "FlyKnit". I have no experience with FlyKnit and will not be able to provide any comparison to this. What I know is that the shoes do not come cheap due to the technology.

Knitted uppers usually involve various ways to hold the yarns together providing different thickness and flexibility while maintaining breathability and cutting down on the weight. For this reason alone, they became expensive. 


So what is FitKnit? It is what Skechers call the next generation with upper that provides lateral and medial support for stability during short or long distance running, while maintaining breathability. It provides a flexible fit that is "virtually" seamless, using performance integrated yarns and extremely lightweight. 


First look and if you are as skeptical like me, would not think how this yarn-fabric will provide the support and still be breathable.  One thing very obvious though, it looked heavy due to the carpet-like pattern (or a friend mentioned, very Mongolian pattern), you be surprised that it clocks in at 240grams per side for US11. The official weight for US9 is at 8.4oz or 238grams per side. So it was pretty impressive for a 2-size up to be coming very close to the official US9 weight.

240grams, approx

The Skechers Bolt FitKnit in GoRunRide3
For ease of reference, I would call this the GoRunBolt or GRB. Skechers Malaysia will bring this in (as I am drafting this out today) this month and you will see them in store soon. The GRB is essentially GoRunRide3. I've reviewed this earlier this year in March here and the shoe has since clocked in only about 200km as I was biased to use GoRunUltra a bit more (for my SAC and also my Ironman). As far as road feel and such is concerned, I do not think it will differ much from the GRR3 I am currently using as well. What is the biggest difference at first glance is the upper - the knitted upper. 
Makes you want to touch them isn't it?
Without trying to describe more that photos can do, here are a series of photo to "storify" them. Comments added where needed.
GoRun "Bolt" with the "Ride 3" replaced. Red laces is extra, as per usual Skechers' Performance series, to provide additional laces for color matching.
The heel cup. Design is totally different from Ride3. Soft and supple despite the more structured look

Side view. MStrike is standard. It encourages mid-foot strikes. Again, do not for once think you will strike mid-foot or forefoot with shoes that re engineered as such unless you can correct your own running strides first. Then the benefit will be higher. Take your time to train to correct the running strides and gait.

The sole. Exactly the same as GRR3.

Closer look of the pods. They may looked like they are worn out faster than usual, but past a certain distance, it sort of slow down in the wearing out department, typically after 250km.

Tongue is padded. Like GRR3, it is not sewn down. 

Super smooth seamless inner. GRB promises "socks like feel". To be verified!

I've fiddled with the shoe from all angle and came to the conclusion that the support and structure for the shoe comes from the different pattern and density of the knitting. Some parts are thinner, like the non-critical upper (outside) side near the logo, some parts are thicker and closely knitted like the toe box to lend protection and structure, then the upper mesh above the toes reminds me of the 4-way mesh from the other non-knitted series allowing movement and flexibility.
Different knitting technique delivers different results to flexibility and support
The sides nearer to the sole receive the same treatment as the front toe box where it is more closely knitted to support the lateral movement as well.
Side of the shoe with three very different knitting technique, by far the most complicated and busiest part of the shoe
Together with heat-transferred rubber/silicon like lining, it looked like it will provide the many different movement the feet will force the shoe to conform in an usual run. 
Removable and customisable insole that provides different feel and additional cushioning
Similar like the other Performance series, the shoes came with insole for custom fitting. The insole is similar with the other shoes that I have and I will test the GRB with and without the insole, and in both instances, without socks. 
The original laces is flat, the spare/alternative is rounded. Flat laces is technically more secured once tied while round laces provides more "body" to the look
Summing Up The Unboxing
- Light despite the bulky look.
- Resalyte providing superb cushioning. Think memory foam.
- GoImpulse pod that is standard. Fast wear may still be an issue, especially at the heel area. 
- Knitted shoe that looked good worn casually and when running both recreational and seriously. 
- Customisable insole. If you ever need an insole for other shoes, this could be used ;-) (some older insoles is in my motorbike riding boots ;-))
- FitKnit looked impressive and convincing. No doubt it will work, else Skechers won't release it. Just a question of "how well".
- 4mm drop. Close to ground with cushioning! 
For real life test, soon
Next up : On The Road with GoRun Bolt FitKnit!

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRun Bolt FitKnit is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is launched this week (today!). Retailing at RM419 for men and RM399 for women (Semenanjung). RM10-20 more for East Malaysia.

Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.
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