Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Triax, Supernova and Pegasus Shootout

As most of you know, I was given a pair of Nike Air Pegasus+ by Nike to try out for KL International Marathon (KLIM) 08. I was given a pair of Nike Air Triax 10+ last year by them as well to try out for KLIM 07. Prior to this pair of Air Pegasus, I was given a pair of Adidas Supernova CSH 7 which I used for my IronMan (IM) 08 race.

Yes, I’m lucky. I don’t think I need to buy anymore shoes for the next 2 years of active racing.

Before all these fancy branded shoes, I relied basically on my New Balance, which was officially my first pair of proper running shoes and the previous last seen in action Brooks Targa2 which I absolutely adore (and given away to a driller I worked with in Sabah). So, as you can see, my appreciation of these running shoes sort of evolved from the very basic running shoes to the almost top of the range type.

Having said that, I am still wondering how the Asic Kayano 13, which has many runners singing praises about feel. But I guess as far as all those are concerned, I am truly blessed with what I have.

As a benchmark, I will compare the Air Pegasus+ with both Triax and Supernova; using Triax as the benchmark as it was, after all the first “technologically enhanced” shoe I ever had.


R-L : Triax, Supernova, Pegasus

I will compared all 3 shoes based on OUTLOOK, FEATURES, CUSHIONING, STABILITY, VENTILATION, DURABILITY, SAFETY and of course, my own category which I will call “The Ouch Factor”.

To start with, it would be interesting to note the sizes of the shoes which were given to me. Triax was a US11, Supernova was a US10.5 and Pegasus was a US10 (4E). Please be reminded that the shoes was only given to me if it fits my feet, i.e. it won’t be given to me just for the sake of giving from all parties concerned (yes, even if I were to BEG!).

Also, the other benchmark would be the fact that I’ve ran 3 different marathon with 3 different shoes, so, each shoe did clocked a proper marathon at the time of review.

OUTLOOK
Let’s admit it; most of us buy the shoe because it looks good. Even though the function would not serve the purpose we would want to buy it in the first place. That goes to explain why some of us out there are willing to spend on something that might not even serve its purpose (retail therapy???).

I love the Triax design and color. Maybe because of the striking orange hue with the overall white color. It screamed for attention. The trademark Swoosh was also highly visible and would make one feels like they are serious athlete. To compare it with a car, this is the badass racer boy wannabe Honda – ever ready to go.

The Supernova, with the same white overall concept with yellow based subtlety painted on a few places was as striking as well. The yellow was more striking when it was new. But after some mileage (and tones of sweat), it sort of fade off. The Supernova’s design was typical Adidas. To borrow the car analogy, it would be like looking at a Toyota – expected and reliably predictable.

The Pegasus, on the other hand, looked boring at the first glance. Most probably because of the grayish blue overall with reddish orange Swoosh here and there. Due to the color contrast of the blue-red combination, the Swoosh was more subtle. But it is something that you might grow to like over time. However, to say it wasn’t attention grabbing was entirely not true as my colleague did notice it when I first wore it to the office after I got the shoe! To carry on the analogy, it is best described to look like a Merc – reliable and you know you can race it.

While taste is subjective and open for debate, my personal favorite is the Triax – as I love how the shoe stand out amongst the three I have and oh well, I had to admit it, I am a self confessed narcissist, so any attention is good.

FEATURES
When the Triax first came out, it was the flagship model where it would be able to “talk” to the iPod Nano and tell the runner their speed and all the stats of their workout. It was indeed a first amongst the many. It weight lighter than my previous 2 shoes and it was a welcome change at that point of time.

Meanwhile, Supernova was the one with enough features to please any nerds which wants to feel like super athlete. With a new technology called Formotion, it was indeed the biggest differences I felt when compared to the Triax. But of course, when I compared the Triax with Supernova, I was told I wasn’t comparing apple to apple but rather apple to orange. The Supernova equivalent in Nike is the Vomero, which some would say is like running on pillow (I could had been able to review the Vomero if it was just half a size bigger!) The Supernova also comes with a prototype insert for connectivity with a Polar HRM and could be used as a pedometer. I’m not sure if the production Supernova (the one I got was strictly working prototype and wasn’t sold until recently) comes with that insert which is similar with Nike+.

The Pegasus, being Nike’s bread and butter model, was pretty predictable. To me, it is classified under the “can’t go wrong” category; very much like the Supernova. It has all the Triax has and it’s much lighter compared to the Triax (one side of Pegasus is 365gram). I can feel the differences as I was used to be running in shoes which weigh almost a tonne and any shoes lighter than a tonne do feel light, whether it is light or not.

The clear winner in this category was clearly the Supernova with all the Superfeatures which could almost give any Supertire a run for their money should the features on the shoes be translated to a tire.

CUSHIONING
When someone talks about cushioning in sports shoes, people tend to relate them to Nike or to Asic. While one uses the “Air” denomination as the standard, the other uses the “Gel” notion to denotes the plush factor.
So, it wasn’t a surprised when I first wear the Triax, it was really comfortable and I was really confident in running in the shoe for 42.2km eventhough I did not have the luxury to “season” the shoe prior to that.

But when Supernova comes along, the cushioning was so plush, it makes me feel running in the Triax is like being barefoot on tarmac. The Formotion was really really a great feature as it provide advance cushioning on the heel upon impact.

However, the Pegasus+ was as comfy as the Supernova and as plush, maybe even plushier. Having said that, I did try to fit into the Vomero+ and I tell you, that Vomero top it all off when it comes to cushioning, unfortunately, it was half a size smaller (didn’t I said that already?)

The thicker than usual sole on the Pegasus did contribute to the better cushioning without sacrificing or adding on the weight onto the shoe (that in return made me compare the Pegasus to a Merc la – Bigger but surprisingly comfy!)

In terms of cushioning, I would say it’s a tie between Supernova and Pegasus+.

STABILITY
When runners gather to talk about running shoes, apart from comparing how overpronate their feet could be, or how their biomechanic when they are running contribute to them either clocking their personal best or otherwise, the issue on stability will somewhat come into the picture.

Stability in this sense was referring more to the side to side motion of the feet and the back to front motion as the heel strike and the ball of the feet takes off. Technically, the better the stability, the greater the control. Having greater control will contribute to lesser possibility of injury. With that, the runner could perhaps break the current 42.2km record of 2:15 set last Sunday.

But seriously, stability in shoe is as serious as preventing your car from drifting while running (whilst the drifting motion in car are sometimes on purpose, drifting in running would only contribute to you being rested for the rest of your running career).

The Triax was technically more stable than the previous 2 shoes I had. Having cross support on the upper shoe and the stability factor on the arch/feet was a great contributing factor to me running injury free (well, almost). While it was sufficient, I believe it could had been better, especially on the forefoot where to some extend, after wearing them for a longer period, you wish that your front feet would not slide left and right as much.

The Supernova utilized it’s own trademark three stripes as part of the stability structure. With the stabilizing plate at the bottom of the shoe, it gives a very nice “take off” feel as you push forward. This was clearly missing in the Triax. However, the upper stability was sometimes in question as I do find my feet threatening to twist when I land on uneven surface.
The Pegasus was heavily supported on the upper portion of the shoe. The traditional webbing used to maintain the shape and intergrity of the shoe ensure that your feet do not “slide” under uneven surface and ensure that every strike lands as it should for good power transfer to the ground.

For this category, I would say the Pegasus pip the Supernova slightly.

VENTILATION
The horror of some people is that their sport shoes smell like a whole basket of fish died in there and left to rot.

While some shoes has ventilation even on the bottom, it was sort of a counter productive at time when running over a puddle of water would almost guarantee that the water would seep through from the bottom. So much for keeping the interior dry!

Before I go on, I would want to put on the record that my feet do not sweat a tonne like my face when I eat something spicy. So, I do not have issue with my shoe smelling like 2two basket of durian was left in there over night.


To start with, the Triax’s ventilation was good. When I remove the shoe, my sock felt warm and slightly damn. The mesh was good enough and provide decent ventilation.


The Supernova on the other hand has great ventilation. To compare how good the ventilation are, Shazly would be the best person to refer to. He has both the Triax and Supernova just like me. In the Triax, he sweat bucket. In the Supernova, his feet as just damp. If you run next to him, you would hear squishing sound from his feet when he wears the Triax but never on the Supernova!


When I had the Pegasus+ on for KLIM 08, my socks was never even damp to start with until the 36km when I accidentally wet the Pegasus as I drenched myself with ice water. Eventhough it was partially wet, it took me less than 6km back to the finishing line and the shoe was as dry as the Sahara!. Unbelieveable!

So, this round truly belongs to Pegasus+.

DURABILITY



Triax has clocked almost 500km over the period of 1 year and it was the heaviest used shoe when I was preparing for IM08 this year. However, It proved to be able to take the abuse I put on her and still look new. However, the tell tale sign that the shoe is coming to it’s end of life is from the sole of the shoe where it clearly show sign of wear and tear. What used to be orange is now replaced by black rubber material. However, I did great mileage with this shoe and I guess it’s time to put her to rest.

The Supernova is still new but I’ve clocked almost a decent 150km in them. As expected, it is still taking the abuse and the heavy 78kg of bodyweight it has to support (yes la, I gained weight). As with any Toyota car, I don’t think this shoe would have durability issue.

As for the Pegasus+, having only clocked a total of 50km at most, it’s still too early to tell, but if going by the convention that Nike make their shoes pretty much the same, and that the Pegasus+ is on the higher range compared to Triax, I strongly believe it would give me another 450km before even showing any sign of wear and tear.

As my experience is based on Nike shoe where durability is concerned, I would give this one to the Triax, for being the most “seasoned” player amongst the three shoes.

THE OUCH FACTOR
I guess most of you would think I’m referring to the pricing factor and how it would hurt your pocket (hence the OUCH factor), but I must tell you that you are wrong. I’m not that predictable la.

The OUCH factor here is referring to the tendency of the shoe giving you blisters on first usage.

Triax was almost a disaster, though comfy, I had to endure two sets of blisters when I used it for the marathon last year. While it is expected of a new shoe not to “form” according to my feet, the same could not be said for the other shoes in this list. It was a OUCH OUCH factor for this shoe. To be fair, the socks I wore was a lil too thin for a marathon as well. And from then on, the 2 other shoes I wore, it was with slightly thicker socks (same thicker socks to be precise, got to create a controlled environment what).

The Supernova, with it’s No Seam feature, did promise an almost blister free environment. However, while using it for less than 20km and it did not give much problems, the same can’t be said when I ran it in the IM08. I did have a small blister on the last pinky, but the euphoria of completing the race blocked off all the pain I had. Seems ironic that the blisters that occurs was in a shoe which was build to be seamless!

The Pegasus+ was actually the biggest gamble. With almost no training and extra low mileage and only driven by the fact that I’ve finished an IronMan race and thus, should be able to complete the 42km, I took extra risk by wearing a totally new shoe which I did not even walk in for 2 hours from the time I received it. Insane!

But the decision did pay off. Not only I was blister free, this pair received the “AHHHHhhhhhh” factor instead of the OUCH notation. With extra thick sole, it was even better.

For this, I would name myself the winner for taking risk on all three occasion. But seriously, the choice is pretty clear, it’s the Pegasus+ which win “The OUCH Factor” by not getting any OUCH at all.

CONCLUSION
There is one last thing I want to compare. And yes, it’s perhaps just myself which are particular about this feature on the shoe – the reflective material and it’s placement.

If I could have a shoe which emits lights (and it got to be LEDs) I would be the first to get it (I’m not talking about those kid’s shoes which flashes like some ultra ah beng).

What I’m looking for is the safety factor. As you all know, I run at almost insane hours and while traffic will be minimal, I have to protect myself from potential drivers which decide that no human sane enough to be running at 5am in the morning.



For this, the Triax has funky steps like reflector material on the front and back. The Supernova perhaps took over how a Solomon would looked like. It is minimal but serves It’s purpose. But the Pegasus+ literally will light up the road where your heel lands. With 2 large reflective material and 2 more up front which is visibly from the front, it sure looked like a mean shoe.



Weighing in all the factors above, The winner would be Pegasus+ (4-to-2 win).



However I would say that the choices for the shoes are pretty much personal preferences. I was just lucky enough to be able to review all the 3 shoes above and so happen that the every shoes I review seems to be better than the other one; being able to compare the shoes over a longer period of time and being able to compare them back to back with each other did me to come out with this comparison entry.

Now, what is left is to test ride the much hyped Kayano 13.

Oh ya, no one noticed the shoe that one Marathon runner wore during KLIM? I guess most of you would have to wait until October then!

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