Scott Speed Carbon RC Shoe Review

Carbon shoes are a thing… There is no shortage of new shoes boasting a variation of a carbon plate that is designed to provide additional speed for in principal, less effort.

There are many arguments for and against and a plethora of recent world records confirms the current ‘new’ shoe design is bringing a performance enhancement. 

I personally feel that any brand tries to make the new version of any product, better than the last. It’s called progression. We only need to look at the shoe that Roger Bannister used to break the 4-minute mile… Current milers are using very different shoes and running on very different surfaces to the cinder track of Bannister’s era.

But of course, a limit has to come (eventually) and gladly, I don’t have any say what or when that limit is. I do believe though; we are not there yet with the current carbon shoes.

Scott have been making shoes for many years and this current incarnation has been a revelation. It’s a great looking shoe. The yellow is bold! It maybe looks heavy but it’s not, it is a super-light shoe that screams speed. The cushioning is substantial and Hoka One One like – This is a standard feature of carbon enhanced shoes across all brands.

Notably, the Scott has a very noticeable rocker that makes you want to lean and propel forward. This is even noticeable when standing still, you can almost feel off balance.

The upper is light, breathable and the lacing reassured providing an excellent hold of the foot.

The outsole is designed for speed and provides grip when needed, but not so much grip that it slows the user down.

IN USE

I am not experienced in carbon shoes and in all honesty, I am probably beyond my best running days when a carbon shoe could make a difference. But, it’s easy to compare recent road runs over fixed distances when I have timed and monitored effort.

i decided that my first run would be a half marathon. I have a run that rolls along with hills, descents and some long and flat sections.

Lacing the shoes up I initially found that my foot was not as secure as I preferred, so I lock laced and tied them tight… Post-run I realised I had tied them too tight as it had caused some inflammation. 

The opening km’s felt a little weird. The cushioning and stack height was extremely noticeable but not unpleasant. The rocker was VERY noticeable and without doubt it makes you want to roll forward and increase speed and cadence. The Scott makes you want to run fast and funnily enough, post-run, I felt the shoe made me want to run faster than I had the fitness for.

With 5km covered I was getting in to a rhythm and cadence. Noticeably, to reap any benefit from the shoe, you need to strike the ground hard. This enables the carbon to do its job and propel you forward. This shoe does not give you anything for free, you need to invest effort to reap the rewards.

I purposely did not look at my watch during that first run. I wanted to run on feel and go on perception. I felt good, the shoe felt as though it was giving me something I hadn’t experienced before. But there was a fatigue in the legs different to my normal runs. I put this down to the carbon and the need to strike the ground harder to gain extra propulsion. As my run came to a close, I was feeling worked but also quick. I was convinced I had run quicker than previous runs, in different shoes on the same route. With 21.1km covered I stopped my watch… I was 33 sec slower than my fastest time on the route! I was surprised, I was convinced I had gone quicker but the margin of plus and minus was minimal and of course well within parameters of testing.

Thinking about the run above, I gave it 12-hours before accessing. The Scott is a fast shoe and without doubt is a shoe that would result in faster times and PB’s. But they are not magic! They require adaptation, they require investment and I would say that they do require some change in run style.

They are not shoes for training runs, they are ideal for speed sessions, intervals, timed sessions and of course races. But before you toe the line for a key or important race, you need to have made adaptation and learned both physically and mentally how to get the best out of the shoe.

POST INITIAL RUN

The Scott have joined me on many a run but only when I have wanted to run faster. I find running slower difficult in them; the rocker is so prominent that it constantly wants you to roll forward, increase cadence and push the pace. Also the carbon, irrespective of all the cushioning, does give a harder ride at slower speeds. But, increase the speed and the carbon flexes with impact and propels you forward. This is when the Scott comes to life and like I said previously, if you have the fitness, the Scott will keep tempting you to run faster, and faster.

As I accumulate miles and adapt to the shoe, I will eventually go back to my 21.1km route and see if I can give the Scott’s the speed they deserve. I may even toe the start of a road race, but don’t count on it… Ultimately though, over the years, running for me has been less about looking at minutes per mile and considerably more about the journey and the adventure.

The Scott is all about speed, about getting the most from a run when it counts. So, if that is for you, I firmly believe that the Scott will provide you with what you are looking for. But don’t expect something for nothing, you need to invest in this shoe to make the most out of it!

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Hoka One One ZINAL Shoe Review

Having avoided Hoka One One shoes since 2012 (long story, but insight here) I was tempted to try the Torrent 2 based on the number of recommendations and discussion telling me that ‘this’ is the least ‘Hoka’ like shoe out there… Basically that meant, less cushioning, less stack height and a more conventional run shoe feel.

I was impressed. The Torrent 2 really was a revelation and over recent months has become a shoe I have used on a regular basis, be that for road, trail, or fastpacking trips. At the time of writing the Torrent 2 review, I was aware of the ‘ZINAL’ and the pre-release articles mentioning that it would be Hoka One One’s lightest shoe with an emphasis on agile and fast. It was shoe designed around the iconic Sierre-Zinal race that takes place in August each year – A fast mountain race that requires athletic speed but mountain ability.

The arrival of the ZINAL confirmed all the PR. Light and low-profile with an obvious intention to run fast but with some comfort.

I have to say, the ‘Blazing Orange’ would not be my colour way of choice, but hey, it’s only a colour, the ‘Atlantis/ Outer Space’ option is far more appealing.

Atlantis/ Outer Space’ option is far more appealing.

At £140 the pricing is maybe a little on the expensive side, but in all honesty, run shoes these days all hover around this mark. Using recycled materials and boasting a Vegan tag, the ZINAL also ticks some very important boxes.

THE SHOE

The ZINAL is floaty light with a weight of 242g for the standard UK8/EU42 size. It’s neutral, responsive and has a 5mm drop. The side of the shoe boasts some statistics – S32x19|V490|W242. These stats refer to: Spring Measurement, Volume and Weight. While it’s not new to see stats on a shoe, volume and spring measurement are new on me and while I could understand volume, I did wonder what the spring measurement would mean?

Spring measurement is, ‘Curvature of the shoe, measuring how high the heel and toe are off the ground.’ So, for the ZINAL, this means 33mm at the rear and 19mm at the front. Don’t get confused here with drop, this does not mean a 14mm drop!

Volume relates to the total amount of foam in the midsole.

One would assume that the higher the volume number, the more cushioned or plush the shoe would be, but that is not the case. Here in the ZINAL, the shoe has a lower profile keeping you, the runner, closer to the ground and the cushioning is firmer to provide a more efficient and speedier propulsion in the transition phase. When I wrote about the Torrent 2, the thing I liked and others liked was a firmer ride; less Hoka like, by that I mean less plush and bouncy. Here in the ZINAL that is taken one step farther and the ride is firmer. So, it’s fair to assume that plush ride Hoka fans will find the ZINAL less appealing. Whereas, by contrast, runners who prefer a more conventional shoe who have wanted to try Hoka, will find the ZINAL appealing.

Designed to be minimalist, the ZINAL has very much a race shoe feel. It has enough cushioning and protection from PROFLY but not any extra that would add weight or bulk. Turning the shoe over, this is reflected in the outsole, it has the tried, tested, and loved by many, Vibram Megagrip 4mm lugs, BUT this version does not go the full length of the shoe. It protects the front and the rear. This is called ‘Litebase’ and quite simply it’s lighter because there is less of it.

The mesh upper is similar in many ways to the Torrent 2 and is very breathable and light but at the same time durable. Made from recycled content, it ticks the eco box.

Toe box is a 3 on a 1-5 scale, 1 being precision and 5 being wide. For me it’s ideal and in keeping with a faster shoe. There is a little toe protection from a bumper, but it is minimal.

A gusseted tongue and molded EVA sock liner give a nice firm hold of the foot around the instep which for me is very important, especially when running faster on trails. You want the shoe to hold you with little or no unwanted movement. The heel box is snug and secure.

IN USE

Sizing for me was true to size, I use an EU44/ UK9.5 for all my shoes and the ZINAL slipped on perfectly, however, they do fit different to the Torrent 2 by way of comparison. There seems to be just a little extra length. So, make sure you try them on, a 0.5 size smaller may possibly be better for you?

The low stack height is obvious immediately, and they feel like a normal cushioned shoe, considerably less Hoka like.

The upper is noticeably durable but light and breathable. At times I felt as though there is a little too much shoe, almost too much fabric. It’s hard to pinpoint, but all shoes fit differently and here in the ZINAL I felt there was more internal shoe volume, particularly in comparison to the Torrent 2.

The sock liner and gusseted tongue work well and pulling the laces tight, they give a secure and firm hold of the foot. For me, based on the comment above, I tightened my shoe a little more than normal, however, I did not have the need to lock lace – gladly the additional eyelets are available should that be required.

The tongue is protective but minimal.

The outsole as mentioned has 4mm Vibram Megagrip lugs which are tried and tested, but they are only at the front and the rear of the shoe. The middle of the outsole has no protection or grip and therefore, if running on technical trails such as tree roots or rocks, this can be noticeable as often the whole grip of an outsole can be required, so, this is a consideration. Most definitely, the ZINAL is designed for fast running on trails (and even road) of a less technical nature, just like you would see at the Sierre-Zinal race. When running faster with a mid to forefoot strike, the ZINAL works wonderfully and the Megagrip does its job just as you would want and expect.

The PROFLY cushioning is firm, and noticeably firmer than the Torrent 2. On my first run, I was surprised at how firm this shoe felt. But, when you pick up the pace, that firmness kicks back and propels you forward in the propulsive phase. This is just like how carbon works in carbon shoes – you get nothing for free, the speed and extra propulsion comes from you investing in the shoe with energy and cadence. The spring measurement on the side of the shoe, 33×19, I am still not sure what it means and how I equate those measurements to the feel of the shoe when running? Again, by way of example, on the Torrent 2, this figure was 33×16. 

Volume of the ZINAL V490 and again, by comparison, the Torrent 2 is V395 – I have some confusion here as my understanding of shoe volume related to the following: “If your foot has a medium to wide width and/or a high arch, you have a high-volume foot. If you have a narrow, slender foot and a flat arch, you have a low-volume foot.”

I do wonder sometimes that we can be given too much information. The volume and spring measurement are new on me, and I have been testing shoes for 10-years. I have never worried about these measurements but now I have them, I want to know what they mean and how I should read them so that I can relay back to you…. It’s left me perplexed. Am I over thinking it? Ultimately is the shoe good? Is it fast? Is it light? Is it responsive?

Spring and volume confusion aside, the ZINAL is light and responsive with an excellent ground feel and the 5mm drop works well with the shoe’s intentions. It’s a shoe that wants to go faster and most certainly, the faster you go, the better the shoe feels.

Based on the above, for me, the ZINAL is not an everyday shoe. It’s a shoe for those faster tail runs when you want to push the pace, either in shorter training sessions or if doing intervals or hill work. Of course, the ZINAL will excel in trail races (that are not too technical) when long-term comfort is sacrificed for speed. So, for many, this would be a great shoe for up marathon distance. Beyond that, would depend on the runner, their needs, their run style and so many other factors. For example, Hoka One One athlete, Camille Herron, toed the line at Western States 100 in a pair of ZINAL.

It’s too early for me to comment on the longevity of the shoe, I have no reason to think that the upper will have any issues, my Torrent 2 have had 400km+ and are still going well. However, the stripped back outsole by Vibram may well not last as long? If you take the ZINAL on rough and technical trails, I most definitely can see potential issues with the middle of the outsole and its lack of protection. I will feedback on this.

CONCLUSION

The ZINAL is a notable shoe for Hoka One One and a welcome step in a different direction for the brand who has a reputation for plush ride, arguably, the Torrent 2 paved the way. This is a shoe that is designed for fast (faster) running and as such, it’s not an everyday shoe, at least for me it’s not! The cushioning or lack of it (for some) causes me no issues, actually, the ZINAL for me is still one of the most cushioned shoes I am using, many of my other shoes have considerably less.

The outsole restricts the ZINAL use, and it is most definitely a shoe for groomed trail, smooth single-track and road. A good road to trail shoe! It can handle some technical trails, but I do believe that this will greatly impact on the life of the shoe, particularly from the outsole perspective. Avoid mud, it just would not be able handle it!

Torrent 2 Review HERE

A fun shoe, a fast shoe, a light shoe that brings a smile to your face when pushing the pace or when racing. But, if you want a shoe with many ZINAL similarities and more flexibility, the Torrent 2 is worth looking at IMO. Ultimately, the Torrent 2 and ZINAL would work well together and for me, I’d have the Torrent 2 as an everyday shoe and the ZINAL for sessions and racing.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

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