Sunday, March 25, 2012

Skechers Go Bionic Review


On September 18th my buddy Peter Larson posted a review of the Skechers Go Run on his blog, runblogger.com.  At the time I was preparing to run 108 miles of pavement across NH and was keeping my eyes out for a minimal type shoe that offered enough cushion and protection for all that pavement.  His review of the Go Run really caught my interest.  After several emails back and forth he put me in touch with the team at Skechers.

After giving them feedback on the first pair of Go Run shoes (loved the feel of the upper, loved the flexibility of the shoe, felt that the "bump" under the arch was a little weird when walking, but awesome when running, etc.) they sent me another pair with the changes I suggested.  How cool!!  Then another pair, and another, etc.  What started out as simple feedback has now blossomed into me being a wear tester for Skechers.  (Disclaimer:  all of the shoes I have received from Skechers have been at no charge in exchange for my feedback).

Before I get into the actual review of the Go Bionic it must be said that I am incredibly impressed with the team at Skechers.  They are one of the biggest producers of shoes and they have dedicated an incredible amount of resources to building real running shoes.  The complete lack of arrogance and genuine interest in my feedback has been incredible.  I have made suggestions for shoes and had a custom pair show up in two weeks.  The quality of their prototypes is so high that the first time they sent me a custom shoe I called them and said they must have made a mistake, I thought it was a production shoe. 

Go Bionic!
The shoe that I have been wearing the most is the Go Bionic.  Peter and I have been working collaboratively with them on this shoe.  Pete likes to run sockless and does shorter faster runs than me.  I always wear socks and generally run longer distances. Therefore our feedback comes from different perspectives and covers a wide type of runners needs.

Let me say one thing.  Although I like minimal shoes, I don't consider myself a "Barefoot" runner.  The only requirement that I have for running shoes is that there has to be a 4mm or less heel/midfoot drop.  I love how minimal shoes feel.  I love how they sort of disappear on my feet.  I love how they are not hot and breath well.  But I do not love how much the bottom of my feet hurt when I try to run long distances in them.  I like having some cushioning, or" bounce", when I land on pavement.

For me the perfect shoe would simply be rubber that would extend out of the bottom of my foot.  It would allow my feet to move and feel exactly as they do when I'm barefoot, but it would give me enough cushioning and protection to allow me to run all day (and night).  

Most minimal shoes cater to the barefoot crowd.  And most barefooters like to feel the ground.  Some of them write on their blogs how shoes with a tiny bit of hard rubber have no "ground feel" and aren't minimal enough.  Well, not this guy.  I have been trying to find a minimal shoe that would let me run for hours without making it feel like somebody beat the bottoms of my feet with a ball-peen hammer.  I have finally found that shoe.  And it is the Go Bionic.

6.4 Oz with sockliner, 6.0 without (size 10 mens)

The Go Bionic is a zero drop lightweight shoe.  Unlike most zero drop minimal shoes, the sole is made with a lateral midsole thickness of 11.5mm and has substantial cushioning.  For me, the Resalyte material has a perfect amount of ground feel with enough "squish" or "bounce".

Flexible....yes!!

 The horizontal and vertical slits in the soles allows the shoe to move with your feet in all directions.  A size 10 mens shoe weighs only 6.4 oz on my digital scale and exactly 6 oz without the removable sockliner.

Nice flat removable sockliner
Originally the shoe was designed without a sockliner and was meant to be able to wear sockless.  The first pair I received had no sockliner.  There was a noticeable feel to the blocks of rubber directly under my feet that was a bit strange when standing, but was undetectable when running.  Peter and I both suggested that they design the shoe with a very minimal removable sockliner.  It turned a really good shoe into a great shoe for me.

Without the sockliner
 Another thing that I love about this shoe is that there is zero arch support.  Zero.  I really don't understand why shoe companies design "minimal" shoes and then ruin them with arch support.  I want my minimal shoes to feel like my feet.  Not like traditional shoes that don't allow my arch to flex and stretch.  Skechers got this right.
Wide Toe Box

Breathability is excellent and the upper has a wide toe box that allows your toes to splay freely.  Running roads in this shoe feels like running barefoot on the grass.  That's the best way I can describe the ride.  Two weeks ago I decided to meet the family for breakfast...31 miles away.  I wasn't sure how my feet would feel after running that many miles in a zero drop shoe, but I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived later after 4 1/2 hours of roads.

 
The slits in the sole do open the question about how waterproof they are.  Skechers has given the shoes a 3M Scotchguard Protective coating.  Not only does this improve water resistance at the bottom of the shoe, but it keeps the uppers looking better longer.  I have tested a pair of Go Runs with this coating by taking them off road through mud, sand, water, and general muck and was amazed at how everything just kind of slid off the shoes.  They tell me that it is very heavy duty and should last the life of the shoes.  The shoe also has a primer and cement layer between the midsole slits and the upper to increase protection.  I have not tested the shoes in the rain, but I have run in them when there was heavy snowmelt on the roads and did not have any water come through the bottom of the shoes.

Flexible in every direction.
Besides being a great road shoe, this shoe is a fantastic every day shoe for the person who doesn't want to have an elevated heel.  I love how minimal shoes feel for casual use, but I don't walk midfoot first.  Frankly I've never been able to figure out how to do it without looking like I am very "light in the loafers", so to speak.   Therefore, whenever I do wear a zero drop shoe for work,  my feet end up hurting by the end of the day.  With the Go Bionics extra cushioning I find that I have the best of both worlds.  Zero drop, zero pain.

Ok, so I'm gushing.  I love these shoes.  I have waited two years for somebody to come out with a shoe like this.  If you want a pair you will have to wait just a little bit longer.  The release date is scheduled for July of this year with an estimated MSRP of under $90.

If you want a more technical review of the shoe, check out Petes's post at www.runblogger.com.



25 comments:

Chris said...

Excellent review. I look forward to these shoes hitting the market. Curious how well they'd work for trail ultras. I find most road shoes work fine for trail ultramarathons--as long as the trails aren't too technical or muddy.

Nathan Sanel said...

Chris,

The biggest obstacle for using these in a trail race is the exposed area where the slits are. Rocks occasionally get wedged in there and the chance for a stick to poke your foot is a real possibility.

I can't say too much at this point, but lets just say that your not the first person to ask that question......

steve speirs said...

Excellent review, Nate. Really like the sound of these shoes...

Thanks to you and Pete for the great info. Sounds like a fun/cool project to be involved in.

--Steve

Brad said...

How do you think these shoe compare in performance and comfort to the Merrell Bare Access? Both shoes offer a decent amount of cushioning and are very light, minimal, & flexible.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very professional review.Have you run more miles in these shoes, and what's your updated take?

Nathan Sanel said...

Brad,
The only Merrell "bare" shoes I have are the trail model. The Go Bionics are way more cushioned, but every bit as flexible. They also have a slightly wider toebox.
Nate

Nathan Sanel said...

Anonymous,
I have about 150 running miles on my current pair. Since the weather has broke here in NH I have been running only on trails, so I have not been running in the Go Bionics. Even though I have not been running in them, I have been using them as my everyday shoes. They are holding up great and the most comfortable zero drop shoes I've ever worn. I love them.
Nate

San Simeon said...

Great Review.

Im enjoying the Go Run II now, love it. Im at 3-4miles 3x times a week on pavement mainly.

Go Bionic sounds like a major team effort, gathering run feedback.

Im more than impressed with the initiative Skechers has taken to answer the call for true performance.

Erik said...

Hi Nate,

You've provided some damn good insight into what this shoe will provide. This is what I've been looking for ever since I dove into minimal running shoes. I've never been able to wear shoes with arch support, so it makes me very happy to hear there is none in these! Sometimes you just feel the need for a bit more cushioning. No we weren't meant to run with shoes, but we weren't meant to run or walk on asphalt either! I'm very much looking to trying these out once they come out!

RoogieRoo said...

Any idea when in July, I'm foaming at the mouth waiting for these, they sound just exactly what I've been looking for (zero drop, good cushioning, wide footbox).

Nathan Sanel said...

RoggieRoo,
I don't know when the release date is, but it should be soon. I just emailed my contact at Skechers and as soon as I have an answer I'll post it here.

Paul Claveloux said...

I contacted Skechers about the release date and here is the feedback I got:

"At this time we are expecting the Go Bionic Skechers to become available in late August, early September 2012. I would suggest checking back the last week of August 2012 for availability."

Thanks for the great review! I'm very excited to get my hands on a pair of these.

Anonymous said...

Nate,

How do you think this shoe stacks up with the Altra Instinct? I'm been running in the Instincts for awhile now and like them very much, but wanted to your impression from a comparision standpoint.

Thanks!

Nathan Sanel said...

Anon...
The Bionic is a very different shoe than the Instinct. It is way more flexible and more minimal feeling. It might be a great progression if you have been running in the Instincts for a while and you want more ground feel.
Nate

miki269 said...

I run 6 miles a day on pavements in Kinvaras,and am very happy with them. Would you recomend switching to the GoBionics, or maybe wait for the new Virrata?

Nathan Sanel said...

miki269,
This is a much more minimal shoe than the Kinvara. If you are looking for something that is more flexible and lighter then give it a try.
Nate

Anonymous said...

Nate
Loved the review and I am waiting on my pair to come in. While I am waiting how do you think this shoe compares to the Merrell Road Glove? I have run in Altra Instincts (saw your comparision to them) and also in the RG. I like the flexability of the RG but it doesn't seem to have enough cushion for longer runs. I like the cushioning of the Instinct but it is not very flexiable. You feel that this shoe falls in between these two?
Thanks and keep up the good work love the site along with Pete's.

Nathan Sanel said...

I've never run in the road glove, but I have recently been wearing the Bare Access II and the level of cushioning is comparable to the Go Bionic. From what I can see of the RG, I think you are correct in your assumption of the GB fitting right between it and the Altra.

runlikeamexican said...

Hi Nate

I am dying to try the Go Bionic but only run trails, so very nervous about the rock in slits issue. Any further comment on that? Think maybe Merrell Bare Access would be better option?

thanks
Clarissa

Nathan Sanel said...

Clarissa,
The Go Bionic's are not a great choice for trails. I really can't see the Bare Access II being that great for trails either, only because they have little tread. Skechers has a Go Bionic Trail coming out that are excellent, but I don't know when the release date is. Its hard for me to make a recommendation without knowing what you are running in now.
Nate

Rick Yonker said...

Hi Nate.

Have you run in the GoBionic Rides yet? I just got a pair and I really like them so far.

Rick

Nathan Sanel said...

Hi Rick,
I have run a little in them, but much prefer the regular, zero drop Bionics. Glad your enjoying them though!

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please can you ask Skechers to make some spikes for those of us who do x-country and track. The current crop of spikes are awful - no flexibility throughout any shoe, and each and everyone appears to be designed solely for people with wafer-thin feet.
Sean

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