Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bless you, Saucony. Breakthru 2 review.

Nearly every update is a car crash.  The manufacturer can take a perfectly great shoe and make it worse.  Even when they improve something, often it will result in changes that make the shoe unusable for others who loved the original.

The Saucony Breakthru was a workmanlike neutral road trainer that could be used on race day. It was nothing fancy - it reminded me of a version of the Mirage from a few years back - a nice fit, firm outsole, pretty light - good for everyday use and good enough for race day up to a full marathon.  The best part - it is extremely durable and $100 bucks - a veritable bargain in the shoe market these days.  See my blog post on the Breakthru original.

It was boring, no flash, so I ended up drifting away from the shoe. But over the last month, I put it back in circulation and have enjoyed it anew.

It was with some trepidation I saw the Breakthru 2 was out.  Surely, they'd screw up something.  But from unboxing, it looks like very minor changes that address exactly the minor issues with the first edition.

- The outsole is exactly the same. Powergrid, IBR+, XT900 rubber. Same level of firmness, same tread. 
- The midsole is a bit different.  More foamy than superball.  If the first version was a 3 out of 10 in terms of softness, this is closer to a 4 with 10 being the softest.   
- The upper is more of a mesh than a tight weave nylon.  This should help with breathability during warmer weather, and makes the upper fit more comfortably for me. On my first run, it was absolutely clear this is a looser and more comfortable fit. It is much less tight than the original because the fabric is completely different. On the Breakthru original, it was plasticy. This is pure fabric. I imagine it will be less durable as a result, but time will tell.
- The tongue is a padded material similar to the mesh upper.  The old tongue was more spongy, sort of like the Brooks Launch.  It was ok, but could bunch a bit. This seems like a minor improvement. The tongue stayed in place during the run - better than almost any shoe I've owned.
- Slightly more room in the toebox.  But not a roomy shoe in either iteration.
- The heel looks the same.
- The weight is lower by .1 oz, which could easily be margin of error.

I'll put it directly into daily use, and update this post if necessary. Thanks for not mucking it up, Saucony!

Side by side uppers (Breakthru 2s on left):

No change to outsole whatsoever (2s on the bottom):

Different overlays, breathable mesh on the upper (2s bottom).

You can see the different weave on the upper fabric and the different tongue (2s on right).

Post half-marathon update (3/13/16): I enjoyed running in these guys. My feet felt like they had plenty of room, yet they were a stable and supported enough ride for 13.1 miles. I'm really quite happy about these for road racing. Perhaps enough to coax me into doing a road marathon this year!

Second post half-marathon update (3/21/16): after running my third best HM time in these shoes on 3/12, I ran my second best HM time on 3/20.  They are lighter and more comfortable than the originals, making for a great racing shoe for me. At mile 56, they have a core position in my shoe rotation along with the originals and my Hoka Challenger ATR 2s.

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