A walking RUNNING Contradiction
By Staff Contributor, Kyle Northrop
Every time I sit down and write a review, it seems I am covering the latest, greatest, barely-there, lightweight flash in the pan. That’s well and good – I’m a fan of innovation and technology, both of which are the foundation for the new Renaissance of the ever-growing Minimal category. But what about all the runners out there who need some cushion, stability, and the mechanics of a traditional shoe? Where’s the excitement around those types of shoes? Simply stated: there is not a lot of attention given to Motion Control shoes. It’s a category that has stalled over the past few years. Truth is, over 70% of us runners over-pronate and it would be nice to see some more innovation in this category. Luckily, over the past 2 seasons, we have seen a lot more attention paid to stability shoes – maybe most brilliantly exemplified by the all-new Saucony Stabil CS 3.
Our old friend the Saucony Stabil went on a killer diet this summer and its returning as the lightest shoe in its class, cutting more than 2 ounces from its predecessor. At
11.4 oz, it’s slightly heavier than Saucony's light stability option, the Guide 6, tipping the scales at 10 ounces even. Saucony did its work on this one giving us a shoe that is committed to providing stability, but feels fast and flexible. This shoe is a Ferrari with
the heart of a tank. The Stabil is the sleekest, most runnable model in the Motion Control category. Finally – a stability shoe with a bit of sex appeal.
How did Saucony pull off a putting the heart Heavyweight champion into a Welterweight?
Well, here’s the run down:
Lower offset: Since Fall 12' Saucony has been moving all of its shoes from the industry standard 12mm drop to an 8mm drop. The Stabil is the last shoe to move down. Most companies lower the heel to achieve this, Saucony raises the forefoot, giving the shoes a more cushioned feeling. The lower offset put the foot in a more natural position and is one of the many inherent stability features that augment its large medial post.
Beveled, decoupled crash pad: On top of a super plush full length Powergrid midsole, the heel unit is articulated into 3 separated zones of contact. These zones work like crumple zones of a car, and act to slow down the foot as it lands.
Straight lasted, stable platform: its shape hallmarks The Motion Control Category. This is what we call a straight lasted shoe as its pretty much shaped like a 2x4. This shape helps accommodate lower arches that drop inward. This shape is much more stable than curved lasted shoes as it gives an excellent platform of support for the foot to sit upon.
Flex where I need it, Support where I Don't: The amazing part of the Stabil is how flexible is in the forefoot, specifically on the lateral side. Straight lasted shoes, as mentioned, are shaped like a 2x4, and often they flex like one too. Saucony built the Stabil's platform off the successful Echelon and Hurricane models, the stark difference being the widening of the mid-foot to accommodate lower more flexible arches. The lateral, more flexible side fans out from the medial side like 4 fingers. These deep cuts allow the shoe to flex through the gait cycle.
Stepping into the shoe, I can start to feel my toes spread. This shoe is most definitely cut on the wider side. We have seen a lot of stability shoes move towards this wider shape as a wider platform is a more stable one.
These deep decoupling on the lateral side of the shoe allow the it to flex through the gait cycle, giving it a smoother heel to toe transition. Flexibility is not something we generally see in the Motion Control category. No worries though, as these flex points are anchored to a medial pod under the big toe. The Stabil uses this pod under the first metatarsal head as another inherent stability feature. You see, the pod acts kind of like an outrigger of a canoe, and gives a stable point for the foot to toe off upon. This is really where Saucony hit the mark. By positioning this pod under the joint, it reduces the rate of over pronation upon toe off (jokingly referred to by us as ‘over-toe-nation’ – hahaha).
Riding high on the Powergrid midsole, this shoe has plenty of cushion. The dense medial post has a barely there feeling. Although I do not run in motion control shoes, I took these guys for a couple of test 400's down my street – boy can they take some speed. I was a little worried the extra height of the forefoot would feel a tad unstable, but it really gives under the impact. I really find it remarkable how light these are for such a heavy-duty model.
For anyone who has been waiting for some sort of development within the MC category, this is your shoe. This shoe is over 3 ounces lighter than perennial favorite the Brooks beast. Those who love the Mizuno Alchemy, Asics Forte, or Brooks Addiction – consider your interest piqued. The Stabil is a mixture of sweet stability, surprising flexibility, and cushiony lightness. Simply put, it’s a running contradiction.The Saucony Stabil CS 3 retails for $129.99 and is now available in all 8 of our locations. As of this review it is only available in regular width, but wide widths will be coming soon!