Running, Running Shoes, Trail Shoes

Salomon Speedcross 4 review – Hero to zero

Firstly, I’ve had some great runs with my Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes. They were comfortable from Day One, have been my go-to shoe for trail runs this year and never gave me any cause for concern until two weeks ago, when they started to fail badly & with little notice.

On the 16th June (2018) I am running 49km in the French Alps at the Samoens Trail Tour event. I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, but a big mountain event has been at the back of my mind for some time, so last summer I started to put plans in place and think about my options. The choice of the right shoes was my biggest concern, as I wondered whether a Mizuno would give me the traction I needed on loose mountain trails – I’ll talk about my positive experiences with Mizuno in another post, suffice to say I was leaning towards the Salomon Speedcross as the ideal shoe.

Size was a concern, as I’d heard that Salomon’s tended to come up small, so the advice was to go for a larger size. That proved right, as I’m normally a UK 9.5/10, but ended up with a UK 10.5 for the Speedcross’. Without doubt the Speedcross felt narrower than my Mizunos, but not uncomfortably so and no tighter than the likes of my Converse pumps. Importantly my toes weren’t at all cramped, equally the larger size didn’t result in ‘clown-like’ shoes. Suffice to say I was out and running the trails in the Salomon’s a couple of days after they arrived.

You would hope that any shoe designed specifically for loose trails would provide a good level of stability and give the runner confidence to look ahead rather than down at their feet, and this proved the case with the Speedcross’.

As I’ve said, the shoes were comfortable from the start. My trail runs normally involve a short stretch of road (about a 1km) at each end, and then I’m out into the fields and by-ways. One thing I would say is that the Speedcross’ felt to me like quite a stiff shoe, but that could well just be my lack of experience with different shoes. However, once out on the trails, that never created an issue for me and they proved to be a stable shoe across all surfaces, from loose dirt tracks to ankle-deep mud.

The laces on the Speedcross’ are the Salomon Quicklace system, which involves very fine ‘laces’ held securely by a toggle that slides up and down, with any loose ends (& the toggle) being tucked into a convenient pocket at the top of the tongue. Aside from the toggle proving quite tight to adjust, which took some getting used to & some brute force, this has worked very well. I run all of my shoes quite loose – I’ve never been one for anchoring my feet into any shoes – but the Salomon’s felt secure nevertheless and haven’t ever rubbed.

From November 2017 to early May 2018, I covered about 200-250km in the Speedcross’. They shared running duties with some Mizunos (Wave Runners and Daichis), as I was aware that the tread could easily wear quickly if I’d hammered them on all of my training runs. The longest run in them was just shy of 20 miles, with a couple of 13 milers thrown in as well. Again, on a positive note, being able to mix and match my shoes just goes to show, in my opinion, how good the Speedcross’ were.

So just to summarise, as of the 23rd May (2018) my Salomon’s were ticking every box and doing exactly what I expected of them… and then, on the 24th, I did my last big hilly run before the Alpine event…

There’s a fantastic walk around south-east Bath and the university called the Skyline Walk which takes in some fantastic views, but also means some of those classic rolling hills. For the record I ran 16.8km (including 450 metres of ascent) in 2 hours 24 minutes, which I was quite happy with and the Salomon’s didn’t miss a beat, even when I got completely lost. Anyway, when I arrived home and started to clean my shoes [I’m quite fastidious about getting the mud & grime off of both shoes & bikes] I noticed a tear down the side of one shoe, between the toe box and the front of the laces. On closer inspection it was obvious that this wasn’t just one tear and that both shoes did, in fact, have tears on both sides. While the bulk of the damage was within the fabric of the Speedcross upper, some of the tears had started to work into the ‘rubber’ supporting structure of the upper and where the sole started to wrap around the shoe. It should be noted that this wasn’t abrasion damage.

So that’s pretty much where we are now. Given the extent of the tears, which I felt would ultimately end in a catastrophic failure of one the shoes, not a great situation should it happen half-way up an Alp, I stopped using them and returned them to SportsShoes. I had initially contacted Salomon, but their website contact form didn’t appear to be working (I certainly didn’t get a response from it if it was), so I sent a LinkedIn message to their UK Account Manager who directed me to the point of purchase. For the record I would love to have sorted this direct with Salomon and tried to stick with the brand & another pair of Speedcross’, but Salomon dropped the ball on this one. I did drop a very poor review of the Speedcross 4 shoes on the Salomon website, to which they’ve responded with some suitably contrite words saying that “We’d like to take a further look at your case in the interest of making it right” & a suggestion I use the contact form that I’d already seen not working so I couldn’t pursue that. SportsShoes on the other hand have been excellent with good communication throughout – the shoes are returned, but it’ll take too long to turn round an evaluation and refund/replacement before the French Alps run, so I’ve ordered another pair of Mizuno Daichis as spares & am keeping my fingers crossed that the less-aggressive sole is OK on the day.

One footnote [sorry for the pun], but while I was still having my love-in with the Salomon’s several other (running) friends mentioned that they’d heard of issues with the Speedcross shoes splitting, but I defended my experiences to date. One actually had a pair that she had had for a similar length of time to me before they failed & are now sitting in a cupboard. So this doesn’t appear to be an isolated issue and I’d be interested if anyone else has experienced this problem. I’d also be very interested in hearing whether Salomon took any proactive action to help anyone whose shoes failed.

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