shoe review: pearl izumi SyncroGuide

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      So after I sent them an email complaining about their ads, the PI marketing guy sent me a pair of SyncroGuide men's 8.5 shoes as a good will gesture. Class act, but do they work?

      I took them out for a test ride: 9k over sidewalk and paved trail with some short sections of soft woodchip trail. Also got caught in a heavy downpour for the last 2k.

      First the positives:

      The interior fit is very nice, smooth with no detectible seams.

      The upper of the shoe is also a nice even fit as you tighten up the laces.

      The quality and construction seems fine and the shoe should hold up providing the plastic fabrics don't break down under UV exposure. For some reason they remind me of Marvin Martian's sneakers but it's just a matter of taste.

      I completed the run with no blisters, tendon pulls, or obvious injury caused by using these shoes.

      Now the criticism:

      Much like the Shox from Nike, the manufacturer wants you to be able to see right through the shoe and check out their particular shock absorber technology. I don't need that. If it works, it works. Putting spaces in the bottom part of the shoe just means crap gets in there, especially mud from trail running.

      The SyncroGuide model I got claims to be a pronation control shoe which still provides cushioning.

      Well, there is some pronation control, mainly from a plastic support cup that runs on both sides forward from the heel and also from some firmer support on the inboard side of the sole in the heel area. In reality, it's more of a stability shoe.

      First off there is nothing under the inboard midsole (arch). The last of the shoe is curved not straight, so there is a space under the arch – Where's the support? Compare to the Asics Foundation which has a hard slab of rubber directly under the arch.

      Second, if I put the sole of the SyncroGuide against the sole of the Foundations, The Foundations are a full centimeter wider in the forefoot and a half centimeter wider at the heel. This becomes apparent when you get off the street onto soft surfaces and find the Isumi's pronating since they don't have the width.

      So if the platform (sole) isn't stable (unless you are on a level hard surface) it doesn't matter if you have a great support structure around the foot in the upper part.

      Regarding the cushioning, I had no problem with this aspect of the shoe and found it actually pretty firm. It may be calibrated for a heavier class of runner. Also since I'm not a heel striker (unless I'm dead tired), there is no advantage to great heel cushioning for me. I got the feeling I was more elevated than in the Asics and confirmed this with a side by side comparison. The height of the shoe does not help stablilty either.

      They were about the same weight as the Asics so nothing remarkable there.

      Overall, a ok stability shoe with a great fitting upper, but I would not put them in the pronation control category. I will keep them for medium length runs but nothing too demanding.

      Hoping no invoice is coming in the mail…


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