First impressions: Saucony Ride ISO

Earlier this year I tried out my first neutral shoe from Saucony, the Saucony Triumph ISO 4. Most of all it was a review of whether or not the store that I work in would continue with the line after they changed it so much. Triumph has for a long time been the best selling neutral shoe for Saucony, but lately, the Saucony Ride ISO has surpassed its big brother and I think I know why.

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The fit

Saucony has in the last four years focused on the ISO upper on its premium models. Slowly but surely it has been implemented over to other models as well. Freedom and Liberty have it, and this year the Guide and the Ride was destined for an “upgrade”. The ISO-fit is supposed to be an upper that will fit a wider segment of peoples feet as it shapes around the foot and feels like a sock on. I don’t think it works that way.

The Saucony shoes have had differences fit wise between themselves, but normally we have said that the Ride and Guide have been narrower, while the softer upper of the Triumph and Hurricane have been for the wider feet. The problem now is that they have changed the strength of the ISO or width of the forefoot altogether and therefore made the Ride ISO even narrower than the Ride 10 was. Don’t get me wrong I like how the Ride ISO feels on my foot, there are just a couple of concerns for me.

Let’s start with the upper. The ISO fit usually feels great on the foot, but after trying it and having customers try it, there is no doubt in my mind that the shoe is narrower than earlier. This seems to be the direction Saucony is going and it correlates with how I experienced the Triumph ISO 4 as well. The laces are flat, just like I like them, and they hug comfortably around the midfoot resulting a very secure fit on my foot. Other people I’ve talked to say otherwise.

Underneath the laces, the very padded tongue creates a pillow around the midfoot. This tongue is probably the best feature of the ISO fit. Because it’s attached together with the rest of the upper it will always stay in place and create a comfortable fit. As a side note I have seen other people with narrower feet than mine say that the padded tongue is horrible because it clumps together on top of the midfoot because of excess fabric.

The heel is my biggest gripe about this shoe, beware, this is a very subjective point of view! Saucony, just like Asics over-pads their heels. This leads to a fabric that more easily breaks up in the heel cup if the shoe isn’t tightened properly. These extra padded heels are not necessary and clearly something they put in to bring customers over on first impressions in the store. The fabric itself has also changed to a smoother, more comfortable one. This results in a more slippery fit around the heel.
The construction of the heel has previously been on the more expensive shoes but has now become a feature on the Ride ISO, and the fit is worse off because of it. For better heels check out New Balance, Mizuno, Diadora, Topo and Altra among others, if you like this type of heel then Asics and Saucony is for you.

Overall the fit is good, although a bit narrow on this shoe, but it all depends on if you like extra padding or not. The ISO fit tongue is the best new feature and the padded heel is, in my opinion, more there to give a comfy first impression than an added benefit. A better fit could be done without the ISO-fit.

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The stability

Compared to the Triumph ISO 4, the Ride ISO stands out as a much more stable and better shoe overall. The full Everun sole of the Triumph makes the shoe vastly less stable and thus makes the Ride a much better shoe in my opinion.

Triumph has for a long time been Saucony’s best seller in the Nordic countries, but after the ISO 4 came this has changed to the Ride series instead, and I totally get that. After alternating between the Triumph and the Ride I must admit that these shoes are so far apart stability wise that it’s weird that they are from the same company and seems like a clear lack of correlation between different models.

The reason behind this is because of how Saucony utilizes the Everun technology in different ways. In the Ride, ISO Everun is only placed in the top sole, while the midsole is still traditional EVA foam.

Compared to the Guide ISO the Ride ISO doesn’t have extra arch support on the medial side, which makes it a stable but neutral shoe. The New Balance 880 has some of the same characteristics, these shoes would be great supplements to each other.

The upper isn’t as stable as the sewn Mizuno upper but because of the lower heel drop (8mm) the Ride really performs on the treadmill in our tests and I would consider it a bit more stable than the Mizuno Rider.

Overall this shoe really performs and is a great shoe for neutral runners that need some stability around the heel cap on the longer runs. If you want a natural running shoe from Saucony, then the Freedom or the Triumph (ISO 4) would be better options.

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The feel

The Ride ISO feels very soft to enter, but has a totally different feel when running. Customers quickly notices the low weight, and some returning Ride runners have said the shoe is a bit stiffer than earlier.
Compared to a Triumph this shoe is far superior to run in. The lightness of the shoe and the firmness of the EVA foam gives a very smooth and responsive ride, and the Everun top sole just gives a small amount of support.

For a daily trainer this shoe also feels fast and great for those faster and longer runs. For those of you who have seen some of my earlier reviews you know that I love the running feeling in a Mizuno, and I must say that this might be just as good. The responsiveness for such a cushioned shoe is just miles beyond a Triumph ISO 4 or a New Balance 1080. Mostly I try using the shoes I review at work as well, but the superior feel of this shoe is something I will treasure and only use for runs.

My last similar Saucony shoe was the Guide 10 and it has always felt a bit bland to me. The Ride ISO though feels very different. Compared, the two have close to similar outsoles with some differences in flex grooves. These minor differences are in my opinion not very noticeable and the difference that matters is because of the midsole construction.

Saucony also has a little bit more grip than other manufacturers I have tested. This gives a bit more grip when it’s wet but still doesn’t make it a shoe for wet trail runs.

Overall the Ride ISO lives up to its name and gives a superior ride for those long distances progressive runs where weight and tempo are important.

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Overall

The fit of this shoe is what really pulls down my overall opinion of the shoe. The ISO-fit upper just doesn’t work as is should, and I am starting to think that this is more a gimmick than an actual benefit to the end user. Especially now that the other companies upper are just getting better and better.

This shoe will be used for everything from short and fast to longer runs. Mostly I’ll use it on days when I want a bit of extra speed while still being comfortable. Compared to all other Saucony shoes I have tested so far (Hurricane ISO 3, Triumph ISO 4 and Guide 10) this shoe is the first to have the “it factor.” It makes me long to run in it and excited for the next time.

Ride ISO might have become a little bit more stable in my opinion compared to its predecessor and would work for those with small amounts of overpronation who want to run in a neutral shoe. Mostly it’s meant for those neutral runners that want a bit more support on the longer runs.

The running feeling is superior to many other shoes on the market, but try it out first, because the upper is scaring a lot of people away, so be sure that it fits as you want it!

Do you have any questions about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram!