Linda Doke has been running in Salomon’s for 12 years and is, in her own words, biased towards the brand because they work so well for her particular feet. She does say up front however, that all feet are different, and Salomon won’t necessarily be the show for you.
“There’s a massive global industry for running shoes, and I’m not about to claim that the brand I believe in is the best for everyone. No brand can claim that. The foot is a complex thing, and everyone’s feet are unique. Hey, even our own two feet are different from each other. What one runner might consider a fantastic shoe won’t necessarily work for the next runner. No single design of shoe is perfect for everyone. So, that’s my caveat, and I’m putting it out there from the outset: these reviews just give you my opinion, and I hope they help you to choose the shoe that’s right for you. That shoe won’t necessarily be a Salomon shoe at all – but equally, it might.”
This week she takes Salomon’s road shoe, the Sonic RA Max 2s for a test run – here’s the low down.
Salomon Sonic RA Max 2
Most runners know me as a trail runner, but long before I converted to trail, I was a roadie. I’ve clocked up thousands of kms on road and earned my tar cred on the black stuff – 16 Two Oceans, 10 Comrades, countless marathons, etcetera, etcetera. <yawn> During those years I probably ran in every brand of shoe there was, desperately trying to find the shoe that kept my toenails happy. I’m cursed with toes that get grumpy about long distances on tar (thankfully they’re happy on trail), and they punish me with blisters under my toenails. Not fun. I soon mastered the art of popping toenail blisters with a needle (yes it must slide in horizontal to the nail…), and I would celebrate the perfect timing of a lost toenail if I could yank it off one week before Comrades! I found some shoes affected my toes less than others, and I eventually whittled the options down to one or two models (I won’t say the brand, but my feet were happy in their road shoes).
I haven’t raced road for some years now, but I still do some of my training on the black stuff – there’s no doubt it helps with speed. My road shoes are allowed space on a shelf in my shoe cupboard, just behind my assortment of Salomon trail kicks.
Some background on Salomon’s road exposure is needed here. Salomon entered the road shoe market in about 2015, with the door-to-trail campaign introducing the X-Scream. Then came the Sonic, followed by the Sonic RA, the Sonic RA Max, and in early 2019, the Sonic RA Max 2.
RA, in case you were wondering, stands for running avenue. I like that – avenues have trees along them (well, they should, else they’re not avenues…), and trees make me happy, they make me feel a bit less like I’m running through a city.
I’ve already run 210km in my Sonic RA Max 2, and I certainly didn’t need to run that far to know I enjoy them. But before I give you my opinion, here’re some official specs for the techies:
Assisted transition – the Geometric Decoupling axis is oriented to assure a stable forward transition from heel to toe.
Vibration dampening – the unique Vibe Technology midsole construction uses EnergyCell+ and Opal to attenuate fatigue-causing vibrations for a cushioned yet responsive ride.
Structured fit – the road-specific Sensifit upper teams with function-specific engineered mesh to conform to the contours of the foot and gently secure it in place.
Note: I have absolutely no idea what this fancy jargon means. What I can tell you is that I find the Sonic RA Max 2 extremely comfortable, and it’s wide enough for my broad foot. It’s light (25g lighter than its immediate predecessor, the Sonic RA Max) yet well-cushioned, both in the forefoot and the mid-sole (I’m a mid-foot striker). In fact, it’s way more cushioned than the Sonic or the Sonic RA were, and that cushioning keeps my feet and joints happy when hammering tar.
Intensity of usage – for training and racing
Drop – 10mm (this puts it in the “normal” range – again, good for cushioned support when hammering the black stuff)
Lacing – laces…
Ok, that’s my only criticism of this shoe: it has laces. LACES? I found it hard to get my head around the fact that I was wearing Salomons but having to do up laces. Any Salomon fan will know laces belong in the ark! Salomon patented the Quicklace® design years ago, and in my 11 years of running for Salomon I’ve never had to interrupt a run to do up laces – unless to assist runners in other brands with theirs! So for me to wear Salomons with laces feels a bit like stepping back in time. That said, I understand the rationale behind the decision to include conventional lacing in this shoe – it’s for road, not for trail – roadies, it seems, like to tie bows on their laces. In fairness, I guess there’d be no way of securing a timing chip to the Quicklace® design without cutting the lace, so conventional lacing it had to be.
An interesting addition on the comfort side is that the shoe’s tongue is made from memory foam, which makes it hug the foot snugly.
As road running shoes go, I rate the Sonic RA Max 2 right up there – it keeps my feet happy and my toenails blister-free! If I was doing Comrades this year, there’d be no hesitation making this my Comrades shoe of choice.
“It’s light (25g lighter than its immediate predecessor, the Sonic RA Max) yet well-cushioned, both in the forefoot and the mid-sole, and that cushioning keeps my feet and joints happy when hammering tar.”
Salomon entered the road running market in 2015 and recently launched the Sonic RA Max 2 as their road racing shoe for 2019. Linda Doke, who admits to doing some of her training on tar, test drives the Sense Pro 3 and gives you her run down of the shoe.