Thursday, 20 December 2012

TriStupe : Skechers GoBionic First Impression


GoBionic? What does TriStupe has to say about the shoe? While this is a good "first hand" experience. We know he is extensively testing the shoes right now and we can't wait for the full review. Meanwhile, have fun reading the first impression posting on Skechers GoBionic.
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Skechers GoBionic First Impression
I've noticed a few running friends wearing the Skechers running shoes. I have always associated this brand with celebrities - or more accurately, Britney Spears. I wasn't joking about it. Here, Britney "I Did It Again" Spears in the 4Wheelers - a Skechers shoes on wheels.
She looked hot. Image taken from here
When I was having my feet full reviewing Brooks PureDrift about a month ago, i noticed the the Skechers "Go" series being sold at the Empire Shopping Complex Skechers' store. Apparently googling for "Jamie Pang Go Skechers" returned a few hits with the GoBionic on the top of the search hit. "If Jamie wears it, this got to be credible and good review", I said to myself. I was curious and was impressed with how lightweight the shoe was off the rack.
Wonder What's In There?
As part of the 2ndSkin Athletes, I am now receiving sponsorship from Skechers Malaysia for 2013. I count myself lucky and blessed to be part of this. So, thank you Team 2ndSkin. For those of you wondering, 2ndSkin makes cool technical t-shirts. Their VaporLite T's could give the bigger brand a run for their money. The catchy and witty taglines will certainly provide a bit of humor and inspiration to anyone that saw it.
Good news came a day before Putrajaya International Triathlon. We were informed by the Team (2ndSkin) principle that it is "All System Go" for Skechers to sponsor the few of us. I was told to collect the shoe at the store of my choice and I went over to the Skechers' store at One Utama Shopping Mall (being nearest to where I live). The sales assistant was very helpful and introduced all the "Go" range so I could understand what each of them are for. I am now into "minimalist" shoes and having been running fore/midfoot in PureDrift, I was curious how another pair of these minimalist would feel. It will be a good opportunity for me to provide yet another unbiased review. 
Minimalist, again.
I could had went for the more cushioned Skechers GoRun series, or the GoRunRide series. Those are more structured cushioned shoes. However, I've already made up my mind even before setting into the store to just get the GoBionic. 
Welcome To The Skechers-Side
A minimalist shoe refers to any shoe that is "minimal" in nature (duh!). It emulate as much as barefoot "style" as possible. It changes the way you land and run. In fact, not everyone can wear a minimal shoes - unless they has conditioned themselves to do so. Most of you would had remembered the Nike FREE series that has a pretty good following (for functional shoes). Then New Balance came out with their version of minimalist under the MT series. By mean of minimalist via closely resembling barefoot running meant that the "drop" of the shoe (the differences in height between the mid/forefoot and the heel) must be close to, if not ZERO.
The Skechers GoBionic has a "warning" statement stating exactly this - that you will have to get yourself conditioned to wear this shoe. If you are not, do it in moderation until you are stronger. And stop using it if you have/feel you have injury. 
Bring it on.
Features and Technologies
Being an engineer by training, I read manuals. A new gadget without one just does not feel complete if it does not have the adequate "introduction". So, imagine my joy when the Skechers GoBionic did not only come with a "manual", but a diagram that looked "technical". It gives an overview of what goes into this shoe. Yes, the shoe, at this point, is still in the box. I love unboxing new things!
OK, will this shoe make bread?
OK, enough of the teasing. Here, this is how the GoBionic looked like. I've chosen the Grey - Red combo as I have many yellow combo shoes already. First impression of the shoe was the lightness and how much bigger the forefoot toebox looked. It all make sense as a minimalist shoe should have big toebox to allow the feet to splay upon landing.
Ta-da!
What caught my attention was the small little marketing "manual" stuck on the side of the shoe that details out what each of the shoe features - in case you missed them out. Here are the photos of each features - in case if pique your interest to know more of the shoe (that you can't find in any other write ups).
Skechers call it MStrike.
Nothing to slow you down. Minimalist in nature.
Memory foam - nice. I thought only bed has them
Biomimicry? How do you even pronounce it? But I supposed it meant the material will disintegrate easier at landfill.
Scotchgard treated - resistance to oil and water.
ZERO Drop (the yellow thingy)

Removable sockliner/insole for a more real feel and fit
This one refers to the segmentation of the sole, that has 18-parts, allowing each to move independently as your feet strikes the tarmac.
Real Feel
I spent the next 15minutes playing with the GoBionic. I removed everything that I possibly could from the shoe and the first to come out was the insole. The sockliner was thin.It was light and barely there. Removing the sockliner reveal a very smooth surface inside that does and will allow you to run sockless. That is a good option as it will then "connect" your feet more to the ground. I feel the shoe is minimalist enough and will leave the sockliner in. Compare this to the PureDrift, the GoBionic will maintain the Zero Drop configuration with or without the sockliner - a truly minimalist approach. PureDrift has a 4mm drop with the sockliner on.
In bright yellow, no less.
Looking at the underside of the GoBionic reveal the 18-parts that will allow your feet to be connected to the ground. It has four toe split, which meant your big toe and combination of the other four toes will have more freedom of movement with each stride you take. 
Are you counting...18?
The outsole is glued to the bottom part of the sockliner and the grooves allow the bottom part to be seen. I must commend on the good workmanship where minimal glue were seen.
The darker grey is actually the bottom part of the sockliner
The sole and the last shoe body has gap - not too sure if this is on purpose to aid flexibility
The shoe looked simple and does not "shout" for attention. You will be forgiven to believe this is just "another pair of shoe". With a very pronounced mid section and the curl at the heel, you would think that your feet will rock from the front to the back - but wearing them says it is not true. Your feet is well planted from the front to the edge of the hell in a level manner just like when you are barefoot.
The design grows on you. Subtle is sometimes attractive
You could had noticed some black strip on the side of the sole. I believe it is purely cosmetic. Jamie Pang (which refers them as "stapler looking" too feel it is cosmetic. I would need to verify this with Skechers that it does not serve any purpose other than adding a bit of pattern to the shoe.
That's just...design
Unlike other brand that has their trademark logo all over the shoes, sometime along the whole side, Skecher decided to take a more subtle approach. Like i mentioned above, the shoe does not "shout". The "S" logo is placed at the outer last at the heel area.
Not too intrusive. Muggers might not want your shoe.
This pattern does not say "Skechers". It is neutral and could be anything
Putting the shoe side by side with one facing the front and the other to the back, it does looked like a human feet. The front wide toebox looked obvious with the back heel to mimic how a heel would look like.
Roomy toebox. I am a E-wide foot by the way
If you noticed, the heel is uplifted. This will discourage the heel pad to contact the tarmac when you run - which in return, encourage mid and forefoot landing. Unless your heel strike is over exaggerated, it is unlikely you will heel strike (in my opinion)
Wide front and neutral uplifted heel pad
Next thing that strike me was how flexible the GoBionic were. Comparing this to PureDrift, they are on par. My attempt to roll it, twist it and short of shredding it returns impressive results. This is one helluva flexible piece of engineering!
Donut, anyone?
Or how about a twister-shoe?
If you are prone to blisters forming at the back of your feet/heel, you can potentially kiss blisters goodbye. The rear section is flexible. It has the all familiar feel of the PureDrift.
If the shoe is alive, it would had reported me to the abuse hotline
All in all, first impression of the Skechers GoBionic promises to deliver and perform as it should. The last thing I noticed was the tongue of the shoe. It is thin and made from the same breathable material as the last other part of the shoe. 
GoBionic -M. The M stands for Midfoot Strike
The tongue is sewn onto the last on both sides with the outer side to be deeper (aka more freeplay) than the inner side.
The "outer side", up to the second lace notch
The inner side - up to the first notch

By doing this, i believe it will allow the wearer a faster insertion. Unlike the PureDrift which were integrated to the shoe last on one side and could be a bit troublesome to get into fast, the GoBionic promises even faster speed to wear the shoe. This is essential to triathletes and duathletes during transition where every minute counts. It will be proven on race day (Putrajaya International Triathlon)
Feather Light?
The last feature that was highlighted was the weight of the shoe. Skechers claimed a light 6.1oz or 173grams (or 172.9grams if it mattered) per side for US size 9. I took an US size 10 (yes, my feet is not only broad, it's long too. You know what they say about men with big feet doncha?)
Can't we all agree on just ONE system?
So, did the GoBionic that was given to me live up to the (lack of) weight?
Yes, that's our kitchen/baking scale
Impressively, the scale recorded a 175grams even for a size10. This US size 10 GoBionic has beaten the PureDrift (190grams!) in the weight department! Time to Fly!
It was actually 2.5grams shy of 175grams...
Ok, seriously, I am that close to be a gram-granny. 50grams overall would not make me go faster - or will it? Stay tuned to find out as I put the shoe through it pace. To date (6 days of using it) I've clocked almost 35km total. More to come and you will see me running/racing/walking in Skechers more.

Note: This pair of Skechers GoBionic is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair of GoBionic retail for RM399 and is available at all Skechers store.

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