Thursday, May 23, 2013

Skora Form Review

Like all my running shoes that I've tried, and inevitably reviewed on this blog, I like to wait about 100 miles to do a review. It gives me ample time to break in the shoes (except for racing flats), examine wear, and get a general feel for the shoe beyond how it feels in the shop.

After 100 miles, looking considerably less nice than when they came out of the box

Skora has just recently come to light in the minimalist market, although they eschew the term minimalist for the term "Run Real." From humble beginnings in 2007, Skora has blossomed into a premium company, with a premium price. The Forms will run you $185. For that, you get a Pittards Goat skin leather upper, WR100x leather lining for barefoot comfort, asymmetric lacing, and Skora's R01 system which is described on their website as "...composed of 3 parts: outsole, midsole and insole. With a total stack height of 13mm (9mm without insole), the R01 system provides a moderate amount of cushioning with excellent grip and great groundfeel. The outsole is made from a durable, high abrasion, high density rubber with low profile tread. The midsole is CM (Compression Molded) EVA, with anatomical flex grooves that allow for great flex and movement."

Nice and flexible, the way a minimal shoe should be

Claimed weight for the Form is 8.2oz, which puts it in the realms of weight of Nike's Flyknit Lunar line, as well as most of Newton's line up. However, this minimal shoe is made from more premium materials, and the price tag takes the brunt of that. At $185, the Form is the most expensive in Skora's lineup, and while the price may make even the most experienced runner balk, you can find the Form online for considerably less (consider The Clymb, an online discount store that specializes in outdoor gear).

Premium materials come with a premium price.

Enough with the tech, let's get to the run.

Bottom line: I LOVE THIS SHOE. It has displaced my Brooks PureFlow 2s on the shorter runs, speed workouts, and racing. I keep the PureFlows around for longer runs where I may need more cushioning, but I doubt I'll ever go to any other shoes (although the Mizuno Evo line is calling my name right now). The ride is unbelievable. I've struggled with finding Baby Bear's "just right" bowl of porridge in the past. It seemed that minimal shoes were either of the NB Minimus and Vibrams variety, with nothing between you and the road and an extremely harsh ride, or like the PureFlow/Nike Free/Saucony Kinvara and Virrata lines, which were quasi-minimal shoes with too much cushioning to feel the road well. Nothing really wrong with any of those shoes, many of the runners I know run in (and love) those shoes. But not for me. And then I had all sorts of fit issues. I loved my Brooks PureConnects, but the toe box was unbelievably cramped. I even sent a message to Brooks asking if there was a chance they would make them in a 2E size (they declined, but offered to pass along the message to their fit crew).

I've digressed. In any event, there's no way to describe the ride in this shoe except unbelievable. It's a perfect fit for my wide foot, with a comfortable upper that hugs my foot, but isn't nearly as tight as the PureConnect line, which has been referred to as a second skin by several runners I've talked to. The road feel is something that I really liked about this shoe. In fact, there is very little that I don't like about the Skora Forms. My one complaint is that the leather upper isn't as breathable as some of my other shoes, but in my opinion the sacrifice is worthwhile considering that the upper should have a longer life than a mesh upper. The asymmetric lacing performed as advertised, unlike Brooks' lacing, I had zero hot spots, even after a hasty transition in a triathlon, which involved not being very precise about my tying and such.

Asymmetric lacing that actually eliminates hot spots (take notes Brooks)
The Form is an all around performer. No matter the run, it lets you forget the shoe itself and focus on your body, which in my mind, is the hallmark of a perfect shoe. No, the price isn't for everyone, but if you're looking for the perfect minimal shoe, you've come darn close with the Skora Form.

Update (8/30/2013): My Skoras bit the dust the other day. Sad to see, but after nearly 1,075 miles, it's kind of expected. If you look at the picture, you can clearly see the midsole is separating from the outsole. But if you look even more closely, you can see that there is still a remarkable amount of tread, a true testament to the longevity of the Form. Time to place another order!

Pondering the wear on the Form

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