Usually, putting together a Skechers running shoe guide only takes a few hours.
But this time, it’s not business as usual for Skechers running. And this is a compliment, not a sarcasm. Struck by what appears to be a healthy dose of design inspiration, Skechers has been busy infusing freshness into their line.
This isn’t just about the familiar models like the GoRun Ride receiving their annual updates. Switching most of the midsoles to Hyperburst means that even the older models acquire a refreshed ride character and deserve to be treated as brand-new shoes.
Last year, there were several new intros, with the GoRun Speed Elite Hyper being one of them. For 2021, there’s a new trail shoe called the Razor TRL Hyper as well as the Ride 8 with a redesigned ‘Flow’ upper. Additional products like the Horizon Vanish 2 and GoRun Razor Excess also add value to the Skechers product line.
Carryover products like the Speed Elite Hyper, GoRun Forza 4, and Max Road 4 add familiarity to the catalog. The Speed Elite Hyper is very unoriginal, but hey – everyone has their spin on the Carbon-plate-in-a-shoe thing, so why single Skechers out? And besides, it’s a nice shoe, so the end justifies the means.
The Skechers line is a tricky place to wade through. There’re too many models with a similar design language and a Hyperburst midsole, so it can be hard to tell one from another. We refer to models like the Razor Excess, Razor+, or Razor 3. In the spirit of clarity, we’ve tried to be as descriptive as possible.
For the sake of brevity, we’ve also edited models like the Speed 6 Hyper, Razor 3, and the regular version of Ride 8 Hyper.
So there you have it. The 2021 Skechers assortment feels fresh with plenty of options for runners across different experience levels. We’ll kick things off with the GoRun Ride 8 Flow – a running shoe with do-everything versatility.
1) Cushioned daily trainer: Skechers GoRun Ride 8 Flow
Over the years, the GoRun Ride has become the ‘anchor’ running shoe model for Skechers.
This is a product that not only targets a broader consumer base, but also has been a Skechers constant. No matter the year, the GRR has always been available for purchase.
All brands have a versatile, Swiss Army knife equivalent of a running shoe that resonates with runners of all experience levels. For Skechers, the Go Run Ride 8 is that shoe. The fact that it retails at $115 makes it excellent value as well.
Hyperburst, a carbonated EVA foam, made its debut on the GoRun Razor. It has since become the standard on most Skechers’ running shoes, and the GoRun Ride 8 Flow is based on the same material.
This is a lightweight foam with a firm yet efficient ride. Some internet literature describes the Hyperburst as soft, but that’s not the case. The only cushy layer inside the Ride 8 is its removable insole.
Nonetheless, the firm Hyperburst has an energy-return feel when pushed harder. That means the ride comfort and faster paces are mutually inclusive. The balanced ride quality makes the Ride 8 an excellent daily trainer that is capable of most things running-related. Long-distance runs aren’t a problem due to the deep cushioning of the 33 mm heel and 27 mm forefoot.
Along with a Hyperburst midsole, the GRR 8 gets shod with Goodyear-branded rubber. Shoes using automobile tire-branded outsole aren’t a recent phenomenon; we reviewed an adidas sneaker in 2008 with a Goodyear outsole. The lugs are generously articulated, so the transitions are smooth and compliant.
For 2021, the Ride 8 gets a new ‘flow’ upper. It may look suspiciously close to the Hoka Clifton’s upper, but it’s more comfortable than the previous Ride 8, so all’s well.
An internal bumper creates a spacious toe-box, and it’s possible to free more space if the removable insole is removed. The lack of stiff upper overlays makes the interiors smooth, and there’s sufficient comfort and grip within the padded heel.
The ‘lasting’ is another insole in disguise, so it’s possible to remove the stock insole and still have a perfectly functioning insole. However, we don’t recommend doing that because the upper fit gets all wonky. The heel cup has a wide flare, so displacing the insole will result in a slippery fit.
2) Cushioned lightweight trainer: Skechers GoRun Razor Excess
This shoe’s name is somewhat misleading; take the term ‘Excess’ with a large grain of salt. The front and rear stack heights are merely 26 mm and 30 mm, so the foot isn’t resting on a plush midsole.
The Skechers Hyperburst foam is also a firm compound, so even a thicker stack wouldn’t have translated into a plush ride. The much thicker GoRun Ride 8 Flow is proof of that.
The ‘Excess’ part of the GoRun Razor Excess’s name refers to the midsole that’s only 2 mm higher than the Razor 3. The difference, however, lies in the midsole width. It’s noticeably wide than the Razor 3 and Razor+, and hence a higher-volume variant.
This isn’t the ideal long-distance shoe, as the firm ride lacks the plush softness.
So the best way to view the ‘Excess’ variant is to do so as a more forgiving version of the Razor 3. This running shoe is also very similar to the Brooks Hyperion; the latter has similar stack heights and a midsole that’s made using similar technology as the Skechers Hyperburst.
That makes the GoRun Excess a firm trainer with adequate ride comfort for daily runs. Though the Goodyear outsole has a similar layout as the Razor+, the wider midsole translates into a great contact area and better grip.
3) Cushioned, high-mileage trainer: Skechers GoRun MaxRoad 4 Hyper
On paper, the MaxRoad 4 Hyper is the successor to the MaxRoad 3 Ultra. In reality, it’s an entirely different shoe – in good and not-so-good ways.
What’s great about the Hyper midsole is its performance-oriented cushioning and responsiveness delivered in a very lightweight package. However, you don’t get the deep, cushiony softness of the Ultra 3. Instead, a superior rebound character and rocker midsole geometry make the MR4 a ‘faster’ long-distance shoe.
The upper is the weak link in the design. The fit doesn’t feel sorted as the excellent MR3 and can potentially irritate in some areas. It also runs warm – depending on the weather, this can be a negative or positive attribute.
We’re hoping that Skechers will do to the MaxRoad Hyper what it did to the GoRun 7 – replace the loopy upper with a better one.
4) Lightweight trainer/racer: GoRun Razor+ Hyper
The Razor+ is based on the same midsole and upper fit as the Razor 3, except for two minor differences. One, the outsole is made of Goodyear-branded rubber, and there’s an extra piece covering the midfoot. Two, the upper has fewer overlays.
In functional terms, that doesn’t amount to much. The midsole feels the same as the Razor 3, and you get an identical ride character with a firm cushioning. The Razor+ is a speed trainer with a cushioned ride, just like the Razor 3.
The snug forefoot is more comfortable than the Razor, but only just. Since both the models are priced identically, either work just as well.
5) Lightweight trainer/racer: Skechers Horizon Vanish 2
The GoMeb Speed 6 Hyper featured in the previous edition of this write-up. Now it doesn’t – because the Speed 6 is (now) redundant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, with the Speed Elite Hyper and Horizon Vanish in place, we don’t need to crowd this list with yet another speed shoe.
Two, since the GoMeb series was Meb Keflezighi’s signature collection, its inclusion no longer makes sense – given Meb is retired and all. Skechers’s running shoe got its break from Meb’s Boston marathon win and making the most of his signature footwear line in 2014.
On the other hand, the Skechers Horizon Vanish 2 adds value to this list. Unlike other models on this list, the Vanish 2 doesn’t use Hyperburst foam. The midsole is based on the cushioned and high-performance compound that Skechers calls Ultraflight.
With rear and front stack heights of 19 mm and 15 mm, there’s just enough foam to keep the ride cushioned while being thin enough to promote quick transitions. The 5.2-ounce weight makes the shoe disappear over the feet during speed workouts.
It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike the Speed Elite Hyper, the Horizon Vanish 2 isn’t a pure racing flat. Well, with its thin, 4 mm offset midsole, it can be one – except that the pillar-shaped outsole lugs are comfort-oriented and have less bite than traditional racer-type outsoles.
The way we see it, the Horizon Vanish 2 is excellent for most speed-related workouts, including 5K and 10K races. Track sessions are doable, but we would have rather preferred a grippier outsole.
6) Lightweight trainer/racer: Skechers GoRun Speed Elite Hyper
Ok, the plate-in-a-shoe template is over-cooked by the brands. However, the Speed Elite Hyper adds value by doing things differently.
The Speed Elite is nothing like the Nike Vaporfly 4% – the original Carbon plate shoe. Or the Next %, for that matter. The specs make that abundantly clear; the midsole has a rear and front stack that are only 22 mm and 18 mm thin. And that’s entirely made of the firm Hyperburst.
There’s a plate under the forefoot, but that’s more of a transition and turnover tool. There’s no trampoline or bounce effect due to the firm and low-profile midsole. The firm forefoot delivers fast turnovers by accentuating the ground feel. The Asics Metaracer is similar, except that shoe has a softer ride.
If the specs sound familiar, you might be thinking of the GoMeb Speed 6. And that’s exactly what the Speed Elite Hyper is – a GoMeb S6 with a forefoot plate and a slightly different upper design.
Also, this is no shoe for going slow or going far. The ultra-rigid and firm forefoot feel at home during higher paces, and there’s not enough cushioning to make long-distance runs comfortable. The responsiveness of the Hyperburst material also demands high-cadence runs, so that’s another thing.
Just like the Go Meb Speed 6, the ideal distance for the Speed Hyper is 10 km. Half-marathons are doable provided one is accustomed to the ride firmness. For a higher level of comfort, we recommend the Asics Metaracer instead.
The narrow upper befits a racing silhouette – because that’s what the Speed Elite 6 is. It pins the foot down to the plated forefoot for a quick touch-and-go while making the shoe very stable. The Goodyear outsole also helps with its excellent grip on the roads and tracks alike.
And that’s another area of difference between the Nike Vaporfly and the Speed Elite Hyper. The low stack of the firm midsole translates into confidence-inspiring levels of stability.
Given the context, it’s somewhat unfair to view the Speed Elite Hyper as another ‘plated’ running shoe – this is just a road racer with a rigid and snappy forefoot. It’s also incredibly lightweight.
Not many shoes – racers included – tip the scale at 5.2-ounces.
7) Mild-support trainer: Skechers GoRun Forza 4
The Skechers GoRun Forza series is under-rated. There, we said it. It’s never been in the headlines, and yet we see it as a product with a unique spin on the stability shoe concept.
This is the only Skechers performance shoe to feature a dual-density midsole that’s designed to make the inner side more supportive. The layout is fairly similar to the past Forzas except for one significant update – the outer midsole is now made of the Hyperburst foam. The inner side gets updated with the new Ultraflight foam as well.
And what does the Forza 4 do differently than say, the Asics GT-2000 9 or New Balance 860?
Though the midsole has a dual-density midsole, there’s not a quite lot of softness difference between either side. Both the Hyperburst and Ultraflight foams have a firm density so the ride is very balanced. And unlike the previous bottom-heavy versions, the 9-ounce Forza V4 is pretty lightweight.
Interestingly, the Forza also happens to have the best outsole design within Skechers’s performance line-up. The Goodyear rubber outsole has a layout that is traction-optimized, transition-friendly, and durable. The rubber covers most of the contact area, and the forefoot gets smaller lugs for better grip.
Skechers doesn’t experiment with the Forza’s upper design, and the results are pleasing. The single-piece mesh upper design is dependable; it does a good job with the overall fit and lock-down quality.
To sum up, the Forza 4 is an excellent running shoe for daily runs and long-distance runs alike. The midsole isn’t very soft but makes up with its peppy ride. The more you push it, the more responsive it gets. The Forza is also a different take on the stability shoe design, so it succeeds at delivering a novel footwear experience.
8) Lightweight trail ‘soft-roader’ shoe: Skechers GoRun Razor TRL Hyper
For this version of the article, we replaced the GoSpeed TRL with the more user-friendly GoRun Razor Hyper TRL.
By friendly, we mean that the Razor TRL has better versatility. To be honest, we thought that the Speed TRL design wasn’t very versatile on the trail. The Nylon plate in the Speed TRL’s low-profile midsole made the forefoot hard and inflexible – not ideal for finding the footing on uneven terrain.
Given the context, the Razor TRL is a welcome addition to Skechers’s trail running line. It’s akin to an outdoor version of the Razor 3 – the TRL model has a similar Hyperburst midsole with mileage-friendly cushioning. The inherent firmness of the Hyperburst foam makes the ride supportive.
Underneath, a Goodyear rubber outsole with widely-spaced lugs completes the off-road character.
Bear in mind that the Razor TRL isn’t a hardcore trail running shoe. It’s like a soft-roader with limited trail capabilities. The outsole lacks a rock plate, nor is the upper very protective. Sure, the mesh upper has a reinforced toe-bumper, but the overall design is a better fit for non-technical trails.
Also, the GoRun Razor TRL isn’t to be conflated with the likes of GoTrail Max Ultra – the latter was an ultra-cushioned trail running shoe with a high-volume midsole and drainage holes.