Saucony's marketing pitch: Expect an exceptionally smooth and responsive feel.
Surfaces tested on: Road, ambient temperature of 20° C/68° F
Upper: Mesh, fused Flexfilm overlays, Urethane welds, synthetic leather.
Midsole: Powergrid foam insert over an EVA midsole, SRC foam crash pad. 8 mm heel to toe offset.
Outsole: Carbon rubber under heel, blown rubber under mid and forefoot.
Weight: 295 gms/ 10.4 Oz for a half pair of US11/UK 10/EUR 45
Widths available: Regular (reviewed), wide.
Come November this year, and Saucony will start making the switch to its new cushioning platform. Everun, they call it. And from what we’ve read so far, the Polyurethane based compound seems like something akin to the adidas Boost’s foam material. The Triumph ISO 2 will be one of the first models to feature it, followed by the whole Guide/Kinvara/Hurricane bunch.
This means that it’s sunset time for the Powergrid foam, or will soon reach its end-of-life – like how people in the tech industry like to call it.
And what of the Saucony Ride? The Ride 8 just dropped this summer, so we’ll have to wait a while before it catches up with rest of the pack. A Everun equipped Ride 9 should release in late summer or Fall 2016, if historical launch cadence is anything to go by.
Hence for the next year or so, it will continue to house the legacy Powergrid foam technology. And what exactly is the Powergrid? It is an independent foam insert topped off over the main midsole, and depending on the shoe, it could be heel only (Kinvara) or full heel-to-toe length, as is the case on the Ride or Guide. By the way, this isn’t to be confused with the Powergrid+ of the existing Triumph ISO and Hurricane. That happens to be entirely different, and while being well cushioned, is somewhat of a marketing vaporware.
By the way, the illustration of the Powergrid component on Saucony’s Ride 8 description page is still incorrect, as it was when we checked last year. The exploded view you see on that page is relevant to the Triumph and Hurricane’s Powergrid+ construction, and does not apply to models which feature the older Powergrid, like the Ride or Guide 8.
Here, we’ll show you how a full length Powergrid foam insert looks like. For this purpose, we sliced open a pair of Guide 7.
The Ride 8 uses a material and midsole stack design very similar to the Guide 7 – except for the firmer medial post of the latter – so this is good a reference as any.
See that lime-green topping of foam over the white midsole? That’s the Powergrid foam in its cross sectional glory. The surface is punched all over with squares when viewed from the top, and that is why it is called the Powergrid.
This is softer than the midsole foam it rests on, and thus forms a layer of first cushioning response along with the insole. The Powergrid foam has proved to be a reliable workhorse so far, and served well over several generations of Saucony’s franchise models.
Last year’s competent Ride 7 had the Powergrid embed, and the Ride 8 follows suit, albeit with a brand new midsole aesthetic. That being the case, the basic design core stays unaltered.
There’s the familiar stacking of white midsole foam and lateral SRC crash pad, all of which is protected underneath with an outsole layout which has a lot in common with the Ride 7.
On the face of it, many things are equal at an overall design level, so what does the Ride 8 do which its predecessor doesn’t? The 2015 Ride 8 does two things differently from a ride perspective, which is as follows.
The heel cushioning is softer than the 2014 edition, and the forefoot also gets a marginal bump in softness. And you’d like to know why, don’t you?
The SRC crash pad on the Ride 8 is softer than the 2014 component it substitutes, while retaining similar dimensions and placement. And the insole is softer too, a result of more foam below the laminated top fabric.
The insoles look identical, but there are tell tale signs of change. The reverse side has a meshed texture, replacing the earlier perforated design and the edges feel chunkier when squeezed between the thumb and index finger.
This raises the cushioning response closest to the foot, a behavior which spans uniformly from heel to toe. This when supplemented with a softer SRC crash pad, makes the rear-foot underpinnings softer than before.
Under the forefoot, the midsole cushioning levels are the same as before, yet the revised insole provides that extra padded feel, as you have a slightly higher volume of molded foam to rest your feet on.
Below, the outsole geometry is a near-copy of the Ride 7’s kind; softer blown IBR rubber under the forefoot and the tougher XT 900 under the heel and toe-tip. Minor updates on the lug texture and shape apart, there is only one difference worth pointing out.
The rubber on the heel edge of the SRC crash pad is now split into lugs instead of a flat slab. This has no noticeable impact on the ride behavior, but the individual rubber lugs tends to see faster initial wear when compared to the Ride 7’s flatter design.
On road, you do notice the Ride 8’s relative level-up in heel softness. Mind you, the increase isn’t a lot, so net-net the needle on the ride quality doesn’t move by much. But many are perceptible to even the slightest tweaks on their favorite shoe, and from that perspective, the Ride 8 is different from the shoe it replaces.
Changed in the sense that the Ride 7’s ride was more communicative and feelsome given its firmer midsole. The Ride 8 on the other hand, comes across as a shoe which tends to absorb the bumps on the road better, and ends up being a bit more of a ‘comfort’ shoe than the Ride 7 was.
In our opinion, the Ride 7 also felt a little more responsive than the Ride 8, which comparatively tones down slightly in that aspect. This is a logical cause and effect case; dial up the softness, and see a corresponding decrease in responsive feel.
What hasn’t changed though, are areas such as the transition character and the planted feel of the midsole. It’s a given, if you take into account the near-identical construction, which retains the full contact outsole layout, the flared forefoot design and the supportive heel base, the latter producing a rear-foot strike quality which is neutral without much bias or leaning. We’ll talk more about this when comparing the Nike Pegasus 32 to the Ride 8.
The Saucony Ride 8 (and for that matter, the Ride 7) excels at being a balanced forefoot-rearfoot strike shoe. Regardless of where you choose to land, the Ride delivers with aplomb. Rearfoot strikers will appreciate the SRC crash pad+Powergrid+midsole combo, and forefoot strikers will find much to like in the goings-on in the forward section.
The midsole flares out on both sides under the forefoot, thus creating a supportive base for impact and weight loading, and then a liberal spread of blown rubber outsole cushions and grips as it should.
To reiterate, the Powergrid foam extends right up to the midsole tip (see our cross section picture above), so rearfoot strikers aren’t the only recipients of the cushioning benefit.
The marginal rise in softness aside, the Saucony Ride 8 still remains a great shoe to cruise around in, as was the case with its predecessor. It strikes an optimal balance between cushioning and efficiency, meaning that it is comfortable enough to do long runs in, but without any laziness.
Admittedly, it won’t go as fast as one of its firmer midsole equipped cousins, yet performs competently as a sweet spot shoe. The Ride’s midsole/outsole platform is the most balanced we’ve seen on neutral shoes in this category, and the latest 2015 evolution of that franchise does little to change that positive impression.
But the ride quality isn’t the be all, end all of a shoe; what of the new upper?
There’s only one thing you need to know about the new upper, and the rest is just covering all the bases. That happens to be the Ride 8’s forefoot fit, which runs slightly narrower than the Ride 7. But first, let’s get past the ritual of poring over the minutiae.
The Ride 8’s upper silhouette is very similar to the Ride 7, but with a couple of material swaps. The refreshed upper design gets the thin, Flexfilm layers on board, partially replacing the urethane welding in the forefoot and midsection. And then there’s the mesh change.
The Flexfilm used here is similar to the type seen on the Kinvara, with its thin, hot-melt kind of adhesion to the upper.
There’s still a lot of urethane welding and stitched-on synthetic leather going on, with the medial (inner) upper making use of stitched-on panels, and the lateral side displacing the earlier synthetic leather layer with a glossy urethane overlay.
Way flashier than the Ride 7, all this.
The lacing area and tongue is much like how it was put together in 2014. Flat, semi-elastic laces, quilt-padded tongue with no sleeving, and a matching number of eyelets. And as it went down on the Ride 7, the tongue slides laterally while use. Not by a lot, but it does.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say this again; tongue slide can be arrested by simply moving the position of lace-loop off-center – towards the lateral side. Brooks has a neat trick in the form of its micro tongue loop, but our suggestion (not an original idea) will get the job done too. adidas has already done this on the adios 2 Boost.
Collar padding and general plushness levels on the Ride 8 has been ramped up. There’s more foam behind the quilted lining, which makes for a greater dose of fluffiness. And yes, the Achilles dip is also softer.
The mesh area on the Ride 8 has a broad, sweeping curve without being stitched over with a layer of synthetic. The picture in which both the Ride 7 & 8 are placed side by side (further below) shows this distinction. This renders the Ride 8 dip more pliable than the 7 – a change which should be appreciated by most.
Functionally, the collar does a great job at keeping the foot cocooned within the plump confines of the Rundry upholstery, and the softer Achilles area is a well thought out update.
If there’s one feature which sees a dramatic scale back, that’s reflectivity, or the amount of materials meant to boost low light visibility. The Ride 7 was in a league of its own; the forefoot was reflective, the lace-loops were too, the tongue top had an insert embroidered in, and the heel had the luminous intensity of a tactical Maglite.
The Ride 8 is an exercise in downsizing reflectivity, so all you’re left with after the snip and tuck are the small lace-loops, the side midsole insert, and a very modestly sized underlay on the heel.
For some this will prove not to be an issue, while others will miss the Ride 7’s well lit upper in low light. Regardless, we’ve called this change out, so you can base your purchase decision on how you see fit.
For a non-sleeved design, the upper fares rather decently in terms of interior fit and feel. The padded tongue is a saviour when it comes to top down pressure while being effective in midfoot lockdown. This is no Nike Pegasus 32; the midfoot isn’t oppressively snug.
Ventilation levels have dropped on the Ride 8, as the newest version substitutes the previous gen Ride’s open mesh with one which has more volume, and importantly, with a relatively closed structure. And it has an impact on the forefoot fit, which is also affected by one other thing.
We started the upper break-out saying that the forefoot was a tad narrower, and here’s where we spend some time discussing the finer aspects of the Ride 8’s inner dwellings.
The way we see it, a couple of factors have a say in the front-end fit. The first one, as we pointed out a moment ago, is the new mesh with greater volume than the Ride 7’s flat profile fabric. That eats into a couple of millimeters of space. The second part of the story has to do with the revised pattern of the toe bumper, in this case made with the silver colored synthetic leather you see below.
A closer observation of the side by side picture will reveal that the tip(s) of the Ride 8’s bumper are stitched higher than the Ride 7. So from a usage viewpoint, the sides of bumper closes in around the foot at a point higher than before, thus restricting sideways splay – by a small degree.
This is why, the shortening of the forefoot space is concentrated not on the top, or even around the toe tip; both shoes fit true to size. Instead, it is localized over the base of the small toe, and to some extent, adjacent to the base of the big toe.
Here, we’d like to clarify that the decrease in forefoot splay room is marginal, and most of it gets lost while running, ultimately feeling not very different from a Ride 7. The Ride 8 is certainly no Breakthru, a shoe which did have a very narrow upper. And if you’re buying the Ride 8 in the United States, then there’s the optional ‘wide’ available as a fail-safe, just in case you feel you could do with more space.
We assumed that the Flexfilm business would end up reducing weight versus the 2014, but strangely that isn’t the case. In fact, the Ride 8 is heavier than the Ride 7 by around 0.1 Oz/3 gms. Not that it amounts to anything at all, but just stating that the new design does not result in savings on bulk. On its own, the Saucony Ride 8 is one of the lightest shoes in its category, even lighter than the Nike Pegasus 32 by around 10 grams.
In our last review (Pegasus 32), we included a comparison with competing models, and we got a lot of positive feedback. We’ll do the same for the Saucony Ride 8, this being a key shoe in its segment. Not promising this feature for all reviews, however. This additional detail stretches our review completion time from a week to over ten days, and at that rate, we’ll never get any stuff done. No good, that.
After back to back comparative wear-testing, it was easy to distil, and hence sum up the shoe’s character. That the Ride 8’s strength lies in its wide spectrum of all around performance, compared to some of the more focused neutrals out there. Not sure what that means? The comparo(s) below should help with that.
Saucony Ride 8 vs. the Nike Pegasus 32:
If you’ve read our Pegasus 32 review, then this will feel like a re-run of sorts. But hey, not everyone will read all reviews, so here we go again.
The Ride 8 is softer overall, but less responsive than the Pegasus 32. This is due to Nike’s tightly sprung Zoom Air bags, which makes the midsole’s feedback levels (heel only) higher than the Ride. One important thing to note is that the Ride 8 works equally well for forefoot and rearfoot strikers in terms of cushioning, as opposed to Pegasus 32’s heel targeted cushioning.
The Ride 8 is far more supportive. Why so? The forefoot midsole has a flared out design, and the multiple layered heel section provides a stable base. In comparison, the Pegasus 32’s heel feels like it’s missing a chunk laterally due to its deep grooving. This also produces greater bias on the Pegasus, while the Ride feels more neutral.
There’s more toe box room aboard the Ride 8 than Pegasus 32’s shallow tip. That said, forefoot side space is more accommodating on the Pegasus 32. Other minor details would include more reflectivity on the Ride, higher midfoot lockdown on the Pegasus 32, and the plusher heel and grip of the Ride 8.
Outsole durability is higher on the Pegasus, Ride 8’s weight is lower than Nike’s, and the Pegasus is cheaper by $10.
Saucony Ride 8 vs. the adidas Glide 7 Boost:
The Glide 7 Boost is firmer than the Ride 8, but it fares better at feeling more efficient, faster and responsive. Being a polyurethane based compound, it holds its cushioning longer than EVA based foam, the type which Saucony uses on the Ride 8.
Worth highlighting is that both the Ride 8 and Glide 7 Boost work well for multiple footstrike patterns, since the shoes do a good job at spreading the cushioning feel along the length of the shoe.
The Ride 8 might have a flared midsole, but given Glide Boost’s higher levels of firmness, both end up feeling similar from a support angle.
The Glide Boost runs half size smaller when measured against the Ride 8. Once you get past that, the upper forefoot space is the same as the Ride 8, minus the localized pressure. At night, the Ride 8 has better visibility.
The Ride 8 is much lighter (around 15%) than the Glide 7, and cheaper by $10. The Glide 7 has better outsole life vs. the Ride.
Saucony Ride 8 vs. the Ghost 8:
Midsole is firmer on the Ghost 8, and this applies to both the heel and the forefoot areas. This is because of the firmer DNA foam midsole, including the crash pad which happens to be much firmer than that of the Ride 8.
Owing to its firmer base, the Ghost 8 comes across as more supportive in its ride, and decidedly neutral.
There’s greater forefoot splay room on the Ghost 8. However, Brooks uses this thick synthetic leather piece near where the lacing begins, so the whole area feels more built up while flexing the shoe. But view the Ghost 8 through the lens of material specs, and it definitely looks and feels more premium, plusher and higher end than the Ride 8 – for the same price.
The Ghost 8 is way heavier (15%) than the Ride 8, and the outsole durability should be lower in the long run, typical of Brooks. It makes up for it by way of outsole grip, which is better than the Ride and many other models.
Saucony Ride 8 vs. the Asics Gel Cumulus 17:
The Cumulus 17 is heel heavy on cushioning, which means softer than Ride 8’s. That said, the overall cushioning softness is greater on the Cumulus, accounted by Asics’s use of soft foam and lateral side Gel. There’s a relative amount of heel sink on the Cumulus compared to the firmer Ride 8, so take the former’s heel to toe drop measurements with a grain of salt.
Midsole responsiveness is better on the Saucony, and so is the transition quality. In contrast, the Cumulus 17 felt a bit reluctant to dial up speed when asked to. Ride 8 scores higher on support, as it rides firmer – and hence more stable – owing to the nature of its midsole design.
The Cumulus 17 has a tighter forefoot, but plusher collar grip. Asics shoes tend to carry a lot of weight, and the Cumulus 17 is no exception. It packs in 17% more bulk than the Ride 8.
(Disclaimer: For this review, Solereview bought the shoe at full US retail price.)
Looking to upgrade your older Saucony Ride 7 to the latest version, but not sure how the 2015 model compares? We can help here. The following infographic is a ready-reckoner for what changes you might expect in the new model vs. old. To make this more fun, we’ve put in a system of percentage match, which calculates a weighted average for a set of attributes.
A higher or lower match percentage is neither good or bad. The % number just tells you how similar or distanced the new shoe is from the previous version. Total match % is a result of weighted averages.