FIRST LOOK SHOE REVIEW
Before I launch into the review of Salming’s new hard surface, long distance training shoe, the Greyhound, allow me to say that this is the fourth pair of Salming shoes I have reviewed. I respect their boldness and bravery in taking on the big players in a saturated running shoe market. I also admire their willingness to listen to their customers and give us a product that is filling market needs, but also pushing the boundaries of design and style. In pushing these boundaries, they are attempting to give features to runners that we didn’t know we needed and creating a niche product which is intended to ‘wedge’ themselves in a billion dollar industry. As you will see in this review these features can be bold and purposeful, but sometimes they can also be confusing and slightly frustrating near misses.
Salming’s latest addition to the running shoe market , the Greyhound, is marketed as a ‘road warrior’. It is a shoe tailored for hard-surface running and the impact forces that comes with it. Below are the statistics of the men's and women's Salming Greyhound offering. The shoe has a price point of $249 AUD.
Weight: 224 g (US 7.5)
Drop: 6 mm
Color: White or Black/White
Stack: 28 mm center of heel, 22 mm ball of foot
Midsole: RECOIL PLUS™
Outsole: Vibram XS Trek
Weight: 278 g (US 9)
Drop: 6 mm
Color: Safety Yellow/Poseidon Blue or Black/White
Stack: 28 mm center of heel, 22 mm ball of foot
Midsole: RECOIL PLUS™
Outsole: Vibram XS Trek
I love that Salming continues to underpin their shoes with a design process which is linked firmly with science. This science is emblazoned on the box with their Salming Running Wheel. This wheel is the blueprint for the perfect running style. From this wheel you can see that efficiency is centered at the pelvis of the runner and the supporting spokes are the functioning body elements being channeled into the outer rim which is the shoes on the feet of the runner. You are given the impression that the shoe will be an enhancement of your abilities rather than being the silver bullet of success.
While this running wheel has been present in the four previous models that I have reviewed I must admit this was the first time that I noted the blue print font style. This gave me the feeling that I was the test pilot of a new invention, rather than a polished final product. Was I about to test fly the newest stealth fighter under the watchful eye of 20 scientists behind protective glass, or was I going to turn the key on a Mitsubishi Lancer and drive a very sedentary pace away from the show room. As it turned out it was a bit of both and a fair bit in between.
Once the box was opened I was arrested by the colour. I went for black which made the shoe a notable contrast from the other models that I have reviewed. The Speed 6 was eye searing, the Trail 5 was unabashed with colour splashes and the Enroute was loudly yelling its name across the roof tops with bold lettering and even bolder colour flourishes. In contrast, the Greyhound was asleep in its kennel when I opened the box. It laid there awaiting to be awoken by its master.
From this point I must digress to address the elephant in the room, the new logo. As a disclaimer I am not the most stylish of people. ‘If it’s my size I will wear it’, is probably the most encapsulating statement about my style. But with that said, I must admit when I saw the new logo I said ‘oh my’ out loud.
In this new logo I can see the homage to the name sake of the company, Borge Salming whose nick name while playing international ice hockey was ‘the king’. I can see how the union of the two S’s signify the brand name holding up a jewel in the crown. As this shoe is proudly Swedish I can see, feel and hear the importance of the crown in Swedish culture, both past and present. And while I can see all of these things, I just can’t understand it.
I loved the design of the previous models. The proud lettering of the company on the outside heel and the name of the shoe as equally bold on the inside heel. It was brash and yet it was something I wanted to be a part of. Similar to the name of your favourite sporting superstar on your back. When you wear Beckham on your shirt as an amateur soccer player you embodied David Beckham and you see yourself as a version of his talent. A company name or logo is less personal and it can smack of entitlement and elitism. Wearing Manchester United is a representation of the whole brand rather than the individual which makes the team.
I understand that I am drawing a long bow with this pet peeve seeing that this is a simple shoe review, but to my defence a logo change is significant as it sets the tone of the company and it shows us, as the consumers, what we are buying into. All logos can be considered a little strange on first view and marketing strategy is not my forte, mindlessly running is, so I will move on.
Out of the box
As a feature rich long distance training shoe, it is no surprise that the shoe is a little heavier than my favourite Salming go to shoe, the Speed 6. The Greyhound’s weight is well balanced in my hand and this gave the illusion that it was lighter that its stated weigh of 278 grams (US 9). With a raised eye brow of appreciation I cast my eye over the shoe like the judge at Crufts dog show. Scanning for any errors or weaknesses that I could deduct marks for. I usually look for gaps in the gluing of the upper to the midsole, especially where the outsole is glued to the front of the toe box. I also search for any loose threads in the sewing of the last, lacing and tongue elements. In the greyhound all of these features were of a high construction standard, which is befitting a shoe that is aimed at the top of the market. The sockliner is thin but well manufactured to be a snug fit within the shoe. During the 100km of my review it was an immovable and unnoticeable element inside the shoe. Like a referee in a football game, you know they have had a good game when you don’t notice them.
The laces are on the thin side. I have scratched my head over the years with the difficulties that shoe manufactures face when choosing laces. To make my point the blurb on the Salming website states ‘the laces are racing thin’, but I struggle to see how adding traditionally uncomfortable racing laces, which can be prone to loosening, to a long distance training shoe makes sense. This is a minor concern, as the shoes easily passed muster in terms of design and construction standard.
First lace up
Sliding my foot into the shoe I immediately noticed the long snout of the Greyhound. The laces are positioned further back than many of my other shoes, leaving a large and roomy toe box. The tongue of the shoe is thin, but with its gusseted design it doesn’t appear to be something that will cause concern. I actually prefer a thinner tongue as I could never really work out why you would need to have so much weight gaining padding to protect yourself from the laces that you tie up yourself. If they hurt when you run don’t tie them so tight. Once again I digress.
Returning to the shoe, I noted that the extended snout and breathing holes under the outer mesh gave the appearance of a whale shark rather than the profile of a slick racing dog. As I took in the feel of the shoes on my feet there was no doubting the comfort of them. There is a slight pillowy feel as you stand up and slightly sink into the unsullied recoil PLUS midsole. You feel at ease and comfortable when you lace the shoes up and do the traditional first impression shoe shuffle dance. I can only think of a Cadillac as I walk around the house in the shoe and this is the image that has stuck with me for the two weeks I have been trialing these shoes.
Out the door
In recent years, I have taken to walking to enhance my recovery after harder sessions. While I hear many of you groaning with disgust, as I would have done in my younger years, I find that it is making me faster as my body recovers much quicker. As I had done a track session the day before, I decided to go for a 7km walk that had a range of terrains to ‘bed’ in the new shoes. I am glad I did, because it gave me a chance to get my feet used to shoes before my legs had a chance to unleash on them. I have done some shoe reviews where I have bolted straight out of the door and my shins and knees have felt the brunt for days after as my feet sent distress signals through my body. From this initial walk I got a real sense of what the shoe stood for.
My foot was not super quick to bed down into the shoe. I would say by the 2 ½ kilometre mark I stopped thinking about the shoe and started noticing my surroundings. The shoe has a 6mm drop which is not high heel category, but it does give a subtle and somewhat pleasant toe off once I get to the mid foot of the shoe. The Vibram outsole, with its XS Trek compound that claims to be 25% more durable, is noticeable and continued to be a noticeable and head scratching element of the shoe over the next few weeks.
On this first hit out the flex of the outsole was reduced and I felt like I was slapping the ground. I was longing for the ‘metarocker’ design of my Hoka Cliftons to smoothly transition myself onto my toes more efficiently from the heel. As I am predominately a mid-foot striker this will not be a problem once I start running in the shoes, but for this initial break in walk it was an aspect that caused some consternation for me.
Once the initial trial walk was over there were no complaints about the fit and comfort. From the 2 ½km to the end of the 7km walk the shoe molded to my foot perfectly. I continued to come back to my initial thoughts about the shoe looking like a whale shark and feeling like a Cadillac. It looked and felt slow, but it was deceptively quicker than it appeared.
If you ever see a whale shark in documentaries they hardly move their tails to swim but they propel themselves with impressive speed. The same is true for the Cadillac, especially the older ones, think Elvis and his 1966 Cadillac DeVille. While this thing looks like it is in a carpark even when it is moving, it may surprise you to note that it does have a 400bhp V8 engine that produces some impressive straight line speed. Just don’t expect that straight line speed to come in straight away, nor should you stop in a hurry or turn a sharp corner. The comparison to the whale shark and Cadillac are not negative, I am simply saying that its job of going long in comfort was achieved extremely well.
In giving you comfort, the Greyhound embodies the spirit of a cruiser. Laid back, peaceful but surprisingly functional. To give you a taste of what I mean, I would like to bring you along for the final run that I did before I publishing this review. Work had been a little crazy of late so I went to my childhood town of Redcliffe Peninsula to get some much needed perspective. Redcliffe is a beautiful seaside community, lined with picturesque beach settings. It was an amazing place to grow up. I still have some vivid memories of my 17 years living and running around the coastal pathways.
With that setting the scene, I laced up my Greyhounds and started my run at the northern most tip of the Peninsula, only a stone’s throw from my old school. From my first stride I was completely lost in the memories of the area. I ran past an old weather board shop where I used to get bags of 10 cents lollies. I rounded the corner and got assaulted with the famous Redcliffe sea breeze. I sucked in the memories as I tasted the salt on the air. I saw familiar old fibro shacks that most likely housed the rank smell of gutted fish in the splinted decking boards. These shacks stood meekly next to the newly constructed monoliths proudly jutting their gleaming steel, glass and concrete facades into the howling wind. The salt laden air didn’t discriminate, as I noted the sheen of salt on the high windows and the blur of corrosion on the once polished aluminium trim. The fibro shacks, on the other hand, looked the same as they did on the day I ran past as a 14 year old.
I continued on and saw the red rocks which gave Redcliffe its name. I instantly remembered slicing my foot open and leaving bloody foot prints along this very path as a boy. I had cut my foot on the glass the local bogans left when they hurled their beer bottles against the protruding beach rocks. As I ran past an elderly man smiling at these rocks I wondered if maybe he was the one from years ago that broke bottles for his entertainment.
During this magnificent run as I slipped in and out of consciousness as my watched beeped to bring me back to the reality of the run, but I ignored it as I was totally lost in my cruise down memory lane. I was 14 again! I wasn’t going to let my sedentary pace spoil the illusion of this amazing moment. I pushed on and weaved along the path which hugged the sea shore and embraced the blank canvas that my running was creating in my mind. I was transfixed as the memories painted a vivid landscape of past, present and future versions of myself before my eyes. This was one of those rare running moment where I lost time and space and I simply absorbed into the moment.
In completing this transcendental run journey with me you may have noted that I did not once mention the shoes. Upon reflection it is because they were too busy doing their job of allowing me to run in comfort. Just like the Cadillac Deville with its automatic transmission, I didn’t need to worry about changing gears because the shoes enabled me the comfort of not needing to. Just like the whale shark, the shoes allowed me to glide along the path consuming the miles like plankton. The shoes enabled me to be effortless and switch off my conscious thoughts and simple be at one with the run. In looking at my data later on I was surprised that I turned in some faster times, but also ran some slower sections. This probably coincided with my thoughts of the school yard fights or lounging on the beach with my first girlfriend. Once again showing me that these shoes just want to go with the flow and cruise with you.
Based on this last run in them it may be a little harsh to say that I wouldn’t be reaching for them to knock off my 5k PB nor is it one that will see me nail a quick interval session or safely traverse a muddy trail run. If you put them on the feet of Mo Farrah he would still destroy 99.9% of the runners around him, but Mo is not reaching for these shoes to set a marathon world record. To be fair these shoes are shoes that have been designed so that you reach for them on your active recovery days. It is the shoe that your feet, legs and mind would reach for if they had the choice. These shoes are high performance cruisers just like the Cadillac. They can be quick if you want them to be, but they prefer to smell the roses rather than rip the petals off them as they rocket past.
Rubber on the Road
While these shoes have many positive qualities, I do have an issue that I am hoping will resolve itself over time and that is the outsole and its lack of grip in the wet. I love running in the rain. I love the solitude and the peace and quiet it brings. While rain drives everyone inside it beckons me out. Rain brings with it the potential for slippery surfaces.
I first noticed the lack of grip it when I went for the trial walk and I simply put this down to the chemical finish on the rubber and the road algae conspiring against me, but the lack of traction has reared its ugly head every session since. On my first walk I had to get off the track and walk on the grass going up and down slight inclines. There was a distinct and troubling lack of traction as I tried to push off going up and coming down, as my arms flailed like I was on ice.
On the next session which was an interval run, I slipped as I tried to get off the bitumen road as a car was coming. On my third session, which was a long run with a hill climb, I frustratingly felt my feet slightly slip every time I tried to push a little harder up the hill. When you are running up a 6km hill with 6% average gradient, it gets frustrating knowing that your efforts being undermined by every stride. Even on a flat, faster interval run as I was gaining confidence with the shoes, I pushed them a little harder but once again I started to lose traction on acceleration. With these growing examples of the lack of traction, my confidence levels fell. One slipped stride meant another ten of indecision and trepidation.
As Salming’s outsole rubber increases in hardness so too does its inability to ‘stick’ to surfaces. Similar to the rubber compounds on formula one cars. A hard compound lasts longer but grip is poor therefore speed is reduced. Conversely, a soft compound is quicker due to increased grip, but longevity is affected. This is an issue that Salming designers need to address in future designs. However, it is not a significant flaw, as many runners do not seek out mossy concrete paths in the middle of a storm. I felt that it was my role to find the limits of the shoe that I was reviewing. Out of the 100km of walking, running and jumping this was the only weakness that I could find.
Comfort and Fit: 5/5
Fit like a glove straight out of the box. I am a 8.5US in all my other shoes and this shoe was an 8.5US as well. From research that I did, I noted some reviewers saying that sizing was an issue but that wasn’t the case here.
Comfort was amazing. Just like the bucket seat in a Cadillac DeVille it held you in place so you could put your arm out the window and enjoy the ride. Not a blister or hot spot on my feet even on my 16km longer run. Nothing more to say!
Speed and Responsiveness: 4.5/5
The shoe will get up to speed if you push them hard. They will support your efforts, but they prefer it if you don’t. They were after all designed for longer distance runs on harder surfaces use them for this and your recovery runs and you will be rewarded.
There is a problem on wet and mossy surfaces possibly due to harder compound rubber on the Vibram outsole. Tread carefully in these conditions but because of this I have taken a half mark off. Not a deal breaker but worth consideration if you are a rain lover like me.
X Factor: 5/5
Do I like the design? Do I like that they look a little like a whale shark and have a questionable logo? Do I question the fact that they named them the Greyhound, which is a fast middle distance racer that runs on soft ground, but they have actually designed a long distance hard surface shoe? Do I question the disparity of the racing laces and weight saving thin tongue against the heaviness of the overall shoe? I guess the short answer to all of these questions is… yes!
But I like them. They are different. They have an X factor that is unique to this company. Like all of the shoes from Salming that I have worn, it has never been love at first sight. I hate saying this as I know it is a little stereotypical to say but the Greyhound shoes are very Swedish. From the Crown on the side to the durable performance of the shoe. It drips in Swedishness and this is not a bad thing and it is why I give them it a 5/5 for the X factor.
Value for Money: 4/5
They are an expensive shoe aimed at the top of the market with a recommended retail price is $249 (AUD). With this price point the Greyhound has placed itself in the middle of a very aggressive ‘dog fight’ (pun intended – sorry) for the hearts and wallets of the endurance runner.
VERDICT: 9 /10
This shoe does not disappoint if you use it for what it is designed to do, which is to go long in comfort. Ultimately the Greyhound has delivered another step forward in their ‘no nonsense’ approach to bold and purposeful shoe design, production and marketing.