Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Road Glove 2.0: A worthy successor to a great minimal shoe

I have been accused of being a Merrell homer by some of my running friends. It is absolutely true. I like to stick with what works for me and Merrell Barefoot shoes have worked for me since Jan 2011.  I love the fact that I can go from Merrell's Trail Glove to a Road Glove 1.0 to a Road Glove 2.0 and not even notice a difference in fit.

I have about 800 miles total on the original Road Glove so it seemed like a safe bet to give the Road Glove 2.0 a try as a shoe for my first Boston Marathon (and first road marathon, for that matter.)

First off, let's get the technical stuff out of the way (Direct from the Merrell website):

This is “where the rubber meets the road”. Our Road Glove’s simplicity frees your sole with its barefoot, road-specific design, connecting your feet with the pavement. Its back to basics with this runner: a 0mm drop midsole enhanced with a protective toe cap, midsole cushion and reflective, washable mesh upper. Durable Vibram® Road Glove sole.
• Barefoot construction
• Mesh and synthetic leather upper
• Low cut upper
• Protective toe cap
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Wash as needed in cold water, gentle cycle and air dry

• 0mm Drop / 4mm Cush / 9.5mm Stack Height
• Vibram® Road Glove 2 Sole / TC1 Rubber

Men’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair)
Jasper is modeling the MixMaster Move (left) and the Road Glove 2.0 (right)
Don't mind the laundry.

The Road Glove 2.0 comes with some really cool improvements over the 1.0.
Road Glove 2.0 with new upper, overlays, and looped eyelets.
Original Road Glove showing the punched eyelets and older overlay
  1. Super light weight and breathable upper material with laminated overlays. The net effect of this for me is that I can get this shoe to snug down better and hold my heel back without feeling overly tight. I received these shoes in mid January just prior to a seriously cold snap in New England and I can tell you that the upper breathes really well and is NOT adequate for winter running when sockless or thin socked. I had no issues once I broke out the smartwools though.
  2. Looped eyelets as opposed to punched. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this change as I had really found the groove in terms of lacing up my old Road Gloves. After a few lacing attempts, I got the new Road Glove 2.0 tight enough to hold my heel back and fit "like a glove" as it were. I'm never looking back. This new lacing style is a great improvement over the old one. It's not the Omni-fit system I love from the Trail Glove but when combined with the overlays mentioned above I can functionally achieve a similar fit that is tight where I want it without crushing my foot in other areas.
  3. Full Vibram outsole built on the awesome Merrell Barefoot last. Because this is the same last as the other Merrell Barefoot shoes, those who are annoyed by the "arch bump" will feel it. It has been my experience that this feeling goes away shortly after starting the run and this shoe was no different. After 30 miles on this shoe, it is no longer apparent. Out of the box, they were far stiffer than my old 600 mile Road Gloves. It felt like I was running on paddles. Duh. It's a new shoe. After about a mile, I almost forgot I was wearing new shoes. The outsole is completely different from the Road Glove 1.0. The Vibram outsole now fully covers the bottom of the shoe which I'm guessing will really add to shoe life. I've done a number of runs now in fresh snow, frozen slush, and generally crappy New England winter conditions and the traction from this sole is nothing short of ASTONISHING. The only time I slipped was on actual ice during a downhill. These crappy conditions also bring me to my one minor gripe with this outsole. It holds road sand like it is going out of style. You can't tell while running ( and this might actually be part of the super traction) but the first time you come into the kitchen, you will know. No amount of wiping your feet will dislodge the sand. I am now required to take these off outside and bang the soles out.
Original Road Glove sole (left) after 600 miles compared to the new shoe.  Yes, these are the same size 12 shoe.
Trapped road sand in the treads.  Traction aid?  Maybe.  Pain in the butt after you track it into the house?  Yup.
To summarize all that above stuff, you are looking at a thin, flexible, zero-drop shoe with a very light and breathable upper. It is made on the same barefoot last (footbed shape) as the Road Glove 1.0 (review here), Trail Glove (review here), and Bare Access 2 so if you those fit you, you should be able to easily jump into these. If you are looking for a minimal road shoe, stop and have a look at these. You won't be disappointed.

See you at the finish line in Boston!


(These shoes were provided by Merrell.)

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