Saucony Grid Type A4 Racing Flat: Another Minimalist Offering from Saucony

Saucony-brandImage via Wikipedia

Saucony has made a strong entry into the lightweight, flattish soled running shoe category with its recent release of the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara. I haven’t worn the Kinvara myself, but word from some friends is that it’s a very nice shoe – lightweight, and well built for midfoot/forefoot runners (you can read a Kinvara review by my buddies Thomas and Steve over on the dailymile Community Blog).

Men’s Saucony Grid Type A4

Somewhat lost in the heavy marketing being put into the Kinvara’s release was the recent release of another shoe by Saucony that might appeal even more to minimalist runners – the Saucony Grid Type A4 racing flat. A reader just sent me an e-mail (thanks Todd!) indicating that he tried out the Grid Type A4 and thinks very highly of it as a midfoot/forefoot striking shoe. For Saucony fans concerned about the overall sole height of the Kinvara (assuming there are people besides me who actually pay attention to things like this!), the Grid Type A4 might just be the shoe for you. The A4 is not only lighter than the Kinvara (it weighs in at 6.3oz vs. the Kinvara’s 7.7oz – both values for men’s size 9), but it’s sole sits closer to the ground (13mm heel cushion, 9mm forefoot cushion in the A4 vs. 18mm/14mm in the Kinvara). With a heel-toe drop of only 4mm, the Grid Type A4 does seem like a promising candidate for midfoot/forefoot striking runners.

Women’s Saucony Grid Type A4

One of the unique and interesting features of the A4 is the fact that it has a drainage system built into the sole – if you look at the picture below, you can see the oval-shaped holes circling the inner portion of the sole. I can think of several races in my recent past where these would have come in very handy.

Sole of the Saucony Grid Type A4 – Note the drainage holes.

Don’t know much else about this shoe (other than that it seems overpriced for a flat at an MSRP of $95.00 – Update: thanks to Lisa in the comments for pointing out that it’s selling for $79.95 at Running Warehouse), but it looks like it has the potential to be another strong offering from Saucony – if you’ve tried it and have thoughts, feel free to leave a comment.

Update 6/7/10: Below are some initial thoughts that a reader, Todd L., sent to me regarding his experience with the Grid Type A4.

“I just got back from my first run in them and although it’s a little early to give a thorough review, I must say that if they continue to feel/perform like they did today, they will definitely be my primary running shoe for a long time to come. I’ve gone through countless sneakers (Brooks Launch, Nike Free Run+, Saucony Kinvara, and Newtons, most recently) in an effort to find the right shoe for me. Along the way I learned that for me the biggest obstacle was the raised heel that most running shoes seem to have. Getting rid of a big heel allowed me to start running in a more natural barefoot-like” form. The A4′s, while they have a very similar heel/forefoot differential to the Kinvara’s, (4mm), are a little closer to the ground and have a little less cushioning but it seems just cushy enough to be very comfortable. Compared to the Kinvara’s, I think these might be a better choice for someone really trying to run more forefoot and really feel the ground to gain feedback and stay on top of their form.”

Update 9/16/2010: A reader (thanks Gilbert!) indicated that he has some concerns with durability on the Grid Type A4. After 215 miles, this is what the sole of his shoe looks like:

Hard to know if this is idiosyncratic to his gait (appears to be a forefoot striking wear pattern), but thought I’d share for your information.

For more on the Grid Type A4, check out the video below from Running Warehouse:

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Hi Pete,
    Don’t know if you’ve heard this from others, but I had huge durability issues with this shoe. I have loved Saucony’s A series, but I think they made a big mistake on the outsole of the A4. Granted, my footstrike is not perfect, but I don’t think it’s atrocious. I land on the outsides of my foot and roll inward, as I think most people do. After 65 miles I had ripped the triangle outsole pieces on the outside of the midfoot off, and by 80 miles was running on pure midsole foam. I know these are flats, but I expected more than 80 miles out of them.

    • I’d like to see what the heel looks like on the photo above. I’ve also been a bit disappointed with the outsole material on a pair of fastwitch 4s. My forefoot is almost gone and the heel looks new. I’m not sure the distance that I put on them but I rotate shoes and they lasted significantly less time than others. I’ve worn Saucony’s A2s as well, which I didn’t consider to be particularly long lasting, but given price/weight/comfort I’d have bought them again. I am/was thinking about these shoes but I might avoid them.

      • Pete Larson says:

        I’m sure wear will vary somewhat from person to person, byt it is a bit
        disconcerting to see them that chewed up. Unfortunately, I don’t have a heel
        picture.

        Pete

    • Pete Larson says:

      Gilbert – thanks for the comment – that’s good to know. Any chance you could
      email me a picture of the sole damage? My contact info is here:
      link to runblogger.com….

      Pete

  2. FREDERIC BROSSARD says:

    Do you also consider shoes like the adidas adizero adios to be minimalist – they’re closed to these Saucony in terms of design ?
    I’ve been running with the adios for a while but they can’t compare to Vibram FF or EVO as minimalist shoes.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Frederic,

      I think you’ll find a lot of debate about terminology lately when it comes
      to categorizing running shoes. I basically view any shoe that deviates from
      the typical heavily cushioned heel, pronation control, heavy weight training
      shoe as minimalist. I also view minimalist as a scale more than a category -
      some “minimalist” shoes are far more minimal than others (e.g., Vibrams).
      Others might sub-categorize shoes as “transitional” and “barefoot-like” but
      those terms carry a lot of baggage in my opinion, so I like the simplicity
      of just using one term for the entire scale. So yes, I view most racing
      flats as minimalist since they are typically lightweight, have minimal upper
      material, and have a relative thin sole with only a small amount of
      cushioning.

      I don’t know a lot about the Adidas shoes – which adizero shoe are you
      referring to? I know they make a lot of what I would classify as minimalist
      shoes, and they are very popular with many of the elite runners.

      Pete

      • FREDERIC BROSSARD says:

        Pete,
        I’m referring to the adizero adios which are used – allegedly – by Hailé Gebreselaisie. I think you would consider them as minimalist since they’re race dedicated.
        Frederic

        • Pete Larson says:

          I’ll have to look up the Adios, but if it’s the one I think it is I’ve
          read good things about it.

          Pete

          Sent from my iPod

          • The Adios has an 11mm heel to toe drop so should not be considered minimalist. I used to train in a pair of Adizero RC (6mm drop) and put over a thousand miles on them. Not sure which model Haile ran in before the Adios, but most of the Adizeros had lower drops than the Adios. He may have set the record in the Adios, but he has been battling injuries sine.

  3. Whats really funny is this sort of racing flat could be found in the ‘bargain bin’ of my local running store at a nock down price not long ago!
    only the lightest and fastest runners would buy them and they sold very slowly.
    Now i can see all the shoes companies jumping on the band wagon and ripping everyone off yet again!!!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Rick,

      Unfortunately you are exactly right, and it’s frustrating – these shoes have
      always been around, but most everyday runner’s didn’t know about them. Now
      the minimalist trend is hot and the prices on what should be a cheap shoe
      have risen accordingly. Although I like the look of the A4, I wouldn’t pay
      $95 for it – more minimal shoes should be cheaper, not more expensive! At
      least we can still fall back on reasonably priced XC flats….for now.

      Pete

  4. Saucony made a GRID A4 lightweight trainer a long time ago. I bought a pair c. 1994. Apparently they’ve decided to use the name/model again.

  5. Wouldn’t plugging up the drainage holes with shoegoo solve the problems of rocks and water going through. (I have no problem with no drainage holes.)

  6. I love the Grid Type A4 shoes. These have become my favorite running shoe, and in my opinion, a nearly perfect running shoe. I have over 400 miles on these and have not had any of the tread issues that others seem to have. These have lasted me much longer than any other shoe, and still have lots of life left to them. I weigh 180 pounds, run about 40 miles a week, with the long run averaging 10 miles. I don’t have the best running form, and am mostly a mid-foot striker.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I have noticed that a midfoot strike seems to do the least amount of wear to
      the soles of my shoes – I sed to destroy the heels before my change.

  7. Thanks for the info on the website. I bought these shoes (type a4) approximately a month ago. I wear them for all of my speed work and wore them in a race this past weekend. After approximately 75 miles, my soles look almost like the day that I bought them. I do notice a few rocks in the drain holes, but they don’t appear to be damaging the shoe. Time will tell how many actual miles they last. I would consider myself an efficient runner, but I also weigh 175 pounds. I do feel the rocks when I run, but I think that is the point of the minimalist shoe. I’d recommend this to anyone. I also bought the Kinvara for my recovery runs, easy runs, and long runs. These two shoes provide everything that I need in running shoes.

  8. I have over 80 miles on my Grid Type A4s and very little wear. I have been enjoying them in the winter months as my alternate to my vibrams. My only complaint is when I come inside with snow packed in the sole, it melts and reverses up into the shoe and soaks my sock. I guess a small price to pay for minimalist running in MN! So far, on my minimalist journey, these shoes have the best feel for me and they hold up great. I don’t expect them to last forever since they are half the price of what I was paying for cushioned/support running shoes. What do you expect for the amount of abuse a runner puts on a $75 shoe?

  9. I’ve got about 20 miles on my pair. A couple of things to note:

    Pros:
    1) They feel great with a short-striding barefoot-running type of midfoot strike.
    2) They are nice and light and breath really well.
    3) They have a ton of grip with all those nubs on the forefoot.

    Cons:
    1) I don’t get the feeling these will last very long.
    2) The “drainage holes” plug up with small stones – and if you have sensitive feet you’ll feel them in there. This will also probably contribute to increased wear (decreased longevity) of the shoe. Note: this is with average road running (no off-road excursions).
    3) As Rick intimated, even with Running Warehouse’s awesome prices, they’re probably still overpriced. These probably shouldn’t be an everyday shoe for the minimalist runner… it’s probably better suited to race duty only.

    Thanks for a great website Pete!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Rick,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the A4! I had thought about that
      regarding the drain holes and rocks, maybe that’s why we don’t see more
      shoes with that feature. It’ll be interesting to see how many miles you get
      out of them.

      Pete

  10. Malibru says:

    I’ve been a barefoot (Vibram) trail runner for over a year now but needed something a tad less minimalist for hard pavement street running, but which nonetheless gave me a similar Vibram feel. After trying on 5 or 6 other pairs, the A4 stood out from the crowd. The breathability is unmatched, with mesh in the uppers and perforated holes in the sole, heel, and toe box. Ridiculously cool shoe to run in ~ like someone turned on the AC ~ and I wear this shoe barefoot. Obviously, whoever designed this shoe designed it with a barefoot runner in mind, as the tongue tag is embossed flush with the fabric, the tongue itself has elastic bands on either side to move up and down with the foot, and two very cool hydro-pockets on either side of the heel at the achilles tendon make for a snugger fit (which is good b/c this shoe runs about half a size large). There are no stitching seams in the shoe whatsoever, so wearing it barefoot is easy, and at 6.5 ounces, you might as well be wearing clouds.

    Great shoe. Couldn’t be more pleased.

    • Looking to get these for a Marathon. @46cb3b9281164d1f48b4871df9926d24:disqus any other references that these Grid A4′s run a half size large?

      I wouldn’t want to get a UK 7.5 if the UK 7 would fit better!

  11. If you use Running Warehouse and the CP15 code (entered under team discounts), you can get this shoe for $55 right now…I did & can’t wait to give em a try!

  12. Leonardonavinchi says:

    Just purchased the Grid Type A4 shoes; along with my wife. In May 2010 we decided to transition from our typical running shoes into minimalist footwear. We both purchased Vibram five fingers and have had huge success. Both of us have gained stronger legs and have evolved into more efficient runners. My knee pain post-runs have diminished completely! However; after completing a recent run in Sub-20 degree weather (Frozen Feet) we decided it was time to evaluate a minimalist shoe for winter and trail races. We have one run under our belt in the A4′s and both have appreciate the relative similarity to running in Vibram’s. Hopefully; the A4′s will be as durable as the Vibram’s have been. Good Luck.

    • Pete Larson says:

      My winter shoes lately have been the New Balance MT101 and Merrell
      Trail Glove – liking both a lot!

      Pete

      On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, Disqus

  13. Wow! Thanks Pete! I just got up early, excited to go for a run in my new Saucony A4′s (before it rains), decided to check out your site while having a quick cup of coffee and was greeted by this article. Very cool!! Will definitely post some feedback as I log more miles in them.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Todd,

      Forgot to e-mail a heads-up last night when I posted – if you want to e-mail
      me some thoughts at some point, I can add them to the post as an update. It
      helps a lot to get this from others since my wallet (nor my wife!) will
      allow me to buy every pair of shoes on the market!

      Thanks for the tip about the A4′s!

      Pete

  14. I just retired my first pair of A4 Grid’s after 300 hard miles of speed, tempo, and triathlon racing, with the triathlons including a number of miles on dirt and gravel. They held up exceptionally well, and my new pair just arrived from Runner’s Warehouse. I found the shoes worked well for me all the way up to the half marathon distance. One big plus for triathletes – the shoes drain well – no slushing in your socks or bare feet – with the drain holes. The flip side is that if you have runs or races on gravel, small rocks can find their way into the drain holes and cause discomfort until removed (happened once during the 10k portion of a tri).

  15. Thanks for this post! I just ordered a pair of these from running warehouse just a week ago for $79.95, and with the runblogger discount I paid $71.95 total. They just shipped yesterday and I should get them next week. I have been running in the new Nike Free Run+ and love them. Not sure if I will keep the Sauconys or just order another pair of the Nikes.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the comment – if you wind up liking the A4′s, feel free to
      stop back and leave some feedback. Wish I could buy every shoe I write
      about here, but sometimes I have to rely on feedback from readers!

      Pete

      Sent from my iPod

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