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Topo Athletic Shoes Now Available – Will the Split-Toe Shoe Succeed?

I just received an email from City Sports announcing that Topo Athletic’s new line of split toe shoes are now in-stock. Topo is the company that was formed by Tony Post after he left Vibram, and the line consists of three different models: one for running, one for racing, and one for the gym:

Topo RT

Topo Athletic RT – The Topo Running Shoe

Topo RR

Topo Athletic RR – The Topo Racing Shoe With BOA Laces

Topo RX

 Topo Athletic RX – The Topo Running Shoe

I wrote an article a few months back pointing out that the split-toe design has been used many times before, and I’m still not sure that I’m crazy about the split-toe aesthetic (Fivefingers were weird enough to be cool, not sure if these shoes have that going for them). I personally am not a big fan of BOA lacing systems, particularly given the added cost when a shoe incorporates BOA, so I’d pass on the Topo RR shoe. If I could get over the split-toe, the RT looks like a decent shoe. It’ll be interesting to see how they sell.

How about you, do you see success in the future for Topo shoes, or has the toe-pocket design run its course?

If you’ve already tried one of these shoes, leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Finally, if you’re itching to get a pair, it looks like City Sports has first rights to sell Topo.

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

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. Rob Fisher says:

    I would love to read a review on the B2R split toe shoes. I tried them on at an expo in Atlanta, but wasn’t sure about having to wear special socks. It’s hard enough to find a pair that match, let alone a special toe sock or two in the laundry.

    I would love to know if they are worth the additional organization in the sock drawer.

  2. Gregor Ruthven says:

    I’m excited that I just got my own pair of Topo’s RT from their website (receipt #206). They are definitely a fresh company with sweet marketing, but I believe there is more to it than that. (pictures below)

    “The arch is designed to work like a leaf spring… The foot flattens during absorption phase, then the plantar fascia elongates and loads like a bowstring, which helps in propulsion during toe-off.” – Charlie Johnson, former head Biomechanist (thepfsolution.com/blog/flex)

    To the best of my understanding, this a major reason why many people love to run barefoot in the grass, because it helps the foot use that biomechanical action most efficiently and effectively.

    Quick Specs
    Height: 4mm Sole, 8mm Midsole, 3mm Insole
    Insole: Supposedly 3mm, but seemed thinner, and definitely cheap foam.
    Cushioning: 6-7 of 10

    Weight: Lightweight, 6.5oz, size 8.5
    Anatomical Fit: Awesome.
    Toebox Split Area: Stretchy Walls = Comfort, potentially slippage
    Strike Zone Options: Forefoot Only.
    Breathability: Epic.
    Seams: Heat-welded yielding smooth inner

    Cons: Roll from forefoot to toe-off was definitely different because of the 4mm lug-like rubber sole that is spread out across the forefoot. Might make another comment about this once I have more time in them.

    Anatomical Fit: Awesome. (runs slightly large in length and height of toebox) I plan on adding my own 4mm insole to take up a little more room and add cushioning.
    Many other shoes claim anatomical fit, but when you view the outline on sites with shoefitr technology, you can clearly see that the big toe area is curved in prematurely to make the shoe “look right.” From all of the shoes I’ve seen, this stands true for every major brand out there except Altra (although please forgive me if I left a brand out).

    Toebox Stretch: the appearance is somewhat deceiving, because the walls of the toe box where the split occurs are a spandex-like material that stretches nicely. There is a bit of discomfort that can occur when making sharper turns to the inside foot’s toes 2-5 as they slide against the spandex material stretching it outwards, giving one the feeling that they’ve lost some traction.

    Strike Zone Options: these are definitely forefoot strikers only. I tried midfoot and heel striking in them with terrible results. The midsole is off the ground in the midfoot area, creating pain when using midfoot stirke. Heel striking was semi-difficult with zero-drop, and the hard landing was unfortunately memorable.

    Question for Pete: what other shoes achieve the same effect as these that have actual cushioning? B2R*? Even though I forefoot strike, cushioning for me is crucial because I have bad knees from pole vaulting.

    B2R* = For others unfamiliar with Born2Run, it is very similar, but with less stack height and a flat landing surface.

    Gregor Ruthven, Designer
    thepfsolution.com

  3. Cody R. says:

    will it succeed? Not sure…but gosh dang it’s trying lol

  4. Steve Tremblay says:

    My rational brain tells me, Nah…it’s another marketing gimmick and I already have too many shoes. But my emotional brain tells me, Yeah!…another new stuff. I want to try these.

  5. Solangi Naeem says:

    Nice shows

  6. Zedric Dimalanta says:

    “Fivefingers were weird enough to be cool, not sure if these shoes have that going for them”

    Don’t tell me your inner ten year-old isn’t even at least a little excited with the idea of running in “ninja shoes” :D

  7. Damien @ ToeSalad says:

    Personally, I think the split toe is a fabulous idea (from a functional standpoint). Whether or not they are able to execute it properly remains to be seen.

    One of the big issues I have with footwear is the toebox. Even on supposedly “natural or anatomic lasted” shoes, my big toe is splaying out and fighting with the fabric, often leading to soreness after a long day. The problem is that when you have a really wide toebox you lose a certain amount of security with the fit, especially on the downhill. I see the split toe as having a lot of potential for providing both toe splay and security.

  8. Ashwyn Gray says:

    It seems to me that this design increases the potential for several new issues with uncomfortable fit. Whereas the traditional toe box design basically gives you one pocket to fit your toes into, allowing you to fill the space as best you can; this split to design gives you two, relatively rigid pockets in which to secure your toes. And, you’d better hope that the alignment of your forefoot matches that of this shoe. That’s just me guessing, though. I really shouldn’t judge until I’ve tried them.

  9. bob baks says:

    I find it somewhat odd that you’ve been consistently negative about this shoe, while seemingly just ga-ga over those Hokas. Yes, the split-toe is nothing new, but I think most people would advise a novice runner try a pair of these before considering the max cushioning route. I’m happy to report that a running store nearby is stocking these soon, and as far as I know have no plans to stock the Hokas. This company should at least be given a chance. Strangely, you seemed ready to dismiss it before it even got started. It’s bothered me for a while, but I didn’t want to say anything, seeing as how you’re such a big-shot and all. But since you are a big deal, you may want to be careful about how you wield your influence.

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