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Saucony Breakthru Running Shoe Review

2014-12-14 12.48.10The Saucony Breakthru is an interesting shoe. It has the look, fit, and responsiveness of a performance racer, the weight and drop of a lightweight trainer, and a reasonable price point at $100. However, after running in the shoe for several weeks, I wonder if the fact that it tries to be something of a Jack-of-All-Trades might hurt it in the long run. It’ll be interesting to see how it is received by runners, and how it will be positioned by the Saucony marketing team (and specialty run stores). (Disclosure: The shoes reviewed here were media samples provided free of charge by Saucony).

My first thought when I put the Breakthru on was that they felt a bit tight up front. Not terribly constrictive, but they squeezed my toes together a bit and the upper material over the forefoot has no give. The fit is reminiscent of the Saucony Kinvara 4, or a racing flat like the A6. Not a roomy shoe, and I think that is intentional as it seems like the intent is for the Breakthru to be a performance-oriented alternative that slides somewhere in between the Kinvara and the Ride.

Saucony Breakthru Side

Specs from Running Warehouse indicate that the Breakthru is only 0.7 oz lighter than the Ride 7 (9.3 oz for the Ride vs. 8.7 oz for the Breakthru in men’s size 9), so the weight benefit is not huge. Stack height is 24mm heel, 16mm forefoot – thus, drop is the same as the Ride, but the stack height is 4mm less in both the heel and forefoot (Ride is 28mm/20mm). Unfortunately, I have not run in the Ride 7 so I can’t compare the feel, but in a blog preview Running Warehouse suggests that the Breakthu is firmer and more responsive. “Firm and responsive” is exactly how I would describe the Breakthru – it’s kind of like an 8mm drop, higher stack version of the Saucony Fastwitch with a narrower fit.

Saucony Breakthru Medial

If all of the above sounds a bit confusing, it is. My worry for the Breakthru is that it’s trying to do too many things at once, and there may be better options in the Saucony lineup for each. You want a cushioned trainer, get the Ride. You want a firm performance shoe with a roomy toebox? Get the Fastwitch. You want a 5K racer? Get the A6. You want a lightweight, cushioned shoe for longer distances? Get the Kinvara or Mirage (or the soon-to-be-released Zealot). The question for Saucony will be whether the Breakthru can find it’s own niche – firm ride, performance fit, moderately lightweight, 8mm drop. The closest comparisons I can think of from other brands would be shoes like the Mizuno Sayonara or maybe the New Balance 890 (though the 890 is not as firm if I remember correctly – been awhile since I’ve run in them). I might even dare to throw out the Brooks Launch as a competitor – it fills the same niche, but the Launch is a softer shoe.

Saucony Breakthru Top

My experience with the Breakthru has been mixed. I initially thought they were going to be too constrictive up front, but they have been OK on the run so far. I have a size 10 in the Breakthru, which is a half size smaller than I wear in the Kinvara, but length seems to be perfect. I think a simple change like a slightly stretchier forefoot mesh would make for a comfier fit. Aside from the forefoot mesh issue, the rest of the upper is nicely constructed and looks great. I particularly like the padding and material lining the tongue and ankle collar – very comfy.

Saucony Breakthru Sole

The sole of the Breakthru is going to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing for runners. There is plenty of rubber on the outsole, so I expect durability will be good. The midsole is firm and responsive, so if you like cush you should look elsewhere. Personally I found the ride to be better when picking up the pace, but I prefer a lower stack option like the Fastwitch or A6 for speed and a softer option like the Kinvara for longer miles. And therein lies the problem, at least for me – I’m not sure what I would use this shoe for.

Conclusion

The Saucony Breakthru is an affordable ($100 MSRP), firm shoe with a performance fit and plenty of sole underfoot. My guess is that those who like the feel of the Saucony Mirage (or Mizuno Sayonara) will like the Breakthru as a more cushioned (though narrower) option, and those who train in the Ride and want a firmer, slightly lighter option for racing will like it as well. It’ll be interesting to see if the Breakthru finds a market – how about you, can you see yourself adding the Breakthru to your arsenal?

The Saucony Breakthru is available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Zappos.

For another take on the Breakthru, read this review by Steve Speirs at Run Bulldog Run.

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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. All laced up and ready to go now, I will say the BreakThru seems to have a quick step, at least walking around in it for the past few days. I’m a sucker for a bright shoe reasonably priced. The first shoe that comes to mind in comparison was the Launch.

  2. I’m curious: aside from the narrow feel in the forefoot, everything about this shoe seems like something I would like.

    *Better durability than the Kinvara
    *Lower drop, weight, profile, and better response than the Ride

  3. I run in the Ride, Kinvara, Fastwitch and A5. I don’t really see a need for the breakthrough, especially with the 8mm drop and a weight similar to the Ride. I like the lightness of the Kinvara and Fastwitch and primarily train in those. I race in the A5 and long runs are in the ride. Not sure I’d go for the Breakthrough.

  4. Im a runner in high school would you recommend the breakthru for me? I can’t aford to have a pair of shoes for every type of run so I’m constantly looking for a durable trainer that still feels fast enough for tempo runs and big chunks of milearning repeats but has enough cushion to get me long runs and high mileage weeks

  5. I think Saucony is smart for introducing the BreakThru.
    Alot of people think the the Kinvara is Saucony’s lightweight racer but thats not whats its designed for. The Kinvara is a good shoe but at least to me its not the most responsive and is not the most durable. I think that the Breakthru fits perfectly in Saucony’s lineup as a light racer that has more cushioning than the A6 and more pop and responsiveness than the Kinvara with a higher drop for a little more support late in a race. This shoe is to Saucony what the Adios is to Adidas or the 1400 v2 is to New Balance or the Flyknit Racer is to Nike.

    • Funny you say that: I never thought of the Kinvara (or even the 1400) as racers…

      (I’m probably weird for thinking that)

  6. Hi Peter,
    I’m considering buying these shoes. They fit right where I want them. I own the nb 1400v2, and love them. Based on your advise. I owned the kinvara 5 and hated them. Too mushy the sole, just too much height upfront.. Also sizing was a big problem. 9.5 was too baggy, so ended up buying 9, so big problem with being too short after a few km. I want something with a bit more support than the new balance to mix up with my training. One question, concerning sizing, should I go 9 or 9.5, based on what I just wrote about the kinvara. Note:my nb are 9.5 and fit perfect. Thank you and regards.

  7. Christine Clodfelter says:

    I just bought the Breakthru this past Saturday. I am going from the Mizuno Sayonara size 7. I am training for my FIRST Full Marathon which is 12 weeks away now. I knew I needed much more cushion. Originally I bought the Asics Gel Cumulus in a 7 because it was on Sale for $70 – however had the option to bring them back within 30 days (Fleet Feet)- I wore them for 3 runs (7 mile and 10 mile) and they hurt my toes and were heavier than I was used to. So I took them back and the salesperson introduced me to these Saucony Breakthru. He said they were very comparable to the lightweight of the Mizuno and would be very cushioned for longer runs. I ran 7 miles in them on Saturday, right out of the box and I LOVED them. I also have a Narrow foot, and I went up to a 7 1/2 (which I have never done before). So far I love them and am hoping I will continue to feel the same. Cushion-lightweight (only 1 oz heavier than the Sayonara) – I would recommend these shoes.

  8. I have severe plantar fascitis with recent attack for more than 3 months continuous pain now. Stopped running for 6 months due to the pain but didnt stop kickboxing and yoga. Ive ran on the hurricane, nike vomero (worse), NB minimus, Brooks pureflow. I got the breakthru last month because will resume running and will race half marathon in 6 weeks. Even with the severe left foot pain, i tried this out in the store and it makes my foot supinate so it helps relieve the heel pain. Im a neutral runner but needs a bit of motion control. So when i did run in it, miraculously, no pain on the heel or toes or arch. No shin splint on my first 10 miles. A little friction on the little toe base (lateral) due to the extreme supination. This may cause blister on a full marathon. Hopefully can be relieved with special socks or cushion stick ons. Thank you Saucony for making this. I do recommend it but try them first. We have different foot problems. And 1 or 0.5 size bigger. Im usually size 8.5. I got the 9.

  9. Oh and i used them in the gym during body combat classes and it helped stabilize my twisting foot. Its not just a running shoes then. Its firmness is not stick hard and is very responsive although i was careful on the sudden twists. Its sole is thicker than the usual crosstraining shoes but it didnt matter, felt more comfortable than my asics trainers or asics gel hyper tri. The thinness of nike free is painful for my fascitis hence this thicker sole helps. Thanks again.

  10. Hi there, i have a question regarding the fit. Is it better to go half size up ? I wear a size 9 (US). The Kinvara fits true to size for me, but the Type A6 fits perfect with size 9,5. A snug fit (midfoot/forefoot) is normally no problem for me as i have a narrow foot, it´s more a question of the right length (not too short). I recently tried the Breakthru on, but it was unfortunately only my right foot and my left foot is a bit bigger 😉 Apart from that, i was quite surprised by the Breakthru! It seems to be a pretty good daily trainer for me. Relatively lightweight, quite cushy for my feet, but more responsive than the Ride and with better durability than the Kinvara. In the past i used the Kinvara as my versatile daily trainer, but nowadays i prefer much the NB Zante and Vazee Pace. That said, the Breakthru may be a niche in Saucony´s line-up, but it fits well in my daily shoe rotation as i don´t run in the Kinvara anymore (and never ran in the Ride) and i appreciate the higher grade of cushion for easy/long runs compared to the Zante or Vazee Pace.

    • Ahhh-forgot to include the size I got in this review, and I have since given the shoes away. My recollection is that because they run a bit narrow, I probably went a half size up, but if you have a narrow fit you might be fine with your usual size 9.

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