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Runblogger Reader Survey Results: Top Road Running Shoes of 2014

Last month I posted a survey asking Runblogger readers to vote for their top 3 road and trail shoes of 2014. This was the second year that I conducted this survey (view last year’s results here), and once again the response was great. Over 550 people submitted votes for top road shoes, and over 250 submitted votes for top trail shoes. I’ve tallied the road shoe votes and the results are presented in this post (I’ll hopefully get the trail shoe results up next week).

For the road shoe survey, I received a total of 1,231 shoe nominations (some individuals only voted for one or two shoes rather than three). I removed any votes where a brand was entered without a specific shoe model, and have also eliminated any duplicate votes by the same person.

Before I present the results, I will say that these are intended to show preferences among readers of this blog. I tend to review shoes on the more minimal end of the spectrum (mostly racing flats and lightweight, moderately cushioned trainers), so there is clearly a bias present. I make no claim that this survey represents broader shoe preferences among runners (it doesn’t).

Let’s start with the the share of votes by brand:

Reader Survey Brands

For the second year in a row Saucony earns the top brand share by a wide margin. Skechers moves up from #3 to #2, and Altra jumps from #6 to #3 in my rankings. Merrell takes the biggest fall, going from 8% share of votes in 2013 to only 3% in 2014. Once again I’m not surprised that Saucony comes out #1, but I am surprised by the size of the margin (much of which is due to the popularity of the Saucony Kinvara, see below).

Now for individual shoe results. Below are the top 20 shoe models with number of votes. For this list I chose to include only the most recent model that was on the market for most of 2014. The reason for this approach is that I got a lot of votes that specified either earlier models, or did not specify a model number at all. The latter could indicate either the current model or the original. For example, I received 26 votes for Saucony Virrata, and 13 for the Virrata 2. In this case the list reflects only the Virrata 2 votes. If you’re curious to see the raw list of shoe votes, you can view it in a Google Spreadsheet here.

You can click on the shoe images in the table below to view a review of that shoe (where available).

Rank

Running Shoe

# Votes

#1
Saucony Kinvara 5
Saucony Kinvara 5
69 votes
#2
Hoka Clifton
HOKA Clifton
43 votes
#3
Altra The One2
Altra The One2
42 votes
#4
Skechers GoRun 3
Skechers GoRun 3
26 votes
#5
adidas adios Boost 2
adidas Adios Boost 2
22 votes
#6

(tie)

New Balance 1400 v2
New Balance 1400

21 votes
#6

(tie)

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit
Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

21 votes
#6

(tie)

Saucony Grid Type A6
Saucony Grid Type A6

21 votes
#9

(tie)

adidas Boston Boost
adidas Boston Boost

20 votes
#9

(tie)

Nike Pegasus 31
Nike Pegasus 31

20 votes
#11
Mizuno Hitogami
Mizuno Hitogami
18 votes
#12
Pearl Izumi Road N1
Pearl Izumi EM Road N1
17 votes
#13
Brooks Purefloiw 3
Brooks PureFlow 3
16 votes
#14

(tie)

Asics Hyper Speed 6
Asics Hyper Speed 6

15 votes
#14

(tie)

Skechers GoRun Ride 3
Skechers GoRun Ride 3

15 votes
#16
Saucony Ride 7
Saucony Ride 7
14 votes
#17
Saucony Virrata 2
Saucony Virrata 2
13 votes
#18
Hoka Huaka
Hoka Huaka
12 votes
#19

(tie)

Altra Paradigm
Altra Paradigm

11 votes
#19

(tie)

Skechers GoMeb Speed 2
Skechers GoMeb Speed 2

11 votes

A few observations on these results:

1. The Saucony Kinvara alone (all versions combined) received more votes than any other brand (all shoe models combined), and this is a reflection of the popularity of this shoe among readers of this blog. It continues to be a great all-around shoe, and one of the first that I recommend to people looking to go lighter or lower drop.

2. The popularity of more heavily cushioned shoes is apparent here compared with last year as Hoka grabs the #2 spot with the Clifton and the #18 spot with the Huaka. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Clifton, but it’s clear that it’s a popular shoe. The maximally cushioned Altra Paradigm also grabs a spot at #19.

3. Skechers continues to do well with three models in the top 20 (none of which I reviewed myself). Though they still are battling their reputation, they’re making some great shoes. The most recent iterations of the GoRun, GoRun Ride, and GoMeb Speed are the best yet.

4. adidas is doing good things with their Boost midsole material. Both the adios Boost and the Boston Boost have gotten rave reviews from shoe geeks. I have not tried the Boston Boost myself, but the consistently positive feedback I’m hearing has me tempted. At the least, I’ll likely try v2 if/when it comes out.

5. No real ultraminimal shoes here. This is probably a combo of the declining popularity of barefoot-style shoes, as well as a reflection that I and readers of this blog tend to gravitate toward lighter shoes that retain some amount of cushion (with drops anywhere from 0 to 10mm).

6. The popularity of the Saucony Virrata here is a good indicator of the bias of this survey – the shoe is popular among my readers but has been discontinued by Saucony, presumably due to poor sales. I’ve also heard that the Hoka Huaka was almost cut from the Hoka line as well. That’s a shame as I liked it a lot more than the Clifton.

That’s all I have to say, would love to hear any comments you have on these results!

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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. Interesting to see Merrell drop in popularity after a strong showing last year. Makes me wonder if there’s a branding issue at play here: A lot of Merrell’s newer minimalist-styled models seem to be marketed as “road-to-trail” or “multisport” shoes, which can probably make survey respondents balk at voting for them in the road shoe category. I wonder if the trail shoe survey results will reflect a similar decline?

    • Good point. The Bare Access was a popular shoe last year, not as much this year which is probably the reason for much of the drop.

      • The Bare Access is still my favorite shoe, while I do enjoy the Kinvara for easier days or when my feet need a rest. For me, the Bare Access wins for the way it holds my midfoot snugly while giving my toes room to splay.

        Maybe because they haven’t really changed them too much in the past couple years, people forget about them?

        • It is not only you. I have spoken with lots of runners who feel the same about Bare Access and about Merrell models. They seem to hold your foot very well when, at the same time, they give you space to spread your toes. Merrell only lacks a model with more cushioning, something easier for slow tempo runs, from my point of view.

  2. Chris McAuley says:

    Willing to bet three Reissue of the Brooks Launch will land on here next year. A little surprised Mizuno didn’t have more on here as lightweight shoes are truly there specialty but I wonder if the swap of Elixir and Precision for the Sayonara isn’t a big part of the reason not to mention the end of the Musha. Also a little surprised they’re isn’t more representation from the Brooks Pure Project line?

  3. Beau Giles says:

    As a runner with a size 15 foot it’s fun/depressing to see which of these shoes are even made in my size. Of the top 20 only 6 are a possibility for me.

  4. Ithe spreadsheet is very interesting. It’s gotta be hard to rank the shoes through different versions. my favorite shoe, the NB 1400 (I have both v1 and v2) vary very little between versions while others, the kinvara comes to mind, vary quite a bit. I love this article compared to overall shoe sales and other polls as I tend to have similar shoe preferences as Pete, although I love the Hoka Clifton for anything longer than 10k. Thanks for the great work Pete!

  5. I love the Virrata (both versions) and I’m sad it’s been discontinued. I guess I fall into the bias!

  6. Be still my beating heart! ASICS has released a new Piranha SP! I just saw it on the Running Warehouse site. Tried on the Hyperspeed and it just had too much squishy cushioning in the heel. Haven’t been this excited to buy shoes in a while.

    • Michael, if you haven’t bought them already, the Piranhas are 25% off at Amazon right now….

      • Thanks for the tip. Just checked, and the lowest price I could find was 100 bucks. Running Warehouse lowered their price, so I ordered two pairs at two different sizes. I’ll exchange the one that doesn’t fit as well for the better size.

        Looking at this shoe compared to something like the Endorphin racer from Saucony, it seems like the toebox is baggier, which works well for me. That’s why I liked version 3 so much.

  7. This is really interesting to know. I myself have always used Mizuno running shoes but now I’m really tempted to get a pair of Kinvara.

  8. Alasdair Stuart says:

    I discovered the Saucony Virrata 2 through Pete Larson. They are the perfect shoe for me in every way. Very difficult to get the nicer colour scheme in the UK and it seems Saucony may be running stocks down? So I bought up what I could and now have 15 pairs in the two colour schemes I like – this should keep me going for the next 10-15 years ! Thank you to Pete. They got me through my first 100k last September, more to come…

    • Thanks Alasdair. Unfortunately the Virrata has been discontinued by Saucony, so good thing you stocked up!

      • Alasdair Stuart says:

        That’s interesting to know – I feared that was the case – great shame. I know the Kinvara is very popular but the heel is raised, it’s heavier and not as flexible as the Virrata – go figure !

  9. i think saucony pays some big money for being number 1.. in your article. Asics rules!

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