Though I’m eagerly waiting to see Robbe’s performance review of the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5, replete with that wicked Saved by the Bell color scheme, I love trashing my Salomon S-Lab Speed 2 trail shoes at local races and actually making it onto the podium with the other overall winners.
Moving on to roads, Salomon’s SONIC RA MAX 2 isn’t trash like Zack Morris (thank you Funny or Die), but this daily trainer did fall flat—much like the Saved by the Bell knockoff California Dreams. You’ve never heard of it? Exactly.
I reviewed the original SONIC RA MAX last July, and overall, I liked the smooth ride, with two noteworthy exceptions–not enough padding and the potential for hotspots. The first one is much better. Salomon engineers added more padding inside the RA MAX 2 and removed the singular “walls” (pillows) on the inside. This welcome revision produced no heel slippage, hot spots, or the dreaded blister on the Achilles tendon. So there’s that.
Stack height is unchanged in the RA MAX 2 (30 mm in the heel and 20 mm in the forefoot), but the weight is about a half ounce heavier at 280 grams. The thin tongue and laces are similar in the RA MAX 2. The ride is smooth, courtesy of EnergyCell (soft inserts that add responsive cushioning) + and OPAL midsole technologies (a lightweight foam).
As a forefoot striker, the ride is responsive, albeit slightly firm. To gauge rear cushioning, I intentionally landed on my heels during a few hill descents, and the sensation there is soft. Not cloudy, squishy, or plush, but soft. Toe box space is sufficient and the outsole delivers strong traction. Finally, the removable Ortholite sockliner adds an extra notch of cushioning. I think the colorways are an improvement from last year too. There’s a simplicity about the RA MAX 2 design this year, but it works well.
Here goes. The second issue I experienced in the original SONIC RA MAX was friction (i.e. hot spots) along the first toe in both feet. The medial side of the toe bumper (overlay) rubbed the skin red. I’m having deja vu, readers. The overlay on the medial side near the first toe rubbed again in the RA MAX 2. I alternated sock thickness, added a layer of Body Glide, and swapped the Ortholite sockliner with a pair of currex RUNPRO insoles. I figure the repetition of initial ground contact, midstance, and toe-off took a toll on the first toe. I sensed the exact spot every run. Ugh.
This seems like such a minor issue, but I’m simply amazed at how such a small surface area on a running shoe can wreak havoc on a foot even with moisture-wicking socks and balms like Body Glide or Run Guard in place to act as safeguards. Issues of this sort are hard to fix if those tried-and-true remedies aren’t effective. I suppose you keep trying.
Salomon SONIC RA MAX 2 Conclusion
I’m glad the heel fit dramatically improved in the SONIC RA MAX 2, but I’m equally surprised that the blister issue persisted another year. I recognize that overlays are designed to keep the feet secure in the shoe, but these overlays on the medial and lateral sides near the toes have to disappear next year.
On a related note, over the course of the weekend leading up to the Boston Marathon, Salomon and Runner’s World partnered together for a pop-up experience to allow interested runners to demo the SONIC RA line. I’m sure a few folks decided to try the SONIC RA MAX 2 and share their feedback about the fit and ride. To be a fly on that wall.
You can snag the Salomon SONIC RA MAX 2 at Running Warehouse for $129.95 using the shop link below.Shop SONIC RA MAX 2