topo athletic cyclone - feature
RoadShoe ReviewsSite Feature

Topo Athletic Cyclone Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 7.9 oz. (225 g) for a US M9.0
  • Softer and lighter companion to the Zephyr
  • Very breathable light mesh upper
  • Shoe companies love naming products after natural disasters, luckily the Cyclone won’t obliterate your feet

JEREMY: Since I started running in Topo Athletic road shoes a little over a year ago, I’ve been seriously convinced that they are one of the most underrated brands out there. With quality daily trainers such as the Magnifly, Ultrafly, and the Zephyr they have been gaining some traction in the road running scene with their quality designs and comfort.

For the unfamiliar, Topo Athletic resides in the “natural running” column, with a wider forefoot and toebox meant to accommodate your toe splay during running. All of their shoes feature a lower drop, either 0 mm, 3 mm, or 5 mm drop (the Cyclone is 5 mm).

The Cyclone is Topo Athletic’s newest offering, and it might just be their best one yet. It appears they took the feedback surrounding the Zephyr and worked to make a higher performance companion shoe. By taking out the elastomer stability plate and stripping down the upper, they stripped down a heavier shoe and made a lightweight daily trainer that provides a comfortable ride in any distance from short recovery runs to long runs.

AUSTIN: Saucony Hurricane. Topo Athletic Cyclone. In late summer or early fall, we’ll probably get a Brooks Avalanche and HOKA Earthquake (a fusion of the Bondi, Carbon X2 and TenNine). So many natural disasters, so few shoes.

The good news? This shoe won’t destroy your feet. In fact, they’re a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. My girl.

topo athletic cyclone - upper

The Good

JEREMY: On the performance side of things, the ZipFoam core midsole functions well, providing a slightly firm, yet light and bouncy ride that makes the Cyclone somewhat reminiscent of older Nike Pegasus models, or even the Saucony Kinvara. I had no problem running easy to moderate paces in these and enjoyed the comfortable bounce to each step when speeding up into faster rhythms as well.

The outsole has some blown rubber in the heel as well as forefoot, so there were no issues with traction while running. Additionally, the shoe shows almost no signs of wear after 100 miles, so I would expect the durability to last at least 400 miles, similar to my experiences in other Topo Athletic shoes with comparable outsoles/foam.

The upper is a single layer engineered mesh, which has a cozy feel despite being stripped down to a relatively thin material with perforations to reduce weight and provide good foot ventilation. The heel doesn’t have a counter, but provides support with a tall heel collar and extra padding that keeps the back of the foot feeling snug and locked in. The Cyclone also features Topo Athletic’s signature wide foot box, with plenty of room to spread toes and not feel cramped.

An anti-microbial Ortholite footbed provides a soft landing and honestly has kept the shoe smelling nice after a lot of sweaty miles. Aesthetically, this shoe looks sharp, I have the white/lime colorway and despite muddying them up on the very first wear, they still look great.

AUSTIN: I remember hearing some chatter about the Cyclone being similar to the Topo Athletic Zephyr. Sure enough, the Cyclone features the same stack height (28 mm in heel, 23 mm in toe), though it weighs 1.5 ounces less in a men’s size 9. Indeed, 7.9 ounces (213 grams) feels great off the line, whether it’s a training run or a race. After slipping the shoes on for the first time, I did have concerns about the heel counter. I speculated that it would slip, or worse, create hot spots and/or the dreaded blister. Surprisingly, my feet stayed locked in every run. What’s more, I received a size 11.5 for review. Since I normally wear 12, I am postulating that there might be some slippage in the heel and midfoot with a half size increase.

Regarding the ride, the Cyclone is peppy. Or snappy. Or zippy, courtesy of the ZipFoam midsole. In short – firm, but not harsh. Personally, I would probably take the Cyclone up to a half marathon distance, though I think it’s likely to really shine at the 10K and 5K.

Similar to Altra, Topo Athletic footwear emphasizes a generous toe box. The Cyclone provided ample splay, and I didn’t have to pull on the laces too much for midfoot lockdown. The engineered mesh upper kept the warm(ish) sunny days of my recent Florida trip from overheating the feet. I enjoyed my morning runs in Siesta Key.

Shop Cyclone – Men Shop Cyclone – Women

topo athletic cyclone - heel

The Bad

JEREMY: With so much to love about this shoe, my complaints are pretty minimal. The one issue I experienced was in the upper on both sides of the ankle. What has been sacrificed when the engineered mesh was stripped down was a bit of rigidity and structure. When making turns I could feel my foot sliding slightly to the side, particularly on the interior side of the ankles. This wasn’t a major problem, just something to be wary of when making more aggressive turns in the Cyclone.

Not really a negative, just a heads up – if you’re running in temperatures around freezing, the thin mesh upper with perforations is not the best choice for frigid winter days and necessitated a thick sock to keep my toes from freezing. However, this will be an excellent feature during the summer, and would easily fall into the good section if I had reviewed this shoe in June rather than December/January.

AUSTIN: I ran about 41 miles in the Cyclone before putting my thoughts to the keyboard. No major issues emerged. As I noted earlier, I did think the heel counter would be problematic, but receiving a half size smaller may have saved me from painful friction along the Achilles tendon in the typical size. That said, if other runners do have heel issues, the Topo engineers might look at retooling the last as update time approaches.

Shop Cyclone – Men Shop Cyclone – Women

topo athletic cyclone - outsole

Topo Athletic Cyclone Conclusion

JEREMY: I was seriously impressed with the Topo Athletic Cyclone as a daily trainer. Out of the box and on the run, I could tell they were a top-notch shoe. Topo Athletic took a shoe I already liked in the Zephyr and reduced the weight significantly, yet it kept the same high-level comfort and lost the stiffness from the elastomer stability plate. For $120, the price point is comparable to other brands’ workhorse trainers. As mentioned previously, the Cyclone is reminiscent of both the Nike Pegasus (yet lighter) and Saucony Kinvara, coming in under 8 ounces for a men’s size 9 while providing a firm-yet-smooth ride that makes them a great option for everyday running, long runs, or recovery runs.

AUSTIN: Companionship is the name of the game with shoes these days. Take Nike. The Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is a companion for the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% (the racer). Or HOKA. The Carbon X2 is a companion for the Rocket X. And of course, the Topo Athletic Zephyr provides prep miles for the lightweight Cyclone. I like this approach, and I’m sure it helps the brands’ bottom lines.

In the strict context of racing, at $120, the Cyclone is a bargain compared to the Alphafly or Rocket X (though you do miss out on the presence of a full-length carbon fiber plate). I’m hoping to run some shorter races in 2021, and I may very well leave the Vaporfly NEXT% in the Nike bag and line up against some fast locals in the Cyclone. A rider on the storm.

You can pick up the Topo Athletic Cyclone in February 2021 for $120 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Cyclone – Men Shop Cyclone – Women

Austin, who lives north of Atlanta, is also a husband, father, and writer. He loves Christopher Nolan films, NBC sitcoms, peanut M&M’S, and a good playlist for long runs.

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