[Long Post] Full Disclosure: As a Salomon Ambassador, I received a pair of the Sonic 3 Accelerate for my personal use. The review and opinions of the shoe is strictly my own.
When people think about Salomon, “trail-running” is usually the first thing that comes to mine. But in 2015, Salomon entered the road running space with the launch of the Salomon S Lab X-Series. It was a spin-off of their top of the line trail running shoes, featuring the same design philosophy … and price tag. Over the course of the years, Salomon introduced more mainstream versions like the Salomon Sonic Pro (2016), Pro 2 (2017) and Sonic RA Series (2018). The Sonic RA featured three different variants – the Sonic RA Pro, RA Max and the Sonic RA.
Confusing. Yes. Slightly. We are all used to the trail-running line up.
In Spring 2020, Salomon launched the Sonic 3 series of shoes which also comes in 3 variants. The Confidence (more stability), the Balance and the Accelerate (up-tempo).
I have had the good opportunity to be able to acquire a pair of the Accelerate, in part after joining Salomon Singapore at the turn of the year. So massive shouts out to them for supporting my endeavour and my team at Live Low Race High.
The Accelerate as the name suggests is the up-tempo variant of the bunch. With a 6 mm heel to toe drop, it is a nice sweet spot for someone like me, who is used to running in 4 mm drop shoes on the road, and 6 to 10 mm drop shoes on the trails. Wearing a pair that’s sized US 8.5, it weights at about 223g. It is not a heavy shoe by a stretch, but you will notice the weight if you have been running in shoes much lighter than this.
Across the three shoes, it features Optivibe technology, which should help runners to run further and faster with less muscle fatigue. It works two ways depending on which shoe you pick. It increases comfort without sacrificing dynamic response for heel-strikers. But it also provides additional cushioning and rebound for long training runs and races for mid-foot runners.
In simple terms, it is a new midsole technology which gives the shoe a firmer ride across distance. I have done about 112 km on it before and during the lock-down/Circuit Breaker. The real litmus test of the shoe is during interval sessions, where I pushed the shoe quite hard during repeated sets of 600 to 1000 m sets. Fair to say that the shoe held up well and feels better once you have broken into the shoe. It also fares well during stairs training, where the foot doesn’t feel as tired during long bouts of descents.
Another feature of the shoe that carried over from their trail siblings is the Internal SensiFit, which gives the shoe a snug fit. Coupled with the breathable, engineered mesh overlays, it makes the shoe look seamless and slick, which is always nice to have.
Something else that may be missed from first glance is the heel collar. Salomon has broken away from the traditional heel collar and implemented a cushioned “pillow” like collar which wraps just above the ankle. In my initial runs, I did notice that the collar doesn’t fit well with very thin socks. For subsequent runs, I changed into to my regular socks, the Drymax lite trail and they fit much better. I recommend wearing socks with adequate padding in them. It also partially explains why I’m using the heel-lock lacing technique in this shoe.
And lastly, a quick overview of the rubber outsole. It features “Geometric Decoupling”, aka a geometric design which allow for better heel to toe transition. The shoe rides well and that to me is a hallmark of what a good road running shoe must have. Even after 112 km of running, the rubber is holding up well.
In all, I have come to respect Salomon’s design philosophy and thought process into making road shoes. It’s definitely not easy when you diversify your shoe portfolio from trail-running to road running, with many strong contenders in the market for the latter. But the shoe represents a good step in the right direction. And I will recommend the shoe to anyone who is looking for a durable, fast tempo road trainers to fill in the days not spent trail-running.