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I was pretty excited to give Karhu a spin. Any brand that lays claim to such a runner as Paavo Nurmi is well worth checking out, at least in my book. And while I’ve no hope of ever running in Olympic competition, it’s fun to check out the roots of what launched your latest pair of long distance protectors/running companions. Designed to be nimble, quick, and give you a great feel for the road, the Flow fulcrum Ride is a great shoe that provides dependable training with a race day feel.
Granted, the name’s a bit unwieldy – but that’s what happens when you translate the name from Finnish. While the name doesn’t translate, the feel of a great shoe does – my feet don’t speak English, much less Finnish, and don’t care the slightest about the name (you can tell Nike my feet don’t speak Chinese, either – hint hint). What immediately struck me about the shoe was the electric color pattern. While many shoe companies went bold for this summer’s line up, Karhu seems to want to hurt your eyes – fine by me, it’ll give people something to remember when I zip by in them.
Okay, so I probably won’t be zipping by anyone anytime soon, but the minute I put the shoe on, I felt like I would. It definitely fits the minimalist movement well with a weight of 7.8 oz – and what’s sacrificed is pretty much all in the cushion of the shoe. Keep in mind, Karhu rates this shoe on their durometer scale at a 77 – their most responsive rating. When Karhu says you can feel the road, they mean it, and while I loved this shoe on pavement, I definitely wasn’t a fan when it came to really chunky gravel, or varying surface structures. Don’t get me wrong – the outsole feels plenty durable, with a great compression molded rubber compound that really grips the road, no matter what speed you’re running at – it really showed during fartlek and other speed works.
I really like the feel of the upper that Karhu constructed; it seems to be universal throughout the line, so if the stiffness of this shoe is not for some, check out other shoes in the lineup and expect the same fit. The heel is high and secure, while the midsole wraps securely down into a medium sized toebox. Granted, that’s a formula for countless companies, Karhu tweaks it slightly by combining two pieces of mesh to build the entire upper. The toe mesh is light and airy for increased airflow and comfort; the midsole/heel mesh overlays this and is tightly woven to provide increased structure and hold. My only gripe would be that the tongue isn’t secured in place, and tends to drift a bit on runs over 5 miles. While it’s not a deal breaker, it would’ve been a nice touch.
The bottom line is that Karhu continues to live up to it’s expectation of creating fast, responsive shoes designed to be versatile for training and racing. The shoe runs true to size as well, so if you can’t find them at your local store, don’t hesitate to order them – if you want to get into a lightweight racer, and don’t want to have the same old shoe as everyone else in town, look no further – check them out at www.amazon.com/karhu.