Review: Salomon Speedcross 4

The newly updated classic from Salomon is a great refinement on an already good shoe.

Recently I was lucky enough to be sent a pair of the new model of Salomon’s classic Speedcross shoe to have a play around in and share my thoughts.

I’m a fan of Salomon already, I’ve owned and run in a range of shoes including wearing my worn out but incredibly comfortable Speedcross 3 for the White Rose 100 miler last year so to be fair, I have a happy history with the shoe and my hopes for the Speedcross 4 were for evolution and not necessarily revolution.

How often do your shoes arrive in a personalised box?! Thanks @SalomonTrails #timetoplay #playwithgrip #playwithcolour #speedcross4 #salomon #running

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The brief from Salomon was simple – wear them, push them through mud, trail, grass and whatever conditions you want and see how they roll. As usual, there’s a set of hashtags to try and make use of and in part, I’ll do that below. Beyond that though, there was no commitment to blog or review, no forced “say only good things” so here goes ..

Design

Apart from using my old Speedcross for a 100 miler, I don’t really run in shoes quite as built up as Speedcross these days. My preferred training and racing shoes are much lighter (Salomon Sense Pro 4, Inov8 X-Talon 190 & Terraclaw 220) so it’s quite odd pulling them out of the box and seeing that familiar big heel!

It’s noticeable how much more rounded the toe box is on the new model. I’ve personally never had a problem with the pointier toe of the older model but I’d imagine this one will be a better fit for many more people. I think aesthetically it makes the shoe a little nicer looking too.

I’ve also become accustomed to the look and feel of the built in tongue of the EndoFit tongue/liner of the Sense Pro so the big padded tongue looks a little strange in comparison but it’s definitely pared down from the 3 and sits closer to the top of your foot.

(Note: The EndoFit tongue is apparently used on the SpeedCross Pro).

Ultimately, I’d love to just see Salomon roll out the EndoFit to all their shoes.

Trying to #playwithcolour and blend in but these speedcross are damn bright! @SalomonTrails #timetoplay #findyouradventure #trailrunning #running #huddersfield #speedcross4

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Visually, the shoe is unmistakably a Speedcross but the refinement to the toe box shape and the updated tongue are undoubtedly improvements to comfort and looks.

#PlayWithGrip

Having been sent my customised shoe box, inside were a few hashtag challenges to help guide testing – one was to put them through their paces with those massive lugs on the bottom and see how they grip on a range of surfaces. Easy enough around here to find moorland tracks which challenge most shoes – the slick boggy mud can snag a shoe even in the summer sometimes.

The main thing you might spot on the new shoes is that the grip is familiar but has been tweaked along the edges of the sole to use a full lug rather than the cut off design of the Speedcross 3.

I’ve always felt comfortable going straight up and down even the muddiest trails in Speedcross and the 4 is no different. Those big chevron lugs grip excellently when climbing and descending in a straight line. Just as well as any other shoes I’ve run in and I’d have no fears attacking a slick, muddy climb or descent in them.

They’re not without issues though..

#playwithgrip the speedcross 4 (left) compared to speedcross 3 (right). Some good refinements, particularly down the side where there's now a full lug instead of half. @SalomonTrails #timetoplay #speedcross4 #trailrunning

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In the past I’ve fallen a few times when traversing muddy slopes or where there’s a significant camber to the path. I nearly went over the first outing in these too but in the interests of being reasonable – slick, angled trails often mean minimal engagement with anything but the edge of the outside of your sole and perhaps in reality the occasions where I’ve fallen in Speedcross, I’d have done the same in any shoe.

The other thing I’m still a little concerned about is just how lethal these shoes are on wet rock. Having run in many other Salomon models including the Mantra, Sense Ultra and Fellraiser I think the Speedcross are the most skittish on slick rock/stone – something unfortunately in the UK that’s not uncommon so be careful!

That said, I found them reasonably responsive and grippy on the wet road sections I’ve run on. On balance, the grip update is another welcome refinement on a reliable and hard wearing classic and one you could trust in most conditions.

The grip on occasion isn’t helped by what – to me – feels like quite a loose fit. No matter how much I pulled on the quick lacing system, I just couldn’t quite get the uppers to feel totally snug. I do wonder if this is more down to the fact that I have relatively narrow feet and the padding around the Achilles is quite built up so it does sometimes feel like you could pop out of the shoes at the heel if you went through some sticky mud.

#PlayWithColour

Luckily, I like bright shoes! My test pair were a vivid green and from what I’ve seen elsewhere on Instagram, the other colours available are Yellow and Blue/Red although looking around on a couple of shop websites it seems there’s a massive range of other colours too.

It’s nice to have a good range of choices for sure. I’d happily buy the green – with the blue and black accents it’s a good looking shoe. If you prefer a more reserved look, there are black and grey models and if you’re keen on being seen on the trails then you’re well covered!

#FindYourAdventure

I’ve got a few aims for the next year or so building up to a couple of bigger runs – A crack at The Kirklees Way here in Huddersfield (70 miles/7000ft) loop and if I can organise it – a Bob Graham Round next summer. For long distance races I do sometimes find that more minimal racing shoes don’t work for me.

Like many runners, I’m sure I picture my running style being graceful and that I land perfectly on my forefoot the whole time but the reality is probably that I get sloppy and need a little extra padding as the day gets long and I’d probably consider reaching for these shoes to make the most of the extra padding.

They’re a little heavy for me for shorter runs and racing though.

Speedcross 4 testing run this morning. 1100ft loop in 6 miles up and down muddy tracks to #playwithgrip. West Nab is always pretty slick with mud so a good test climbing and descending the single track to the trig point. Verdict: Grip in mud on straight line climbs and descent is very impressive and reliable. Still a bit skittish like SC3 when traversing slippy tracks though! #timetoplay #trailrunning #salomon #playwithcolour #findyouradventure @SalomonTrails

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Niggles

There’s a couple of things that continue to bug me though. Overall, it’s a good shoe – it’s massively popular for a reason – but I don’t like the tongue. As I mentioned, the EndoFit is vastly superior although I suppose the SpeedCross Pro uses them as a differentiate themselves.

The reason I’m not keen on the tongue generally is that because it’s not fully fitted, it can slip to the side over time – this is something that was problematic with a pair of Fellraisers I had and became massively annoying. The new tongue is better but it could still be improved easily.

Talking of slipping – one other thing I’ve experienced with with all shoes at some point but it seems particularly noticeable with Speedcross (3 & 4) is that when descending steep slopes at speed, the insoles slip forward and bunch up in the toe of the shoe to the point that you need to stop and refit them. This does happen with other shoes sometimes, particularly when they’re wet but the Speedcross is definitely the worst for this.

Overall verdict

A strong update to a classic shoe but with a couple of longstanding frustrations where combining elements of other shoes from Salomon ranges would make a big difference.

The rounding off of the toe box will be a big plus to many people for sure but I think it’s probably time to start paring down the size of the heel on the Speedcross. It’s very comfortable but on harder surfaces and at speed downhill it can feel a slightly unstable shoe.

Top of West Nab – always a great view and satisfying climb. @SalomonTrails #timetoplay #playwithgrip #playwithcolour #findyouradventure #speedcross4 #trailrunning

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Personally, I’d be happy making the most of the support and padding on long ultras where the grip and built up support around the heel would be a big plus point. If you’re looking for a solid all rounder, it’s a good buy that will serve you well.

At the time of writing, they’re not available on the Salomon site to buy.

Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge by Salomon Trail Team for test and review. If you’d like me to check out one of your products and review it, please get in touch.