MATT: We wrote an initial review of The Artist from Atreyu leading up to the shoe’s very first pre-order. That shoe was, in fact, a prototype of the final product, and since that was just a first look at the time, it more than deserves a follow-up. After all, this is one of the staples in my shoe lineup that has dominated my road miles over the last year.
During that time, I’ve been singing the praises of The Artist far and wide, calling it the most underrated and best value road shoe of the past year. But I haven’t always had the chance to explain why I feel the way I do.
Now that I’ve racked up nearly 300 miles on my pair, I’d like to share some thoughts.
Let’s start with a little background of the shoe. The Believe in the Run team has been big fans of what Atreyu and its founder Michael Krajicek have been doing in the running game since day one. In fact, after meeting Michael on the floor of The Running Event in 2019, BITR posted a photo to their Instagram and effectively launched Atreyu, whether Michael wanted it or not. The first Atreyu shoe was the Base Model, a shoe I’ve run hundreds of miles in that as well. I just love the simplistic design.
The Artist is Atreyu’s approach to a modern-yet-simplistic race shoe, building off the streamlined design of the Base Model and incorporating the high stack and carbon plate features that have become race day staples. So far, The Artist has been offered in limited quantities and rolled out periodically via a pre-sale process.
MATT: I spend a good chunk of my time on the trails, especially in the colder months, and my trail shoe rotation is heavy with a constant stream of new models to test. However, I’ve realized that it’s quite the opposite when it comes to hitting the road. Regardless of the distance or workout, I typically reach for my pair of The Artist.
The first big positive here is price. A pair of carbon plated shoes for $100 is unheard of in the current market. In fact, you can usually expect to pay double that, save for some 5K models like the New Balance Supercomp Pacer (coming soon). Most trainers are priced north of $100 unless you’re talking Brooks and Saucony. It’s just an insane value.
The Artist is super light as well — like forget it’s even on your feet light. My size US M10 weighed just north of 6.5 oz (184 g.). If you factor in the sizeable stack (24mm/30mm), that’s even more impressive.
The upper is similar to the base model: Simple, minimal, and for the most part, unstructured. It’s a thin fabric that provides a sock-like fit, and while it’s not stretchy at all, it seems to mold to the foot and provides a nice locked-in fit. Suede-like accents on the heel counter and the tongue do a great job of adding some cush to the hot spots without adding unnecessary bulk. I think I had some doubts about its durability when the shoe first landed, but man, they proved me wrong. As you can see, the upper has held up nicely and has no signs of wear other than some discoloration from my socks.
The 6mm drop midsole feels like a perfect sweet spot for this shoe. The midsole’s supercritical EVA foam and carbon plate that runs the entire length of the shoe are really where a lot of the magic happens. That foam choice helps contribute to the light weight, and I found it to be a very satisfying combination of cushion and bounce. You can feel the bounce in the forefront combined with the propulsion from the carbon plate for a really easy and smooth turnover. Surprisingly, the quality of the midsole hasn’t had much degradation over the course of 300 miles. While it’s not as lively as the first step-in, it punches above its weight in the durability category, which is always a concern with high-stack racing shoes. At this point, it may not be the go-to shoe on race day, but for tempo runs and even daily miles, I’ll definitely keep throwing it on for the foreseeable future.
The pop isn’t on the level of the Vaporfly Next% or Alphafly, but I found it more lively than much more expensive shoes in its category, like the Hoka Carbon X3.
I’d most closely compare the ride to something between the Adidas Adios Pro and the Asics Metaspeed Sky (not bad company for a $100 shoe), though you’re not getting the rocker effect and as propulsive of a pop from the Metaspeed Sky.
Finally, let’s talk about the outsole, which might have been the biggest surprise. In keeping with the overall theme of simple and light, the outsole is thin and threadless. I had my initial concerns that a single 1mm layer of rubber could keep me upright and last more than 50 miles, and I quickly found out that my concerns were unwarranted. The outsole rubber is thin but tacky and resilient — it’s like a set of race slicks, similar to the aforementioned Adios Pro models. I’ve run in all kinds of conditions and have had zero issues with stability or traction.Shop The Artist
MATT: This section won’t be nearly as long. As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of the shoe. However, there are a few things to be aware of if you’re pondering picking up a pair.
Atreyu’s The Artist is not a stability shoe, nor is it for our Hobbit-footed friends. The downside of the minimal upper sitting on top of the high stack midsole is that you need to be a true neutral runner to enjoy the Artist. I also found ample room in the midfoot and toebox, but that might not be the case for the #widefootfam.
You could certainly do much worse in a pair of race day shoes, but Atreyu The Artist still doesn’t quite keep up with the true elites. If you also own a pair of the Vaporfly or Alphafly, it’ll probably be a much faster choice.
Availability is probably my biggest gripe at the moment. The shoe is only available during pre-scheduled pre-order windows, so this isn’t a shoe that you can just pick up or order on the fly. That said, Atreyu is a very small start-up company out of Austin, so it’s kind of amazing what they’ve done with the skeleton crew that’s been working their asses off over the last couple years.
Finally, as with all racers, there’s an acceptable limit to the shelf life. I don’t think this is a bad trait for The Artist, but you can expect to see some outsole wear and tear after about 150 miles. I saw this primarily along the outer edges of the heels, but after logging another 100 miles since the initial notice of wear, it hasn’t spread or caused a detriment to the quality of the ride.Shop The Artist
MATT: I’m a huge fan of The Artist. I think the crew at Atreyu has a great product at a fantastic value. My only advice is that they need to figure out a way to increase the availability and ramp up the promotion behind it because I think if more runners tried this shoe, they’d have no issues generating demand.
While this is a formidable race day shoe, I think the real value is its versatility and price. As we all become spoiled by the race day feel of the top-end carbon plated racers, it makes turning back to a heavier non-plated shoe harder and harder. The Artist has filled that void and more for me, serving for everything from tempo runs to long recovery efforts.
The folks at Atreyu are working as we speak on a new wave of The Artist, complete with a couple of additional colorways, so if you’re interested, head over to their site and sign up for notifications so you won’t miss out on the next batch.
You can pick up The Artist for $100 once it’s back in stock at Atreyu by using the shop link below.Shop The Artist