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KOFUZI: I’ve been a fan of Craft Sportwear apparel for a while, but I had no clue that they made shoes. When I heard they were developing a carbon plated racer with Tommy Rivs, it was big news to me. When early images released of a thick stack height shoe with chunky outsole rubber and wrap-around zebraflage, I knew this wasn’t going to be a typical carbon racer.
KOFUZI: I had a great opportunity to test out the Ultra Carbon’s unique outsole during a heavy snowstorm in Chicago. While the deep lug pattern and substantial outsole coverage seemed counterintuitive, it made complete sense when running through snow, sleet, water or slippery paved surfaces. There was plenty of grip no matter the conditions, and the combination of the outsole and the upper helped make footing feel confident over even the most unpredictable surfaces. This shoe is a beast with claws.
The upper of the CTM Ultra Carbon is a one-piece mesh with overlays on the lace eyelets and heel. It’s breathable but stiff, and there’s very little padding to be found. I was expecting a snug, racer fit, but there’s a refreshing amount of width across the forefoot. This is an extremely comfortable carbon plated shoe.
The midsole has two layers of Vault foam, an EVA based material. Inlaid into the lower layer of Vault foam is a forked carbon fiber plate with a layer of softer Vault foam on top. This combination of materials was a lot of fun to run in, but it’s definitely not a Vaporfly-esque experience.
The Ultra Carbon seems to be built with a variety of gears in mind. At slower speeds, the shoe keeps things moving with a prominent rocker. I didn’t notice any input from the carbon plate, but the shoe rolls due to said rocker, well-executed foam and heel drop. Once you start picking up pace, the Vault foam begins to soften up and the forked carbon fiber plate starts to assert itself. Getting up from marathon pace to threshold pace and then to 5K pace, the plate helps absorb impact on foot strike and delivers great rebound at toe-off. The more you put into it, the more you get back.Shop Ultra Carbon – Men Shop Ultra Carbon – Women
KOFUZI: My two biggest complaints with the CTM Ultra Carbon are with the upper and the weight.
Let’s talk about the upper. For the most part, I love it: breathable, roomy and strong. However, there is a stiffness to the upper that resulted in a grizzly blister on both of my Achilles. I noticed it pretty much right away once I started running, and it only got worse as I progressed. I don’t know if it’s something that will mellow out over time, but I will definitely wear blister covers out of caution before I lace these up again.
The other problem with the CTM Ultra Carbon is its weight. It comes in at 260 grams for a UK8 – that’s 9.17 ounces for a US 8.5. In a time where people are complaining about the Alphfly and Adios Pro weighing in around 8 ounces, the Ultra Carbon weighs a lot. It’s heavy in hand and on foot. But this is a different kind of shoe than the supershoes mentioned above. In ideal conditions, the weight stands out and is certainly felt. But when things get a bit hairy, you’re not thinking about the weight at all.Shop Ultra Carbon – Men Shop Ultra Carbon – Women
KOFUZI: I think the best way to describe the Craft Sportswear CTM Ultra Carbon would be to compare it to Saucony’s Endorphin series. The carbon fiber in the CTM Ultra Carbon was firmer than the nylon plate in the Endorphin Speed but not as firm as the carbon plate in the Endorphin Pro. Combined with the confident upper and grippy outsole, the CTM Ultra Carbon is a shoe that made me feel like I could charge through any situation with speed and power. Think of it as an Endorphin Trail, if you will.Shop Ultra Carbon – Men