Let’s Go The Mountains: La Sportiva Cyklon Review
TAYLOR: Sweet, sweet summertime is a glorious thing in the mountains out here in Colorado. Short-lived but well-lived; in the blink of an eye, it quickly comes to a close. We’ve already had our first snow above treeline and the aspens are growing gold as we speak.
Thankfully, the right gear is all you need to tromp around on trails year-round. La Sportiva dropped the Cyklon off just in time to have one heckuva going away party for summer.
Built with the mountains in mind, the Cyklon is accompanied by a one-dial BOA Fit System to set runners up for success on a variety of terrain. This shoe is chock-full of details that would excite any technical terrain trotters.
MATT: Arriving for review just in advance of some nasty summer storms here in the Mid-Atlantic, The Cyklon was primed for some muddy and debris-riddled trails. While primarily marketed as a mountain running shoe, the Cyklon’s features also make the shoe a great tool for navigating technical terrain, as well as wet and slippery conditions.
Having just wrapped a few weeks of testing out the Speedland SL:PDX, I was intrigued to expand my experience of trail shoes that utilize a BOA Fit System, this time with La Sportiva’s latest offering.
ROBBE: Like Matt, I was fresh off testing the Speedland SL:PDX, so was interested in how the La Sportiva Cyklon compared since both shoes are often referenced in the same breath as each other. But not all BOA shoes are made the same. Let’s get into the review.
TAYLOR: The most obvious and most exciting elements of the Cyklon (at first glance, anyway) are the BOA Fit System and integrated gaiter. I’m very happy to report they both do their job really well.
I’m going to be honest, though – after coming off the Speedland SL:PDX dual-dial BOA experience, I had pretty high standards. The fit of that upper was second-to-none as it was able to fine-tune the upper part of the foot and the lower section with different tightness levels.
On the Cyklon, a single BOA dial is situated in the upper foot. It was still quick and simple to utilize with a click-and-spin to tighten and a pop to loosen (though this BOA dial loosens the entire lacing system so you kind of have to start over). The laces run through three wings (Dynamic Cage) that are attached to the medial side of the foot. When tightened, they securely wrap the midfoot in a way that just isn’t possible with a traditional isometric lacing system (at least not comfortably).
The system makes for a perfect companion when getting up higher or cruising on technical terrain because it is such a – for lack of a better term – “dialed” system. It’s a nitpicky way to get a comfortably secure fit, and that’s always one of the most necessary ingredients in my book. Yes, there were teeny tiny forefoot movements on speedier technical running. It’s hard to even knock on that door because this is still one of the best fits (secure and comfortable) of any trail shoe!
Back to the gaiter. Thank you, La Sportiva! Let me just give you a quick story. A friend and I took a little excursion to one of the most remote regions of our backyard National Park. Twelve hours later we had traversed a handful of lakes, a steep technical chossy pass, and boulder fields with some fifth class climbing to tag a peak. Throughout the whole day, I didn’t get a single pebble in my shoe. I tamped off the dust and that was that.
I will also pay proper dues to the reinforced mesh with TPU overlays and robust toe bumper for adding plenty more foot protection. I basically played kickball with a few rocks and came out the other side just fine.
Underfoot boasts an equally proficient outsole. La Sportiva has an array of outsoles and you can tell the difference between them based on color. Different colors each have specific composition for intended terrain and conditions. This black outsole and 7 mm knobular lugs is categorized as the Frixion XF 2.0 Mudguard with Impact Braking System. What does this mean? Well, based on experience it means really great grip on all-mountain conditions. Whether it was steep shale laden slopes, slabs of granite, creek crossings, dry-packed dirt, or mud this outsole was consistent. It’s a little heftier than some other incredible outsoles, but this is hands down one of the most durable. After almost nearly 24 hours worth of running in the Cyklon I could still sell it brand new on eBay. This shoe will no doubt last a long time, even in the most rugged conditions.
Just above that, a dual-density EVA foam lays the foundation for a simple and surprisingly well-cushioned ride. The forefoot is slightly softer than the heel giving the opportunity for a little bit of ground feel. As for the cushion, it has a medium-dense feel and is moderately protective but not cushy.
In the heel, a “stabilizer” is slid under the heel along with a slightly firmer foam. There’s a smooth transition between the forefoot and heel on a variety of terrain. The biggest benefits are for some stability over the uneasy stuff and some impact control. I definitely felt that coming down off of peaks. For what the Cyklon is built for, I completely agree with the whole midsole concoction.
One of the things that I don’t typically note is the heel counter. At first step in, the Cyklon’s felt a little tough on the heel. It’s very rigid with a little bit of padding. On the run, the feel of the heel counter isn’t really noticeable, but the lock-in is. It cups the heel nicely. The counter also seemed to work in conjunction with the BOA system as an anchor point for the foot.
MATT: The Cyklon looks freakin’ sharp. With a classic La Sportiva yellow and black colorway, and an upper design that seems to blend directly into the midsole, the shoe looks much sleeker than you would envision for a mountain running shoe.
In my opinion, there are three major stand-out features that make the Cyklon a winner:
The outsole is more of an expected standard of excellence found across La Sportiva’s trail line. Frixion XF outsole is tacky and grippy enough to handle any surface you toss at it. It excels when dealing with the wet rocks and roots that make up so much of our east coast single track. Topped off with 7 mm lugs, shedding mud is no issue at all.
I have tested other shoes that feature integrated cuffs, with mixed results, but La Sportiva seems to have nailed it with the Cyklon’s integrated gaiter. Between river crossings and running through plenty of loose surfaces, I didn’t pick up any debris, and equally important, the added cuff is super comfortable. You pretty much forget it’s even there.
And then there’s the big one: the upper fit. As mentioned in the opening, I previously had the pleasure of testing the Speedland and its dual-dial BOA system. So I had an idea of how amazing the fit could be when using this technology. I was concerned the bar would be set too high and the single dial system on Cyklon would fail to impress. That was far from the case. Speedland has certainly built a best-in-class upper, and it is indeed better than the Cyklon. Nevertheless, the overall fit of the Cyklon is still one of the best-fitting trail shoes I have worn.
The three-winged dynamic cage that the BOA laces run through provides a dialed-in, supported, and comfortable fit with just a few simple clicks of the single dial. As with the Speedland, the BOA dial allows for on the fly micro-adjustments, which are super handy when transitioning from climbing to descending.
ROBBE: This is for sure a well-built shoe all-around. On a 12-mile run with 2,000 feet of elevation gain on decently technical Mid-Atlantic terrain, I found the shoe a joy to run in. Like Taylor and Matt both mentioned, the fit of the upper is exceptional. It’s not as good as the Speedland SL:PDX, but it’s pretty much better than almost all other trail shoes. Simply put – I see a shoe with a BOA Fit System, I run to it. Then run in it.
The shoe moves quite naturally underfoot, and despite being really comfortable, it still offers exceptional ground feel, which is a must for me. This, in concert with the kickass outsole (which has to be one of the better outsoles I’ve run in), provides a secure ride over pretty much anything.
I also loved the booty/integrated gaiter construction. It provides an extra layer of support and stability without adding too much weight. It’s a fairly heavy shoe but doesn’t feel that way on the run.
Side note: this would also make for a pretty fantastic fast-hiking shoe.Shop La Sportiva Cyklon
TAYLOR: La Sportiva is a proudly Italian company. They churn out a whole lot more than running gear, but their roots are in footwear. Since most of their gear is engineered in the Dolomites and has a much larger European market, the sizing seems to be “off” for us Americans. This has been the most common complaint from runners state-side. In my three experiences with La Sportiva shoes this past year (Jackal, Karacal, and Cyklon) all have fit very differently and needed resizing from my typical US10.5. The Jackal did fine with a half-size up, where the Cyklon and Karakal were most comfortable in a size US11.5.
Weight is a typical “negative” of La Sportivas too. It’s a give-and-take situation. Each of the shoes I have tested have been great in most ways! Durability is definitely included in that. That’s where weight adds up the most, though. All of the components that make this an exceptional shoe for traversing rugged terrain also make it heavier than the modern industry average. My size 11.5 Cyklon rolled in at 12.4 ounces. The Cyklon did not feel that heavy for most runs, but over a full day’s worth of mountain rambling, the extra weight was noticeable.
MATT: Like Taylor®, I am going to include the sizing challenge here in “The Bad,” but at this point, some of the blame may start to be shared with the reviewer/consumer. The old “fool me once shame on you…” may be applicable here.As a company with a larger Euro audience, the sizing conversion is nothing new for those in the U.S. who are familiar with the brand. In wear testing other recent models such as the Mutant and Bushido II, one of my gripes was that the shoes were just too tight for me in my typical size 10. The Cyklon actually fit much truer to size than the Bushido for instance, but after a few hours on the trails, I paid the price of a bruised toenail. This can be remedied by doing some research and making a sizing adjustment ahead of time, but the challenge is that the sizing conversion doesn’t seem to be consistent or standard across models.
Also with La Sportiva trail shoes, weight is typically on the heavier end of the spectrum. My size 10 came in just south of 12 oz, but to be honest, the shoe does not “run heavy.” I am sure the weight would become a limiter over time, but for short to medium efforts I really didn’t feel limited at all.
ROBBE: Here’s what’s really crazy about the whole sizing thing: I had no issues with my sizing at all (Men’s 7.5). That said, it’s a pretty common complaint with La Sportiva, so just be aware. I would typically put the weight in this category, but I had no idea the shoe was this heavy until I weighed it. I think the fit of the BOA helps mitigate any extra ounces that would typically be a drag in other trail shoes.
Speaking of the BOA fit – it’s good, and certainly better than almost any other trail shoe. But it’s hard experiencing the fit of Speedland and then knowing a single BOA just isn’t as good. For starters, this BOA dial only has single-direction tightening. If your feet swell and you want to loosen on-the-go, you’ll have to pop it, which loosens the whole system, then retighten.
And while the lockdown is spectacular on the upper section of the foot, it’s just not possible to get the perfect lockdown in the toe area, because: science. The tension just isn’t the same in the lower area of the foot, so I definitely felt some sliding around on downhills, which I worried would give me issues on longer runs.
All in all, these were pretty minor issues, but just something to note.Shop La Sportiva Cyklon
TAYLOR: La Sportiva keeps on impressing me with their top-grade mountain running shoes. The newest Cyklon has an incredible fit from the BOA Fit system, durability from a reinforced upper, extreme grip underneath, and a built-in comfortable gaiter. It really does have all the necessary “tools” to bag peaks all day. All of these components come together rather seamlessly, though it comes with a small price in terms of weight.
If this gets your appetite going to chow down on some high-country or technical adventures, be sure to check in with sizing to get the best fit. Take the time. Once you do, you won’t be sorry because the Cyklon is so ready to rock on those medium-distance mountain adventures.
MATT: I have quickly become a fan of La Sportiva over the course of the past couple years. The Cyklon may not be my favorite in their line based on features and function. The shoe would be a top choice if going out on a technical and vert heavy adventure, and it also proved to perform great in sloppy conditions. Short to medium runs seem to be the sweet spot for the Cyklon, as I dont think I could rate it as a competitive Ultra shoe (though Anton Krupicka just took third at the Leadville 100 in the shoe, so what do I know). My sizing issues aside, I’m unsure the midsole and aggressive lugs would form a forgiving ride over those long day events.
ROBBE: If you’re looking for an aggressive mountain shoe that will give you a good lockdown and keep debris out, then you should probably consider the Cyklon as a top option. La Sportiva makes legit footwear year after year, and the Cyklon is further evidence of their pursuit of trail running excellence.
Apparently the La Sportiva Cyklon is sold out everywhere (save for a few sizes) at the time of this writing, but hopefully it’s restocked soon. If they do have your size, you can pick it up on sale for $120 by using the link below.Shop La Sportiva Cyklon
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Raced these the second day out of the box in the Grand Mesa 55 K in Western Colorado and really enjoyed them. Great lock down and not own hotspot. Terrific traction on technical alpine. Tolerable on the gentler single track and pavement. Highly recommend – thank you for your review.
Great review, thanx! I have mine on order…. Can’t wait to put them on!