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Road Running Shoes • April 20, 2020

Salomon Sonic 3 Balance Performance Review

salomon 3 balance feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.7 oz. (275 g) for a US M9.0
  • Sensifit mesh upper is comfortable and breathable
  • Brand-new Optivibe midsole provides great energy return and cushion for longer miles
  • Contragrip outsole provides great traction in any condition

AUSTIN: The Salomon Sonic 3 Balance, coincidentally, is my third venture into the French company’s collection of road shoes. I have nothing but praise to heap upon their trail shoes, but the road kicks have repeatedly fallen flat (and caused recurring blisters). But the third time’s a charm. Competitively priced at $129.99, the Sonic 3 Balance will compete with, among others, the Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride, and New Balance 880.

ERIN: When I think Salomon, my mind automatically goes to the Speedcross. I know they have many other models, some of which I’ve run in (and even liked, or at least not hated), but I just can’t not make that association. I hate to admit, since I’ve been focusing on trail running reviews the last couple years, I wasn’t totally aware that Salomon even made road shoes. Anyway, now that you’ve wasted 30 seconds of your life reading this rambling intro, let’s talk about the Salomon Sonic 3 Balance, which is a road shoe.

salomon 3 balance side

The Good

AUSTIN: As I lamented moments ago, both Salomon road shoes I reviewed (the SONIC RA MAX and SONIC RA MAX 2) left me with blisters. Let’s just say that overlays are not always beneficial. Thankfully, my tough-as-nails skin escaped unscathed in the Balance. The drop (8 mm) and weight (9.7 ounces in a US M9.0) are respectable, and the ride skews somewhat firm.

A two-part Optivibe midsole delivers the cushioning and an engineered mesh provides upper breathability as the temps slowly trend upward. Of course, Georgia weather is always a wild card. So, you’ve got to know when to hold on to that long sleeve quarter-zip or fold it (rest in peace, Kenny).

Between the Contagrip blown rubber and Contagrip FA for traction, the Balance managed the rainy runs and soaked streets. My feet didn’t slip or slide, and I certainly dirtied that simple, sleek upper, helped in part by freshly cut grass clippings and the Peach State’s red clay.

ERIN: Like most things Salomon, the Sonic 3 Balance is a really well-made shoe. It is both sleek-looking and sleek-feeling. I love the upper, which is an engineered mesh that Salomon calls “Sensifit.” It’s smooth and breathable, and molds to the foot. The upper, combined with the lightly padded feel collar, Ortholite insole, and tongue, provides a great step-in feel.

The midsole on the Sonic 3 Balance is Optivibe, a new offering from Salomon that combines two materials to allegedly decrease muscle vibration, increase shock absorption, and increase responsiveness. While I do have a minor gripe about the ride (which I’ll get to), I think there might be something to the first two points. My first outing in this shoe was a recovery run the day after arguably the hardest run of my training cycle. I fully expected to feel like garbage during the run (my legs were certainly tired), but I was surprised at how good I felt. In fact, 100% of the recovery runs I did in the Sonic 3 Balance were done at a pace that got me some side-eye from my coach.

Shop Sonic 3 Balance

salomon 3 balance upper

The Bad

AUSTIN: I have narrow feet, so the narrow toe box doesn’t bother me much, but I would prefer a little more room for the toes to maneuver. Also, I’d like a little more flex in the shoe; it’s not overly stiff, but a little more give would be ideal. I know I’m rambling about this too, but I’d like more tongue padding so I can lock the laces down without them “biting” across my instep. The Sonic 3 Balance lagged at faster paces, but easy runs and recovery runs went off without a hitch.

ERIN: My only real complaint about the Sonic 3 Balance is the heaviness of the heel. This is probably due to a combination of the drop of the shoe (8 mm) and the fact that, even though it’s categorized as a neutral trainer, it skews on the heavy side (9.7 ounces in a men’s 9, 7.6 ounces in a women’s 7; these are unisex shoes, BTW). Anyway, I just didn’t feel the transitions were quite smooth enough to make this shoe feel great at quicker paces; the heel clunkiness was particularly noticeable to me during strides or anything at a sub-8 minute pace.

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salomon 3 balance outsole

Salomon Sonic 3 Balance Conclusion

AUSTIN: The Sonic 3 Balance is my first Salomon road shoe review that’s getting positive marks. My critiques didn’t impact the ride of the shoe (which felt great). I hope that Salomon will build off the prospective success and sales of this model and use it as a template for upcoming years. On second thought, is that a gamble?

ERIN: If you’re a Euro boi fan and you’re looking for a comfortable, non-fussy neutral shoe that’s great for easy miles, give the Salomon Sonic 3 Balance a try.

You can pick up the at Running Warehouse right now for $97 (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Sonic 3 Balance

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