THOMAS: I thought the Saucony Axon would be a one-and-done experiment. The shoe seemed like an afterthought and launched with basically no fanfare. It just sorta showed up.
The Saucony Axon 2 is like a cross between the Saucony Kinvara and the Saucony Endorphin Shift. It has the light build of the Kinvara and the same Pwrrun EVA midsole that’s a whole lot thicker. The Axon 2 blends that slab of foam with the Speed Roll midsole geometry of the Endorphin Shift to help you glide through your stride. However, the Axon 2 has one key advantage over both of its Frankenstein-esque parents: Value.
At just $100 for the Saucony Axon 2, it’s far easier to afford than either the Kinvara or the Shift. I even like it as much (or a little more than) the Kinvara. Saucony’s first Axon felt unsophisticated, with a simple upper and few style adornments, almost like you’d expect for $100. It ran well, but it just wasn’t that exciting.
As shoe prices rise, the Axon 2 hits in a whole new way.
RYAN: Like Thomas, I wasn’t exactly expecting the Axon to take a second trip around the block. Sure, the idea is sound enough, but the first one seemed to fade into the never-ending parade of running shoes just as quickly as it arrived.
Then, a box arrived at my door. It was the Saucony Axon 2. The fanfare was still pretty much nonexistent, but that might change once people start to get the Axon on their feet.
Despite my love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with Pwrrun, I was more than happy to lace the shoe up for some nice easy miles. After all, it’s only good for easy miles, right? Well, no. The Axon is no one-trick pony, which makes it that much more impressive for a shoe that’ll only take one Benny Franklin out of your pocket.
It’s cheap and thick, so let’s see what kind of action this Axon can get up to.
MEAGHAN: We all thought the Axon was a one-hit-wonder, but here we are again, with the Axon 2. No one asked for this, Saucony, but we’re all pretty happy about it.
THOMAS: I wasn’t that excited to review the Axon this year. However, I found myself at the HQ on a Thursday night for the Believe Run Club weekly run, gearing up to run in a different shoe that I was reviewing. After a warm-up mile in the other shoe, I realized that it wasn’t going to be the right shoe for that night. So I looked for another trainer that needed to be reviewed and decided to take the Saucony Axon 2 out. It turned out to be a great choice. I started running and felt how the shoe transitioned under my feet with ease.
The Axon 2 feels lighter than the listed 10.6 oz./300 grams for my size US M10.5. While the Axon has a higher stack (35/31mm), it’s not exactly soft. The built-up stack height holds the Speed Roll shape and has a 4mm drop.
The well-designed upper of the Saucony Axon 2 has a breathable double mesh, welded overlays, a gusseted soft tongue, and a well-structured heel counter. I found that it fit true to size and didn’t notice any hotspots.
Finally, the outsole has plenty of grippy rubber. You can feel the rubber’s tackiness as you speed up. Honestly, for a $100 shoe, the rubber will add tons of durability.
What surprised me by the Axon 2 was how easy it was to pick up the pace. Thinking the first 5-mile run was a fluke caused by running with a quick group, I took the Axon back out for a 10-mile run the next time. On both runs, I was able to keep an uptempo pace that felt like an easy pace run. The Axon 2 can move.
RYAN: My initial experience was a lot like the one Thomas had. I wasn’t exactly itching to try the Axon, so I saved it for a day where I knew I’d have an easy run. I laced it up and set to rolling along. There must be something about that Speed Roll geometry because I just kept rolling, and rolling, and rolling. It just managed to work so seamlessly with my stride, and I never found myself wishing I had picked a different shoe.
I took the Axon 2 on back-to-back runs, the first for around 7.5 miles and the second for another 8.7 miles. While day one was pretty easy, I decided that day two would be a good time for some intervals. After all, if you’re picking up a $100 shoe, you probably want it to fill more than one role in your rotation. The Axon 2 took it all in stride. Even at faster paces, the Speed Roll midsole feels smooth and ready to go.
Heel tabs rarely make or break a shoe, but Saucony seems to be onto something. The Axon 2 uses an elastic heel tab, which you can loop a finger into for easy on and off, but it pulls right back to the shoe when you don’t need it. It’s a great touch, especially considering how little I think about heel tabs on a daily basis.
MEAGHAN: If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know I’m a big fan of cushion and stack, and the Axon 2 provides plenty of it. With a 35mm heel / 31mm forefoot, there is a nice chunk of Pwrrun beneath the foot. Pwrrun is the same foam they put in the Kinvara — it’s on the firmer side, and doesn’t have the same responsive bouncy feeling you’ll find in the Pwrrun Plus (what’s in the Saucony Triumph). This foam, paired with the Speed Roll geometry, provides a nice ride that almost had me naturally picking up the pace. I found my easy runs were a little quicker than normal in this shoe.
The upper is a light, breathable mesh that’s pretty simple in design. There’s some decent padding through the collar, tongue, and heel for added comfort. My W7.5 came in at 8.8 oz — not super light, but it didn’t feel heavy out on the road.Shop Saucony Axon
THOMAS: After the double-digit miles, the bottom of my feet felt beat up the following morning. Maybe I’m too pampered by softer foams these days.
RYAN: The Saucony Axon 2 has some pretty solid outsole rubber. However, it’s not a stealthy shoe by any means. This might be the squeakiest shoe I’ve ever run in. It sounded like I was running on a gym floor to start both of my runs, and the squeak seems to come back any time I’m walking rather than running.
Squeaky rubber isn’t that big of a deal, though, I’m just looking for something to ding on a $100 shoe. The rest of it is pretty dang good.
One thing I’ll say is that Saucony has to stop calling Pwrrun soft. We get tech sheets for most reviews, which give us a few key points about the shoe, and this is a direct quote from the Axon 2: “A stacked bed of PWRRUN gives you plenty of soft cushioning with a fast and responsive feel.”
Fast? I’ll give it. Responsive? Yeah, that too. But soft? Nah, there’s nothing soft about the Axon 2. Most comfort comes from the midsole geometry rather than the foam itself.
MEAGHAN: As Ryan noted, this shoe is not soft underfoot. The giant slab of Pwrrun paired with the rubber outsole is not a forgiving combo. I like this shoe for easy days, but definitely not for a true recovery day.
I also found the stitching around the tongue to be a little harsh. Outside of some rubbing, though, it didn’t cause any real issues.Shop Saucony Axon
THOMAS: I enjoyed my miles in the Saucony Axon 2. The well-thought-out design is matched with a lively feel underfoot. The Saucony Axon 2 may be the best budget trainer on the market. Other shoes I’d compare the Axon 2 to would be the ASICS Evoride, Brooks Revel, New Balance Prism, and the Atreyu Base Model. For me, the Speed Roll geometry sets the Axon apart.
RYAN: I also enjoyed my time with Saucony’s budget-friendly beast. I came into the review looking for a fight, and the Axon 2 successfully talked me down. It may not be quite as affordable as the Atreyu Base Model, but I’d happily put this shoe up against anything in the $100 category. I’d like to know why someone would buy either the Endorphin Shift or the Kinvara when this has the best of both worlds.
MEAGHAN: The Axon 2 has been a nice surprise in my shoe lineup. I couldn’t seem to find a place for the original Axon in my rotation, but I’ve been enjoying this shoe quite a bit for easy days. If you prefer a firmer ride with a lot of stack, you can’t beat the Axon for $100.
You can pick up the Saucony Axon 2 on April 15 for $100 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Saucony Axon