THOMAS: Last year was the banner year for new Saucony shoes. The Endorphin line was a smash hit all-around, with the Saucony Endorphin Speed taking home our best overall shoe of the year award. Things have calmed down a bit in 2021, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get some fresh faces in the Saucony lineup.
Seemingly out of left field, the Saucony Axon (I’m assuming this is supposed to be a clever way to spell ‘action’) just arrived on the scene, though you wouldn’t know it from the Saucony side of things. We haven’t seen much of a marketing effort behind the shoe. That, despite the fact that the shoe is “sparked from the Endorphin line,” according to the company.
All that to say, I had zero expectations or foresight into the shoe before I tried it out.
What I know now is that this shoe is built on an ultra-thick slab of a PWRRUN midsole (38 mm stack height in the heel, 34 mm in the toe), it’s meant for long-haulin’, and it’s a bargain buy. That’s all you need to know for now, let’s see if the Axon is axon-packed.
MEAGHAN: I’m not going to lie, I wanted to keep this shoe for casual wear because I really like the aesthetics. Don’t worry, I took it out for several miles and I’m here to tell you, you can also run in it.
THOMAS: Off the bat, the Axon is $100. After being desensitized by running shoes ranging from $180 to $275, $100 seems like a bargain. That said, if a shoe sucks, you’re out $100 and nobody is happy. However, the Axon doesn’t suck. In fact, it is a good running shoe. Maybe even better than average.
Simplicity is the key here. The simple upper is well thought out and constructed with features like a gusseted lightly padded tongue, comfortable cushioned collar, and a sculpted heel counter. Over the toes, the mesh breathes and has a sock-like softness. It makes you wonder how other companies screw up their uppers. Stick to the old adage: “Keep It Simple Stupid” (aka KISS).
The PWRRUN EVA midsole isn’t anything that special, but it works. On my first step-in, I thought the shoe would be too firm. It doesn’t feel plush at all. However, the good stuff happens when you start moving. The 4 mm drop with a well-placed pivot angle under the toes gives the Axon a very nice ride. To be honest, the shoe reminds me a lot of the ASICS EvoRide 2. Both have a firm midsole with a fast turnover feel. The outsole even has a generous amount of rubber.
My size US 10.5 fits true to size and weighs 10.2 oz/290 grams.
MEAGHAN: Let’s dive right into this mystery shoe. The upper is a light, breathable mesh that is simple in design. I received the Sky/Storm colorway, and as noted earlier, I love it. There’s just enough padding in the collar and heel to make these shoes comfortable without adding any excess weight. My W7.5 came in at 8.2 oz – not bad for a daily trainer (and actually almost an ounce lighter than the Endorphin Shift).
Speaking of the Endorphin Shift, the midsole is made up of PWRRUN, the same stuff they put in that shoe. There’s a really big slab of it, too. The women’s shoe comes with a 35 mm heel / 31 mm forefoot, for a 4 mm drop and all the stack I dream about. Paired with a rocker geometry and rubber outsole, this shoe can handle lots of miles. Did I mention you can snag this guy for $100?Shop Saucony Axon – Men Shop Saucony Axon – Women
THOMAS: What would I improve about a $100 shoe that works really well? Maybe I would try to find a way to shave off a couple more grams or soften the step-in feel with a more cushioned insole. But, I am just looking for something to add for The Bad section. This shoe works for me.
MEAGHAN: I found the Saucony Axon to be a little too firm for my liking. I’m not sure if it’s the PWWRUN, the rigid rocker geometry, the rubber outsole, or, most likely – the combination of all three. So, this shoe kind of got lost in my rotation. It’s not soft enough for easy, recovery days, and it doesn’t have nearly enough bounce/responsiveness to act as an uptempo shoe.Shop Saucony Axon – Men Shop Saucony Axon – Women
THOMAS: Saucony has an affordable option that runs well. It may not be the most exciting shoe, but I really enjoyed all my runs in it. I would take the Axon over the Kinvara. The Axon is very similar to the ASICS EvoRide; if you aren’t brand-loyal to ASICS, the Saucony Axon is $20 cheaper. Don’t let the initial brick-like feel of the midsole fool you. To feel what makes this shoe excel, you gotta get them on the street. This might be the bargain shoe of the year.
MEAGHAN: The Axon was a fun surprise from Saucony. A $100 shoe with lots of cushioning in a lightweight package? On paper, it’s pretty dreamy. On the roads, it’s pretty OK. Call this the budget version of the Endorphin Shift, since it has a lot of what that shoe has, minus the aggressive-but-amazing Speedroll geometry of the Endorphin line. However, I should reiterate that it’s much lighter than the Endorphin Shift as well.
I think if I wasn’t training (workouts/tempos/long runs/recovery runs) I’d probably love this shoe a bit more. I just couldn’t find the Goldilocks zone with this one, but maybe you will.Shop Saucony Axon – Men Shop Saucony Axon – Women