Monday, 24 October 2011
QUICK SHOE REVIEWS: TECNICA DIABLO MAX
Shoe- Tecnica Diablo Max
Heel Height- 37.2mm (self measure)
Toe Height- 15.8mm (self measure
Miles Run- 231
Longest Run- 44.3miles
Terrains- Hard-Pack Trail, Soft Mud, Canal Path, bridleway, forestry, clay
Style and Type:
An anti-minimalist shoe in the mould of the Hoka series, they even have the same designer! True benefits of this shoe are firstly for extreme hill running with big ascents/descents by incorporating the rockered platform (described later). Other major benefits are for better performance over technical surfaces and for pure shock absorption indulgence! It is clear this shoe is for the long distance grinder as opposed to fleet footed track star.
Fit and Feel:
Fits true to size. The wrap around the upper foot and lacing system is an absolute delight. I work with running shoes in all shapes and forms and the upper must be the best fitted I have ever tried (Merrell Trailglove a super close second). The feel out of the box takes some getting used to as it is a huge platform designed for increased surface area on very technical trails. The depth of the shoe is a fraction shallow for my high-arch but definitely a better and more natural fit than the Hoka. Only real fit negative is the toebox. It is wide enough but is very stiff, does not allow the greatest flexion. I also noticed at plus 20mile runs that the stitching on the lateral edge of the toebox is way too aggressive and disappointingly poor. I managed to salvage these longer runs and prevent my 4th and 5th toe from damage by removing the ortholite footbed. This dropped my foot into the shoe just enough to stop my toes scratching on the stitching.
The EVA material is packed and 30% bigger than your normal road shoe. For a lot of runners this may seem like a feature design for the heavier runner however the long term comfort when spending hours at a time in this shoe is the real benefit.
Another real positive is the multidirectional lugs on the bottom. I’ve always preferred the multidirectional route because it seems to provide the greatest traction on a wide variety of surfaces.
So let’s discuss this rockered feature that runs through the shoe. First experienced in the Hoka, this design is intended to increase propulsion and actually rocker you up hill whilst helping spring you forward downhill. In theory, its genius....but it will not be genius for everybody. The rocker almost sends you speeding down a ramp through the midfoot and then send you over a hump (speed bump esque) as you approach the forefoot before finally dropping down and levelling out as you hit toe off. If you heel strike on flat surfaces you physically feel like your whole gait cycle is faster yet still stable- good job. My concern starts with the midfoot striker. I’ve had the benefit of using Profeet’s dynamic RS footcan to confirm my own personal running tests and it seems as though a midfoot striker will land halfway up the speed bump, your hamstrings then have to over engage to prevent the extreme braking force and to propel you forward harder to get over the bump. Forefoot striking is actually great again because you land just after the apex of this bump so you get a nice rocking motion as you capture your weight and then propel yourself forward again.
Ultimately, I believe this is a shoe for running up and down hills/mountains. Every hill I hit regardless of terrain and/or footstrike pattern I felt supreme confidence and I felt very fast. I will absolutely be using this for mountainous ultra’s. Likely to be my 2012 Ultra Trail du mont blanc shoe (lottery dependant) and most likely Tor des Geants shoe in 2013.
As mentioned great wrap around upper foot. Lacing is very secure and supremely comfortable. Wrap around tongue fits like a dream flexible. As with most good shoes light and breathable uppers are a feature.
Shoe performs the best on very uneven and technical ground, you just have to build the confidence to trust the shoe. Since the arrival of minimalist shoes we have exclusively been told that being closer to the ground and ‘feeling’ the ground is the best way to run- this does not ring true for sharp technical rocky grounds (except maybe for elites) and it does not help the runner with chronic injury problems or weak stabilisers. Once you have the confidence in this shoe you can absolutely crush some real technical paths that would normally be slow going and problematic. I tend to find with trail shoes that wet rock is always the biggest problem but the big surface area on the sole seemed to help a fair amount. The multi-directional lugs on the sole dug themselves into the mud quite well and preventing a lot of the usual slip you find on muddy downhills.
This is not a shoe jumping on the Hoka attention and it is not a shoe that will come and go as a fad. For the vast majority the rockered platform is extremely useful and very performance friendly and I look forward to the lighter shoes they will be rolling this into (pun intended). The grip performs well and the fit of the upper is very close to perfection. If im being picky then i would prefer the shoe to have slightly more depth and the rough stitching around the toebox HAS to be improved for the 2nd edition.
Ultimately the shoe easily fits into my shoe rotation and im keen to punish the shoe further to see exactly which races i want to use it for.....long and steep is most likely. The Diabo also tempts me to look at the rest of the range. If you liked HOKA then you must give this a try. If you shock absorption issues, like comfort, want a bit of free foot gait efficiency and/or your running mountains just give it a go, you’ll be pleased.