Topo Athletics is best known for producing reliable and comfortable shoes, the majority of which are best for most recreational level runners moving at comfortable paces. The newly released Zephyr changes all that as it marks their first foray into a true performance shoe that can compete with other speed shoes, while also remaining true to the brand ideologies. It marks a new beginning for Topo Athletics, so let’s see how close they get to hitting the mark.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Topo Athletic’s first speed oriented race day shoe
- Comes in 2 colors and weighs 9oz or 255g for a US Men’s 9
- Has 28mm of cushion and a 5mm heel/toe drop
- Features a newly designed elastomer plate to aid with propulsion
- Uses their ZipFoam midsole tech which is supposed to provide cushion and firmness at different phases of the foot strike.
- Retails at $130.00 USD and is available direct or in speciality
The amazing thing about Topo Athletic this year is that the entire lineup now feels more cohesive than ever before. Out of the box, it bears a striking similarity to other road shoes like the Magnifly 3 or the Fli-Lyte 2, but also it just looks quicker. On foot, it still sports that nice wide toebox and the cushioning feels pretty comfortable.
Out on the road, we started to quickly see the positives and the negatives come to light. First off, they deliver on the promise of speed. That forefoot elastomer plate, much like the carbon plates being used by numerous other competitors, gives you a solid amount of propulsion during toe-off. It is not as dramatic as something like the Next%, but it definitely helps. We saw lower times pretty regularly and as a speed day shoe, it is a good choice.
The problem we found is that the cushioning level isn’t high enough to make that elastomer plate comfortable. The midsole feels too stiff overall and lacks a decent level of flexibility. At distance, this becomes more and more noticeable as it hammers your legs. To resolve this, Topo Athletic could easily add more ZipFoam and give the shoe a higher stack. The problem is, it’s honestly a little heavy right now as well so they will need to do some materials work and lighten up either the plate or the outsole.
The upper on the Zephyr is a super lightweight breathable mesh with several printed overlays that give a bit more security across the foot, especially at the midpoint. The toe box is nice and wide like every Topo Athletic shoe, but here you get more splay than ever before.
The midsole is where things get really interesting on the Zephyr as here is where we find their new elastomer stability plate. We also find their new ZipFoam which is a re-engineering of their typical EVA that should last longer and rebound better. That plate should help with propulsion and compete with even some of the carbon plates out there.
Not a lot happening here, just some reinforced rubber overlays at key contact points. It tracks well at speed and grips decently enough in inclement weather.
Style & Aesthetics
The Zephyr comes in two colors and is probably the coolest Topo Athletic road shoe to date. Their shoes never really feel ultra sexy, but this one is pushing in the right direction.
The bottom line here is that we love where Topo Athletic is headed with the Zephyr. It shows them willing to innovate and progress by making clever changes to their existing lineup to produce new and interesting alternative use shoes. It is not perfect by any means and could use some additional cushioning to offset the stiffness of the midsole plate. It could also use some lightening up, but if you are a Topo Athletic fan and in the market for a speed day or low mileage race day shoe… this is a solid first attempt.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.