Ah, once again we are stoked to be able to report on one of those brands that sit just outside the general view of the running community, Topo Athletic. For those that know them, it is truly one of those passionate relationships where they would never switch back, but Topo still just doesn’t seem to have caught on in the general mainstream. The Topo Athletic Cyclone might change all that at least when it comes to performance as this truly feels like something new and will definitely win some fans.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Topo Athletic Zephyr tempo counterpart without the PEBAX plate.
- Upper fit and the heel design may not be for everyone, so make sure you can try them out.
- Weighs in at 7.9oz or 224g for a US Men’s 9.
- Features 28mm of cushion and has a 5mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $120.00 USD and comes in 2 colors for Men and Women.
We have tested numerous pairs of Topo Athletic shoes over the years and they have all followed a very consistent build style and design aesthetic. The Cyclone introduces a whole new chapter for Topo and while it still aligns to their traditional profile, it feels inherently different. The Cyclone is supposed to be the counterpart to the Zephyr, which was Topo’s attempt at a plated race shoe. The Zephyr ran a bit firm for us, and just didn’t have enough cushion and we honestly could have done without the plate. Lo and behold, we get the Cyclone, which does just that and a bit more.
The upper has been fully redesigned into a thin single-piece mesh with some minor structural elements internally for side to side stability. The heel collar has been fully stripped down and there is almost no counter in the shoe whatsoever, heel collar padding is also very limited. Make no mistake about it, this shoe is about going fast and has a lot of the design methodology we are seeing on other racing shoes out there. The Cyclone is sub 8oz and does have 28mm of cushion, so it is light underfoot and their ZipFoam midsole provides ample cushioning and responsiveness. There are some gotchas though and we had a chance to let our male and female testers try them out and it immediately exposed a huge problem some will face.
I can say from the first time I put these on, I already would choose them over the Zephyr. I love the feel of the upper from the openness of the toe box which is Topo’s traditional selling point, but all the way to the general on-foot feel. The upper breaths really well throughout the run and that midsole has limited flex which leads to a nice higher pace cadence. I have run these now from half marathons down and can honestly say I’m not sure I’d want to go much further in them in particular because of the heel design. It is one area I think that could have been improved because it will definitely bother some people, but in the end, I found I could put up really good times in these, and they made tempo days a lot easier. If Topo commits to this design, ads 10mm more cushion and brings back the PEBAX plate, then that would make an insane Zephyr 2 and a really strong distance racing shoe. Maybe some tweaks to the heel though.
I’m a huge Topo Athletic fan and have used so many over the years both on the road and the trail. Topo shoes are honestly the ones I keep in my line-up even after testing everything else. To that end, the Cyclone didn’t work for my foot at all. The biggest problem area for me was the anatomical heel design and the lack of a heel counter. From the first time I put it on my foot, I could feel the abrasion against my Achilles, and after my first few miles in the run, I was blistered to no end. I let it heal, tried different socks, and tried to break them in a bit around the house before trying again, but it never changed and always lead to the same outcome. I love the visual design of the shoe and think it looks great and honestly when I first put it on my foot everything else felt great. I am just so bummed with the heel design and the fact that it didn’t work for me. Something for people to keep in mind.
The upper is a single piece of engineered mesh that is quite breathable in the forefoot. From the mid-foot back, they have added an Ortholite liner which keeps it smooth against your foot. The shoe really has no true heel counter and while they did try to build some overlays to provide that side to side stability, the heel is inevitably the weakest point of the shoe. The anatomical heel is designed to follow the path of your Achilles, but again this is an area that people need to try before they buy. The tongue and collar are very lightly padded.
The Cyclone’s midsole uses Topo’s ZipFoam which we saw in the Zephyr, but again this does not have a plate. The midsole definitely feels a bit firmer and skews more responsive, so you will find minimal flex as the shoe really wants to rebound and progress you forward.
The outsole makes use of just a few pieces of rubber at key contact areas including the lateral side of the heel with a smaller piece on the medial side and then a bit more upfront to help with toe-off and traction during the stride. They did a good job of balancing the weight here by keeping the amount of rubber low and isolated it to key areas.
Style & Aesthetics
The Cyclone looks fast and we honestly hope they come up with a ton more color combos. Going with that simple one-piece upper means that they can potentially do a lot of other colorways quickly. Yes, the white does get quite dirty, but if it gains popularity we expect to see a lot more variety for this shoe.
As you can see, we were a bit split on the Topo Athletic Cyclone. The shoe does represent what we think is Topo really putting their best foot forward and designing something that will bring a lot of interest from those people that don’t know the brand. It also can really move, the performance is so much better than we expected, and honestly, the Zephyr can really be wiped from our memory. This is a much better shoe. The lack of counter and anatomical heel, in general, can be a little tricky as you saw with our female tester. Do make sure you try the shoe on and wear it around your house for a bit because if it is a problem for you, then it will be apparent from the very beginning.
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.