Article by Sam Winebaum
Salomon Spectur ($130)
The Spectur joins three other 2022 brand new Salomon road shoes in a line up sharing several common technologies implemented differently for different run purposes. They include:
Spectur reviewed here the lowest drop at 6mm intended for daily training with a ride focused on “balanced transitions from heel to toe”,
Phantasm (7mm drop) intended for forefoot striking and quick transitions and clearly felt as such during our test (RTR Review)
Race and uptempo focused Phantasm CF (9mm drop) for “snappy toe-off and strong propulsion for fast paced runs.” True! (RTR Review).
Finally the single density foam soft and broad platform 10mm drop Glide Max for easy runs and recovery and for those needing big upper volume. (RTR Review)
The tech includes
Energy Surge foams: an EVA/Olefin copolymer block compound from Dow with increasing the amount of Olefin determining the softness feel and amount of rebound. The Spectur has a dual density midsole identical in foam types to the Phantasm and Phantasm CF with a firmer layer below a softer layer. Even the Ultra Glide trail and Pulsar Trail, and Pulsar SG have the same foams and same top (or main) layer softness as the 3 road models. The Glide Max has a single density Energy Surge foam of the same softness (or maybe a touch softer) as the top layer in the others.
Energy Blades: none “carbon” but each very different in design for purpose.
While the Spectur, Phantasm CF, and Phantasm are very similar in geometry other than drop, the blade type helps deliver completely different experiences in each. Except for the Phantasm CF’s more plate like blade, the Energy Blades can be thought of as more toe bone shaped (similar to adidas Energy Rods) than as solid plates. So, for example, the Spectur’s is the same polyamide fiberglass mix as Phantasm’s but is closed and broader towards the heel just below the foot as shown above. It is both more flexible and more heel strike focused than the Phantasm’s plate and its more forefoot strike focused ride. The Phantasm CF has a composite fiber which is more plate-like than the other rod type Energy Blades and is clearly the most propulsive, if unlike most carbon plated shoe plates, with some flex as well.
R-Camber rockers with Spectur the least pronounced, flattest and most conventional in feel at the heel.
Contagrip outsoles with the Phantasm, Phantasm CF and Spectur all sharing the same general design, and as far as I can tell, the same rubber.
Top to Bottom: Spectur, Phantasm, Phantasm CF The CF’s outsole is thinner to save weight than Phantasm’s or Spectur’s and the Spectur’s clearly has the most coverage through the heel and midfoot (so stable). This outsole coverage clearly also adds to the Spectur’s weight as it is the heaviest of the options with only the almost 2 oz lighter (with of course lighter upper) Phantasm CF having a lower stack height.
The Phantasm ($160) and Phantasm CF ($225) share similar light and airy Matryx uppers while the Glide Max ($150) and Spectur ($130) have much more conventional and thicker mesh uppers.
All except the Glide Max share a fairly similar more performance oriented fit at true to size with the Glide Max clearly far more voluminous in width and volume.
So after this long winded introduction where does the Spectur fit into a runner’s rotation and the Salomon road line up and what are its strengths and weaknesses? Please read on for my take.
- Solid value at $130 for a moderately propulsive bladed shoe with lots of rubber and a solid modern if not supercritical midsole foam
- Highly cushioned and vibration reducing if firm heel
- Very stable heel area
- Solid front response and spring yet also deeply and protectively cushioned from combination of blade, foams and outsole
- Highly supportive, comfortable upper for.. fall winter conditions.
- Weight is up there at 10.1 oz / 286g US9 by modern standards for the 32.5 / 26.5 mm stack and even compared to other 2022 Salomon
- Related to weight, overdone rear outsole rubber with minimal decoupling leads to a firm rear of the shoe and somewhat awkward transitions at slower paces.
- A dull lumpy feeling heel at slower paces
- On the firm and less bouncy side. lower very firm Energy Surge foam could be softer or eliminated if thick full coverage outsole stays the same.
- Quite thick, heavy and warm upper.
Sample Weight: men’s 10.1 oz / 286g (US9)
Stack Height: men’s 32.5 mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot
Available now. $130
First Impressions, Fit and Upper
Sam: As with all the 2022 Salomon, the Spectur has a classy simple look that doesn’t over shout either in color or visual design but is striking none the less. Side note: the metrics for “Likes” on the RTR Instagram feed for the last year shows every Salomon near the top and we have had hundreds of shoes featured, so the 2022 Salomon look does strike a chord! Strong points for style from me and the running public!
My sample pair is a half size over my true to size and runs a bit too long but is secure front to back. No question a next pair I would go true to size. The thick dense mesh is not overly rigid and has some stretch so up front even moderately wide feet should be happy with width and overhead volume. In the picture below you can see how well my wider left foot is accommodated with my narrower right equally as well held. Not always the case.
The heel hold is excellent with reinforcing outer panels (more extensive on the medial side) further stabilizing a semi rigid heel counter with plenty of padding and most notably very thick inner bolsters.
This is not a soft and sloppy rear hold but a comfortable very secure one, unlike its 2 cousins Phantasm and Phantasm CF.
The tongue is a bit thick and overly soft and in my view overdone as we also have Sensi Fit overlays below the stout plastic lace eyestay and a tongue gusset.
Lace up is easy and secure. Never an adjustment but I did notice some tongue rotation, often the case with thick relatively narrow and soft tongue top areas.
The upper has an overall excellent fit and is well built but strangely heavier than most modern uppers with the tongue following that trend as well. Examining where it was made I see “Made in Cambodia” a surprise as I can’t recall ever testing a shoe made there as Vietnam, China, and occasionally Indonesia are where most run shoes are made. A pandemic sourcing option? In any case for a country “newer” to shoe making and maybe without all the materials and machinery of some places this is a fine upper if a bit heavy, warm and contributing to the shoe’s weight. That said you will be cozy come fall and winter here.
The midsole is made of two densities of Energy Surge foam with a 67% polyamide 33% fiberglass Energy Blade of toe shaped fingers running to the rear embedded in the midsole.
The stiffer, more forefoot strike focused Phantasm has the same composition Energy Blade in a single blade finger only at the rear design as shown above appears to have a steeper angle up and is located lower in shoe with less firm foam below it than Spectur’s.
The top layer of foam is clearly softer than the bottom layer below the Energy Blade and as far as I can tell is the same make-up as the Phantasm, Phantasm CF, and Pulsar Trail, of course with slightly different stacks, lower layer thicknesses and different Energy Blade designs and outsoles.
The Spectur is clearly more heel strike friendly than Phantasm but at slow paces in a very vibration absorbing almost lumpy way and reminding a lot of Salomon older Optivibe midsoles, also made from the same Dow Infuse foam, but in the older models with a elastomer insert.
The heel is dense and highly protective but dull and a bit blocky at slower paces with not much of sensation of roll off the heel or decoupling, a sort of forward heel landing all of a sudden, then transition.
The outsole which has a full circular coverage with no crash pad separations in rubber or midsole clearly is part of the midsole feel picture here as is the Energy Blade extending all the way to the rear. It is very, very stable back there but dull. I wonder if the extension of the Energy Blade to the rear is really needed given the extensive rear rubber and firm lower foam layer. As the pace picks up that sensation goes away to a large extent and we start to roll better.
The forefoot midsole feel is the highlight for me. Deeply and densely cushioned, so suitable for any length run it has a nice Energy Blade enabled kick.
As you pick up the pace, the front Blade is clearly felt providing impulse and propulsion in a longer flexing far friendlier way than rigid or even flexible carbon plates and with just enough to put some snap and impulse into the ride. The front reminds me a lot of the ASICS Glideride 3 with a similar dual density foam make up and a hardened foam front plate.
Lots of durable Contagrip rubber here in a full coverage format from heel to midfoot with only a small window to the midsole ahead of the heel to lighten and provide some decoupling. Upfront, we have some narrow longitudinal windows which help with flex. I think the rear outsole coverage inbound of the midfoot and without any breaks at the heel, while it provides great stability, is overdone and leads to the lumpy firm feeling heel at slow paces. The Phantasm and Phantasm CF have rubber at the rear in the “right places” here. I think here the coverage is too much adding to weight and for me affecting the ride. As far as durability of the outsole and also the shoe itself, it should prove to be outstanding and highlights the strong value here at $130.
While running them the first time and without paying too much attention to the stack height or weight I thought the Spectur had an uptempo ride in a big cushion shoe with the clear highlight, as said above, the highly and densely and quite firmly cushioned yet springy reactive forefoot. Weight is felt, but it has an all purpose, except slow paces, daily training ride combining plenty of protective cushion with a lively bladed forefoot.
The heel area called for picking up the pace due to its dense somewhat lumpy feel at slow paces. Not low or thin, actually, and despite the 6mm drop strangely too high in feel with plenty of cushion and protection but on the firm side I think due to the outsole and rear extension of the Energy Blade.
As the pace picks up that lumpy sense disappears and the focus and fun is up front. Interesting, as the somewhat higher stack exact same foam but different outsole yet only 1mm more drop Phantasm felt the opposite, low at the heel until the pace really picked up but recall it has far less rear rubber..
Hard to say if it is outsole differences (more and more continuous coverage in the Spectur) or the longer rear Energy Blade in the Spectur or both, but for me, the happy medium would be square in the middle with a heel design between the two and with the easier transition to midfoot and toe off of the Spectur. In fact, I am not sure Salomon needs both models in the line as a lighter Spectur (the weight at 10.1 oz is felt) with its more flexible forefoot, lighter upper and less rear rubber (and less rubber weight) and better decoupling would perfect the ride.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Salomon gets close here but needs to find a way to bring the weight and outsole coverage down to better match the obvious more uptempo with deep protective cushion and quite lively bladed ride to what we expect in such a shoe these days, essentially below 9 oz and not 10 oz for a shoe with a not exactly a giant stack height as we have here.
The upper is heavy, the lower foam layer is overly firm, and the outsole I think overdone in coverage and overly simplistic in rear design adding to weight and contributing to a less than smooth heel landing, especially at slower paces, and to a quite firm overall feel particularly at the rear at those slower paces. While it does not have a trail type outsole, if your door to trails routes are smooth it should prove a very good choice for those uses as it is stable and highly protective.
The Spectur, all of this said, is still clearly very solid value at $130 for what should prove to be a durable, stable, and decently versatile trainer which includes some not seen at the price point a noticed propulsive blade impulse upfront which is the clear highlight of the ride.
Sam’s Score: 8.88 /10
Ride: 8.6 Fit: 9 Value: 9.2 Style: 10
New Smiles Score! Out of 5 This score is about how pleasing/fun the experience is on the run, or in the case of race type shoes how effective it is to race.
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Salomon Phantasm (RTR Review)
About 1.3 oz / 37g lighter on a higher heel 36mm heel / 27mm forefoot stack height, the Spectur’s additional weight comes from its far denser heavier and more padded upper and considerably more rear rubber. The Phantasm has a lighter Matryx upper with not nearly the heel hold of the Spectur, I might size down half a size for my narrower feet in it but for sure the Phantasm upper is more breathable. Its Energy Blade seems to have a more acute from spring, extends further to the rear at the midfoot and is lower in the stack and as such is a more rigid flexing shoe. So with a clear focus, as Salomon indicates, on forefoot to midfoot striking and faster paces with Spectur while firm and quite lumpy at the heel has no issues with heel striking or slower paces.
I say no need for both of these models Salomon! Take the more flexible plate of the Spectur and put in the Phantasm, improve the upper hold of the rear of the Phantasm and make its lower layer of firmer foam a bit thicker at the rear only to help keep the heel from compressing at the rear while retaining its less extensive rear outsole coverage. Price it between the two at $140-$150 and voila I think that would be one fine shoe.
Salomon Phantasm CF (RTR Review)
Salomon’s racer the Phantasm CF is a full 2 oz / 56g lighter than Spectur on a 34mm heel (measured) / 25mm forefoot (spec), 9mm drop platform so higher drop from a slightly higher heel, lower forefoot. It has a more plate like composite fiber Energy Blade and a more pronounced R-Camber rocker. It has superlight airy Matryx upper with not quite the hold of the dense Spectur’s and has a finicky thin tongue but is far more breathable. It does not favor heel striking or slower paces as much as Spectur does but Spectur’s landing is firmer and rougher with its transitions not nearly as smooth. At $225, the CF is up there in price but if you want a more conventional, agile, flexible, smooth and less stacked super shoe ride it is a fine “traditionalists” choice while the Spectur is more about stable, well held, firm daily training with a milder Energy Blade impulse.
Salomon Glide Max (RTR Review)
The max cushion 2022 Salomon the Glide Max has a highly voluminous upper on the level of Topo or Altra and is the Salomon choice if you prefer or need that kind of room. No Energy Blade, no lower firmer layer of Energy Surge, the higher stack Glide Max actually weighs about 0.4 oz / 11g less than Spectur. it has a comparatively lumbering soft ride more suited to easy runs and recovery than the Spectur more uptempo, firmer and plated ride.
Salomon Sonic Balance (RTR Review)
Clearly the Spectur, despite a bit lower drop, is the successor to the Sonic Balance, a shoe I liked a lot for its very vibration absorbing heel and well cushioned midsole. Spectur isslightly heavier, a touch higher stack, priced the same I am not sure it quite there yet as Salomon’s successor daily trainer to the Sonic Balance due to its about as vibration absorbing but firmer more awkward heel and not quite as smooth transitions.
Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)
Why the S/Lab Pulsar in the comparisons? Well it too has Energy Surge foam that is actually the same firmness as Spectur’s with a small firmer medial post instead of a full firm lower layer. It too has a “plate” of sorts with its hardened foam rock plate which provides clear propulsion at the ball of the foot while up front having flex. About a full 3 oz / 85g lighter… on an only slightly lower stack, and with a snug and precise very light Matryx upper it is my favorite Salomon of all time. Yes, its rear platform is narrow but it can easily run everything Spectur can on road far faster and more comfortably and of course it can handle can any trail. Is it the steady daily trainer the Spectur is of course not but even at its $180 price it is the Salomon to get.
ASICS Glideride 3 (RTR Review)
The Glide Ride has a higher, more cushioned stack of a big 42/37 yet actually weighs 0.5 oz / 14g less than Spectur. It too has a dual density midsole with its lower layer considerably softer and more energetic than Spectur, as is the ride overall. It’s “plate” is a hardened foam and it clearly delivers some propulsion. No overdone outsole at the rear, plenty of rubber in a similar circular rubber in the right places but not where not needed and with a deep and effective decoupling groove that also reduces weight. No lumpy firm rear feel although as with Spectur the shoe prefers faster paces to really roll well but for sure can do slow as well The upper is similarly supportive to Spectur but somewhat lighter and better ventilated. Clear win for the ASICS in the more flexible plated daily trainer race here. More fun, more cushion feel, lighter, and at least as as propulsive.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 and had a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.
Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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