I have been extremely pleased with the new Merrell line-up. Light, comfortable and the perfect fit for my foot, the shoes practically beg to be taken out. I reviewed the Bare Access 2 (review) a few months ago and was looking forward to test driving a couple of the new offerings; the Road Glove 2 and the Mix Master Move (which could use a better name).
Because these shoes all represent at attempt at a minimalist shoe design, it’s important to share how I categorize minimalist shoes. First I look at the overall heel to forefoot (toe) drop. Is it a little number or big number? Second, what kind of cushion or support is underfoot. Is it “Hoka-esque” or more similar to the Vibram 5-fingers? Third, what does the shoe weigh and does its construction lend any support to the foot or does it allow the foot to “be” what it’s supposed to for the individual runner?
Not everyone will have those same criteria, but that’s how I look at it. For example, I consider my Hoka’s a minimalist shoe with regards to a low heel to toe drop which I really like, but it offers a ton of support underfoot so I wouldn’t necessarily call it a minimalist shoe, it’s just a great shoe with low drop that gives me the cushion I need for long efforts. My Brooks Cascadia are a full on workhorse shoe. High heel-toe drop, lots of cushion, some moderate support built in to the midsole, heavier than any of the shoes I’m reviewing below. I love the Cascadia but wouldn’t consider it anywhere near a minimalist shoe.
In my book, the Road Glove 2 would represent the most minimal shoe of the Merrell lineup followed by the Bare Access 2 and then the Mix Master Move.
The Road Glove 2
Out of the box I knew this shoe would be great fun to run in and wear around town. Other than color, I couldn’t see an immediate difference between the Road Glove 2 and the Bare Access 2 so I took a closer look. Both are extremely similar in look and feel. Both have almost identical uppers and linings. The styling of the upper is slightly different but almost unnoticeable. As best I can tell, the only real difference between the Road Glove 2 and the Bare Access 2 is in the amount of EVA midsole and slight difference in break points along the outsole. The Bare Access 2 has two “grooves” that break along the met-heads under the forefoot which I would assume is meant to mimic and allow for a more natural forefoot motion during stride.
The extra 4mm of cushion does make a slight difference and I find that the Road Glove 2 beats my feet up a bit more on any effort over about 10 miles. For me, 4mm of cushion just isn’t enough to keep my feet from wearing out over that distance. On a side note, this didn’t used to be the case, but whether it’s my age, the miles and training or simply the past few years on more minimal shoes, I have noticed that for longer runs, especially ultras, I prefer a low drop shoe, but one that will support my under foot with some cushion to keep the rocks from punching through.
The TPU heel sling holds my foot just perfectly and doesn’t rub on the Achilles or any point around the circumference of the ankle. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the shoe is how little padding there is in the upper and yet I didn’t ever feel like it was too little.
I’ve put roughly 100 miles on the Road Glove 2 and have had no issues with wear or breakdown. So far the Aegis treatment has done its job, and the shoes have stayed “funk” free.
Who would be most interested in this shoe?
I think this is a great shoe for anyone that puts in regular time on paved paths or roads. The toe box is wide and comfortable but fits snugly enough to keep the foot from slopping around in the shoe. The heel cup is comfortable and doesn’t rub at all.
I found the shoe did best for runs less than 10 miles and at 7.25oz (size 9.5M) is extremely lightweight. Keep in mind, I weigh about 148lbs and can cover 10 miles in about 70 minutes on a normal training run, so I think these shoes are great for runs about an hour to an hour and a half.
I think the shoe is best suited to someone with a wider foot, that doesn’t have a heavy heel strike gait. Additionally, the shoe is going to be best for runners that have already begun to move over to a barefoot or more minimalist shoe. I wouldn’t recommend this shoe as a first step into the minimalist movement. For that…enter the Mix Master Move!
Mix Master Move
I love this shoe. It’s become my workhorse shoe for the past several months. My impression out of box was very positive. It looked much different than the Road Glove 2 and Bare Access 2 but boasted a great look, bold red color and sleek design.
The shoe has done great for me on both road and trail and although it has a 4mm heel to forefoot drop, the max I find comfortable, it is extremely comfortable and offers a good deal of protection from rocks underfoot. The breathable mesh works well, keeps my feet dry, sweat free, and keeps the weight down. I appreciate the removable footbed because it allows me to use my orthotics while the Road Glove 2 and Bare Access 2 are so form fitting that I can’t fit any extra space into the shoe.
The shoe fits as well as the other two in the line-up, but with the nylon shank in the outsole and a slight bit more EVA cushion gives a bit of extra support for longer efforts. Merrell did not specify the amount of cushion in the midsole and outer, but it seems slightly more than the Road Glove 2 and Bare Access 2.
The heel cup is also slightly more substantial but still not padded beyond what is absolutely necessary.
There are two spots where Merrell chose to use synthetic leather in the upper. In comparison, it seems that the synthetic leather is the same that was used in the exteral TPU heel sling of the other two shoes.
- As with the Bare Access 2 (review) this shoe had significant evidence of wear and tear at the toe within the first few runs. There is a small flap of rubber that comes up and within just a couple runs, the glue gave and the rubber separated slightly from the shoe. It has since held up, but this is the second FAIL with regards to portions of the shoe coming apart in a very short time. The manufacturer needs to address this.
- The outsole. It looks like Merrell tried to do their own outsole. It’s not bad, but I don’t find it altogether functional for any reason, i.e. it doesn’t provide any “traction” or grip for trail running, and the tread isn’t built for any off-road use. I haven’t had any problems with using it offroad but it’s not an aggressive sole, and for racing a quick offroad race, I’d probably opt for a different shoe. Additionally, they used Vibram for the other two shoes. I wish they’d done the same for this one.
Who would be most interested in this shoe?
This shoe is my new workhorse training shoe. I can use it for road and for trail, it’s light and responsive and extremely comfortable. It is comfortable for longer distances, has a low heel to forefoot drop and yet has enough underfoot support to allow me to use it for long runs and hours without fatigue.
I think this is a perfect shoe for a transition from a beefy supportive shoe into a more minimalist shoe. It might be a bit roomy in the midfoot and toe box for people with a narrow foot, but I’m somewhere between a narrow and a wide and it’s perfect for me.
Have you ran in the Merrell Road Glove 2 or Mix Master Move? What are your thoughts on them?
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Posted on 09 Apr 2013
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