|Although there's nothing special or fancy about the Breakthru 2's aesthetics, it's a pretty handsome shoe in my opinion.|
The shoe looks nice. Not outstanding or garish, and not plain or drab. Saucony dropped the sublimated printing from the original Breakthru for a slightly more understated, yet classier look. I love the ViziOrange colorway too! My Breakthru 2s look like a tough, older brother to my orange Type A6s.
A complaint I hear from several trusted sources in the running shoe community was that the original Breakthru was snug with an ill-fitting toe-box. Saucony's description implied that the Breakthru 2 is slightly roomier. I ordered my true-to-size men's 9.5 and felt that the fit was right. The Breakthru 2 is a slightly snug shoe, but I'd call it secure-snug, not tight-snug. My toes never felt uncomfortable. There is a hard heel counter, but it's not something I notice while running. There's nothing special about the sock liner. It's not the soft, creamy heel-cup you might find in the Brooks Launch 2/3 or in any of the Saucony ISO series, but it doesn't need to be. It gets the job done. The overall fit is locked-down and secure for business.
|The Breakthru 2 has pretty decent outsole coverage with enough rubber (XT900 and IBR+) to keep it sturdy.|
Midsole and Outsole Design
The Breakthru 2's midsole uses SSL (Saucony Super Light) EVA with a full length PowerGrid drop-in. The Breakthru line has not yet integrated Everun into the midsole like many of the other core trainers, but this may be an update for future models. The flex-grooved outsole consists of hard XT-900 rubber on high-wear areas (on the heel and under the big toe) and lighter IBR+ over the rest of the covered areas. The combination of these rubber compounds make up about 70% of the underside of the shoe, with the rest being exposed EVA to save weight and provide some flexibility.
A comment that circulated about the original Breakthru was that the midsole was firm and stiff. Compared to most trainers, I would use those words to describe the Breakthru 2 as well. Remember, this is a trainer, but it's geared toward faster running. It makes sense that it bites back a little. Whether or not this is a positive or a negative depends on your preferences. The 50 miles I've put on the shoe so far has consisted of a couple of easy daily runs, a fast-finish long run, a super-easy recovery run with my 3rd-grade students, an OrangeTheory Fitness class that included a treadmill run, and a tough, hilly, tempo interval workout. Aside from the OTF class, all of these runs were on the roads. At easy paces, the Breakthru 2 felt a little more stiff than smooth, but as I picked up the pace, the shoe began to shine. As I approached marathon pace, stiffness became smoothness with a crisp response. When doing a fast 5 miles at near 10k pace at the end of a 17-mile fast-finish long run, I didn't feel that I was fighting the shoe at all. Same goes for my hilly tempo interval workout later in the week. This shoe may not be the shoe I would reach for when I'm starting an easy run on pre-fatigued legs, but if I'm doing some pace work that includes some substantial mileage--more than I'd like to do in a pair of racing flats--the Breakthru 2 might get the nod. I would consider it a very viable marathon racer for most runners, although like most shoe geeks with too many shoes, they may not be my first choice to race 26.2.
If I like the Brooks Launch 2 or 3, would I like the Breakthru 2? Probably. The Launch is a a little more shoe, and I think it's a little cushier. The Breakthru is nearly an ounce lighter (at my size), and possibly a tad more efficient at faster paces. These shoes definitely compete for the same audience, and they are both a very reasonable $100 MSRP.
If I like the Mizuno Wave Sayonara, would I like the Breakthru 2? I think so. I've run in the Sayonara 1 & 2, and I've worn the 3 for short periods of time. I think the Breakthru has a better overall fit and ride. It's feels somewhere between the Sayonara and The Wave Rider 18/19 in comfort and response. For the price and satisfaction, I prefer the Breakthru 2.
If I like the New Balance Vazee Pace, would I like the Breakthru 2? Maybe, but likely not as much. As far as performance trainers go, I think the Vazee Pace has the Breakthru beat in nearly every category. The Breakthru is stiffer, a little heavier, and not quite as roomy in the toe-box. However, it is $10 cheaper. I've not yet run a full marathon in either the Vazee or the Breakthru, but the extra distance may make a difference in this comparison as far as how the differing amounts of cushion under the feet come into play in the late stages of a long race.
I like the Breakthru 2. Like, but not love. I appears to be a quality update from the original, and it is a truly great value at $100. I think I'll use it just as much as my Launches, and I won't be disappointed, but it comes just short of having that X-factor that makes me want to show up and run a race in them or enjoy a nice, 22-mile long run in them. Not bad, Saucony, not bad.