Wednesday, 26 February 2014

#shoeporn: Ecco Biom Ultra GTX


Since 1963 Karl Toosbuy’s company creates shoes. Somewhere in Denmark he began to craft unique footwear. Still they are the only major shoe company to own and operate their own production and retail facilities. Only in the last couple of years Karl’s business went into the creation of running shoes. However the collection is still fairly little, Toosbuy’s people entered the trail running market just a while ago. Now they further increased their line with a fresh model – The Biom Ultra.


Ecco’s Biom Running shoes have a pretty distinctive look. All their current models do stick out of the competition. The simple and clean style is something that Ecco is easily recognized for. And with the Biom Ultra they keep this pretty straightforward. I receive a test model and I’m instantly stunned by the quality of the shoe. The typical Ecco craftsmanship is obvious. The sewing, the material, the sleeves… all well finished and manufactured. This feels special and finishes the high-class look.


Ecco’s Lead Designer, “Bartie” Bikowski, authoritatively declares: “By pushing the core elements of our BIOM NATURAL MOTION system — flexibility, low-to-the-ground design, anatomical fit and biomechanical support — we have created a one-of-a-kind trail running experience. This is how it should feel to run in nature.” Ecco also states that they designed this shoes “…as our dream trail shoe”. This is unquestionably somewhat to look forward to. So how do Danish people think their fundamental off-road jogging shoe would be like? I’m ready to find out.


I lace them up and head out. As I look at the watch to find out that I’m out the door for 5 minutes it starts to drizzle and eventually it is raining. German winters do pay off but perfect weather for the Biom Ultra I tell to myself. The Gore-Tex-Membrane is one of the key characters of this piece. There is also a cheaper version available that comes without the waterproof material. The first muddy trail is just about to start. Rain has previously slogged the earth the last couple of days and weeks. A clean shoe does not longer exist as I cross around the trees and through the mud and puddles.


The first experience is not really tremendous. This one has enough cushions but a bit too much for my likes. For my style of running it does not really feel dynamic to run with this shoe. Grip is certainly there with the well-constructed sole and brilliant outsole but I cannot get the movement out of these kicks. On one of my favorite downhill parts I do not feel comfortable and lack the feel for the ground.


While the midsole is pretty adaptable it does not help me to support my usual stride. Ecco states that an anatomical fit but my feet do not really fit in. I feel to high up and not comfortable with the ambiance. Not connected enough and therefore not relaxed. It could be the support that the midsole provides that I’m not used to or the weight (330 grams) that would be a bit too much for my likes.


The Biom Ultra is undeniably a well-made shoe for longer distance racing and training. For my likes it misses the energetic feel and the effortlessness that a typical running shoe should offer. The more I run in this shoe the better I feel. As stated above the quality of the shoe is great. The inner sole and the tongue are in a good shape. I continue testing the shoe and get more pleased. Maybe I’m not used to that kind of shoe or maybe it is simply “too much shoe” for my likes.


I never ran in the Racer or Trainer Biom models that Ecco offers, but I guess the more minimal attitude with these shoes can be joined in a more dynamic and minimal trail shoe. While the Gore-Tex outer functioned incredibly well and also the heel part of the Ultra is pretty impressive, the overall feel is something that can be further enhanced. I can see potential in the Ultra. Currently I think it is something between a hiking and a running shoe. Toosbuy and crew know how to make shoes so I guess they will come back with a real dream trail shoe.

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