“The first Salomon shoes with big lugs for great traction were the X Harrier shoes,” says Felix Dejey, Product Evaluation Manager for Salomon Footwear who worked on the earliest designs of the original Speedcross. “We just thought it was a very small niche, and at the beginning it was.”
The first Speedcross model hit retailers in 2006, and the major design goal was to provide great traction on wet and muddy terrain. “It was very niche, and sometimes we were unsure whether to continue the line,” Dejey says. “The forecast was for maybe 1,000 pairs in the beginning.” Today, Salomon sells more than 1 million Speedcross per year in Europe alone.
The franchise was helped along the way by endorsements from some of the best trail runners in the world, including Kilian Jornet, who used the Speedcross 2 to win the Ultra-Trail du Mt. Blanc in 2008. In fact, Jornet used the Speedcross 2 for nearly every race he ran at that time. Today, a number of top trail runners can often be seen plying their trade in the Speedcross, including Germany’s Philipp Reiter and New Zealand’s Anna Frost. “Every time I see Philipp he is wearing Speedcross shoes,” Dejey says. (See story by Philipp Reiter: My Favorite Salomon Shoes.
Along the way there have been enhancements to the comfort and performance of the shoes and new color patterns have been added.
“The biggest difference in the Speedcross range from the original model to the current Speedcross 4 is in the development of the stability,” says Dejey. “The earliest version had a quite rounded heel so it wasn’t as stable. We’ve learned a lot along the way and the more recent versions like Speedcross 2, 3 and now 4 are extremely stable. It really is amazing how far it has come. Today, we see people using it as a lifestyle shoe as well, which we never could have predicted, and it is available in all kinds of colors.”
Edouard Coyon, Salomon’s Product Line Manager for Trail Running Footwear, says that making changes to the Speedcross range is always tricky because of how popular the shoes have been over time. “Speedcross has been one of the most successful, iconic shoes in trail running worldwide,” he explains. “So while we are always looking for ways to improve our products, we were careful to maintain the fit, geometry, and cushioning that make it so popular.”
Where Salomon did choose to make refinements to the new Speedcross 4 GTX® is in the tongue, heel and outsole. The heel and tongue have been improved to better retain their shape during long, technical runs for enduring comfort. The outsole has been redesigned so that every lug is a complete chevron, versus half lugs on the previous version. Full chevrons provide far better grip and durability on the edges of the sole. The surface texture of all the lugs is uniform, while the height and size of the lugs has been optimized to save weight. Overall, the outsole has the same surface area contacting the ground, but is much more efficient.
What the Speedcross 4 GTX® retains from the previous models is the Salomon Cushioning System midsole (SCS), Sensifit™ with Quicklace, and the protective toe-cap. Proven at every level of trail running and racing, this combination delivers unsurpassed fit and foothold on technical trails, along with protection where you need it. Speedcross 4 GTX® is available in breathable mesh, waterproof Climashield™ as well as GORE-TEX® versions for year-round training and racing.
“We approached the refinements to this shoe with caution,” adds Coyon, “but through extensive testing in the field and in the lab, we’ve made Speedcross a little bit better once again.”