Saucony Fastwitch Review

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The Saucony Fastwitch is a great shoe, similar in many ways to my long time favorite in this class, the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. While the Fastwitch it's often marketed as a 'racing shoe', I prefer to think of it as an optimal shoe, providing everything most runners need without the weight that comes with the over engineering of traditional running shoes. It's a 7oz shoe that I'd happily run the marathon distance in, and if I needed more cushioning than the Fastwitch I'd look to the Maximalist Hoka Clifton. The Fastwitch has the cushioning of shoes weighing (and costing) far more. It's only major problem is that the shape does not match the human foot, a failing shared by most running shoes. I've rated the Fastwitch as "Highly Recommended" and I've come to love running in it. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)

Saucony Fastwitch top
Saucony Fastwitch bottom
Saucony Fastwitch inside
Saucony Fastwitch outside

1 Characteristics

  • Cushioning . The Fastwitch has outstanding cushioning for its weight, which is on par with the Asics Gel Hyper Speed. It's slightly heavier than the Hyper Speed, but it's a little bit more equal fore/rear. The cushioning feels smooth and even, feeling like you're running on a cushioned track, which is how it should be.
  • Drop. The Fastwitch has 4mm of drop when loaded, which is a tad more than I'd like, but it shouldn't cause any biomechanical problems. The main issue with that level of drop on a lightweight shoe is that it puts more of the cushioning in the rear and less in the forefoot, rather than balancing it out.
  • Structure. The Fastwitch is a nice simple shoe that does not attempt to manipulate your stride. Some web sites claim there's a Medial Post, but I never noticed it while running. I checked the Saucony web site and they don't mention a medial post, so I cut open my pair and as expected, there's no medial post (see picture below). There's only a slight rise under the midfoot that shouldn't create undue pressure on your arch.
    The dissected Saucony Fastwitch showing no Medial Post (Click for a larger image).
  • Flexibility. The Fastwitch has great flexibility that allows the shoe to move naturally with your foot. This flexibility is rather greater than I might expect given the construction; it seems to come partly from the gaps in the outsole, but mostly from the midsole foam. Unlike many shoes that want to flex in just one place, the Fastwitch flexes more naturally.
  • Outsole. The Fastwitch has harder wearing rubber outsole under most of the contact area, providing reasonable abrasion resistance. Like most shoes with an outsole, the limit on longevity will be the midsole which will compress with mileage. There are some small gaps in the outsole, but I didn't find any problems with them catching stones.
  • Shape. The Fastwitch is not designed to fit a human foot, so I cut open the toe box to prevent my toes getting crushed and so my foot could move naturally. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.)
  • Upper. The upper is inflexible and mostly unpadded, but quite comfortable. The upper is largely seamless, having just a little padding around the rear of the foot and around the ankle opening.
  • Tongue. The Fastwitch has a traditional tongue that is has a tab to attach it to the laces. The tongue is rather more padded than the rest of the shoe.
  • Lacing. The Fastwitch has flat laces which have tiny bit of elasticity that seems to improve comfort and I've never had them come undone.
  • Heel Counter. The Fastwitch has rather more of a heel counter than I'd like. This adds weight and does not good, but it's also unlikely to cause any issues by rubbing or digging in.
helping-hand.jpg

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2 How Far Can I Run in the Fastwitch?

Different runners want different levels of cushioning, so this shoe may not suit everyone. Some runners want a Maximalist shoe when they run a 5K, while others will run a 100 mile race barefoot. Most people find that as the distance increases, they want a little more cushioning to protect their feet from the pounding and to offset a little of the fatigue that sets in over time. You can see from the charts below how the cushioning compares with other shoes I've tested for some comparisons. Remember that a thicker, firmer shoe would have the same cushioning rating as a thinner, softer shoe, but would feel rather different.

3 Update after 200 Miles

I've enjoyed running in the Fastwitch, but after 200 miles it's worn out. There is more wear on the outsole than I'd have expected, with the tread worn down a little under the ball of the foot and on the edge of the heel. Saucony claim the rubber outsole of the Fastwitch provides "three times the traction", which might be why it's worn down more quickly than expected. While I never had any traction concerns, I wouldn't say it was any better than other shoes. The upper hasn't changed in the 200 miles since I cut open the toe box, and overall it's been comfortable. Like most running shoes, the limiting factor on the lifespan is the foam midsole breaking down. As the foam wears it becomes compressed, which not only reduces the cushioning you get, but more importantly the compression is uneven. This means that the areas of greatest pressure, such as under the ball of your foot, become lower than the surrounding areas. This can twist your foot in strange ways, and I suspect in may contribute to a number of injuries. I've been surprised just how much the midsole of the Fastwitch has collapsed, and it's now 5-6 mm thinner under the ball of the foot than when it was new.

4 Comparisons

Here are some direct comparisons with its potential competition.

4.1 Saucony Fastwitch and Nike Zoom Streak LT3

The Nike Zoom Streak LT isn't as well cushioned as the Fastwitch, nor is its cushioning-to-weight-ratio as good. However the Streak is a far better shape than the Fastwitch and it's one of the few shoes I can wear without cutting open the toe box. It also lasts far longer than the Fastwitch and it's quite a bit lighter.

Saucony Fastwitch top
Saucony Fastwitch bottom
Saucony Fastwitch inside
Saucony Fastwitch outside
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 top
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 bottom
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 inside
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 outside
helping-hand.jpg

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4.2 Saucony Fastwitch and Asics Gel Hyper Speed

The Fastwitch and the Asics Gel Hyper Speed are really close, with the Hyper Speed providing slightly better cushioning for the weight.

Saucony Fastwitch top
Saucony Fastwitch bottom
Saucony Fastwitch inside
Saucony Fastwitch outside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 top
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 bottom
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 inside
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 outside
helping-hand.jpg

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4.3 Saucony Fastwitch and New Balance RC5000v2

The Fastwitch is quite light, but it's nearly twice the weight of the New Balance RC5000v2. The RC5000v2 provides just enough cushioning to improve Running Economy, so it will be a faster shoe than the Fastwitch. However, I suspect most folks will appreciate the extra cushioning of the Fastwitch.

Saucony Fastwitch top
Saucony Fastwitch bottom
Saucony Fastwitch inside
Saucony Fastwitch outside
New Balance RC5000 v2 top
New Balance RC5000 v2 bottom
New Balance RC5000 v2 inside
New Balance RC5000 v2 outside
helping-hand.jpg

This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via these links.

5 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes

For a more detailed comparison of these shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.

Full Review Name Rating Recommended
price
Benefit Weight
(oz)
Penalty
(sec/mile)
Forefoot
Thickness
Heel
Thickness
Loaded Drop
mm
Cushioning Flexibility
Asics 33-DFA Review 33-DFA Worth considering $90 5.7 10.6 16.5 27 27 0 6.1 6
Saucony Type A6 Review A6 Highly Recommended $100 8.2 6.1 9.5 17 21 4 5.0 8
Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review Adios Worth considering $140 4.7 8.6 13.4 17 27 11 4.0 7
Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review Bionic Highly Recommended $95 6.4 7.0 10.9 15 18 2 4.5 9
Hoka Bondi Review Bondi Highly Recommended $150 8.0 10.9 17.0 41 45 5 8.8 0
Hoka Clayton Review Clayton Best of the Best $150 8.8 8.3 12.9 26 30 3 7.3 5
Hoka Clifton 3 Review Clifton3 Best of the Best $130 9.1 9.8 15.3 34 38 3 8.9 6
On Cloudracer Review Cloudracer Worth considering $130 5.7 8.2 12.8 19 27 5 4.7 8
Hoka Conquest Review Conquest Worth considering $170 5.0 11.9 18.5 28 34 5 6.0 3
Saucony Cortana 4 Review Cortana Worth considering $150 4.4 9.9 18.7 22 28 5 4.3 5
Mizuno Wave Cruise Review Cruise Worth considering $120 6.6 5.9 12.5 17 20 7 3.9 7
Newton Distance IV Review Distance Worth considering $155 7.5 9.1 14.2 26 31 3 6.8 6
Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review DS Racer Worth considering $110 8.2 7.0 10.9 21 26 6 5.8 6
Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review Ekiden Worth considering $115 5.7 5.7 14.6 13 18 6 3.2 8
Saucony Endorphin Review Endorphin Highly Recommended $125 11.1 4.1 6.4 14 13 -1 4.5 9
Adidas Energy Boost Review Energy Worth considering $160 7.2 10.0 15.6 20 30 7 7.2 6
Puma Faas 100 R Review Faas 100 Highly Recommended $90 8.4 6.1 9.4 15 20 1 5.1 9
Saucony Fastwitch Review Fastwitch Highly Recommended $90 9.5 7.1 11.1 20 22 4 6.8 8
Topo Fli-Lyte Review Fli-Lyte Highly Recommended $100 6.0 9.4 14.6 23 24 4 5.6 6
Nike Free 4.0 Review Free Recommended $120 5.3 8.2 13.6 24 30 6 4.4 6
Saucony Freedom Review Freedom Recommended $160 5.4 10.7 16.6 11 11 3 5.8 7
Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 Review Gel Lyte Not recommended $90 8.0 7.3 11.4 17 24 4 5.8 9
Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 Review GOmeb 3 Worth considering $120 6.9 8.1 12.6 20 24 4 5.5 8
Skechers GORun 4 Review GORun Not recommended $100 6.1 7.5 11.7 15 23 3 4.5 7
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review GRU Worth considering $90 7.5 10.0 15.6 28 34 8 7.5 5
Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review GRU-R Worth considering $105 6.5 11.3 17.6 30 40 6 7.4 7
Asics GT 2000 Review GT 2000 Not recommended $120 4.8 11.2 17.4 28 35 5 5.4 4
Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review Hyper Speed Highly Recommended $75 10.9 6.3 9.8 22 26 5 6.8 7
Altra Instinct 3.5 Review Instinct 3.5 Recommended $115 4.9 9.3 15.2 24 23 0 4.5 6
Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review Kainos Worth considering $130 10.0 6.9 10.7 17 27 9 6.8 7
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review Kinvara Best of the Best $110 7.4 8.2 12.8 23 27 3 6.1 6
Nike LunaRacer 4 Review LunaRacer Recommended $90 9.9 7.0 10.9 22 30 7 6.9 6
Nike LunarSpider R5 Review LunarSpider Recommended $125 6.9 6.7 10.4 17 21 3 4.6 7
Hoka Mafate Speed Review Mafate Best of the Best $170 7.6 11.9 18.5 39 40 4 9.0 3
Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review N0 Highly Recommended $100 7.9 6.5 10.1 14 20 4 5.2 8
New Balance 980 Review NB 980 Worth considering $110 4.6 10.1 15.7 21 30 5 4.6 5
Hoka Odyssey Review Odyssey Highly Recommended $130 8.5 9.4 14.6 37 45 5 8.0 4
Altra Olympus Review Olympus Highly Recommended $130 5.4 11.8 18.4 27 27 3 6.4 4
Altra One 2.5 Review One Highly Recommended $100 8.5 7.1 11.1 22 25 2 6.0 8
Altra Paradigm Review Paradigm Highly Recommended $130 6.4 9.9 15.4 25 25 1 6.4 4
Asics Piranha SP 5 Review Piranha Recommended $100 10.1 4.2 6.5 11 15 3 4.2 9
Brooks PureFlow 5 Review PureFlow Worth considering $110 6.0 9.7 15.1 26 29 5 5.8 8
Salming Race Review Race Worth considering $130 6.9 6.5 10.1 16 19 4 4.5 7
New Balance RC1600 v2 Review RC1600 Highly Recommended $110 8.8 5.6 8.7 15 21 5 4.9 8
New Balance RC5000 Review RC5000 Best of the Best $125 12.2 3.4 5.3 13 17 3 4.2 8
New Balance RC5000v2 Review RC5000v2 Best of the Best $125 14.2 4.0 6.2 13 21 6 5.7 8
Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review Ride Worth considering $85 5.9 8.5 13.2 18 28 6 5.0 9
Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review RXT-220 Worth considering $120 5.2 8.0 18.2 14 17 3 4.2 9
Hoka Stinson Lite Review Stinson Highly Recommended $160 7.3 11.6 18.1 35 40 6 8.5 2
Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review Streak LT Best of the Best $80 8.8 5.4 8.4 16 21 4 4.8 6
Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review Takumi Sen 3 Highly Recommended $160 7.7 6.6 10.2 17 21 4 5.1 6
Altra Torin 2.0 Review Torin Worth considering $125 5.8 9.6 14.9 28 25 -1 5.5 5
Hoka Tracer Review Tracer Recommended $130 7.2 7.4 11.5 21 24 2 5.3 6
Merrell Trail Glove 3 Review Trail Glove Best of the Best $100 2.9 6.9 24.7 11 11 0 2.0 9
Brooks Transcend 2 Review Transcend Recommended $170 5.1 12.6 19.6 30 36 6 6.5 4
Topo Tribute Review Tribute Recommended $100 5.9 7.3 11.4 20 18 -1 4.3 7
Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review Universe Highly Recommended $125 10.7 3.1 10.6 9 12 1 3.3 9
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Review Vapor Glove Highly Recommended $85 2.1 6.1 27.6 6 5 0 1.3 10
New Balance Vazee Pace Review Vazee Pace Worth considering $110 6.0 8.6 13.4 18 24 6 5.2 6
Asics TartherZeal 3 Review Zeal Worth considering $140 10.9 6.3 9.8 17 27 9 6.8 7

It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot.
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review.
Reviews of shoes that are not worth including on the table: Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review.