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Saucony Axon 2:
Rocker and Cushioning at a Value
By Chief Editor Matt Klein, Senior Contributor David Salas, and Social Media Wizard Bach Pham

One of the most consistent things we have seen increase in running shoes is the price. With the introduction of many >$200 super shoes, training shoes have steadily climbed closer to that mark as well. Although running is a relatively cheap sport and recreational activity compared to others (where the required pieces of equipment can cost thousands of dollars), not everyone has the financial ability to make expensive shoe purchases. However, there is a certain level of quality that is required for decent running shoes, particularly when it comes to providing adequate shock absorption and durability. Fortunately, there are still some high-quality budget shoes that are staying on the market or being introduced. The Saucony Axon 2 is one of the shoes. A favorite of ours from last year, this maximalist budget shoe, which remains at $100, maintains a high level of performance at a pretty sweet price.

Saucony Axon 2
Price: $100 at Running Warehouse (April Release)
Weight: 9.6 oz, 272 g (men's size 9), 8.5 oz, 241 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35 mm / 31 mm
Drop: 4 mm
Classification: Budget Maximalist Daily Trainer


Matt: The Saucony Axon 2 returns with a new upper and continues to maintain its status as an excellent budget maximalist training shoe. Featuring a high stack, rockered sole and slightly firmer/stiff ride, the midsole works well for the athlete looking for a shoe that can handle daily miles and faster runs. The new upper fits secure and normal to slightly snug, working well for those with normal to slightly narrow feet. The Saucony Axon 2 is best for the new runner or high school athlete wanting to try a budget-friendly and moderately versatile maximalist shoe that can handle a variety of paces.

David: The Saucony Axon 2 is a highly rockered and firm shoe that provides a very intriguing and fun ride. The shoe gives you a big rolling sensation through the forefoot and gives you the experience that many other more expensive options give you for the less the price. The upper update helps lock the foot down much better and enhances the ride much more. For those looking to have a high stack rockered shoe without breaking the bank the Axon 2 at $100.00 is definitely worth looking into. 

Bach: The Saucony Axon delivered a unique set of features that is unattainable at the same price point for a new shoe. The Axon 2 provides runners with a $100 option for a highly cushioned, highly stable, highly rockered shoe that can be added to a large variety of rotations. This is notably, however, not a shoe for runners who have midfoot sensitivities to things like the pieces embedded into the Axon's outsole.


Matt: The Saucony Axon 2 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit overall is normal to slightly snug in the forefoot. The new mesh upper is secure and breathes decently. It is comfortable and even handles sockless wear decently. The rearfoot fits normal and has a decent amount of cushioning around the heel collar. The heel counter is moderately flexible and I did not notice it. The tongue is gusseted and locks down well. The midfoot is slightly wider, but tightening the lacing down makes for a secure fit. The security is good enough that I did not have to lace lock this shoe. This transitions into a slightly snug forefoot that easily opens due to the mesh upper. The upper is simple, but effective in providing security and comfort over a variety of runs. 

David: The Saucony Axon 2 fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. Overall the shoe does fit normal width throughout to perhaps slightly narrow through the forefoot and toe box. The lockdown was good throughout but because of the sharp rocker up front I just heel lock my shoe to guarantee my foot on the platform when running. The mesh upper is much more comfortable than the previous version for me. The lacing system and tongue feel much more integrated with the rest of the shoe and the dimensions feel better throughout. The heel counter is moderate in firmness and does have some flexibility throughout without jeopardizing the shape of the shoe in that region. The length of the shoe is done well and I had no problem with fit in that regards. For being $100 US dollars, this shoe fits really nice and is comparable to most shoes 30 dollars more expensive. I think the width in the forefoot could be widened a tad but that's really my only qualm with it. 

Bach: The Saucony Axon 2 fits true to size. The shoe fits very nicely throughout and I had no issues with heel slippage or general fit. The shoe has a standard fit (with a very mildly narrow toebox) and a moderately rigid heel counter that's comfortably padded. The upper runs slightly warm, but I had no issues during my two longer runs in 70-80 degree temperatures. The tongue is thin, simple and forgettable in a good way and the laces do an excellent job of locking the shoe down with little effort and without the need to lace lock. The Axon 2 overall delivers a simple, but effective upper that I found little faults with unless you need a highly breathable shoe due to hot climates.


Matt:  The Saucony Axon 2 features a cushioned but slightly firmer ride. There is a large amount of PWRRUN cushioning underfoot as this is a maximal stack height shoe. The ride is stiff initially, particularly in the midfoot and takes a few miles to break in. There is no flexibility in the sole and it relies heavily on the rocker for forward progression. The sole is beveled, with a moderate heel bevel and a large amount of toe spring. Once the PWRRUN foam breaks in, the ride remains slightly firm, snappy and rolling. The stack height and rockered sole make the Axon 2 a solid choice for daily mileage and long runs. The efficient ride rolls along nicely and the slight firmness/midfoot stiffness keep things stable for me over long efforts. The stiffness and slight firmness of the sole also makes this shoe a solid choice for workouts and uptempo workouts. I have done hill repeats and uphill uptempo efforts. The ride feels lighter than expected during speed efforts and rolls along at faster efforts well. This is not a shoe I personally would use for racing and faster workouts, but certainly has the ability to pick up the pace.

Similar to the previous version, there is a 4mm drop. This was less noticeable due to the aggressive toe spring, which made transitioning through the forefoot easy. I have been having some Achilles sensitivity recently and was able to do 8 miles uphill (2000ft elevation gain) without issue. The durability is fantastic and has handled my high mileage well. The PWRRUN foam has continued to break in but remains slightly firm. The outsole has remained fairly intact after almost 60 miles with surprisingly little wear after this time. Overall the Axon 2 is a durable, cost-effective maximal daily trainer and borderline performance trainer than can handle a surprising variety of pace

David: I had a really hard time running in the first version of the Axon because of the upper lockdown and the midsole integration through the midfoot. I had a much better experience in V2. Since my foot was on the platform much better I could really feel what the shoe was doing and feel secure. The shoe certainly runs on the firmer end but provides plenty of protection. The durometer is a firmer PWRRUN EVA midsole that runs the full length of the shoe. There is a guidance rail like construction that is a continuation of the outsole that extends superior into the midsole along the medial and lateral aspect of midfoot. The previous version had this as well and it did a good job of creating some rigidity and stability down the midline of the shoe when running. Unfortunately like the first version, this still gave me some pain through the midfoot when running in the Axon 2. The ride itself is VERY fun for the price but for some reason my foot just does not agree with the guide rail configuration. With that said the rocker is done very well and the toe spring runs very smooth for as sharp as it is. The shoe feels like you are in constant forward rolling momentum. For those that like a firmer ride and want a high stack rockered shoe that is genuinely done well the Axon is certainly worth looking into. 

Bach: We run in plenty of firm shoes at Doctors of Running. While the PWRRUN cushioning in the Axon 2 leans firm, it still feels plenty cushioned thanks to the 31+ mm of it underfoot. There is very little road feel and with the heavily rockered forefoot ride, the shoe has no issues just hitting the automatic button and allowing you to roll down the road with ease. The Axon 2 is a very smooth shoe that does an excellent job of utilizing the rocker and geometry to keep your momentum going with little effort. I really liked picking up the Axon 2 after a workout or as a recovery day shoe after a long run to take advantage of the rocker on tired legs.

The Axon 2 for me was best at easy and recovery paces. Having flat feet, I tend to have sensitivities to certain things like Adidas LEP system, posting, and sometimes plates underfoot. When pushing the pace, the medial plastic piece in the Axon 2 that wraps mildly down the midfoot and swoops slightly upperward snaps back and causes irritation on my arch which forces me to pause midrun to let my foot shake it out. Even at easy paces if I'm running a touch faster than normal I start having some light soreness. I had no issues running several middle distance runs of 7-8 miles in the Axon 2 though as long as I kept at an easy pace. Despite the irritation, this was an absolutely great recovery day shoe for me and solid daily mileage grinder. Once I was able to find the right paces to match the shoe, I was able to enjoy the shoe's naturally rolling ride and saw many quality miles fly by. If you do not tend to have sensitivity to the piece though, the shoe is actually just light enough that it can definitely pull off strides and some slightly uptempo work.

I had no issues with traction in the shoe on wet surfaces and have found the outsole and midsole to be as reliable as it has been since mile one.


Matt: The Saucony Axon 2 is technically a neutral shoe, but there are several methods that make it a stable neutral shoe. The wider base/outsole flare, the plastic pieces in the midfoot, rockered sole, stiff/firmer ride and sidewalls in the midfoot provide a high level of guidance for a neutral shoe. The plastic pieces add to the stiffness in the midfoot, which combined with the side walls on each side provide a moderate to high level of guidance in the midfoot in particular. This is not biased as it is done on both sides of the foot. There is also a strong guideline through the heel and midfoot, which creates a centered ride through those areas. The forefoot is flared and heavily rockered, making for a fast and forward transition forward. This stability has worked well for me as someone who generally needs mild to moderate stability in most shoes even over long runs.  I caution those who are sensitive to stability methods or stiffness in the midfoot as this may be too much for you. However, those who need some guidance and are interested in an affordable maximal stack trainer may do well with the Saucony Axon 2

David: The Axon 2 is very stable throughout. Though it is not marketed as a stability shoe the features are all there. First the platform itself if pretty firm and feels grounded even though the stack height is pretty high. The outsole is nearly full coverage and provides good traction throughout. The guide rail configuration through the midfoot with the wrap along the medial and lateral aspect of that region does a great job of creating some torsional rigidity while also facilitating forward movement. The deep grooves along the midline of the the shoe that extend from the rear foot into the midfoot also provide a path of least resistance to follow as you get up onto that wide forefoot platform. The sidewalls are also integrated really well with the midsole and upper integration. I am really happy with the stability elements of the Axon 2 overall. 

Bach: The Axon 2 has numerous components that help make it a very stable shoe. Despite a high stack, the combination of a firmer sole, rockered design, wide base, mildly guidance line in the heel and full contact outsole all work in tandem to keep the runner guided forward. Sole flaring and two plastic pieces that are uniquely embedded into the outsole and flare slightly into the midfoot on both sides work together to prevent the runner from collapsing either way. The Axon's heavy emphasis on centering may actually hinder some neutral runners in the amount of guidance it provides. It's not often we put out a warning to a neutral runner about how much stability a neutral shoe has, but there is enough guidance in the Axon 2 that for any neutral runners who like to have all the underfoot control - shoes like the Puma Liberate and Nike Free RN come to mind - the Axon 2 may not be the ideal shoe for you.


Matt: The Saucony Axon 2 is a great example of a truly maximalist and rockered shoe. There is no flexibility in the sole and all transitions occur through the rocker. We have discussed before that there are three major rockers in the foot/ankle: heel rocker, ankle rocker and forefoot rocker. The heel rocker is the curved calcaneus, which allows us to roll forward efficiently without extra energy during heel strike or initial contact (for some people). A heel bevel imitates this, allowing for an smooth rocker forward that may reduce stress on the anterior structures of the leg, namely the knee and anterior tibial muscles. Those may experience more stress with posterior flared shoes, which is why we advocate for well-designed heel bevels. The ankle rocker is next, which is where the tibia translates and rolls forward over the foot at the talocrural joint. This is replaced by the general rocker of the sole, ie the combined effect of the heel bevel and toe spring. This is controlled eccentrically by the calf muslces and other plantarflexors (posterior tibialis, flexor hallucis longus and a few others). The final one is the forefoot rocker, which normally is the extension that occurs at the toe joints (metatarsophalangeal joints) as a runner or walker transitions over their foot and their heel rises. This normally requires adequate flexibility of the toes (over 60 degrees extension) to allow normal forward motion. If a shoe is too thick and lacks this flexibility, it must be replaced by toe spring, or the upward curve at the toes. This allows the runner or walker to roll forward over this area. We have discussed before that toe spring may benefit certain populations if designed correctly. Those with limited or painful motion at the toe joints may find a shoe with toe spring unloads this area. Those with limited talocrural/ankle/calf mobility may benefit from a rockered sole as it allows normal forward motion. We have talked about how toe spring may unload the Achilles tendon, allowing for forward translation without as much tension at that area.

These all need to be put in the right place, which may vary depending on individual mechanics. Initially, the Saucony Axon 2 is quite stiff. The sole has no flexibility and the toe spring is fairly aggressive and a little late. This increases the stiffness of the sole, which makes it feel really great when you pick up the pace and the snappiness comes alive. When running slower, it takes extra time to get to that toe spring, which until the shoe breaks in and the sole starts to flex just a little, can feel like hitting a speed bump. This is why the length of the toe spring matters. For those running faster, a late toe spring may be appropriate as it adds some stiffness and runners will transition quick enough that it won't be a problem. For those running slower, a longer toe spring is necessary with maximalist/stiff shoes as your mechanics may change where you need bend in the sole. One is not better than the other, it just depends on the individual and the shoe. We often talk about heel bevels and toe spring, but how they are done will match different people for different types of runs. 


Matt:  I have really enjoyed the Saucony Axon 2. It quickly became my primary trainer like last year and I have enjoyed the ability to do some mild to moderate workouts in this shoe. The stiffness and guidance work well for me, but may not for everyone. I personally like the amount here, but suggest that Saucony consider extending the toe spring back a little farther to offset this. This may help smooth out the midfoot transition as it is stiff, particularly when breaking this shoe in. While this may reduce some of the snappiness, this is primarily a training shoe and may be beneficial to improve the transition and comfort. 

David: I don't have too many recommendations for the Axon 2. The rocker is done really well and the ride is incredibly fun. I do think they could widen the toe box and forefoot a small amount, especially since the forefoot last/platform is on the wider end in that region. Other than that the shoe runs really smooth and locks down well throughout. It's a bummer my foot doesn't agree with the guide rails as the ride is really fun. 

Bach: The Axon 2 overall is a wonderful shoe considering the price point. I actually have no idea how Saucony managed to pull off such a high-quality shoe at this value.

The only major recommendation I have is to replace the plastic pieces that embed the lateral and medial side with simple underfoot outsole. This would help provide just enough natural rigidity to keep it stable without being as intrusive. The shoe has enough mild stability mechanics that I believe it is okay for the shoe to actually lean a bit more neutral, especially as Saucony's latest Guide 15 and Tempus offer exciting new stability options for those who need it.


Matt: The Saucony Axon 2 is an incredible $100 shoe. Featuring many of the components found in far more expensive shoes, this offers a unique, borderline performance trainer package that will work well for a variety of people. The aggressive rocker, secure fit, stable ride and high stack height make it an excellent choice for those wanting the versatility to change paces and get in solid daily miles. The rigidity in the midfoot also provides mild to moderate guidance, making for a stable shoe for those that do not do well with traditional stability methods. The durability is also fantastic and will work well for those high school athletes wanting a shoe that can last a whole season and beyond while taking a beating. For those interested in trying more maximalist stack heights but are concerned about spending the higher funds normally required, this is an excellent, durable and high value shoe to test this out in. 

David: The Saucony Axon 2 is for someone that likes a firmer ride and wants a higher stack rockered shoe. I won't go as far to say as someone on a budget because this shoe easily runs ahead of its class from a monetary standpoint. The rocker is done very well and the integration of every piece of the shoe is really well done and thought out. The shoe is certainly firm but provides plenty of protection for mileage. For those that like having a sharp forward rolling sensation through the forefoot should look into the Axon 2. For the price at $100 this shoe is definitely worth looking into for nearly anybody looking into the rocker shoe market. 

Bach: This is a shoe that I believe could find value in many a runner's arsenal. At $100, the Axon 2 provides something that no other shoe in the same price bracket offers: an aggressive rocker. Aside from its value as a durable workhorse, having a shoe like the Axon on special occasions where a rocker may be invaluable for unloading the calves could be a powerful addition to have in one's rotation.

The Axon 2 is also simply a steady workhorse that is durable, affordable, and fairly cushioned. You can eat up a lot of miles in this shoe, and if you don't have any midfoot sensitivities will find the shoe versatile for many different types of efforts. The Axon 2 will also work well for runners who need mild to moderate guided stability.


Fit: A- (comfortable upper. fits normal to slightly snug in forefoot with good lockdown.)
B+/A- (firmer, rockered, maximalist trainer/borderline performance trainer. Can handle uptempo miles/workouts due to snappiness but not the fastest. A fun shoe overall that can handle a variety of efforts)
Stability: A [Stable Neutral] (High stiffness, particularly in the midfoot which makes for a very naturally stable neutral shoe. May be too stiff for some people, but provides mild to moderate guidance.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Excellent well thought out shoe with moderate guidance in a stable neutral shoe. Stiffness may require slightly longer toe spring.)
Personal: B+/A- (An excellent shoe I have continued to reach for with high durability. I prefer the premium Shift, but the Axon 2 is great for a variety of efforts)
Overall: A- (A budget maximalist shoe with incredible value for the price)

Fit: A- (Forefoot slightly wide, otherwise mesh is comfortable and lockdown throughout is much better and tongue integration more comfortable)
B+ (A very fun shoe to run. The shoe makes you want to run fast but does seem to bottom out when the pace is pushed. If you keep it easy and controlled the ride is really smooth and hard to beat)
Stability: A (Very stable throughout. Good solid platform with great geometry coupled with the midfoot integration of the guide rails and midline grooves. This shoe runs like a stability shoe in most ways, but still under the neutral category.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (For the price, there is a lot of integration of shoe components throughout that create a high stack and really stable rocker)
Personal: C (As fun as the ride is, my foot just doesn't agree with the guide rail extensions in the midfoot that continue up from the outsole. I can't help but rate this low because I don't want to run in a shoe that my foot hurts in after, but the ride is really nice and I enjoy my experience in the shoe before the pain)
Overall: B+/A- (A really well done rockered design that packs a whole lot of value into a "budget" trainer. The shoe runs incredibly stable throughout with a fun rolling sensation that does not stop.)

Fit: A- (Excellent fit throughout. Forefoot could use just a touch more room, but this is really nitpicking)
B/B+ (Firm rockered ride provides a very smooth rolling shoe. Midfoot plastic pieces may provide too much guidance for some or some foot irritation for others, limiting it's usage)
Stability: A [Stable Neutral] (For the price, this is a lot of guided stability in a shoe with all the components working in tandem to propel the runner forward)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (For the value, there is a lot of thoughtfulness to the design here that you will not find in any other shoe around this price)
Personal: B-/B (I love the ride and value of the design at the price, but the plastic midfoot piece took away some of the value of what I personally could do in the shoe (no workouts, long runs))
Overall: B+ (At the cost of the shoe, you are getting a lot of value that will be attractive to many runners. A $100 rockered, high cushion shoe like this is a wonderful value)

Our team discusses the Axon 2 and Freedom 2 in our recent podcast. Listen on the run to hear our full thoughts!


Saucony Axon 2
Price: $100 at Running Warehouse (April Release, Coming Soon)

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Matthew Klein, PT DPT PhD(c) OCS FAAOMPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, 

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

Bach Pham is a 140 lb male with PRs of 23 5K, 52 10K. He typically runs between 25-35 miles per week at a variety of paces between 8:30 (tempo) -10:00 (recovery) min/miles. He typically prefers shoes that provide some mild to firm cushioning underfoot that is lightweight and responsive. Currently his goals are to complete the half and marathon distances.

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Saucony for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Podcast: How Should Shoes Fit? Saucony Reviews

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