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Topo Athletic Cyclone Review: Best Kept Secret?
By Contributor Andrea Myers

The Topo Cyclone is a hidden gem in the running shoe world. Lightweight, lower drop, a wide toe box, and a natural ride make the Cyclone a great non-plated option for interval days and easy runs. Topo is best known for its zero drop shoes, but the 5mm drop Cyclone is a great option for runners looking for a shoe with a wider toe box but some heel-forefoot drop.

Price: $120 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.9 oz, g (men's size 9), 6.4 oz, g  (women's size 8)

Stack Height: 28 mm heel, 23 mm forefoot
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Neutral lightweight trainer/racer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Like Altra and Xero, Topo is known for its “foot-shaped," low-drop running shoes. Topo shoes range from 0-5mm in drop, and the 5mm drop Cyclone is a shoe that will be accessible to many runners (unlike their many 0mm drop offerings, which have greater biomechanical demands). After testing the Magnifly 4 last year and falling in love with the Topo fit, I decided to give the Cyclone a try when I was looking for a non-plated interval shoe. The well-fitting upper, light weight, and late toe spring has made the Cyclone one of my go-to interval shoes.



FIT

The Topo Cyclone fits true to size in my usual women’s 9.5. One of the things I love about Topo’s fit is the anatomical toe box. I have found the anatomical toe box of the Altra Escalante to be too wide in the past, but every Topo shoe I’ve tried (Cyclone, Magnifly 4, Zephyr, and Trailventure WP) have a toe box that is shaped like my foot and allows for comfortable toe splay, but not so wide that I experience side to side foot translation in the shoe. The mesh upper securely holds the foot in place and does not stretch. The Cyclone upper is so secure that even without the lace tied, my foot feels secure in the shoe. The soft interior of the upper feels like it lightly grips the foot and helps to keep it in place, which is a feeling I have not experienced in any other shoe. The tongue is not gusseted, but there are two lace loops at the top of the tongue which hold the tongue securely in place. The tongue does not extend up the front of the ankle as far as most shoes, effectively eliminating any chance of anterior ankle irritation. There is mild medial longitudinal arch support built into the sole, which I found comfortable and not intrusive. There is no heel counter and the upper part of the heel collar narrows and curves away from the Achilles. Remarkably, the stripped down design of the heel still provided excellent rearfoot lockdown. My only complaint about the heel is where the upper part of the heel collar narrows. It was a little too narrow for my heel bone and created mild irritation at times. It wasn’t enough to make me not wear the shoe, but it was mildly annoying to be aware of the heel collar during a hard workout. The outsole is very grippy and has performed very well in wet conditions. There is strategically placed rubber at the medial and lateral rearfoot and forefoot, and my pair shows minimal wear after 112 miles.


PERFORMANCE

The Cyclone quickly became my favorite shoe for interval workouts. After a marathon training block in which I did all of my interval workouts and long runs in a plated shoe, I decided that I needed to get back-to-basics and remind my body what non-plated fast running feels like. The Cyclone definitely fit the bill. It is a very natural feeling shoe and the late toe spring gives it a bit of pop at push off, which becomes more noticeable at faster paces. I far prefer the late toe spring of the Cyclone to the earlier toe spring of many Asics lightweight trainers/racers (Magic Speed or Metaracer) because I think the later the toe spring, the better the shoe will perform at faster paces. I have used the Cyclone for intervals from marathon pace all the way down to 800m pace and it feels natural, protective, and responsive at every speed. I found the ZipFoam cushioning to be the right balance between cushion and responsiveness. The Cyclone feels slightly softer than the New Balance Beacon v3, but firmer than the Saucony Kinvara 13. It handles turns at speed with excellent security and confidence. I have done several 10-13 mile workouts in the Cyclone without any foot discomfort (besides the mild heel irritation from the collar). The Cyclone could potentially be used as a racing shoe for half marathon distance and below and could be a great option for school-age athletes.




STABILITY

The Cyclone is a neutral shoe with no traditional stability features and minimal non-traditional stability features. That being said, it is an incredibly secure feeling shoe. I think the main reason for this feeling is the excellent fit of the upper and the slight grippiness of the interior of the upper material. There is mild medial and lateral sole flare in the heel and the mild medial arch support further helps to secure the foot in the shoe. The traction of the outsole is excellent due to the well-placed rubber in the rearfoot and forefoot. The Cyclone is not designed for runners with stability needs. Runners will need sound mechanics to run in the Cyclone, as it allows the foot to do what it wants.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Why on earth would I want to stop training in plated shoes? They improve running economy and reduce stress on the ankle and 1st MTP joints (Ortega et al 2021). Anecdotally, many runners feel that they reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and improve recovery between workouts. They made my legs and feet feel better on easy days when I was in the middle of marathon training and are just fun to run in. The main reason is that I noticed that the plate and rocker design were covering up a bad biomechanical habit of pushing off with the lateral aspect of my left forefoot. I was starting to have some medial ankle pain during and after training in a plated shoe (due to overactivity of my posterior tibialis) and wanted to nip the problem in the bud. With an eye towards longevity in the sport (and planning another marathon for fall 2022), I decided to get back to basics and work on my foot strength and biomechanics.  

I knew I wanted a flexible shoe with 6mm or less drop, a wider toe box, and a responsive midsole. The Cyclone ended up being a great choice and, as an added bonus, gave me confidence that my training paces weren’t artificially inflated by the use of a plated shoe. After a few weeks of zero running in plated shoes, my medial ankle pain went away and I no longer tended towards pushing off too far laterally. I continue to race in plated shoes and really enjoy the rocket feeling of putting on my Vaporfly Next% or Endorphin Pro 2’s on race day. Plates and rockers are great tools, but the body responds to specific training conditions, and I felt the plate was reducing the work required of my 1st MTP joint and foot intrinsics. Running shoes with a flexible forefoot make pushing off at the lateral forefoot uncomfortable and unnatural, but shoes with a plate and rocker act as a crutch and cover up sloppy biomechanics. There is no research (yet) to suggest that plated or heavily rockered shoes do or do not increase injury risk, but in an effort to be a well-rounded athlete, I would recommend running in a variety of shoes that place different biomechanical demands on the body.  

References: 

Ortega JA, Healey LA, Swinnen W, Hoogkamer W. Energetics and Biomechanics of Running Footwear with Increased Longitudinal Bending Stiffness: A Narrative Review. Sports Med. 2021;51(5):873-894. doi:10.1007/s40279-020-01406-5



RECOMMENDATIONS

Overall, I have been very pleased with the Cyclone. My main recommendation would be refining the heel collar. I think the upper portion of the heel collar could be opened up slightly, which would reduce the chance of heel or Achilles irritation, without sacrificing fit and security.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The Cyclone is for runners with neutral mechanics who are looking for a non-plated shoe for intervals and/or racing. Runners who like the anatomical toe box of Altra but want a more dialed-in fit and a little more heel-toe drop will be very pleased with the Cyclone. Those with sensitive heels may have an issue with the narrower heel collar, but otherwise this is a very comfortable, well-fitting shoe. The responsive ZipFoam and late toe spring make this a versatile shoe at every training pace.


GRADING

Andrea
Fit: A- (wide toe box, flexible heel counter, soft upper, secure lockdown. A- for heel irritation from a narrower heel collar)            
Performance: A- (one of the best options on the market for a non-plated interval shoe)
Stability: B (a truly neutral shoe with minimal stability features, still has excellent lockdown and security)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (the Cyclone was exactly what I was looking for to help wean me off of relying on a plated and rockered shoe for interval days)
Personal: A (my favorite non-plated interval shoe due to great fit, light weight, late toe spring, responsive midsole)
Overall: A- (A- for irritating heel collar, otherwise an excellent shoe)

  

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Price: $120 at Running Warehouse

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FURTHER READING

Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 - Full length Enerzy marks the major change for the latest stability update
Nike ZoomX Streakfly - The latest 5k/10k oriented racing flat that everyone has been waiting for
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 - The classic premium shoe from NB returns with a new upper
Reebok Floatride Energy X
- A brand new long distance trainer from Reebok with a forefoot plate
On Cloudvista - A brand new hybrid trail shoe that builds on On's impressive trail line

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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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 purchased in full for 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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New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

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