Race flats are sexy. There, I said it. Race flats are what we all love to talk about, because flats make us feel good when we wear them. They’re light, snappy, with as little impediment to our running as our 21st century shod society knows. They bring about a fond (or hostile, but no less epic) memory of that big race where the only obstacle between you and glory was between your ears. The Saucony Type A6 is an example of one of these dream makers/breakers. I was fortunate enough for Saucony to generously send me a review sample, free of charge.
The very first shoe I ever reviewed was the Saucony Type A5. Beyond a pair of Brooks Racers, I had never been exposed to a shoe that was so stripped down and honest as the A5. Low drop, low cushion, low flexibility – it was a shoe that was made to go fast, and I brought it along on many of my early PRs in the past year. I was more than excited to be able to try out the A6 when it was released early 2014.
The Type A6 is a no-nonsense, lightweight, middle distance flat that is intended for road races between a mile and 10k, but could arguably be utilized up to something like a half marathon (I wore my A5 for a 10 mile run and had success.). I found these to be true-to-size, in that I wear a 10.5 in these the same as most shoes. Like most race flats, the A6 incorporates a performance fit, reducing any extra baggage that may slow you down or lose energy by swimming. The Flexfilm upper is very breathable and stretches just enough to give you that locked down feel without killing your toes. You should expect these to be pretty snug against your foot, but don’t let that turn you away. The midsole is quite firm, with almost zero torsional flex. The outsole is the most noticeable difference from the A5, with the little rubber triangles done away with and replaced with a much more traditional blown rubber outsole. There also less holes for catching rocks, one of the common complaints in the A5 model. I also noticed that heel seems to be narrower in the newer shoe, which is probably why the midfoot feels rather sloppy.
The Type A6 is a great, true speed flat. The low heel-to-toe drop (4mm) is one that appeals well to my running style, and sits much lower than some other flats like Brooks and Nike. These shoes are stupid light, sitting at just 5.5 ounces in a size 9. When these arrived in the mail, I truly thought the box was empty. These shoes truly disappear on your foot, and I love how easy it is to get up on your toes in them. The colorway that I received (Vizi Orange) is also a nice change from all my other red, blue, and black shoes.
Although the toes and heel feel locked down in the upper, I can’t help but feel like there’s a bit of slack around the midfoot that could cause some issues. I also don’t particular like how much longer the tongue in on this model, feeling like it is creeping up my shin.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Type A5 and Type A6 based on pure metrics:
Stack Heights: 16mm (heel), 12mm (toe)
Heel to toe drop: 4mm
Stack Heights: 17mm (heel), 13mm (toe)
Heel to toe drop: 4mm
Somehow, Saucony managed to take a great shoe, add a millimeter of stack height across the board, more rubber to the outsole, AND reduce the weight over a quarter of an ounce. This might not seem like much, but every fraction of an ounce can be the difference between a PR and staggering across the finish line with cinder blocks for feet. I believe that the Type A6 is a moderate to good-moderate improvement over the A5. If you have the option of one or the other, I would definitely go for the contemporary model, but if you’re like me and holding a cardboard sign for race entry, you will still get a great shoe with A5. Either way, the Saucony Type A6 is a great shoe for someone looking for a flat for those local 5ks where you want to get outkicked by local junior high standout. I mean COME ON! HE’S ONLY 13! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LOSE TO SOMEONE WHO’S 13!