Known among trail runners for their hard core off-road running shoes, Salomon is dipping a toe into pavement running with their XR Crossmax shoe, slated for release in 2011. They haven't ditched their off-road roots completely, however-while the Crossmax is Salomon's most road-friendly shoe, it's still made primarily for the trail.
Being touted as a door-to-trail shoe, the Crossmax allows runners to transition from pavement to the trail with ease. I've been working over a sample pair for the last few months, and their claims of unmatched versatility ring true.
Right out the door, the Crossmax provided solid cushioning on the pavement. The ride was smooth, if a little firm (it's still a trail shoe). The shoe's 10-ounce weight (size 10.5) made it stand out from other trail runners, particularly on the pavement, and the upper's honeycomb fabric, when combined with Salomon's Quicklace system provided a snug fit.
The quicklace system makes for easy on-the-fly adjustment.
That light weight felt good on pavement, but didn't sacrifice protection when I hit the dirt. The heel's crash pad and firm midsole provided solid cushioning over rocks and roots, and the Contragrip sole kept its grip over sketchier singletrack.
What really set the Crossmox apart was the shoe's OverSize (OS) Tendon, a band of TPU that runs along the outsole and makes the shoe snap back into place when it's flexed. It really did provide a noticeable nudge when I pushed off with my toes, encouraging a quicker turnover. It literally put more spring into my step.
The OS Tendon (those two red lines) adds bounce to your run.
Durability isn't an issue, either. Usually, lighter shoes don't fare well in rough terrain, but the Crossmax survived my hairiest trail runs with minimal abrasion. I especially appreciated the low-profile protection in the toecap, as I tend to daydream, which can lead to many a stubbed toe.
Overall, the XR Crossmax performed admirably both on the road and in the dirt; it's an all-terrain vehicle for your feet. If you live near a trail or just want one shoe for all your runs, it's definitely worth a look.
Take a closer look at Salomonrunning.com.