Made for blue-sky running on high alpine trails, the Cyklons are a very distinctive and protective running shoe, which continue to impress long after you have got past their futuristic look.
- Extremely secure fit
- Good ankle stability
- No grit can get in
- Initially tricky to get on
- Less breathable than some other trail shoes
- Drain slower than other trail shoes
La Sportiva Cyklon: first impressions
Wow. That’s your involuntary exclaim when you bust La Sportiva Cyklon out of the box. Launched in spring, these do not look like your average trail-running shoe, largely because they are not your average trail-running shoe.
Prompted by both by the name and the look – which features an unusually high collar and a futuristic fastening system – the first thing I compared the Cyklon to was a cycling bootie. But a high-flying running shoe they are, and a very impressive one at that.
Designed for mid- to long-distance mountain runs (see how to choose trail running shoes for more advice), the Cyklon’s most arresting feature is the ‘Dynamic Cage’, where three large fabric wings are pulled as tight as you like across your forefoot by a funky BOA lacing system with a dial. To release, you just lift the dial up and all the tension on the cord relaxes.
The Cyklons have a stabilizer in the mid sole, a well constructed, performance-orientated upper and an excellent outer sole with deep and well-spaced lugs that offer superb grip on the rocky, mountainous terrain they were designed for. But really, in terms of first impressions, it’s all about the Dynamic Cage on these shoes.
• RRP: $160 (US) / £140 (UK)
• Weight (per shoe): 315g / 11oz
• Drop: 7mm
• Materials: Breathable anti-abrasion mesh upper, with thermo-adhesive TPU reinforcements; mesh lining with high-abrasion resistance; OrthoLite mountain running footbed; MEMlex Eva midsole with shock absorbing and double density injection with stabilizer insert; FriXion White ultra adherent sole; BOA laces
• Colors: Men’s Black & Yellow / Neon & Goji Women’s Mineral & Ink / Hibiscus & Malibu Blue
• Compatibility: All-terrain trail running, but particularly skyracing and mid- to long-distance runs in the mountains
La Sportiva Cyklon: in action
Getting them on
The dial-up BOA lacing system and the wings-and-loops cage that pulls the chassis of these shoes tight across the top of your foot makes the Cyklons look rad, and they feel pretty special too…once you manage to get your feet into them.
Initially, I really struggled to get these shoes on – not for the first time in my life (ahhhh), I felt like one of the ugly sisters trying to cram my horrible hoof into Cinderella’s slipper. I crushed my fingers, swore loudly and even thought about improvising some sort of shoehorn – which is not really what you want when you’re just trying to get out the door and go for a run.
However, whether it’s the material stretching a bit after some more use (I’ve run nearly 100km in them now – on terrain ranging from coastal paths to singletrack in the Devon hills), or the fact that I have refined my prince-pulling technique, I can now slide them on easily. So my first bit of advice is, don’t be put off if you too find yourself fighting to get them on at the beginning. This morning I had them on in seconds and was out for run that I recorded on Komoot.
The only thing I now worry about is the BOA system’s cord or dial failing. Although there is no indication that this will happen any time soon, such a failure would be catastrophic – but even this worst-case scenario is highly unlikely to happen mid-run – more so when you’re putting them on.
Once they’re on, and you have dialed the BOA system tight, these are the most secure, confidence-gifting shoes I’ve ever run in. The tight, foot-cradling fit, combined with the inner sock that runs up to just below the ankle, all make you feel fully protected against anything even the most technical trail might throw at you, hopefully helping to reduce chances of any trail running injury
Cool cage and lacing system aside (because there really is more to these shoes than those attention-grabbing elements) the Cyklons provide a comfortable ride, with a decent amount of cushioning in the midsole.
The FriXion outsole performs well in most terrain, but really excels on steep rocky slopes, providing good traction, grip and control during ascents and descents. The lugs are aggressive, but arranged intelligently so they don’t collect too much mud when you are on softer stuff.
The trail feel is significantly dampened by the shock-absorbing tech in the midsole, but although the heel-to-toe drop is only 7mm, this is about as far from a minimalist shoe as you can find, and most runners wearing the Cyklon will always prioritize stability over tactile touchy feel factors.
Coping with water and grit
Because of the integrated sock, grit really can’t make its way into these shoes. The Cyklons are not waterproof, and don’t claim to be, but they are a bit sluggish to drain once a substantial amount of water does get in (after stream crossings for example) compared to lighter, more mesh-based trail shoes. In the mountains, where these are supposed to be worn, this isn’t such a big deal – I think they will deal with snow fairly well – but it’s worth knowing if you run in lower terrain where it’s wetter. They also run quite warm, which again will be more of a positive than a negative on higher alpine trails.
Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).
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