Saucony Kinvara Pro Introduction
If you are wondering about the Kinvara Pro and why it exists, here is my take on it. The Endorphin Speed 3 is supposed to be the training companion of the Endorphin Pro 3 and the Endorphin Elite but if you’ve ever run in it, you would have noticed that it feels nothing like the Saucony super shoes. It has a nylon plate in its midsole so it’s very flexible. The midsole foam is also very soft and it feels like a daily trainer, not a speed trainer.
Many runners use the Endorphin Speed 3 for daily training because it has a comfortable ride with relaxed transitions. I feel that it’s too relaxed for my speedwork– I prefer something stiffer and more propulsive when I want to pick up the pace.
Saucony must have realised that there’s a gap in their product offering, so they created the Kinvara Pro, a stiff, cheaper, more durable version of the marathon racers. The Kinvara Pro doesn’t have much in common with the regular Kinvara 14. They both have PWRRUN outsoles with not much outsole rubber but that’s where the similarities end.
Why the name Kinvara Pro? The Kinvara has been one of the most popular Saucony running shoes over the past decade so it makes sense for them to ride on a name that’s already well-known in the running universe rather than build up a brand new name.
The Kinvara Pro is equipped with Saucony’s high end technology like PWRRUN PB midsole foam, a ¾ length carbon plate and SpeedRoll geometry. It weighs 9.5 oz (269 g) for a men’s US 9 which is much heavier than the Kinvara 14. The Kinvara 14 weighs only 7 oz (198 g). It also has a massive 42mm/34mm midsole compared to the regular Kinvara 14’s 31mm/27mm.
The Kinvara Pro costs $180, the same price as other premium speed trainers like the Hoka Mach X and the New Balance SuperComp Trainer v2 but it costs $10 more than the Endorphin Speed 3.
Could this be the Saucony speed trainer that bridges the gap between the daily trainers and the racers?
Saucony Kinvara Pro First Impressions
I was lucky enough to see a sample version of the Kinvara Pro back in April this year. I didn’t get to try it on back then but when I held it in my hands, I was surprised how stiff it was- it didn’t flex at all, even with a lot of force.
This was surprising to me because it only has a 3 quarter-length plate in its midsole. Other shoes with 3 quarter-length plates like the Reebok Energy X and Skechers Speed Beast are much more flexible.
My first run was an 11km easy one and although it was a slow run (not what it’s designed for), I enjoyed it thoroughly. Transitions felt super smooth, it felt stable and the fit was perfect. I could feel the SpeedRoll rocker assisting me during transitions.
The shoe that it reminded me of was the Under Armour Velociti Elite because both shoes are stiff and don’t have any outsole rubber.
Landings felt very padded in both shoes however the Kinvara Pro had more cushioning depth due to the extra stack height. The Kinvara Pro also had a more prominent forefoot rocker than the Under Armour super shoe.
Saucony Kinvara Pro Upper
The Kinvara Pro’s upper resembles the upper of the Kinvara 14 but the main difference is that the mesh of the Pro feels thicker, harder and not as breathable. I find it really comfortable and true to size but it’s a narrow-fitting shoe so I don’t recommend it if you have wide feet.
There’s an internal heel counter and foot lockdown is amazing without even needing to use a runner’s knot. The flat tongue is semi-gusseted and even though there’s no loop in the middle of the tongue for the laces to go through, there’s no tongue slide because it has some padding in it (unlike the Kinvara 14).
The logo on the midfoot is reflective and a heel pull tab is also provided. There’s padding around the collar so it’s comfortable around the ankles however it does soak up a lot of water if you run in the rain or you sweat a lot.
Saucony Kinvara Pro Sole Unit
The Kinvara Pro is everything that I want from a speed trainer, that the Endorphin Speed is not. The Pro feels stiff, propulsive and snappy so it’s suitable for speed workouts and uptempo runs if you enjoy the stiff feeling of a super shoe.
It has a 3 quarter-length plate inside its midsole but it feels like a full-length plate because the midsole doesn’t flex at all. The plate gives the midsole some structure (for stability) and it also enhances the forefoot rocker so that it feels efficient/energy-saving. That’s a big difference between the Speed and the Kinvara Pro: they both have SpeedRoll but it works much better in the Pro because the forefoot doesn’t flex.
The Kinvara Pro is a versatile trainer which can be used for easy paces above 6 minutes per km (9:40 per mile), all the way down to 4 minutes 30 per km (7:14 per mile). It has a wide base so it’s stable when you’re going slowly and it has a punch provided by the stiff carbon plate when you want to pick up the pace. For me it feels best at moderate paces around 4:45 minutes per km (7:39 per mile).
I did a speed workout consisting of 400 m intervals in the Kinvara Pro and I found it a little bit too much shoe. I prefer something lighter and more agile for the really fast stuff.
The Kinvara Pro utilises 3 of Saucony’s midsole foams: PWRRUN, PWRRUN and PWRRUN PB yet the ride still feels cohesive and balanced. The sockliner is made of PWRRUN+ which provides a layer of squishiness directly under your feet. Underneath the sockliner is PWRRUN PB, a Peba foam which is energetic and cushioned. Lastly, there’s a thick layer of firm, PWRRUN EVA foam at the bottom for durability and stability.
I crave a little bit more PWRRUN PB foam in the midsole of the Kinvara Pro. I find the ride a little flat when compared to other speed trainers like the Hoka Mach X and the NB SuperComp Trainer v2. It has noticeably less bounce and energy return because of how much PWWRUN EVA foam there is in the midsole.
The heel stack height is 2 mm above the legal limit for official World Athletics races but I doubt any elites or sub-elites will be using the Kinvara Pro for competition, mainly because of its weight. Its substantial 9.5 oz weight prevents it from being a viable race day option for fast runners.
Long, slow runs are really enjoyable in the Kinvara Pro. The longest run that I did was 40 km and my legs felt comfortable the entire run. The stiff forefoot rocker made it feel efficient and easy to get into a rhythm.
The outsole of the Kinvara Pro wears down a little bit faster than the regular running shoe because it doesn’t have any rubber on it but it’s a lot more durable than the Under Armour Velociti Elite which also has a rubberless outsole.
On my pair, there’s noticeable wear on the outer lateral heels but it’s a thick slab of PWRRUN on the bottom so I don’t think outsole wear will be a big issue unless you are a heavy heel striker. Traction is excellent because the outsole is so soft. I ran in heavy rain during a heel sprints session and I didn’t slip at all.
Saucony Kinvara Pro Conclusions
Saucony markets the Kinvara Pro as a daily trainer but that’s just to appeal to a wider audience. There are far better Saucony daily trainers which are more relaxed and more flexible like the Ride and the Triumph series. The Kinvara Pro is more similar to a racer than a trainer.
In the Saucony lineup, you previously had to shell out $225 for the Endorphin Pro 3 or $275 for the Endorphin Elite if you wanted a stiff, carbon-plated ride. Now with the Kinvara Pro available, it’s a much more affordable option at only $180.
I prefer the Kinvara Pro to the Endorphin Speed 3 because it feels less like a daily trainer. It’s much easier to pick up the pace in the Kinvara Pro and the ride is a lot more stable. It will definitely stay in my marathon training rotation.
Compared to the Hoka Mach X and the NB SuperComp Trainer v2, currently my 2 favourite speed trainers, the Kinvara Pro has a firmer and stiffer ride.
It also doesn’t have as much energy due to its firmer midsole foams but it has the most stable ride. It slots right in between the other 2.
I prefer the Mach X for fast paces (racing & intervals), the SuperComp Trainer v2 for slow paces (easy & recovery) and the Kinvara Pro for moderate paces (steady & long runs).
If I could only pick one, I’d pick the Mach X because it’s the best all-rounder.