Saucony Axon review and lab test
Saucony with a bargain speedster!
The Saucony Axon is a fast, rockered, daily trainer built off the amazingly successful Endorphin platform. It’s designed for the budget-conscious or those that just don’t think running shoes should be $160-250 (that’s me by the way).
- Fits wider feet
- Super breathable
- Smooth transitions
- No heel slipping
- No break-in period needed
- Surprisingly light
- Bargain at just $100
- A bit stiff
- Lacks spring
- Foot slides forward
- Odd fulcrum point under toes
Who the shoe is (not) for
Buy this shoe if you want a rockered, fast transitioning, neutral daily trainer that’s durable and affordable.
Skip the Axon if:
- you want something plush and easy on your legs (go with the Triumph 18 instead),
- you’re seeking great lockdown and high-tech race performance shoe (consider the Endorphin Speed then), or
- you need a stability daily trainer (due to overpronation), then look at Saucony Guide 14.
Saucony Axon hugs your foot
The Axon is built for comfort overall and the fit is accommodating to a wide variety of foot shapes. The mesh upper has plenty of stretch to it, allowing it to flex and move with your foot. My wide feet felt great in the ample toe box giving me plenty of room to wiggle my toes.
The stretchy, semi-gusseted tongue hugs your foot nicely without getting in the way, and at 6.1mm the tongue is padded but not overly plush.
Better for heel strikers
I think if you are a heel striker and can utilize the full motion of the rockered design you may like this shoe more, but as a forefoot striker I wanted more pep than the shoe was willing to give.
It’s efficient and rolls smoothly under foot, but for me, it just wasn’t soft enough to truly enjoy.
The shoe’s upper is super breathable which I like. It would work well on warm days.
No heel slipping in Saucony Axon
I didn’t experience any heel slip thanks to the ample padding in the ankle collar (9.3, 12.3, 13.4mm Front/Middle/Back).
Saucony Axon pushes you forward
The Axon’s rocker is interesting. There’s a definite fulcrum point where the shoe really wants to put you onto your toes. You can feel the shoe aggressively rolling forward on every step, which makes for an efficient gait.
The one con of this design is the shoe tended to encourage my toes to slide forward into the front of the upper. Without lacing these up extremely tight I foresee this being an issue on long runs as my toes were feeling a bit jammed.
But, the upper is just stretchy enough that I was sliding forward through the roll of the shoe.
My feet constantly felt like they were pushing up against the front of the upper which bothered me by the end of my test runs.
Stiffer means faster
Saucony did create a comfortable shoe in the Axon but it’s not plush. I like the upper, but the midsole is a bit dense. It feels stiff under foot, which has pros and cons. It’s stable and well-balanced, but I would have preferred it to be a bit softer.
The stiffer midsole is however aided by a rockered design which pushes you into faster transitions effortlessly. The smooth roll through your gait does help make up for its overly stiff construction.
There is no pop
However, the shoe feels to disappear a bit when you get to your toes. I was expecting some pop at toe-off, but it never materialized. I think this is intentional in the design but it confused me throughout my tests and I was left wanting some more response for unknown reasons.
Ultimately, I wanted more spring out of the Axon, but it’s a budget trainer and for a few more bucks Saucony does that nearly perfectly with the Endorphin Speed and its PB/Nylon plate midsole.
Great out of the box
There’s really no break-in period on the Saucony Axon. The upper is stretchy enough to accommodate most feet right out of the box.
One thing I would be interested in is seeing how this shoe feels after 100 miles, if it softens up in the midsole a bit it could be a more interesting pic to me.
Saucony Axon is surprisingly light
At 9.75 ounces (277g) the Axon is surprisingly light for a shoe with this much foam under foot (29.8mm stack in the forefoot, and 35.3mm in the heel).
It’s no ultralight, but weighing under 10 ounces is commendable for a daily trainer and to be honest, it’s lighter than the Endorphin Shift, which is amazingly similar to this shoe (4mm drop, PWRRUN midsole, similar stack heights) and $40 more.
The Saucon Axon is truly a budget shoe in a few ways. It’s lighter than most on the pocketbook at $100 retail, but I also think it’s a durable shoe that can go 400-500 miles.
The carbon rubber outsole at 82.5HC durometer is stiffer than average shoes (75.1HC) which means it should wear slowly and the firm midsole shouldn’t pack out for a long time.
Per mile, the Axon may be one of the better deals out there.
Saucony Axon is visible at night
Look at that shiny logo.
I like that Saucony has a shoe at $100 that is not like most $100 shoes. It’s built on an interesting design and to me feels a lot like the more expensive Endorphin Shift.
I personally don't see the need to spend the money on the Shift, when you can have the Axon. I think it could make a great partner to the Endorphin Speed if you need a second shoe in your lineup at a decent price.
However, I found it a bit too stiff for long slow days where your legs need a break, and not responsive or poppy enough for really fast efforts. It falls in an odd middle ground which I’m not sure many people have a need for.
In the end, as a budget shoe, it can do a lot for those that only want/need one shoe.
Complete lab-specs overview
|Saucony Freedom 4|
|Weight - Left||281|
|Weight - Right||277|
|Weight - Insole||28|
|Weight - Lace (oz)||0.141|
|Length - Overall||292.33|
|Length - Insole||276.34|
|Width Midsole - Forefoot||114.5|
|Width Midsole - Heel||90.3|
|Width Midsole - Middle||74.8|
|Width Upper - Forefoot||98.6|
|Width Upper - Heel||71.1|
|Width Upper - Middle||75.8|
|Stack - Forefoot with insole||29.8|
|Stack - Heel with insole||35.3|
|Stack - Forefoot without insole||25.8|
|Stack - Heel without insole||31.4|
|Outsole thickness (Forefoot)||4.28|
|Outsole thickness (Heel)||3.67|
|Laces (without stretch)||46.5|
|Laces (with stretch)||58.5|
|Laces - Thickness (Height)||1.2|
|Laces - Width||6.4|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Room temperature)||82.5|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature)||82.7|
|Outsole % of change from Heel to Forefoot (Room temperature)||0.20%|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Room temperature)||22.7|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Room temperature)||N/A|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature)||21.5|
|Durometer Insole (Room temperature)||30.5|
|Flexibility of the shoe||48.2|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour)||85.8|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour)||84.7|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (Freezer 1 hour)||27.0|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot 2nd layer (Freezer 1 hour)||N/A|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (Freezer 1 hour)||24.0|
|Durometer Insole (Freezer 1 hour)||36.7|
|Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 1 hour)||57.3|
|Durometer Outsole Forefoot (% change with temperature)||4.04%|
|Durometer Outsole Heel (% change with temperature)||2.42%|
|Durometer Midsole Forefoot (% change with temperature)||19.12%|
|Durometer Midsole Heel (% change with temperature)||11.63%|
|Durometer Insole (% change with temperature)||20.22%|
|Flexibility of the shoe (% change with temperature)||18.86%|
|Thickness - Heel Counter/Insert||0.9|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Front)||9.3|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Middle)||12.3|
|Thickness - Ankle Collar (Back)||13.4|
|Thickness - Tongue||6.1|
|Flexibility of the heel counter||61.5|
|Lace slip test with the knot||17.6|
|Longitudinal flexibility (0-5)||2|
|Torsional flexibility (0-5)||2|
|Heel counter material||Starched fabric|
|Tongue: gusset type||both sides|
|Tongue gusset material||Stretchy nylon|
|Laces: extra hole||yes|
|Laces: are they long enough to use the extra hole||yes|
|Heel: pull tab||none|
Rigid heel counter
Elevated medial insole under arch
Supportive tensioned medial upper
Thermoplastic medial post
|How minimalist the shoe is in %||28|
Note: all the tests were done on a men's shoe US size 9.