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).

Saucony Axon pieces of the shoe

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:

Saucony Axon profile photo

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. 

Super breathable

The shoe’s upper is super breathable which I like. It would work well on warm days. 

Upper on Saucony Axon

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 heel padding

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. 

Saucony Axon cut in half

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.

Lockdown issues 

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). 

Saucony Axon weight

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. 

Really durable

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. 

Saucony Axon outsole

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. 

Reflective elements on Saucony Axon

Conclusion 

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. 

Saucony Axon in the lab

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 Axon
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
Insole Thickness 3.8
Drop 5.5
Outsole thickness (Forefoot) 4.28
Outsole thickness (Heel) 3.67
Lugs Depth N/A
Laces (without stretch) 46.5
Laces (with stretch) 58.5
Lace Stretch  25.81%
Laces - Thickness (Height) 1.2
Laces - Width 6.4
Room temperature 59.5
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: profile  Flat
Laces: material Nylon
Laces: extra hole  yes
Laces: are they long enough to use the extra hole  yes
Heel: pull tab  none
Insole: removable yes
Control devices:
Multi-density midsole
Rigid heel counter
Elevated medial insole under arch
Supportive tensioned medial upper
Medial flare
Thermoplastic medial post

no
yes
yes
yes
yes
no

How minimalist the shoe is in % 28

Note: all the tests were done on a men's shoe US size 9. 

 

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 264g / Women 232g
Drop: 4mm
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: 31mm
Heel height: 35mm
Pronation: Neutral Pronation / Supination / Underpronation

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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.