And about one year ago, K-SWISS had decided to venture into the running scene especially in the Triathlon events. They decided to launch a model in conjunction with the KONA Ironman, Hawaii 2008.....and we got the model K-Ona.
K-Ona is a low profile trainer. It's an ultra-light model weighing at 9oz (US9) and a stable running shoe perfect for fast days. races and triathlons. The design of the shoe looks very pure with a white body coupled with the famous K-SWISS 5 stripe branding (gold) across both sides of the shoe. The K-SWISS red logo was well positioned just at the rear of the shoe. I got this model from the regional sales personnel from K-SWISS to wear test the model and obviously have to give my reviews and feedback on the model itself.
My way of testing the shoe goes according through the following phases.
1) Run-in the shoe - Do a few short runs with it and let my feet adapt to the shoe. The short runs will be a combination of slow pace and faster ones.
2) Running a half marathon distance LSD to test out how well the shoe will hold.
3) And lastly running a 25k and 30k LSD to find out if it performs well in longer runs (a way to find out if the shoe can support well for a marathon)
I did about 3 to 4 short runs (6k - 8k) on the shoe. The model give me a good feel experience and my first impression was it needs very little run-in before one can take it out for a longer run. But since this a wear test trial, I ensure the model will be fully tested to its maximum whereby the acid test is on a 25k and 30k run.
The immediate feel when I ran with it was its low profile design and light weight versus normal cushion trainers that I wore for my training. Although the feel is harder at the forefoot upon landing, there is sufficient cushioning to protect the feet. The low profile design gives the runner a very flexible and fast transition. One do not feel the bulkiness and rigidness of a standard cushion trainer.
The seamless upper made with super-comfortable and breathable mesh fabric, making it extremely easy to wear the K-Ona's and literally run with it. The inside of the shoe is made up of a fine breathable mesh layer with a larger honeycomb mesh on the outside. This inside layer actually hold the shoe together resulting in a very comfortable fit.
Support is done through a direct injected urethane support cage with five-stripe branding on top. Basically a hard piece of plastic holding the softer outer sole in place. Further support is provided by a rigid TPU midfoot shank – TPU being thermoplastic polyurethane, a harder rubber on the grip of the shoe.
To ensure breathability and have a cooling effect, the K-Ona is engineered by K-SWISS “Flow Cool System”. This is a harder plastic outer layer at the toe and heel portion with rows of small holes. You can really feel the System in action on a hard & fast run. All together this combination allows your foot to get overall breathability. On top of that these layers are reflective and illuminous ~ a plus point for running in the dark whether its early in the morning or a nite run.
Cushioning is provided by Superfoam technology, an Si-18 technology crash pad and a k-EVA midsole. The Superfoam cushioning of the outer sole was excellent without having to compromise on the weight of the shoe.
For moisture management, the insole have rows of breathing holes allowing any moisture from the soles of your feet to escape out through the ten vents in the outsole (as shown in the pictures above).
Durability is achieved with an Aosta® II rubber outsole. The compound used were not too hard and rigid and therefore it will give the runner a comfort ride yet durable enough for a couple of hundred Kms.
The Superfoam cushioning of the outer sole was excellent without compromising on the weight of the shoe. Overall cushioning of the K-Ona was very acceptable given a fact that its a low profile light weight trainer. Although the runner may feel some hardness when landing, but its a matter of getting use to it.
The K-Ona’s urethane support cage provides a moderate amount of control but as a lightweight trainer cum racing shoe it does not heavily resist over-pronation. If you have an over-pronating gait you might do better with more structural resistance to over-pronation model.
The K-Ona is a nicely responsive shoe with a good amount of spring from the landing. The Superfoam cushioning does absorb a significant amount of shock so if you are looking for a harder feel and perhaps more road feedback then perhaps a less cushioned shoe would do better for you. I would definitely recommend this shoe for longer sessions and/or races as your feet will never tired.
Overall GradingI wont be putting up a grading for the K-Ona but it will really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a light, fast shoe with great breathability and soft, but responsive cushioning to go the distance then this is the one. I will put my last dime on it that you will not go wrong.
I’m sure it is no accident that the name so closely resembles Kona!!!!