Topo Athletic Cyclone Review | Low Drop Road Running & Racing Shoes

Topo shoes are designed to give your feet the space to function. They all have a broad and rounded toe box so your feet can spread on impact. This means that your feet stabilise you. The planta fascia gets stretched to absorb the impact and then recoils and springs you into your next step. The foot function allows your feet to get stronger as you build up your running.

For you to land on your midfoot with your foot under your centre of gravity all Topo shoes have a low heel to forefoot drop, ranging from 5mm down to zero. The stiffness and cushioning level of the shoes varies depending on the intended use.

The Topo Cyclone is designed for quicker road running. Tempo or steady runs, interval sessions and races up to the marathon distance. The Cyclone is a new shoe but replaces the Topo Athletic Zephyr, which was Topo’s previous racer/trainer. The main difference is that the pebax plate in the midsole of the Zephry has been removed and the upper of the Cyclone is considerably lighter.

Topo also make the Fli-Lyte 3, which is also a light shoe designed for faster running. How they differ is that the Fli-lyte 3 has a midsole made of EVA. This gives the shoe a softer ride and makes it more flexible. However the rebound doesn’t last when running for longer distances. The Cyclone maintains a springier feel to the cushioning when running longer runs or races. The Zipfoam in the Cyclone is also more durable so the cushioning will last longer than the cushioning in the Fli-Lyte 3.

As with all Topo shoes, the forefoot gives my foot enough room to spread. My toes can wiggle freely. The feel to the cushioning is on the firmer side, which not only makes the shoe more responsive and faster but also lets your feet ‘know’ that they have hit the ground. If the cushioning is too soft and pillow like, then your foot doesn’t ‘know’ it has hit something hard and doesn’t spread on impact. This means that you are totally dependent on the shoe to cushion and stabilise you as well as spring you into your next stride. Also as your foot isn’t functioning in the shoe it doesn’t get any stronger either. This doesn’t mean that the Cyclones feel hard though. The cushioning just doesn’t feel bottomless like a lot of softly cushioned shoes.

The Cyclone is a light shoe. It weighs in at 223g for a Men’s UK 8 and 181g for a Women’s UK 5. This is in a large part down to the upper. It’s a very light mesh that makes your toes feel very free. There is no plastic heel cup, which is great for those with bursars or heel spurs as the heel cup moulds to the shape of your heel. The Achilles tab is pulled down like you see in a lot of shoes these days (e.g Hoka Clifton & New Balance 1080). This makes the heel cup elastic and pulls in at the heel. This is designed to give a good heel fit even if you have narrow heels. The lightness of the upper and the lack of overlays make the fit feel quite loose.

What weight there is to the shoes is in the midsole. It is 28mm thick in the heel and 23mm in the forefoot. This gives the Topo Cyclone a 5mm heel to forefoot drop. The midsole is compressed EVA to give the shoes a soft and flexible feel. Then there is a Zipfoam insert in the centre of the midsole. This is more resilient foam, making the cushioning more durable than it would be if it was just EVA. Zipfoam also has more rebound, which gives the shoes a nice bouncy feel.

Although the cushioning is quite durable, for most runners the Cyclone will be a little bit too firm for slower recovery runs and like most shoes designed for quicker running they come into their own when you raise the pace!

For my first run out in these I did an hour and a half steady. The cushioning felt like it was just enough and the upper feels like it isn’t there! The broad base of the shoe gives it a stable ride. The flex in the midsole gives the shoe a bit of spring. They aren’t super flexible or flimsy in any way, so you feel like there is something to push against when you want to pick up the pace.

There are a lot of shoes on the market at the moment with ‘propulsion systems’. By that I mean rockers or carbon plates designed to do some or all of the work of your feet. Topo shoes are designed to allow your feet to function and to land on the ground under your centre of gravity. When this happens you naturally fall forward and increase your cadence. This makes you ‘feel’ lighter on your feet and as a result faster.

In summary the Topo Cyclone is a good consideration for those picking up the pace during training or racing, with a softer shoe for those more relaxed recovery runs.

Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle

Other Considerations

Hoka Mach 4: The Hoka Mach 4 is narrower than the Cyclone. The rocker in the shoes is designed to help promote a quicker cadence. The cushioning in the forefoot is much thinner than in the Cyclone.

Altra Escalante: These have a similar shaped toe box but, a less cushioned ride. Here is our review:
The shoes are here:

Brooks Tempo: These have a nitrogen infused midsole that is very durable and a rocker that gives a smooth feel to the ride.

New Balance tempo review:

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