Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 3 Review | Low Drop (3mm) Road Running Shoes

Topo Fli-Lyte 3 Review

The Topo Flylite 3 is Topo’s lightweight training shoe. Light enough to race in (M UK8 210g, W UK5 175g) but cushioned enough to do all your mileage in. The heel to forefoot difference is 3mm (23mm at heel and 20mm in the forefoot). So this is a shoe designed for those who already midfoot strike or those that want to run more efficiently and start to.

Spacious Toe Box

All Topo shoes have a broad and rounded toe box. This is more foot shaped than the more traditional pointed toe box and gives your feet room to function inside the shoes. On impact your foot should naturally spread out to help stabilise and cushion. The spreading stretches out the planta fascia on the bottom of your foot, which is like a big elastic band, and helps spring you off the floor into your next stride. Running in shoes that don’t have the space for this to take place can cause problems like planta fasciitis, blisters, bunions, hard skin, pins and needles, mortons neurome and other ailments that are caused by the foot being restricted.

If you’re not used to this shaped forefoot, they can feel a little big when you first put them on. However, once you have wondered around in them for a while you realise how comfortable they feel. If you have been wearing running shoes and other shoes with a more pointed toe box then you will often find that your feet don’t spread on impact at first. This is because all the muscles and joints in the feet have become a little lazy or stuck! However after a short time the feet do loosen up and then you’ll enjoy the benefits. Customers then often comment on how springy the shoes are. In reality it isn’t the shoes that are giving the runner a springy feel it is their feet! The shoes just give your feet the space and the ground feel for them to operate.

Fli-Lyte 2 vs Fli-Lyte 3

The upper of the Fli-Lyte 3 is an engineered mesh. This means that the upper is thicker where it needs to be and open and breathable in other areas. There are no additional overlays or stitch lines to give the shoe any additional structure. This makes the upper very soft and supple. The upper moulds around your foot  at the heel and midfoot when you put it on. Then the rounded toe box allows your toes to feel free. This upper is the real change between the Fli-Lyte 2 and the Fli-Lyte 3. I enjoyed running in the Fli-Lyte 2 and didn’t have any complaints but, now I have tried the Fli-Lyte 3 I wouldn’t go back. The upper just makes the shoe feel lighter and less restrictive. The midsole feels more flexible yet it is the same as in the previous model. So, it must be the suppleness of the upper that it allowing the shoe to flex.

Other Notes on Fit & Feel

I found the heel fit to be much better than in the Fli-Lyte 2. The padding is less intrusive and softer. There is also no plastic heel cup so the heel of the shoe moulds around all the lumps and bumps of your heel giving a perfect fit.

The cushioning feels like it is just enough. It doesn’t feel ‘squishy’, yet not hard either. I wouldn’t describe the ride as firm and responsive, but something in the middle. They are very easy to run in, faster and slower. With firmer shoes you feel a call for speed, so as not to thump your foot down, but stay light and nimble. You can jog in then, run steady in them, do intervals in them and they just seem to work.

As it’s been so dry on the trails and I have enjoyed running in them do much I have even been using the Topo Fli-Lyte 3 for my mixed long runs on a Sunday morning. As you would expect from a light road shoe you can feel the rock coming through the shoes when your on a rocky trail but, this doesn’t take away from how easy I found the shoes are to run in. Even after a hilly three hour plus run I could just forget that I had shoes on my feet.

One point worth mentioning is that due to the soft feeling upper and roomy toe box, your foot is therefore not ‘locked in’ to these road running shoes. If you were to run fast around bends, you may feel some movement (as expected) but I don’t see how this will hold you back. Plus I have very low volume and quite narrow feet, so this might not be noticeable to those with broader, higher volume feet.

The trade off the manufactures face is that if you put some overlays in the shoes to lock the foot in place, the foot isn’t free to move and function as much. The Altra Escalante has the same feeling, perhaps a touch more so, as the Escalante has a very comfortable knitted upper that has a bit of stretch to it. This is a very minor negative and I feel that most runners won’t notice it.

Size wise I found the Topo Fli-Lyte 3 to be a smaller fit then other Topo shoes and I went up half a size. This has been the same for most of our shop customers.

Comparable Shoes

Altra Escalante

Zero drop with a rounded toe box. It has a very similar fit. The upper is knitted which gives it a softer feel than the Flylite but, knitted uppers soak up more moisture in the wet and have a degree of stretch. If you have bunions, hammer toes etc then this stretch is good. The ride of the Escalante I found to be softer. They are similarly flexible and light. There is a racer version that is firmer and more responsive. The upper of the Altra Escalante Racer has less stretch so hold you onto the shoe better when corners. Although for most runners these will be too firm to use everyday.

Altra Escalante Racer vs Escalante:

On Cloudflow

The clouds on the bottom of On shoes are designed to allow the foot to function. The Cloudflow is a lightweight racer trainer but, has a much softer feel than the Topo Flylite 3. The toe box is the more traditional pointed shape but, with an engineered mesh that has a bit of stretch. The idea being that the foot can still function but, the Cloudflow has more of the traditional snug fit. The heel to forefoot difference is 7mm so these would suit a heel striker as well as a midfoot striker. The shoe is also very flexible.

New  Balance 890

Similar to the Cloudflow this is a shoe that is suitable for both heel and midfoot strikers. The heel to forefoot is 6mm. The upper is a very soft engineered mesh. The toe box is more the traditional pointed toe. The New Balance 890 v7 has a lovely curve to the outsole that helps quicken your cadence and gives you a nice flowing style.


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