Vasque Pendulum Review

At times, it does become difficult to anticipate how a shoe is going to be “new” or “different” underfoot with so many different tweaks and adjustments out there. And, this is made much more difficult when one begins to develop specific stereotypes for specific brands. We all do it… “Oh, I don’t run in those because X model 4 years ago totally didn’t fit my foot.” Soon, you have brands that you remain quite ambivalent towards because (1) history has taught you to be thus, and (2) the tweaks they are putting out just don’t seem that much different.

Guilty as charged. I’ve struggled to find a pair of Vasque’s that work well with my high-arch and low-volume feet. While the Transistors were a very appealing model, technologically-speaking, I just couldn’t get the support I needed from the FluxFoam footbed. However, I did covet the low ride and moldable foam design.

Enter the Vasque Pendulum ($110). The Pendulum is scheduled to break into the market after the new year (January 2013). At first glance, it appears that Vasque has just made a few adjustments to previous models to produce the Pendulum (or just melded a couple together). However, I was delighted to find that the Pendulum presents a significantly different (read: better) feel underfoot.

Vasque Pendulum

The Vasque Pendulum.

Upper
The samples I was provided by Vasque were in a screamingly-bright shade of red. It must be noted (again) that I love bright colors in my shoes and these certainly qualified. The upper is largely constructed of single-piece mesh. It is reinforced with substantial vinyl around the toes and heels. The upper caused no hot-spots for me and wore well against our common trail-foes of rocks and sticks. The mesh did allow a good amount of trail dust through, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary for this kind of shoe.

The upper’s construction is thin. There isn’t much in the way of padding around the ankle or in the tongue. Sometimes I rely on that additional padding to help a shoe conform to my skinny heels. However, in this case, the thinness of the upper did a fine job of staying close.

The fit of the Pendulum is tight in the heel and opens up generously into the toe box. I am becoming an increasingly bigger fan of ample toe room and this model provided that. I found the shoes were spot-on in sizing for me, no need to adjust up or down.

Vasque Pendulum - upper

A birds eye view of Pendulum’s upper.

Insole and Midsole
This is where Vasque really got into an odd “tweak.” The FluxFoam of the Transistor has been removed (best I can tell) from the footbed and into the insole. This adjustment to design seems surprising. Most shoe companies either provide $0.10 insoles with their shoes or some (Vasque included) have offered models that dump them all together. Moving a crucial piece of technology to the insole seemed odd. However, it works. I am uncertain how much the underlying last of the shoe changed from the Transistor, but the arch support and curve of the last feels more substantial and much more form-fitting.

The Pendulum also sports a 6mm drop height and a low over-all ride. While it is not the lowest-rider out there, it is a great choice for someone coming from a larger and higher-drop shoe.

Vasque Pendulum - lateral upper

The Pendulum’s lateral upper and midsole.

Outsole
The sole and traction on the Pendulum is pretty straightforward. The rubber is solid and has worn very well with time. Down the middle of the sole is a rigid rockplate. I find these become very nasty looking very quickly, as the rigid plastic scratches and remains scratched. However, the protection that the sole provides is top-notch. And, there are no problems with traction. It provided great footing in the late summer weather and should wear well into the shoulder season of fall (although the thin upper will prevent it from being a great winter shoe).

Vasque Pendulum - outsole

The Pendulum’s outsole.

Overall
The Pendulum should provide a surprisingly good fit for many folks who have, perhaps, tried Vasque’s in the past and found the fit to be wanting. This model is an excellent all-around trail shoe that should be able to handle some light road work without too much unnecessary wear (or tripping). While the wetness of winter will shelve these for me in about a month, they are a solid three-season shoe. No doubt that Vasque makes a well-built shoe and it is good to have the opportunity to finally put quite a few miles into a pair of theirs.

Adam Barnhart

discovered from an early age that he loved running , but didn't like starting guns. As a result, he is frequently found wandering the area trails around Anchorage, AK, but only at races after considerable peer-pressure is applied. When not trail running, Adam keeps pace with his wife and kids, works as a pastor and, with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.

There are 25 comments

  1. Dave

    Adam,

    Thank you for this review.

    I'm a believer in low drop shoes with a roomy toe box, so I am seriously curious about these.

    I currently run in the NB MT-110's, and I love them, but I am not able to make them work on longer distances over technical trails. I just need more protection. I know you also reviewed the MT-110, so I'd be interested to know your impressions about how the Pendulum compares to the MT-110 in the area of protection on technical trail. Also, do you happen to know whether Vasque plans to release these in a Wide size?

    Thanks again!

    Dave

    1. Adam Barnhart

      Hi Dave!

      Sadly, I didn't do the MT110 review. And, to date, haven't added a pair of them to my shoe stable. However, I have a brother who runs in them and have handled them, so I'll give it a swing.

      I will say, for the drop, the construction is robust. I don't think it would much of a stretch to say they would offer more protection that MT110's. You have to take a pretty serious rock to feel it in the forefoot… and would have to nearly twist an ankle to feel it in the heel.

      Hope that helps! If not, I may have to convince the wife I need to pick up a pair of 110's for important research!

      Also, I am following up with Vasque on the wide-size question.

      Best!

      Adam

      1. Dave

        Hi Adam,

        I realized after posting that someone else reviewed the MT-110. Your comments do help, but I'm not one to stand in the way of research. ;) The 110s are a great shoe, but I can't make them work for ultra distances on technical trails, as proven by a recent 50K.

        I look forward to hearing back about the Wide size, and hoping the answer is "yes".

        Thanks!

        Dave

  2. Mike

    Thanks for the review. A note to the Editor. It seems like after every shoe review on iRF, someone immediately posts "Do they come in wide." This should be information, like price, that is just mandatory for every review.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Mike, as suggested by the very small number of trail shoes that come in widths, this is something that is of concern to a small (very vocal) minority. I've considered it and think it's a factor that's left in the comments.

      1. Mike

        I wouldn't assume that there are few wide-footed trail runners just because there are few wide running shoe offerings. New Balance built a brand on the inverse assumption. Great work on the site!

        1. Dave

          Bryon,

          I'm not trying to bust on you or the site (think you're doing a great job), but I have to agree with Mike about trail runners with wide feet. Right off the bat, I can name 3 that I run with regularly.

          If we find a shoe we can run in, we tend to stick with it, unless something changes. It's also not unusual to "make do" with an ill-fitted shoe, if the shoe other-wise meets our needs. We do things like remove the sock-liners, buy a size larger, wear the thinnest socks we can find, and play with alternate lacing methods, to get a fit we can tolerate. Personally, I've resorted to all of those tricks on the same pair of shoes. If you throw in a zero (or reduced) drop heel, it's even worse.

          If Altra made their shoes in a wide, they'd probably have a customer for life in me.

          Respectfully,

          Dave

          1. Adam St.Pierre

            Dave- Have you tried on Altra shoes? The toe box is enormously spacious and I find the heel wider than most shoes. I've run in the Lone Peak and the Intuition, perhaps they've narrowed in the newer models, but the older ones are super wide. I can't imagine what they would look like any wider!

    2. Adam Barnhart

      Being from the other end of the genetic pool (skinny v. wide feet), I feel your pain. Vetting shoes before purchase is tough.

      A couple of quick thoughts:

      – Bryon does a great job of getting information shuttled to where it needs to go on the site. His job is huge. Something such as this should probably fall on the reviewer's shoulders. I hear your thought and will try to incorporate in sizing when possible. That being said…

      – With pre-release or other shoes, the companies don't always provide all the information we could want/need for a review and certainly not everything the whole community could use. A friendly/helpful reminder in the comments doesn't hurt! We are happy to track down the information, if possible!

    1. Adam Barnhart

      Great question, Dutch. I'm getting the specific measurements from Vasque for you as my comments were based on my experience in the shoes. I'll let you know as soon as I do!

  3. KenZ

    Hi Adam,

    Any info on the weight (standard men's size 9)? I'm always on the lookout for a good 100k-100m shoe. (*I will note that another reader here suggested the Gel Fuji Racer to me in another forum; purchased and really like! But I always like options.)

    1. Adam Barnhart

      Hey Ken,

      As seen below, 10.6 in a size 9. It was previewed as being an "under 10oz" shoe, so it's a bit of a bummer to see it come in above. However, with the fullness of the build, it is not a huge surprise.

  4. Brian Hall

    Hi All,

    I'm the director of product development at Vasque and wanted to chime in on some of the questions.

    The Pendulum will not be offered in widths intitally. Stack heights are 13mm forefoot and 19mm heel for a 6mm drop. Also a note on the rock plate; it is solid in the midfoot, but in the forefoot it is segmented making the shoe more flexible, yet it locks up and protects the foot when you point load it. The last is a modified version of what the Transistor was built on. Less toe height (without changing the toe width) and adjusted for a 6mm heel stack instead of the 10mm in the Transistor. Price will be $110 available in February. Men's size 9 is 10.6 oz.

  5. Mer

    Guys:

    Timely review! Tucson's having a dip in temps, so optimistically plotting the rain dance put on my 1x used Vasque Transitor Gortex when heading out on the trail at o-dark-thirty this morning. Having spent the better part of last season in Hoka Bondi Bs, trepidation loomed, my mind raced as I stretched out separating from the marshmallows.

    Surprise!

    Herein lies why I became so fond of Vasque in the first place. High arches. Skinny heels. Bunion. Need toe room. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Couldn't wait to get home and read the Pendulum review I shelved yesterday.

    Winner.

    $100 lighter come January.

    Diggin' it,

    Mer

  6. Anonymous

    Adam,

    I have tried on the original Altra Instincts and the Provisions, but I didn't buy either because they were too narrow. I'm a Wide (EE), but I stay wide through the mid-foot (where most shoes start to narrow), and I have a high instep. If I remove the sock liner, the pronation support … and wear thin socks, then the Provision is passable in the mid-foot where I have issues. Believe me, I've tried.

    FYI – I was told the 2nd gen Instincts are narrower.

  7. Pete

    Dave,

    I was fortunate (or very lucky) to grab a pair as well to test. Before these shoes, I have worn NB MT-101 and MT110 and sandals covering over 50+ miles runs all on trails, including the Grand Canyon RRR. I would have to say that the Pendulum provides better protection than the MT110. The MT110 are lighter but I can only run with them for about 3 hours on trails. The Pendulum are slightly heavier but they make up for it by "postponing" your fatigue on long runs. The descents, especially on rocky terrain, are smoother than the MT110. Overall, there is greater protection with the Pendulum. I believe these shoes are now my choice for long runs.

    pete

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