Early in 2010, Vasque is introducing a pair of new trail shoes – the Mindbender and the Transistor FS. While the Mindbender is Krissy Moehl’s go to shoe, we’re going to focus on the Transistor FS for the moment. In particular, we’re going to talk about a couple of the new technologies found in the Transistor and how they came to be. First off, we’ll let Vasque designer and Leadville 100 finisher, Brian Hall, explain how the new technologies came about. They we’ll explain FootSync, the foundational technology in the Vasque Transistor. If you like video, you can watch Brian Hall explain FootSync. You’ll want to stick around even if you aren’t a shoe tech guru, as we’ll be giving away 5 pairs of the Transistor FS to readers interested in helping iRunFar review the shoe.
For me, developing this technology was an evolution of several ideas involving fit, stability, and reducing weight over several years. At its essence, FootSync adapts to the runners foot, getting them closer to the ground for improved stability and feel, without sacrificing comfort. We were able to achieve this by taking away material instead of adding, so the end result is a lighter overall shoe.
It was important for me to develop a new platform that didn’t have its roots in road running technology. The demands of running on trails are very different. I took a more holistic foot approach, instead of having heel or forefoot centric technology. I wanted a shoe that adapted seamlessly to both your foot and the terrain. I looked at stability as a low center of gravity and superior whole foot fit over adding dense posting material or other corrective measures.
In a lot of ways this was a dream project for me. To be able to create something new based on my own running experience as well as the experiences of several talented athletes. I have a passion for this kind of work and this is an exciting first step in a process that will continue to evolve. It is a really exciting time in running shoe development. There is a lot of debate over the foundations of traditional running shoe technology, and I think we are in store for some new thinking and exciting developments that will change the status quo.
Now that Brian Hall has filled you in on how Vasque’s FootSync system came to be, we’ll tell you more about what it actually is. As you may have gathered, Vasque has coined the primary new technology in the Transistor, FootSync. FootSync is all about fit. More correctly, they are all about fit as FootSync has three distinct components: the Immerse 360 last, a Flux Foam footbed, and Wave Form midsole. We’ll try to explain each of them without all the marketing hype.
Immerse 360 Last
First off, what is a shoe last? The last is the 3D-form around which the upper and bottom portions of a shoes pieced together. It is the last that gives a shoe it shape, which means that while you may never see the last used in making your trail running shoe, it may very well be the most important piece in determining the fit and function of the shoe.
Most shoe lasts are constructed with flat bottoms… for the sake of convenience. Vasque’s Immerse 360 mimics the foot in all dimensions, including under the foot. This should help provide a more solid (though not in the sense of being stiff) platform for your foot. It’s worth noting that the Immerse 360 last results in a narrow heel pocket to lock in your foot. Vasque developed the Immerse 360 last using thousands of foot scans in the Red Wing Shoe Company’s vast foot scan databank.
With the FootSync system, there is no sockliner (a/k/a insole). Instead, you run on the strobel, the upper most, non-removable part of a shoe’s bottom portion. Take our word that you wouldn’t want to take out your insoles and run on most strobels. Strobel materials are rarely comfortable on the foot, there is often a 90 degree angle between the strobel and the upper (insoles are used to taper this angle), and the stitching is not designed to be run on.
Insert Flux Foam as a solution. Flux Foam is a firm, slow rebound foam that retains a foot’s shape when the foot is lifted rather than instantly rebounding to the foam’s initial shape. It’s not that the Flux Foam permanently molds to your feet. Instead, the Flux Foam gradually molds to your feet during your run.
Let’s think big picture for a moment. So with Flux Foam you can now run without an insole. Hmm, that means you’re closer to the ground. And more stable. And more in tune with the trail. Seems like a good way to use technology to get closer to natural running.
Waveform S/C Midsole
The Waveform S/C Midsole is the yin to the Immerse 360 last’s yang. Basically, the midsole contours your foot’s bottom. There’s no need to insert fancy marketing speak for a basic component aimed at a comfortably supportive though not over controlling midsole.
Vasque Transistor FS Review Giveaway
As we mentioned at the top, we’re giving away five pairs of Vasque’s Transistor FS for iRunFar readers to test. By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to provide us with your feedback on the shoe to use in a future iRF Transistor review if you are selected as a winner. (You’ll have 3-4 weeks to test the shoes.)
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment with your name and town (so that we can identify the winners) by Friday, February 27 at 5 p.m. PST. We’ll be choosing most of the winners at random, but reserve the right to select one or two winners based on the creativity, quality, or other compelling characteristics of a reader’s comment. If you enter, please check iRunFar next weekend so we can get the shoes out to you ASAP!
[Disclosure: Vasque is giving us a little something for publishing this article. We’re cool with this. Heck, the post was our idea! Seriously, we came up with the idea, then asked for some support, and then negotiated five pairs of Transistors to giveaway to you, the iRunFar readers. Win. Win. Win.]