La Sportiva has several very successful shoes in their legacy collection: the Mutant, the Ultra Raptor, the Bushido, and the Helios. Adding to their quiver of mountain-oriented shoes is the La Sportiva Cyklon ($160). While the brand has recently followed the rest of the trail industry by offering a wider variety of models, such as shoes with more cushion as well as lighter and faster options, the Cyklon sits firmly in their mountain-running category.
To some La Sportiva stalwarts like myself — this is the brand that launched my own trail running passion in 2008 — it’s no secret that the brand needs to expand beyond mountain-oriented shoes in order to appeal to the majority of runners who don’t have giant mountains outside their front door. While the broadening of options is refreshing and necessary, the La Sportiva Cyklon, made for rugged and rocky terrain, is still an exciting shoe because of the technological innovations. Its design is classic La Sportiva: the iconic black and yellow, with features made for the mountains and specific race styles with technical descents. The shoes are on the heavier side with reported weights of 11.6 ounces (330 grams) for men and 9.5 ounces (270 grams) for women, but the weight is not very noticeable, particularly on descents, because of the nimble and precise fit.
La Sportiva Cyklon Upper
There are two standout features on the La Sportiva Cyklon: the upper and the outsole. The upper is undoubtedly the more thoughtful of the two, considering it is an exclusive collaboration between La Sportiva and BOA, the lacing system company.
The research and development team at BOA contemplated the idea of a “super shoe” for trail running, comparing opportunities in trail and road running. Eventually La Sportiva collaborated with BOA to develop the Cyklon. The Cyklon’s upper is designed around the Dynamic Cage Construction, a three-piece system that tightens from the midfoot to the ankle in three independent sections.
This is one of the most comfortable and precise tightening systems I’ve ever used. It makes the thought of traditional shoe laces seem quaint and old fashioned. The yellow lace connected to the BOA dial is incredibly robust in construction and precise in fit. From each Dynamic Cage Construction section on the upper to the anchor points on the other side, bomb-proof-looking red bar tacks hold the system together.
During product testing, runners discovered that the upper was too bulky and thus, too warm. [Author’s Note: A friend of mine works with La Sportiva in Spain and was part of the extensive testing of this shoe.] The final version of the Cyklon is still a bit warm, but it feels justified, as there are breathable perforations on the mesh which work to counteract the extensive build. The back of the shoe has an ankle cuff, which works brilliantly to keep out rocks and debris. Several years ago, I raced the Dolomites SkyRace in the La Sportiva Helios and quickly learned why a cuff or gaiter is so essential to this style of trail running. Once you get to the top of the mountain, the objective in these races is simple: get back to the finish line by whatever means necessary, taking the trail if you’d like, or simply plowing down the line of least resistance. In the race, several runners passed me as I had to stop mid-descent to take off my shoes and empty them of the irritating pebbles and accumulated dirt.
For this reason, the La Sportiva Cyklon should be the go-to choice for trail runners going fast over loose terrain. The upper is very accommodating to different foot shapes, so you may want to consider sizing down maybe a half-size from your usual La Sportiva.
La Sportiva Cyklon Midsole
Like the route of the Dolomites SkyRace, the La Sportiva Cyklon is particularly adept at going straight up and then straight back down. I tested the shoes on a local loop that gains 1,400 feet in 1.4 miles, and finishes with a super technical descent near Green Mountain in Boulder, Colorado. I time-trialed the loop and have to admit, the precision fit and emphasis on ground feel comes at a cost. This 33-minute trial left my feet feeling sore and fatigued, but I would be very hesitant to use any other shoe on a descent so fast and technical. For the enhanced downhill ability of the Cyklon, you feel the effect later. The pounding I experienced on that run is no doubt in part to my size, (6 feet, 4 inches tall and 180 pounds) but the 8 millimeter heel-to-toe drop helps to rock your foot forward rather than allowing it to slap the ground.
The Cyklon feels downright snappy when jumping and landing over jagged rock and other trail obstacles. Ground feel is incredible, but can obviously be fatiguing so the Cyklon is not at all suited for ultrarunning, in my opinion. There is no rock plate in the Cyklon, so you should consider where you’ll be using these shoes carefully. The midsole has medial and lateral stabilizer inserts and is composed of dual-density compression-molded EVA that has remained springy in my 150 miles of use so far.
La Sportiva Cyklon Outsole
While the outsole of the La Sportiva Cyklon would presumably shine in muddy conditions, I’ve only had the opportunity to test them on dry and dusty Colorado trails. La Sportiva’s proprietary rubber compound FriXion is used on this shoe. FriXion has three types: white (slightly sticky and hardwearing), black (for climbing shoes) and blue (not sticky, for road running). The Cyklon uses the white FriXion, effective for mountain running shoes of this type.
The 7-millimeter lugs that make up the sole are quite wide and spaced out, likely to accommodate muddy conditions. There is a shockproof TPU toe cap to prevent stubbing toes, but the shoes really beg to be lifted, so I don’t find any issue with lack of robustness or responsiveness in this shoe.
La Sportiva Cyklon Overall Impressions
As someone who loves technical trails and has a penchant for short and fast training runs, the La Sportiva Cyklon is a real gift to trail runners like myself. Because it’s so accommodating in the midsole, the shoe will actually work for many different foot shapes, something you couldn’t say about La Sportiva in the past.
The Cyklon is certainly not a cruiser for long runs, nor is it the most comfortable on hard ground, but when it comes to picking a short line to descend with reckless abandon, it is incredibly secure and confident.
The shoe is best for runners running short to medium distances over technical terrain. It’s snappy enough for fast ascents, and has a lug configuration that shines on loose descents. To get the best out of the Cyklon, your focus should be on footwork and agility on technical trails.
Call for Comments
- What are your opinions on the BOA fit system? Do you prefer this more customized fit to laces?
- For those of you who run in La Sportiva, what are your thoughts on the Cyklon for technical running compared to their old hands, like the Bushido?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]