Merrell 2013 M-Connect Shoes Review

Running mechanics is a topic that is on my brain a bit too much; At the office where 70-80% of my patients are runners, when I’m writing blog/twitter posts, newsletters to my patients and most often when I’m actually running. Force vectors, force moments, joint coupling – the constant conversation in my head is a bit pathologic, really.

I’m always interested to feel how different shoes can influence which muscles work more or less, where stresses are applied, but also how a shoe makes the run feel from a more holistic, “right-brained” perspective. So I was excited for the opportunity to test out a few of the 2013 Merrell “M-Connect” line of shoes including the MixMaster Move, the Bare Access 2 and the Road Glove 2.  As a disclaimer, Merrell provided these shoes to me to review.

Merrell has introduced their “M-Connect” series consisting of a wide variety of shoes ranging from:

There are many others in the M-connect lineup including sandals, hiking shoes and kids shoes.  For my purposes, I have the Mix Master Move, the Bare Access 2 and the Barefoot Road Glove 2. 

Over the next few months, I will do more posts with more detailed information on each one of these three shoes, but for now, I just wanted to pass on my initial impressions of each, having run about 15 miles in the Barefoot Road Glove 2, about 25 miles in the Bare Access 2 and about 40 miles in the Mix Master Move.

Pics of the Barefoot Road Glove 2: 

Pics of the Bare Access2: 

Pics of the Mix Master Move:

From an overall perspective, I really like where Merrell is headed with these shoes.  For a number of reasons:

1) They are all built on an anatomic last (the shape of the sole of the shoe is similar to the shape of most feet which allows for a much roomier toe box) which is great.  In my clinic, I see countless numbers of feet and the bunions, hammertoes, hallux valgus and Morton’s neuroma’s are ridiculous.  I am frequently telling patients to get shoes with a wider toe box, but the choices are limited.  Merrell has found a new fan in me and I will certainly be passing on the info to my patients.

2) They are great looking shoes.  As I have said before in previous shoe reviews, I’m getting tired of the neon orange, green and yellow out there.  These colors make people look out of place when they wear their shoes for anything other than running these days.  Merrell makes good looking shoes that don’t cry “I’m a Diva”.

3) Although I haven’t worn them for long, the construction seems pretty good.  I’ve browsed the web and can’t find complaints on Merrell durability

4) They are lightweight and flexible.  For those wanting to have their foot “do what it does” rather than have the shoe dictate what the foot does, theses are great.  I made a little video below to explain my point and compared the “torsional test” and “toe break test” in the Merrell’s to that of the Saucony Mirage 2 which is touted to be “minimally constructed, lightweight, incredibly responsive” according to the Saucony website.  It is interesting in the video how flexible the Merrell shoes are in a torsional test, but only the Road Glove2 and the Mix Master Move are flexible in the sagittal plane and both the Saucony Mirage and the Bare access 2 have their breaking point at the toes.


The Bad:

So far, there is one different problem with two of the shoes…

1) The Barefoot Road Glove 2:  There is a firm arch support that exceeds what I would expect in a barefoot style shoe.  I wore them while walking around for about 4 hours and couldn’t wait to get out of them.  Here’s the caveat: they are a running shoe, not a walking shoe.  When I run in them, I notice the arch, but gradually forget about it.

2) The Bare Access 2:  Even though it’s built on the same last as the Road Glove 2, I find there is a lot of pressure on the outside of the  base of my 5th metatarsal (the outside of the midfoot).  I have tried lacing it up a few different ways, but can’t seem to eliminate the pressure.  I believe it’s because of the crisscrossing plastic lines in the upper.  Not sure, but if I can’t figure it out, it ruins what I would otherwise consider a good shoe.

  Stay tuned for more updates through the spring.