Tayte Pollmann interviewed Dan Feeney, Ph.D., manager of biomechanics research engineering at the Performance Fit Lab at BOA Headquarters in Denver, about the new La Sportiva Cyklon. This new trail shoe, similar to previous BOA-powered trail running shoes, includes the patented fitting technology, the BOA® Fit System, which incorporates “a micro-adjustable dial, super-strong lightweight laces, and low-friction lace guides” to improve performance and fit.
[TAYTE] Tell me about the La Sportiva Cyklon shoe. What is unique about this particular model of trail shoe?
[DAN] The Cyklon is a fantastic example of a shoe that went through the design and development calendar beautifully. We met with La Sportiva’s team in Ziano di Fiemme, Italy in the summer of 2019 to discuss the goals of this shoe. They presented their plans for the midsole, outsole, and upper, while we showed them how we believed the panels on top of the foot could improve fit. During the following eighteen months, we tested the shoes in the lab and on the trail. We saw meaningful improvements in our measurements of endurance, health, and agility during these tests and I am confident those looking for a highly technical shoe will love this shoe.
[TAYTE] What are some notable “tech” features of the Cyklon?
[DAN] The Cyklon features an overlapping panel that La Sportiva and BOA collaborated on to improve agility and fit over a long race. The top and bottom straps are static while there is an elastic feature to this middle strap in the Dynamic Cage™ that we believe allows the shoe to better conform to athletes’ feet as they change over a long run. This dynamic cage locks the heel into place, provides firm hold at the instep, and still allows for toe flexion for the steep uphills.
[TAYTE] What do you like most about the Cyklon and what features have worked really well in the testing stages?
[DAN] My favorite aspect of the Cyklon is how versatile it is; you can bomb technical descents and climb steep rocks while still feeling lively on other parts of a trail run. We found substantial improvements in trail runners’ ability to quickly and precisely change direction, while keeping linear running fun.
[TAYTE] How has the product evolved from its initial development to now?
[DAN] This product has inspiration from Skyrunning, so creating it was all about providing structure and stability while keeping weight minimal. We started by stitching panels onto an existing product in the La Sportiva line (The Mutant) and used qualitative feedback to guide early iterations. Subsequent versions were tested in our lab to see how different iterations impacted metabolic cost, pressure distributions around the foot, landing impact, and ability to quickly change direction. The final version is a sleek implementation of what started out as multiple layers of fabric while still retaining the desired stability.
[TAYTE] You’ve mentioned the Cyklon is a “highly technical shoe.” Could you explain how testing has shown this shoe to be particularly effective on technical terrain?
[DAN] We tested this shoe with many of La Sportiva’s Skyrunning team including Jonathan Wyatt (six-time World Mountain Running Champion) who also works for La Sportiva. Gaining Jonathan’s confidence in this shoe gives you a good idea that this shoe can handle gnarly trails (he also lives and trains in the Dolomite mountains of Italy). The shoe will be great for technical races over 20 kilometers. The Rut and Speedgoat 50K in the US are great examples while iconic races like Zegama and other European classics will be great places for this shoe.
[TAYTE] This is your second trail running shoe collaboration with La Sportiva (the first being the VK). What is similar and different about this shoe as compared to the VK? What is it like working with a company to produce follow-up models, as opposed to a first-time collaboration?
[DAN] This is the second trail running shoe with La Sportiva, but we have also worked on a mountaineering boot (G2 SM mountaineering boot) and you will see us collaborating in additional segments (but I can’t quite share about those yet). The VK was all about creating a nimble and fast shoe that was low in weight but still could provide support on technical uphills. We actually got the weight of the shoe lower than the previous version of the VK with laces due to changes we made in the upper. The VK and Cyklon both represent specialized parts of a trail runner’s shoe quiver.
[TAYTE] When the Cyklon launches, will any specific BOA athletes be demonstrating it in their racing and training? Have athletes already tested prototypes or been involved in the design and testing process?
[DAN] La Sportiva has tested this shoe extensively with their European Skyrunning Team (who BOA jointly sponsors) and I will expect them to wear these shoes in 2021. We also have a local, Colorado-based trail running team that will be wearing these shoes on whatever races happen this year.
Last Month Tayte interviewed Dan about his work at the Performance Fit Lab at BOA Headquarters in Denver, Colorado. You can read that interview in this April Trail News article.
You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you liked this article, read even more of Tayte’s articles on our website. BOA and La Sportiva are American Trail Running Association corporate members.