Thursday, January 23, 2014

Merrell Bare Access 2 (Review)

The arrival of winter means that once again at least some of my training miles will be on asphalt. With that in mind I picked up a pair of Merrell Bare Access 2's. It is a well known fact that I like very little shoe between my foot and the road, but lets be reasonable. Once you get out there 15, 20, 25+ miles foot fatigue becomes a real issue when pounding the pavement. A huge fan of the Trail Glove (Review) as a road shoe for workouts under half marathon distance, I'm not too man to admit that "The Glove" wasn't quite cutting it after a couple hours on the roads. Trusting the craftsmanship at Merrell, the Bare Access 2 seemed like a logical choice in a slightly more cushioned, light, zero drop shoe to get me through those winter road runs.

Straight out of the box, I took the Bare Access 2 for a 17 mile road run. The added cushion alleviated food and calf fatigue, as hoped, however at a sacrifice. As a runner who is used to paper thin shoes, I found the Bare Access to be a bit “unresponsive.” The wide toe-box and soft interior make for an otherwise comfortable shoe, but when it comes to “ride,” I cannot help but feel like something is lacking. The road feel and responsive “pop” of the Trail Glove simply are not there. Sizing was also an issue. Based on online reviews I ordered a half size down, but a full size reduction would have made for a better fit, especially when running sockless.

As a “step down” shoe for runners just entering the “minimalist” scene the Bare Access 2 could likely be considered ideal. But as a “step up” shoe, for an experienced minimalist seeking a little more protection for the long haul, the Bare Access 2 proves to be a tad underwhelming.

While not an altogether bad offering, I’ve come to expect Merrell to knock the ball out of the park. But the Bare Access 2 comes up short. No Bullshit!

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