Topo Atheltic Fli-Lyte and MT-2 Review

TL;DR

The Topo Fli-Lyte is a responsive shoe with good energy return. Its most notable feature is the wide toe box and slim upper. The 8oz weight is exceptional for a mid-stack shoe with a full rubber coverage outsole. I found it very versatile and ideal for mid-distance runs. The MT-2 is the trail version with deeper lugs in the outsole.

 

Intro

Fli-Lyte

I have been running in the Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte and MT-2 for the past several months. These are mid-stack neutral shoes, notable for their wide toe box. The Fli-Lyte is a road shoe and the MT-2 is the trail equivalent. Both share very similar construction and configuration. I will be reviewing primarily the Fli-Lyte and will mention where the MT-2 is different.

MT-2. Note: the elastic laces were fitted later; the shoes ship with standard laces.

Topo is a lesser-known, smaller shoe company that carries the initials of its founder TOny POst. Post is known for developing the FiveFingers while at Vibram and also for running the Boston Marathon in Rockports, back in the 80’s.

Topo has a lineup of road and trail shoes ranging from from lightweight racers to ultra-distance, highly cushioned models.

Upper

The upper is fine mesh with 3D printed overlays. There is a conventional, non-gusseted tongue. A large tongue-stay helps to keep it in place, without sliding to either side. The toecap is also 3D printed and particularly robust, being stiffer and harder than most trail shoes I’ve seen.

Fli-Lyte, rear view

The throat area is very clean and straightforward and not overfilled with foam. The tongue is similarly built, with wide tongue-keeper. There are no superfluous retention systems over the navicular area.

The most notable feature is the width of the toebox; quite wide, but with a squared-off front to avoid the clown look.

The MT-2’s upper has the same shape and volume, with a few more overlays. The upper is well-ventilated, which is both a plus and minus on the trail. It is breathable, but I prefer a bit of water resistance in my trail shoes to withstand the occasional splash of water and mud.

Midsole

The midsole is EVA foam with no silly marketing shock attenuation features. One thing I really like is Topo’s transparency in stack height measurements. They specific the stack for forefoot and rearfoot, with and without the insole. This gives a very good indication of cushioning and response levels, compared to other models in Topo’s lineup, and with other brands as well. The arch is quite high and noticeable. Runners with low arches or flat feet may have some trouble with the fit.

Outsole

There is full coverage of high abrasion rubber over the outside. I found this to be very unusual for sub-9oz shoes. Most lightweight shoes tend to reduce the rubber coverage to save weight. Over 400km, I found minor wear in the metatarsal area, which is normal for me, as a forefoot striker. Based on the wear rate to date, I think the shoe will have very good durability.

MT-2 outsole

The Fli-Lyte’s stacks are 4mm rubber outsole + 13mm EVA (heel) / 10mm (ball) + 5mm footbed , for a total of 22mm/19mm (heel/toe). This results in a 3mm heel-toe offset. This puts it in the mid-range of their lineup. Their lighter shoes have slightly less stack and 0mm offset and their more cushioned models are higher, with 5mm offset. The published weight is 8.2oz (mens size 9) and my size 9 pair was true to the published weight.

The MT-2 shares the same configuration. It has the same stack and offset midsole, with deeper lugs for better traction on dirt and mud.

Running Experience

I found the shoe to be very flexible both laterally and in torsion, with the sole easily passing the fold-over test. I felt a nice responsiveness and energy return in the ride. I would rate the cushion level as medium – less than full-stack shoes like the NB 1080, Brooks Glycerin and Saucony Triumph. But more than an NB 1400 or Saucony Kinvara.

This is a fun shoe to run in. Light, responsive, with good energy return. They fit me well in both forefoot and heel areas. I like the no-nonsense approach.

I tested the MT-2 on snow, slush, wet and muddy trails, I found it had excellent traction in all but deep snow and pure ice. That is to be expected, without super deep lugs, special tread compounds or spikes in the outsole.

The good:

  • Weight to cushion + durability ratio
  • Wide toebox
  • Midsole flexibility
  • Full-coverage rubber outsole
  • Transparency in stack heights
  • No marketing BS

 Less ideal for:

  • Runners looking for a more conventional (8-10mm) offset
  • Runners with narrow feet
  • Runners with lower arches

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