Skechers MaxRoad 3 Ultra – Not as ultra as one might hope

The Skechers MaxRoad 3 has a bit of a complex history. Normally, if a shoe company has a successful model, they won’t change too much between the different versions. Take Nike for example, if they make a second version of a shoe they’ll change something about the upper or the sole, but not both at the same time. Thus, if they change something in the upper in version two, they’ll tweak the sole in version three. However, that isn’t the case with the Skechers Ultra series. They have changed quite a bit about this shoe in the last few years. The Skechers GORun MaxRoad 3 Ultra is, as the name suggests, the third model in the Ultra Road series. They have changed the name slightly because they originate from the GORun Ultra Road and the GORun Ultra Road 2. And before that, it used to be just the GoRun Ultra, before they split it into two separate models by making a road and trail version of the shoe. That the name now has Max and Ultra in the name, seems a bit unnecessary to me. 

The MaxRoad 3 Ultra is a neutral and maximalist running shoe. Like most of the Skechers Performance line, it has a 4mm drop with a 26mm heel height and a 22mm forefoot height. It’s a light shoe, especially for a maximalist shoe, only weighing 224 grams. Slightly lighter than the Ultra Road, but it also has less stack height than the Ultra Road, so that’s probably how they reduced the weight. 

I’ve owned most of the previous versions of this shoe, including the GORun Ultra Road, but I abandoned that shoe because I really didn’t like the upper and I found that the sole wasn’t flexible and cushioned enough for a maximalist shoe. But the MaxRoad 3 is made with a different midsole material, or they just renamed it (I’m not entirely sure), so I decided to give it a go. 

Upper

The upper is made out of a flat knit seamless upper, but around the toe box it isn’t a finely knit fabric like most knitted uppers and the fabric on the toe box isn’t very stretchy either. Although it is a knit upper, the lack of flexibility in the toe box creates a hotspot on top of my toes where the fabric creases during toe off. The heel and collar are slightly padded, but the toe box is just a single layer of knit fabric. 

Midsole

The midsole is made out of very lightweight Ultra Flight material. It is quite plush, but the energy return isn’t that high. The MaxRoad 3 has the M-strike technology that helps you land more on your midfoot and together with the rocker shape of the sole it even pushes you a little bit more towards a forefoot landing. 

The midsole also has the same drainage technology as used in the Skechers GoTrail Ultra 4, which I found very effective.

Outsole

The outsole consists of a thin layer of rubber in a spider web pattern underneath the forefoot and underneath the heel. The midfoot does not contain any rubber and is just exposed Ultra Flight material. The outsole does provide enough traction on wet roads. Something I didn’t really expect due to the lack of profile on the outsole. 

Performance

The sole is quite flexible, partially due to the flex grooves on the lateral and medial side of the forefoot, but the flexibility in the forefoot is actually limited by the stiffness of the knit fabric of the upper rather than by the stack height of this shoe. 

The first few kilometers in this shoe were a bit uncomfortable in this shoe, but over time the shoe became a bit more plush and comfortable. Every time I put this shoe on for a run I had trouble remembering why I didn’t like this shoe that much until I would hit the 10k point in my run and the hotspots would come back and I’d all of a sudden remember why I didn’t really like the shoe.

In previous Skechers Performance models the durability of the outsole could be an issue, but the rubber outsole of the MaxRoad 3 is pretty durable. 

Conclusion

I didn’t have very high expectations of this shoe, since I didn’t like the first version of this shoe, so I had my doubts about the third version. I had sort of hoped that since they’ve changed the shoe quite a bit, that I would like the third version of this model, but I don’t. Although I do find the midsole to be quite plush, my biggest objection to this model is still there, the uncomfortable upper. 

However, I am looking forward to the 4th version of this shoe, since rumour has it that they will have the new Skechers Hyper Burst foam and hopefully they’ll fix the upper as well. 

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