The folks at Tecnica were kind enough to send me a pair of their Diablo Max ($130) "multi-function" oversized trail runners earlier this year. Tecnica and Hoka One One, the other prominently oversized running shoe have shared technology resources in the past. Both companies use a wide stable platform on the ground, 30mm or more of cushioning and a stiff midsole engineered to create a rolling effect. Tecnica calls this Tecnica Rolling System (TRS) and it does definitely do what it claims to: you roll forward through your stride particularly on the flats. The rolling effect seems to be created by sandwiching a slightly firmer white foam layer between softer foam above and below. See pictures of both the Diablo Max and X-Lite Inferno below.
I was very impressed with the Diablo Max: Superb burly protection on the trail, of course bomb proof, feel no pain cruising over rocks down hill running, and due to the oversize midsole never any next day leg soreness. A big surprise, they were great on the road. I ran up to 12 miles smoothly "rolling" along, no speedster paces due to the weight but also completely fresh legs the next day.
The issue, weight. At 12.3 oz the Diablo is 2 oz heavier than my heaviest trail runner or road runner. Even the oversized Hoka cousins weigh less.
Further the lack of flex can be an impediment on very steep slopes when the angle of the rolling effect is exceeded forcing a more vertical stride and body carriage. The Diablo Max has a 12 mm heel to toe drop, more than I run in these days. I find a 4-5mm drop for road shoes and 5-10mm for trail shoes just right for me.
All of this said the Diablo is a great shoe if your travels and activities-backpacking, trail running, and yes even road running call for just one pair.
Enter the Tecnica Inferno X-Lite ($110)
I bought a pair of Inferno X-Lite recently.
- the weight is brought down to 10.4 oz, comparable to my Montrail Badaja's at 10.2 oz.
- the forefoot is far more flexible than the Diablo and when some flexibility is combined with a somewhat less pronounced Tecnica Rolling System even very steep slopes are easily tackled.
- the heel toe drop is brought down to 10mm, just about ideal in my view for a trail runner
While the Diablo is a "hiker" you can easily run in, the X-Lite is a light and superbly protective trail and road runner you can hike with. They fit true to size.
Update 11/14/12The X-Lite was my favorite trail runner this past summer. Sure footed, nimble and comfortable it took me through the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase's 16 miles of steep uphill and screaming downhills, the Mid Mountain Trail Marathon, and the Hidden Peak Challenge's unrelenting climb to the top of Snowbird as well as countless training runs.