TYR has typically been known for swimsuits, goggles, and previously wetsuits, but the swim brand is making it first foray into the running game with two new shoes: The RNR-1 Techknit, an everyday trainer; and the SR-1 Tempo, a “fast day” or long race-day shoe.
- Surprisingly responsive SurgeNRG+ foam
- Good lacing on both shoes
- Snug fit on the Techknit trainer holds the foot well
- Workhorse-level, predictable performance on both shoes
- Not necessarily serving a gap in the running shoe world
- Surprisingly kind of expensive, especially for a new shoe
- Particularly narrow fit in the Techknit is not for everyone
- High heel cup/padded heel area on Techknit can irritate sensitive Achilles
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Until fairly recently, TYR had a pretty big presence in the tri world with its complete line of wetsuits that sponsored speedy swimmers like Andy Potts and a collection of tri suits. And since forever, TYR has been a household name in goggles and swimsuits for everyone from youth swimmers to triathletes. This July TYR released its first running shoe, likely in response to the post-COVID “running boom” that saw lots of new people fall in love with the sport. Since there is pretty much nothing similar in construction, R&D, or culture-crossover between swimwear and running shoes (except, maybe triathlon and triathletes), it’s a bold move, and has been met with appropriate skepticism.Section divider
TYR RNR-1 Techknit and SR-1 Tempo Review: The Basics
While we wouldn’t typically review two (very different) shoes in one story, the fact that TYR is releasing running shoes at all is noteworthy and tying the reviews together is the best way to gauge TYR’s success (or failure) in their latest venture. That said, their two first attempts are pretty different in almost every way.
The RNR-1 Techknit is the “everyday trainer” with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, TYR’s “Surge NRG+” Foam, and a 3D knit upper. The shoe weighs in at a medium 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.5) and would be considered a neutral shoe with not much in the way of structural support. The outsole doesn’t have a ton of rubber or traction, and as such makes this an on-road only option.
The SR-1 Tempo, on the other hand, is lighter (7.6 ounces, men’s size 9) with less midsole foam (but still using TYR’s Surge NRG+), and a unique mesh upper. Like the Techknit, it also has a midrange 4mm drop, but does not fit as snugly as the Techknit, nor does it have high-and-plush heel retention. The SR-1 is best used for quicker days, runs under an hour, or longer-course racing if a supershoe or racing flat isn’t your cup of tea.Section divider
TYR RNR-1 Techknit and SR-1 Tempo Review: The Good
Before we get into the specific goods and bads of each of the two shoes, it’s worth noting that one of the best things about the Techknit and Tempo is that they’re quite different. Not only because they obviously serve very different purposes, but also the fit and feel is incredibly different between the two. This means that if you try on the Techknit and don’t like them, you should still give the Tempos a shot, because they are a very very different fit experience (performance and purpose aside).
First, we’ll look at the Techknit. The TL;DR on this one is: old-school, all-around basic trainer. While that might not exactly sound like a glowing review, a simple do-everything (except for trails, but more on that later) trainer that doesn’t feel like a pair of leather sandals, a marshmallow, or a springboard is actually kind of hard to find nowadays. Think: early 2000s Saucony Grid Hurricane. This is a shoe you can put lots of miles on, you know won’t break down or change too quickly, and is both responsive and forgiving enough for quicker runs or long, slow runs, or changes-of-pace in any run and has a very tight, plush fit (fit, not midsole feel).
Oddly enough, this shoe feels almost exactly like one of my current favorites, Under Armour’s HOVR Machina series—but without the carbon-instigated springiness. In fact, this shoe feels so much like the Machina, I wouldn’t be surprised if both shoes were made in the same Chinese factory with a very similar pattern/last.
Next, the Tempo: This shoe has none of the overly plush fit of the Techknit, but is a bit roomier—probably thanks to the lighter weight mesh upper and less padding on the heel cup. You can also tell there is less protection on the midsole/outsole, and as such is far more responsive than the middle-of-the-road Techknit. This is definitely a lightweight, low-stack-feeling tempo trainer; definitely not something you’d take out on a long, plodding two-hour run. The sockliner, however, is low seam and would make an excellent sockless race-day shoe.Section divider
TYR RNR-1 Techknit and SR-1 Tempo Review: The OK
While some may enjoy the very tight, foamy fit of the Techknit, it comes at a cost: The extra padding in the midfoot and heel can feel constrictive to those with standard or wide feet, though those with narrow feet might love the tightness. While I liked the way the Techknit held my foot at first, on a few runs I found my feet getting surprisingly sore on downhills and almost a little cramped—something that hasn’t happened to this shoe tester as long back as he can remember. I also noticed that the extra padding in the heel area kept my foot secure, but it also puts pressure on the Achilles—which could be a huge problem for those with a history of Achilles sensitivity. Also, for a shoe that really needs to be a jack-of-all-trades if it’s going to be anything at all, there needs to be more traction on the outsole to at least give runners a shot of making it on even the most basic off-road runs.
The Tempo, meanwhile, was ok simply because it wasn’t particularly notable. Where the Techknit excels as an almost boring, consistent trainer (something I like for many long-ish, not-fast-not-slow runs), a lightweight trainer nowadays needs to bring a little “excitement” to make it effective. You don’t buy and wear a pair of lightweight “fast-day” trainers because you want your tempos to feel like your long runs; you want to feel speedy and new and better than Regular You. This is where super-springy foam or carbon-plus-foam really excels, whereas the Tempo feels a little bit more like a pair of early-2000s racing flats. Not that racing flats don’t have a place, but there are much more exciting and responsive shoes out there that will bring the fun to your tempo/fartlek/interval day and still probably cost about as much ($160 for a not-fun lightweight trainer/second pair of shoes is a tough ask).Section divider
What surprised me most about both the Techknit and the Tempo is that TYR actually did a pretty good job on their first try at running shoes. Sure, the Techknit is simple and staid, but for a daily trainer, that’s fine. You want the same feel day in, day out for mid-to-long runs. The Tempo is also a fine shoe for a lightweight trainer, but it doesn’t exactly get your pulse racing when you lace them up to hit the track. That said, neither fail at their given roles.
If anything, these two shoes are a very encouraging start for a brand that I assumed had no business in the running shoe space, and neither feel “prototype-y” nor unfinished like some recent new brands (that will go unnamed here) that have released shoes that felt like no one had even worn them once before hitting “go” on the ol’ Chinese production button. At least TYR’s shoes are essentially ready to go with this first iteration—assuming they’re the type of shoe you like or need.
So all in all, I’d count both the Techknit and Tempo as resounding (and surprising) successes in TYR’s first foray into the running market. They’re both worth giving a try, and while not everyone will love their unsexiness, there’s likely a group of triathletes and runners who will rejoice in an almost-throwback level of workhorse shoes.