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No, they’re not just a tennis shoe company.
Written by: Mario Fraioli
I’m always skeptical when non-running shoe companies get into the business of making running shoes, so when K-Swiss decided they were going to get serious about doing so in 2007, I just sat back and, quite honestly, waited for them to realize their mistake. Four years later, they’re one of the fastest-growing brands in the space and putting out products that go head-to-head with anything else currently being offered on the walls of specialty running retail stores.
So how did the brand gain so much momentum in such a short amount of time? Bringing in folks who know running and know running shoes was a good, and smart, place to start. Two of the main men at K-Swiss Running–Mark Sheehan (VP of Product Development) and Mike Rouse (VP of Running)–have been around this business for a long time. They know how to make running shoes and grow a brand, and that’s exactly what they’ve helped do at K-Swiss. The quality of the product speaks for itself.
For the past two months I’ve been running in my first pair of K-Swiss running shoes–the Keahou II–a neutral, cushioned trainer that was released early in 2010. I’ve really come to enjoy running in these shoes. It’s not a particularly fast shoe, but it fits the bill for racking up base miles and running on the roads. It’s well-cushioned, yet stable and durable. Some 213 miles into the life of the shoe and they still fit well, feel good and ride smoothly.
I have an interesting foot type: narrow through the heel and midfoot, but wide in the forefoot thanks to a couple of burly bunions. I had to tie the laces tighter than usual to get these shoes to fit snugly, but once I did they wrapped my foot well and were quite comfortable. Plenty of room for my toes and bunions, too. After putting a couple hundred miles on the Keahou II’s, I’ve had zero trouble with heel slippage or blistering, and the fit of the shoe remained consistent throughout the testing period.
For a 12oz shoe, these guys felt really light on my feet. I was a big fan of the flexible, breathable upper, which has kept my feet well ventilated throughout the San Diego summer. My foot felt very secure and stable in the shoe, and the soft cushioning underneath my foot was very forgiving, especially on longer road runs.
As a prominent forefoot striker, one of the first things I pay attention to is the flexibility in the front of a shoe. I was impressed, even somewhat surprised, with this feature of Keahou II. For a neutral, cushioned trainer, the Keahou II is inherently stable, which makes it a great choice for neutral heel strikers and even mild-overpronators, while its flexible forefoot allows the Keahou 2 to offer a smooth ride for midfoot/forefoot strikers such as myself.