Warwick Capper. Or was it Dermott Brereton? Who was the first AFL footballer to dare wear sparkling white boots out on to the (then) mud-pocked footy oval, eighty thousand fans screaming what the f*ck is he wearing?*
But then look at the hair, feel the lair, it’s all there, right down to wearing exactly the wrong-colour shoes in exactly the right kind of environment. You can sense the promo peeps from Sards Wondersoap were about to have an apoplectic orgasm over the thought of testing their powders and sprays post-match.
Turns out that the first dude to wear white boots in Aussie Rules was way back in ’75 when Collingwood’s Phil Carman kicked 11.4 against St Kilda at Moorabbin, including five in the last quarter, in round 20. It was the only time the man dubbed ‘Fabulous Phil’ booted double-figure goals in his 100-game career. Was it the boots?
(Ed’s note: Capper was always the emulator, never the innovator – copying famed stratosphere markers, Cazaly and Jesaulenko, in his high-flying antics and Fab Phil in his shoe choice. Brereton came later again – and his weren’t white, they were fluorescent green. And pink. Always pushing the boundaries was Dermie.)
Now, peroxided hair show-ponies aside, you’d think we’d learn something in the more than forty years since Phil turned heads: white just ain’t right when it comes to playing dirty in the outdoors. Seriously.
There are the obvious problems of wearing white when munching through mud, but sometimes the designer boffins can’t help but push their attentions past perfecting a shoe’s DNA and start dabbling in the fashion of duco.
Look, it’s fine to take the line that you’re only wearing them on trail, and if they get that poo-brown stain, ermmm vibe, going, well, who cares, they’re meant to be dirty. In all their spattered glory they can scream like a badge of honour, “Yeah dude, I’m a trail runner, ma shoes be du-errrrt-taaay!” Just don’t wear ‘em to the pub (so says your partner and the golden rule: never take shoe fashion tips from Seinfeld).
While the colour doesn’t push my fashion buttons, what does is that these are built to appease a mid-foot striker. Perfect – that’s my plodding profile. The drop is a cruisy sweet-spot of 8mm. Again, that’s me. The cushioning presents a little plump, especially if you are used to Salomon’s racier models, but nothing that deadens the trail feel. They allow you to push longer distances over technical terrain, while also being silky smooth on buffed-out ground.
The tried and trusted Salomon shoe tech that most trailites wearing the brand swear by remains in situ: SensiFIT cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system, providing a secure, snug, and customized fit. It conneccts to toggled laces that stash away in the top of tongue lace garage. The Profeel Film remains, the thin TPU film-on-mesh protecting from sharper intrusions while still allowing trail feel sensation.
Kissing the earth and nailing you to a firm footing, the excellent Contagrip grip has multidirectional diamond lugs that, while not overly aggressive, give sensational grip on hill pushes, downward bombs and winding flats, pretty much no matter what the surface. The compound is a touch on the softer side showing early wear, which may prove frustrating if it rubs out too soon – to be determined after more wear and trail tear.
The flex of the sole unit is right up my alley, the front being flexible, courtesy of a separated three plate set up under the forefoot, giving good toe-off. A central grip plate extends from just behind the midfoot through to the heel with a small separated plate at the rear doing god-knows-what but looking like a fashion match to what’s up front.
The shoe sits squarely in the mid-ranger squadron in that it is set for all-round trail use and can cross from training to racing, mountain to fire road, even door to trail. Bonus, its slightly wider midsole allows a broader range of Aussie feet to slip inside with comfort, although it’s still not super hospitable to fat feet. The Vibe midsole is perhaps the most ‘vibey’ yet in the Salomon range, finding a delicate balance between being responsive, having a little rebound and taking the bumps out of the landing. It’s a sweet ride.
So, what’s being swapped out and in, being that it’s version two? Not much. And that’s a good thing given the Ride V1.0 was a damn good shoe. The upper has been slightly modified with a better, lighter mesh, and for my money, a better build and improved exo-skeleton overlay.
The Sense Ride 2 is perhaps the most rounded, all terrain offering from Salomon yet. In terms of performance, they are my favourite Salomon yet, nudging above the S/Lab Ultra 2 and the Sense Pro Max (which both provide more honed-in attributes pending your proclivities in fit and intended function). Pity they sent me white. Pity they’re now poo stain brown. ‘Cause I really do like them.
What’s that? They come in other colours you say? Oh. I’ll have slightly lairy blue thanks…maybe I’ll go kick some singletrack goals in them.
THE LOW DOWN
GREAT FOR: if it’s your first foray into Salomon brand; being an all-trail-trick pony and handling most styles of terrain; long runs, comfort, grip.
NOT SO GREAT FOR: if you like your whites to stay white. There are other colours, however.
TEST CONDITIONS: Everything I could throw at it from rocky and rooty singletrack, a little tending to mush mud, and some munchy mountain terrain; approximately 95km.
TESTER: Chris Ord, Editor
TESTER MECHANICS: Midfoot striker, prefers tending to minimal drop but getting softer in old age when it comes to cushioning
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by Amer Sports
*FUN FACT: the earliest known white football boot wearer was English World Cup football / soccer player, Alan Ball, who debuted a painted pair of Adidas in the 1970 Charity Shield, playing for Everton as they beat Chelsea 2-1.