Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes

Carol Crooker interviews Doug Clark, VP of Timberland's Invention Factory, about the conception and performance of the very strange looking soles on the new GoLite footwear line.

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by Carol Crooker | 2007-01-29 03:00:00-07

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Timberland's Invention Factory developed the new GoLite line of foootwear. Vice president, Doug Clark, explains how his team used a couple of car analogies to come up with an odd looking design for an off-trail running shoe sole. They first had an "ah ha" moment when they realized that car tires and vehicle suspension are totally different depending on the use of the car - road, trail, off-trail. They decided there was no need to build a trail running shoe beginning from the chassis of a road running shoe.

The other car analogy was an old commercial where a diamond cutter cuts an expensive diamond in the back of a luxury car while it bumps over a cobblestone street. The seat stays stable while the car suspension pops up and down wildly. This observation led to the concept of total body stability (ankles of road runner don't flex side to side a lot, but ankles of trail runners can swing 30 degrees in both directions). The resultant sole looks like it has deep lugs, except the lugs are hinged so they compress going over bumps - hopefully keeping the foot more stable. Doug shares feedback from elite GoLite runners praising the advantages of the metamorphic suspension, including faster downhill times, and speculates these same advantages will be realized by walkers or backpackers wearing the shoes.


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"Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes," by Carol Crooker. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/podcast_doug_clark_invention_factory_golite_footwear.html, 2007-01-29 03:00:00-07.

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Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes on 01/30/2007 00:35:22 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes on 01/30/2007 00:47:20 MST Print View

Podcast is about Inov-8 not GoLite shoes.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
Re: Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes on 01/30/2007 16:28:20 MST Print View

How' bout:

Podcast: Wayne Edy, Pres/Founder Inov-8 on their women specific shoe designs.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Podcast: Doug Clark on Metamorphic Suspension in GoLite Shoes on 01/31/2007 07:45:52 MST Print View

It's correct now!

Samuel Winebaum
(samwine) - F

Locale: NH
GoLIte Shoes on 02/02/2007 07:29:36 MST Print View

I have tried a couple of the GoLite prototypes for trail running and can confirm that the downhill running stability due to the metamorphic suspension is outstanding, best I have every experienced. Although I have not backpacked in them, only run, I suspect that they will be a very good choice for ultra light backpacking where motion is a little less linear than pure running and thus with a load really could take advantage of the energy conservation Doug Clark mentions in the podcast. The are stiffer in the forefoot than a typical light trail runner and interestingly I found them a little less stable running uphill than downhill! This shouldn't be an issue fast walking. Also there is no chance of a stone bruise through the plate, totally rock proof. Time and rough trails will have to determine how the lugs wear.

Matthew LaPatka
(gungadin) - M

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: GoLIte Shoes on 02/02/2007 07:37:05 MST Print View

Thanks for the information, Samuel. That is great news on the new shoes. What model did you try out? How do you think they would be with draining/not absorbing water?

Samuel Winebaum
(samwine) - F

Locale: NH
GoLite Footwear on 02/02/2007 14:22:40 MST Print View

I have tried both the Sun Dragon, the lightest and the Set Wing, basically the same with more EVA support on the upper. The upper on the Set Wing I tried was tuned based on users earlier feedback and fit better.

The GoLites have the Precise Fit system which allows you to customize for the volume of each foot with included forefoot velcro on insole inserts. There is a bit of a tradeoff in trying to accomodate different volume feet. It seemed to me that the upper around the instep and foot entry on the earlier Sun Dragons had a bit to much volume, after a number of miles my tricky left foot was collapsing more than I would like to the inside. The later Set Wings I tried which have more reinforcement and were tuned based on feedback fit somewhat snugger which is what I like after many miles in Inov 8's. As far as draining , given the perforated reinforcement around the perimeter above the plate, I would say fair and probably comparable to the Inov 8 RocLites I like alot.

I did run in some nasty mud and the grip was outstanding. This should be a great shoe for snow running as well. I might even spray some silicone on the plate to keep snow from balling or sticking.