If you’re looking for the cheapest full-length, carbon plated shoe available, The Artist is the shoe for you. If you want to try a carbon shoe for the first time to see what all the fuss is about, The Artist is a good option that won’t break the bank.
If you’re looking for a really lightweight, propulsive racer, The Artist will not be a great shoe for you. It also doesn’t have good durability so you can’t use it for a lot of training runs.
If it was the 90’s or early 2000’s and we told runners that racing shoes would soon reach $250, I’m pretty sure they would be shocked beyond belief. With the invention of super shoes, $250 is now the normal amount that you have to shell out if you want a new, long distance, carbon-plated racer.
For most runners, a $250 racing shoe doesn’t make any sense: it’s not very durable, it can only be used for racing/key runs and it becomes outdated when the new version is launched in a year’s time. This is what makes Atreyu so special.
Atreyu is a small, startup company hailing from Austin, Texas. Their philosophy is to honour simplicity with minimal running shoes in the same vein as the old Kinvaras and Takumi Sens. Initially, they offered a subscription service which gave you a discount if you committed to buying 3 pairs but they’ve since stopped this offering for a more traditional sales approach.
Atreyu shoes are difficult to buy. They don’t ship to Malaysia but on a recent trip to Thailand, I was able to buy The Artist. They currently only ship to a selected list of countries but hopefully availability will be wider in the future when the brand grows in popularity.
Their full lineup consists of only 4 shoes: 2 road trainers, a trail shoe and a race shoe.
The Artist is their carbon-plated racer which they claim on their website can be used for long runs, tempo runs and racing.
The Artist weighs 8.1 oz for a men’s US9 which is competitive but they also state that you should go up a half size due to the small fit so I am normally a US9 but I had to buy a bigger size.
What sets The Artist apart is that it only costs $100 brand new. Yes, you read right, only $100 for a long-distance, carbon-plated racer. That seems too good to be true.
My first run was a 3 kilometre warm up followed by 7 kilometres at marathon pace. While running easy, The Artist felt comfortable and smooth but when I needed to pick up the pace, it felt a bit sluggish- like I needed to work harder than in other super shoes to reach tempo pace.
It felt much better than any other $100 running shoe I’ve tried. The Artist gave me that feeling that I had a racing shoe on because of how stiff the carbon plate was and there was also a lot of deep cushioning in the midsole. It felt like a long-distance running shoe.
The shoe that it reminded me most of was the Adidas Adios Pro 1 but the ride The Artist felt flatter and not as energetic. It felt more bottom heavy than the Adios Pro too.
The material that the upper is made from feels like it comes from a casual sneaker and breathability is not great. The fit is short and narrow so you need to go up a half size at least.
There’s no heel counter so the heel is very floppy. This results in some heel slippage, even if you use a runner’s knot. There are no reflective elements on The Artist.
As a competitive racer, The Artist can’t compete with the super shoes from the big brands in terms of performance. It reminds me of a speed trainer like the Adidas Boston or Endorphin Speed which are faster than daily trainers but not as propulsive as super shoes.
The Artist’s midsole is made from a supercritical EVA foam so it does provide a little more energy return than regular, old school EVA. To me, it feels like more of a daily trainer foam rather than a racing foam because of how dense and heavy it is.
The carbon-fibre plate is full length and it’s super stiff so it does a good job at preventing the forefoot from flexing which increases the forefoot rocker sensation. It doesn’t offer as much forward propulsion as other super shoes because the midsole doesn’t compress much so the plate can’t move around and “shoot” you forward.
Steady paced runs which are between easy and marathon pace are what The Artist does best. The midsole setup allows you to pick up the pace slightly but I find it not punchy enough for tempo runs or interval workouts. I find the midsole foam a bit too flat for when you need some serious speed assistance.
The outsole of The Artist takes inspiration from the Adios Pro. It has a thin rubber layer with a rough finish, similar to sandpaper which protects the midsole foam.
The rubber of The Artist isn’t as durable as the Adios Pro and I noticed significant wear within the first 50 kilometres of testing. I wore through the outsole rubber on the heel on my second run but this is to be expected because Atreyu states on their website that you can only get around 250 miles out of The Artist.
Overall, I think The Artist punches above its weight when you consider that it only costs $100. I definitely don’t regret purchasing it and it feels faster than anything else that you can buy for $100 (which is not on sale).
I personally won’t be racing in it because it doesn’t provide as much speed assistance as a Vaporfly, Adios Pro or Rocket X but those shoes are $250. If you’re on a budget, The Artist will get the job done and help you get a faster time than a daily trainer, which is the only shoe you can get for $100 brand new.
Outsole durability is The Artist’s main concern, especially on the outer heel area. The rubber is extremely thin so you have to save it for races or key workouts. Heel lockdown is also subpar but it’s not a deal breaker.
I applaud Atreyu for finding a way to mass produce a carbon plated racer at such a reasonable price. Now, they only need to find a way to make it more accessible to the rest of the world.