At first glance the MBT Speed 16 looks somewhat like a Hoka with a wide design and thicker sole.
You certainly won’t be buying a pair for the attractiveness factor. The bottom is built on something similar to a rocking platform with the heel and toe tapering up somewhat.
The company MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) created a walking fitness shoe back in the late 1990’s with this rocker profile to help your foot roll forward.
The MBT official website describes the shoe this way:
Shoe Review: MBT Speed 16
“The new, ultra-lightweight MBT Speed 16 is designed for speed and built to support an efficient run. The rocker sole designed with a mid-foot pivot strike keeps your steps smooth as you move. It’s your run, completely revolutionized.”
This shoe is relatively light weight despite its wide and bulky look at 7.5 oz (for women’s size 7.5). It has a heel to toe drop of 0.5mm and is retails for $110.00.
My First Run in the MBT Speed 16
This shoe feels different on the foot from the start. It seemed like my heel sunk down lower than I was used to and the shoe had a stiff feeling. However I liked the fact that the shoe is a bit wider with plenty of room in the toe box. Because of the width the shoe felt a little loose in the heel area but I didn’t have any problems with heel slippage. The tongue also felt a bit stiff and puffy.
It took me around 3 miles to stop obsessively focusing on how different these shoes feel on my feet. It felt like my running form changed because with the rocker platform it’s virtually impossible to be a heel striker. I had to consciously work on picking up my feet to avoid shuffling them on the concrete.
This is a unique feeling shoe that takes some getting used to. I like the amount of cushioning and width of the shoe and toe box. The amount of arch support feels nice although the shoe comes across as a bit stiff and less responsive. One thing that takes some adjustment is how your running form will change (which is probably a good thing). For that reason it would be important to transition gradually to these shoes if you’ve never worn anything like them before. One minor irritation with the shoe is that small to medium sized rocks get stuck between the grooves on the bottom of the shoe.
I’ve put around 30 miles on the MBT Speed 16 during the last three weeks and like them in the rotation for shorter runs.
*Disclaimer: I received this pair of shoes free to test but did not get any compensation for this review.