The Democratization of Speed: Specter Running Shoe Design

We have been thrilled to see the positive response to Specter: our first high-cushioned, up-tempo trainer. Seeing so many runners enjoying the shoe validates the goals we set out to achieve when creating the product — after all, we designed it in the hopes that it would provide a fast, fun, and comfortable ride for everyone, not just elite athletes (though it has quickly become a favorite of our Elite team too).

We believe everyone deserves the joyful, weightless feeling that comes with running fast. Our mission with Specter, as our Product Manager Russ Stevens so aptly coined it, is “the democratization of speed.”

Read on for insight into our Product Manager’s thought process behind Specter’s purpose and the customer it aims to serve, along with where our Senior Product Designer pulled inspiration from for Specter’s design, features, and shape.

Russ Stevens | Topo Athletic Product Manager

“Our goal was to create a product that makes speed accessible. Too many elite racing shoes only cater to a small market of elite runners. However, everyone wants and deserves to feel fast and see improvement.

The strength of up-tempo and race-day shoe sales during the pandemic, even when there were no races, drives this point home. The “everyday” runner’s goal may be something as simple as running the loop around their neighborhood faster than they did the day before, but everybody wants to feel like they’re improving. Thus, we should strive to offer a product that is ideal for that runner.

We designed the Specter to do exactly that. It works well for a wide variety of runners of all speeds, so whether your up-tempo pace is 12 minutes per mile or 5 minutes per mile, Specter will deliver a fast, lightweight, and comfortable ride.”

Kirk Swanson | Senior Product Designer

“To technically execute on the idea of ‘speed’ as part of our mission to ‘democratize speed,’ we drew inspiration for the sole design from Formula-1 car racing tires (Racing Slicks). Similar to F-1 racing tires, we gave the sole a smooth, lug-less design to maximize the rubber contact with the pavement. With Specter’s high stack height, we also widened the contact area across the ball and heel to keep it extra stable. To keep the platform lively, we used a thinner rubber, which lets the EVA frame and Pebax insert work optimally and uninhibited. Next, we carefully cut away any excess rubber material to reduce weight while maintaining the wide surface contact patch across the touch points and gate.

The rocker shape, thin rubber outsole combined with the EVA frame, and Pebax insert results in a very cushioned platform that propels you forward. We tried to reflect the feeling that feeling of propulsion and speed into the midsole profile design by giving it a wind-swept look.”

Did you a notice that we launched with the same bright colorway for both men and women? Our fit may differ per anatomical tendencies between genders, but we’ve been listening to your requests to bring the same bright colors to women’s lineup. What did you think?

Head to our website to checkout a full run down of Specter’s features, watch the full product video where our Founder & CEO Tony Post and Russ walk you through everything, or to order a pair now! If you’ve already snagged a pair and have been loving them, be sure to tag @topoathletic on Instagram so we can follow along!

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