Xero Shoes Speed Force II Review – The most minimal shoe right now?

The Xero Shoes Speed Force II is a minimalist running shoe with a 4.5mm outsole, providing a close-to-ground experience with minimal protection. If there ever was a barefoot shoe, this is it. 

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Weight

6.5oz / 184g for men’s US9

Stack height

4.5mm + 3mm removable insole
Zero Drop

Made for

Barefoot training
Road running

Fit

Average/High Volume
Average width
½ size up

Feel

Massive ground feel!
Great lockdown
Ultimate flexibility

Pros & Cons

+ Perfect barefoot shoe
+ Build quality
– Too narrow for some toe splays


The Xero Shoes Speed Force II is a minimalist running shoe with a 4.5mm outsole, providing a close-to-ground experience with minimal protection. If there ever was a barefoot shoe, this is it. 

Although the Speed Force has its virtues, some barefoot enthusiasts might argue that the toe box is too small, while others may say that the shoes are too deep.

For me, they’re some of the most fun barefoot shoes I’ve had on my feet in a long time, and in fact, they’re 100% in my shoe rotation now and will be for as long as they survive! 

What if you could build a more sustainable running experience by making simple tweaks that result in faster times and bigger distances…

Fit

The Speed Force II fits like other Xero Shoes in the past—deep, average, wide, and great lockdown.

Which minimal running shoe is for you?

Take a quick 5-question quiz to identify the perfect minimal running shoe for your feet! You'll get both road and trail options based on your answers!


What size to order?

It seems to be a trend! Order ½ a size larger than your standard. Like many other Xero Shoes models, it’s recommended to go up by half a size to ensure enough space for your toes. This extra length will prevent your toes from bumping against the front and provide more room for the big toe.

Is the toe box actually wide?

Xero Shoes have never made the widest-toe box shoes, and the Speed Force is similar. If there’s one thing on my wishlist, it’d be more space for my big toe! The toe box is not quite squared off like other barefoot shoes.

For 70% of your out there, the toe box will be “wide enough.” Although I complained about the toe box, it’s just big enough for most. Just make sure your forefoot is precisely locked down, meaning you lock your foot onto the center of the base. With a precise lockdown, most of us will have enough width in the shoe as long as you order a ½ size up. 

xero shoes speed force ii overhead

Is the upper forgiving?

The upper material is pliable enough to wrap around the foot perfectly. And when you pair that with the strapping system you find on Xero Shoes, you end up with a snug and comfortable fitting upper. 

Does the heel lock in place?

The unstructured heel and the Xero Shoe strapping system lock the heel perfectly in place. I have always found that Xero Shoes have the best-fitting heel for me. The unstructured heel and strap that wraps around it locks my heel perfectly onto the sole. However, if you have a narrow and shallow heel, you may find it too baggy to keep you locked in place.

xero shoes speed force ii straps

Will they accommodate shallow and deep feet?

Xero Shoes isn’t known for their shallow fit. While some newer shoe models have a shallower fit, the Speed Force II resembles the older models. Even with the insole in the shoe, it still fits deep. Hence, I would recommend this shoe only for those with average-to-deep feet.

You can take out the insole for more room if you have super deep feet! The Speed Force II can be worn with or without the insole, allowing you to adjust the ground feel and increase the space in the shoe to your liking.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes Speed Force II

Feel

Super duper barefoot! These shoes are the closest to barefoot that I’ve felt. From the flexibility to the ground feel, this is a great model to practice your barefoot running. 

Is the flexibility like a true barefoot shoe?

Yes, yes, yes! The whole shoe can roll into your hand. The shoe can be folded in any direction, ideal for barefoot practice. During running, your foot doesn’t just bend in one direction but expands and morphs throughout the gait cycle. Therefore, your shoe needs to allow for this natural movement.

There are no stiff spots to the shoe. The outsole is the most rigid part of the shoe, but they are still soft and flexible. Despite being only 4.5mm thick, they bend in multiple directions.

xero shoes speed force ii outsole

How does the shoe feel underfoot?

If you step on something sharp, you will feel it, but that’s a good thing. When running barefoot, the sensation of the ground under your feet is crucial. It provides you with direct information on how to improve your running form. However, it’s important to strike a balance between getting enough feedback and protecting your feet from sharp objects. 

The sole is flat, with little to no turned-up edges when the upper attaches. This surface is completely flat, which reduces pressure points and places your foot in a natural position.

What type of runs are they suited to?

Stick to the road and watch for rocks and sharp objects. As I have previously mentioned, these shoes have a very minimal design. However, this makes them ideal for barefoot training on concrete or asphalt surfaces. The hard surface provides excellent feedback to help you improve your barefoot gait. However, it is important to be cautious and avoid anything that could cause harm to your feet. Just imagine that you are barefoot and take the necessary precautions. 

Is the upper constricting?

Even though the upper is flexible, it’s not so stretchy. Buying shoes that are a half size larger will prevent them from being too small and restrictive. 

There’s a little bit of sag that’ll allow your feet to move as necessary. But don’t worry about your feet slipping around in the shoe because they’re nicely locked in place by the lace and strapping system. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes Speed Force II

Durability

Newer Xero Shoes models are of better quality now, which gives me hope that they’ll last long enough to meet the 5000-mile outsole warranty mentioned on the website.

How long will the outsole last?

Xero Shoes says 5,000 miles, but I’d be slightly more conservative. This road shoe has very little stack height, meaning you can run in them for a long time before they wear out completely. You could even wear them until there are holes in them! While I’m not sure they can last up to 5000 miles, I’m confident they’ll make it to 1000 miles, which is still pretty impressive. 

Don’t worry if you have uneven wear patterns; they’re so thin that uneven wear will make little difference. Many people will throw out their shoes when they start to see uneven wear. That makes sense when you’ve got a higher-stacked shoe, but it’s not such an issue when you’re so close to the ground. 

xero shoes speed force ii upper

What’s the build quality like?

From the upper to the outsole, this model’s quality has drastically increased! I am extremely impressed by the welding of the upper materials and how they are all assembled. The outsole is connected to the upper and safeguarded around the shoe with an overlay that protects against high-wear areas. 

The straps are tough and will not snap easily at all. There is a concern that the lacing, when wrapped into straps not attached to the upper, may break and render the footwear useless. Fortunately, the strap is highly durable and can withstand heavy use. Although others have mentioned weak spots on the outsole attachments, I have never experienced any issues.

Can the upper withstand scuffs and scrapes?

I wouldn’t take these shoes onto the trails. The reason why the outsole is thin is not the only concern for these shoes, as the upper part is also lightweight and can easily tear if caught. However, it’s essential to remember that these shoes are meant for roads, not trails. Therefore, the likelihood of catching branches or twigs is low. 

If you stub your toe, they’ll be somewhat protected with an overlay. The toe cap serves multiple functions. If you accidentally kick a curb, it provides a thin overlay that offers some protection. Additionally, it gives structure to elevate the material away from the toes.

Are there any weak points of the shoe?

Believe it or not, the weakest point is the outsole! I mentioned earlier that the shoes can withstand up to 1000 miles of running, but it’s important to note that the 4.5mm rubber underfoot will eventually break down over time. If you wear out your shoes quickly, it could be a sign that your running technique needs improvement. Use this as feedback to identify areas that you need to work on. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Xero Shoes Speed Force II

Conclusion

I’m not going to hide this. I love this shoe! 

The only negative I’ve found is the lack of big toe space for my bulbous toe! 

If you’re looking for a road running shoe to practice your barefoot running, I wouldn’t hesitate to advise the Speed Force II! Check the Prices on the Xero Shoes website now!

But who shouldn’t buy this shoe? 

Someone who wants a bit of cushion

Someone that has a super wide-toe splay

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Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! Any particular change you noted since version I?
    I’m loving the v1 I’ve been walking in 🙂

    • Yeah, I much prefer them over version v1. But maybe it’s mostly subconscious because they look a bit better than the original? 🙂 The out sole feels very similar, but the biggest change is in the upper. I feel that’s touch more room in the big toe area. And it’s also more breathable than the original.
      I’m glad your comment finally got through!

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