Ampla Fly Carbon Fiber Running Shoes Review

Ampla Fly Running Shoe Review

The Ampla Fly carbon fiber running shoe. (AMPLA)

AMPLA compensated me for the time it took me to test their product, write about it, and share it on this blog. Compensation I receive from any company is not compensation for my good opinion. I only share products I think readers might find interesting.

Ampla Fly, the first shoes from nascent running company AMPLA, are so far outside the proverbial (shoe)box that I had to try them for myself. I put them to the test on the road and the treadmill.

When I first heard of the new Ampla Fly carbon fiber soled shoes, I assumed they were cycling shoes. Carbon fiber soles are de rigueur in the cycling and triathlon world. Simply, the stiffness of the soles helps transfer more force from your legs to your pedals than a softer material that loses energy when it flexes. The result? You pedal farther and faster with the same amount of effort.

But au contraire mon frère. The Ampla Fly are not cycling shoes. They’re running shoes. Yes, you read that right: carbon fiber running shoes. Predicated on the idea that “Force is your friend,” Ampla Fly aims to use force to train you to become a more efficient runner. They sell for $120 in men’s and women’s sizing and in two colors, red and black. If you want to try a pair, use code RunKarlaRun for 10 percent off at AmplaSport.com.

Ampla Fly Running Shoe Review

The Ampla Fly running shoe collection (AMPLA)

Ampla Fly Design

Why carbon fiber? “When a runner lands on the ground the force can equal upwards of 8x their body weight; we needed a material that could handle that weight, absorb that force and return the energy. Carbon fiber was our only choice.”

Folks not familiar with carbon fiber cycling shoes might worry that a “plate” in the midsole might make them heavy. Worry not. Carbon is both stiff and lightweight. Weighing in at 10.1 oz. in the men’s shoe and 9.8 oz. in the women’s shoe, the Ampla Fly are comparable to the Asics Gel-Nimbus or Brooks Glycerin weight wise.

This isn’t a minimalist shoe; it isn’t a maximalist shoe, but something wholly different. The 4 mm drop might lend itself more toward the minimalist end of the spectrum. But when you consider that drop comes from a 20 mm heel to a 16 mm forefoot, you realize this is an elevated shoe.

The seamless mesh and micro-suede upper are pretty standard. The Ortholite sockliner, EVA sub-sockliner, and EVA Lite top midsole provide a nice, but not overly soft, amount of cushioning.

Ampla Fly Running Shoe Review

Ampla Fly’s design (AMPLA)

The Amply Fly midsole, however, is what makes this shoe unique. The carbon fiber plate stretches the full length of the shoe, sandwiched between the single piece top midsole and EVA foam bottom midsole. But it’s not just a uniform piece. The plate includes a tab or tongue that moves with each footfall—effectively, a spring.

The EVA foam bottom midsole is then split into two pieces to cover the plate. The foam heel is fixed in place to cover the rear of the plate. The foam forefoot covers the toe off and tab of the plate.

What does it all add up to? The design promotes a midfoot strike, gathering the force of your step, and then channeling the energy into your forefoot at push off, AMPLA says.

No, heel striking itself isn’t bad. But studies show that overstriding—often a result of heel striking—might lead to more injuries. That midfoot strike encourages runners to shorten their strides and land with their feet beneath, not way in front of, their bodies.

Does the Ampla Fly work? I slipped them on to find out.

Ampla Fly Running Shoes Review

Karla tries Ampla Fly (RunKarlaRun.com)

Ampla Fly Performance

Wearing the women’s size 9, I took the Amply Fly on the road and treadmill.

Fit & Feel

First, the toe box is on the snug side. This is a common complaint of mine about many of the running shoes I try, and the Ampla Fly is no exception. Overall, I’d call this a close-to-the-foot fit. The heel is locked in place and ball hugged, even if the toes are a bit squished. Sizing is comparable to Nike or ASICS.

If you’ve ever worn carbon fiber soled cycling shoes, you know how stiff they can be. That was my first concern before slipping the shoes on. But the Ampla Fly are surprisingly soft, compensating for the carbon plate with ample cushioning.

Ride

Right away you’ll notice that this is a different kind of ride. The Ampla Fly absolutely encourages a midfoot strike. I almost want to say the shoe forces it. I noticed it right away. I fluctuate between being a heel striker and midfoot striker depending on the situation. I tried to heel strike in these shoes. It feels odd and unnatural. If you let the shoes do their job, the midfoot strike feels perfectly organic.

Ampla Fly Running Shoe Review

Ampla Fly outsole (AMPLA)

How? That fancy carbon fiber plate. When the shoes sit inactive, waiting for you to slip them on, you’ll see them resting on the midfoot with heels and toes elevated. That’s the carbon fiber plate, which centers the shoe’s weight over the ball. Mid-stride that carbon fiber plate pulls your foot down ball first.

The plate then gently rocks you forward onto your toes, like you’ve got rocking chair runners on the soles of your feet, ready for push off.

Further, the energy return from the carbon fiber plate is palpable. It’s not the main purpose of the plate—that midfoot strike is. But further into my runs, especially as my legs got tired, I continued to feel an extra bounce in my step. Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but hey, I’ll take it.

What is lost in translation is feel for the road. If you like a more minimal shoe that allows you to feel the nuances of the ground beneath your feet, you won’t find it here. Yes, that 4 mm drop is on the low end of the running shoe spectrum. But make no mistake: the Ampla Fly is a lot of shoe, with a disconnect between your feet and the ground.

For that reason, this is absolutely not a trail shoe. You wouldn’t want to encounter uneven terrain or make lateral cuts in these shoes. Throw in the possibility of getting rocks or pebbles trapped between the plate and top midsole and you’ll understand why the Ampla Fly are strictly for the road or treadmill.

All that said, if you like a maximalist shoe and don’t need to feel close to the ground, you might love these. And if you’re a midfoot striker or want to move to a midfoot strike, you might appreciate the Ampla Fly, too.

And no matter what kind of runner you are, you might enjoy trying these because they are so different. That’s what lured me.

The design team at Ampla is currently working on the next additions to the line, using the Fly as a jumping off point. So stay tuned for more from Ampla later this year.

Ampla Fly Carbon Fiber Running Shoes Review

Ampla Fly women’s red running shoe (AMPLA)

Ampla Fly Takeaway

The Ampla Fly delivers on its main promise—helping you hone a more efficient stride, with a midfoot landing and springy toe off. They’re certainly not for everyone—namely trail runners or folks who like a barely-there shoe. There’s a lot of “there” there.

While I wouldn’t use them as my one-and-only running shoe, I’ll definitely keep mine as a training tool to encourage that midfoot strike and sorter stride. (No, I don’t keep all of the running shoes I try.)

Will they be right for you? This is definitely a shoe you need to try for yourself. Thankfully, Ampla offers a no-questions-asked, no-matter-the-condition, 30-day return policy. They make it easy: shipping and returns are free.

If you want to try a pair, use code RunKarlaRun for 10 percent off at AmplaSport.com.

AMPLA compensated me for the time it took me to test their product, write about it, and share it on this blog. Compensation I receive from any company is not compensation for my good opinion. I really say what I think. For more information, read my Disclosure Policy.

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Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

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07 2016

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Interesting shoes. Does it feel like it propels you forward? I’m trying to understand what it would be like to run in those shoes.
    Elle recently posted..Week 2 of Run Less, Run FasterMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning
      2

      I wouldn’t say it feels like they “propel” you forward. That’s too strong a word. But there is a definite rocking motion, much like a rocking chair, rocking you forward. As a result you’ll notice the toe-off in these shoes. More than extra energy or momentum, you’ll feel how much they position your feet in specific way.
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Ampla Fly Carbon Fiber Running Shoes ReviewMy Profile

  2. 3

    I’ve this shoe, A little stiffer than I expected, but fits well and does the job.
    Leonor R. Howard recently posted..Top 5 Beginner Mountain Bike MistakesMy Profile

  3. 4

    ampla looks like a good shoe for running. thanks for reviewing it, as I’ll surely give it a try.



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