Running shoes have evolved considerably in recent years, but the outer limits of functional design apparently haven’t been reached yet.
A French startup company called Enko Running announced on Feb. 4 that it is seeking funding to develop a mechanical running shoe with a shock-absorbing system that it says will effectively store energy upon impact and return it at the start of a new stride. Although precise technical specs aren’t available, videos and illustrations on the Enko Running site suggest that twin shock absorbers on each shoe are adjusted to the specific weight of the runner to help mitigate impact forces and contribute to forward propulsion.
The main part of the shoe looks like a traditional running shoe, with a mesh upper, a standard lacing system and a rubber toe bumper and reinforced heel. But set off from the bottom of the shoe is a hinged mechanism that apparently acts as the midsole and outsole as the runner goes through a gait cycle. The shoe also has both a running and walking setting to properly handle the forces of each one.
The principal figure behind the brand is Christian Freschi, an avid runner who owns an aeronautical design and production company in Toulouse, France. Freschi has been developing this shoe for 12 years, the company says.
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Among the many claims the company makes include a line that says the Enko shoe “optimizes the stride, reduces fatigue and lets people run effortlessly for long.” It also says it will last two to three times longer than traditional running shoes because it has replaceable rubber outsole studs.
Enko Running is seeking $50,000 in seed money via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to launch the shoes. As of Feb. 4, it has raised $8,525 of that goal. The company is offering a introductory price of $290 (plus $38 for delivery) to the first 100 people who purchase them as part of the company’s crowdsourcing campaign. The first models are expected to be available by August.
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