The promise of trickle-down carbon-plated tech from top-end releases into sub-£150 models had yet to materialise in the world of run shoes, but that’s now been remedied by the Kiprun KD900X carbon-plated shoes from Decathlon’s in-house brand.
Coming in at half the price of most of their atomic rivals (but still a sizeable £130 outlay), the KD900X boasts an extended hoof-like heel of Nike’s Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, takes plenty of inspiration from Hoka’s hefty back catalogue, and the midsole found here, and in Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3 carbon pumps, is made from PEBA foam.
And yet the KD900X is more than just a high- performing pastiche, with enough positives to make the KD900X a strong statement of intent from a brand more known for affordability.
Out of the box, the KD900X instantly displays its wide toe box and roomy upper – choose the larger option if you’re between sizes. The wings of the lean tongue, which contributes to the KD900X’s lithe 225g weight (UK7), are tricky to align – triathletes wanting to save seconds in transition take note.
What’s also instantly evident is the stiffness of the sole, with that full-length carbon plate offering very little give.
That uncompromising feel remains after multiple runs, but it’s not unpleasant and, allied with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop, they do promote forward propulsion, with our runs universally faster in these than our regular oversized (but not carbon) shoes.
What they also encourage are tight post-run calves, meaning we won’t be wearing these for consecutive runs and will be saving them for sub-10km speed sets.
Also worth attention is the bumper 1,000km warranty Decathlon has offered, that confidence stemming from the 4mm-thick rubberised sections on the outsole that prevent wear and tear. These sections provided ample grip on wet cobbles in wet-weather warnings in November, but they also create a slightly muted run experience.
In terms of compromises, the baggy weave upper could be better quality. Yet we’ve personally found them more versatile than the Nike Alphafly Next%, especially when navigating the twists and turns found on urban tri courses.
Is carbon worth the cash?
The big question is do you really need carbon shoes? Personally, as a midpack runner, our tri run legs are a mixture of attempted speed and survival, the battle to beat a PB or avoid the triathlon shuffle to the line.
We’ve found carbon shoes are exceptional at the former, less positive at the latter, with their furious focus on speed lacking the ability to gently guide or cushion a malfunctioning technique. So we’re still ambivalent, but the general quality and price of the KD900X could open the world of carbon plates up to a new generation of triathletes.
What Decathlon does next could be very interesting.
Verdict: Affordable and durable, swift and stiff; a largely impressive carbon debut.