'Doughnut' sole concept delivers run away performance

The new Circular System sole technology is being introduced by Decathlon into two models of a high performance fashion running shoe under its Domyos brand.  The concept is based on the study of movement and the foot's constraints at the Decathlon research centre in Villeneuve-d'Ascq.  The technology is characterised by a ring-shaped geometry under the heel, where a central hole allows for a three-dimensional, inward and outward distortion, reducing the shock.

When people run, each step sends a measurable shock wave through the whole body.  Fatty tissue under the heel bone acts as a natural protection, but has limited damping capacity.  The sole design maximises the efficiency of this natural cushion.

Independent testing by a biomechanics laboratory showed that the Decathlon Circular System absorbed 21 per cent more energy than other running shoes.  The centre tried samples of seven running shoes of equivalent ranges and prices, and the runners praised the agility, cushioning and support delivered by Decathlon's pronounced spring action.

Nicholas Bouché, R&D project manager at Decathlon says:  "Studies have revealed that most jogging shoes lose a great deal of their damping capability after only 200 kilometers - a distance quickly covered by serious runners who train several times a week.  The Circular System is a prime example of our philosophy to design better sports items which are good for the user's health, well-being and pleasure."

To develop its product, Decathlon collaborated with Huntsman Polyurethanes for a suitable soling solution.  The company created a bespoke waterblown polyester system based on its SUPRASEC® 2544 prepolymer technology adapted to the climatic conditions in Asia.  It has inherent shock absorption and high-energy return qualities to achieve the required bounce effect and prolong the shoe's performance.

The elastomer offers the right balance between cushioning and springiness.  The combination of the sole design and the resilient foam guarantees excellent damping efficiency and durability, tested using accelerometer measurements and aging under sustained mechanical impact.

Decathlon benefited from Huntsman Polyurethanes' Footwear Technology Centre in Everberg where the technology was fine-tuned, delivering the product from initial idea and prototype to first full-scale production to meet the demands of the fashion market.

In addition, Huntsman's global structure enabled Decathlon to base its production in Asia Pacific and source the chemical manufacturer's polyurethane technology locally, backed by its full technical support service.

With the help of Huntsman Polyurethanes' technical teams in Asia, the doughnut-shaped sole design was produced in Vietnam by Viet A Chau, the leading unit sole producer in the country.

Editor's notes:
Decathlon is the world's third largest distributor of sports equipment.  A chain of 252 self-service department stores in 11 countries offers products for all sports and for all major brands.  The company manufactures its own products, which are marketed under various brand names.
SUPRASEC® is a registered trademark of Huntsman International LLC. The mark is registered in one or more countries, but may not be registered in all countries.

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