Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can. He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line. More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K and in 2021 marathon had PR’s of 2:27 at the Maine Marathon and 1:09 for the half marathon.
Ryan: The loud, highlighter yellow looks of v2 have given way to an entirely different vibe — this knitted, unisex ‘blue surf’ colorway is muted enough to trick you into thinking that this might be a daily trainer. The distinctive geometry of the midsole is clearly unchanged from last year, with an overhang at the heel and a highly flared hourglass shape from above. What’s also clear, though, is that the upper has been completely overhauled. From the serrated laces, to a more sculpted and robust heel collar/cup, to a drastically different choice of material for the upper, everything above the footbed has been revamped.
In terms of sizing, the fit felt too long in the toe in my M9.5, even as compared to version 2 of this shoe. In conjunction with a relatively wide toe box, the front of the shoe felt uncomfortably spacious. I’d consider going a half size down here.
Ryan: The previous version’s thin, smooth mesh worked fine for me and sculpted around the foot nicely. This ‘QuicKnit’ material is certainly burlier, with a touch more shape to it on the lateral and medial sides.
It’s a highly engineered knit, which changes its pattern and loop density depending on which part of the foot it’s meant to secure. It’s also worth noting that this more robust upper knit is almost certainly the culprit for the shoe’s 0.75 oz weight gain, as the midsole and outer are unchanged.
It also offered a bit of stretch, which when paired with a spacious toe box, left the front end of my foot slightly unsettled during harder efforts.
This knit is highly breathable and wicking — a big step over its predecessor which tended to hold more moisture than was acceptable.
The tongue and heel redesign have paid off nicely.
Whereas the previous version relied on a suede-like material inside the heel that was prone to rubbing and pilling, this iteration uses a more conventional construction with a higher, flared collar and a friendlier ring of padding inside it.
In fixing the unruly tongue of v2, this tongue is tacked down on the lateral side at the second eyelet, and makes lacing these up much less of a process. The laces are aggressively nubbed to prevent slip, and while they can be reluctant to tension through the eyelets, once they’re in place they are reluctant to move at all.
Lastly, on the side of aesthetics, they haven’t given us much choice here with a single (for now, at least) unisex color that doesn’t look all that racy. I think Nike has proven with the abundance of Vaporfly colors that people like to have a variety of colorway options on race day. But I’ll go easy on Brooks here, as I’m aware of the serious supply chain issues that have made life hard for the industry as of late.
Ryan: Wide, firm, and energetic. The DNA Flash compound, while springy and eager to provide energy, isn’t as forgiving as many direct competitors’ midsoles. If you read our review of v2, you’ll notice the same sentiment.
There isn’t the same deep, fatigue-reducing forgiveness here that you can find in a Vaporfly or Adios Pro, but it does manage to prevent sloppiness and give back most of what you put into it. The DNA Flash’s proclivity to immediately rebound after foot strike encourages you to minimize the amount of time your foot is on the ground, helping with turnover. A sharply sculpted (‘Rapid Roll’) midsole at the front forces you to transition your weight quickly up onto your toes. In conjunction with the plate, which keeps things very stiff from heel to toe, this shoe is eager to assist during toe-off.
Such a wide stance creates a very predictable feeling throughout even the longest of runs. As it guided my foot strike and pronation, it felt a bit like putting the bumpers up at the bowling lane — whether this is good or bad will be a matter of personal preference. Overall, the ride is virtually unchanged from v2.
Ryan: This outsole appears to be completely unchanged from v2, and shares the same characteristics as a result. The rubber is split almost entirely down the middle of the shoe, which isn’t a concern with the carbon plate managing most of the midsole’s dynamics.
A simple V-like patch of rubber covers the underside of the forefoot, while a few small rubber islands guard the most wear-prone spots at the rear.
The entirety of the midsole foam underneath the arch is exposed to the ground, although I can attest that wearing/graining here is not an undue concern, since I’ve run about 250 miles in the identical midsole/outer of v2 of this shoe. I’ve pushed the HEv2 at a firm pace across scrappy gravel, and the exposed midsole has held up surprisingly well.
The rubber’s thinness, minimalist tread, and seemingly firm durometer (hardness) make it a little untrustworthy when there’s moisture around. On dry asphalt, I had no problems whatsoever, but I also didn’t feel like I had the same amount of grip as I do in a Metaspeed Sky or Adios Pro.
Ryan: The defining characteristics here are a firm, deliberate bounce upon impact, and a fairly abrupt transition up onto the toes. In contrast to a Vaporfly or Adios Pro, which first deeply cushion the foot and prepare for energy to be released, the HE3 tries to get everything done all at once. I got the feeling that the instant my foot touched the ground, it was trying to spring me forward, rather than take the transition as a step-by-step process. The ride is still soft and energetic, but it feels a little more jarring and less refined than that of the other shoes I keep mentioning. This one does not like to go slow, with the combination of a sharp rocker near the toe and a carbon plate making things feel awkward at casual paces. On the positive side, this earnest personality shines at harder efforts, where it feels completely under control and willing to push as hard as you’d like.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Ryan: While I appreciate the efforts Brooks put in to overhaul the entire upper and remedy the issues of V2, I now have concerns about the sizing and volume of the toe box. It’s also slightly disappointing to see that they haven’t taken a shot at improving the ride or the outsole of the shoe. As the other brands move forward, tweaking their existing midsole/outsole formulas to create (mostly) better super shoes, there isn’t much room to stand still as Brooks have done here.
All in all, this is still a formidable race day shoe with a snappy turnover and impressive stability. I wish it was a bit less expensive and had a more dynamic ride, but I still plan on using it for some of my faster running. Consider going a size down given the fit.
Ryan’s Score: 8.8
Deductions for a relative lack of fatigue-reduction, a rushed heel-to-toe transition, outsole grip, half-size long, and steep price
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Hyperion Elite 2 (RTR Review)
Ryan M9.5: The ride is virtually unchanged, thanks to an identical midsole and outsole. What is radically different is both the materials and construction of the upper. Gone is the smooth, thin mesh of v2. The QuicKnit material serves as a more sophisticated, breathable, and comfortable version of what it replaced. The characteristics of this material make the toe box feel much wider and longer, and as a result, v3 feels much larger to me. What has been fixed in the heel and collar has created a small sizing issue at the front, for me at least. V3 of the Hyperion Elite has added on about 20g / 0.7 oz over its predecessor, which isn’t surprising given the relatively burly knit used in the new upper. I’d consider going a half size down for this year’s model.
Adidas Adios Pro v1 (RTR Review)
The Adios Pro 1 features a much deeper cushion, with a more distinct ‘trampoline’ feel. With a much narrower midsole shape, the Adidas does not feel nearly as stable as the Brooks, but that’s a quality which I personally don’t mind. The outsole of the Adidas is much simpler, but covers more of the shoe and was noticeably grippier in my experience. As for the upper, the sculpted Celermesh upper on the AP1 is among my favorites, with a superb amount of lockdown, high breathability, and a confidence inspiring fit. I prefer the Adios over the Hyperion, and would size down in the Brooks relative to the Adidas.
Asics Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review)
My comparison here is fairly similar to that of the Adios Pro v1 above. While the Asics’s mesh upper feels harsher to the touch, I prefer it over the sophisticated looking knit of the Hyperion, as it provided a superior lockdown. A relative abundance of rubber on the Asics outsole also gives it the edge here. I felt a more pronounced and forgiving energy return from the Sky, although again, it isn’t quite as stable as the Hyperion’s super wide and firm platform. Both shoes are very stiff, with great toe-off energy and a willingness to propel you forward. The Brooks ran about a half size longer than the Asics in my M9.5.
Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite (RTR Review)
Ryan M9.5: The Puma wins out against the Brooks in my book, with its much more inviting midsole compound providing a far softer ride. The glove-like fit of the Fast-R upper was also superior in my opinion, with a clean and inspiring foot hold. The Hyperion Elite 3 is far more stable than the Puma thanks to a denser DNA Loft midsole compound. Outsole grip on the Puma wins hands-down, and based on our prior review of the Puma, I’ll bet that my fellow reviewers would agree. Some folks experienced some minor issues in the midfoot of the Puma, where its carbon plate is completely unsupported by midsole foam, but aside from that concern, I’d choose the Puma over the Brooks on most days. The Brooks fit a half size longer than the Puma for me.