Road Trail Run: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Multi Tester Review: Speed Meets Comfort

Article by Zack Dunn, Jamie Hershfang, and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 ($150) 


Introduction

Sam: The first two editions of the Endorphin Speed were huge successes. They delivered never really seen before racer/trainers with high stack, beaded PEBA super foam, lightweight nylon plates,  with friendly and pocketbook friendly rides suitable for faster training and racing. There were only minor differences between versions 1 and 2, the upper.

With the Speed 3 Saucony shakes things up! 

  • wider winged shaped nylon plate with more front flex with the wings providing a touch of midfoot support which is more about stabilizing the softer foam than pronation control.

  • softer to touch and on the run PARKRUN PB PEBA foam using smaller expanded beads. My sense it is a lighter foam as well

  • no change in weight in my US8.5 from v2 at 7.76 oz  / 220g despite wider base

  • outsole reduces coverage where it is not needed and gets more longitudinal flex windows contributing to the improved flexibility

  • New upper has a less pointy toe, more midfoot width, and somewhat softer thinner mesh

The basics above point to a slightly more mellow yet still speedy ride. Speed with comfort! Read on to see what we found in our testing.


Pros:

Zack/Sam/Jamie: Extremely versatile:  can be used for racing, tempos, speed work and also for longer runs at moderate paces

Jamie/Sam/Zack: Upper has a nice, lightweight fit,  is much more accommodating than v1/v2 while still providing a secure lockdown

 Zack/Jamie: The midsole has a good amount of comfort, and the plate gives it a lot of response for faster paces

Zack: The outsole has the perfect amount of rubber coverage to still have grip yet keep weight light. 

Sam: Broader platform and plate with significant improvements in stability over v2, yet with no weight gain.


Cons:

Jamie: None!

Sam: Less aggressive broader plate, wider platform, and softer foam leans the Speed slightly away from being a race day option.

PC: Sally Reiley 

Stats

Approx. Weight: men’s 8.1 oz  / 229gg (US9)  /  women’s 7.2 oz / 204g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  7.76 oz  /  220g (US8.5) same weight as v2 at US8.5

Stack Height: men’s 36mm heel / 28mm forefoot, 8mm drop

$150


Tester Profiles

Jamie is 30 years old and runs 100+ miles per week. She has run many marathons, with a PR of 2:49 and has recently moved up to the ultra distances. She completed a solo 100k in 7:36:40 and set the Chicago Lakefront Trail FKT. In 2021 she was the fastest US woman on road for 50 miles with a  time of 6:07:11. She is training to qualify to represent team USA at a world championship. Outside of training, she is the store manager at Fleet Feet Lakeview in Chicago.


Zack Dunn: is a college sophmore/ runner at Lewis University. I’ve been running for 7 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 50-70 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 2:00 for 800m, 4:25 for 1600m, 9:50 for 3200m, 15:57 for 5K, and 34:10 for 10K. 


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.


First Impressions, Fit and Upper


Zack: The first impressions of the shoe in terms of fit was really good. It was true-to-size, and had a really great snug midfoot lockdown with more toe room in the toe box. 

The upper is made of a single layer engineered mesh that has a smooth polyester feel to the touch. One of my favorite parts of the upper was the gusseted tongue, which greatly helped the lockdown of the midfoot. The toe box is perforated as well so breathability was no issue at all. The heel and collar area was really nice too, as they had moderate amounts of padding that is comfortable but not overly soft. I definitely knew it was a good upper because as you run it really just disappears. Overall I was really pleased with it. 

PC: @steve.photographs.chi

Jamie: My first impression of this shoe was a great one! Fits true to size, with the upper much more accommodating compared to v1/v2. As someone needing a wider toe box, I really appreciated the fit. The gusseted tongue helped secure the lockdown and didn’t create any irritations. Plus who doesn’t love stretchy laces?! The heel counter had just enough cushion and didn’t feel too soft or too thin. Like Zack said, it’s one of those shoes where it really just disappears when you’re running. Loving it!

Sam: Resplendent in a rich blue with gold and blue highlight, this classy, striking upper really stands out. I am also immediately struck by the smoother contours of the midsole sidewalls compared to the more angular ones in the v2. My eye is drawn to the winged plate peeking out of the midfoot area which is interestingly more exposed on the lateral side than medial. I wondered how it would feel so close to the foot.

The fit is secure as before but now is roomier in the toe box (both width and height) and also at mid foot with the sometimes sharp hold of v2 there, eliminated. 

It is a slightly more relaxed fit overall and true to size now favoring slightly higher volume feet over lower volume ones. Above my narrower right foot was a touch loose with a bit to much toe box volume while my wider left was perfectly, softly, and comfortably locked down

I did an A/B run with v3 and v2 one on each foot and the differences in fit were clearly felt.  Those who found the Speed 2 was too narrow by a small margin will find plenty of toe box room here now. Those with very narrow feet may find the toe area not quite as secure as before.  Watch the A/B test run initial review video  here


The engineered mesh is single layer in the sense that its perforations go right through to the foot. It is thin and quite dense but very pliable allowing for structure and hold and at the same time given the holes is highly ventilated. Combined with the slightly stretchy laces, stretchy tongue and gusset we get a very easy on the foot fit that is less plasticky and rigid than v2’s fit. 


The tongue features a soft plasticky and pliable outer material covering the lightly padded and also soft mesh below near lace up which then transitions to all soft mesh towards the toe. 

The gusset is of the same somewhat stretchy mesh as the tongue with an excellent comfortable lace up and hold. V2 had a more padded top of tongue with thin leatherette and mesh.

The heel counter is overall less rigid than v2’s but does have  a thin quite rigid strip extending to the top of the achilles at the rear. 

Our Marcel Krebs in his initial review had some irritation issues there with his early sample. We are not sure if our current samples are from the same sample production but I had no issues with irritation at the achilles. 

The sockliner is made of EVA  and is not a PWRRUN +sockliner  as many 2022 Saucony have. I think it is a smart choice as there is plenty of soft rebound below. 


All in all a superb upper that perfectly matches the speed (with comfort) vibe of the Speed 3.


Midsole

Zack: The sweet point of the shoe is  the midsole. This midsole is composed of Saucony’s PWRRUN PB foam, with a S-Shaped winged nylon plate, which is new in comparison to last year’s version. 


The midsole is really a pleasure underfoot, with nearly the perfect blend of comfort and responsiveness, without the overly aggressive feeling of a stiff carbon fiber plate. The nylon plate that was previously mentioned does not feel as harsh underfoot as a carbon plate does, but it still provides tremendous propulsion over a non-plated shoe, which means that this shoe performs great at uptempo paces. As well as that, the nylon plate is actually noticeable by looking at the shoe, as it peeks out both the lateral and medial sides of the midsole. 


The midsole has definitely enough cushioning to go long distances, with the stack measuring at 36mm heel and 28mm forefoot. Overall, the midsole is really a pleasure to run in, and is certainly the highlight of the shoe. 


Jamie: With the new PWRRUN PB foam, the midsole provided the perfect amount of cushioning and responsiveness. My first run made me think that this shoe could be the perfect daily trainer for those looking for versatility. Light enough, soft enough, and just the right amount of rebound. The S-shaped winged nylon plate is noticeable at faster paces, but not overly aggressive. It’s a super fun trainer, suitable for speed workouts, longer runs, or those looking for a race shoe that isn’t quite as aggressive as some carbon plated competitors. 

Sam: The Speed 3 sits on a 5mm wider platform (front and back)  than before with the same 36 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot stack height yet weighs the same as Speed 2. 

I found a softer PWRRUN PB cushion, notably increased stability from the platform width and the new broader S shaped nylon plate with its wings poking out a midfoot. It provides a touch of support but not really a noticed pronation control element to the softer foam at the relatively narrow and unchanged in width mid foot platform. 

The combination of softer foam, broader more stable platform, new plate and increased flexibility do indeed deliver a slightly less aggressive snappy platform than before.  


There is more bounce/spring to the foam especially at the forefoot. The nylon plate stays out of the way at slower paces (unlike Speed 2 where the front Speed Roll in combination with the plate felt sharp at slower pace) and activates more distinctly at faster paces. I could clearly feel a sharper more distinct Speed Roll effect at faster paces than slower as I think I was compressing the foam more at the very front. It’s a very neat adaptable feel keeping Speed more mellow at slower paces and more dynamic and snappy at faster ones.

The Speed 3 flex remains snappy but is now is not quite as stiff


The Speed has a now more friendly, stable and versatile midsole for sure extending the range of the Speed 3 clearly into any run and daily training territory for me whereas the Speed 1 & 2 due to their firmer feel, stiffer flex and narrower platform (and upper) was more strictly up tempo and racing for me.


Outsole

Zack: I enjoyed the outsole of this shoe for its pure simplicity. The rubber is placed in vital areas, which keeps weight to a minimum, as a lot of unnecessary rubber would just add weight. It has actually been reduced slightly since the last version, but is barely noticeable underfoot. It is composed of carbon rubber, which after 52 miles has very little wear. Do I think the outsole is going to last forever or as much as typical daily trainers? No I don’t, but I do think it will last at least 250-300 miles. 


Jamie: The rubber is placed in high impact areas to provide just the right amount of traction and durability while keeping the weight down. I didn’t have any issues on slick roads around the city, which might be different in the cold and wet parts of the year, but that’s what the runshield version is for! However, on a sunny summer day, the traction is ideal. 


Sam: To help keep the Speed 3 at the same weight as the narrower platform Speed 2,  Saucony judiciously reduced rubber coverage while maintaining coverage in all the key areas. But also as said above the new outsole coverage does more affecting the ride characteristics. 

The front of the outsole’s open areas are more longitudinal, helping with the noted somewhat more flexible forefoot. Not to worry we still have a snappy plated flex, it’s just a little easier a little less aggressive in feel with the Speedroll final toe off also a touch more mellow and less harsh. 


At the medial midfoot instead of rubber we have a pad of flat midsole to softly help with stability, as seen in the Tempus where the pad is PWRRUN whereas here we have PWRRUN PB.


I ran on some wet slick wooden boardwalk, my usual grip test, and all was fine. I would have been more tentative for sure in the Speed 2 there.


Ride:

Zack: The ride of this shoe is very versatile, as it can be used for so many different types of runs: tempos, long days, daily training for some who enjoy a lighter shoe, and even a workout shoe for faster intervals.  With that being said, I think the shoe definitely excels at tempo runs, as I think at those paces (for me tempo is about 5:30 / mile, typically for 5-7 miles), as the plate, midsole, and everything feels great at those paces.  This being said, it is too heavy for fast race pace intervals in my opinion, as there are lighter faster options on the market, but I would not complain if for some reason I did have to use this shoe for that type of workout, it still gets the job done. 


I also think it did great for long runs due to the cushioning that the shoe provided. I cut down on my long runs, which typically are 12-15 miles. I will start at a daily run pace (7:15 / mile) then eventually cut down to a moderate or even near tempo pace by the end, and the shoe is really good for that. 


For easier type runs or even daily training, the shoe performs well, but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. I did a 6 mile normal run in it (6 miles @ 7:15/mile pace) and it was good in terms of underfoot comfort and feel, but personally I don’t enjoy running easier paces in a plated shoe, as I have achilles tendonitis in my left foot, and at slower paces a plated shoe irritates that greatly, so it just does not work for me in that respect. For  my right foot there were no issues so I knew in better circumstances I would have enjoyed it more.


There are some who enjoy running daily in a plated shoe, and if so, this shoe is one of the better shoes for that as it’s not the most aggressive but still has a plate on board. All in all , I really enjoyed the ride of this shoe and how versatile it was, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why it has been and will be such a strong seller 

PC: @steve.photographs.chi

Jamie: The Endorphin Speed 3 is turning into my new favorite trainer. While it does have a nylon plate, the cushioning and support make  it perfect for everyday running. There is so much versatility in this shoe thanks to the updated cushioning and wider platform. 


While I would only wear v1/v2 for faster paced runs, v3 has felt like the ideal shoe from easier runs to faster paced long runs. For those looking for a race shoe that isn’t quite as aggressive as a carbon plated one, the Endorphin Speed 3 is a great option. I love the ride of this shoe and can envision it being in my weekly rotation for months to come!

Sam: As the others have said, an incredibly versatile ride on a light platform. A do it all ride where speed is always available and longer run more comfortable and that is more stable riding now addied to its excellent mix. While slightly less race “sharp” than before at slower paces, at faster paces the plate and foam compression up front activate the characteristic Speed Roll and spring if in a bit more tamed fashion now. The ride for me now has more uses and can not only race but daily train most runs.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Road Scoring Rubric


Zack: All in all, there is a good reason this shoe’s predecessors have been tagged as the shoe of the year for many, and this shoe, with its relatively “minor” updates, will definitely again be many runners’ shoes of the year. It has so many good qualities including:  being cushioned, comfortable, lightweight, responsive, fast, and the list can go on for a while. With all those good qualities, there was almost nothing with the shoe that I could find that I even disliked in the slightest, and trust me I tried coming up with one con to list, but I just could not.  The shoe was really a pleasure to run in, and anybody who runs in it will agree.

Zack’s Score: 9.53/10 


Jamie: The Saucony Endorphin Speed continues to get even better. As Zack said, I can definitely envision this to be one of the top shoes of the year. The versatility of this shoe is my absolute favorite part, thanks to the updated cushioning, more accommodating upper, responsiveness, and durability for a speed shoe. I had no complaints about any of the updates, it just keeps getting better. Anxious to see the colorways Saucony comes up with for this one! The Endorphin Speed 3 is a super fun shoe that everyone can find joy running in. 

Jamie’s Score: 9.9/10

Jamie’s “Smiles” Score: 😊😊😊😊😊

This score is about how pleasing/fun (or in the case of race type shoe effective)  the shoe’s experience is on the run.


Sam: In late 2019,  Saucony shocked the running world with the introduction of their 3 shoe Endorphin line: Pro, Speed, and Shift. All were groundbreaking and successful with runners world wide and especially so the Speed. 


Both versions of Speed were for many of us our shoes of the year here at RTR. v2 versions during the pandemic were upper updates as the wizards at Saucony worked on not only v3 of each of Endorphin but so far in 2022 we think successful updates to every model both road and trail including Ride 15, Guide 15, the new Tempus, and trail Peregrine 12, Xodus Ultra and yes indeed a trail companion to Speed and Pro, the  Endorphin Edge. Just about every update for the road saw Saucony adding stack, softening slightly, reducing weight, and topping with great uppers. 


With the Speed 3 Saucony was brave. They didn’t change the stack but widened the base and nylon plate, softened the foam a touch and modified the outsole all while not adding any weight. As with the Ride 15, and the Endorphin Pro 3 now in test, and we expect Shift 3 as well, in each case they have broadened the potential for more runners to enjoy each of these rides, and for more run types. without changing their fundamental essence and purposes so much they end up in different categories or between categories confusing the consumer. The Speed 3 remains the non-carbon plated uptempo option now with clearly more daily training potential as well.    


Yes, the Speed 3 mellows a touch but it gets more comfortable and stable (in a nice neutral way) and becomes more versatile all around. These changes add to its value as a do it all shoe that is light in weight, energetic and ready to move fast and lively and now for more of us and at other paces and distances as well. So I think in conclusion we have another 2022 home run update from Saucony to add to the growing list. 

Sam’s Score: 9.58 / 10

Ride, Fit, Value all 9.6 / 10, Style 9.2 /10

😊😊😊😊1/2


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Saucony Endorphin Speed 1 and 2 (RTR Review)

Jamie: While the first two versions felt fast and fun, the Speed 3 has the most versatility. All fit true to size, however the upper on the Speed 3 is much lighter and more accommodating. Its wider platform makes it a bit more stable compared to previous models. Many runners would appreciate the updated cushioning in the Speed 3, making it much more suitable for all runners and all paces, and quite possibly a new favorite daily trainer. 

Sam: What Jamie says!


Saucony Ride 15 (RTR Review)

Sam: Ride 15 sits above the Speed as the more traditional  neutral daily training option from Saucony. It has no plate. Its  midsole is a new softer PWRRUN foam and there is more of it than before in the model with its stack 1mm lower front and back than the Speed. Yes, as not a PEBA foam as in the Speed  but an EVA/ TPU mix it comes in heavier but less than an ounce heavier than Speed 3 at a very respectable 8.42 oz / 239g for a $130 shoe. Ride if most of your runs tend to be slower, although the Ride can for sure also move along,  and if you prefer a more flexible traditional ride. If you need a speed option that can also go for most other runs then Speed 3.


Saucony Tempus (RTR Review)

Sam: The Tempus features a midsole combining the same PWRRUN PB as the Speed into a frame of PWRRUN. It is an adaptive light stability shoe that all of our 7 testers, none who typically run in stability shoes found steady and useful in their rotations. It is about an ounce heavier than the Speed on the same stack height and on a yet wider platform. Noting that the Speed 3 is now mighty stable I would still say if you need stability and a daily trainer more than a “speed shoe” the Tempus is a better choice but in that case why not pair the two!


Saucony Kinvara 13 (RTR Review)

Zack: These shoes are definitely different, but both are great shoes. The Speed is definitely a more higher end/performance racing type shoe, incorporating high stack height, premium foam, and a nylon plate into its technologies. The  Kinvara is a more old school low to the ground shoe, with no crazy new technologies incorporated in it, yet it still is a really great shoe for speedwork and such. It is much less expensive than the Speed, so if money is an issue the Kinvara wins in that regard. Overall though, 9 times out of 10, I would most likely grab the Speed over the Kinvara, as it is faster, more comfortable, and can go a lot longer, but the Kinvara is still an amazing shoe. 

Sam: Kinvara is lower stack, more natural feeling given its flexibility and its 4mm drop vs 8mm for Speed. Both are fun to run and if you like your shoes light and fast , having them both so that you can work the foot differently is a great idea. 


Skechers Razor Excess 2 (RTR Review)

Zack: The Razor Excess 2 is probably one of the closest shoes to compare to the Speed 3 on paper. They are quite similar in weight, the stack height is similar , and they both are speed shoes with super foam and plates in them. However, underfoot they feel somewhat different. The Razor is easier to run faster paces in, as it has a carbon infused plate (which is relatively close to the foot) so the ride is a lot stiffer than the Speed, and the foam compounds have different feels to them with the  Skechers Hyperburst having  tons of rebound, while the Speed’s PWWRUN PB midsole is softer and better for more paces and longer distances. With that being said, they both really are great shoes and are both well worth purchasing. I think choosing the shoe would be based solely on preference, as the Speed is the more versatile option, accomplishing long runs, tempo runs, etc., while I feel the Excess excels more specifically at faster paces. 


Craft Pro Endur Distance (RTR Review)

Sam: At almost the same stack height and an ounce heavier the Pro Endur has a similar all PEBA midsole but no plate. It relies on a more copious outsole for its stability. A bit less aggressive in feel, equally soft and springy the Pro Endur is also a versatile shoe, leaning a bit further towards daily training than the Speed 3 but with fine moderate non technical trails capabilities. Both are true to size for me with the Craft upper OK but comparatively crude in comparison to the the Speed’s with a more tubular and yet less structured fit.


Nike Streakfly (RTR Review)

Sam: An interesting comparison. The Streakfly is said and branded on the shoe to be a “5K to 10K” and  is in my view that,  but I think it is yet more a super light, well cushioned and lively trainer. With a 32/26 stack height so 4mm less at the heel and 2mm less at the forefoot than the Speed, it weighs an astonishing 2 oz less. Of course it’s ZoomX foam delivers that weight and a springier yet softer ride but Speed gets close and has more durable rubber. No front plate in the Streakfly but we do have a mid foot plastic shank for some stability and propulsion towards its more flexible forefoot.


The Nike leans more towards faster shorter days than the Speed 3 and is rushed to run but as the distance of those tempo runs increases you likely will be happier in the Speed 3 with its greater stack, plate and wider base. Both are true to size with the Speed upper more substantial and somewhat roomier as well.


Zack: I agree with Sam’s main points on this comparison, with both being great shoes but good at different things. Not to repeat Sam, but the Streakfly is definitely a lot faster and picking up cadence and speed is a lot easier in it. The lower stack personally for me allows for better propulsion with a closer to the ground feel. However, as distance increases, the Streakfly for me gets a little less efficient to run in, which I would say is around the 4-5 mile mark, and that’s when I am yearning for a higher stack and a more efficient plate. Overall though, both shoes are fantastic, and if you’re looking for an extremely light and fast shoe that really picks up the pace for runs under 10k, the Streakfly is where it’s at. Anything over that, I would definitely go for the Speed, it’s just overall more comfortable over longer distances, and the plate makes less fatigue when running.


Nike Zoomfly 3 or 4 (RTR Review)

Mizuno Wave Rebellion (RTR Review)

Zack: For me, there is no comparison as the Speed is a shoe I really liked, and the Rebellion was one I quite disliked. The Rebellion for me had a really harsh ride, and the upper made running a pain. The Speed 3 is the completely opposite experience, as it is genuinely nice and fun to run in. The ride is soft and has great responsiveness, and the upper had  a great perfect fit, all which the Rebellion lacked. I recommend everyone to choose the Speed 3 over the Rebellion in any situation. 


New Balance Rebel v2 (RTR Review)

Jamie: The New Balance Rebel v2 was my favorite recent daily trainer, even after wearing through 7 pairs. The Endorphin Speed 3 might top them! What I love about both these shoes is the versatility, but I believe that the durability will be much greater in the Speed. Even though the Rebel v2 lacked any kind of plate, it was lightweight and responsive at all kinds of paces. Some would argue that it wasn’t enough shoe for daily training, which is where the cushioning of the Endorphin Speed 3 would be preferable. In terms of the fit, the Endorphin Speed 3 feels much more accommodating and true to size, while I might even size up in the Rebel v2. Both shoes are fun and fast, I’m still a huge fan of both, but the Endorphin Speed 3 might just be my new favorite of the year,  so far!


Marcel’s Initial Endorphin Speed 3 review HERE

RTR Initial Review and A/B Comparison Speed 3 to Speed 2

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 Initial Video Review

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’

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