Article by Marcel Krebs
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 ($160)
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 made its debut as part of the launch of the highly successful Endorphin product line in 2020, and what a debut it was! The Speed quickly became the star of the Endorphin lineup, almost outshining its “big brother”, the Endorphin Pro. The reason for this was primarily the outstanding running feel with great propulsion in combination with a comparatively low weight, and especially so in the light of the generous cushioning.
Last year, the successor was therefore all the more eagerly awaited. The midsole remained unchanged, it was merely an update of the upper. In version 2, Saucony opted for a dual-layer mesh, whose outer layer was quite firm/stiff and therefore hardly stretchy. In combination with the pointed toe box, the successor was therefore unfortunately more of a setback than a step forward for runners with wide forefeet, while runners with narrow feet were able to enjoy an even better fit.
From left to right: ES1, ES2, ES2 Runshield, ES3
Just in time for the fall and the not infrequently accompanying mixed weather, Saucony then brought out the Endorphin Speed 2 in a RUNSHIELD variant to the market last year and managed to square the circle: The dense and comparatively firm, because water-repellent, upper material gave the Speed not only additional stability, but also kept the feet reliably dry. And all this in combination with a significantly more comfortable toe box as well as a significant weight loss.
Along with the grippier outsole, the Saucony RUNSHIELD Speed 2 was my favorite for a variety of different training runs in fall and winter, not least because of the improved stability, the Speed 2 RUNSHIELD also cut an excellent figure as a daily trainer during slower runs. As a result, it was more than well deserved that the Saucony Speed 2 RUNSHIELD became my ‘Road Shoe of The Year 2021’.
With this in mind, I was all the more excited and pleased when I was informed at the beginning of April that I could test the brand new Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. In the next sections, you’ll find out in detail how the Speed 3 performed compared to its predecessors and how it fits into Saucony’s new Endorphin lineup.
One of the most responsive and now also most versatile shoes on the market
Excellent propulsion & cushioning (PWRRUN PB, nylon plate) in a comparatively lightweight & affordable overall package
Due to the improved stability now also excellent to use as a daily trainer
Very good laces – wide, flat, slight stretch & perfect length
While the heel cup offers excellent heel support as described and also feels comfortable, it might cause irritations because of the thinner padding combined with the forward orientation of the plastic element.
Marcel is an avid trail and obstacle runner (OCR) from Germany who is increasingly discovering road running for himself. In addition to his fascination for running shoe innovations for road and trail, Marcel is also enthusiastic about technical gadgets of all kinds.
Currently, Marcel is focusing on his training and the corresponding qualification races for the UTMB, which he would like to run in 2023. Due to his place of residence, he also completes countless training kilometers on the road. If you also have a comparatively wide forefoot, you should take a closer look at Marcel’s impressions of the tested models.
Official: 229g / 8.1 oz (men’s US9) // 7.2 oz / 204g (women’s US8)
Sample: 235g / 8.3 oz (men’s EU 44 / US 10)
Drop: 8mm (stack height: 36mm heel / 28mm forefoot)
Availability: available approx. mid June 2022 for $160
In a bright sky blue with yellow accents, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is refreshingly summery. But even those who do not like this colorway will certainly find the color of their choice, because Saucony will offer the Saucony Speed 3 in a total of 5 colorways. In addition, there will again be a RUNSHIELD variant in the Speed 3, which makes me very happy after the great experiences with the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 RUNSHIELD.
Already at first glance it is obvious that Saucony has significantly widened the toe box compared to the Speed 2. When stepping in the ES3 for the first time, my rather wide forefoot therefore immediately felt even more comfortable than in the RUNSHIELD version, because of the pliable upper and the roomy toe box. Since the upper and the narrow toe box had been my only real criticism of the ES2, I am of course extremely happy about this!
The rest of the upper had be optimized too: Tongue and heel cap are just sufficient and anything but overly padded – just as it should be for a fast and fun shoe.
The heel cap also provides a secure hold and is comparatively firm, which is especially important for a shoe like the Speed with a thick and comparatively soft midsole to ensure maximum stability.
From left to right: ES3, ES2 RUNSHIELD, ES2, ES1
Compared to the predecessor models as shown above, it can be seen at first glance that the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 now stands on a significantly wider and thus also more stable base in the rearfoot area. This is particularly clear in comparison to the two predecessor models ES2 and ES2 RUNSHIELD.
As I had already hinted at in the previous section the upper of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is extremely successful! At first glance, it is clear that the upper has been completely redesigned.
After the upper of the ES2 unfortunately turned out very tight, the upper of the Speed 3 is not only again much more stretchy and softer, but also much airier, which makes it an ideal complement to the Endorphin Speed RUNSHIELD for the warm season.
In addition, Saucony has now – for very good reasons according to my opinion – said goodbye to the dual-layer mesh; the upper is now much more stretchy, especially in the toe area, without this being at the expense of stability. And even if it is not a decisive criterion: The upper material is now also much easier to clean, since the dirt can no longer settle in the lower mesh layer.
The tongue is connected to the upper (gusseted tongue) so that it cannot slip. Apart from a few overlays that give the upper a little more stability, the upper has a pleasingly clean design. You can tell that Saucony has avoided any unnecessary weight without sacrificing comfort, security or stability at the neuralgic points like the tongue padding or the heel counter.
One point I rarely address in my reviews, but which deserves an honorable mention with the ES3, are the laces. These are flat, comparatively wide, nicely padded, provided with a slight stretch and in the perfect length.
In contrast to the ES2, the heel cap is now a bit rounder in the new Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, which optimizes the heel hold even further, without causing any uncomfortable pressure on the Achilles tendon – at least not at first glance.
Compared to the ES2, the padding at the heel counter has been stripped down.
While this does not reduce the comfort in general, it might cause irritation at the achilles tendon because of the combination of forward orientation of the cup, the edge of the plastic element (red arrow in the picture above) and the reduced padding.
Let’s get to the real heart of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, the midsole. When the ES1 was introduced, the new PEBA expanded bead midsole foam was a real gamechanger. Since then, fantastic new midsole materials have also come onto the market from other manufacturers, such as the nitrogen infused Puma Nitro Foam or Olefin (OBC) Energy Surge from Salomon.
With this in mind, I was of course particularly excited about the new midsole of the Endorphin Speed 3. The rocker effect is noticeable from the first second and already contributes to the fact that you are carried forward with every step. The Saucony Speedroll technology thus lives up to its name in the ES3. In addition, the midsole has become even more noticeably “bouncy” thanks to an improved geometry within the new S shaped nylon plate.
The cushioning properties of the midsole are also still very generous, so that even at longer distances there is always enough cushioning – especially under the forefoot.
Both under the forefoot and under the midfoot, Saucony has given the current model 0.5mm more midsole foam, which means that the drop has remained unchanged at 8mm, a drop which everyone should actually feel comfortable during fast runs or even as a daily trainer, as long as you are not a self-confessed fan of zero or very low drop.
However, the biggest difference to the predecessor models is undoubtedly the mid foot lateral wing of the new S shaped design of the nylon plate. The new plate is likely also responsible for the minimal weight increase (around 15g in the reference size) compared to the ES 2 RUNSHIELD (in comparison with the ES2, however, the weight is identical).
These “wings” can also be easily seen from the outside (see photo) and are mainly used for stability, one of the very few weak points of the predecessor models.
The design of the outsole was obviously all about weight optimization. For example, there are cut-outs in the sole material in some places. Similar to the upper material, Saucony has also succeeded in optimizing the weight of the outsole, but without sacrificing stability or comfort – great!
Thus, the outsole can definitely be described as minimalist, but it offers enough rubber and grip in the crucial places to ensure good traction and durability. On wet surfaces, such an outsole naturally reaches its limits at some point. However, I felt safe at all times on wet, not too slippery asphalt – even around fast corners. Regarding the material used Saucony did not reveal any details yet, however, it should be the carbon rubber (XT900) from the previous models, while the Runshield version had an even grippier, but also softer outsole, which offers even better grip in the wet and cold season. For dry conditions, however, the traction of the outsole of the Endorphin Speed 3 is completely sufficient and even on wet asphalt passages I always had a secure grip.
To say it in advance: The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 runs really great and delivers everlasting fun! The trampoline effect of the predecessor models has been increased yet again – especially compared to the Endorphin Runshield, where the weather resistance and thus more stability had more significance. The effect of the new plate and lateral wing is quite positively noticeable in the form of improved stability in the midfoot and rearfoot area, although I also had no problems with the stability of the previous models. However, since this was definitely a point of criticism with some other runners, this effect should also be positively emphasized.
In the past, the sweet spot of the Saucony Endorphin Speed for me were primarily faster long runs, because in addition to the bounce effect, you also benefit from the excellent cushioning. Due to the significantly improved stability, the Endorphin Speed 3 is now also a great daily trainer and thus even more versatile.
The ES 3 is also highly recommended regardless of running style, but it offers more than enough cushioning for forefoot runners in particular, which is by no means a given in this weight class.
In summary, it remains to say that I am completely thrilled with the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 which provides a ride that is close to perfection! I am particularly excited about the running pleasure derived from the bounce of the midsole, the low weight (despite the nylon plate) and its versatility. My main criticism of the ES2, the too narrow toe box, Saucony has not only been eliminated, but turned into a positive. I am very pleased in this context that suggestions for improvement are quite obviously also carefully read and evaluated by the manufacturers, so that in the end an (even) better product comes out, which in the end is beneficial for all.
So who is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 recommended for? The ES3 can fully play out its strengths especially as an up-tempo trainer and for faster long runs. However, as already described in detail above, the ES3 also now cuts an excellent figure as a daily trainer.
The Endorphin Speed 3 thus covers a wide range of use cases, so that in a running shoe rotation you only have to add a comfort shoe for mere recovery runs to be completely equipped. Within the Endorphin product line, this task can be fulfilled by the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 (RTR Video Preview), which is also expected to be released this summer or even the already released Ride 15 (RTR Review) which increases in stack and softness. With the Shift 2, my main point of criticism was the too narrow toe box in combination with the quite firm/stiff upper, so I am extremely curious about the Shift 3, especially since this will also be offered by Saucony in a wide version.
And where might still room for improvement even in such a top model? Sure, less weight is always desirable, but honestly: Saucony has already streamlined the Endorphin Speed 3 to the optimum in this regard – further savings on the upper material would undoubtedly be at the expense of comfort or security, so that only possible further developments of the midsole foam itself remain as room for maneuver in this regard.
Saucony should have a second look at the heel cup. While the heel cup offers excellent heel support as described and also feels comfortable, it might cause irritations because of the thinner padding combined with the forward orientation of the plastic element. However, since this effect is only slight and can probably be easily eliminated with thicker socks, this cannot significantly tarnish the great impression of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 and might be due to the fact that I received a sample from an early production stage.
To sum things up, the Saucony Endorphin Speed is a top contender for the title of road shoe of the year 2022 for me, even if there are still one or two other promising models from other manufacturers waiting in the wings – so it remains exciting!:-)
Marcel’s Score: 9.73/10
Ride: 10 – Upper: 9.5 – Value: 9.5 – Style: 9
Compared to the ES2 Runshield, the ES3 is once again a bit more bouncy and due to the new plate shape (“wings”), also a bit more stable. The differences in the upper material are a matter of taste or depend on the season. Both offer a pleasantly spacious toe box. However, the upper material of the Runshield is significantly denser (because water-repellent) and firmer. For the upcoming summer, I therefore give preference to the new ES3, but both are excellent model variants for different areas of use. Fortunately, the ES3 will also be available as a Runshield version. Both in US-M10 and EU44 respectively.
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (RTR Review)
The toe box of the ES2 is clearly more pointed, while that of the ES3 is much more spacious, which I personally clearly prefer. In addition, the upper material (dual layer mesh) of the ES2 is significantly firmer than the very soft and pleasantly stretchy upper of the ES 3. In terms of weight, both are on par except for the gram. For me personally, the ES3 is in front in a direct comparison due to the significantly more comfortable fit, while runners with a very narrow forefoot can also quietly reach for the ES2. However, since the ES3 is more stable and thus even more versatile, it is (still) the better choice for most buyers. Both in size US-M10 and EU 44 respectively.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (RTR Review soon)
After quite a few runners have given the Endorphin Speed preference over the Pro in the past, even in competition, Saucony has set itself the goal for the new edition of the model series this year to differentiate the models more strongly from one another. In this context, the ES3 was positioned more strongly in the direction of everyday suitability and is now even explicitly advertised as a daily trainer. I expressly endorse this assessment. The Pro 3, on the other hand, is intended to more clearly represent the competition alternative to the ES3 in the future. That’s why the Pro 3 has not only lost significant weight, but also gained thickness in the midsole and thus corresponding “bounce”. Nevertheless, the toe box of the Pro 3 is significantly narrower or more pointed compared to the ES3 and the upper is very airy but also much firmer. At the same time, the toe box is quite high, which leads to a – at least for my foot – not quite optimal fit. Against this background, I would personally continue to give preference to the ES3 in a direct comparison – even in competition. Both in size US-M10 or EU 44
With the Novablast 1, ASICS landed a real surprise success. The midsole was wonderfully “bouncy” and the shoe was simply fun – provided you could cope with the limited stability due to the narrow, soft and high midsole. In the Novablast 2, the midsole was “tamed” a bit and made more suitable for everyday use. However, this was also noticeably at the expense of running pleasure, while the stability remained quite limited to my perception – not least due to the stately stack height. The ES3 is much more fun in comparison, offers an even better fit, especially for wide forefeet, and is also quite convincing in terms of stability. In short: The Novablast 2 is good, but the ES3 is still slightly better in all respects. Both in size US-M10 and EU 44.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes by Saucony. 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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