Saturday, January 13, 2018

Brooks Running Ravenna 9 Review: Neutral Runner Wowed by its Light Stability

Article by Dave Ames

Brooks Ravenna 9

Known for many years as a “hybrid” in the Brooks Running line, the Ravenna 9  can be ever so slightly categorized as a stability or guidance shoe.  Using a diagonal rollbar, the Ravenna 9 provides just the smallest amount of additional support to keep a smooth heel to toe transition going.  The Ravenna 9 sheds 0.7 oz of weight always welcome, making the Ravenna a very light shoe in the light guidance class. It boasts the BioMoGo DNA cushioning system to give an ever so responsive, yet fast ride for an everyday trainer.  The new engineered mesh upper is a pleasant change from Brooks previously, in my opinion,“stale” uppers. It fits like a glove.  I have had very pleasant running experiences in the Ravenna 9. 

Weight 9.5oz/(Men 9) 8.1oz (Women)
28mm heel/18mm forefoot, 10mm drop 
$110. Available February 2018

First Impressions and Fit

Dave: It’s taken me a long time to really like a shoe from Brooks, other than maybe the T5 racer years ago and the countless miles I ran in the Radius in high school and college.  It’s just not a running shoe company that worked well with my foot in the late to mid 2000’s, or more recently.  However, and I think I said this in an earlier review for the Launch 5, Brooks is definitely late to the party in design, but this new 2018 line is quite impressive!  The Ravenna 9 is an outstanding shoe.  Upon initial step in, it doesn’t have that bulky feel that their shoes had in the past, one because the new upper finally works well with your foot.  
I really enjoy the blue and neon yellow colorway and you continually get other runners checking out your kicks (that’s the point right!? JK) - - Sizing does run a tad small for my size 9 and I wouldn’t hesitate to say you may want to go up a half size.

Dave:  The 2018 new Brooks uppers are outstanding.  They really did a good job with the engineered mesh They rival some of the awesome stuff being put out there from Nike and Skechers Performance (2 companies doing it the best right now in uppers IMHO) - - I am over 250 miles in on this shoe, which is far more than I usually run upon testing, but the Ravenna 9 fits like an absolute glove.  
The more miles you put in, the more the upper molds.  I put the upper to the challenge in this wear test especially, as I had the shoe in ice, snow and rain in Upstate NY over the holidays.  The salt from the roads in Upstate NY can really beat a shoe down, but the upper withstood it all. Very impressive as most shoe uppers tend to get quite “crunchy” from winter training and here it did not.

Dave:  Using a Midfoot Transition Zone, the Ravenna 9 allows for a quick heel to toe transition.  This was somewhat surprising to me as the new Launch 5 uses the same form of technology and I felt extremely unstable in that shoe when I reviewed it for RoadTrailRun.  But the Ravenna 9 feels great!  I was able to cruise in this shoe for long runs, tempos and Fartleks.  I normally will always switch to a lighter shoe for a workout, but this thing felt so good I never switched for a few workouts into my lighter footwear option.  The Ravenna 9 packs a ton of “pop” and I was really able to work pace down nicely.  I found myself continually pulling for this shoe in a training week.

250 miles in an I see only the smallest amount of wear in the forefoot, from the sweet spot I am landing.  The Midfoot Transition Zone really helped me land where I wanted and this is pretty much the only area showing signs of the miles.  The shoe has plenty of life left and my guess is it’s easily a 400 mile shoe, depending on your gait cycle.  Heel strikers and heavier runners may get a tad less, but honestly, it’s a workhorse.  Grip was good on snow and ice for a normal everyday trainer.

I was curious to see how a “stability” shoe felt.  It’s been a long time since I have run in one.  I tend to only review neutral shoes.  Let me tell you, neutral runners will be fine in the Ravenna 9!  In fact, for longer runs and tempos, one may prefer a more stable ride.  I feel really fresh post run in this shoe.  It’s smooth, it’s light enough and has a ton of power for a daily trainer.  Would I race in it, heck no, but it’s good enough that I came coming back for it daily.  Those 20 milers, 20+’s in a marathon cycle are perfect for the Ravenna 9.  It’s just enough to keep the stride healthy and the legs fresh.  If you want to throw some MRP work in there, it will handle that too!  Recovery day shoe?  That 8 to 10 miler shoe?  All of the above!
Conclusions and Recommendations
Dave:  All in all, I was wowed.  Honestly Brooks, you did an outstanding job with the Ravenna 9 (send me another pair!) - - Run Specialty stores, don’t hesitate to pull this as a neutral option with a firmer ride for the runner seeking that.  It’s not an Adrenaline and it won’t fire up the IT bands of a neutral gait cycle.  A real, real nice shoe.  

Dave's Score: 9.75/10 
 -.25 for running a tad short in sizing


Brooks Ravenna 9 vs. Saucony Guide ISO
Dave:  I’ll lean towards the Ravenna 9 on this one as I feel far more beat up in the EVERUN top sole and PWRFOAM midsole, post run.  The heel collar tends to beat me up as well in Saucony.

Brooks Ravenna 9 vs. Saucony Ride 10 (RTR review)
Dave:  While in different categories (depending on how you organize a shoe wall) - - I find a similar feeling in these too shoes, with the win going to the Ravenna 9.  It simply just feels faster and allows a quicker transition time for me.  I am able to use the Ravenna 9 for tempos, where Ride 10 gets a bit sloppy at higher paces.

Brooks Ravenna 9 vs. Asics GT-2000 6
Dave:  I just can’t run in Asics.  Too much shoe, too much control.  Ravenna 9 for the win.  I’d play a safe bet and say the BioMoGO DNA is more powerful than the FlyteFoam midole in Asics.  The upper is far more advanced in the Ravenna 9 compared to the GT-2000.

Reviewer Bio
Dave Ames is the Founder and Head Coach of Ame For It Run Coaching, a nationwide run coaching business, training athletes of all ability levels from 5K to Marathon. A former competitive college athlete he keeps sub 3 hour marathon fit. 

For Dave's full run bios see our Reviewers Bio Page here.
The Ravenna was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

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