Sunday, January 07, 2018

Reebok Floatride Run ULTK Review and First Runs Review Floatride Run Fast: A Huge Hit and a Close Miss

Article by Peter Stuart, Dave Ames and Sam Winebaum

Introduction
Reebok is back running! 
At TRE-The Running Event last month in Austin, Reebok made it clear that they are making a commitment to running shoes again after seeming to abandon the endeavor altogether for a while. 
Owned by adidas for a number of years, Reebok has more recently focused on fitness, CrossFit, etc...yet the brand's heritage goes back over 100 years in running. As recently as the 1980's Reeboks were worn by Steve Jones to the world record in the marathon. Steve was at TRE and showed us his world record Reeboks, now under glass!
Reebok showed off three shoes at TRE (see our preview article):  
Floatride Run ULTK is a $150 neutral daily trainer It weighs in at 8.8 oz/250 g for a men's size 8.5 in our sample, purchased from Reebok so about 9.1 oz in a US Men's 9. It has a 27mm heel/17mm forefoot, 10mm drop. 












Floatride Run Fast is $140, has an 8mm drop is "ultra responsive and light weight" at 6.05 oz/ 172 g with a 25.5mm heel/17.5 mm forefoot, 8mm drop. It is meant for uptempo runs, racing and long runs alike.Update 4/18: See our full multi tester review of the Fast here












Floatride Run Fast Pro weighs an amazing 3 oz/99 g, has Float Foam, a 4mm drop (16.5 mm heel, 12.5 mm forefoot). This is a race shoe for sure.













All three feature Pebax midsoles. Pebax is the compound found in the Nike Vapor Fly 4%. It is a high energy return, silky feeling midsole with an unusual combination of superior cushion and response at incredibly light weight,
Floatride Run ULTK Review
The FloatRide Run is the only shoe of the three that’s currently on the market but we also have a pair of the Fast and give our early impressions of it here, full review to come. This is Reebok coming in hot with a brand new midsole compound and a real effort to make a splash in the running world. So how is the FloatRide Run? Well, we’ll tell you what we think.
Stats
9.1 oz/
27/17mm, 8mm offset
$150. Available now

First Impressions and Fit
Peter: I had two distinct first impressions of the FloatRide Run--both proving to be borne out by further testing. Impression 1: Huh, that upper looks like it could be problematic--nearly formless knit upper with a hard plastic cage and only three eyelets for laces. Impression 2: Wow, this shoe feels genuinely unique underfoot. It’s got a bunch of cushion and seems to rebound more than most shoes. Fit is true to size for me. The upper is formless and very stretchy, so you might be able to size down, but it wasn’t necessary for me.

Sam: Kind of futuristic looking. My eye is drawn to the cage at midfoot, the tapering single piece molded heel counter and rear of the shoe, and the very wide laces. Given the stretch knit single piece bootie upper which starts ahead of the heel counter, I wondered how the whole wild looking contraption would work. While I am not a fan of stretch knit uppers, the fit is good, if a bit to fluid and stretchy up front. The cage is not really noticed, but it is clearly present and the wide laces clearly serve a functional purpose of tying the whole thing together.

Dave: The Floatride Run is a very comfortable shoe.  Upon step in, the upper is so, so soft and really hugs your foot well.  Sizing was spot on for a size 9 with me.  Unfortunately, the problems came when trying to lace the Floatride Run up.  I have never done well with shoes that have a short or wide "throat."  The shoe lacks the key eyelets that I like for a snug and secure fit (many years of wearing flats or spikes) - - and ultimately led me to have to stop on every run to re-lace the shoe up.  The uber wide laces reminded me of lacing up a sweater my mom bought me in 1988.

Upper
Peter: The upper of the FloatRide Run is kind of a mess. I’m not sure when the meeting took place in which nearly the entire industry decided that knit uppers were mandatory, but I wish it hadn’t happened. Don’t get me wrong, when a knit upper is done well it’s great. For a great knit upper look no further than the UA HOVR Sonic or the Skechers Razor. That said, when knit uppers aren’t great, they’re sloppy. For me the FloatRide run has an upper that suffers for a sort of reverse alchemy. The sum is less than the parts. There’s nothing terrible about the upper, but the pieces don’t all come together to make it work. 
The upper is essentially a knit bootie. It’s all one piece that slides over the foot like a sock and is then held in place by laces coming off of a hard plastic latticed shell. The midfoot is held in, but the laces/shell don’t go very far down the foot, which means that everything from about ⅔ down the foot on is just floating around in knit. When I step into the shoe, the inside of my foot at the ball pushes the material out about ¼-½ an inch. 
This allows the foot to hang over the sole of the shoe a bit and, even worse, makes for a huge blister spot. I think the knit is loose enough that my foot moves around freely and therefore rubs on the knit throughout the run. The problems are only compounded by the fact that if you try to lock down fit by tightening the laces you wind up creating a pressure point on the top of your foot due to the lack of a tongue. Some people have complained about rubbing from the plastic cage itself, but for me that wasn’t an issue. My main issues are the lack of a solid foot-hold to the rest of the shoe which make the ride feel unstable and a bit clunky--which shouldn’t be the case given that the mid/outsole are so interesting.
Sam: As I said above I am not a big fan of stretch knit uppers as they can stretch to much and require some kind of external support to keep the foot from moving to much laterally at mid foot, thus the latticed cage here. The knit, the cage, the wide laces all contribute to weight resulting in a shoe which with only approximately 1.5 mm more stack in the heel and  0.5 mm in the forefoot and a bit more outsole weighs a whopping 3 oz more than the Run Fast which has a superb thin engineered mesh upper.  The upper held me just fine at moderate paces and even on right angle turns on an indoor track but I can see where Peter who is more of a midfoot lander and faster than me is coming from.  The lack of structure in the area just ahead of the cage,all that stretchy knit provides a somewhat "fluid" fit. It sure is comfortable and I have had no blister issues whatsoever  but I would wish for a more secure front of the food hold too.

Dave: The ULTK knit is exceptional.  It works well with the foot, but runs into problems with the Floatride "Cage."  The Cage doesn't allow the shoe to mold well after repeated runs and also messes with the lacing for me. I also caught some rubbing on my left arch after a longer run from the cage.  Take the cage out and you have yourself a really nice upper working well with the foot. Just my two cents.


Midsole:
Peter: The real story of the FloatRide Run is the "Floatride Foam--a  TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) foam that feels eerily like the foam in the Nike Vaporfly 4%. It's a flavor of Peba(x) foam. It feels springy and light--fundamentally different from most foams out there. It is designed to be both super soft and responsive.  The Floatride Run has a sidewall of EVA for some support and stability. My experience with the foams here is that they combine to make for a fairly stiff ride with a ton of toe spring/rebound. They feel fairly soft on the ground, but really snap back--especially at faster speeds.
Sam: Peter has described the magic feel of the Flightride Foam Pebax midsole just right. The foam itself feels a touch firmer than in the Vapor Fly 4%. It has shown no creasing so far on the midsole walls as the VaporFly did, raising a huge ruckus , as it doesn't appear to have any paint over the foam but is textured to "hide" any creasing, and most importantly is well stabilized by the firm blue EVA sidewalls. The overall effect, at least underfoot and ignoring any upper issues, is of a stable highly energetic and well cushioned midsole.

Dave: The Floatride Foam is pretty cool stuff. I am really intrigued by it.  It's soft, yet gives a good amount of feedback and snap to the runner.  Mile after mile continue to be effortless due to the smooth transitions from heel to toe. I find the sweet spot in mid foot to forefoot transition really well in the Floatride Run.

Outsole:
Peter: The outsole is nearly full-coverage blown rubber. There are a series of connected pods, each about ¼ inch square. They are broken up by horizontal grooves that allow the shoe to flex through the stride and by vertical lines that likely keep the weight of shoe down while also allowing greater flexibility. There’s a line down the forefoot where the TPE foam is clearly visible and you can see it along the horizontal grooves as well. It’s pretty much full ground contact.

Sam: The outsole with its "waffle" lugs up front reminds me of Nike outsole patterns. The full coverage design of horizontal bars reminds me a lot of the similar UA HOVR Sonic's outsole design. Both provide well supported, smooth transitions at all paces. The flex reminds me of... adidas performance shoes, a distinct single forward flex point, snappy and somewhat stiff.

Dave: Usually you'll see a lot of flex grooves and other interesting components of an outsole on a running shoe.  But to me, this almost looks like a one piece.  It's really nice and doesn't collect rocks or debris, like some outsoles can.  I had no issues on the roads, but did find it to be a bit slippery on puddles and damp sidewalks as we had a very uncommon 3 straight days of rain in SoCal earlier this week.

Ride:
Peter: Here’s where things get complicated for me. I feel like the FloatRide Run is a shoe at war with itself. There’s this really interesting, soft but springy midsole which feels pretty unique and gives more energy back the harder you run in it. Unfortunately your foot is attached to that undercarriage by a pretty mediocre upper that keeps the shoe from feeling unified. There are certain paces (for me 6:45-7:15) where this shoe just hums along--but at other paces it feels unstable and downright clunky. I think the problem is mostly that my foot doesn’t feel totally locked down and attached to the rest of the shoe.

Sam: Got to disagree with Peter. I love the ride of this shoe. Smooth from the under carriage design at the midsole and energetic yet well cushioned and never sloppy from the magic Pebax midsole and then smooth in transition from the segmented outsole design. I will agree the upper is the weak point here, bleeding some forward momentum from the stretch knit in the toe box especially when compared to the similar undercarriage of the Run Fast with its light engineered mesh upper. I would like to see a slightly longer easier flex to ease slower pace transitions.

Dave: For general aerobic miles days the Floatride run is a great shoe.  When cranking up the pace, I found the shoe to be sloppy and my gait to be a bit weird.  If I want to run Fast, I'll do just than in the Floatride Fast!  That shoe is a utter beauty.  See Sam's and my thoughts on it!  But for the Floatride Run, it's good enough for my miles days.  It's got some snap, and it's a good all around cruiser.  I think I like it for recovery days as well as the Floatride Foam really goes easy on my beat up legs the day after a workout.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Peter: Close but not quite there. I wish the upper of this shoe was as well designed and finessed as the midsole/outsole. There are moments when I really love the shoe, but times when it feels ponderous. The ride shows promise and I think if the stack was a little lower and the upper was better designed this would turn into a shoe I really loved. That seems to be exactly what the upcoming FloatRide Run Fast is--so stay tuned. Overall I’d wait for the FloatRide Run Fast.

Peter's Score 7.5 /10
-1 for overly stretchy upper--causing blistering
-1 for cage and lace combination that causes pressure point on top of foot and doesn’t lock foot down
-.5 somewhat unstable ride and too much variability in ride feel at different speeds.

Sam: The upper is the weak point here adding to weight and not contributing to performance. This said even at 9.1 oz, and I say even, as the Run Fast is so much lighter for a nearly equivalent cushioned ride, the Run is one heck of a fine light in weight, well cushioned daily trainer.  One can easily add an ounce or more in a conventional daily trainer and get a firmer and certainly less dynamic ride. The midsole outsole here sets the bar so high that the upper while perfectly OK for me glares back as the weak point.

Sam's Score 8.5 /10
-1.0 for the stretch knit upper. A lighter engineered mesh upper and no cage would reduce weight and lock the foot down better.
-0.5 I would also like to see a slight longer easier flex to help with transitions. 

Dave: I really like the Floatride Run, but it needs some help in the lacing department as well as the cage. It's just not for me and I really had to stop every few miles to re-lace.  That presents a problem for me.  However, from a standpoint of Ride, it's a damn nice shoe with the new Foam. Reebok is on to something here for sure.

Dave's Score 8/10
-1 for poor lacing scheme.  Needs a longer "throat' and more eyelets.  Thinner laces.  Maybe a bit thicker than the ones on the Fast.
-1 for the Cage.  Ditch it.  It's not doing anything to help.  

Comparisons:

Reebok FloatRide Run vs. Under Armour HOVR Sonic (RTR review)
Peter: Reebok should check out a pair of the UA Sonic to see how a great knit upper is done. The burrito tongue in the UA shoe really holds the foot in and allows the shoe to become an extension of the foot. FloatRide is a slightly more unique feel but HOVR Sonic is a smoother and more consistent ride at any speed for me.

Sam: The HOVR clearly has a superior engineered knit upper and for me the FloatRide a superior ride as it is more responsive about as cushioned and more energetic. Ride always wins out for me unless the upper is total disaster which the Floatride Run's isn't. This said the mighty fine HOVR is $50 less, its upper is far superior and its ride very decent so it gets the nod.

Reebok FloatRide Run vs. Nike VaporFly 4% (RTR review)
Peter: Both of these feel like a new type of running shoe. Both bounce back and give energy return unlike other shoes. The VaporFly is an overall more elegant and invisible ride. Vaporfly wins here--much lighter too.

Sam: Agree with Peter but few will train in the $100 dearer VaporFly. Further the Run has a wider range of pace utility. This said for pure racing no question the Vapor Fly.

Reebok Floatride Run vs. Skechers Performance Razor 2 
Dave: They both boast pretty legit uppers!  But when it comes to versatility, I can do anything I want in the Razor 2.  The Floatride gets sloppy at higher speeds. 

Reebok Floatride Run vs. ON Cloud X (RTR review)
Dave: While much firmer both in ride and also a firmer upper with the X, I feel like I can run much longer in the Floatride Run.  I was absolutely sold on the Cloud X a few months ago, and still am for speed days, but it's fallen farther back in the rotation as of late due to lack of versatility.  I feel beat up in the X on longer runs, whereas the Floatride leaves me feeling fresh.

Reebok Floatride Run vs. Brooks Launch 5 (RTR review)
Peter: Actually not totally dissimilar--both feel clunky sometimes and bouncy and fresh at other times.

Sam: Way more shoe, much livelier midsole with the FloatRide Run. While the Launch 5 has an engineered mesh upper as I would like to see on the Run it is to minimal and in combination with the narrow on the ground platform doesn't support my mid foot well at faster paces and slower paces, so Launch has a narrower range of utility for me. The Launch 5 can be a "faster" shoe than the Run for some but not for me. There would be no contest at all if the Float Ride had an engineered mesh upper and lower weight.

Dave: Love the weight of both.  I'll actually lean towards the Reebok, even with the lacing issues, due to the sloppy transition and unstable lateral feel I caught from the Launch 5 in testing.

Reebok Floatride Run vs. Nike Pegasus 34 (RTR review)
Sam: Why can the Run have an upper like the Pegasus and the Pegasus an underfoot experience like the Run. The Pegasus is lumpy and firm, the Run lively, far more energetic and cushioned for me.

Dave: In a similar wheelhouse for me.  They both just get the job done, but the Pegs lace up better.  So I'll have to go with the 34 for the win.  But it's very close, and I enjoy the Floatride Foam much more. 

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Initial Review
Update 4/18: See our full multi tester review of the Fast here
Now the fun part... Unfortunately Peter is not a sample size 9 but Dave Ames and I are. Our full review of the incredible Floatride Run Fast is coming soon but after several first runs including an 11 miler at moderate pace I have to chime in and give you my first impressions.

Floatride Run Fast is $140, has an 8mm drop is "ultra responsive and light weight" at 6.05 oz/ 172 g with a 25.5mm heel/17.5 mm forefoot, 8mm drop. It is meant for uptempo runs, racing and long runs alike. It arrives June-July 2018.

Reebok Floatride FAST
Introduction
Take the same Pebax foam but 1.5mm less of it in the heel than the Run, bevel it more prominently at the heel, keep the same wide on the ground stable platform but lighten the full contact outsole a bit, add a very light yet supportive engineered mesh upper, include an EVA mid foot plate as often seen in race shoe and you get essentially the same energetic cushioned ride at an amazing 3 oz less than the Run and quite close to an ounce lighter than the VaporFly 4%.

Fit and First Impressions

I was sent a sample size 9. My usual size is 8.5 and I would have been happier at true to size. This is relatively roomy upper for a performance shoe as it is so soft and thin  reminding me of the Salomon S-Lab Sonic 2 in some respects but without as many overlays, 

Upper

The upper is a very thin very soft single layer engineered mesh with transparent mid foot overlays bordered by yellow highlights. 
The overlays are for all intents and purposes invisible on the white upper but highly functional. 
The lightly padded tongue is connected by approximately 1.5 inch wide stretch straps to the midsole for some support.
There is a full shorter length rigid heel counter and a well padded ankle and achilles collar.

Midsole

We have the same magic Floatride Foam Floatride Foam--a TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) foam that feels eerily like the foam in the Nike Vaporfly 4%. It's a flavor of Peba(x) foam.. It appears to be of the same firmness but there is 1.5mm less of it in the heel and 0.5 mm in the forefoot in the Fast.  
The heel midsole has a considerable outward bevel which provides a fantastic heel landing in combination with the full coverage rear outsole rubber. Highly cushioned at slower paces and highly responsive at faster paces, a very clever leveraging of the dynamic energy return of the Pebax through the rear geometry, We see the same EVA side walls as in the Run to stabilize everything. 
But there is more EVA. Underfoot below the outsole we see at the toe and under mid foot an EVA layer. On the next to last last row (but for one forward yellow showing partial depth hole) a series of round holes on the medial side four are drilled out  through the EVA layer Not sure what this holes may be intended for but may be to ease transitions which are smooth indeed.for more neutral type runners? 

Outsole 
Unike the Run with its 'waffles" the outsole here has a dense pattern of angled lozenges. The heel has a full contact large firmer rubber pad.  There has been zero wear to date in the 25 or so miles I have run to date, not even the fine patterns are worn much if at all. While I don't know whose rubber it is, its relative softness upfront and durability reminds me of... Continental rubber used in sister company adidas performance shoes... The snappy flex point is a bit further back than in the Run, and Fast is not as stiff.

Ride and Conclusions
Incredible. To have a 6 oz shoe with this much responsive real cushion is a wonder. I could easily train daily in them and have. All paces are welcome here and there has been no compromise anywhere so far although I have not as of yet raced in them. I do wonder how well the upper will hold on curvy, fast course  I walked away with happy legs from a relatively brisk 11 miler. Humm.. reminds me of the after run feeling in the Vapor Fly... The Pebax is special stuff. I have raced 10K in the Nike Zoom Streak 6 and its firm harsh ride particularly at the heel was no joy and I certainly wouldn't train in them. Here we have a lighter yet shoe which I want to reach for every day, that is if I didn't have so many other shoes to test!

Comparisons

Reebok Floatride Run Fast vs. Nike Zoom Vapor Fly 4% (RTR review)
The Fast is more "conventional" in ride and appearance. It does not rely on a carbon plate and has less stack height front and back. Thus it runs as one would expect a conventional faster shoe to run but with wonderful easy on the legs energetic cushion which such faster shoes usually don't have. There is none of the otherworldly flow of the Vapor Fly. The Fast has more road feel but shock is Pebax dampened and energetic as in the Vapor Fly but with more of a sense of familiarity.  I would race the Vapor Fly longer distances and train and race shorter distances in the Fast. Weird combination...
Reebok Floatride Run Fast
More comparisons and the detailed review when Dave and I have a chance to run more in the Fast. While it it snowy and cold in Park City it is summer in Los Angeles for Dave's testing.


Reviewers
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running and shoe geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half.
Peter Stuart is a late 40's avid LA based runner with recent sub 3 hour marathons and sub 1:25 halves.
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. He strives to stay in sub 3 hour marathon shape.


For Sam and Peter's full run bios see our Reviewers Bio Page here.
One pair of Run was purchased. One pair of Run and the Fast were provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments Questions Welcome Below!
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2 comments:

Samuel said...

How does the floatride compare to the freedom ISO?

sam winebaum said...

HI Samuel,
Thanks for asking. Very different shoes by stats but some similarities in ride between Floatride Run and Freedom as both haver energetic midsoles. First the Floatride Run is a full ounce lighter with a higher heel (5mm more cushion) and 1mm less in the forefoot for Run. So more cushion and as it has a real heel counter the Floatride is also far more stable. The Everun while bouncier is just a heavier material than the Pebax Float Foam. The Float Foam is a steady well controlled by the EVA sidewalls energy return while the Freedom is a bit of wild ride. If your purpose is short fast runs the Freedom is more fun but harder to tame, If you want a daily trainer at a super light weight and upper works for you then Floatride.
Hope this is helpful
Sam, Editor
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