Sunday, December 11, 2016

Review- Brooks Running Neuro 2: More Conventional and Better Looks, Top Notch Upper, Same Radical Flex

Brooks Running Neuro 2
Brooks Running Neuro 2

The Neuro 2 is an 10.1 oz/286 g (men’s size 9) daily trainer from Brooks with a 6mm offset from heel to toe. Brooks describes the shoe as follows: “Built to go fast any day, this performance enhancing shoe delivers speed by pairing our best-in-class fit and biomechanics technology with instantaneous energy return”. So, does it deliver on those promises? How does this update compare to the Neuro (review here)?
The Neuro 2 has retained some of the technology of the Neuro while toning down some of the more radical design elements. Overall it’s a mixed bag.

Upper and Fit:

The upper on the Neuro 2 is much more breathable than the original Neuro. The Original was a very plastic feeling material and it was a sweatbox—perhaps the most uncomfortably warm upper I’ve used. The Neuro 2 is much improved here. It’s a pretty standard feeling upper and the fit is dialed in easily. The Neuro 2 still utilizes what Brooks calls a “dynamic hammock system”, which cinches down and holds the foot nicely. The materials, fit and finish are all top notch and the shoe is nice to step into. A much more typical looking trainer than the original Neuro.

Midsole and Outsole:
The most obvious change here is the reduction in pod size and their squaring from Neuro to Neuro 2. 
Brooks Running Neuro 2
The original Neuro had massive oversized pods and looked like something out of David Bowie’s wardrobe circa Space Oddity.
Brooks Running Neuro 1

Brooks Running Neuro 1
There are still pods on the outsole of the Neuro 2, but they are smaller and look like a normal outsole from the side. 
Brooks Running Neuro 2
The pods are made of BioMoGo DNA encapsulated into blown rubber.  Once you look underneath you can see the pods and the spaces in between them. The biomechanics are the bigger story on the Neuro line and in this regard the 2nd version has much in common with the 1st.
Brooks Running Neuro 2 Gearing Mechanism
The heel is mostly decoupled in what they refer to as a “gearing mechanism”. 
There are two places on the sole-one further back on the lateral side of the shoe and the other towards the mid-foot on the medial side-- in which there is very deep groove allowing the outsole to bend. While these are both really noticeable if you pick the shoe up and bend it, they don’t seem to affect the ride drastically. There is plenty of blown rubber on the outsole of the shoe.

gearing mechanism

The ride of the Neuro 2 is relatively smooth. I find them to slap the pavement a bit and to feel a bit too firm at the beginning of a run. After a few miles they seem to flow a little better and I notice that I like them better if I try to land on the heel (which I don’t do a lot). I don’t love running in them, but I don’t hate it either. I think they might work better for someone who heel strikes more regularly. They are moderately cushioned and strike a decent balance between cushion and firm ride for energy return. Overall I think they are a touch firmer than the Neuro 1.

Overall I’m neither here-nor-there on the Neuro 2. The decoupling of the heel doesn’t change the game in any particular way. They are a totally decent daily trainer, without being thrilling (for me) in any given aspect. They are certainly an improvement over the original Neuro, but fall into a middle ground of running shoe that I don’t really see a place for in my rotation. Even in the Brooks line-up there are more cushioned daily trainers that are about the same weight or less, such as the fine upcoming 9 oz Launch 4 (review here by Sam Winebaum) and there are faster Brooks shoes that are a bit lighter such as the 8.3 oz Asteria (impressons here by Sam Winebaum). 

Neuro 2 vs. Nike Pegasus 33
No comparison. Similar weights, but much better energy return and cushioning from the Pegasus. Pegasus feels quicker when I lay into it and cushier when I relax.

Neuro 2 vs. New Balance Zante V3 (review here)
Zante is firmer, faster and more form fitting.  More fun to run in.

Neuro2 vs. Brooks Pureflow6 (review here)
These two shoes share some similarities. I think the Pureflow is a sleeker, more invisible ride.  

Score 7 out of 10
-1.5 for uninspiring ride
-1.0 for gaining weight from previous version
-0.5 for stiff “slappy” road-feel.

The Neuro 2 was provided at no charge. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Photo Credits: Peter Stuart and Sam Winebaum

Peter Stuart's Running Bio

My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

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