Thursday, June 21, 2018

Brooks Levitate 2 Initial Review: Yet More Solid Goodness!

Article by Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Levitate 2 ($150)
Read our Full Review here
Don't let the considerable 11.7 oz weight scare you off! By far the heaviest roads shoe I have run in for years and gaining a bit over Levitate 1, the Brooks Levitate 2 with its innovative DNA AMP PU midsole skinned with a supportive sliver TPU skin is all smooth power. I ran the Levitate 1 and was surprised by its smooth almost pneumatic cushion and measured yet noticeable "energy return". Amply cushioned, well shod with a full smoothly and quietly transitioning durable outsole it is a shoe I reach for when I want to save the legs and still move along at a decent pace. If you were a Leviate 1 fan not to worry the ride is the same. The changes here are to the upper. We will have a full multi tester review shortly but here are my initial impressions after 20 or so miles at various moderate paces.

Approx. Weight: US M9 11.7 oz / 332 g
Sample US M8.5 11.4oz / 322g
Levitate 1: sample 8.5 weighed 11.1 oz.
Stack Height: 26mm heel/18 mm heel, 8 mm offset
$150. Available July 2018

First Impressions, Fit, and Upper
The Levitate 2's new FitKnit upper is the big update here. I think it is stunning looking and a sharp, but in no way overdone, contrast to the Levitate 1's kind of boring all blue and sliver motif.  All in all the new upper improves the fit and comfort of the Levitate
The fit is true to size at my usual men's 8.5. The toe box is slightly higher, easier fitting and softer feeling due to the elimination (see photo below) of denser toe cap knitting and stiffening throughout the toe box. The mid foot is where the FitKnit really kicks in and is more secure but also has less pressure as all knit construction replaces the previous vertical overlays.
LEFT: Levitate 1                                                                              RIGHT: Levitate 2
Big changes occur from the lace up back to the heel.  In the photo above, one immediately notices the narrower tongue end. Does it work as a tongue? Yes but I wish for a bit more width and rearwards reach to better pad the stout lace loop built into to the knit collar.
The Levitate 2 has a cool looking knit collar which is tied into the lacing. 
The effect is much like using the rear lace hole in a lace lock. I found the last substantial lace loop tying to the collar a bit thick as the collar is folded back and stitched to create the loop with not as much padding as may be ideal. This said, the lace up and security there, always a challenge with knit collar shoes, is super secure, maybe to secure and a bit more than actually required? No big comfort issues so far but wonder if the design look snuck in ahead of practicality at this feature? More testing will tell.

The heel and ankle counter below the knit collar is stout and higher reaching to the bottom of the knit collar, and more lightly and firmer padded than Levitate 1's.
No issues with irritation but I notice this firmer, higher construction and the lace loop. The result is a more solid lockdown that is not quite as plush as the Levitate 1. This is an incredibly secure upper which is also overall comfortable if a bit warm as the mid foot to rear upper is for sure dense.


DNA AMP foam is the key feature here.  DNA AMP is a PU (polyurethane) midsole with a TPU outer skin Brooks claims that PU provides "unparalleled energy return". To deliver "amplified experience" the PU midsole is encased in a silver TPU skin. TPU it is used in many ways in the midsole and even uppers and in harder plates in midsoles such as in most Boost shoes, to here as a skin. The skin is supposed to resist horizontal expansion of the midsole as forces are applied to deliver the fullest energy return or more accurately really lowest energy loss possible from the rest of the midsole. 
The midsole is unchanged from Levitate 1 as far as I can tell. While a very heavy and dense midsole material it has a wonderfully stable, smoothly pneumatic feel to it. Landings and take offs are well dosed and lively in a steady as she goes way quite unlike EVA which has a sharper feel or Boost which is bouncy and harder to control for lateral forces. This is a very resilient durable midsole which goes well with the rest of the durability and many miles story of outsole and upper. 

The DNA Amp midsole outer walls are coated with silver TPU. Not just decorative this coating plays a key role in containing the compression of the midsole and its  directing its rebound vertically below the foot and I think is key to that smooth directed pneumatic feel.

The outsole seems to be exactly to be in exactly the same pattern as Levitate 1 but is made of a more translucent rubber. The outsole is in perfect harmony with the rest of the shoe. Not exactly a responsive feeling outsole but it is a very very smooth and quiet at all paces. It's a feel like a very fine European luxury sedan shod with the best all conditions rubber. 

Ride and Conclusions
I am amazed how smoothly this big, big shoe runs.  It is not particularly responsive but the DNA AMP is for sure more dynamic in a more steady measured way than comparable EVA midsole  shoes. The ride is very similar to Levitate 1 with the upper more as one with the rest of the shoe. I noticed slightly smoother and easier transitions test running Levitate 1 and 2 side by side. I really don't notice the weight here until about 5 miles or so when I start to realize it's there but all in all not a big issue and Levitate is without the ponderous dead and heavy feeling I often find in road shoes that are approaching 11 ounces.. and here we are well over that. 

The Levitate 2 is an ideal shoe for very well protected big mileage, heavier runners, and runners seeking the ultimate in cushioning yet while still getting a decently dynamic and smooth experience for shorter runs at moderate paces. 

The full multi tester reviewer soon here at RoadTrailRun with comparisons to Glycerin 16 and many others.
Available July 2018
Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday a 3:40 marathon.  He also runs trails in rocky rooty New Hampshire and smooth Park City, UT. 

The products reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Unknown said...

I currently run in the Glycerin 15 and am very happy. Just wondering if I should consider the levitate 2 or simply order the Glycerin 16

Heavier runner (plodder) 40 km a week

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Frank,
Both are great choices. We will soon have a review comparing Glycerin 16 to Levitate 2. We have already reviewed the Glycerin 16 and Jeff Beck saw the new DNA Loft midsole as a big improvement. Glycerin 16 review here :
Sam, Editor
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