Article by Sam Winebaum, Derek Li, Peter Stuart, and Dave Ames
Reebok Sweet Road 2 ($100)
Reebok is on a focused tear in 2018. The race Floatride Run Fast (RTR review) and Floatride Run Fast Pro (RTR review) are superb racing shoes among the very best and most innovative of 2018 with their Floatride Foam PEBA midsoles, minimal uppers, and new approaches to integration of midsole materials and outsole.
Left to Right: Sweet Road 2, Floatride Run Fast, Floatride Run Fast Pro
What then is the fast training partner for these more race oriented shoes? Not the Grasse Road a fine somewhat more stability oriented and heavily cushioned shoe we recently tested (RTR review) or due to its 10.8 oz weight not the similar but more cushioned neutral oriented Harmony Road 2. Enter the Sweet Road 2.
At a very fair price of $100, this approx. 9.5 oz // 269 g US men's 9, 8 mm drop trainer seems to us the product of very, very careful consideration of and laser focused improvements, area by area, over competitors in its class.
To sum it up, and upfront, the Sweet Road 2 is flexible and transitions very easily and smoothly, has a relatively soft forefoot to go with a stable heel shock reduced with a KooshRide TPU insert, has plenty of durable rubber well matched in firmness to the midsole, and is topped off with an unstructured buttery soft engineered mesh upper with only one strategically placed medial overlay/insert, an upper that is most comfortable and decently supportive at the same time. Read on for the details.
Reviewers: Peter from Austin, TX is a sub 3 hour marathon and a sub 1:25 half runner. Derek is a physician in Singapore who has a marathon PR of 2:41. Dave is a running coach based in So.California who stays in sub 3 hour shape, and Sam from New Hampshire is 61 with a recent 3:40 marathon and 1:35 half times.
Weight: Approx. 9.5 oz // 269 g US M9
Sample US M8.5 weighs 9.3 oz/263 g
Sample US 9.5 weighs 9.6 oz/272 g
Stack Height: 8mm
$100. Available now.
First Impressions and Fit
Derek: Reebok is on a roll this year with their running shoes. Their colorway options have been spot on in the Floatride range, and here too, I think they managed to make an aesthetically pleasing shoe without overdoing things. It’s a relatively simple overall look that works great. I honestly wasn’t expecting much for a $100 shoe but one really took me by surprise. Initial slip on was great. I really liked the feel of the upper, with a nice unstructured forefoot, and a snug wrap around the heel due to generous amounts of padding back there. Nothing too fancy, but no complaints here. Fit-wise, I found the shoe to run just a smidge shorter compared to the Floatride Run and Run Fast; I do great with a one thumb space in front of the toes at true to size in those shoes, but have slightly less spacing at true to size in the Sweet Road 2. It has not been a problem at all with thin socks, but if you plan to wear thicker socks I would recommend going a half size up.
Sam: This is one sharp classy and distinctive color way. I get tons of questions and compliments whenever I run it.
The fit is true to size and generous due to the soft and somewhat stretchy, thin engineered mesh, among the softest of any recent uppers we have tested recently. The try on is sublime. Of course sublime try ons and soft unstructured mesh with no overlays beyond the clever medial panel immediately raise concern about support at faster paces. Not to worry it is fine if on the more natural and not "straight jacket" style front to back with the support coming from the high but well padded achilles heel counter, the wide mid foot on the ground platform and vertical medial side walls, the lace up which truly molds the upper to the foot and the nature of the mesh itself.
Peter: The Sweet Road 2 is pretty. The colors (purplish blue and orange) work well together and the overall design is aesthetically pleasing. The meshi is soft and the step in is surprisingly luxe. It’s an overall harmonious design. There are some interesting elements to the shoe--a ventilation/support panel by the arch, a bunch of little “koosh” pellets visible from the bottom of the shoe, a fair amount of blown rubber on the bottom with a slightly convex section directly under the ball of the foot. What will all this feel like on the road? As I said, step in is great. Fit is right on and true to size for me. This is a lace up n run shoe for me. No messing around, stopping to adjust, etc. Just run.
Dave: Remember those really solid bands in the 80’s that continually came out with hit after hit, disappeared for a while, then came back many years later with an absolute fire album. Well, that’s Reebok in the run game. They have been on a tear, with beautiful shoes like the Run Fast and the even better speed demon Run Fast Pro. I’ve had nothing but great things to say about where the brand is in terms of development right now and the Sweet Road 2 is just continuing that trend. First of all, and testers have stated this above...I really dig the colorway on the SR2. It pops, looks great on your foot and kind of just looks well, tough. I do have to say however, that my size 9 runs a hair small on my foot. I’ve gotten away just fine with it on runs up to around 14 miles, but I would probably reach for a 9.5 if I was to use it for a long Run. It laces up extremely well on my narrow foot, and the hard heel counter, something I struggle with and can create a calcaneus spur, doesn’t effect me on the SR2. You’ll feel locked and loaded and ready to go when you slide this shoe on.
Derek: the upper appears to use a thin layer of laser cut mesh up front which doesn’t stretch much. There are no overlays that I could detect around the mid foot, though the Reebok logo provides some stiffness and structure to the upper around the arch. This transitions to a semi rigid heel counter that flares up around the Achilles. There is plenty of padding around the ankle opening. All in all, this makes for a very luxurious padded feel around the ankle and heel when you lace up the shoes. The overall shoe volume is perhaps on the low-medium side and people with larger volume feet may find this a problem. The shoe platform isn’t narrow, but the upper wraps lower compared to eg Floatride Run and Run Fast. I did not have to put much tension in the laces to get a secure fit in this shoe. In fact, any tighter would have caused discomfort. I should point out that this flared heel counter going up the Achilles does a much better job at securing the heel that any of the Nike Pegasus models for me. In terms of ventilation, the shoe does fine. The PVC material around the heel doesn’t breathe, but the thin mesh at the front makes up for that, and in warm conditions, I did not notice any problems with thin socks.
Sam: Reebok calls out the upper as a SmoothFuse breathable upper which "supports and centers the mid foot for a balanced ride" and that is exactly what it is and does. It appears to differ from version 1, a shoe I did not run, which had a more conventional stiffer mesh.
Part of the support at mid foot magic is a small non stretch panel in place of the mesh on the medial side with a wide overlay backing.
This panel sits directly outside the highest arch height and is very effective. I am surprised that such a totally otherwise unstructured upper supports the foot so well, but it does. If you like tons of upper snugness and support this may not be the shoe for you. I will continue to run and smile in comfort.
The high rear of the heel cup is very well padded with a continuous inner feel.
For sure this substantial but relatively short heel cup plays a big role in the great overall foot hold. By raising the rear profile of the heel cup all the way to the lower attachment point of the pull on strap it seems the Sweet Ride 2 avoids the disconnect between end of heel cup and rest of achilles hold. This said while some may find this high approach irritating I certainly didn't.
I have tested in the rain and in high humidity and this comparatively thin engineered mesh upper is indeed very breathable and dries very quickly.
The upper is also called out as having a lightweight and irritation free fit. I run daily barefoot in the Sweet Ride 2 and it is a delight. I run barefoot in very few shoes. It was obvious even before trying that the soft mesh, no overlays, and not even any stiffeners beyond a short soft one at the toe bumper would allow barefoot running. The front hold is surprisingly good for essentially zero overlays and soft mesh. This said it is a "natural" easy fit, well held but not exactly locked in snug. Those with wider and problem feet seeking a near performance fit should love the fit of this shoe.
Peter: The upper is nice and soft, with plenty of breathability and limited overlays.
There’a pull tab for the heel of the shoe and some nice reflective dots on the back.
The tongue is fairly padded and there’s a little bit of a flare at the back to keep the relatively high rear ankle collar off of the achilles. I’ve had no issues at all with the upper. It’s one of the more immediately comfortable shoes I’ve put on. I do take some issue with the footbed--not in its utility--but in the fact that it says “speed day” on it. At around 10 oz, it’s hardly a speed shoe. Why not just say “neutral” or something like that?
Dave: SmoothFuse is nothing fancy, especially when you look at it. In a running game of every brand trying to put so much time and effort into knits, etc., it was almost like Reebok said to everyone else, you’re wasting your time! SmoothFuse works. It works well. It’s not overly fancy and Reebok spent more time on the overall ride of the shoe, rather than the upper, which is where most run companies I feel are getting too caught up. It molds well and has the really nice racer like wrap that I like in all of my shoes, whether trainer or racer.
Derek: The midsole uses a combination of injection molded EVA (IMEVA) that runs the length of the shoe, and a KooshRide Core TPU insert at the heel. The result is a soft feeling shoe that takes a lot of the buzz out of the road feel. The feel is by no means mushy; there is minimal compression of the shoe when running, but plenty of vibration dampening going on. I’m not sure if there’s a stability element built into the shoe, as the crimson stripe of the midsole extends more along the medial side of the shoe than the lateral.
Sam: The midsole is injected EVA. I prefer the somewhat livelier bouncier feel of injected EVA over compression molded EVA. The midsole is very stable at the heel and is flexible and softer at the forefoot. The rear cushion is soft and comfortable but as just stated stable because between the main outer EVA walls and bulk of the midsloe a KooshRide Core dampens shock and is supposed to provide "long lasting cushioning and consistent feel".
The KooshRide Core is made up of tiny yellow bonded TPU noodles. TPU is the same material used in Boost and Everun and is known for its longevity and consistency. Here instead of molding or expanding TPU pellets as in Boost, tiny tubes of TPU are squeezed together. The combination of good heel stability and shock and vibration attenuation at the heel is excellent.
The stability, cushion and transition is enhanced by the differing densities of foam. The red orange foam appears slightly softer than the white foam directly under the heel and above. The white foam appears to be of all the same firmness front to back but will confirm with Reebok. All of the foam is relatively soft when say compared to New Balance Fresh Foam, ASICS FlyteFoam or Saucony PWRFOAM and is slightly firmer/denser/more stable than Skechers FlightGen and UltraFlight when combined with the fuller contact outsole in the Sweet Road. All put together on gets a very stable relatively firm heel with the Koosh insert toning down shock and a softer yet stable forefoot.
Dave: The EVA mixed in with the Kooshhride Core packs a really nice combo. Let me warn you right now though, it’s a firm shoe. But I like it firm. At least from what I gather from it 75 miles in. If you’re looking for that Hoka feel, it’s not going to be here. I struggle in the achilles department with anything soft. It needs to be snappy and powerful in order to work with my gait and SR2 does just that. The heel to toe transition rate is quite quick and you find yourself toeing off extremely nicely via the Powerpad. Because the shoe feels so firm underfoot, I thought it would be loud and slappy. Not the case! This baby puurs. Very well executed midsole.
Peter: Not a lot to add here. The Koosh tubes are fun to look at and, let’s face it, fun to say out loud. I don’t land on the heel much so i don’t notice a ton from the koosh. I agree with Dave that it’s a pretty firm ride. It’s a nice balance of firm and forgiving. Kinda reminds me of the Adidas Boston 7.
Derek: The outsole uses segmented patches of a soft tacky rubber compound that covers most of the outsole. This rubber has proven surprisingly durable. There appears to be some sort of laminate blended into the rubber, that puts its softness somewhere in the middle between conventional blown rubber and carbon-injected rubber. Whatever it is, it has taken blown rubber and given it some very strong durability characteristics. Grip has been outstanding on wet pavement with this outsole, carrying on the tradition of great outsole grip seen in the Floatride series this year.
Sam: The outsole has a segmented crash pad with firmer heel rubber and relatively soft forefoot rubber.
While the heel may feel a bit to stable "thunky" at slower paces, as pace picks up transitions and toe offs are most smooth and comfortable. There is plenty of long lasting rubber here and unlike some more "budget" run shoes with gym pretensions it is not a firm harsh rubber. In fact it could be a touch firmer at the forefoot to increase response.
The forefoot outsole is well segmented with what Reebok calls the Power Pad on the medial side. This rectangular pad surrounded by considerable rubber seems to be the secret in how the softer riding midsole upfront still allows a stable and fairly dynamic toe off feel without resorting to firm rubber. Very clever and I find the approach effective.
Dave: The outsole is aggressive. Powerpad is really nice and while it may be a lighter daily trainer than the Ghost or Ride ISO, I feel like you should be able to get a good amount of miles out of the SR2. The outsole grips well on wet surfaces and dry trail as well. I enjoyed the SR2 on the local single track trails on some of the loops I can do here in SoCal, which combine roads connecting to light trail to save the legs.
Peter: A decent amount of rubber, great grip, and the segmentation of the rubber allows the shoe to flex just right. The Powerpad is nicely situated and seems to give just a little bit of pop (might be in my head) when you pick up the pace.
Derek: The shoe has a wider platform by neutral shoe standards, and as such gives a pretty stable ride.
There is decent stack but it feels quite low to the ground when you start running in it. I am just recently coming back from a knee injury, and am a big maximalist fan looking for a more stable ride that won’t jar the legs like most traditional neutral trainers, and this one ticks a lot of the boxes for me. The ride is incredibly smooth through the forefoot, especially when you get into the moderate-fast tempos. The TPU heel insert provides for a fairly stable landing zone, though I could feel the torsional rigidity back there.
I have a very supinated landing angle and when I land heel first, the transition to neutral is quite abrupt at the heel due to that rigidity. That said, there is plenty of flexibility at the forefoot right through the met-heads and this allows for an easy traditional toe-off. The soft forefoot, while providing great cushioning at slower paces, really pops when you crank up the pace. The shoe definitely runs lighter than its true weight. I remember my first couple of miles in this shoe, and my first thought was “woah! Launch-killer!” (in reference to the Brooks Launch). I can really see this as a do-it-all everyday trainer that handles the recovery runs and long runs well up to some uptempo work, but maybe get another shoe for the speed stuff. Heavier runners may fancy this shoe for long races, though there are better options out there for racing.
Sam: The ride here is smooth and on the soft side with plenty of energy but not a crazy bouncy feel or a hard pop off the road. Response is moderate due to the soft forefoot rubber and midsole. This said this is a shoe that feels best as the pace picks up and one gets off the heels and yes is also fine run slow. There is plenty of cushion and the transitions are very smooth and easy here. I do wish for a bit less of a contrast between the very stable somewhat overbuilt rear of the shoe and more easy going front. While not a "ride" characteristic I have very much enjoyed running the Sweet Road barefoot in our oppressive heat this summer.
Dave: Firm ride. If you don’t like a firm shoe, you may not initially like the Sweet Road 2. But don’t be fooled, she warms up nicely after a few runs and you really begin to see the overall smoothness of this shoe. It’s powerful. I really like the versatility. I ran it in on recovery days nice and easy and it was not difficult to feel out the transition, which is something that is tough to do in shoes built for more speed. Where does it shine? Tempo days, Fartlek, etc. Once you really begin to continually land on the Powerpad upfront is where it comes to life even more. My legs felt great during workouts and in the recovery days after, I didn’t take the usual lower leg beating like I do in some uptempo trainers from forcing toe off. My legs were relatively fresh!
Peter: The ride is on the firm side and, frankly, not that thrilling. But it is super solid and enjoyable. I like running in the Sweet Road 2, and reach for them more and more--partly because of that sweet looking upper.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This is a great neutral daily trainer, which a more traditional feel, but with really good vibration-dampening built in. I have about 50 miles in the shoe run exclusively on tarmac and pavement and the outsole looks completely brand new. I expect this shoe to last a long, long time. It reminded me a lot of the first generation Brooks Launch but in a more stable platform, being a bit wider through the arch. I think fans of the original Brooks Launch should definitely try this shoe. Another thing I think should be noted is that there are very few neutral trainers on the market that have a higher 8-10mm drop these days. You tend to see good forefoot flexibility in shoes like the Saucony Kinvara, or Salming Enroute. What do they have in common? 4-6mm drop for the most part. Move up to the 8-12mm drop range and you end up with shoes the offerings from Brooks or ASICS or Nike and Adidas, and they tend to focus more on stiff rockered forefoots, with torsion systems, and carbon plates. Off the top of my head only the Saucony Ride comes close, and it’s not anywhere as flexible as the Sweet Road up front. So it’s actually pretty rare and nice to find a mid weight decently cushioned neutral traditional drop daily trainer that has good forefoot flexibility that allows you to utilize your natural Windlass Mechanism to toe-off.
Derek’s Score 9/10
-0.5 for a bit too overbuilt around the heel. I would have liked a little more breathability and a softer feeling heel counter, considering the soft unstructured forefoot. It didn’t get in the way but the heel and forefoot just don’t match up.
-0.5 for lack of “liveliness” in the foam. There is great vibration dampening, but somehow the liveliness of the KooshRide TPU didn’t quite shine through in the shoe, resulting in a more traditional feel.
Derek beat me to it. Great overall daily trainer, with aspects of doing some uptempo work in it as well. I know it may be a bit heavier than some lightweight performances trainers like Kinvara 9 or 10 or Razor 3, but it boasts a wide range of options for the runner. I would pull this for the neutral runner simply looking to have some fun with a shoe!
Dave’s Score 9.75/10
-.25 for a bit to firm heel collar. I stated above that is doesn’t bother me….and 75 miles in it still doesn’t, but I could like it to be a tad softer in how it wraps and locks me in.
Nothing exceptionally innovative here, no flashy new foam beyond maybe the KooshRide TPU tubes in the mix. Yet the combination of attributes and the careful top to bottom execution has me for sure leaning towards the Sweet Ride 2 as one of my trainers of the year. The upper is outstanding in its combination of sublime comfort and adequate support. The weight at under 10 oz is fine for a daily trainer with so much durable rubber and decent pop. The softer, easy going ride is stable and the Sweet can go fast or long. I have very happy legs, comfortable feet and smiles every time I take these for a spin. The price is very fair. Clearly Reebok dissected the competition, worked the details, executed, and has hit another one out of the park here. to go with their incredible racers Highly recommended as a faster paced, comfy and easy riding daily trainer.
Sam's Score 9.8 out of 10
At $100 for a sub 10 oz shoe with all the positives of ride, comfort and potential durability I can't complain to much and my score is in that context.
-0.1 for weight and midsole dynamism. It would be nice if Reebok followed the trend towards modern, lighter yet dynamic foams. They sure know exotic light foams given their PEBA midsole incredible Fast and Fast Pro racers.
-0.05 for somewhat overbuilt heel/achilles counter area. The stability and support provided is welcome but clashes a bit with the softer flexible forefoot feel. Given the underfoot stability it could be relaxed a bit which might also contribute to a bit lighter weight.
-0.05 for a touch firmer forefoot rubber which might improve the response and liveliness.
As everyone else said, it’s a great daily trainer at a totally reasonable price. I think it can work for lots of different runners for lots of different types of workouts. It may not be the most exciting shoe of the year, but it’s a solid trainer with a great upper.
Peter's Score 9/10
-,5 for good but not thrilling ride. Would love just a little more pop.
-.5 for being just a bit too firm for me to really love it.
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs. Brooks Launch (RTR review)
Derek: I’ve used the Launch v1/3/4 so far and I like the Sweet Road 2 more than all of them. The Sweet Road just seems to transition better through the forefoot, and though the Launches seem to have a bit more dynamic bounce at faster paces, they also feel less cushioned despite having a high stack feel.
Dave: SR2 all day. The narrow midfoot platform on the Launch doesn’t work well with my gait and causes me to excessively pronate.
Sam: I agree with Derek and Dave. Better transitions, better cushion, and a superior upper especially compared to the Launch 5’s at midfoot where the narrower underfoot platform and no overlays and underlays just don’t hold my foot nearly as well.
Peter: the Sweet Road feels like less shoe but has the same amount of life and protection. It harkens back to aspects of the Launch 1
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs.Saucony Zealot ISO 3 (RTR review)
Derek: I picked this comparison because they both have very similar fits, with padded heels a soft unstructured feeling uppers. I prefer the upper of the Sweet Road as it seems to wrap my foot a little better. The Zealot has an overall softer feel but also transitions a little slower because of that. The Zealot also uses a lower drop and so if you are more of a heel striker then you will appreciate the higher drop of the Sweet Road.
Sam: I find the somewhat heavier Sweet Road has a slightly firmer more stable heel and softer forefoot than Zealot and one with one road feel. I much prefer the uncomplicated soft glove fit of the Sweet Road. Agreeing with Derek the Sweet Road transitions better for this heel striker.
Peter: I have a soft spot for the Zealot. There’s not much road feel, but there’s a lot of bounce. The upper on the Sweet road is much better as is the overall harmony of the shoe.
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs. Reebok Floatride Run Fast (RTR review)
Derek: The Sweet Road has an overall softer and more cushioned feel but of course these two shoes are designed with different purposes in mind. I think the Sweet Road would serve well as a trainer version for people who like to race and do speed work in the Fast, much more so than the FloatRide Run which, for me, doesn’t have a good enough upper for running.
Dave: As simple as this for me. SR2 for daily mileage and an occasional workout on the roads (maybe a longer Tempo or Fartlek) and Run Fast for shorter stuff, races up to a Half Mary and track work.
Sam: Agree with both Dave and Derek’s assessments.
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs.Nike Pegasus 35 (RTR review)
Derek: I will state upfront that the D width Peg 35 I got was way too narrow and didn’t work well for me fit-wise. That said, I think the underfoot feels of these 2 shoes are quite similar. The Peg 35 uses a more rigid platform and rocketed feel for transition, whereas the Sweet Road uses a flexible forefoot to allow for a more natural toe-off. The big difference is also seen in the heel counter. Both have big Achilles flares, but the Sweet Road uses plenty of padding to make sure your heel doesn’t slip!
Sam: Sweet Road all day, any day. Peg 35 is firm, dull, and stiff especially in the forefoot in comparison.
Peter: Yeah, the Peg 35 feels kind of like a brick in comparison.
Peter: Yeah, the Peg 35 feels kind of like a brick in comparison.
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs. Reebok Run Fast Pro (RTR review)
Dave: Own both. You won’t be disappointed! SR2 for training and Fast Pro for short races and getting that leg speed to come back to life!
Reebok Sweet Road 2 vs. Saucony Kinvara 9 & 10 (RTR review)
Dave: While I absolutely love the SR2, right now, nothing is beating the K9 or K10. The K9 was my top shoe of 2018 and the K10 is proving to be in testing one of the top shoes of next year! The Kinvara’s are just a tad smoother in transition for my gait.
Sam: The Kinvara 10 is a faster and lighter shoe with a touch more midfoot stability. It is clearly more responsive but slightly stiffer and firmer in the forefoot while remaining well cushioned. A forefoot feel right in between these two would be ideal for me. The Sweet Road 2 leans more towards training, the Kinvara towards fast days and racing.
Peter: Different beasts. The Sweet Road is a solid daily trainer with lots of rubber and pretty much a guarantee of many, many miles. The Kinvara 10 is softer and has barely any rubber--it’s a bit more fun to run in and is a little smoother for me, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was played out by 200 miles.
Shop for the Sweet Road 2 at Reebok.com here
Full Reviewer Bios can be found here
Photo Credits: Derek Li, Dave Ames, and Sam Winebaum
he product reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.Comments Questions Welcome Below!
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