Article by Mac Jeffries, Derek Li, and Peter Stuart
Reebok Forever Floatride Energy ($100)
Mac: The battle of midsole foams continues, as does the resurrection of Reebok as a serious contestant in the running market. After the Floatride’s debut with a fantastic Pebax midsole but iffy upper, Reebok hit back to back home runs with their Floatride Fast and Floatride Fast Pro models. The Forever Energy uses a NEW midsole technology - that they simply call Forever Energy - that is a new TPU/TPE (think “Boost” or “Everrun”) based midsole that manages to be lighter than the norm for TPU midsoles. What they ended up with is a fantastic shoe for Easy to Tempo efforts for only $100. Shoe Market: take notice.
Mac: The midsole is cush with great energy return, the upper is simple (in a good way), weight is among the best on the market for a TPE midsole, and did I mention it is only $100?
Derek: Excellent quality shoe for this price point. Lively bouncy ride.
Mac: shoe laces are too short, sizing is big (definitely order a half size smaller), and insole is non-removable (you can still remove it quite easily), and collar may come up a bit too high for some.
Derek: Agree laces are on the short side. Heel volume was a little big for me. But these are all minor points.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Mac is a former collegiate defensive lineman who runs to fill the competitive void left after school and to stay in shape. He is in his late 30s, runs 50-80 mpw, and at 6’3”, has come down from his playing weight of 275 lbs to a steady 205 lbs for the last 10 years. Jeff’s PRs are 19:30, 1:33:xx, and 3:23:xx; he also teaches and coaches XC & T&F.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and is a sub 3 hour in the marathon in recent years as well as a 1:25 half marathoner.
Forever Floatride Energy ($100)
Men's: 8.7 oz / 253 g Women's 7 oz /202 g
29mm heel /19 mm forefoot. 10mm drop
Available February 2019
First Impressions and Fit
Mac: First, let me stress: ORDER A HALF SIZE SMALLER, and if you are between sizes already, consider ordering a full size smaller. I wear a 14 in virtually every running shoe on the planet - which sometimes leads me to resent companies such as Nike, Adidas, Salomon, and yes, Reebok, which often only offer their premium shoes up to a size 13 - but I took a chance on ordering these after hearing that they run large, both in length and width. Glad I did, because the size 13s fit me perfectly, and I would have missed out on the most pleasant surprise I have had early in this new year. (By contrast, I could ALMOST make the size 13 Floatride Fast work on my size 14 foot with a thinner insole, but I ultimately sold them after a couple of runs.) Aesthetics are highly personal, but I really like the clean, simple look of these *coughSPEEDcough*, with the only flash coming in the diagonal white scheme sloping from the Achilles to the ball of the foot.
Peter: Um, not to confuse the issue, but sizing feels just fine to me. I’m an 11 in pretty much everything and an 11 feels great to me. There may be a tiny bit more room at the toe than in some other shoes, but the fit feels great and I had zero issues with lockdown, length. Feels great and true to size for me. Laces not problematic either. Sorry Mac! I hate it when we fight. I, too, like the clean simple design and they feel great on step-in.
Derek: Initial step in feel was very good for me. The upper is simplistic but works very well. It reminds me a bit of the Flymesh used in the Vaporfly OG. The fit is definitely true to size for me. That is to say, the shoe is on the somewhat pointy side, so you may feel like there is a little more room that usual in some parts of the front of the shoe, but this is necessary so that your big toe and pinky toe don’t get squashed when you run. Overall fit volume is spot on for me, with the only minor issue being heel volume is a bit loose. I had to use the heel loop lacing method to get prevent some heel slippage. I really like simple color schemes and this blue on white scheme is just clean and very elegant.
Mac: (Reminder: I am reviewing a shoe that is a size smaller than what I usually wear.) The upper is very simple, in a good way. Most of it is an engineered mesh that reminds me of the New Balance Beacon. It has just enough stretch to conform to the foot, and feels secure at all speeds. I am somewhat of a toe-box snob, and although these don’t have the exaggerated last of an Altra or even the anatomical shape of a Topo, there is very little - if any - toe crowding. Toe splay is more than adequate. Lace lockdown is good, although I replaced the laces with something just a little longer so I could use all of the upper eyelets.
Peter: The upper is simple and effective. It’s not the softest upper out there, but it fits the foot, holds it down, breathes well and looks nice. Not a ton to say. Everything is just proportioned well and works. The padding around the ankle is good, the tongue stays in place. It’s simple--put it on, tie it, go run. No adjustment needed.
Derek: I agree the upper is not of the stretchy soft variety seen in so many shoes these days, but that is a good thing when you want to keep engineering cost to a minimum. They used a somewhat rigid one piece upper with some plastic design overlays to reinforce the midfoot and that’s it. Nothing crazy fancy, but sometimes that’s enough. All anyone wants is an upper that keeps your foot secure and does not get in the way, and this upper does exactly that. I would go so far to say that this is one of the best uppers on the market for a tempo type shoe, but Reebok has been batting at 100% for their uppers in the Floatride range for over a year now, and it is mind-boggling to think that uppers like the one seen on the Run Fast and Run Fast Pro are even better. So it’s fair to say that this is a budget version of those superb uppers, but it is already ahead of the competition at this point. The only minor gripe i have is I felt the heel counter could have been angled in a little more to provide a bit more lock-down, and the tongue is maybe a half inch short, like NB Zante v1 short, but again these are minor issues.
Tongue stays in place well with a traditional slot to work the laces through. One possible negative for some: the collar comes up just a touch higher than most of my shoes - including at the achilles - so that is just barely grazes the bottom of my ankle. This has not led to any irritation, but it is something to consider.
Floatride Energy is an expanded pellet TPU (think Boost) foam that it said to be more responsive and springy and lighter than traditional EVA foams. The foam here is clearly not Boost (Reebok is owned by adidas but does its own thing from everything we can tell) as the pellet grains seem much smaller and it is lighter. It will also allow Reebok to offer other "super foam" based shoes at a great price as Energy comes in at $100, Grasse Road at $120, and Harmony at $120. See RTR's 2019 Reebok preview here.
Mac: The midsole is where this shoe absolutely shines. It feels like running on Boost or Everrun - maybe just a touch firmer - but at 1-2oz lighter than TPU shoes of the same size. The result is a ride that is both firm and responsive, and just a joy to run in. Plus, being a polymer instead of a foam, I expect these to be much more durable - resistant to compression - than traditional EVA.
Peter: Goldilocks combo of firm, bouncy and responsive here. It’s not a soft shoe, but it’s not overly firm. It’s a nice midsole that responds to the energy you put into it. It doesn’t quite have the magic feel of a a couple of other shoes out there, but for me it puts Everun to shame and comes in lighter than boost--so it’s a great foam.
Derek: They have hit the sweet spot for me here. Even with the slightly raised midfoot and heel sidewalls with the Floatride shoes, a feature which has historically made the ride uncomfortable for me, the midsole here is the perfect blend of firm stability and bounce, and vibration dampening. Not much else to say; the ride just blows Adidas Boost away. Why can’t they make the Adios more like this?
Mac: The outsole is a single piece of rubber with good traction. The outsoles of the Fast and Fast Pro were lauded, and this one is in the same category. I have run on wet and dry asphalt, and I detected absolutely no slippage on wet roads (definitely a point over the Beacon).
Peter: A ton of rubber for such a relatively light shoe. These grip the road like crazy and should last forever. Again, not reinventing the running shoe, but putting a great, somewhat traditional outsole on a really great midsole makes for a good time.
Derek: The shoe has a full coverage blown rubber outsole and there are several pros and cons with this. The obvious downside with blown rubber is durability. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the durability of the outsole thus far. I’ve seen very little wear compared to other blown rubber outsoles. The upside is that blown rubber tends to be a bit more sticky, and provides better grip on slippery surfaces. Another advantage is that the blown rubber keeps the overall feel of the shoe soft, and really allows the midsole feel to come through with every step. We have seen how a full carbon rubber outsole can make a shoe feel harsh, regardless of the midsole used. The ASICS Roadhawk FF v1 is a great example of that.
Mac: My longest run in these is 13 miles, and my hardest was a 10 mile run that included 5 miles at tempo, and the shoes simply disappeared on my feet. They are slightly firmer than my Beacons and my Skechers Razor 3s, and definitely firmer than my Saucony Freedoms. The flex seems to occur just at or behind the ball of my foot, which feels very natural. These have 10 mm of drop - which is more than I am used to - but not at all unpleasant, and actually welcomed towards the end of longer efforts.
Peter: The Reebok Forever Energy are a great feeling shoe. They remind me of the original Zante in that they are a great middle ground of firmness and energy return. They corner well, they can go fast and they are forgiving when going slow. They are not hugely bouncy or overly firm. They are just right. They say “everyday” right there when you put them on and that’s a great description. They are a great every day shoe.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Mac: Reebok simply hit this one out of the park. Here is a shoe priced at $100 that is relatively lightweight, well cushioned, responsive, springy, and most of all: fun. I smile every time I lace these up. Right now, I can see myself doing nearly all of my training runs - replacing my Freedoms for Long Runs and my Beacons for Tempo and Interval work - in these. I will still pull out my flats for my fastest reps and track sessions, but I may still give these a chance. I have run 45 miles so far and see zero - zero - compression or outsole wear so far.
Are they perfect? No. I would like to see the collar a touch lower, slightly longer laces, and the sizing fixed (although the sizing issue helps me here, as I otherwise wouldn’t be able to wear this shoe). But honestly, 2 of those 3 you can fix yourself by ordering a half size smaller and switching out the laces.
Peter They say “everyday” right there when you put them on and that’s a great description. They are a great every day shoe.This is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Simple upper, good solid TPU midsole, pretty straight forward outsole--all add up to a really fun little shoe that I want to run in again and again. I agree these are firmer than the Razor 3, certainly firmer than the Hoka Rincon, and not as firm as some other things out there. They most remind me of the OG Zante and the Boston Boost 7
Derek: I really like overall ride of this shoe. It feels great over a big range of paces, and never beats you up. In fact the faster you go, the more you experience a lively spring in the ride. It’s a very good overall daily trainer. It is not soft like a Razor 3, but is lively and cushioned in its own way. I would say the only thing i would change about this shoe, is that sometimes i feel like the heel feels on the low side in this shoe. It feels more like a 6mm drop shoe than a 10mm drop shoe. I think given the softer feel of the midsole, perhaps a 12mm drop would have worked better for me. Otherwise, I don’t really have any complaints for this shoe.
Mac's Score: 9.9/10
-.1 for the high collar; no points deducted for the laces or sizing which can be easily remedied by the buyer. Major points for Value, Ride, Technology, and Fun Factor
Peter’s Score: 9.8/10
Upper could be a little softer, ride could be just a hair more bouncy, but a strong recommendation to buy.
Derek’s Score: 9.9/10
-0.1 for somewhat poor lockdown at the heel and short tongue. Otherwise this shoe is damn near perfect as a daily trainer. And if you’ve got the wheels to push the shoe, it will really fly.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)
Mac: This is a sad one for me, because the Beacons have been a mainstay for me for months now from anything from Easy Runs down to Tempos… but although the Beacon is lighter, the Forever Energy does everything else better for me: road grip, midsole, fit… plus, the Forever Energy has a wider range of paces and is $20 cheaper. I feel like I am stabbing a close friend in the back, but: Advantage: Reebok Forever Energy.
Peter: Surprisingly similar ride (I would have thought the beacon felt much softer but running them one on each foot they are pretty similar). I think they are pretty similar and like both, but the Reebok outsole should last longer due to the wealth of rubber on the bottom. Grips better too.
Derek: I prefer the Energy to the Beacon. The Beacon seems to transition a bit slower for me, and the ride isn’t quite as bouncy and exciting. The Beacon also has a more relaxed fit but overall, the Energy is just a more fun shoe for me.
Skechers Performance GORun Ride 7 (RTR Review)
Mac: I liked - not loved - the SGRR7, but the Forever Energy does everything better. Not close for me: Forever Energy.
Peter: I loved the Ride 7, but this is a better upper, better looking shoe and a bit of a firmer ride.
Derek: The GRR7 is great in every way except the upper. The Energy may not be as soft and bouncy, but it has a far superior upper in terms of fit and lockdown for a performance shoe. If I could have only one trainer, I would take the Energy for its superior upper.
Saucony Freedom (RTR Review)
Mac: The Freedom has been another mainstay for me for Easy and Long Runs, but I have always had to modify them to get them to work for me. The Forever Energy has a much more secure upper, is lighter, has a less mushy midsole, and is $60 cheaper. Advantage Forever Energy.
Derek: Not quite the same type of shoe. The Freedom feels lower to the ground and has a much less structured upper by comparison. I think the Energy feels better over a wider range of paces compared to the Freedom, which can beat you up at slower paces sometimes.
Skechers Razor 3 Hyper (RTR Review)
Mac: This is the only shoe that I am picking over the Forever Energy, but only for specific purposes: Long Distance Racing. The Razor 3 is significantly lighter - if gaudier - with just as much midsole spring and protection. Even though the upper is more secure in the Forever Energy, the weight difference is more than enough to make me choose the Razor 3s for any race that matters. For most anything else, though, I am picking the Forever Energy.
Peter: The Razor 3 has a bit of a wow factor for me that the Reebok doesn’t have. I’d race the Razor for sure, and train in it, but I’m definitely working the Reebok into the rotation
Derek: Not really a fair comparison, as the Razor 3 is a lot lighter than the Energy. I think the Razor is more of a racer than can train, while the Energy is a trainer that can race. Both have similarly fitting uppers. A bit stiff but very supportive and give excellent lockdown. From a performance shoe perspective, the Razor 3 has better overall fit and lockdown than the Energy for me, but the Razor doesn’t quite work so well over slower paces for me, so points to the Energy for overall versatility. I think if you are looking for a tempo/racer type shoe, then the Razor 3 would be the pick. If you can’t afford a 4%. Get a Razor 3 and an Energy for $230 and you still have some spare change left over!
Reebok Forever Energy vs. Adidas Boston Boost 7 (RTR Review)
Mac: These are remarkably similar. I love them both. Reebok is a hair heavier, but they are both great shoes.
Read reviewers' full run bios here.
The product reviewed was provided at no cost for 2 testers and was a personal purchase for a 3d. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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