Thursday, March 05, 2020

Brooks Hyperion Elite: The "Serious" Riding, All Business, Stable and Consistent Super Racer. Best Run Faster!

Article by Michael Ellenberger and Peter Stuart

Brooks Hyperion Elite ($250)
Estimated Weight:: men's 6.75 oz  / 191g (US9)
 Sample: US 8.5 men’s: 6.52 oz  /185 g
8mm drop
Unisex sizing. Available now including Running Warehouse here. $250

Michael: Ever since Brooks superstar Desi Linden won the 2018 Boston Marathon in a blacked-out, unmarked pair of racers, there has been buzz about what’s to come from Brooks HQ. Now, nearly two years later, Brooks has unveiled its flagship racer, the Hyperion Elite, in time for the 2020 Olympic Trials. While it may not be the exact same shoe as Linden’s, there is shared DNA - and a lot of technology - packed into Brooks’s production model, and while it iterates on the Hyperion moniker that has been a Brooks staple for years, the Elite unlike anything they’ve previously sold. Nike has their Vaporfly, Skechers their Speed Elite, and now Brooks, too, enters the plate wars with their Hyperion Elite. 
Peter: Yep, black on black Hyperion Elites just like Des. Super excited to check these out, though a little thrown by Brooks telling us initially that they expected the life of the shoe to be limited to 50-100 miles.

Michael: Firm, responsive, and (relatively) stable; definite propulsive sensation; light and fast underfoot
Peter: Firm, fun at speed.

Michael: Lingering longevity concerns; not as dynamic as competing flagship racers; small upper quibbles.
Peter: Stiff, not fun at slower tempos.

Tester Profiles
Michael is his 20’s and is a 1:07 half marathoner. He runs 50-60 miles per week, generally in lightweight trainers or racing flats at around 6:00-6:30 minutes/mile. 
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years

First Impressions and Fit
Michael: The Hyperion Elite is unsuspecting in its construction; besides some fancy print on the midsole (and a slightly angular design to the whole shoe), you may not know it’s a carbon-fiber-plated super shoe. In fact, even in lacing it up, the Elite doesn’t feel drastically different than, say, the Hyperion of old. It’s only when you get running that the surprise is truly revealed.

That said, my 8.5 fit true to size, and was a comfortable enough shoe. That complaint bleeds into the upper, but I think Brooks may have missed the mark slightly when it comes to the heel collar and lacing; there just seems to be slightly too much material around the collar, so that when I flex my foot, the ankle “hold” expands just slightly more than I would want. Similarly minor, I wish the tongue was gusseted (attached on one side), because on my easier runs I found it slipping sideways, just a little. Fortunately on my longer efforts, it wasn’t a problem.
Peter: Upper feels just a tiny bit sloppy. I like the Black on Black and they feel good on step-in. They are the stiffest shoe I’ve ever held in my hand. First few feet felt like I was running in Clogs. 

Michael: Picking up from above, the Hyperion Elite uses an extremely lightweight stretch woven upper. The upper is free of overlays (save for the Brooks logo), but is sturdy enough to provide some lateral support (when running a particularly hilly route through the suburbs, I had no issues descending at tempo pace, or taking tight corners, even in icy conditions).
The heel collar is nice - there’s some aeration (or at least… holes) around the topmost portion, closest to the ankle. On the interior of the heel and ankle cup, there’s a well-designed ring of cushion (similar to what Nike uses in their Vaporfly Next%) that is comfortable and supportive. 

As noted above, I do wish the tongue was attached to one side of the shoe (or just generally more stable), because in one instance I had an issue of it slipping down. To its credit, it’s lightweight and generally stays out of the way.

Peter: The upper is light enough, fits well enough and is otherwise pretty unremarkable. It could be dialed in a little better to feel like a racing flat. But it works. It’s a really good upper just not a lot to say about it. 

Michael: On these racers, the midsole is where the rubber (not literally) hits the road. A midsole makes or breaks a shoe - especially at this price point. And the Hyperion Elite? I think Brooks has done something special here - not only in its carbon fiber plating and “spring forward” sensation (present, of course), but also in its stability and control, even on longer efforts. Unlike the DNA Flash of the Hyperion Tempo, the Elite gets DNA Zero midsole - perhaps slightly firmer in its composition, but still sufficiently springly to pair with the carbon fiber plate.

But curiously - is this a stability shoe? Brooks tells us the Hyperion Elite is designed to “help reduce deviation,” which isn’t dissimilar from Nike’s claims of improving efficiency, but not quite the same either. Instead, it seems the firm DNA Zero here actually does provide some pronation correction - no, those who rely on the Brooks Beast to control their footstrike may not flock to the Hyperion Elite, but those who thought the jelly-midsole and stack height of the Next% just might. Indeed, even on longer efforts on some hilly (and quite slanted) roads, I found the Hyperion Elite stable, and experienced none of the hip soreness I might after an up-tempo long run on pavement. 

After more than 45 miles - rapidly approaching the rumored 50-100 mile lifespan of the Elite - I’ve noticed no degradation in the midsole material. In fact, the stiffness that was apparent right out of the box might have been tempered slightly by some break-in, and while the shoe is still on the firm side, it’s not “hard” by any means, especially with a few miles underfoot. I will, of course, write a supplement with any major issues over the next few miles, but I don’t see any indication that this model will last significantly shorter than its competitors. Like all of the top-end racers, these don’t last forever - most of my teammates retire their Next%s after about 100-150 miles (at least, for racing), and I think that will likely be the case here.

Peter: This is one stiff shoe. Is it foam or just very light and solid material? I mean, I know it’s foam, but wow is it stiff. Agree that it tracks the foot well--and there is a definite thrust forward at quicker tempos. I’ve found it to wear in a bit over the first couple of runs--and any lack of cush is compensated by a super quick and efficient feeling turnover. It’s so different from a flexible shoe like the Skechers Speed 6, but doesn’t give me the same fatigue that the Speed Elite does. 

Michael: Surprisingly decent outsole here; there’s some rubberized elements at the forefoot and heel to protect against difficult terrain. They were undoubtedly tacky enough on slick, winter roads, and I had no concerns on cornering. I will add that where there isn’t rubber - basically the entire middle third of the shoe - does have reasonably soft foam; I noticed a few permanent indents in mine just from pounding rocks a little too hard. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff to keep this shoe under 7 ounces, I think, but it’s worth noting that those seeking to run really technical stuff may think twice (the same going for nearly all next-generation flats, of course).
Peter: Just ran a workout in some major rain and they held the road great. They corner well, they hold the road well and I didn’t feel unstable at any point. 

Michael: Shoes cannot be graded on the workouts they provide, but it is a decent insight into how a shoe can perform in crucial situations. In my case, my very first run in the Hyperion Elite was a 10 mile workout, alternating marathon and half-marathon pace on the treadmill. 
Despite the effort, I had no issues continuing to feel like I was moving forward - even when closing near 5:00/mile pace (sometimes the best motivator on a treadmill workout is just getting it over with!). In sum, I covered 10 miles in about 54 minutes, and with less overall leg fatigue than I would expect in a more traditional flat (like, for example, Skechers’s recent Speed 6). 

The Hyperion Elite results don’t need to speak for themselves, I’m here to speak, too - and I can attest to both a stable and fast ride during the above workout and fresh legs the next day. That’s a win. The toe-off sensation (aka “rolling” aka “springboard” - the synonyms are endless) is present here, and significant - even walking in the shoe tends to lean you towards your forefoot. On a subsequent 16 mile (hilly!) long run, I experienced nearly no leg fatigue, even with some embedded tempo miles. The Elite may not feel as cushy as some competitor products, but I don’t think the platform leads to any additional fatigue.

The ride isn’t all plush, either - part of the stability comes from a firm midsole relative to Nike’s ZoomX or Skechers’s Hyperburst, and it bleeds into the overall stride feelings, too - these feel on the ground more like, say, a Nike Zoom Streak than a Pegasus Turbo or Next% might, but I’m not ready to call that a bad thing. Yes, Nike’s hypersquishy midsole has produced some blazing fast results, but I’m a sucker for a solid-feeling ride and a 1:1 effort:pace sensation that you lose when you add more squish underfoot. And actually, after running a similar workout in a similar flat (an early Speed Elite prototype), I appreciated even more the durability and evenness of the ride here. It’s almost as if the Hyperion Elite is a fast trainer - a really fast trainer - but one that just feels comfortable and controlled.

Peter: The Hyperion Elite is a unique beast. Unlike many of the other plated shoes--in which the plate seems to be there to help stabilize and control VERY soft foams--the Hyperion Elite seems to be firm and firmer. Firm plate under firm foam. The ride is stable, fast and comfortable. It feels terrible on a warmup--like “oh, should I go put on different shoes?” terrible. But man oh man, when you get moving in them they come alive. I haven’t run long in them--and haven’t raced them yet, but they’re growing on me. 

Conclusions and Recommendations
Michael: In the Hyperion Elite, Brooks has made a true flagship marathoner. The aggressive geometry of the Speed Elite and class-leading springiness of the Next% are not present, but the carbon fiber “roll forward” sensation is, and it’s effective. A shoe doesn’t need to be a trampoline to be efficient, and while the DNA Flash midsole of the Hyperion Tempo may have some of the “bounce” that the Elite lacks, the Hyperion Elite compensates by providing a stable, responsive, and overall fast ride. 

Whereas runners in the tall stack height of the Next% can get into trouble when their late-race form betrays them, the Elite provides consistently capable performance, mile after mile, even on undulating terrain, and even at faster paces (I have hit a range from 8:15 to 5:00 in these). In doing so, Brooks has presented its most polished racer to date, and undoubtedly one that competitive marathoners can pull out for their goal races.
Michael’s Score: 9.5/10

Peter: The Hyperion Elite feels incredibly efficient. I don’t love them at slower paces, but really enjoy anything faster than Half Marathon Pace. I don’t know that I’d put them on for longer than 10-12 miles, but I don’t know that I wouldn’t. They respond immediately to whatever you put into them.  Not as soft as Skechers/Nike/NB plated shoes but if you don’t want squish and you want to go fast they’re a great choice. I’m concerned about durability based on Brooks information, but so far haven’t had those issues myself. 
Peter’s Score: 8/10 
Very specifically geared towards fast paces, very stiff and potentially low mileage lifespan. But I like them more than I thought I would. 
Sam's Initial Video Review
Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Brooks Hyperion Tempo (RTR Review)
Michael: The Hyperion Tempo debuts another new midsole compound from Brooks, in the form of DNA FLASH - a light and springy material reminiscent of Hyperburst. I’ve put nearly 75 miles on my pair of the Tempo and while it isn’t a perfect shoe (slightly too narrow in the midfoot, a bit d tricky to lace properly, and just a tad too rigid, in brief), the midsole is quite fun, and works well for its intended purpose. While I think I prefer the blend of Hyperburst on the GoRun 7+ Hyper to the nitrogen-infused FLASH of the Tempo, there’s no doubt the FLASH variant of Brooks’s DNA is more dynamic than the ZERO. Marathon racers - especially those who want something firm (and have money to spend) should track down the Elite, but runners looking for a go-to workout and even light race shoe won’t be disappointed in the Tempo.

Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Initial Review)
Editor Sam: I have only a few runs in both and am the only RTR tester so far with the Pro but the differences are clear. The Endorphin Pro has a softer PEBA midsole and a more natural feeling final toe off from its plate implementation. The Elite is slightly more stable and consistent in feel but is not as much fun to run. Hard to say which might be “faster” for me at this point but suspect I am not  fast enough to wind up the Elite as Michael did but likely would appreciate its stability in the later miles of a marathon.

New Balance FuelCell TC  (RTR Review)
Peter: So different. The NB TC is a relatively soft ride that responds well to pickups in speed,  but is much heavier than the Hyperion. I wouldn’t do speed or track work in the Fuel Cell TC, but would race a marathon in them before I’d race one in the Hyperion. Hyperion for shorter, TC as a all-around shoe that can handle pretty much anything. 

Skechers Performance Speed Elite Hyper (RTR Review)
Michael: We came down firmly as fans of the Speed Elite Hyper; many of us noticed its geometry was a bit more aggressive that we had initially expected (more half-marathon than marathon, we’ll say) but it is still squarely a next generation flat with Brooks’s fellow Elite squarely in its crosshairs. Between the two, the Skechers provides a bouncier feel while maintaining a lower profile, but gives you slightly less of that carbon-fiber “spring” sensation, overall. I have no doubt that the Brooks is a more stable ride, too. Head-to-head, I think it’s primarily runner’s choice, but for 26.2 exclusively, I would take the Brooks.
Peter: I’m surprised, but I prefer the Hyperion to the Speed Elite. The Hyperion pushes me through the gait cycle, while I feel like I have to push the Speed Elite a little harder. The Hyperion does a bit of that work for me. 

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% (RTR Review)
Michael: My experience here is limited; I haven’t taken the Next% for a full review cycle. Still, I feel confident in saying the Hyperion Elite is a firmer, more stable ride than the Next% - less trampoline-y, but more distinct, if that connotes anything. There’s almost no way to say which is “better”; the Nike undeniably has the results (more and more World Records are falling under its umbrella), but I don’t think elite athletes will miss much in trying the Elite. I wish Brooks could have undercut the price of Nike’s offering (though it looks like they will, with the upcoming AlphaFly launch), but I almost believe that Brooks’s rocket is worth what it asks.

Peter: I liked the 4% a lot, and the Next % a little less. They are both really unstable for me. Late in races they’ve gotten really sloppy (or I have and they haven’t helped). I have had big issues with cambered roads and the high/soft stack of the Nikes. The Hyperion is fundamentally more stable and efficient. I’d take the Hyperion over the Next %, but not totally sure yet whether I’d take them out for 26.2
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

I guess these shoes are already old news with yesterday's announcement of the Hyperion Elite 2.

Michael said...

@Anonymous - Yep, and acknowledged in the article. Interesting to see! Wonder if Brooks would consider keeping v1 around as a "stability racer" alongside the v2! Hoping to see something a little softer this time around (but not too mushy!).

Tony said...

Thanks for the thorough and great review once again. I’ve used the Razor 3 for my past 2 marathons (57 year old runner) and found them a bit lacking in substance for the last several miles. I have about 50 miles in the Tempo and have thus far enjoyed them. I feel like I could reach marathon distance in them, but I’m thinking of giving the Elite a shot. I wonder how these might compare to the Carbon X as I found them to be a bit flat from my prospective? Thanks again.

Michael said...

Peter can chime in, too - if you'll excuse me using two very similar words to mean something different, I'd call the Carbon X "rigid" while I'd call the Hype Elite "firm." They aren't quite the same underfoot. The Carbon X is more of a gradual roll to the forefoot, and the Elite slightly more propulsive. Elite certainly feels less flat.

Hoping Sam can get me a pair of the new Carbon X SPE so I can see how it feels, too - though I think it's a pretty minor change. Hoka has a new Rocket X which is supposedly much softer than the Carbon X.

Lots of choices!