Friday, April 10, 2020

Saucony Endorphin Shift Multi Tester Review: A Smooth Rolling Polished Giant

Article by Hope Wilkes, Michael Ellenberger, Derek Li, and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Endorphin Shift ($140)


Weight:: men's (US9) 10.4 oz / 295g   /  women's / (US8)

  Samples: men's (US9) 10.4 oz / 295g, men's (US9.5) 11 oz / 312g

Stack Height: 38mm/34mm stack (includes sock liner)

Available 7/1/20.


Sam: The Shift is the heavy duty, max cushioned daily trainer/ recovery shoe of the Endorphin line. Now that I have also run its siblings: the carbon plated very light and cushioned race Endorphin Pro (RTR Review) and the slightly more relaxed nylon plated almost as light as Pro uptempo daily trainer the Endorphin Speed (RTR Review), It is clear they all share not only a common design language but also a similar ride while clearly serving different purposes in a runner’s rotation. They all have in common a very effective more natural feeling front rocker geometry, the “Speed Roll”, wonderful engineered mesh uppers, and plenty of cushion. If you like the feel and ride of one you should like the others. 

The Shift with its massive 38mm heel / 34mm forefoot stack and denser EVA/TPU PWRUN midsole foam is clearly about protection and stability of the neutral shoe variety. It weighs almost 2.5 to 3 ounces more than its siblings with their PEBA based PWRUN PB but nonetheless coming in where lower stack daily trainers often do in terms of weight. 

Given all the “light light” trainers out there it is good to have a more stable yet more cushioned alternative in the rotation for those days (more than a few) that training in such a shoe is a good idea: easier on the legs, more stable, more protective yet but with a dynamic ride. I immediately thought to compare to two of my recent favorites in the heavy duty category: the 2019 Mizuno Wave Sky Wave Knit and the surprisingly excellent on road and yes another 2020 Saucony, the trail Xodus 10.

Derek:  The Endorphin Shift is touted as the heavy duty trainer of the Endorphin line, and it’s easy to see why, with its incredibly high stack height. It is not a light shoe by any stretch of the imagination, so it was curious why Saucony decided to give it the Endorphin endorsement, but after running in the shoe, you will realize why! 

Michael: Have you noticed? Big shoes are back. Like, really back. Trends are hard to pin down - especially from an outsider’s perspective - but what was once squarely Hoka One One’s domain is now, well, everyone’s domain. From the AlphaFly to the Bondi and now to the Saucony Endorphin Shift, shoes are getting taller, and plusher (and often, seemingly miraculously, lighter!) without losing, ahem, a step. Saucony’s entry is chunky (or perhaps, chonky) to be sure, but it’s equipped with a “Speed Roll” rocker to get you moving forward and across more than 110 miles, I’ve really come to love this shoe. Big is back. Big is beautiful.

Hope: The genius of having multiple reviewers is that you get a variety of perspectives. The Endorphin Shift didn’t strike me as a particularly big shoe. It’s no waifish racer, but the proportions seem within the normal range. What was immediately striking to me was the simple beauty of the upper. I’ve praised a lot of Saucony models over the years (both on RoadTrailRun and among friends), but I haven’t been this impressed with the thoughtful styling and design of a Saucony shoe since the OG Zealot. The company is making a statement with the entire Endorphin line and (as best I understand it), that statement is, “we can help you set a PR and look sharp doing it.” It’s a white shoe and it looks wicked cool -- you know this one is gonna be good. 


Derek: Very cushioned, stable, comfortable



Speed Roll rocker propels even a heftier shoe; never a lag even at slower paces

upper construction is inviting; 

Underfoot cushion is impressive 


Massively cushioned with measured rebound from PWRUN, neither a brick like or mushy feel

Stable yet dynamic


Michael: Difficult to totally lock in; narrowness

Sam/Hope: While impressive in its ride characteristics PWRUN midsole foam is on the heavier side.

Sam/Hope: Question the likely weight penalty of the extensive heel counter

Derek: Heavy

Tester Profiles

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.

Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, with an interest in patent and intellectual property law. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

First Impressions and Fit

Derek: I always find white shoes very elegant, and the Shift is no exception. The contrast to the bright yellow lacing, the bright orange inner padding, and the turquoise midsole is great. Step in feel is very luxurious and snug. The shoe looks BIG, but once you put it on you realize that it is far from roomy, except maybe towards the front. Most of the shoe has lot of padding to give you a snug feel around the heel and midfoot. Fit is definitely true to size, and the Speed Roll forefoot rocker system is immediately obvious. The underfoot feel has a bit of squish to it, but it is by no means mushy. Immediately I am reminded of another very cool max-cushion shoe, the ASICS GlideRide. 

Michael: First of all, this shoe is cool. On its own, to be sure, but especially when viewing the Endorphin family as a whole. Change out of the Shift or Speed into your pair of Pros at the start line, and your competitors will think you’re a Saucony-sponsored athlete (that, or someone who spends a lot on running shoes… join the club!).

Slipping on the Shift, you’ll notice it’s really very comfortable - the heel cup and ankle collar are well padded, but they aren’t overly intrusive the way I find the heel collar on the ASICS Cumulus 22, for example. The tongue has a cool corduroy design, with an additional pull tab (there’s one at the heel, too) and while I’ll say more about in the Upper section, I’ll note here that it feels impeccably polished and fun - this really is an impressive shoe, and I imagine the looks and build construction of this will help Saucony sell a ton of these off running store walls.

I’ll give the same disclosure I gave for the Endorphin Pro - instead of my usual Men’s 8.5, I received a Women’s 10.0, so though Saucony says they fit the same, it’s possible some of my impressions regarding the fit are owing to that. Usually - I’ve worn a women's 10 before - I don’t comment on a difference, even if the lasts are slightly modified, but just know that one of my quibbles regarding the width could owe to that. 

Sam: Michael is spot on. This is a unified family of shoes with a common super fun and distinctive design language that is bright and cheery and doesn't shout neon. 

The Shift differs somewhat from its Endorphin siblings, beyond its midsole foam, in having a very prominent exterior heel counter that is deeper on the medial side and a slab of firmer outsole way, way below all the cushion also on the medial side so at first impression there is some visible stability and while yes a neutral shoe it is very stable but not obtrusively so.

While it claimed to have the noticeable Speed Roll of its siblings I wonder how it would pull it off in this stiff unplated super high stack shoe… Then I looked more closely and I see that the rocker is very pronounced way up front then has a long gradual taper and looks identical to the carbon plated Pro and nylon plated Speed geometry.

I received a men’s 9 instead of my usual men’s 8.5. The fit is excellent in my pair if on the more relaxed side. I would go true to size in a next pair.

Hope: I received a US women’s 9 which fit great with thin socks (I’m usually a US women’s 9.5 or US men’s 8). Going true to size would give me the ideal full thumb’s length of room between my big toe and the tip of the shoe; as it is now I only have about half a thumb’s width worth of room. Heel lockdown is solid. Even before tying the shoe, heel lockdown beats some other running shoes! I should expect nothing less from a beefy heel counter. I’ll echo Michael and Sam’s sentiments: I was lucky to receive the Shift, Speed, and Pro -- the cohesion among the models from propulsion mechanics to design language is special. 



Michael: I said it above - and no aesthetics don’t count for much in running shoes - but damn if this isn’t a sharp looking trainer. Something about the stark white against the bright blues really works for me, and even the accenting across the medial and lateral midfoot area - these sort of translucent zig-zags - really add to the overall look. 

Something I didn’t think I would like - in fact, something I genuinely thought I would hate - is the stiff plastic element that wraps around your heel area. If you’re just holding the shoe, you’ll notice it for sure - but on the foot, it’s about as un-noticeable as such plastic can be. I never felt as if the heel was clunky, or that the shoe was in some way hindered by having a plastic element wrap around the back.

Saucony has again, as in the Endorphin siblings, integrated a bootie-design into the upper, and generally it works well, especially with regards to comfort - I didn’t develop any hot spots or blisters, and my first run in these with a hilly 20 miler. But where the upper slacks a little is in general lockdown. No, this isn’t a racer and no, I don’t expect this to be a totally locked-in, performance fit - uppers vary from trainers to racers, no doubt. 

But this shoe can just be downright difficult to get tight, and while I didn’t encounter any chafing from my heel slipping, I certainly did notice it. I think largely, it’s due to the fat tongue on the shoe - a stylistic choice I like, but one that’s a little disappointing, functionally. 

Sam: The upper is a very soft engineered mesh with external printed mid foot overlays, The bootie is more extended forward than in the Speed or Pro and is a soft, somewhat stretchy 3D mesh. 

There is a semi pliable front toe bumper. The toe box mesh is also 3D when looked at closely with the ventilated outer layer standing off from the inner layer in similar fashion to the Speed with the difference being the Speed exterior mesh is a very fine mono type mesh. 

Of course there it that substantial external heel counter which has an interesting geometry and which should be considered as much as part of the upper as of the midsole. 

It extends down far on the medial side over the midsole for some support and stability while on the lateral side it is longer but does not extend nearly as far. Needless to say I found the heel hold aided by the plush collar very secure, very stable and very comfortable. By stabilizing the rear and locking the foot down there, and keeping the volume relatively low overal,l  Saucony can take “liberties” with the area further forward to deliver that very soft, somewhat stretchy yet secure front comfort. This is one upper I just forgot I had on foot, actually all the Endorphin are that way with a similar fit that dials in snugness progressively as the model speed intent progresses. I had no particular issues locking down the foot as Michael did. I do think the tongue is overly long (but looks cool!) and while not overly thick could also be a bit more structured.  

Hope: I think I gushed enough in the intro, so I’ll try to hold myself back here. The Shift feels distinctly high cut, especially relative to its siblings in the Endorphin line. There’s a lot of material here and arguably some of it could be edited out to save weight, but I think the current design helps balance the chunky midsole. I’ve run in other trainers with beefy midsoles and featherweight uppers and felt like the shoe was out of balance, like the midsole was not quite held in check by the upper. The thin printed overlays here provide just the right amount of structure and a lot of style with the laces, heel cup, and heel collar height doing the heavy lifting in terms of support. I love the ribbed knit at the tongue and achilles plus the reflective heel loop. Saucony has made a shoe that’s easy to get into! 

The ribbed knit on the tongue has the added benefit of gripping the lace bow and helping to keep it tied. Of the Endorphin models, the Shift has the best laces. They’re the right length and stay tied! The bootie construction keeps the tongue centered nicely, but the extra layer of fabric may prove a bit warm in summer months -- and it’s a little bit of extra weight and cost. I had no issues with this feature, but would always love to see a lighter shoe, so felt I should mention it.  

Derek: I won’t re-hash the description of the upper as the others have done a great job with that already. I will just focus on the main points people care about: comfort, lockdown, ventilation. 

Comfort: the plush feel of this shoe is incredible. And it is not just plush because they stuck a lot of material in there; the soft fabrics and the extra materials give the shoe a low volume feel in the heel and midfoot, without being restrictive in any way, so you get a nice hugged feel, without any pressure or hot spots. In particular, I did not notice the plastic external heel cup at all during my runs, and I think that is a testament to good padding placement around the heel of the shoe. There are some shoes with very rigid heel cups that are a little Spartan with padding, and with those you do notice the heel cup more. None of that here for me. 

Lockdown: Unlike Michael, I actually have no issues with fit and lockdown. I tend to have wider feet in the midfoot, and in this shoe, I did not have to put much lace tension at all the prevent heel slippage. There is enough padding around the heel collar and structure around the heel cup that you really don’t need much to prevent the foot from moving. In this shoe particularly, I found it best to leave the laces a little loose and let the padding work for you, rather than try and eliminate all the slack in the lace crosses. For a trainer, I tend not to want a very snug performance feel, so that work just fine for me. Even without double knotting, my laces have yet to become undone, so I’m quite happy with the laces here. 

Ventilation: I have to admit I was a little worried about heat build-up in what looks like a relatively thick upper. Fortunately, I have not encountered any ventilation issues at all during my runs in this shoe, and the weather has been heating up to past 90degF for me during runs, so plenty of opportunity to test ventilation.


PWRN midsole EVA/TPU blend as in Guide 13, Kinvara 11, and Peregrine 10

Speed Roll rocker technology

Derek: The foam performs incredibly well here. A very noticeable slight compression of foam on landing, then a nice smooth toe off. As the foam is a single density slab, the underfoot feel is very smooth and uniform throughout. There is nothing excessively soft about the foam, but there is just enough compressibility to take a lot of the edge off when landing, and then as you transition to toe-off, the Speed Roll forefoot rocker is very evident. 

As a material, this EVA/TPU blended PWRUN foam is very promising as the vibration dampening is very good, and I think people will find it quite fun to run in other shoes like the Kinvara 11. I note that all the other testers have noted that they prefer more flexibility in the midsole for this shoe. I for one like the rocker of the shoe, and I think more flexibility will only make transitions slower which in my opinion is not a good thing for a heavy shoe. Of course, if you want to use the shoe for recovery runs, then it can become a bit uncomfortable if the shoe is overly stiff, but I will get to that in the Ride section. 

Michael: As in the Endorphin Pro and Speed, Saucony has implemented Speedroll geometry, and while I don’t think this is a shoe many will be taking for “speed”-oriented runs, it is a shoe that benefits by a midfoot rocker, because it helps alleviate some of the inherent clunkiness of a heavier shoe. That is, while the Endorphin Shift is not a light or even necessarily flexible shoe, the implemented Speedroll mechanism keeps it from feeling like a brick underfoot. It’s a neat trick that means Saucony doesn’t need to sacrifice cushion or stack height to keep a nimble shoe.

The midsole is a PWRUN TPU EVA-blend that cushions well, and is actually quite supportive to boot (I suspect that the rear plastic piece discussed earlier does some work to prevent ankle-based medial rolling here, too). I don’t know if runners with significant pronation issues can get away with running in the Shift, but runners (like me) who tend to alternate between neutral and stability trainers will find a happy medium here.

One more quibble - I really wish the midsole was a little more flexible. I think that may be a knock against the outsole, too, and lack of flex grooves. Ultimately, the Shift is not prohibitively stiff, especially for an everyday trainer, but it could do with a little more front-to-back flexibility.

Sam: We have a single slab of PWRUN here, an EVA/TPU blend. PWRUN is also used in the 2020 Guide 13, Kinvara 11, and Peregrine 10. This is a dense highly cushioned midsole with a touch of bounce. The heel has a decoupled crash pad and unlike other Endorphin, a rear flaring. 

I can say that downhills are almost totally shock free in this shoe and of course super stable. Further forward we have a deep decoupling groove leading to the front and the pronounced Speed Roll rocker. This is how to make a stiff high stack shoe actually a joy to run.

I agree with Michael that it could use a bit more flexibility or I would say a touch less rising  or a shorter stabilizing piece of outsole at mid foot to help move from heel landing to transition. 

Not a big issue and it does enable those seeking some pronation support to certainly use the shoe but in combination with the deep dip of the medial heel counter, also a stabilizing piece, I think things would move along yet better with a more segmented or shorter outsole plug there.

Hope: I share Michael and Sam’s wish for more flexibility. Don’t get me wrong: Speedroll technology kept me rolling merrily along, but the shoe runs like a turbo powered car that’s been fitted with a limiter on the gas pedal: it’ll only go so fast. I love a firm, responsive midsole, but I want that midsole to move with me. Less midsole material or more flex grooves would go a long way towards increasing the flexibility. I think the feel Saucony achieved here was deliberate -- a lower stack height and/or a more flexible midsole would make this a different shoe. Training in the Shift then racing in the carbon powered Pro or nylon powered Speed should pay dividends. I’ll echo Sam’s comment that the midsole feels distinctly stable. The Pro and Speed generate a lot of vertical spring for me while the Shift feels directed forwards. I didn’t notice the heel flare until Sam mentioned it, so midfoot and forefoot strikers may likewise find that feature to be a non-factor for them.


Michael: Overall, I am impressed with the outsole on the Shift - particularly in durability, which shows very little wear over 100+ miles. I’ll admit I haven’t taken them out in any particularly tough conditions - we’ve had relatively good weather, 12 hour blizzard notwithstanding - but across 20 somewhat muddy miles, I had no concerns with traction even when bombing some descents with fellow tester Jamie Hershfang. With a full blown-rubber outsole, this is a shoe that I expect can make it comfortably over 500 miles (and I hope to get it close myself!).

I’ve added a photo (below) of the outsole after 100 miles (cleaned with some soapy water and a toothbrush to remove all the dirt) - and wow! Obviously outsole wear is not the only indicator of shoe breakdown - the midsole is generally a larger determining factor - but I have to commend Saucony here. This shoe is going to last!

Sam: As with all the Endorphin, and its front design is very similar, a great outsole. All wear areas are covered and to date, 30 miles or so, wear is minimal. One notes that substantial green medial outsole piece which rises up the sidewalls. As stated above in combination with the deep heel counter I think it could be toned down a bit to better balance support seeking feet and neutral.

Hope: I can see the Shift’s Kinvara roots in the outsole: rubber pads placed in high-wear areas and chevron-shaped flex grooves. The design has a lot in common with both the Pro and the Speed, but with more rubber for durability. I found grip to be excellent, even on wet roads. I’d like to see the mint green outsole extension under the arch edited out in order to save weight.

Derek: Outsole durability as others have noted, seems to be superb, despite the large areas of exposed midsole in the shoe. Grip for me has been very good on dry roads and sand trails, but surprisingly I found the grip a little lackluster on wet tarmac. I had a couple of runs on post-downpour tarmac, and while landing was very confident, I heard the distinct squeak of skidding rubber as I toed off on every step, and I could feel that the outsole was losing traction a little about halfway through the toe off. Nothing unstable, but there is definitely some loss of efficiency going on here. 

Strangely, I did not have this issue with the Pro and Speed versions, which seem to have near identical outsole rubber configurations. I think those extra bits of rubber across the forefoot in the Speed and Pro make a lot of difference on wet surfaces. Perhaps something for Saucony to work on for Shift v2.


Derek: The all-important part! I like the ride of the Shift a lot. The shoe runs waaayy lighter than it should. Even walking around the shoe does not feel clunky, and I think that is a testament to how well-balanced the shoe is in terms of weight distribution. 

On the run, the shoe feels equally at home at slower recovery paces and at moderate paces. I do feel the heft of the shoe coming into play for anything faster than e.g. 7:20/mile pace for me, but otherwise it is very easy to get cruising at a moderate controlled effort in this shoe. The shoe is pretty stable as well, with a good wide platform and a low drop geometry, such that you really don’t feel uncomfortable with the high stack at all. People who need mild stability should be able to get away with this shoe. 

The Speed Roll clearly works well, and works best at the faster end of the speed spectrum. While you do not feel the rocker as much at slower recovery paces, I do not find that the stiffness of the shoe makes it uncomfortable, as there is still plenty of vibration dampening going on. I think in a sense, having more fore-aft flexibility in the shoe would make it more enjoyable for slower runs, but it would compromise performance at the faster end of the pace spectrum, and it boils down what you want the shoe to be meant to do. 

As an Endorphin shoe, I suspect the objective is to provide runners with a shoe that can give a ride feel that is similar to what they have with the Endorphin Speed/Pro, but in a more durable package, and to that end, I want to believe that Saucony does not intend for this shoe to be a recovery run super-plush trainer. They have the Triumph for that. Rather, it is meant to churn out the middle miles at moderate paces, and the Shift does this very well.

Michael: For a 10.4 ounce trainer, the Shift does outperform its weight - to a point. The way Saucony has built its Endorphin lineup, I don’t think the Shift was ever intended to be a do-it-all trainer, the way Nike’s Pegasus Turbo has come to be. Instead, with the Speed and Pro in the mix, the Shift is built as a durable backbone to the lineup, and the ride reflects that. In the Shift, you have a stable landing (onto a relatively wide platform), a strong, vibration-dampening midsole and “exo-skeleton” (by way of the plastic elements on the rear third), and a definite forward propulsion owing to the Speedroll technology.

In sum, the Shift is less clunky than its weight and stack height would suggest, and the Speedroll geometry goes a long towards aiding that - specifically, it’s a smoother, more kinetic ride than you might expect when looking at it (I mean, from the midsole side, it looks almost like a basketball shoe!). But here’s the thing - a smooth ride with that much cushion makes for a really, really nice everyday trainer. Indeed, I think the Endorphin Shift is one of the best high-mileage/comfort trainers right now - it takes the idea of, say, the New Balance Fresh Foam More, and executes it extremely well. 

Sam: Michael describes the ride well. You can pound out mile after mile at almost any pace except maybe fast tempo or speed workouts  where of course you reach for the much lighter but similar rolling Speed. The consistency of the ride with tons of cushion and a touch of bounce is remarkable, if for me a bit over-stabilized at the rear. The capper, and something I have never experienced in such a massively cushion shoe, is the “Speed Roll” at take off. The geometry up front enables all paces to not be a toe off chore, even slow ones while as the pace picks up the roll gets even better. So it is a fun giant ride one that will keep you stable, tracking, rolling along and smiling.

Hope: Speedroll feels good. The Speed bounces off the ground and the Pro positively explodes. The Shift rolls. It’s smooth. The styling of the upper will get you to buy your first pair, but the cushioned (but not at all squishy), forward-directed feel will get you in your second pair. I ran a lot faster than I had any business going in this shoe -- and did so comfortably -- because the midsole geometry does what it’s supposed to and the foam delivers on comfort.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Derek: Overall the shoe is well executed, and is really fun to run in for a non-plated shoe. The Speed Roll geometry works very well, and the shoe is well balanced in weight and fit. It should work well for a wide variety of foot types, and should be fine even for runners who need mild stability in their trainers.

Derek’s Score 8.82 / 10

Ride 40% 8.8 Fit 40% 9 Looks 10% 9 Value 10% 8

Michael: The Endorphin Shift is a shoe I didn’t even know I needed until I tried it - because while it’s great to have a shoe that’s cushioned and built for recovery, it’s even better to have a shoe that can do all that and give you a little momentum for if you end up feeling fresh on that run. It’s a runner’s shoe, ultimately, and while I don’t think it’s perfect - it’s hard to get snug, and it could use some added flexibility - it’s such a dynamic enough shoe in its class to make it an easy recommendation. Neutral and mild stability runners should have luck here, as should runners who want a shoe for basically any non-dedicated-workout day. There are lighter shoes, and there are faster shoes, but what Saucony has built here is really impressive - and part of a terrific 2020 lineup. 

Michael’s Score: 9.5/10.

Sam: While we all wish for faster and lighter, having a shoe that is highly cushioned and stable for just regular old miles still should have a place in most runners’ rotations. Saucony agrees and has wisely included the Shift in its three shoe elite Endorphin line up. Every year I look for such a shoe and last year I enjoyed the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit and earlier this year  another Saucony the Xodus 10 with the bouncier than PWRUN PWRUN+ all TPU midsole, yes a trail shoe but fits the bill on road as well and very well. 

The Shift has a somewhat denser ride with great decoupling and transitions (but for that midfoot rubber) and a distinctive, and I would say unique for its class, effective any pace roll to toe off. I do wish that somehow all this goodness could be brought in at less than 10 oz =, that the mid foot rubber be toned down, and a touch more midsole spring could be brought into the mix. These small potential improvements aside, it is as fine a heavy duty max cushion trainer with a blend of protection, stability, comfort and good looks and with an ability to move along as any I have run. I score it relative to its max cushion category 

Sam’ Score: 9.4/10

Ride: 9.3 (50%) Fit: 9.3 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Hope: Could be lighter, could be more flexible, but let me mix my sports metaphors for a moment: would you face off against a pitcher with a ring weight still on your bat? This is a trainer. It’s meant for training runs. Pounding out mile after mile in a nearly 10 oz trainer will pay dividends when you lace up your carbon-powered racing flats. As much as I’d like to see the Shift be a bit lighter and a bit bendier, I think the smooth, rolling ride is special and quite a lot of fun. This is a very fine shoe that feels like an elite trainer -- entirely worthy of its spot alongside the Speed and the Pro in the Endorphin line.

Hope’s Score: 9.4/10

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 20% 9 Value: 9 (15%) Style:10 (15%)

Watch Our Endorphin Shift Initial Video Review (9:52)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Endorphin Pro racer (RTR Review)  and Endorphin Speed up tempo trainer racer (RTR Review)

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride 13 is a flexible up tempo trainer.  The  Shift is max cushion trainer with a massive 38mm/ 34mm stack of the same PWRUN foam (so more cushioned), a lower 4mm drop  and a stiff rocker based profile and distinct Speed Roll toe off. It is heavier, more cushioned, somewhat more stable, and as with the Ride 13 no slouch for all its massive protection and cushion. Comes down to ride preference and feel: flexibility and 8mm drop vs more cushion, a rocker profile, and 4mm drop. While the Shift can move along it focuses more on long miles, inherent stability, and somewhat slower paces, the Ride 13 is a faster paced while still very well cushioned daily training option. 

Hope: I think the distinct forward lean of the Shift might be something runners either love or hate. It’s not quite as flexible as the Ride 13 either. While I loved the Shift and I appreciate where it fits in the Endorphin line, I think the Ride 13 has better broad appeal, so it’s my pick. It’s also $10 cheaper. Very close though! 

Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 for both shoes. I prefer the Shift. Although the Triumph seems to have a little more bounce to its ride, the Shift has that Speed Roll that makes it feel a lot easier to turn over in, even at slow paces, and is just overall a more fun shoe for me. I like the Triumph 17; it is for me the best Triumph they have made so far, and that I prefer the Shift is a testament to how good a shoe the Shift is. 

Michael: I won’t equivocate much - the Shift takes everything of what was already an impressive, high-mileage trainer (the Triumph), and tweaks it - except for that fit issue surrounding the upper. I wish we had a trainer with the aesthetics and midsole of the Shift and the locked-in and refined upper of the T17. As it stands, I think the Shift is still a better buy - the Speed Roll geometry really keeps you moving forward, and if you’re an overpronator, the Shift will undoubtedly provide a more stable ride.

Sam: Not as big a fan of the T17 as some. The combination of PWRUN+ all TPU bounce with a more rigid firmer outsole feel, in what is actually more flexible shoe the Shift, just isn’t as smooth and consistent at most paces as the Shift. Yes  the T17 is “livelier” in midsole feel and less dense. The key differentiator when it is all said and done is the Speed Roll. Might come down to preferences for many between the more stable consistent easier to rock and roll Shift and the more conventional and bouncier T17.

Hope: I agree with Sam. I much prefer the feel of Speedroll powered PWRUN over the aggressively bouncy PWRUN+ EVA and TPU midsole in the T17. This is a matter of personal preference, so if you like a soft, moonshoe-esque feel, you may be happier in the T17. Both are surprisingly dynamic trainers given their weight.

ASICS EvoRide (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Both shoes are similar in the sense that both have that forefoot rocker going on. The EvoRide rocker has a bit more bounce to it in the forefoot, but the Shift transitions a little smoother for me overall. The Shift has better cushioning and allows me to handle longer runs than with the EvoRide. I think overall the Shift is a more versatile shoe, though if you want a pure tempo type shoe, the EvoRide would be a better option as it is lighter. 

ASICS Cumulus 22 (RTR Review)

Michael: ASICS made big strides (no pun intended) in cleaning up the Cumulus 22, with a new, more svelte profile and an improved upper. It’s a steady, everyday trainer that doesn’t have quite the same forward momentum that Saucony’s SpeedRoll provides, but should be adequate for most runners. Ultimately, if you want something sturdy a little more nimble, I think the ASICS is an impressive option, but most runners - especially those needing stability - will prefer the Endorphin Shift.

Hope: I like the Cumulus 22 a lot, but it can’t hold a candle to the Shift in terms of the smoothness of the ride. Tough comparison as the Cumulus 22 is an update to a legacy shoe and the Shift is a flagship trainer. If you’re a heel striker, the GEL in the heel of the Cumulus 22 may attract you, but everyone else will probably have more fun in the Shift. 

Asics Glideride (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The GlideRide has a more dynamic bounce to the foam and a more exaggerated tipping forward feel to it. One interesting thing is the Shift feels lighter on the run though the GlideRide is actually 1/3 of an ounce lighter. Both shoes are tremendously good at holding that moderate pace and keeping you going. It is tough tough toss-up here for me. The Shift has a snugger feel and lockdown, but the GlideRide has the more exciting and lively bouncy ride. Unlike Sam and Michael, I would go with the GlideRide for easy runs, and the Shift for faster runs, as I tend to feel like I’m fighting the “mush” a little when I try to accelerate with the GlideRide but not so with the Shift.

Michael: The biggest differentiator in choosing between the ASICS Glideride and the Saucony Endorphin Shift is what “types of runs” you want to cover. Imagine a spectrum with “easy/everyday miles” in the middle, “recovery miles” to the left, and “up-tempo miles” to the right. If you want to cover the middle and left, you should pick the Shift; the middle and right, the GlideRide. They’re both good and compelling trainers, though the GlideRide’s propulsion mechanism feels a little more plastic-y than that of the Saucony. 

Sam: Michael has it just right. The Glideride has a more pronounced, less natural feeling stiff plunging further back rocker ride while Shift has a more natural final toe off rocker feel. The Glideride midsole is a bit softer and a bit more pleasing. Both have soft well fitting uppers with the Glideride’s a bit more secure and polished.

Hope: I agree with the guys. The GlideRide has a bit more giddyup given possibly more extreme toe spring so it’s better suited for faster efforts than the Shift. Both are solid choices. If I had to pick only one, I enjoy the comfort of the Shift more, so it’d be my choice.

Hoka Bondi (RTR Review)

Sam: My last Bondi was v1 or v2. The current Bondi has an almost identical stack height to the Shift and weighs 0.4 oz more so it is a direct competitor. From recollection of the earlier Bondi I recall that they required much more knee lift to move along and toe off than Shift does.

Hoka Evelon 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: A direct competitor and while a similar denser midsole feel with more bounce from Shift it is  no contest between the Hoka rocker and the Speed Roll. Considerably easier toe off at all paces for Shift. 

Mizuno Wave Sky Wave Knit 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: My favorite 2019 heavy duty easier runs trainer, the Sky Wave weighs 0.6 oz more, has denser engineered knit upper and a springier more flexible ride given its lower and more conventional forefoot stack. Yet the Shift has the Speed Roll rocker which leads to a smoother any pace ride, a lighter more comfortable upper, more stability and consistency in feel for the win.

New Balance Fresh Foam More v2 (RTR Review)

Michael: The More and the Shift are similar shoes (especially on paper), but they ultimately diverge in ride: whereas the More is built around a well-cushioned, sort of flat-feeling platform, the geometry of the Shift encourages a more engaged stride. Both will, of course, provide more cushion than the Fuel Cell Propel or Endorphin Speed, but I would classify the More as a “recovery” shoe, whereas the Shift (somewhat surprisingly, before I had miles on it) as an everyday trainer, or “recovery+.” Both have mild upper issues, but the Shift is better.

Sam: For sure the More is flatter feeling. It has a similar giant stack and no real rocker but some flex grooves.. Fresh Foam is slightly less dense feeling than PWRUN. A fine shoe for recovery runs and almost 1.5 oz lighter and that is felt the More with a rocker would be strong competition to Shift for me but isn’t as of now.

Hope: The FFM2 feels a lot flatter. FFM1 midsole geometry had more roll to it than the update. The Shift rocker yields a more fun ride than both, despite being heavier. I also prefer the comfort of the Shift’s upper, which is far more plush than the upper on the FFM1 and FFM2.

New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review)

Hope: This is a tough one! The 1080v10 is more flexible and features a more svelte upper. It’s better suited to a being a do-it-all shoe than the Shift since it’s primed to go fast. I have a lot of affection for the Shift, but I think the 1080v10 is the pick here.

Sam: Agree with Hope that the 1080 is more flexible and leans more do it all and faster paces but no contest for me Shift. I would pair the somewhat easier days Shift with say the Endorphin Speed or New Balance FuelCell TC any day as faster trainers in a pairing. A more comfortable upper, an easier roll to toe off, superior cushion for Shift

New Balance 880v10 (RTR Review)

Sam: No plate no rocker for the 880 with its propulsion coming from a relatively flexible and considerably lower forefoot, good decoupling and for sure a lower overall stack and especially a thinner less cushioned forefoot. It has a traditional ride modernized with Fresh Foam and a great upper and weighs a bit less. With Shift you will get a more stable rocker type ride with considerably more cushion all around at only a slight weight penalty. Both fit true to size with 880 a touch more toe box volume. Prefer the Shift all around.

Hope: The 880v10 felt a bit dead to me. It runs well alongside the Shift in that it too has a high quality, comfortable upper and an external heel counter, but that’s where the similarities end. Shift all the way here.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

How does it compare with the Asics Novablast? Versatility and ride etc.Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you For the Saucony Endolphin Shift review.

I would like to ask how is the Endolphin shift compared to Nike react infinity? Thank you

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Anonymous 1 (Novablast)
Very different shoes while both can be daily trainers. Shift somewhat heavier, more cushioned, superior upper and much more stable. Novablast bouncier, less stable, lighter. Novablast may be a touch more versatile. Depends on your pace in training. If more moderate and also longer distances for sure Shift. If faster and shorter daily training Nova.
Hi Anonymous 2 ( Infinity React)
If you need a touch of stability for sure Shift for me. The rails in the Infinity are more noticed and in the way for me Without them it would be a toss up.
Sam, Editor

geomaz said...

Hello Sam, thanks for the very interesting review, once again! Could you please compare the shift to the maxroad 4 hyper, which one has more cushion and softer, more comfortable for long runs. Also which is the fastest? Which one of the two you would chose for your long runs?

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Geomaz,
While both very well cushioned very different shoes. The Shift is more stable, has considerably more secure upper and a denser less springy ride. The Max as in our review works well for some and not at all for others, those it seems with a more pronounced supinated forefoot strike due to the stretchy upper and the soft front pillars. If it works it is a very fast shoe as the pace picks up as the front midsole/outsole pillars of HyperBurst really are dynamic and springy, it was so for me but isn't as effective at slower paces. Given all this for most the Shift is a better choice for long runs.
Sam, Editor

Marcel said...

@Sam: Great review! How would you assess the width of the toebox compared to the Mizuno Waveknit Sky 3 which unfortunately is to narrow/pointed for my feets?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Marcel,
From recollection as I don't have the Wave here, similar. However and often the case when talking "width" the materials make a difference and Shift's are far softer and thinner engineered mesh vs the knit in the Wave.
Sam, Editor

Marcel said...

@Sam: Hi Sam, sounds promising! unfortunately, I'll have to wait for Speed and Shift until July. Perhaps i will bridge the time with the Triumph 17 (or the 18 if it will be released soon) as a long run alternative to the Novablast.

Logan said...

Hi all,

Currently training in Hoka Arahi 4's, Saucony Guide 13's and the Nike React Infinity. Looking for another shoe for the rotation for longer, slower days. Thoughts on if the Shift will provide enough stability?

Sam Winebaum said...

It certainly will provide decent stability and you will not notice the stability elements nearly as much

Jon L said...

Please can you compare to ride 13 which can seemingly do a broader range of runs from easy up to tempo pace?

Unknown said...

Hi there. Love all your reviews. So informative and unique. The comparisons section is just so helpful and really sets you guys apart from all other reviewers. Anyways, I am getting slightly mixed messages from some of the comparisons. I am looking for a primarily long run shoe (my long runs are usually just under 9 min/mile pace with a progression getting closer to just under 8 min/mile pace at the end. sometimes a bit faster) that would double as a recovery shoe. I currently use the wave sky 3 for that purpose. I like the shoe, but don't absolutely love it like some of your reviewers did. I find it less springy and more energy zapping than what you guys felt. I'm really deciding between the shift, glideride, and novablast. I see down here in the comments that you preferred the shift over the blast, which from the review of the blast I never would have thought being that both reviewers who compared it to the GR preferred the blast. Yet, when comparing the shift to the GR it sounded like a toss up. the question is which is the best of the three for an almost purely long run shoe that would occasionally be used for medium runs and recovery runs. Thanks!

Marcel said...

Hi Unknown (7/28/2020 2:09 AM),

having run in all three shoes you mentioned, here is my take on your question: for your stated usecase go with the Shift! it gives you a good portion of stability like the Glideride does using Saucony's Speedroll geometry which i consider much more smooth than the very rigid Glideride. The Novablast is much more unstable but very bouncy and therefore buy far the most fun to run in of the mentioned shoes. Nonetheless, if you do not have perfect biomechanics at need at least a minimum of stability on your long runs and especially your recovery runs, go with the shift for those runs! Novablast would be a great *addition* for tempo-runs even though i would prefer for those runs the Endorphin Speed as it is at least the same fun as the Novablast (for me personally), but much more stable while being even lighter if i remember it correctly.

Unknown said...

@marcel thanks so much for the response! not to nitpicky or anything ;), but I was also wondering what you thought of the shift specifically. does it have the same energy saving qualities that reviewers have been claiming of the glideride. I've seen numerous reviews that say that the last 5 miles of their long runs where much easier with the glideride. honestly I'm not sure this is necessarily a good thing -- i believe that training should not really be made artificially easier than what your race situation will be, notwithstanding the potential biomechanics problem that could be caused by such a shoe. But I'm still curious how the speed roll on the shift compared to the rocker of the glideride, and if you get that similar feeling at the end of long runs. also, how does the rocker compare to the rocker on, let's say, the hoka rincon? I find that rocker to be relatively unnoticeable except when running at interval speeds where the shoe somehow just goes as fast as you want even though it's a standard Eva foam with no plate or anything and isn't as fast as other light shoes and has a ton of shoe to turn over. does the speedroll on the shift give you more of a rocker feeling than that? thanks.

Marcel said...

@unknown 7/28/2020 3:11 AM

glad to hear that my response was helpful for you. once again only my personal impression: the ride of the Shift is very smooth and stable (while not being at stability-shoe) but not in the sense that i get the feeling that the shoe is doing the work for me at all. Therefore, i would not say that it is especially energysaving, especially at i do not run the same route each time so that exact comparisons are not possible for me (i would generally argue that it is very hard to say that a shoe is energy saving as so much depends on outher circumstances like temperature, fitness level, sleep and so on). Nonethless, compared to the Glideride, the Shift much more feels like a "normal" running shoe, while the Glideride is much more rigid as far as the roll over is concerned. While a lot of people love the Glideride, for me it felt like missing a step of a staircase when walking around in the shoes. While running it felt a little better but not smooth at all. You should test it out if you consider buying this shoes because lot of people like it. i do not. As far as the Rincon is concerned, i have the same impression like you (rocker only noticable at fast intervals, but it is also a very different shoe at all). Speedroll gives you a slight roll to the front but much less noticable than in the Glideride. You can think of the Shift as the responsive version of a highly cousioned but stable version of the classic neutral running shoes. To sum it up, for me the Shift is the much more balanced and lighter version of the Glideride.

Unknown said...

agains, thanks so much @marcel. do any of the other reviewers have comments about my (long) inquiries?

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, thanks! I run exclusively in 8mm–10mm shoes. Given the high stack and rocker profile of the Shift, should I expect to require the same transition period down to its 4mm drop? I was surprised that Saucony went with 8mm on both the Speed and Pro but 4mm on the daily. Looking to avoid calf and achilles trains by abruptly switching to the 4mm. Thanks!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
You should expect very few if any transition issues moving from 10mm to 4mm in the Shift. As often the case the actual drop is only a part of the equation. As the midsole is dense and the platform broad with decent heel rubber coverage, landings won't compress that far and the stability elements are also in the mix. A shoe such as the Clifton at similar drop with less dense foam and more minimal rubber would I think be a bigger change. More significant potentially in the Shift is that it is a stiffer rocker based shoe and while I have no issues with the geometry it is to consider.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi all first of all great review and informative...First of all I am a runner that run in Kinvara 11 for now...I run mostly at easy pace between 7.30min/km-6.50min/ now im looking for a daily trainer that can handle that type of pace..I have identified a several daily trainer that is the shift,ride 13 maxroad hyper4+ and gorun 7+...I just need an opinion which of this shoes is better and suited for me with my easy paces?

sharebee said...

Hi RTR team,
I wandered if anyone reading this has suffered with Achilles tendon issues with this shoe? I've done about 100k total in the Shift and am really suffering with it. I've been running Hoka Bondi, Speedgoat (both which I love) and New Balance More Trail V1 (OK) in rotation. I got the Shift to replace the Bondi. When side by side the tall heal is really obvious and is perhaps not suitable for everyone? My runs are mixed trail and paths, all now hard scrubbed out and pretty smooth at around 6min/km for longer ones, 75 - 100k per week. In any case if anyone in the UK reading this wants a pair or slightly used Saucony Endorphin Shift size 8 in black get in touch here [email protected] I don't want to see them wasted or resigned to the walking box.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi sharebee,
Sorry to hear you have had issues. My suspicion is the combination of rigid rocker and all the stability at the heel and paths is just to much in combination. with the foot just not moving enough with the terrain thus strain And on top of that the 4mm drop . A potential place to sell them is the Facebook Running Bin page.
Sam, Editor

sharebee said...

Thanks Sam,
I'm pretty sure you're right. It's a shame as they are a good looking shoe and exceptionally comfortable to wear whilst not running. Perhaps I'll hold onto them and try them out on the road more their designed habitat once I have had my Covid vaccine