Monday, August 17, 2020

Reebok Floatride Energy Symmetros Review

Article by Sam Winebaum and Joost de Raeymaeker

Reebok Floatride Energy Symmetros ($130)

Introduction

Sam: The Symmetros is a neutral daily trainer featuring Reebok’s Floatride Energy foam midsole, an expanded TPU bead material which produces a springy, bouncy yet well controlled feel.  First seen in the very popular and nicely value priced and speedy Forever Energy the foam also found its way into the Harmony Road 3 (RTR Review), a shoe only slightly heavier than the Symmetros with a more extensive stabilizing EVA rear clip so a shoe that is more pronation control focused.  


The Symmetros midsole is all Floatride Energy also including a unique center of the rear stabilizing plastic clip with a new geometry 17 degree bevel and a center of outsole firmer (than adjacent heel rubber) outsole rubber. 

This somewhat unique geometry and use of materials is seemingly designed to smooth transitions in the path of travel, keeping things stable while also allowing just enough medial and lateral give not to over control.

The upper is a single layer engineered mesh with a gusseted tongue, It is see through and both highly breathable and with very low moisture absorption in test. The rear collar is molded, softly and well cushioned and somewhat stretchy.


Stats

Weight:: men's 9.4 oz / 266g  (US9)  /  women's / (US8)

Samples: 9.13 oz / 259g men’s US8,5, 271g/9.56 oz USM9.5

Stack Height: 26/17 (midsole stack height to be confirmed)

Available now  $130


Pros:

Sam: Very breathable, low moisture absorbing secure and comfortable rear ⅔ of upper

-Springy ride from combination of Floatride Energy foam and a softer full contact outsole

-Heel bevel and center firmer rubber delivers a stable landing and center line directed transition

-Agile quick feel 

Joost: -Nice roomy forefoot fit

-A lot more breathable than first looks would suggest
-Nice “dampened”, but still lively feeling

-Decoupled medial and lateral sole offer some direction forward



Cons:

Sam: Spongy. soft stock insole reduces forefoot stability and toe off snap, replaced it

-Front fit with pointy toe box is a bit long and front fit a bit sloppy. Toe bumper could use more structure particularly given its stock insole

-Relatively thin and soft feeling forefoot cushion. More on why soft below.

-Not as good a value as the very similar Forever Energy

Joost: -The heel counter really hurts my (admittedly very overworked and sensitive) achilles and heel on putting the shoe on and walking around.

-Laces are quite short, no double knot possible for security

-Drop feels higher than it is.




Tester Profiles

Joost is a Belgian in his 50s living in Luanda, Angola, Africa, where he faces the heat, humidity and general chaos to run anything between 60-100 miles per week. He’s on a mission to win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and has completed half of his project, with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He ran in primary school, but then thought it would be a lot cooler to be a guitar player in a hard rock band, only picking up running again in 2012, gradually improving his results.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 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 163 lbs.


First Impressions, Fit & Upper

Sam: Sleek, modern and simple in design,  the Symmetros rear molded collar is notable for its soft yet secure fit with the actual heel counter ending in height just above the heel lettering

My pair was at my usual 8.5. The fit is “potentially” true to size with the toe box quite pointy with a quite minimal toe bumper and front structure to the upper which I think actually favors a slightly wider foot. 


Out of the box the fit was quite sloppy upfront.  It took me several runs to figure out what I was feeling as off and I concluded it was in part the insole. It is extremely rare that I find an insole doesn’t match the purpose of the shoe and my preferences.  I  said potentially true to size as the soft spongy Ortholite branded insole “filled space” on try on and was comfortable, my sense is I needed to size down half a size. The insole made the underfoot feel a bit mushy upfront and with the softer rubber outsole and unstructured toe box  I found the whole front of the shoe was a bit soft, loose and unstable. I knew I could improve things.


I first tried a thinner firmer but still molded shaped insole  from the Reebok Sweet Road 2. The ride feel and front toe off was immediately improved but I still had too much room and not enough structure upfront. With such a thin insole swap I would have to size down half a size for sure.

I next tried a more substantial molded EVA sockliner from the ASICS Novablast and both fit and ride response were immediately improved with a fit closer to true to size and less sense of the pointiness of the toe box and lack of front structure. .


All of this front fit stuff feels like Reebok may have realized true to size try on fit might be an issue upfront and used an uncharacteristically soft and mushy insole in what is clearly a fine daily training performance ride.


The toe box has a lining extending from the tongue kind of floating over the foot which breathes very well but might be more integral to the outer upper to provide  more structure. 

Overall I conclude that with a different insole and more substantial and less pliable toe bumper and front upper structure the upper would be greatly improved. Don’t get me wrong if you want a comfort more easy going toe area you will likely like the upper fine  but for me it just needs more lockdown and structure.


As for the back ⅔ of the shoe, everything back of the toe box  is superb in fit and comfort. The laces are not smooth and pull through the eyelets with some difficulty but once tied done for the whole run, no unnecessary stretch of laces or upper and never a  re tie even in big humidity. 

The rear upper is a single layer engineered mesh which has proven incredibly breathable and absorbs almost no moisture.  We have a gusseted tongue construction with open panels for breathability just behind lace up.

The molded heel collar with a low  but substantial firm heel counter (ending right above the R in the photo above)  works very well . Lots of plush but not overly thick cushion and hold for the achilles then below a secure heel lock down.

Overall the midfoot fit to rear fit is generous, soft on the foot and secure enough for daily training purposes but not quite as dialed in as the thicker less pliable material on the Forever Energy 1.

The Reebok logo and strip extending towards the heel are reflective material, a nice touch and seem to contribute to a touch of structure at midfoot as they are seemingly lightly heated in.

 I do note after a humid weather run that a rear strip, glued not melted into the molded heel counter is already delaminating.


Joost:I have been a fanboy of some of the other Reebok shoes out there. The Floatride Run Fast being my personal favorite. I’m currently on my fourth pair and also love the Floatride Run Fast London Pro and the Floatride Run Fast Pro, all shoes with varying amounts of Pebax midsoles. All this to say I was looking forward to giving a Reebok shoe with eTPU a go, since I never ran in their very popular Floatride Forever Energy.


For starters, these shoes look really great in their blue colorway and they feel thoughtfully built while handling them, although a tad on the heavy side. Not your tempo shoe, but that’s not what they are intended for. The upper is very breathable and dries fast, always a plus now that the dry season is over and the heat and rain are coming where I live.


I really like the fact that Reebok hasn’t forgotten to put some reflective material in the upper, something that can ultimately be life-saving and all too often overlooked in other shoes.


And now for the part where my experience is the exact opposite of Sam’s.

Slightly protruded heels and heel cups seem to be the norm these days, so no surprise here, but the inside cushion used to secure your foot and prevent heel slippage was just a bit too much for me. I have very tender heels and achilles tendons because of some chronic insertional tendinopathy on one side and just an overworked foot on the other side and putting the shoes on the first time was actually quite painful. Upon walking around in them, every step was still making me worry about having my first run. Luckily, putting on the thinnest socks I have available made things a little better, and running didn’t aggravate things in my heel any further.


The midfoot is secure and no lacing tricks are needed for me. The tongue is just right, no slippage, no hot spots. Contrary to Sam, I really like the very roomy forefoot and didn’t feel the need to change insoles. No mushy feeling here, just a nice spacy forefoot for my wide feet. My first run was a nice 23km (14.3m) run and it was easy to pick up the pace to around 3:40/km (a tad faster than 6min/mile). I did swap out the insole for my blue superfeet on a run, to add some support because of some medial ankle pain, and while I could definitely feel a difference, making the ride a lot harsher, I actually prefer the stock insole and the extra cushioning. It probably has more to do with the state of my poor feet and the mileage I’ve been putting in than anything else.

What I did notice is that the toe bumper botches up a little, so there is probably something to what Sam is saying about the forefoot. It didn’t bother me, though.


Midsole

Sam: The magic here is the excellent Floatride Energy Foam, an expanded TPU bead foam. While in the same very general type of process and material as used by sister company adidas for  Boost Energy itis almost completely different in ride feel. Denser, less bouncy, far better controlled, and without plastic pieces as Boost shoes have, it has a springy light well directed feel sitting really closer to foams such as Skechers Hyperburst than even Saucony’s PWRUN+ similar process expanded TPU beads. It is for sure more dynamic and springier if a touch less bouncy and soft  than Nike’s React.


Reebok initially provided at midsole stack height of 24mm heel /14mm forefoot, 10 mm drop. Other sources have it a 26mm /17mm. Either way this is a fairly thin forefoot cushion stack, and it is felt as such and indeed you will find a thin, agile, and once tuned with the right insole a quite snappy if soft toe off, with spring noted from the Float Energy Foam. I do not have Forever 2 to compare but did compare to Forever 1 and noted more cushion feel for Forever 1 at the forefoot and less at the heel compared to Symmetros.


Ah the heel there is  a very clever and I think effective stabilization and transition design and construction which is also integral to the outsole design. First. there is plenty of cushion at the heel, never mushy never over firm just about right for daily training purposes at all paces for me,

The increased heel bevel to 17 degrees is said by Reebok to “reduce breaking forces” and smooth heel transition and is felt doing exactly that.

But there is more. The green firm plastic vertical clip in combination with the bevel and firm center of the heel rubber stabilizes the landing and feels to me like it directs the foot consistently forward along the centerline of the shoe with some stabilizing but with neither medial pronation control or lateral crash pad of the usual sort. 

The outsole rubber on either side of that firm center piece, and in fact the entire rest of the outsole, is a softer rubber and softer for sure than usual at the heel at the edges. Thus many foot types and different paces by the same runner have the shoe adapting to the landing and transition. I could clearly feel this in action.


Joost:

Controlled is the first thing that came to mind when I started my first run in these shoes. Dampened, but still springy were the following thoughts. The other TPU based midsole shoes I currently have in my rotation for comparison are the Boston 8 and the Adios 4, both of which I really like for their responsiveness, but not really for the fact that older and overworked feet definitely like something softer most of the time.


As Sam said earlier, Reebok got away with quite a bit more foam without having to add all sorts of plastic stabilizing material, so the density of the foam is quite different from something like the original Adidas Energy Boost, a shoe which I also really enjoyed when it first came out.

I’m a mid to forefoot striker, landing somewhere on the lateral side of the balls of my feet and one of the things I noticed with the Symmetros is that I could really feel the heel. Not that it actually got in the way of running or changed my gait, but it was there and noticeable so, touching the ground a bit earlier than I’m used to. Maybe this is due to the fact that I’ve been running in lower drop shoes, and usually I don’t really care at all about a shoe’s drop, but this time, I could really feel it. The official drop is somewhere between 9 and 10mm, but it feels more like the pre-born-to-run shoes with a 12 or 13 mm drop to me. The pair of Floatride London Pro I have also lists a 10mm drop and in that shoe, it has a completely different feeling. My guess is that the decoupled outsole, more foam which I probably compress quite a bit on landing on the lateral ball of my foot and the center heel clip all play their part. If you’re a heel striker, it’s probably not something you would notice, but if you’re like me with a (some say too) bouncy stride on easy runs, it’s something to consider.


Outsole

Sam: The center rear piece is very firm durable rubber, the rest of both colors relatively soft.in a full coverage pattern to I assume stabilize the Energy foam. The shoe flexes quite easily and actually feels more flexible than it actually is I think due to the softness of the rubber and the pliability of the upper


It works and quite well but I do think. and related to the forefoot fit and feel, that this rubber could be a touch firmer to provide more response. To the touch it is softer than the Forever Energy 1’s outsole rubber, a rubber that provided lots of response.  Durability so far at about 40 miles in seems fine.


Joost:

The rubber outsole seems pretty durable and adds to the dampened feel of the shoe upon impact. It’s another shoe that hardly makes a sound when running, even on concrete. Traction is great.


Ride

Sam: The ride, once the insole was replaced is agile with lots of heel cushion and far rear stability, a very easy transition, and a thinner feeling forefoot. It reminds me a great deal of the ride of the Sweet Road 2 another shoe with a substantial heel area and more agile forefoot but here the front is while more agile and snappy not quite as locked down.


The ride is suitable for daily training at moderate paces and mileage and up to tempo which is how I tested it. It would not be a good long run shoe for me as for that purpose I would prefer more forefoot cushion.


Joost: As I said above, the heel kind of gets in my way a little. Not in an annoying way, but it’s definitely there. Apart from this, the ride is very stable and controlled. I’m looking forward to putting lots of miles on this shoe for my easy longish runs, where I can use a little extra cushioning. 


Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: Unfortunately, and as said above, the inadequately structured toe box and soft mushy stock insole hold the shoe back. These were largely solvable problems for me by swapping out the stock insole for a more substantial molded one but even with a different insole the front of the upper needs more structure.  


The ride is fun and fast if a bit thin and soft upfront as I do think the front rubber could be firmer and the stack of midsole a touch greater.  The Symmetros has very solid rear stability from the excellent bevel heel design and rear outsole and has an easy transition and toe off making it a solid option for moderate pace and moderate distance daily run training.

Sam’s Score: 8.6 /10

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 7.8 (30%) Value: 8.7 (15%) Style: 8.7 (5%)


Joost:

Contrary to Sam, I have no issues at all with the toe box or the insole, but I would prefer the shoe had a slightly lower drop. Overall, a nice ride, but there are slightly less expensive options available that tick all the boxes.

Joost’s Score: 8.3 /10

Ride: 8.5 (50%) Fit: 8 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)


Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Reebok Sweet Road 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: One of my favorite shoes of a few years ago the Sweet Road has a similar well cushioned stable heel and more flexible more agile forefoot. Its quite unstructured and softer but more compressive mesh upper was clearly more secure than Symmetros but somewhat less breathable. I prefer the springier rear ride of the Symmetros and the more stable secure toe off of the Sweet Road with its softer foam and firmer more substantial outsole combination and especially its more secure upper hold up front. And at $100 the Sweet Road was a great value


Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 1 (RTR Review)

Sam: Lighter and a great value at $100 the Forever has a very similar Energy foam ride if in combination with its firmer outsole a bit less springy but a more stable and responsive one . I did a short A/B test and found the Forever had a more stable and cushioned forefoot but that its heel was firmer and seemingly lower feeling despite its similar stack, which could be due to the outsole design differences. Credit the Symmetros excellent heel midsole and outsole rear design. The Forever’s upper is fine but a bit cruder in feel but holds my foot well front to back at true to size and is not quite as loose and “comfort” oriented as the Symmetros’s.


Brooks Ghost 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ghost 13 has an equally comfort oriented but less pointy front toe box with its more substantial outsole providing better stability up front. The Ghost has more and softer cushion up front but is not as agile or lively.  The heel landing of the Symmetros is not quite as cushioned but transitions quicker as does its toe off with both the stock insole and my swap. 


Nike Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Sam: The men’s Peg 37 has a duller feeling heel and a more cushioned if firmer and stiffer forefoot feel with an overabundance of somewhat suffocating, comparatively speaking, upper hold. I would take the Peg on trails something I would never dream of with the Symmetros. The women’s Pegasus with a lighter upper, softer midsole React and a lower PSI front Zoom Air is actually a closer comparison. No question in that match up I would pick the women’s Pegasus. I was true to size in both Pegasus including women’s in the D width 10 with the Symmetros a bit long and roomy at my true to size with the stock insole,

Joost: I agree with Sam. The Pegasus feels stiffer and the upper is a little too much for where I live. Both true to size for me. The Symmetros would be my choice for my daily grind.


Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride 13 has a far more secure toe box area, almost to secure as the upper is quite dense and quite warm comparatively speaking. Underfoot the more cushioned Ride 13 with its TPU/EVA blend PWRUN foam is not as lively and springy but let’s just say more solid in run feel and thus a more versatile option. I was at the same size in both with Symmetros considerably less structured, roomier and longer upfront. 

Joost: Although both intended for daily training, they are definitely very different shoes. The Ride feels a lot less springy, but more stable, with a more structured and hot upper. Both true to size for me.


ASICS GEL-Cumulus 22 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Cumulus 22 has a superb light upper that just works. Underfoot it is firmer and less springy. It shares a fairly thin forefoot stack height with the Symmetros and is more stable upfront. I give a slight nod to the Symmetros for its ride quality despite the upper fit and insole issues which are absent in the Cumulus. 


The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,
The stack height seems low 24/14, the Reebok harmony road 3 was 31/21 and it looks similar. In another review I think a Reebok rep says this has 25% more foam than forever? What distances would you run in these? Are they versatile enough from recovery runs to tempo's. Are you doing a multi tester review of this shoe too. Thanks :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
I have an official comparative stack heights document from Reebok (which may be midsole only) and that is what it says along with Forever Energy 2 having 1.5mm more front and back than Symmetros and Harmony Road 3,5 4mm more although I have my doubts it is correct and have inquired as it "looks" higher in the forefoo than Forever 1 but... as said above Forever in A/B feels more substantial at the forefoot likely due to the outsole and different stack height.
I would say they are versatile for daily training and moderate tempo and for me up to 10 miles or so. I like a bit more forefoot stack and stability for recovery runs but they have worked fine there too, My longest run about 7 in them.
Joost will also be joining the review. He just received his pair
Sam, Editor

terry said...

i have the same comment as above. i thought there were more foam than the forever energy. surprised that the symmetros has less forefoot than the energy. the energy is a fantastic shoe for the price, but for long runs, its lacking forefoot cushioning.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Terry,
Please eee my comment just posted above and detail in review. An official document I have from Reebok says lower midsole stack anyway for Sym. but I am confirming. It feels thinner softer than Forever Energy 1 upfront to me with the stock insole. It is not just the foam and how much but the outsoles and insoles with the Forever Energy 1 being firmer to the touch, and while running, so more stable and less compression overall
Sam, Editor

Zach R said...

Currently using this as a recovery shoe after running out the GoRun Ride. Like it more, feels lighter underfoot even though I don't think it is, and the ride is slightly more predictable. I find that when hyperburst heats up it gets a little mushy (works for some of their shoes but not others). Upper is also much better. I don't get the sloppiness you report, but I'm not using this shoe for speed at all, just long and slow (7:15s).

ltkirk said...

Hi Sam. Great review! Will you be reviewing the Forever Energy 2?

Matt D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt D said...

I have the forever energy 1s, 2's and now the Symmetros. I just took a measurement of each at the same point in the forefoot midsole and got 20 mm in the energy 1's and 2's and 22mm in the Symmetros. The drop in the symmetros feels highe, id venture to guess its more like 11-12 mm if energy is 9mm. I'll say that for me, the Symmetros transmit less ground feel in the forefoot than the Energys. Purpose wise, the Symmetros definitely feels more like an easy day bulk miles shoe that can do some tempo whereas the energy feels like a more uptempo day shoe that can also run easy. The energys are also a sneaky good trail shoe for me, not sure how the Symmetros would do there. Fit wise the energy fits 1/4 size large for me, Symmetros feels TTS.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Any further updates in the review by Joost and stack heights? Thanks. :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
No official update on stack height but have not put at 26/17 based on what I am seeing elsewhere. Joost's pair was much delayed getting to Africa from the US but looks like it is now on its way.
Sam, Editor

Jon said...

Really interested in these since I had a pair of the Grasse Road 2 and really liked that shoe. Is this a light stability shoe or a neutral? If it's a neutral, is there gong to be a stability version?

Thanks!

Nee said...

Will you be reviewing the Floatride Grow?

moroes said...

Would these be suitable for mitigating lower back pain following runs?
Thanks for the in-depth review.