Article by Derek Li, Peter Stuart, Jeff Beck, and Hope Wilkes
Skechers GOrun Maxroad 4+ Hyper ($140)
Derek: You can read about our original review of the Skechers GoRun MaxRoad 4 here. The MaxRoad 4 is a solid platform. Incredibly lively high stack HyperBurst paired with really great aesthetics. However, there was a fly in the ointment. The upper caused problems for almost all our testers here at RoadTrailRun. Some of us had blisters, while I personally kept getting a really bad hotspot on the inside of the 1st metatarsal head on both feet. I really like the midsole ride, so I tried many hacks over the past couple of months. Different insoles, different socks, different laces. It always boiled down to the same problem. A hotspot would build up by the 2 mile mark and by the 6 mile mark it was practically unbearable. Skechers, to their credit, are really good at taking on feedback. They had a similar problem with the upper of the GoRun 7, and they re-did the upper in the GoRun7+ with a circular mesh upper and completely changed the GoRun7 into a solid fun daily trainer.
Enter the MaxRoad 4+ for 2020, featuring a re-worked lightweight durable mono mesh and polyester upper that claims to be more breathable and supportive. The rest of the shoe appears pretty much unchanged, although the outsole now sports the GoodYear logo and the original MaxRoad 4 did not. We also see a welcome 0.4 oz / 11g drop in weight.
Peter: The Max Road 4 showed lots of promise but was hampered, for me, by a warm knit upper that didn’t hold my foot as well as I would have liked. I had some great runs in it and even found it to pick up to tempo really well. The upper kept it from being a practical choice here in Texas, but I liked it. The 4+ is back with a new upper and may prove to be a terrific update to an interesting shoe that can give the beefier Hokas a run for their money (while being a bunch lighter).
Hope: I took the MR4 to task for being too warm, loose-fitting, and less than pleasing to my eye. Yet I still gave it a favorable rating! That’s a testament to the ride of this model: bouncy, light, and effortless. My wishlist for the update included a more secure, more breathable upper, improved outsole durability, and a cleaner aesthetic. How did Skechers do?
Derek/Hope: very good weight/cushioning ratio; very bouncy ride
Peter/Hope: better fitting upper (than the 4), lots of cushion
Jeff: Fun ride and lightweight stayed, problematic upper left
Derek: upper still a bit warm but manageable; could use a bit more rocker
Peter: Jury still out on the ride for me.
Hope: Looks are not helped by the strange color choices on the pair I received
Hope: Upper could still be a touch more secure -- has essentially zero lateral stability
Jeff: My unique problem with the pod/column design midsole from the 4 persists in the 4+
Official Weight: 8 oz / 227g (Men’s US9) | 6.3 oz / 179g (Women’s US7)
The Max Road 4 weighed approx. 8.4 oz /238 g so we lose 0.4 oz in the +
men’s 8.25oz / 234g US9.5 8.6oz / 246g, US10.5 // women’s 7.34 oz / 208g US 9.5
Midsole/Outsole Stack Height:
28mm heel, 22 mm forefoot, (37mm/31mm including board and sockliner)
Available now including Running Warehouse here. $140
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.
Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years.
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.
Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra.
First Impressions and Fit
Derek: My first impression was the aesthetics seem rather subdued compared to previous colorways and designs that Skechers has turned out. It looks fine, but i don’t expect it to turn any heads, not like the current bright yellow MaxRoad 4 colorway that was recently released. All in all, I’m lukewarm on this color. I think they could have done a bit more with color contrasts. As far as step in feel goes, “plush” comes to mind. It reminds me of premium uppers like the Saucony Triumph, with all the padding around the ankle. It is great to see Skechers go back to a more traditional upper for its performance line. The GoRun UltraRoad / MaxRoad range has always run a little bit on the long side, and with the last being the same as before, it still feels maybe a quarter inch long in the toebox, but for a shoe intended for long runs and maybe ultra distances, I can accept the extra leg room. The familiar bouncy ride of the MaxRoad is still there, and the only question is will the new upper help the MaxRoad 4 get out of its own way?
Peter: I was a fan of the MaxRoad 4 but I didn’t love the knit upper. Thrilled to see a lighter, more breathable upper come out of the box. First impression is that the fit has been dialed in and that this will be an upper that holds the foot really well and helps the whole shoe work in harmony. It’s not the flashiest looking shoe, but there’s an understated grace to it. I like it. It fits my foot well and runs true to size. On my first run I found it to be a little bit of a struggle to push through from landing to toe-off. I’ll hold off judgment until I get some more runs in.
Jeff: If you read my comments from last year’s Max Road 4, I banged one particular drum really hard. It’s an incredibly fun shoe to run in, bouncy beyond belief, but the lack of midsole rigidity for my blend of size (5’11” and 200 pounds), foot strike (midfoot), and pronation style (lifelong supinator) meant the shoe didn’t work for me. Every single run resulted in matching blisters in the first three miles. Would a vastly improved upper fix the problem? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt matters. And while Derek is spot on - visually it is very subdued - not every shoe can or should be bright yellow/green/orange/blue like the Saucony Ride 13. It definitely blends in with the crowd. Fit is true-to-size perfectly for me, with nearly a full thumb’s width in front of my large toe.
Hope: Navy and mint, not bad. But lilac too? The color choices on my women’s pair have me scratching my head. These are marked as samples, so I’m wondering if an old MR4 sole unit might have been Frankensteined onto an MR4+ upper. But far from being a monster, the MR4+ delivers step-in comfort and an upper that is obviously leagues ahead of its predecessor in terms of fit.
Derek: The new upper is completely different from before. It is also different from the upper on the GoRun 7+, with the former using a sort of circular knit. Here, you can see the toebox has a single layer mesh with small perforations.
Then, on the medial and lateral sides, you have linear knit stitching running up towards the midline, and that presumably serves to reinforce the mesh and add structure and support to the foot. The tongue is minimally padded, and if I’m honest, runs just a half inch short. If I use the last eyelet, the knot of the laces is rather close to the edge of the tongue. Reminds me a bit of the NB Zante v1 tongue. Not a deal-breaker, but leaves things feeling a bit precarious.
The heel counter is semi-rigid and, paired with the padding around the opening, pretty much gets the job done in terms of holding the heel well.
Laminates are confined to the eyelet areas of the shoe. Speaking of eyelets, they are spaces pretty far apart with only 4 rows of eyelets, excluding the heel lock loop. Skechers opted to go with rather elastic laces for this model, which i think was a mistake. The wide spacing of the eyelets, plus the elasticity of the laces made it difficult for me to get a good performance lockdown with this shoe. There was always a little bit of slack, even with the heel lock lacing method. Bear in mind I used the heel lock lacing not to eliminate heel slippage, but to try to get a better lockdown of the midfoot as I felt my feet sliding fore-aft a little bit when running on inclines due to the elastic laces and widely spaced eyelets.
Breathability does appear to be better, though not as good as in the GoRun 7+. I will go into how it all turns out under the Ride section.
Peter: Much improved upper for me. I’m relieved to be in a mesh upper rather than a knit one--and it holds my foot pretty well so far. I took the insole out for later runs and had a much better experience overall. I figure it’s a totally fine thing to do because under the liner it looks a lot like a razor--and has writing on it too! Pretty sure it’s meant to be run with the insole in OR out. Overall fit wasn’t drastically affected by the removal of the insole.
Jeff: Breathability, comfort, and foot security - this upper brings it all. The toe box isn’t overwhelming, but it is ample, and unless you have a very wide foot you probably won’t have any issues in that department.
Hope: Skechers eschewed the one-piece knit upper of the MR4 in favor of a more traditional mesh design. So instead of the upper having all of the adjustability of a sock, here fit can be meaningfully dialed in using the laces. I’ll note that as Derek alluded to, the upper maintains a somewhat relaxed fit. I don’t experience much foot swelling over long runs (even in the Mid-Atlantic summer heat), but those who do will appreciate this design feature. The fit is locked down enough for my purposes: easy runs, tempo runs, and long runs. I’ll note that on out-and-back routes where I typically plant one foot hard to change direction for the return trip the MR4+ offers no lateral stability for that move and I’d easily roll and ankle if I weren’t being careful. This upper is not trail-ready, but it doesn’t claim to be -- it’s the Max *Road* 4+.
Breathability is likewise improved over the MR4. While I didn’t entirely escape sweaty feet in hot and humid conditions, I fared somewhat better in the MR4+ when using Drymax socks than I did in a few other models in my rotation. I remember my feet feeling hot in the MR4 and I didn’t notice that sensation at all in the MR4+.
Most importantly, no blisters! I’m thrilled with the improvements made to the upper.
Derek: Not much to say here. The mold is exactly the same as the MaxRoad 4, so plenty of HyperBurst and that familiar bouncy ride. There is good flexibility due to the segmented grooves in the midsole.
Peter: Big Ol’ block of tasty tasty Hyperburst. Takes a minute to figure out how to run in it, but it’s a great foam.
Jeff: Deja vu, all over again. This is one of the most fun shoes I’ve ever run in, and as much as I enjoy it, my pair clearly hates me. The story remains the same from last year, and I’m fully aware this is likely a “Me Problem” as I’ve never seen anyone else report a similar issue.
I’m the center of the Venn Diagram of Heavy Runner, Supination, Midfoot Landing and that is a losing combination. Which is borderline heartbreaking, because if it didn’t cause immediate blisters I’d be logging 70-80% of all my miles in this shoe.
Hope: I suspect this is literally a MR4 midsole on my pair. At least it feels exactly as good as the standout MR4 midsole. Crazy light and bouncy. While I didn’t experience as much bottoming out as Jeff did (at 5’4 and ~130 lbs I’m not in the “big guy runner” category), my pair is showing some signs of it. Plus, in places where the outsole is worn away, the midsole has gotten chewed up incredibly quickly. Hyperburst is resilient in the face of repeated compression, but doesn’t hold up well when exposed directly to asphalt. The choice to use outsole pods rather than a full-coverage outsole doubtless contributes to this model’s low weight, but all of that exposed foam makes the MR4+ vulnerable to premature wear.
Derek: The outsole design is again the same as the MaxRoad 4. It is not clear if GoodYear was already in play on the MaxRoad 4 but it is clearly being used here since they decided to include the GoodYear branding. I didn’t have problems with grip or durability with the MaxRoad 4 outsole before, and this has not changed with the rubber on the MaxRoad 4+. Even after 40 miles in the shoe, the patterns on the outsole are still clearly visible, which bodes well for this shoe.
Peter: What he said. The outsole works!
Jeff: I agree with Peter and Derek, the outsole has solid traction and durability, but I'll assign it a little of the blame for my problem. I realize it is a double-edged sword - if the outsole was more built up so the columns didn’t collapse, it probably wouldn’t be so bouncy and fun to run in. C’est la vie.
Hope: I agree with the guys. I’ll note that this pair did not have the peeling issues I observed in the MR4.
Derek: The ride is still pretty much the same as the MaxRoad 4 from last year, which is a good thing. The MR4 rides fantastic, but it was the upper that held it back as a performance shoe. With the new upper, my first run in it still revealed that the shoe felt a bit warm. Not bad enough to cause any big hotspots but i just was always aware that things felt a little warm underfoot. On my second run, I broke out a brand new pair of my thinnest socks - Steigen, and it was all good. I managed to go over 6 miles without problems, but my feet were still sliding a little bit. On my third run, I decided I’d had enough of the elastic laces and swapped them out for some rigid laces from a random older pair of shoes. Instantly things felt better, more locked down. The wide spacing of the eyelets still meant i had to use pretty high lace tension, but at least there was significantly less foot movement inside the shoe, and surprisingly ALL the heat build-up went away. By my fourth run, I was using medium thickness cotton socks without any problems. Now do I need solid lockdown for all my shoes? No. I can accept a bit of sloppiness in a trainer.
My conclusions out of all this are that the heat build-up in the shoe are due to 3 main contributing factors: a) the upper is on the thicker side, b) the upper is a bit sloppy causing fore-aft movement in the shoe and creating areas of friction with the upper and the insole under the foot, c) HyperBurst as a material does not dissipate heat as well as other midsole materials, and when it gets thicker (as in the MaxRoad), you get too much heat built up and that’s where all your hotspots develop. I live in pretty warm conditions and frequently run in temps approaching 90F and 80+% humidity. If I say it’s breathable enough, it’s probably good enough for most people unless you live in Death Valley.
Jeff: One of the best, if not THE best, ride in running shoes. Hyperburst is top notch in it’s cushioning to weight ratio, and there’s a ton of it. This shoe makes me think of the Daniel Tosh joke about money not being able to buy happiness - but it can buy a wave runner, and try being sad on a wave runner. This shoe makes you smile.
Hope: Despite the lockdown issues Derek mentioned, I agree with Jeff that the MR4+ offers a next-level ride. My most recent run in the shoe was an eight miler I went into with tired legs. The run felt as easy and comfortable as if I’d had two days’ rest. Soft, flexible, bouncy, and incredibly light feeling. If you’re discouraged because you’ve heard the feel of Hyperburst described as “moon boots,” I encourage you to give these a try. The bounciness feels decidedly natural, not otherworldly!
Peter: To be honest, my first run felt mushy and uninspired. I felt like I was working too hard to get the shoe to move. Could have been my legs on the day, but I don’t think so. I was bummed. But when I ran the Max 4+ without an insole it came alive. It was a cushioned ride and still had bounce but it was firmer and I didn’t feel like I was working against the mush of a heavily cushioned shoe. Turnover felt quicker and I felt really, really fresh at the end of it. Overall a great, easy ride that isn’t afraid to pick up the paces now and then. Very stable feeling for me given the stack heights.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Derek: The MaxRoad 4+ is a big improvement on the original upper of the MaxRoad 4. It doesn’t solve all the problems, but it’s manageable. Honestly, i think if they can put the Speed 6 Hyper upper on all their shoes (maybe with a slightly shorter heel counter), they would solve most of their problems. With the MR4+ specifically, I think the breathability of the upper is ok, but they could have made it a much better upper by using more eyelets to improve the lockdown, and non-elastic laces, such as those in the rest of their performance shoes. The Speed 6, Speed Elite, GRR8, GR7+ all use non-elastic laces; it baffles me why they would go with elastic laces for this model. Once the upper issue is solved, you can really turn your attention to the fun bouncy maximalist ride of the MaxRoad, and the key word is fun. For me it’s a wonderful easy run and moderate pace long run shoe that just has maybe a little too much flexibility to handle faster runs for me. I would have liked a little bit more rocker in this shoe, but that’s a minor point.
Derek’s Score: 8.68 / 10
Ride 9.2 40% Fit 8.5 40% Aesthetics 7 10% Value 9 10%
Jeff: Skechers Performance has been very forthcoming with their + series - it’s the shoe you liked last year with an improved upper. And on that, they have delivered. Last year’s upper was globally panned - literally runners all around the globe disliked it. While I have a very personal issue with the shoe (or more accurately, it has an issue with me) I can see how many many runners will absolutely love this shoe. It’s looks are dialed in, the fit is spot on, the ride is about the most fun you have while running - there’s a lot to like about this shoe. If you are me, or one of the half dozen weirdos that fit in the same heavy weight/midfoot landing/supinator category, you should probably steer clear. Everyone else? You’re gonna have fun, and I’m super jealous.
Jeff’s Score: 9.4 / 10
Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 8 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)
Hope: Skechers has provided a worthy update to the MR4 which addresses the criticism about the ill-fitting upper. This is a fun, fast shoe that I’ll happily keep in my rotation for everything except speedwork and racing. It’s an ideal partner for long runs and the upper will feel even better as temperatures drop. I’m hopeful that production colorways will be a bit more in line with what the guys received than with what I received, but I’m scoring this category based on the shoes I have, not the shoes I hope to have. Likewise, while Hyperburst is premium, the rest of the shoe feels a bit generic and down market -- $140 buys more plush materials from other brands. That said, I’m grateful for the reflective treatment on the heel!
Hope’s Score: 8.85 / 10
Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 8 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 5 (5%)
Peter: A much improved upper on a really fun ride. I wish they were a little more aesthetically interesting, but they’ll do. I think these are a great easy day shoe for anyone and a great marathon racer or tempo shoe for those who may be newer runners or running at sub “elite” paces.
Peter’s score 9 / 10
Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
vs Skechers MaxRoad 4 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The 4+ is definitely an improvement as far as fit goes, and helps the shoe get out of its own way and lets the HyperBurst really shine through as a dynamic fun and bouncy ride. No question the 4+ is the better shoe.
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size 10.5. Derek is right - the upper went from being a negative in the 4 to being pretty good in the 4+. I see this as an absolute win.
Hope: Adding a third voice in support of the MR4+. Hugely improved upper. Blisters vs. no blisters? No contest.
Peter: So. Much. Better. Cooler to run in, better lockdown. 4+
vs.Skechers Go Run Ride 8 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true to size. The GRR8 is definitely firmer and isn't as bouncy, and it definitely has a more traditional ride. The upper isn't bad, but I think the new upper in the MR4+ is more breathable and more adjustable, with a slightly bigger toebox. Both are plenty versatile, but I think the MR4+ is much more fun to run in.
Derek: Both are true to size for me. The MaxRoad 4+ is more cushioned, bouncier, and lighter. For some reason the GRR8 is not as bouncy as the other HyperBurst models for me. I definitely prefer the MaxRoad 4+.
vs. ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)
Jeff: Both fit true to size. Both have a fun and bouncy ride, very similar in feel. Novablast has a more pronounced rocker geometry, which I like, and I also like the upper more in the ASICS. I think the Novablast will also be a little more durable in it's midsole/outsole design. I like the MR4+ more for uptempo runs, and Novablast more for everything else - but NB can be used for faster stuff too.
Derek: The sizing is the same. Both are true to size for me. I feel that the Novablast is softer but has less rebound. Overall the MaxRoad 4+ feels like a faster shoe because it has better rebound, but it also has a lower drop so maybe if you are mainly a heelstriker you would prefer the Novablast.
vs Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Even though both shoes have different weights and quite different rides, both retail at $140 and I can see them both working really well as daily trainers targeting long runs and easy runs. Overall, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I prefer the MaxRoad 4+ for the more fun and lively ride!
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size 10.5. Again Derek nails it, they accomplish the same thing very differently. However, I have to go with the Shift for letting me run in it without guaranteeing blisters. Also, if you prefer a little bit firmer ride with a smooth rocker, the Shift is probably more your speed, but if you like bouncy fun, try the Max Road 4+.
Hope: I love the firm, directed ride of the Endorphine Shift, but I think the MR4+ is a more fun long run companion. Some runners might find the Shift a bit too blocky and struggle with that shoe’s transition.
vs Saucony Endorphin Speed (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Speed makes for a better fast/medium pace shoe but struggles a bit with cushioning on the longer and slower runs. The MaxRoad 4+ is better for the longer and slower runs and is more bouncy than the Speed at all paces, but would struggle with speed workouts. It really comes down to what you plan to use the shoe for. They weigh less than 5g apart in weight, which is amazing to me as the MaxRoad feels like a lot more shoe despite having lower official stack heights.
Hope: I don’t trust the MR4+ for pedal to the metal fast runs since the upper has a relaxed fit. The Speed is comfortable for long runs for me, so it’s my pick. If you struggle with plated shoes over double-digit distances, take a closer look at the MR4+.
vs Nike Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Peg37 is a firmer, more stable shoe, that works best for moderate pace and faster runs, but if I were doing a marathon focus with lots of 10+ mile runs, no question I would favor the MaxRoad 4+.
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size 10.5. The Pegasus is firmer and heavier, the Max Road is lighter and bouncier. Definitely think the Skechers has more appeal for longer, easier runs, while the Peg can be used for speedwork or mid-length easy runs.
Hope: The Peg 37 is heavy, stiff, and blocky. I’ll give it points for its better fitting, more handsome upper, but otherwise I’m going MR4+ all the way. I’ll note that I used the men’s Peg 37 which has a higher pressure Zoom airbag than the women’s version, which I expect has a somewhat different ride. Editor Sam has run in both and has better luck in the women’s version.
vs ASICS GlideRide (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The 2 shoes actually have similar underfoot feels.The ASICS has a better rocker feel to the ride, and is more squishy, but the MaxRoad4 feels easier to pick up the pace and it doesn’t feel like as much effort to hold the moderate paces vs the noticeably heavier GlideRide. Both are equally good shoes for long efforts, but i think i prefer the lighter weight of the MaxRoad 4+.
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size 10.5. As awkward as the GlideRide can be right out of the box, once you get used to its rocker design I think it is a lot of fun. Not quite as fun as the ultra bouncy Max Road 4+, but close - and it doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as the scale says.
Hope: The MR4+ is less liable to cause foot fatigue and is generally more forgiving, so it’s my pick. The GlideRide is cool, but is more of a concept car shoe whereas the MR4+ is pretty accessible for all runners.
vs Skechers GoRun 7+ (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The GR7+ is very minimal by comparison, and i consider it more of a tempo shoe for people who like the Razor 3 but want something with a little more forefoot flexibility. If you already own the GR7+ but want something with a bit more stack but having a similar bouncy ride with good forefoot flexibility, then you definitely want to get the MaxRoad 4+, because it is essentially a GR7+ with extra extra extra stack!
Jeff: Both fit true-to-size 10.5. Very similar midsole/outsole designs, but the Max Road 4+ takes it to the next level - and it’s that next level that’s problematic for me. I’d favor the GR7+, but definitely find it best for shorter, faster runs.
Hope: I agree with the guys. The GR7+ is wicked good and better suited for a broad range of workouts. Once you know you can handle more Hyperburst underfoot, add the MR4+ to your quiver.
vs Hoka Rincon 2 (RTR Review)
Peter: This is a tough one. I put a ton of miles on the Rincon 2 this summer and I think it’s a terrific shoe. It looks better than the Skechers for sure. The Rincon 2 is a little bit firmer and breathes a bit better too. If you want more cush though, I’d go with the Max 4+. For me I think the Rincon just edges out the Max Road 4+, but they are both fun to run in.
vs . Hoka Clifton 6 (RTR Clifton 7 Review)
Peter: I’d go with the Skechers Max 4+. It’s lighter, easier to push through and feels as cushioned to me. I find the Clifton just a little too soft overall.