Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Brooks Launch 8 and Launch GTS 8 Multi Tester Reviews

Article by Renee Krusemark, Michael Ellenberger, Joost de Raeymaeker, Sally Reiley and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Launch 8 and Launch GTS 8 ($100)


Introduction

Sam: The Launch is Brooks’ venerable lighter daily trainer known for durability, a responsive firmer ride and great value at $100. 


Brooks updates the Launch with a new Air Mesh upper and “more blown rubber at the forefoot for smoother transitions and durability.” The result is a Launch that is close to an ounce lighter at about 8.6 oz / 244g. Very nice! 


End of story? Well not exactly as the Launch also will come in an identically priced GTS (“Go To Support”) version weighing about 9.15 oz or 259g. The uppers appear exactly the same with the only difference that the GTS 8 version has an elastic mid foot support band whereas the 8 has none.

The GTS has Brooks GuideRails tech which rather than focusing on pronation seeks to stabilize the runner’s knee. The lateral side GuideRail is the same foam as the midsole rising in higher sidewalls with the medial rail (shown above) co-molded, so no glue seams and their stiffness as early Guide Rail generations suffered from and which is firmer foam than the main midsole and lateral rail.


Seen from the outsole there are slight differences between the two with the GTS having somewhat more extensive rubber coverage at midfoot to, it seems, also provide some stability of the more pronation control variety into the support mix.


The Ravenna which was the comparable prior light stability model goes away. The naming and simplifying also carries over to the Glycerin which now gets a GTS version replacing the Transcend. 


So now runners can choose essentially the same Launch platform, stack height, and drop with or without support components. 


Pros:

Sam: 

Durable, well cushioned, lighter daily trainers at a very fair $100, the support GTS version costing the same

Welcome 1 oz / 28g drop in weight over Launch 7 with the GTS dropping about 0.2 oz from Ravenna 11, 


Launch 8

Sam: more flexible upfront with a slightly softer midsole and rubber so less dense/stiff than 7 and with a more breathable upper

Renee: Smooth, traditional ride, Overall comfortable, Durable outsole for a $100 road shoe

Joost: Durable. Nice wide toe box, Well fitting upper, Nice ribbed shoelaces that don’t come undone.Great value for money

Michael:

Durable and comfortable; a shoe that can do a lot for not a lot of money

Toebox is roomy and upper is breathable and snug

Sally: Traditional trainer in fit and ride, accommodating toe box, great value


Launch GTS 8 

Sam: 

Integrates Guide Rail light support very well, and far better than stiff railed Ravenna 10

more responsive and has a more secure upper than Launch 8

Great value for a lighter weight, faster shorter workouts focused shoe with light weight and  “just enough” but not to much support/stability


Cons:

Launch 8

Michael/Sam/Joost/Sally: Dated dense ride and quite firm. Sort of boring, and perhaps redundant in the Brooks lineup

Michael/Sam/Sally:

Fit is wonky; shoe construction may be too voluminous for some, and a half-size down  for those in-between is recommended

Sam: Launch 8 lacks mid foot upper support especially when compared to GTS and 7

Renee: None, aside from not having a super exciting midsole

Joost: The tongue is a little too narrow and long and slides a little to the lateral side In the non-GTS version.


Launch GTS 8 

Sam: Dated, quite firm, dense ride. Medial rail could be softened and or shortened yet more.

Stats

Official Weights:

 Launch 8: men’s 8.6 oz women’s 7.9 oz 

 Launch GTS 8: men’s 8.8 oz, women’s 8.1 oz 

Launch 8 Samples: 

    men’s: US 9.5: Left 249g (8.8oz), right 255g (9oz),

                US8.5: 8.47 oz  / 240g.  

Launch 7 in US8.5 weighed 9.6 oz /273g    

   women’s: US8 7.51oz/213g

Launch GTS 8 Sample: men’s US 8.5 US: 8.84 oz / 251 g

10mm drop

Available Jan 2021, Both versions $100.


First Impressions and Fit

Sam: The look of my pairs ( I tested both GTS 8 and 8) is blindingly bright with high contrast from the black lacing area, logo and collars. 


The Launch 8 has a soft easy fit on the foot. It is clearly a more comfortable and lighter feeling than Launch 7’s knit like denser mesh but not quite as locked down and is a bit slippery in feel on the foot due to the plasticky slick mesh. The new more elf-like heel counter is more comfortable than the 7, not as rough feeling, but again a bit slippery in comparison. The toe box is clearly more pliable and not as low feeling with not only the mesh thinner and more pliable but the toe bumper softer. The Launch 8 is true to size barely for me with higher volume feet likely happier in this upper and low volume narrower feet maybe a bit more challenged by the easy fit and could consider sizing down something I wouldn't have considered for a second in the Launch 7.


The Launch GTS 8 support version adds an elastic gusset at the midfoot to the same upper. The fit, as a result and with the GuideRails rising on both sides is somewhat snugger and more supportive at mid foot which also helps better lock down the forefoot than the regular Launch 8 for me. I prefer the GTS fit as it is more secure. I was true to size in both, a bit overly generous at mid foot in the Launch 8 due to the soft slippery mesh and lack of structure with the GTS version mid foot arch band a welcome addition which I think the regular would do to have as well. 

Renee: The primrose color of the Launch 8 is pretty. I don’t even like the color pink, and it’s hot. I did not want to get these shoes dirty on the country roads, but I did anyway and they held up nicely. 

The Launch 8 fits well, looks good, and has no flaws for me at $100. I wore a women’s size 8 and think the shoe is true to size. I had some extra space in the length, but I don’t think I would prefer a size 7.5.

Michael: I quite dig the style of the blindingly-neon Launch 8; it’s fun to open the box and then immediately need to avert your eyes from the radioactive glow of the newest performance trainer. On-foot, I found the 8.5 to be slightly too long and too voluminous; I rarely buy or wear size 8 trainers, but I think I would have considered it in this case - it’s just sort of a big shoe. The upside of that is that, for colder fall and winter runs, I had no issue wearing a wool sock in the Launch, which snugs up the ride to the right level. 

Sally: I ran in very early versions of the Launch, and much enjoyed the lightweight, quick ride of this traditional and affordable trainer. I loved the Launch 6, the 7 not so much. I was looking forward to testing the 8. The Primrose colorway impressed me as very feminine, which some gals will love. The fit was comfortable right out of the box, perhaps overly generous in the midfoot volume (I have a narrow foot). Like any Brooks, I found the Launch true to size. I will need to wear a thicker sock with this one, however, but that suits me just fine with the colder weather.

Joost: Out of the box, the Launch 8 looks amazing. Bright neon green-yellow with the brooks logo, laces, heel padding, and insole in black. Four bright yellow arrows and the words Speed and Neutral on said black insole make it clear what this shoe is for. Brooks calls the colorway Nightlife/Black/white. 


The Launch 8 sits at the bottom of the Speed category in its current line-up, after the Hyperion Elite 2 and Hyperion Tempo, but how do they fit? Well, Brooks must have been thinking about my wide feet when they designed the Launch. The toe box is nice and roomy. They are a bit longer than my usual size 9.5 in other shoes, so, if you’re in between sizes, it’s possible you could actually go with a half size down as Michael suggests, especially if you have narrow feet. Lockdown is just fine for my feet. The laces are on the short side, but they are ribbed and stay tight if you tie them well. I really like the current trend of elf heel counters, since my achilles can get really irritated by heel counters that face forward. I don’t get any slippage in the forefoot and heel, but as mentioned, I have wide feet. A nice detail are a couple of reflective elements, something that’s missing from a lot of shoes these days.


Upper

Sam: The upper (on both versions) is a thin Air Mesh with a somewhat plasticky, non stretch but very pliable and soft on the foot feel. Launch GTS has exactly the same upper adding an elastic midfoot support band. The only other upper support elements in either is the thick Brooks logo overlay.


The tongue is a bit narrow and skimpy in both versions but effective and comfortable with the GTS gusset adding some tongue rotation prevention and a more secure lock down.  I find the laces a bit thin and sharp and think slightly wider laces would improve comfort and lockdown.

The “elf” heel is for sure comfortable and pressure free, less scratchy than the 7’s but not quite as secure. In a recurring theme a bit slippery in feel.

Brooks wisely kept the collar walls around lace up and to the rear quite rigid, vital to insure a good rear lockdown when the rest of the upper is so pliable and unstructured but for the Brooks logo overlays which are substantial and provide upper structure.

The toe bumper is very well executed from dense woven but decently pliable engineered mesh holding up and together the rest of the very pliable toe box mesh.


Renee: The upper is comfortable. There is not anything fancy about it, but I found the hold across the midfoot adequate and the toe box and forefoot roomy without being too spacious (I run uneven surfaces). I am not a fan of the elf heel and I’m not sure it really adds anything to the heel fit. Here’s nothing wrong with the heel though. Aesthetically, the primrose color looks good, so aside from being a good $100 running shoe, the Launch 8 can double as a good-looking casual shoe. 


Michael: There’s nothing super fancy to speak of here, with the redesigned heel cup (“elf heel” is much better) perhaps being the most fun and eye-catching addition (color aside). Even so, a lot of modest elements - including Brooks’s Air Mesh, which is functional and foot-conforming, if boring - do add up to a comfortable experience. Sam mentioned the heel feeling looser than on the L7 - I didn’t feel the same way, and found (even in a shoe that was slightly too big) adequate heel control.  My biggest knock here is the tongue, which is overly slippery laterally, but is not a significant issue. 

Sally: Overall, the upper is simplistic and functional, and adequately comfortable. The mesh is breathable and soft and classic looking. I had no issues with heel hold, despite the forefoot being a bit loose on my narrow foot. I likewise had some issues with the wimpy tongue slipping a bit, but it wasn’t terrible.

Joost: Simple and it works were my first thoughts. Functional. Comfortable also came to mind, although not in a plush way. 


The mesh is breathable enough for my tropical climate (I didn’t have to wring out my socks after a run like in some other shoes). 

I really like the elf heel trend because my achilles have been far from ok for a long time and it makes a big difference having a shoe that doesn’t rub or impinge on them. The tongue was a bit of a negative for me. Narrow, a bit too thick and with lateral slip, in spite of having a loop where the laces pass through.


Midsole

Sam: Both versions have BioMoGo DNA foam midsoles and in my A/B tests I found the Launch 8 softer than Launch 7 while the GTS 8 version foam feels the same to pressing as the 8 with the GTS riding slightly firmer and with more response and more like the Launch 7’s feel for reasons explained below. 


The GTS 8 adds the “Go-To-Support” features to the same main midsole. GTS is made up of co-molded medial side walls (top below) of a firmer foam than the midsole along with lateral rear side walls molded of the same foam as the midsole (bottom below).  

The rails in the GTS cannot be mistaken with the firmer materials used in the Ravenna 10 or the hard plastic and heel clip and longer rails in the Nike Infinity React.


The concept is less about pronation control and more about stabilizing the knee, the source of many running injuries. While the lateral rails are essentially “invisible” in feel you will feel the medial ones as a line of support along the arch but unlike the Ravenna 10 they are far less in the way of transition from midfoot for me.  Below the rails, the midsole feel is consistent as there is no post of firmer foam in the actual midsole as in more traditional support shoes. As a neutral runner I appreciate the element of added support here but it is not my day to day preference.


As often is the case, the outsole plays a key role as the GTS version has more outsole coverage at mid foot than the regular 8 to help provide the more traditional pronation control stability element. The coverage also allows some plate-like rigidity which combines well with the flexible forefoot for a relatively snappy toe off at faster paces and a snappier toe off than the regular 8.


When it is all said and done the midsoles (combined with copious outsoles) in both lean towards the firm and dense side with more response than bounce or spring that’s for sure, so for me a feel best suited to up tempo than easy paces or long distances. This said if you prefer a more traditional, firmer and responsive feel they deliver, with my preference the more stable locked down GTS midsole of the two, strangely enough for this neutral shoe fan.

Renee: There is nothing wrong with the midsole, especially for a $100 shoe. The midsole is a fair balance between soft and responsive, which helps the Launch be a versatile daily trainer. I ran a 400m x 8 speed workout in them, and although not my first choice of shoe for an interval run, the shoes did well. 


The Launch is not heavy and because of its traditional ride, I think of it as a workhorse trainer. 


I also ran on the hilly dirt/gravel roads and I thought the midsole worked well for tempo and easy runs. I ran several 20 mile+ runs with the Ravenna, and the Launch works fine up to 15. I think I could do a 20-mile run in these shoes, but I didn’t try it. If there is anything negative about the midsole, it is the comparison to some of the super responsive midsoles on the market in other shoes, but again, for $100, the Launch 8 midsole does what it should. For me, the midsole allowed my feet and stride to do what it wants to do naturally, and I appreciate that. 


Michael: Brooks has packed BioMoGo DNA into the Launch 8, which I found to be soft but not particularly springy, compared to something like Nike’s React foam. That is, while the material itself is pliable and the Launch certainly squishes when pressure is applied, there’s still a bit of a hollow feel to the midsole under full load. Whereas other 2020 midsoles may “push you back up” after that initial compression, I didn’t really get that sensation from the Launch 8. It’s light enough that you can overcome that lack of feedback, but it doesn’t lead to a particularly enthralling ride, as discussed below.

Sally: I actually found the midsole lacking after a number of miles, as if Brooks had pared down the weight of this shoe at the expense of the cushioning. My feet felt the road after 6 or 7 miles, which was a foreign feeling after many of the high performance shoes I have had the pleasure of testing. But remember this shoe can be had for a mere $100! The midsole lacked pop, in my opinion.


Joost: I have to agree with Michael and Sally about the BioMoGo DNA in the Launch 8. When taking your first steps, you can feel it’s reasonably soft as there’s some give, but when you start running, it just doesn’t bounce back like most other modern foams. It feels a bit old and dead compared to some other lightweight fast shoes out there. This doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pace in the Launch 8. I ran some strides in them and they were just fine, just not exciting or fun. The longest run I took them on was a 17km run (10.5 miles), and while I could take them for longer runs, my feet were definitely starting to feel sore.


Outsole

Sam: The Launch 8 outsole (shown above) is softer in feel than Launch 7’s  as more and softer blown rubber is added and this clearly felt on the road when I ran them side by side one on each foot.

The 8 and GTS 8 have similar outsoles with GTS (left above) having more midfoot rubber for stability and which by feel also seems to be firmer there than the 8’s rubber. Compared to the Launch 7 outsole thee regular Launch 8's is more decoupled from the heel to midfoot.


The difference in midfoot outsole design also has the 8 flexing longer and more easily than the GTS and for the Launch 7, again with GTS focus on some stability which I also found led to a more responsive snappier feel for the GTS.


Durability should be excellent with grip just fine on a wide variety of surfaces.


Renee: Many of the Brooks road shoes deliver a durable outsole that I appreciate because I run on country roads. The outsole provides enough traction and grip on gravel without being intrusive, and it worked well for my speed intervals on pavement as well. I ran through some mud (the poor pink upper did get dirty), and the outsole did fine.

Michael: I didn’t test these on anything as technical as Renee , but I was pleased with the grip on Chicago’s nastiest fall trap: slick leaves. Rounding some corners at speed, there were truly no issues with the Launch. What’s more, after several runs, the Brooks present basically as new - a testament to the rugged outsole durability. 

Sally: I agree that the outsole here seems admirably durable, and it definitely grips well on wet surfaces. And any shoe that is quasi-quiet is good in my book.


Joost: Nothing wrong with the outsole. Good grip and it should last a long time. I have no wear whatsoever on my pair after around 40 miles of pavement running. The configuration of the outsole pads helps with flexibility and lets your foot move naturally through its stride.


Ride


Sam: Both Launch 8 versions have a firmer responsive ride that is dense in feel but adequately cushioned. A bit softer in feel than the Launch 7, a good thing, this is neither a rocker type ride or a springy or bouncy and energetic one. Press them hard, pick up the pace and you will feel them snap off the road more all of a piece than with any significant sensation of energy return, bounce or spring. 


The GTS 8 has a more “useful” ride for me than the regular 8 as the added stability elements not only of course stabilize but the broad rubber at midfoot provides some added rigidity to drive to a relatively flexible toe off. It makes a fine shoe for faster road intervals, shorter tempo runs  and such where stability is helpful. It  reminds me more of the very nice Ravenna 9 with its firmer stable rear of the shoe and lively flexible forefoot toe off than the stiff railed Ravenna 10.  


The regular Launch 8 with its traditional firmer dense ride and less than totally secure lockdown is less useful,  less compelling, and certainly a less fun ride than many other choices in its weight class and even price range. This said, Launch fans who liked past Launch should be pleased with this slightly softer, more comfortable and flexible ride. And if the 8 sounds a bit too friendly and easy for sure take a look at the more dialed GTS 8. 


Renee: The ride is traditional, so runners who love a roll and rocker-type ride might be disappointed. I tend to like a traditional ride so the Launch 8 is an enjoyable shoe for me. I was surprised that the drop is 10mm. When running, I guessed the drop to be 8mm because it felt smooth and stable on the uneven country roads. High drop shoes can interfere with my stride on country roads, but the 10mm Launch felt great. 


Michael: My training has been spun down slightly, but I did wear the Launch 8 for a couple of treadmill workouts, and a few outdoor sessions, including some involving embedded strides (trying to spice up monotonous running with no races on the calendar!). For this kind of stuff, I think the Launch 8 is a good, if imperfect choice. Clearly, with the weight and stature of the shoe, the Launch 8 is capable of up-tempo training - that’s how the Launch line was initially introduced, anyway - but I do think Brooks has moved a little too far away from its initial ideals. Consider this bit of marketing on Brooks’s website for the Launch 6: “What do you get when you combine the speed of a racing flat with the cushion and durability of a trainer?” I’m not sure the answer is Launch 8. 


Setting ranting aside for a moment, I thought the higher heel-toe offset played well for the Launch 8, and did allow it to feel more aggressive than perhaps its midsole would suggest. Moreover, even with a shoe that was too large, I appreciated the wide toe box and the ability to really get momentum over the balls of my feet when running faster - especially so on the treadmill, where strides are shorter and a more kinetic-feeling shoe is a benefit. The Launch 8 isn’t top-of-the-class in that regard, but it’s quite good. 


Sally: I don’t recognize the Launch 8 as the descendant of the Launch 5 or 6: the quick and peppy yet cushioned ride is missing. This latest iteration is classic and traditional and good looking, but somehow boring. The midsole lacks oomph - very little energy return.


Joost: Maybe we’ve become lazy and unaccustomed to firmer riding shoes. It feels a little like going back to something we once loved after a long time, only to find out that it isn’t as good as we remember. There’s nothing really wrong with the ride of the Launch 8, but I think it’s a thing of the past. That being said, I know people who prefer this type of ride. Firm, old school, with a 10mm drop. If you’re among them, the Launch 8 might be worth to check out.



Conclusions and Recommendations


Renee: For $100, the Launch 8 is a good buy. To me, it doubles as a casual shoe (seriously, the primrose color way is good looking) and a versatile daily trainer. I have no issue running 15 miles in these shoes at a decent pace (30-40 seconds slower than marathon), and I think some runners could run farther. I ran tempo and speed intervals in these shoes too. For runners looking for a lightweight, do-it-all trainer for $100, the Launch is worth considering, especially runners who like a traditional ride. For score, I am heavily considering this as a $100 shoe, and whereas there are more expensive, better shoes on the market, the only negative of the Launch 8 to me is that it does not provide an exciting, performance-based midsole, which is hardly a fault for a $100 running shoe.

Renee's Score 9.0/10 

(-1 for a dull midsole) 


Michael: There’s a bigger story to be told than I can cram into the Conclusions section of the Brook Launch 8 review, but I’ll try and give a quick snippet: even though top-end running shoes are getting more and more expensive (hello, $275 AlphaFly), lower end shoes are getting better and better. I’ve touted my love of Atreyu’s trainers ($55/pair, if subscribed), ASICS’s DynaBlast, and other near-or-sub-$100 options. It’s not enough anymore to have a shoe be inexpensive and drive sales that way. 


Is the Brooks Launch 8 a good $100 option? Sure - you’ll get a durable, well-constructed lightweight trainer with a decent (if boring) midsole and a fun appearance. Is it a great option? Not in my book. It’s an improvement over the Launch 7, and those who find that Brooks works for them won’t be disappointed, but I can’t see this winning over a ton of fans. Luckily - there’s plenty of good stuff coming out of Seattle this year! 

Michael’s score: 8.0/10


Sam: Almost identical in many ways from midsole foam to stack height to upper the two Launch siblings differ in their approach to “support” with the GTS 8 adding Guide Rails to stabilize the knee, a gusset tongue and more extensive mid foot rubber coverage for some pronation control and the regular flavor a more (and more resolutely than the Launch 7) neutral riding shoe. 


At $100 both are very solid values for durable and versatile lighter trainers. Both suffer some from their somewhat dated midsole foam but are “improved” with a softer and slightly bouncier midsole and further improved by lighter weights than their predecessors, a very significant ounce less for the regular Launch. Both have light on the foot nearly identical comfortable uppers but I give the nod to the GTS 8’s with its added gusset tongue which really improves the mid foot lockdown. Brooks please put the gusset on the regular Launch 8.


Why get the regular Launch 8’s? Habit and because you like the Launch’s firm yet well cushioned ride, a ride now somewhat dated and dense in feel even at $100 but also now more flexible and slightly softer, all good improvements. New to the Launch, worth a try if you seek a light durable trainer with a  more traditional ride but even at $100 I think there are better options, even from Brooks such as Revel and upcoming Trace. 


The GTS 8 is a different story as at just a touch over 9 ounces it is a very good light stability support option for those who need something extra in that department. Even as a more neutral shoe fan, I found the GTS 8 more stable, more secure in its upper and more responsive preferring it over the regular flavor. As is, it is a good option for up tempo training where you want a touch of support and a responsive ride with plenty of firmer cushion. Tone down the Guide Rails yet more with say midsole foam instead of the firmer than midsole co molded insert on the medial side and maybe reduce the mid foot outsole rubber a touch for a snappier transition and the GTS would be better yet.

Launch 8 Score: 8.47 / 10

Launch GTS 8 Score: 9 / 10


Sally: If you are in the habit of running the Launch, you will appreciate that this Launch 8 is an improvement over the stiff Launch 7. The Launch 8 scores huge points for good value, and is indeed a solid, good-looking, classic, traditional trainer. Yet it is also somehow boring in its ride. Not every shoe can be expected to compare with all the latest high-performance trainers, but this one doesn't come close. Yet it costs a mere $100 - you can buy several of these for the price of one not-named brand race day shoe! A mellow easy run? Great shoe for that. Or even a casual Friday pretty-in-primrose WFH shoe.

Sally’s score: 8.0 / 10  deductions for lack of midsole pop and excitement, and poor midfoot lockdown.


Joost: I haven’t mentioned the price tag so far. $100 is really good value if you appreciate a well fitting shoe with a firm ride, that allows you to pick up the pace and has excellent durability. If you’ve been spoiled by newer foams with more pop and that’s your thing, the Launch 8 is not for you.

Joost’s score: 8.1 /10


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Brooks Launch 7 (RTR Review)

Sam: The 8 improves on the 7 with a slightly softer ride feel, smoother transition, more comfortable upper and especially a solid ounce less in weight.


Michael: I agree with Sam that it’s an improvement over the L7. Those who wore the previous iteration may need to go a half-size down (or at least try on) the newest version before buying, but the softened midsole and improved upper make the Launch 8 a considerably more compelling product over the flatline that was the Launch 7.


Sally: TTS W8 in both. I agree with the others that the Launch 8 is an improvement over the 7 - softer, lighter, more comfortable. Launch 8 wins.


Brooks Ravenna 10 compared to 8 GTS (RTR Review)

Sam: I did not test the Ravenna 11 which has similar softer co molded medial Guide Rails to the GTS 8 but can say the 10 was miserable in comparison to the GTS 8 with the glued in firmer medial rail noticeably impeding transitions at mid foot. Not so with GTS 8!


Brooks Revel 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: I like the Revel 4, but for the same price, I prefer the Launch 8. I wore a women’s size 8 in both and have slightly more length in the Launch 8. For me, the benefit of the Revel 4 over the Launch 8 is that it has an 8mm drop instead of a 10mm but it’s not noticeable. The upper of the Launch 8 is better fitting and I have more room in the forefoot, which I like. Overall, the Launch fits better and is my choice between these two.


Brooks Revel 3 (RTR Review)

Michael: I missed the Revel 4, but look back fondly on the Revel 3, which was a shockingly well-done lower-priced performance trainer. Springy and fun, I’d recommend the Revel 3 (if it can still be found) wholeheartedly over the Launch 8. Just beware of sizing quirks. 


Brooks Hyperion Tempo (RTR Review)

Michael: Both the Launch and the Tempo are lightweight trainers, aimed at more efficient runners or those looking to carry a little less underfoot. While the Launch and Tempo have similar uppers (I think the Tempo does it slightly better, though both are comfortable enough), the shoes are quickly differentiated in the ride. The Tempo’s nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole is dense but springy, with adequate feedback and an even, responsive ride. It’s not all-out fun like Skechers’s Hyperburst, but it’s close. The Launch, by comparison, is relatively dead underfoot and lacks the same “fun” factor of the Tempo. The Launch is a little more accommodating - I found the Tempo pretty narrow - but if you can make the fit work, I’d take the Tempo!

Brooks Trace (Spring 21, review soon)

Sam: The Trace has a softer cushion feel and is more flexible. It has a somewhat thinner feeling forefoot preceded by a much smoother easier transitioning if somewhat less stable mid foot area. Much more fun to run and also $100. 


Michael: Despite the Trace’s, uh, dollar-store looks, I found it to be an engaging and fun ride - basically, a Launch in a new shell. It’s more flexible and seemingly a little flatter than the Launch, but with an equally-good upper and outsole. Basically, a Launch with a little more go to it.


Joost: (9.5 in both) I’ve put the Trace aside a little to complete my review of the Launch, but it’s definitely a more fun shoe to run in for the same value. It all comes down to taste. The Trace has a softer and easier ride.


Hoka Arahi 5-compared to 8 GTS (RTR Review soon) 

Sam: Completely different approaches to a light stability support shoe. Instead of rails at the top of the midsole, the Arahi uses a J-Frame of firmer foam on the medial side and then wrapping the heel to the lateral side. A more “classic” pronation control approach, the Arahi’s rear J foam is firmer than the GTS 8’s all same firmness midsole foam with its more knee oriented support coming from its GuideRails with a lesser amount of support from its outsole design and gusset arch support tongue, this last a feature which both share. Both are more up tempo oriented both weigh about the same ( GTS 8 is 8 g less). The Arahi is more cushioned especially at the forefoot which is rocker based due to the higher stack of 24mm while the Arahi heel is firmer due to its firmer foam there, especially noticed and not required in my view on the lateral side. I give the nod to the Arahi for daily training versatility over the GTS 8 with the GTS 8 the edge if your need is for up tempo uses.


New Balance Fuel Cell Prism compared to 8 GTS (RTR Review)

Sam: A full ounce lighter, the Prism ($120) uses a co-molded post instead of rails to provide its support. The difference in weight is noticeable. The Prism is more unified in support feel with no sensation of the medial rails along the top of the midsole as the GTS 8 has but with less character with a duller transition and a somewhat thin firmer feeling forefoot. For an uptempo, stability trainer with some range to daily training I prefer the GTS 8 over the Prism.  


Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Mach 4 is a really interesting option from Hoka - avoiding the too-narrow platform of the Mach 3 and the too-dull ride of the Clifton Edge, I found the Mach 4 to be a really fun trainer (even if I did kick myself with that hoof heel). The Launch undercuts the Mach in price, but I’d still take the Hoka every time.

Sam: Way more fun to run, lighter, thoroughly modern in design and materials (yes EVA midsole but a new lighter springier blend) Brooks should aspire to launch its own mach speed softer, lighter in weight and price daily trainer.

Joost: (9.5 in both) A very different concept. The Mach is softer and also bouncier and has become my go to shoe. It’s just fun to run in, and I can’t say that of the firm ride of the Launch.


Nike React Infinity compared to 8 GTS (RTR Review)

Sam: The Infinity React has more and softer cushion for sure and sits closer to a daily trainer than the GTS 8. While never a fan of “rails”, the 8 GTS implementation works better for me as they are softer and shorter particularly on the lateral side where the Nike’s plastic rails or clips are stiffer in feel wrapping the entire heel and are longer to the front putting a hitch in my stride which the softer midsole foam rails in the Launch don’t at all. Shorten and soften them in the Infinity and on both sides, as the medial is overly stiff too, and it would be no contest. For now I prefer the GTS 8 when reaching for some light support for uptempo the only runs other than recovery (and for recovery I prefer posted over rails) where I reach for a support type shoe.


Nike Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Pegasus 37 is not for me. I found it chunky, firm, and rigid. The shoes feel much heavier than they are for those reasons. The Launch 8 is lighter and conforms to a more traditional stride despite being a 10mm drop shoe. The Pegasus 37 simply did not work for me, so between the two shoes the Launch 8 is the clear choice for me. The durability of the Pegasus 37 seems superior, however. 


Michael: I actually disagree with Renee; while the Pegasus 37 was far from my favorite shoe, and I found the ride jarring at slower paces, I came to appreciate the added React foam when running faster, and prefer the lockdown to that of the Brooks. Neither is perfect, or the best in their class, but I’d take the NIke over the Brooks.


Joost: (9.5 in both) I’m with Renee. I really don’t like the 37. It’s got a clunky ride that just doesn’t sit well with my gait. I’ll take the Launch over the Pegasus.


Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate (RTR Review)

Joost: (9.5 in both). It’s been a while since I’ve run in the Salomon, but I remember the almost silent runs and the great feeling going downhill in them. The vibration dampening in the Salomon makes all the difference. I would pick them over the Launch.


Adidas Boston 8 (RTR Review)

Joost: (9.5 in both) I didn’t review the Boston 8 for RTR. I ordered them after giving my pair of Boston 6 away to a local runner. I usually reach for the Boston’s when I want to give my feet a bit of a workout. Funny to think there was a time we found Boost foam soft in this kind of shoe. The Launch feels less connected to the ground than the Boston, which is an extremely well built shoe, virtually indestructible. My vote goes to the Boston.


ASICS Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Nimbus Lite 2 is more fun, a better fit, and just a cooler all-around shoe than the Launch 8. Not a lot of nuance to that one. I’d take the ASICS for pretty much any run.

Sam: No discussion or argument with Michael on this comparison. And its broad base provides a touch of support without rails or posts as does the heavier more support stability oriented Kayano Lite.

Sally: What Michael said! Asics Nimbus Lite 2 for the win.


ASICS Dynablast (RTR Review)

Michael: Battle of the lower price-point options; I like the DynaBlast here, though the caveat is that the significant heel-to-toe drop may be too severe for some, who will prefer the (slightly) more even platform of the Launch 8. But really, I think the FlyteFoam Blast on the ASICS is a lot more fun than BioMoGo DNA, and the ASICS an all-around better shoe. 

Sam: While the Launch is more cushioned it is firmer and less dynamic. This said the Launch leans more daily trainer in utility than the lighter by 0.5 oz Dynablast which leans faster and shorter runs for me.


Reebok Floatride Energy (RTR Review)

Renee: I love the first version of the Forever Floatride Energy, which is slightly heavier in the same size as the Launch 8, which surprises me because the FFE runs lighter. I do feel the 10mm of the FFE whereas the Launch 8 rides with what feels like a lower drop even though it is 10mm. The durability and fit of the upper in the Launch 8 is better. The outsole of the Launch 8 has better traction and durability too. The midsole of the FFE is awesome, whereas the Launch 8 seems dull in comparison. Both are $100, but the Launch 8 is definitely not a replacement shoe for an aging FFE. For a longer lasting trainer, the Launch 8 might be the better choice, but the FFE is much more fun and provides better pace performance for me. 

The Launch 8 and Launch GTS 8

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9 comments:

Mike said...

Thank you for the review. Please could you compare it to the Hyperion Tempo?

Michael said...

Hey Mike - my thoughts:

Brooks Launch 8 vs. Brooks Hyperion Tempo:
Both the Launch and the Tempo are lightweight trainer, aimed at more efficient runners or those looking to carry a little less underfoot. While the Launch and Tempo have similar upper (I think the Tempo does it slightly better, though both are comfortable enough), the shoes are quickly differentiated in the ride. The Tempo’s nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole is dense but springy, with adequate feedback and an even, responsive ride. It’s not all-out fun like Skechers’s Hyperburst, but it’s close. The Launch, by comparison, is relatively dead underfoot and lacks the same “fun” factor of the Tempo. The Launch is a little more accommodating - I found the Tempo pretty narrow - but if you can make the fit work, I’d take the Tempo!

Mike said...

Thank you Michael. The Tempos have worked really well for me for all sorts of runs. However they are starting to feel a bit flat after 300 miles (without the slightest sign of wear to the upper or outsole).

Unknown said...

How do they compare to the Ghost 13? I want to like the Ghost but 12mm is too much drop for myself.

Craig

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
Launch 8 vs Ghost 13. Launch is more firmly and less cushioned. Drop feel because of softness of Ghost is not that different in feel.
Sam, Editor

Ante said...

Hi, how is The GTS version compared to Asics Kayano Lite?

Anonymous said...

I've run in every version dating back to my first pair of OG's (arguably the best version) in June 2011. Have looked forward to every new version since then.

The 8's do make improvements in some categories but fall short in others compared to the 6 and 7. The biggest positives for me are the softer & slightly bouncier midsole and redesigned heel counter.

Versions 6 and 7 were like bricks when new and took a good 100-200 miles to break in, but once there they felt great. The foam in the 8's feel like the already broken versions of their predecessors.

The "elf" heel counter is a relief compared to the very rigid heel counter of the 7's. No hotspots on my twingy achilles in the 8's.

The upper material is also good, it's worth noting that since version 5 the Launch has been offered in both engineered mesh and a knit blend. I found the knit blend to be stiffer and less breathable in each. Based on RTR's review of the men's version 7, it looks like they received the knit blend which would explain the difference noted between the two.

Unfortunately that's it for the positive on the upper and leads to the biggest negatives. As others noted I found the length to be nearly a half size long, the hold at midsole a bit too relaxed, and the tongue too narrow and inadequately supported laterally. The Launch 7 actually had all three of these areas as a positive and a bit unfortunate to see Brooks take a step back here.

Overall I would say the 8 is an improvement over the 7, but only marginally so. Without a doubt it still is a Launch so anyone familiar with the shoe should not expect any earth shattering differences. Hoping Brooks can get improvements across the board in version 9.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks so much for your multi version take on the Launch. It is very helpful.
Sam, Editor

Unknown said...

Hello, can you tell about Roadblast vs Launch 8. Are they compareble? Which shoe you recomend?