Article by Derek Li and Sally Reiley
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 ($160)
The 2020 Endorphin Speed 1 (Review) was the RTR Team’s top 2020 vote getter in many categories including Tempo shoe of the year and Shoe of the Year. And for good reason. Incorporating a super lively highly cushioned expanded beads PEBA midsole with a moderately propulsive nylon plate it checked in below 8 oz, was reasonably priced compared to carbon shoes at the time, delivered great training and racing versatility and was just fun!
In 2021 Saucony does not seem to mess much with the highly successful formula with the changes called out as:
A snugger heel fit
New anti slip laces
New more breathable engineered mono mesh upper
Soft suede detailing.
Well cushioned do it all trainer to racer: PEBA midsole, plastic plate, forward final roll Sam/Derek/Sally
Wonderful combination of midsole rebound and moderate non harsh propulsion from plate Sam/Sally
Great choice for a friendlier (than carbon) marathon racer Sam
Changes in heel counter and rest of upper (maybe a more flexible plate?)make the shoe more stable at the rear and direct the ride forward more linearly: Sam
Reasonable price for a plated (albeit non carbon) high performance and versatile shoe Sam/Sally
Small weight gain. My Speed 2 (US8.5) weighs the same as my Speed 1 in US9. Sam
Can’t think of anything negative to say here, except that the Nascar checkered flag aesthetic might be polarizing, considered too loud by some: Sally
Estimated Weight: men's 8 oz / 227g (US9) / women's 7.2 oz / 204g(US8)
Samples: men’s 7.76oz / 220g (US8.5), 8.22oz / 233g (US9.5)
women’s 7.2 oz / 204 g (US W8)
Size US9 Endorphin Speed 1 weighed 7.8 oz / 221g
Stack Height: 35.5mm heel / 27.5mm forefoot (all in including sockliner), 8mm drop
Available now at our partner sites at the end of the review. $160
First Impressions and Fit
Derek: The Endorphin Speed has become so popular and successful in the last year that I think it’s always going to be an incredibly tough act to follow. Fortunately, the updates have been very minor and confined to the upper. My first impression is that they really did a great job with the colorway. Since the first white Endorphin hit the stores, a whole slew of some incredibly good-looking Speeds have followed, so much so that the black/gold colorway (which I love) seems to be the least popular of the lot.
This new colorway went in a different direction aesthetically, and it really stands out. Nothing from the other brands really come close to this new black/white checkered collection so that’s really nice.
It will definitely stand out in any crowd. In terms of step in feel, compared to my year-old OG Endo Speeds, I immediately realized how much I’ve missed that fresh springiness that PWRRUN PB foam exudes. Fit-wise, I have to admit, it isn’t a whole lot different for me from v1. It’s true to size. To be fair, v1 fit me very VERY well in the sense that there was good lockdown, with just enough give to be comfortable from a trainer perspective and there was the right amount of volume for me in all areas from heel to mid-foot to toebox. The new upper is nice, it’s not overly snug, and you dial in the fit pretty much immediately with minimal lace tension needed. That was my impression the first couple of minutes after lacing up and jogging around in my living room.
Sally: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I personally loved the Endorphin Speed in its first iteration, and I am so glad that Saucony did not change too much about my favorite versatile do-it-all trainer of 2020. It is the shoe that I found I reached for whenever I wasn’t putting some new shoe through the paces for testing. My initial impression of this new version was wow, that is some colorway: an attention-grabbing Nascar checkered finish flag aesthetic, which I figure runners are either going to love or hate. My second impression was a sense of relief: slipping the shoe on my foot, this version fits as well as the first, and feels to have the same energetic midsole and forward roll. It doesn’t feel much different, which is a good thing.
Derek: This is where all the changes take place for the Endorphin Speed 2 so we’re going to place a little more emphasis here.
Let’s start with the toebox area. You can see that the internal toe bumper has been retained, as a laminated section that raises the front of the shoe and gives the upper its somewhat bulbous looking front.
I think most people will agree it works really well, and some people actually prefer the Speed to the Pro because the toebox has a bit more height to it. Nothing different here. The first bit of change actually comes in the mesh, and instead of the diagonal reinforced stitching that we had with v1, v2 does away with that and limits the reinforcements to the circumference of the mesh.
Logically this allows for a greater surface area of uninterrupted perforated mesh and that’s where the reported improved ventilation probably comes from. More importantly, the lack of horizontal reinforced stitching should allow the mesh to stretch a little more across the toebox, so people who need a little more elasticity in the upper to squeeze out a little more volume in the toebox will be able to do that. Now one might ask why you need reinforcement at all.
The answer is simple. The mesh is thin. Very thin. Without reinforcements, lateral shearing forces will risk tearing the upper when you corner hard in the shoe. Trust me you want those reinforcements.
Moving on the mid-foot, it’s not so obvious visually from pictures, but there are noticeably more overlays at mid-foot in v2 than v1.
The tongue retains the gusseted design but now uses a thicker mesh, compared to the use of perforated mesh in v1.
Subjectively, this should feel like the mid-foot is a little more structured and secure.
Finally the heel sees the biggest changes. It appears Saucony really took on board some complaints about the heel counter in v1. The traditional rigid and high riding counter of v1 is gone.
There is a semi-elf ear design at the heel now, coupled with a shallower heel cup so that the ankle collar is all soft flexible padding. The overall volume of the heel is lower but not by a lot. It importantly does not feel restrictive because padding is not excessively structured. As a bonus, the heel now sports huge reflective area which is great for running in the dark.
Overall for me, the upper has a little more snug lockdown in the heel and midfoot. Whether this is an upgrade for you depends on how you found v1. I know quite a few people found v1 narrow and had to try things like sizing up. V2 is potentially even narrower-feeling in the heel and mid-foot though perhaps a bit roomier in the toebox due to the more stretchy toebox design.
Sally: Derek did an incredibly thorough job of describing and analyzing the upper. I am one of those runners he mentioned that preferred the original Endorphin Speed over the Pro because of the fit - the Pro felt too restrictive and low in the toebox for me, to the point where I couldn’t imagine running a marathon in them (or would have to consider sizing up). The Speed 1 fit my narrow foot well, and I did not have any issues with them. The Speed 2 is even better: the heel is a bit more snug and secure, and the toe box feels slightly more spacious. The upper is very breathable, and the new lacing system works well (I love the lux ultrasuede of the tongue!).
All in all, a great upper made even better.
Derek: The midsole here is essentially unchanged from the awesome package of v1, so there isn’t a whole lot to comment about here. It’s still that familiar springy PWRRUN PB PEBA foam with a nylon plate sandwiched in the middle. Just to remind you, the nylon plate is a little more flexible and less propulsive in feel, compared to the carbon plate found in the Pro, and gives a more natural feeling flex and transition when running at slower paces. This is the key difference that makes the Speed a better all-round trainer than the Pro.
Sally: The midsole is where the magic is, and I will reiterate that I am very glad that Saucony did not change it. Indeed, this is the same springy energetic feel that we have come to love from Saucony’s PWRRUN PB PEBA, and which seems to express itself at all paces.
Derek: The outsole is likewise unchanged from Endorphin Speed 1. After using v1 for over a year, I have to concede that the outsole is not the most confidence-inspiring on wet roads, and I kind of wish Speed 2 would have taken the opportunity to address that, maybe put a bit of blown rubber up front. Unfortunately, it’s still the same outsole. It works great on dry surfaces, but can start to slip when it rains.
Sally: I did two runs in this shoe in the rain, and actually found the traction and grip on wet roads fine. Not stellar, but adequate. The feature that I appreciate most is the quietness of this outsole (in comparison to two other recent shoes I have tested that are obnoxiously LOUD underfoot). They have proven to be quite durable as well, as my Speed 1 has 300 miles on it and no visible wear.
Derek: The overall ride and feel of the Endorphin Speed 2 isn't altogether very different from v1. There is a little bit more of that connected feeling you have when the shoe is well locked down, but for me, the difference is quite small as i had zero issues with the fit and lock down of version 1. The ride is still smooth and springy with an excellent forefoot rocker that feels better the harder you push the pace. It is still that familiar winning package, with a bit more lockdown in the heel and mid-foot. I think it's great that they didn't try to change things too much, and retained what was for the most part a home run of a shoe from 2020.
Sally: I agree with Derek in that this is the same enjoyable ride as the Speed 1: smooth and springy with a natural forward roll. That trademark Speedroll gives you confidence to bound up the hills, which make these shoes even more attractive to runners such as myself training for the hills of the 125th Boston Marathon in October. The ride is fun at any and all paces. I did a 6 mile run where Speed 1 on one foot and Speed 2 on the other, and there was very little difference in the feel of left vs. right, which I think is a good thing.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Derek: More astute observers will note that compared to how I scored the Endorphin Speed 1, the Fit score went up, but the Ride Score and Value scores went down.
The fact of the matter is I reviewed the Endorphin Speed around April/May 2020, and a lot has changed in that time. There are a whole slew of excellent shoes out there now, like the Puma Deviate Nitro, Nike Tempo Next%, 361 Flame, Skechers Razor Excess and Razor Elite, and a couple of other lesser known but incredibly versatile shoes out of China and that has really changed the landscape somewhat , especially in terms of value.
I try to imagine what would motivate a prospective buyer to pay full price for the Endorphin Speed 2 instead of going for a marked down version 1, and I keep coming back to the issue of fit. The difference really boils down to fit. Speed 2 does indeed have a bit more lockdown to the fit, but we are really splitting hairs here because you may not necessarily want that sort of fit in a training shoe.
When I think of a training shoe, I think of a shoe that is durable and versatile, and allows you to use a variety of sock options depending on the weather. When you make the fit too performance-oriented or racer-like, then you sort of inadvertently limit your sock options (usually to the thinner ones that you often save for race day).
I think people who go for version 2 fall into 2 main camps. The first camp goes in for the looks. The aesthetics of v1 were good. Very good. Version 2 is just better. The other camp goes in because the heel of v1 gave them problems. This camp will hopefully find the re-worked heel of v2 much more accommodating to different foot shapes, and maybe they can finally get a slice of what everyone else has been enjoying for the past year.
Derek's score 9.40 / 10
Ride 9.4 (50%) Fit 9.5 (30%) Value 9.5 (15%) Style 10 (5%)
Sally: I was a huge fan of the Speed 1, and I am pleased to report that the Speed 2 retains all the good things about the first version, with only a few tweaks that make this one even better. It is still a light, nimble, comfortable trainer that is fun to run in on tempo day and any day, snappy and fast when you push the pace, yet soft enough and forgiving for an easier recovery run. That magical Speedroll forward rocker is still there, naturally encouraging forward momentum and a quick cadence.
The fit is a bit more dialed in with the new version, with a snugger heel that helps with lockdown, which was never a problem for me in version 1. We all know that there are a lot of really great shoes out there right now, but this is a shoe to add to your rotation, if you have not done so already. I have somehow already logged over 100 miles in my test pair, indicating that this is clearly a shoe I enjoy. It sits in a sweet spot between firm trainer and soft, and is a fantastic do-it-all versatile trainer that puts a smile on a runner’s face.
Sally’s score: 9.5 / 10.0
Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 9.6 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style 10 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Saucony Endorphin Speed 1 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. Overall, the fit of Speed 2 is slightly more snug in the heel and mid-foot, which gives it a more confident hold especially when going downhill or cornerning. The difference is relatively minor though. If you didn’t like how the heel felt in Speed 1, then definitely try out Speed 2. If Speed 1 worked great for you, then the potential upside is a lot smaller.
Sally: US W8 (TTS) in both. The ride has not changed, thank goodness. The fit of V2 is a bit more secure in the heel, and slightly more generous in the toebox. Otherwise, apples vs apples. Pick the model with the best price, or even the colorway of your liking. (And I am confident that Saucony will soon release colorways other than this polarizing checkered finish flag aesthetic)
Watch RTR Editor Sam's Video Review &A/B Run Test Speed 1 vs. Speed 2
Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. My comparison is more vs Pro 1 as I’ve not tried Pro2. My fellow contributors in that review say the heel slip is resolved with the snugger heel cup. I am one of those who experience a little bit of heel slippage in Pro 1, though that is largely manageable with higher lace tension and heel lock lacing. In this regard, Speed 2 fits me much better. Ride-wise, I find the extra snap from the carbon plate of the Pro accentuates the springiness of PWRRUN PB better, especially in the heel, but the Speed feels more natural at slower paces. Pro is still a better shoe for racing, but the Speed remains the more versatile overall option.
ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)
Derek: Novablast 1. I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. The Novablast is by far the bouncier and less tamed shoe. Speed is much more stable with a more directed ride. I like Novablast more as a recovery shoe as I find it rather tiring to go fast in. It also has a more relaxed fit to it, which will make it a better shoe for people with wider feet. Speed has better overall versatility in that it can handle the faster paces well, and is still ok for slower runs.
Sally: US W8 in both. Derek nailed it when he said that the Novablast is the bouncier shoe. Speed is smoother forward momentum, and a more versatile jack-of-all-trades.
ASICS Noosa Tri 13 (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. The Noosa Tri and Endorphin Speed actually have very similar rides, and both fit me pretty well, but the Speed is just a little snappier and springier in feel for me, and the extra price premium you pay for the Speed is well worth it for that difference. No question, as a speed shoe or daily trainer, the Endorphin Speed 2 is the better shoe for me.
Sally: US W8 in both. Noosa Tri was a surprise hit for me, with a fun quick ride. I think the Speed 2 to be a more versatile tempo run/daily trainer for more runners, and would be my choice over the Noosa Tri on almost every occasion (though both have very LOUD attention-grabbing colorways!)
Skechers Razor Excess (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. The Razor Excess is a really good execution of what you can achieve without a plate, and sits right up there with Rebel 2 and Mach 4 as the best non-plated shoes in recent memory. Razor Excess has a bouncy cushioned ride with stack that is not excessively high to still retain a speediness to the ride. Overall I find it to be a more forgiving shoe than Endorphin Speed, especially at slower paces, but once the pace picks up the extra snap you get from the plate becomes more apparent and the Speed feels a lot easier to hold a fast pace in compared to Razor Excess. It is quite a close toss-up. I would say if your focus is more towards an uptempo shoe, go with Speed. If you want an easy day shoe that can handle uptempo well, then the Razor Excess would be a better option.
adidas adizero Adios Pro (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. I think the only area the Endorphin Speed wins here is in outsole durability. Not really a fair comparison as the Adios Pro can handle pretty much any kind of run incredibly well, with outsole durability its only weakness. That is, if you can even get your hands on them. Adios Pro is by far the better, more versatile and enjoyable shoe for me.
Sally: US W8 in both. I have logged many more miles in the Speed 1 and Speed 2, but that is because I am “hoarding” my Adios Pro and saving them for racing. Perhaps not wise? The Speed has proven durability, the Adios Pro rumored to be short-lived, but boy, is the Adios Pro a fun, fast ride! BUT then again, the price point is much higher. All things being equal, I would lace up the Adios Pro, but this is not an equal playing field here. Speed2 is the every man daily trainer and tempo shoe.
Nike Tempo Next % (RTR Review)
Derek: I wear men’s US9.5 in both models. Tempo Next% was one of my favourite shoes of 2020, and for good reason. It is just so incredibly versatile and cushioned. Even though the Endorphin Speed is significantly lighter and has an easier fitting upper, in terms of overall versatility, I think the Tempo Next% still wins out as a daily trainer that can pretty much do it all. From a racing perspective though, I would probably choose the Endorphin Speed for anything up to the half marathon distance over the Tempo Next%.
The Endorphin Speed 2 is expected to release June 15, 2021
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AMAZON Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Hi there! First off, thanks so much for the detailed review. You guys are a must to me to stay updated about running gear.ReplyDelete
I would like to ask your opinion about how the Endorphin Speed would compare with the new NB FuelCell TC.
Many thanks in advance,
Best shoe reviews on the planet! I chose between speed 2 and Hoka Mach 4,for quick workouts and marathon racing (4 hours). Any advice? A comparison would be great.ReplyDelete
how would you compare this to Maxroad 5? I'm looking for a longer distance training shoe to complement my rebel v2 and fuelcell RC 2ReplyDelete