Monday, July 19, 2021

Skechers Performance Go Run Speed Freek Multi Tester Review

Article by Derek Li , Joost de Raeymaeker, and Alex Filitti

Skechers Performance Go Run Speed Freek ($205)

Introduction

Derek: I have been fortunate enough to test various editions of Skechers’ racing flats over the years, often on my own dime. It started with more traditional racers like Speed 3, evolving into the very solid and responsive Speed 6. Shortly after the Speed 6 was released, Skechers started entering the carbon plated arena with their Speed Elite Hyper, which I think many will agree is a very good short distance racer. I think they intended for it to be a marathon racer, but modern appetites for higher stacks meant the Speed Elite Hyper ended up being more of a 5k/10k type of shoe. 


Skechers, to their credit, take feedback very well, and they went back and beefed up the shoe to get one that could handle the marathon distance. The result is the Speed Freek. I think one of the first rumors I heard about the Freek was that it was basically a Razor Excess with a carbon winglet forefoot. Well, I don’t quite see it that way and I’ll tell you why. Nowadays I measure the stacks on all the shoes, and the Freek has a heel stack of 34mm vs the Razor Excess with a heel stack of 28mm. 6mm of stack difference is significant. (New Balance RC Elite 1 vs 2 is only a 2mm heel stack difference) So the Speed Freek has all the right ingredients on paper. Does it perform? Let’s find out. 


Joost: Skechers has been firing on all canons with fast Hyperburst midsole shoes. There are currently four different Razor models, the Speed, the Speed Elite and now the Speed Freek, a beefed up Speed Elite. I've been a huge fan of Hyperburst from the first time I put on a pair of Razor 3. More Hyperburst and the carbon infused winglets I really like in the Speed Elite should definitely be a recipe for a great longer distance racer. Let’s see if it pans out that way.


Alex: Unlike Derek and Joost, I haven’t tried any racing oriented shoe from Skechers in the past. My two experiences with Skechers are recent with the Razor Excess and the MaxRoad 5. In both instances I was surprisingly pleased with the Hyperburst foam - which to a certain extent is not that surprising given its similarities with DNA Flash from Brooks, that I really enjoyed. So seeing a higher midsole stack within a light shoe was of course appealing out of the box and I was curious to find out what Skechers had developed. 



Pros:

Soft and comfortable upper-Derek, Alex

Stable shoe, especially at the forefoot-Derek, Joost, Alex

Roomy forefoot fit by racer standards – Derek

Hyperburst is still fantastic - Joost

Noticeable rocker works well - Joost

Very light - Joost, Alex

Heel landing is super soft and the shoe handles descents very well - Alex


Cons:

Rocker does not seem to work as well as in Speed Elite Hyper – Derek

Outsole (still same as Speed Elite) is acceptable but not great – Derek

No outsole on the toe-off area leads to premature wear in that area - Joost 

Still too narrow - Joost

Blister-prone toe bumper - Joost

Insert is not removable - Alex


Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 6.9 oz / 196g(US9)  /  women's / (US8)

  Samples: 202g /7.13 oz (US9.5), 226g / 7.97 oz (US 11)

Official Stack Height: 30/34, 4mm drop 

US9.5 sample measured at 26/34mm (vs Speed Elite hyper US9.5 measured at 29/21)

Available July. $205 


Tester Profiles

Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.


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.


Alex Filitti is a French duathlete (AG 25-29), training mainly on road and track surfaces. He occasionally hits the trails, mostly during his off-seasons. His running PRs are 16:25 (5K), 34:00 (10K) and 2h50 (42K, Berlin 2019), and his weekly average mileage goes from 30 miles in the off-season to 60 miles in buildup phases before peak duathlon events (50 to 80 kilometers).


First Impressions and Fit

Derek: I’m always a fan of Skechers’ flashy uppers and this one is no different. If anything it’s duller than their latest Speed Elite Hyper color scheme. Fit is definitely true to size for me. 


Walking around, the whole shoe definitely feels a little softer than the Speed Elite, though at the same time, everything feels oddly familiar with that rockered profile as you rock back and forth across the toe joints. Hot take – it feels nothing like the Razor Excess (or any other Razor for that matter).


Joost: For me, sizing of the Razor and Speed line of shoes has been a bit of a hit and miss and hasn’t at all been consistent. The original Razor 3 was very narrow and I had to size up half a size to get an acceptable fit. The Razor + has a more forgiving upper, and doesn’t require me to size up. The Razor Elite was again too narrow for my feet, but the Razor Excess fixed everything and was the first one of the series that really fit true to size for me. I tried on the Speed 6 at the NYC marathon Expo in 2019 and I had to go a full size up because of it being too narrow, but then it would be so long the upper would buckle up. The Speed Elite was only available in full sizes, so I sized up half a size, but it was still way too narrow and caused me blisters. I was glad the Razor Excess fixed my issues with the uppers in Skechers’ fast line of shoes and hopeful that from that point on, they would all fit TTS for me. 


The Speed Freek is a joy to run in, but unfortunately, anything over 10k causes me blisters on the medial side of my big toes. I suspect it was designed before the Razor Excess and therefore still has the narrow upper and especially the blister-triggering toe bumper. Sizing up will probably make things a little easier on my big toes, as it was in the original Razor: 3.


Alex: Skechers is tricky with fit and sizes. All the three pairs that I have tested so far were different from that perspective. The SpeedFreek is maybe the most true to size fit of all with a decent volume and width in the forefoot and toebox. Walking around in the shoe highlights the rocker geometry and the lightweight sensation. Oh and the colorway! I think I read (or heard) somewhere that Skechers calls this a dazzleflage connecting to the automotive industry prototypes that are numerous in California where Skechers is based. The pattern is not trivial but the colors picked are soft and create something rather pleasant to the eye, but this of course is very personal. 


Upper

Derek: The upper is still essentially the same as that found on the Speed Elite Hyper. The completely unstructured ripstop upper (Skechers calls it Hyper mono mesh) has been retained. To my knowledge, only the Speed Elite Hyper and the Razor Elite use this upper, and it is really comfortable to use, even for sockless running. 

Just as in the Speed Elite, there is a thin internal toe bumper at the front, and a little bit of padding around the ankle opening to help prevent heel slippage. The unpadded fabric tongue is also unchanged from the Speed Elite. 


In terms of fit, the heel and midfoot fit exactly like the Speed Elite, while the forefoot feels a little wider. The mesh is slightly elastic and when you lace it up, the whole upper wraps your foot really well, and because there are no stiff overlays here, it really feels more like the upper of a distance spike or XC spike than a road shoe. 


Joost: As Derek pointed out, the upper is just like the one on the Speed Elite. Unfortunately for me, that means it’s just that little bit too narrow for my wide feet. Actually the problem is not the upper itself, but the toe bumper. 

It’s a foamy affair that rubs the medial side of my big toe and causes blisters when I run more than 10k in them. I would definitely have to size up half a size like I did in the Razor: 3 Hyper and contrary to the Razor + and the Razor Excess. I was hoping the last would be more similar to the one in the Excess, since that shoe fits me true to size and I don’t have the same issues with the toe bumper, which is lower and doesn’t have a cutout in the middle of it on the medial side. The upper material is the same as the Speed Elite, the Razor Elite and the Razor Excess. It’s light and breathable even in the tropical conditions in Angola where I run. 

In typical race shoe fashion, there’s a minimal heel counter, but the foot is well held and there’s no heel slippage. The sock liner is glued in, the tongue is a traditional non-gusseted affair with just enough padding.


There is an eyelet near the top that holds it in place.


Alex: The upper is on the minimalistic side of things. The heel gets some lateral bolsters and while the heel counter is super flexible and unstructured the lockdown in the heel is good. This is actually true throughout the shoe with an upper material that wraps nicely the foot and provides a secure fit. 


The toebox and more generally the forefoot have some volume to them, which combined to the thin and breathable upper material would make this shoe a nice option for sockless multisport events like triathlons. 


The tongue is also very simple and has only minimal padding on the inside. Given the thinness of the laces, a bit more padding on the tongue would provide with more comfort (especially if going sockless, as suggested above). 


The sockliner insert is glued and unlike other glued inserts, it is not removable. This is a major bummer for me as I enjoy swapping insoles for either my custom orthotics or other insoles that can tweak the ride of shoes a bit. 



Midsole


Derek: The Speed Freek midsole is still single density Hyperburst with the carbon winglets sandwiched in the forefoot. 

The midsole of the Speed Freek is the second thickest in the Skechers performance lineup, with the MaxRoad 5 and its 39mm measured heel stack taking top spot. Visually, the whole shape of the midsole looks a lot like the Razor Excess, especially the sculpting and raised sidewalls closer to the heel. You will note the carbon winglet section sitting in between 2 layers of Hyperburst at the forefoot, like what is seen in the Speed Elite Hyper.

Skechers recognizes that the primary aim of the carbon plate is to help preserve the shape of the forefoot rocker and they went with a winglet design over a more conventional full carbon plate because they felt that the winglet design was more forgiving underfoot, while still achieving the objective of maintaining forefoot stiffness. While increasing the stack from the Speed Elite, Skechers also tweaked the width of the shoe, noticeably at the forefoot, to compensate for the reduced stability associated with a higher midsole stack. 


Now that we have the technical stuff out of the way, let’s get down to how the shoe feels underfoot. The heel definitely feels more forgiving with the extra stack, but things start to firm up as you transition through to the forefoot. There is a bit of retained springiness when you load the forefoot, but it is still very muted compared to any of the Razor 3 variants or Razor Excess, but a little more lively than the Speed Elite forefoot. For reasons I do not quite understand, the winglet plates still somehow manage to resist a lot of compressibility you would expect to come from this degree of stack of Hyperburst in the forefoot. Nevertheless, the overall degree of vibration dampening is pretty good. I’m not 100% sure I’d take this for the full marathon distance, but it should be no problem for a half marathon.

Joost: Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of Hyperburst since the first time I put on a Razor: 3. It’s the right combination of softness and springiness and has always put a smile on my face while running. It makes me feel like I have the spring of a 20 years younger self in my legs. In spite of my quibbles with the upper, I still reach for my various Razors and now the Speed Freek when I want to have that light and bouncy feeling on my run. 

Derek nailed all the technical details, so there’s not much to add. I also noticed the similarities between the Razor Excess and the Speed Freek in terms of midsole appearance. 

It is about the same width as that shoe underfoot, but just a little slimmer in terms of stack height. The winglets are quite noticeable on the run, especially in accentuating the rocker, which was very perceptible (in a positive way) for me. Like Derek, I would probably not take this shoe to the full marathon distance, mainly because I’ve gotten too used to still higher stack models.


Alex: Like Joost, I also enjoy the underfoot sensation of the Hyperburst compound in the midsoles I’ve tested from Skechers (and in the very similar DNA Flash from Brooks). When playing a bit with the shoe in my hands, one thing I noticed immediately was the difference between this shoe and the recent MaxRoad 5 from Skechers. The latter, while using the same midsole compound (but softer in durometer than here) and same H-shaped carbon winglets, is pliable and flexible. You can literally bend it in all directions and that translates to the ride. On the SpeedFreek the forefoot is not bendable. Most likely one of the stiffest forefoot I’ve tried to bend manually. It’s even harder to bend and snappier than the MetaSpeed from Asics or the Vaporfly from Nike. This is beyond the limits of firmness. 


But the other funny thing when playing with the shoe in my hands is the heel. As Derek pointed out, there is a lot of Hyperburst there with the high stack and most likely even more than what the measured stack may suggest (there are some lateral side walls of foam to help with stability and lockdown). After pressing the forefoot one may think the heel is going to be a nightmare of firmness yet it feels very soft and dense. Surprising? Not so much given the ride I experienced.


Outsole

Derek: The outsole is still the exact same pattern as on the Speed Elite Hyper. It still uses a relatively thin layer of GoodYear rubber. My critique of the rubber coverage is still unchanged since my review of the Speed Elite Hyper. The area of the forefoot that has been left as exposed midsole is still better off getting the full coverage (as seen in Speed 6). You just miss that extra bit of grip and traction over there. On my first pair of Speed Elites (I went and bought a second pair at retail recently), that area of exposed midsole in the forefoot has the most wear in the whole shoe. It is exposed to so much more shearing force than any part of the heel, and particularly so because it is a dedicated racing shoe and I use it mostly for hard interval work. The saving grace is the excellent durability I’ve seen in GoodYear rubber across various Skechers models.

Joost: Skechers switched to GoodYear rubber for its outsoles somewhere between Razor versions and durability has been better for it, especially when there’s not a lot of outsole to begin with. The main area where I wear through my shoes, the lateral ball of my foot, is protected, only leaving the very front of the toe with visual wear from aggressive toe-off after around 50km. There’s a lot of midsole to go through, so it shouldn’t be an issue. The area of the ball of the foot also seems to have some film going up along the walls of the midsole to right underneath the winglets, probably for added stability. 


Alex: I find it always quite funny to find brand names that I associate with car tires underneath running shoes. Everyone is now familiar with the Continental outsole rubber under Adidas shoes, Goodyear for Skechers, and more recently Michelin for the Speedland trail shoe. 


In my mind when I see these logos I think “wow this must be grippy if even race cars are equipped with similar rubber on their four wheels”. And sadly it’s not always the case. Skechers is unfortunately unlucky from that perspective as the Goodyear outsole does not provide outstanding  grip. Is it the Goddyear rubber? Or the exposed Hyperburst foam? Or the pattern? Maybe all but if the Goodyear is actually grippy I’d love to see Skechers putting it where runners need it (internal side of the forefoot is certainly a toe-off zone for some but not for all and getting the whole forefoot and whole heel covered in rubber may help reduce that unpleasant lack of confidence with this shoe on wet and slippery surfaces). 



Ride

Derek: The best way to describe the ride of the Speed Freek is Speed Elite plus. It feels similar to the Speed Elite, but with slightly less ground feel, and oddly, a less prominent forefoot rocker. I think the higher stack somehow makes the rocker a little bit less rigid. Don’t go into this expecting a radically different ride experience from the Speed Elite. The improved overall cushioning of the shoe makes it more tolerable for longer efforts, and at the same time, the forefoot rocker feels less rigid but a little more springy. The shoe doesn’t quite roll through as easily as it did in the Speed Elite for me. 

I think perhaps it is down to my running style; I tend not to have a strong toe off but rather rely more on rolling through the shoe to maintain speed. That aside, I think the shoe does seem to do what it aims to, which is to focus more on longer distance racing and cruising uptempo efforts. I don’t see it as a replacement for the Speed Elite, but rather more as a shoe with a slightly different optimal usage. It remains one of the most stable of the high stack racers, and it is definitely comparable in cushioning to the Brooks HE2 or Saucony Endorphin Pro. The Speed Freek has one of the lowest feeling effective drops, and so I think it is more suitable for people who tend not to load the heel too much in terms of running style.

Joost: Contrary to Derek, the rocker of the “Hyperarc” as Skechers calls it, is very noticeable to me on the run, probably due to the fact that I have a rather strong toe off. I agree with Derek’s impression that it is the lowest feeling high stack shoe out there. As a matter of fact, I don’t really get the impression my heel touches the ground much at all, apart from a little tap. The Speed Freek is a very stable shoe that is definitely meant to go fast and has less of that Hyperburst feel than the Razor because of the winglets. What I like about the winglets is that while longitudinally, they are quite rigid, they allow for a fair bit of lateral movement, and so allow for some more natural motion of the foot.


Alex: As a forefoot striker and someone with longer strides, I have a gait cycle that tends to appreciate firmer shoes where more power is required to take full advantage of the geometry, midsole, and plate when applicable. The Skechers SpeedFreek should be one of these shoes - this is at least the theory. 


“On the field” the M strike geometry requires me to strike a bit further back in order to “roll” gently from midfoot to forefoot and then push during my toe off phase. This modification in my footstrike pattern is not a big deal at faster paces for which this shoe is designed but at slower paces this is not something I really enjoy. To note  that recoveries during interval sessions may feel awkward with that type of ride for people like me. 


Conclusions and Recommendations


Derek: The Skechers Speed Freek fills a niche with relatively few competitors, in that it focuses on the forefoot strikers of the world and the design really rewards this type of runner. I think people who are of the more “cadence” oriented persuasion may struggle to find the sweet spot of how to work with this shoe. The only other big forefoot-focused super shoe I can think of is the Nike Alphafly, so it is a relatively small competitive arena. As stated above, I do not see this is a replacement for the Speed Elite and what it does (really) well, but rather a complement that gives people who love the Speed Elite a little cushioning for longer distance events. It has a springier forefoot feel to it, but also a less aggressive rocker experience. If this is something that interests you, then definitely try out the Speed Freek. 

Derek’s Score 9.20 / 10

Ride 9 (50%) fit 9.5 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 10 (5%)


Joost: The Speed Freek adds to a growing assortment of Skechers’ speed oriented shoes with the amazing Hyperburst foam. It builds on the technology of the Speed Elite Hyper and adds a little stack and width underfoot (although the upper still has the same issues as the Speed Elite for me), allowing you to take it further. The Speed Freek, with its higher stack height is Skechers’ take on a marathon shoe and I think that if you don’t have too wide of a forefoot and are an efficient forefoot striker, it’s probably a good idea to check them out.

Remember to size up half a size if you have wide feet!

Joost’s Score 8.95 / 10

Ride 9.5 (50%) fit 8 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 9 (5%)


Alex: In theory this shoe should work for me: it requires some decent amount of power in the legs to push on that stiff forefoot - which is my running style and the hyperburst is a foam I enjoyed in the past. But that forefoot is just so rigid that I couldn’t really enjoy it this way. Forcing myself to heel strike is of course not sound but is the good compromise to have fun in this shoe through finding the right balance of heel contact to enjoy the softness and then use that nicely shaped rocker. Not very natural but actually enjoyable if this is not the only “fast” shoe in a rotation. I had good hopes for this shoe and I think, based on what I heard about the Speed Elite that Skechers is moving in the right direction to find a slot in the market for marathon racing shoes. The SpeedFreek will in the meanwhile be a good training companion for fast intervals (on the track for extra softness? Given the good lockdown why not) and 5-10k races but most likely not beyond that.  

Alex’s Score 7.67 / 10

Ride 6,5 (50%) fit 9 (30%) Value 8,5 (15%) Style 9 (5%)



11 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Skechers Razor Excess (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Freek is less bouncy a ride than the Excess, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it transitions faster and smoother for me, and definitely feels more cushioned for tempo efforts. I think the Excess may be better as a daily trainer because you don’t necessarily want to use a rockered shoe for everything, but for speed work of any kind, no question the Freek is better. There is a significant price difference here so take that into account.

Joost: M9.5 in both. The winglets in the Speed Freek attenuate the springiness of the Hyperburst foam a little, while adding stability and speed. For racing, go with the Speed Freek, for training, the Excess is currently one of the better daily trainers around.

Alex: I went half a size up in the Razor Excess, which was a mistake. Both are TTS. The Excess is a bit bouncier but it doesn’t have the extreme snapiness of the SpeedFreek. The carbon winglets do indeed add some stability in the forefoot of the SpeedFreek. The Excess however transitioned better from midfoot to forefoot for me. Two shoes that work well for Skechers fans as a trainer/racer combo. 



Skechers Speed Elite  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. For the kind of rocker experience that these 2 shoes provide, I find myself leaning more towards the Speed Elite; it feels faster and just more fun overall even though it’s not as cushioned for longer distance events. The Freek just doesn’t seem to ride simply like a cushioned Elite for me; it’s close but it just seems to transition a little slower in the high stack version. 


Joost: M9.5 in both. I gave away my pair of Speed Elite to a local runner I’m coaching, so I have to go from memory. The Speed Elite felt close to the ground and fast, but I wouldn't choose it for anything over a 10k. The Speed Freek can easily go half marathon or even marathon if you have the gait for it, so my choice would depend on the type of race or workout I was doing.


ASICS Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review) and Edge  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in all 3 shoes. Sky is a big marshmallow compared to the Freek, and while the rocker is not as prominent, it has a very dynamic forefoot spring that is really nice for sustained harder efforts. While the Edge is closer to the Freek in stack numbers, the Edge is still a noticeably bouncier ride, but it has more ground feel than the Freek so actually, Freek feels more cushioned. Among the 3 shoes, I think the Sky is far and away the best choice for a full or half marathon. The Freek would be my choice for a 10k, while at the 5k distance, I would lean towards the Edge for a snappier, more connected sort of ride. (As a refresher, my measured numbers: Sky 39/33, Edge 33/25, Freek 34/26)

Alex: I only have the Sky but it is night and day in terms of sensations versus the SpeedFreek. The Sky is bouncier, softer and feels way more natural underfoot. The outsole of the Sky may not be as durable as the Skechers’ but it is grippier for me. The Sky gets a bit more padding around the heel collar which I enjoy. Overall no question here for me, MetaSpeed Sky all day every day (and for all purposes and distances).



ASICS Metaracer  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. This is an interesting comparison. I think the Metaracer is a closer comparison to the Speed Elite actually, both in ride character and stack numbers. I think the Metaracer has a more responsive and connected ride with a more prominent rocker, compared to the Freek. Metaracer would be my preference for shorter intervals, and races up to 10km. Beyond that, the Freek would be the more forgiving option.


Puma Deviate Nitro Elite  (RTR Review)

Joost: M9.5 in both. Puma has brought out some fantastic running shoes with its equally fantastic Nitro foam. Both Nitro and Hyperburst are supercritical foams and they’re both soft and very springy. Both shoes are meant for longer distance racing and both use some form of carbon plate. Currently, the Puma has the edge for me, because of a better upper and a softer feeling midsole.

Alex: Half a size down in the Deviate Elite. The two shoes are radically different in terms of feel, purposes and suitable biomechanics. The Deviate Elite comes with a nitrogen infused Peba midsole that is one of the softest I’ve ever tested. It is nevertheless far from being plush or too cushioned thanks to the plate that brings the right amount of energy return to the ride. The SpeedFreek should be a better option for runners with longer strides and powerful toeoff phases while the Deviate Elite should work more for higher turnovers. I am in the first category and would still lean towards the Puma without any doubt. 


New Balance FuelCell RC  Elite 1 (RTR Review) and RC Elite 2  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in all 3 shoes. Freek fits closer to the RC 2 than RC 1 but ultimately all are true to size for me. 

In terms of stability, Freek is the most stable. 

Vs RC1: RC1 is softer, with more ground feel and a more natural rocker/transition and a  loads better outsole. Neither would be my top choice for a marathon but it is an incredibly close call for a half marathon, with RC1 just taking it for that more dynamic ride I think. At 10k and shorter, I think Speed Freek wins. 

Vs RC2: Same softness as RC1, but even higher stack but oddly, easier forward dropping type of transition (sort of like 4%), with overall a very natural rocker. The somewhat artificial feel of the Speed Freek rocker is accentuated when you compare it to the RC2. For half marathon and above, I think RC2 is the better option for most people, unless you are a sub 70-min type of HM’er. For shorter distances, the firmer more responsive feel of the Freek would make it a better option. 


Joost: M9.5 in both the Speed Freek and the RC2

New Balance has a winner on their hands with the RC2. Most runners will probably prefer it for a marathon. If you’re racing something shorter or prefer a firmer, less extremely high stack shoe, the Speed Freek might be an option. 


Alex: Half a size down from TTS for me in the RC2 which gives a nice snug racing fit. TTS would work very well too but for different purposes. The SpeedFreek has a more lightweight and straightforward upper which is an area on which New Balance could improve its RC2 (I’m saying “could” not “should”). Other than that, when looking at both shoes as options for the marathon distance, there’s absolutely no debate. The RC2 is more comfortable, softer, bouncier and maybe even more stable. 


Nike Vaporfly Next%  

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Even now, 2 years after the green VFNext% first hit the shelves, it is hard to argue for a better all-rounded racer than this. Both shoes fit true to size for me, though VFNext% has the lower volume fit, especially at the toes. Unfortunately, Speed Freek is still outgunned here in multiple domains: VFN% has the better outsole grip, has the more dynamic and soft ride, has the smoother and easier transition, is higher stack across the board, and is lighter at the same time. And now VFN%2 is only $20 more. It’s tough to root for the Freek here. 


Joost: M9.5 in both. As Derek said. After 2 years, the Next% is still the king of the hill, although the competition is getting closer and there probably aren’t any speed advantages between  some of the other shoes anymore. I would go with the Next% for anything from a 10k upwards.


Alex: US11 in both. I don’t see what the SpeedFreek does better than the VFN% (1 or 2). The SpeedFreek is not quite there against most marathon racers but against the Nike there’s even a bigger gap. 


Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review) and Endorphin Speed  (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in all 3 shoes.

Vs Endo Pro: The Pro is not known to be a soft shoe, and yet here, it still feels softer and springier than the Speed Freek. The Freek has the better upper for me and the more secure fit, but Pro has the smoother and more effective rocker at all paces. Freek has the better outsole on wet surfaces, but Pro has the (slightly) more durable outsole. Again, neither would be my top choice for a full marathon, and at the half it will likely comes down to preference and fit. I’d personally go with the Pro as it feels easier to engage the rocker in the Pro than in the Freek. As you move to the shorter distances, the lighter weight of the Freek starts to be an advantage and I’d prefer the Freek at 5k or shorter.


Vs Endo Speed: Speed feels very similar to the Pro except it has a more flexible forefoot, which also makes its rocker less effective. Both Speed and Freek fit me really well, in different ways; Speed has that perfect volume structured upper so you need minimal lace tension, while Freek requires good lace tension but then you end up with a sock-like track spike sort of lockdown.  In this case, the Freek makes for a better racer at all distances for me. For training, I think the Speed is a more versatile and more cushioned option.


Joost: M9.5 in the Speed Freek and the Endorphin Pro (1 and 2)

The rocker in the Endorphin Pro is slightly further forefoot than the one in the Speed Freek. They feel quite different underfoot, with the Endorphin Pro being the more aggressive shoe. The Endorphin Pro also feels heavier to me. It’s got a better fitting upper, though and I would probably feel safer taking it for a full marathon. For shorter distances up to a 10k, I would pick the Speed Freek.

Pre Order Now! Available August  2021 at Running Warehouse HERE

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content
The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Jim said...

Re: Joost's note about the exposed midsole in the forefoot:

I've always wondered why none of the Razor 3, Razor 3+, Razor Excess, Speed 6, Elite Hyper have included even just a tiny layer of outsole rubber at the final toe off area. That's where I've noticed the most midsole wear on my personal pair of Razor 3s.

Skechers did add it to the Razor TRL, and they've got it on the GOrun 7+, Ride 8/9. Maxroad 4/5, Forza 4, and Horizon Vanish 2.

With Hyperburst being so resilient, it seems worth throwing a dash of rubber up front to protect it and, frankly, at a touch of bite.

Just my 2 cents!
-Jim