Saturday, September 25, 2021

Max Cushion, Carbon Plated Road Trainer Comparison Review: Craft Race Rebel, Adizero Prime X, Nike Tempo Next %, Scott Speed Carbon RC, Hoka Bondi X, New Balance Fuel Cell Lerato

Article by Sam Winebaum

Following the success of highly cushioned carbon plated racing shoes over the last few years brands have extended the concept of super cushion and plates to training class shoes. 

All of the options in the article have at least a 35mm heel height (except the Bondi X at 33mm), most have a midsole at least in part of a “supercritical” type foam, and all but the Lerato and Bondi X weigh 9.3 oz / 263 g or less, remarkable for such highly cushioned shoes. They vary in drop for 11mm for the Race Rebel to 5mm for the Scott Speed Carbon.

Pricing is comparable to their race shoe siblings between $190 for the Scott Speed Carbon to $250 for the Craft Race Rebel and adidas Prime X.

Most importantly all the choices here are distinct with different rides, foam feel, stability, carbon plate implementation, efficiency, potential best uses and ideal runner strike types and paces. I do not recommend exclusively training in plated or rigid shoes and max cushion. Mix it up with lower stacks and more flexibility to work different muscles and tendons.

I have ordered the article from what I see as closest to racing to more mellow paces and uses. Others could be included such as New Balance RC Elite 2, a top end racer many of our contributors also like to train in.

Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Race Rebel  

Multi Tester Review (10 comparisons)

Weight: 217g / 7.65 oz US(9)

Stack Height: Measured 35mm heel. 11mm drop

Available in US Oct. $250.  

  • most versatile for faster paced running, 

  • lightest by far, 

  • highest drop, lowest forefoot stack height

  • most flexible, 

  • stable

  • highest volume most minimal upper 

  • most long race race worthy

At 217g / 7.65 oz US(9) the Race Rebel is the lightest shoe in the group by more than an ounce   with the most drop at 11mm. It can be slotted as a super race shoe for longer distances as well as a trainer.  Its comfortable, super light single layer mesh upper is the easiest fitting of the group and the most voluminous,  so very low volume feet may struggle here. 

It has a fairly soft midsole which is similar softness to LightStrike Pro in the adidas Prime X and Fuel Cell in the RC Elite 2, with what is likely a supercritical midsole foam. It has a big and welcome (by me anyways) 11mm drop, a more than adequate almost full coverage outsole, and a very stable ride. 

It is the most flexible of the group with nearly the softest ride, even with its lower forefoot helping make it an  all around distance focused trainer as well as racer. The high drop and relative flexibility make it easy to roll forward while its geometry and lowest stack height of the group keep it very stable. Its softer foam provides plenty of dynamic forgiving cushion and just about any pace versatility although I would not recommend it if your daily paces are very slow or for speed workouts.  While I have not yet raced it, it  is for sure also a top race option for met at longer distances: half and above.

Nike Tempo Next %  (RTR Review)

  • fast(est), 

  • powerful, stable with decisive front rebound

  • mechanical, noisy and directed, 

  • protective/well cushioned, adequately stable

Weight: 9.3 oz / 257g US9

Stack Height: 45mm heel / 35mm forefoot, 10mm drop


The Tempo Next % is well named. This beast of a shoe is highly cushioned from a combination of React foam and Zoom X. It's 45mm heel exceeds the 40mm limit for official international competitions as does the Prime X. Its propulsion (as with its race cousin the Alphafly) comes from a combination of a carbon plate and giant front AirZoom pod. Noisy, very mechanical and robotic in feel you are divorced from the road and led along the most of any shoe here by its design and especially its densely explosive forefoot. Highly protective, decently stable and fast it is the choice for longer tempo type running at faster paces. It is also a great choice for marathoners in the 3:30 and up range for whom the Alphafly is too unstable as it adds denser React to the heel, more rubber to the outsole and a less aggressive mid foot cutout compared to the Alphafly.  

Shop for Tempo Next % at Running Warehouse HERE

Shop for Tempo Next % at RoadRunner Sports HERE

Scott Speed Carbon RC (RTR Review soon)

  • most pace and runner type versatile, most adaptable carbon plate

  • most stable, 

  • lowest drop

  • densest midsole

  • best value

Weight: 8.8 oz / 250g US9

Stack Height: 39 mm heel / 35mm forefoot, 5mm drop


A brand new shoe, the Speed Carbon is specifically designed to be able to handle a wide range of paces through its rocker geometry and dynamically flexible Carbitex DFX plate which gets stiffer (really) as pace picks up and stays more mellow at slower paces.  

The forefoot has a broad and stable sense of propulsion from the plate and broad platform.  With 34mm of front stack it has the most forefoot cushion except for the Prime X and it is the most stable up front and to the rear at all paces of the lighter shoes here.  At sub 8.8 oz / 250g US9 it has a very solid cushion to weight ratio for such a big shoe. 

The most stable of the options, except maybe for the much heavier Lerato, its geometry and relatively dense midsole is highly protective but with less bounce and excitement than other options such as the Prime X and Race Rebel. That is OK as the intent here is all purpose training and for marathoners in the 3:30-4:00 who tend to weigh more than elites, whose form and pace can fade later in a race or workout. It would also be the best choice for a hilly marathon although at 5mm drop I would prefer a bit more heel height and a touch less forefoot stack. I think it is the best overall value of the group for its versatility and relatively low pricing.  

adidas adizero Prime X  (RTR Review)

Weight: 9.25 oz / 262g 

Stack Height: 50mm heel, 40 mm forefoot.


  • most cushioned and softest riding, 

  • highest stacked, best cushion to weight ratio 

  • most exciting to run, 

  • least stable, 

  • prefers faster paces, not a jogging shoe, fasten your seatbelt! 

The Adizero Prime X is by far the most cushioned and highly stacked with a 50mm heel, so 10.5 mm more than the at the legal (IAAF for sanctioned racing) limit Adios Pro 2, Tempo Next or Alphafly, RC Elite 2 or the Speed Carbon which are at about 39-40mm.  A bold, extreme take on carbon and cushion it is not for every runner or run but it sure is a blast to run at moderately fast daily training and tempo paces for longer runs (if you can maintain form!). 

The Prime X has 3 layers of Lightstrike Pro Foam, a carbon plate at the heel to help stabilize its very narrow rear geometry, and dual layers of Energy Rods up front which in combination with the 40mm of front stack lead to a take off which is both bouncy soft and carbon propelled but far less aggressively so than its race cousin the adios Pro 2. 

The Prime X is a pure running shoe and is not intended, at least for me, as a heel striker, for leisurely paces. It comes alive and effective at 9:30 per mile or faster for me. In no way should it be confused with the much heavier, more ponderous running Ultraboost which is really a lifestyle shoe. Slower and back on that narrow soft heel and things get shakier. If it was “race legal” I would certainly have it near the top of my list for a flat marathon.

Hoka Bondi X  (RTR Review)

Weight: men's 10.6 oz / 300g (US9)  /  women's 9.1 / 257g     

Official Stack Height: 33mm heel / 28mm forefoot


  • Very heel stable with softest heel landing, 

  • best choice for easy pace running heel strikers

Considerably heavier than most others here except the Lerato, the X has a more conventional EVA type foam. Much of the weight comes from its extended swallowtail heel which is soft and very stable, favoring easy paces and heel striking. Its carbon plate is the least noticed of the group but does provide a gentle sense of propulsion. It is a fine choice if you want a soft landing easy paces shoe but due to its comparative weight and big heel is not as versatile as the others above when the pace picks up. 

Shop for Bondi X at Running Warehouse HERE (shipping soon)

Shop for Bondi X at RoadRunner Sports HERE

New Balance Fuel Cell Lerato (RTR Review)

Weight: men's 11.78 oz  / 334g (US9)  women's 283g /9.98 oz (US8)

Stack Height: 37mm heel, 27mm forefoot


  • most durable outsole, 

  • most refined and supportive upper, 

  • heaviest, 

  • very stable, 

  • most versatile if you want to do more than run in them. 

  • Best for easy recovery runs and walking.

  • If hard core running is not your primary use the best value 

The Lerato can be thought of as the 21st Century successor to the legendary 990 with deluxe state of the art materials top to bottom highly durable shoe for easier runs, recovery runs walking, and lifestyle uses. It accomplishes all of this brilliantly.  With an elaborate highly supportive upper, very light supercritical Fuel Cell foam as in the top end RC Elite and Rebel v2, a carbon plate, and the most extensive and durable outsole of the group they should easily outlast any of the other shoes here.  The ride is just as sophisticated as the technologies and looks with bounce from the Fuel Cell foam, a gentle pleasant well masked impulse from the carbon plate and stability and grip from the big outsole. No big excitement here as say the Prime X has but a very pleasant, reliable feel no matter what you take them out for (for easier runs, to walks, to work or dinner)  but that weight will limit its utility if faster uses are your goal.

Shop for Fuel Cell Lerato at New Balance HERE

Shop for Fuel Cell Lerato at Running Warehouse HERE

Shop for Fuel Cell Lerato at RoadRunner Sports HERE

 Some tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. 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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Terrence said...

Although one can deduct it based on the stack height... shouldn't it have been explicitly stated that the Tempo Next% is also illegal for racing?

Anonymous said...

I think the Puma Deviate Nitro should also be in this list. It has really grown on me as a solid long distance shoe.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Terrance,
Yes indeed and edited as such.
Hi Anonymous,
Good point! The Deviate Nitro is in this general class and could be included as it has a 38/31 stack height and weighs about the same as the Prime X and Tempo Next. I decided to pick a variety of different experiences and also had more limited time in them as I handed them off to one of our other contributors after only a few runs.
Sam, Editor

Unknown said...

So Sam, what would you advise me to run my marathon in 4 hours, considering that I weight 73 kg and I’m a neutral midfood striker? Tempo Next, Scott Speed Carbon… or maybe a usual max cushioned trainer such as the Nimbus because any carbon plated shoe would be useless and maybe even harmful at such a slow pace?

Chad Payne said...