Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Brooks Running Hyperion Max Multi Tester Review with 8 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark, Ryan Eiler, and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Hyperion Max ($170)


Introduction


Sam: The Hyperion Elite is moderately high stack height (30mm heel / 22mm forefoot) up tempo trainer and racer. It is very decently light for its stack and stout outsole at 7.5 oz / g. The weight is due in large part to its DNA Flash midsole foam, a nitrogen infused EVA also found in the Hyperion Elite and trail Catamount.  It is plateless in being a single midsole foam with the stout outsole helping to provide a moderate rocker focused on the front of the shoe.

The upper is a stretch woven mesh with minimal overlays but with a stout higher heel counter.

I was curious to see how what is essentially a plateless version of the Hyperion Elite on a 5mm lower stack height would perform. I found the Hyperion Elite 1 quite firm, very very stable to a fault and not nearly as much fun as numerous competitors then or since. 


Would making the Max lower stack and removing the carbon plate improve the ride and utility  for what is not intended to be a marathon level stack super shoe but a lower slung faster training ride and maybe a plateless racer for those seeking a more old school riding very stable and superfoam enabled light shoe. 


Or would the Max prove “dated” in performance as we first saw it at the Running Event back in early December 2021 and if memory serves expected it much sooner, with clearly, as with many 2022 introductions, supply chain issues affecting,


Pros:

Made to run fast and stable: very smooth effective front plateless rolling rocker with firm responsive rebound and plenty of springy front cushion: Sam

Stability oriented very light trainer racer, a rarity: Sam / Ryan / Renee

Very stable rear of the shoe, also a Con during early part of stride wtth any heel striking Sam

Light, very secure and comfortable seamless feeling stretch woven upper.

Durability and grip: copious amount of rubber thickness for such a light shoe Sam / Ryan / Renee


Cons:

Somewhat blocky, broad over stabilized rear of shoe (for my tastes) when new but now developing some flex to keep me from lingering there: Sam / Ryan

Not for heel striking or slow: Stability focus leads to flat firm rear to midfoot geometry that requires faster paces and forward leaning landings (and some shoe break in): Sam / Renee

Firm toe bumper makes toe box feel taller than preferred for its fast intentions: Ryan

Relatively lack of midsole energy as compared to competition: Ryan

Tongue slippage: Renee


Stats

Samples: men’s  7.32 oz / 206g US 8.5 :: women’s: 6.38 oz / 181g US8

Stack Height: men’s 30 mm heel (measured)  / 22 mm forefoot (spec 8mm drop) 

Available Jan 2023. $170


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: A wonderful colorway in my Blue Surf/ Cherry/ Nightlife version. The subtle blue/green with black woven upper ascents  and not overdone brighter Cherry on the upper and white and Nightlife midsole blend together to say fast without screaming neon.

The upper is a stretch woven mesh with 3D print overlays. I love a stretch woven upper and wonder why there are not more of them.  They can be thin and very supportive without needing much external structure or overlays/underlays, exactly what we have in the Max. There is no tongue gusset or underlays and none is needed. 

The main upper fit is notably seamless and soft with no pressure points. 

I do think the rear achilles collar is a bit high and rigid which for sure helps make the shoe so supportive and stable. Otherwise a superb upper which fits me true to size. 


Here Brooks, known for great step in plush feel in heavier duty “ trainers” such as the Ghost and Glycerin but.. sometimes sloppy hold for me when actually running, delivers instant comfort and total security in a go fast intended shoe.   


Ryan: Upon taking these out of the box, it was immediately apparent that the Hyperion Max was going to be a fast, low inertia tempo shoe. The shoe is fairly straightforward in its construction, with a conservative stack height and a noticeable lack of mass despite the dense midsole.

The woven upper is thin but capable, and is very comfortable against the foot. There’s a slightly sheen look to the material that you don’t get with mesh uppers. They’ve used a stiff toe bumper to create a taut, sculpted toe box. One drawback here is that the toe box didn’t feel like it wanted to accommodate the shape of my forefoot. 

Both sides of the upper are nicely reinforced with overlays, and the rear of the shoe is impressively burly for such a lightweight shoe. They even managed to add a touch of padding down the middle of the tongue without adding undue grams. 

Over the first couple runs, the upper has been pleasant and without issue, with my only concern being a lack of snugness up front.

Renee: My first impression of the Max was iffy. The weight is great, but it looks like a very stiff, inflexible shoe with a dramatic rocker from the forefoot. As someone who prefers a flexible, traditional ride, I wasn’t expecting much. During my first run, those doubts went away and I found it fun. Like Sam, I thought the heel back might be too high, and the heel cup is very stiff (not my preference). I think the high heel back and stiffness help with the fast takeoff from the forefoot, and I think it works well. The heel/collar sides sit very low below my ankle, which I prefer. All of that affects the ride, making the turnover fast. Like Ryan, I thought the upper was comfortable, and it’s thin to help the lightweight ride. I had issues with the tongue slipping after 6 miles, but the laces do thread through the tongue, so it’s not awful. 

For sizing, I suggest true-to-size. Like most uptempo shoes, the fit is snug. For runners between half sizes, I suggest the half size up. 



Midsole

Sam: The midsole foam is DNA Flash Nitrogen infused EVA as in Hyperion Elite and trail Catamount. And indeed It does not feel any different than the foam in those two shoes. Quite firm with a quick snappy rebound it is by no means a plush bouncy foam such as FuelCell and reminds me of Hyperburst from Skechers but not quite as springy. It is also not as soft as the latest PWRRUN PB from Saucony. And as this is intended as a go fast tempo shoe I think Brooks made the right call but wonder what their more obviously energetic DNA Loft v3 in a layer here with Flash might do to soften the ride. 


The geometry is clearly intended to be stable, without plastic pieces or posts. The dense firmer foam is combined with a broad rear platform, lots of rear rubber, and a very flat on the ground platform heel through the midfoot.  With a 30mm heel and 22mm forefoot we are not in super shoe stack heights and at the heel that is felt in combination with the foam. 

On the firm side and very very stable (as the similar geometry Hyperion Elite was) the rear midsole is intended for some rear control and for running off the heels, fast. With an 8mm drop my sense or feeling is that in combination with the flat rear the bulk of the “ramp” is forward. One distinctly feels what Brooks calls its Rapid Roll. It is not the more abrupt Saucony Speed Roll. I found leaning forward a bit more than usual had me easily finding its groove and away from that firm heel part of the motivation.  Surprisingly given the mere 22mm stack I found the forefoot not only super responsive but more than adequately cushioned, not overly thin and fun. Brooks is playing with my head trying to “encourage” me to get forward and fast and it works well. As I got some runs in the Max developed a flex point towards the mid foot which helped me get forward past the flat midfoot.


Ryan: This one is definitely on the firm side, but what it lacks in suspension it makes up for in stability. It’s almost certainly identical to the foam in the Hyperion Elite, although this Max is not plated, and therefore isn’t as stiff.

As was the case with the Elite, I again felt like this midsole was blocky underfoot, and lacked the more pleasant transition that softer midsoles provide. However, not every shoe needs to be a 40mm bounce house, and for going fast over 5k-10k efforts, this Hyperion Max midsole is perfectly acceptable. I especially appreciated the amount of stability on tap here, and its quickness encourages a fast turnover and minimal ground contact time.

I agree with Sam, that the ‘Rapid Roll’ sculpting near the toe is very noticeable, but not overly aggressive. I wish I could see how differently a more sculpted/cut-out version of the rest of midsole platform would perform.


Renee: Sam has all the details, so I’ll simply concur with Ryan about the midsole being firm. While I like some give and flex underfoot, after a few runs, I appreciated the firm ride. The midsole has a plate-like ride because of the “Rapid Roll.” I don’t like strongly rockered shoes, but I did not mind the Max’s geometry, which allows for a healthy mid to forefoot strike. 


Thanks to the low sitting collar sides, my ankles had full rotation, and I found myself landing quick and fast with little effort. While not a daily trainer feel, I thought the midsole was comfortable for easy paces during warm up or cool down, but clearly it’s meant for intervals, tempo runs, and speed work. 


Outsole

Sam: Plenty of rubber and on the thick side for such a light shoe and in all the right places. The rear rubber is very firm I think contributing to the firm heel feel while the front feels a bit softer contributing to the quite surprisingly forgiving forefoot. Grip to date has been excellent and I think this outsole will be notably durable especially so in such a light shoe.  Brooks did not cut any corners here with rubber having a sustainability component as made with sand in the mix instead of the usual petroleum.


Ryan: So much rubber for such a light shoe! The rubber of the Hyperion Elite has historically been a bit too hard and sparse to inspire great traction, but this Max swings in completely the opposite direction. There’s plenty of treaded grip to go around, and it delivers an inspiring level of traction. No complaints here.


Renee: Sam and Ryan say it all. I run a lot on gravel, so I appreciate some rubber for traction and durability. With such a lightweight, Brooks balanced the outside coverage perfectly. 



Ride, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Sam: We have a clearly up tempo focused ride here. Not much fun back on that firm broad highly stabilized heel but, as I said in Midsole, pick up the pace and the super pleasant yet aggressively rolling forefoot is easy to find and maintain. The rear of the shoe is clearly very stable and for me too firm and a bit blocky in feel at any kind of slower pace, 9 min. miles or slower. That said, as I have put some miles on them, they have developed some snappy front of midfoot flex as they are not a completely rigid rocker shoe. I expect the rear ride to continue to improve and the flat feeling through the midfoot to ease as a result as I will move off the heel quicker to toe off. 


I find the DNA Flash foam while very responsive lacking in more tactile and pleasant energy return as many competing foams such as Zoom X, FuelCell, PWRRUN PB have. I can see how elites would use such a light stable and protective shoe for their intervals and faster tempos as it is also very light and light in feel. 


Brooks delivers a very light and stable up tempo trainer with a superb upper and lots of durable rubber. Its weaker points are its responsive but quite firm foam and its value at $170. 


If you need a workhorse speed focused tempo shoe that is lower stack and prefer a firmer stable rear with a quick feeling forefoot you should enjoy it. 


If you are not a true midfoot to forefoot striker and prefer some softness and bounce, and don’t require its inherent stability,,  other options for a light uptempo shoe may suit you (and do me) better such as the Saucony Endorphin Speed and Nike Streakfly with in between the ASICS Magic Speed 2 could be better options.

Sam’s Score: 9.0 / 10

Ride: 8.7 Fit: 9.5 Value: 8.8 Style: 9.5

😊😊😊1/2


Ryan: This is a shoe for mid/forefoot strikers who want a modern twist on the traditional snappy, low volume, short-ish distance tempo shoe. 


On foot, the Max’s lack of mass and simplicity is definitely refreshing. There aren’t any frills to speak of. 


My two quibbles concern the midsole’s harsher, blocky feeling, and the sculpting of the toe box — but neither of these are enough to keep me from using these for workouts. It’s an impressively lightweight shoe given how solidly it’s built, as well as how much rubber it offers underfoot. This shoe is a category standout for its stability, which comes at the expense of energy return.

Ryan’s Score: 8.4 / 10

😊😊😊


Renee: I agree with most of Sam and Ryan’s thoughts. The Max was a lot more fun than I expected. The midsole is firm and the forefoot appears to have a strong rocker, which is not my preference yet he ride was fun for me. The low sitting side collar allows great rotation of my ankles, and the geometry favors a midfoot to forefoot landing. 


Even when I felt I was running “easy,” my paces were 30 seconds per mile faster than my perceived effort. The turnover is quick, and as a high cadence (not long stride) runner, even my easy paces held a healthy foot landing. While it looks and came out ot the box  stiff, the midfoot flex is now surprisingly good. 


The shoe is meant for uptempo and speed paces, so the use is limited there and it probably works best for runners who have two speed workouts per week and another mid-distance tempo-specific run. The shoe is a good choice for races from 5k to 13.1 as well, especially for those wanting a fast feel without a plate. I had some issues with the tongue slipping, and in terms of usage and price there are other shoes I would pick over the Max. 

Renee’s Score: 9.0/10 

(-.40 tongue slipping, -.40 cost/use ratio, -.20 firm ride)

😊😊😊😊


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


ASICS Magic Speed 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: A close comparison for me. The Magic Speed has a nifty combination of FF Turbo supercritical foam and FF Blast +. The Blast provides some stability while the Turbo some noticed front squish at toe off. The Speed is quite stable but in no way blocky at the rear and has a considerably higher stack height of 37/30 although it does as a result weigh about 0.6 oz more.


Endorphin Speed 1/2 & 3  (RTR Review)

Sam: The Endorphin Speeds have a nylon plate while the Max does not. The Speed 1 and 2 had a PEBA foam approaching the Max’s DNA Flash but were still softer. The Speed 3 is clearly softer and bouncier than Max or earlier Speeds. The plate in the Speed 3 and its wider on the ground platform provide some stability but not quite at the level of the Max. In terms of uppers for a “speed” purpose the Speed 3 regular non RunShield is more relaxed and broader fitting than the Max’s while the RunShield version is more dialed in but not quite as comfortable as the Max’s. Due to its softer friendlier heel and almost as equally dynamic forefoot the Speed 3 is a more versatile shoe all around, leaning more mellow paces than the Max while the Max is a quicker snappier ride more focused on faster days  I was true to size in all versions.

 

Nike Streakfly (RTR Review)

Sam: A much friendlier and yet lighter tempo focused shoe the Streakfly has clearly softer more energetic Zoom X foam helped by a small midfoot plate.  The Nike has a higher stack of foam despite its lighter weight, almost 1 oz lighter. The Max is quite a bit firmer and more stable with an effective front rocker while the Streakfly is a more flex based shoe. If you want some stability in your tempo shoe and prefer a more responsive firmer ride clearly Max.  I prefer Streakfly for its more energetic friendlier ride and lighter weight  


New Balance Rebel v3 (RTR Review)

Renee: Very different rides and feel underfoot between these two shoes, although they share the same purposes for me. Both work well for speed workouts and for uptempo mid-distances runs. The Rebel v3 has a much softer, flexible ride underfoot while the Max has a firm, more rockered ride at the forefoot/midfoot. The Rebel v3 works as a daily trainer too, making it a more cost efficient choice. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. 


Skechers Razor 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: in my opinion, the  Razor 4 did not live up to the Razor 3 legend.. Still it’s a lightweight trainer capable of speed work and distance runs. The Razor 4 is cheaper and works better for daily miles as compared to the Max. The Max has a firmer landing, but I found it quicker and more natural from a mid to forefoot landing. While the Max appears to have a stronger rocker from the forefoot, I thought it felt more natural than the Razor 4. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. 


Skechers Razor Excess 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: Basically the same comparison as the Razor 4. The Excess 2 has a H-plate, although I don’t think the plate makes it a faster shoe. For cost and use as a daily trainer, the Excess 2 is a better buy. 


PUMA Deviate Nitro 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Nitro 2 has a plate, but the Max is the faster shoe thanks to neutral ride and much lighter weight. For stability and steady paces, the Nitro 2 works better. For anything else, I’d choose the Max. Both have great outsoles, although the PumaGrip provides better traction. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. The Nitro 2 has a bit more room in the toe box length. 


Tester Profiles


Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a PR of 2:19 from the 2022 Maine Marathon.


Renee is a former U.S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he is very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.


Hyperion Max will be available January 2023

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does it compare to the Hyperion tempo? Sounds like similar use case?