Saturday, December 09, 2023

Puma FAST-R NITRO Elite 2 Review: 8 Comparisons

Article by Peter Stuart and Renee Krusemark

Puma FAST-R NITRO Elite 2  ($260)


Peter: The Fast-R NItro Elite 2 or Fast-R 2 is the second iteration of Puma’s very aggressively styled race day super-shoe.  Puma is claiming that there is 22% more energy ‘storage’ and “up to 46% more energy return” (86.9%) from its new aliphatic TPU supercritical NitroElite foam. They are modeling that out as saving 2 minutes and 28 seconds over a 3:30 marathon.

The two-part midsole and exposed signature PWRPLATE remain key features, with the carbon plate elongating beyond the NITROFOAM™ ELITE midsole out past the toe. This unique concept allows for increased surface contact; a lever that guides pressure forward and propels the foot as it leaves the ground with Puma’s research pointing to it “reducing” the marathon distance about 45 meters.

A next generation, psychedelic ULTRAWEAVE upper - 20% lighter than the material used in the original Fast-R – is lined with PWRTAPE support overlays. 

The PUMAGRIP outsole ensures maximum multi-surface traction, allowing you to step out to conquer the racecourse in full confidence of achieving serious speed. Making your fast, faster than ever. 

It’s for sure a fierce looking shoe, so let’s get into it and see how it runs. 


Great aggressive race-day look: Peter

Excellent forefoot cushioning: Peter/Renee

Incredibly light and breathable upper–without feeling flimsy: Peter/Renee

Nice pull tabs to help get shoe on and off  Peter

Remarkably stable feeling for a 40mm stack race shoe: Peter/Renee


Built for speed,and certainly not a casual trainer: Peter/Renee

Requires a strong, consistent forefoot take off: Renee

Plastic external heel counter “blade” on the back can be a bit hazardous. Don’t try to take the second shoe off with your bare foot. Ouch!: Peter


Approx. Weight: men's 8.47 oz  / 240g (US9)  /  women's 7.48 oz / 212g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 271 g, 9.56 oz (US11) ,  

                  women’s 7.63oz / 216g (left) 7.36oz / 209g (right) US8

Stack Height: men’s 40 mm heel /32 mm forefoot (8mm drop spec)

4 mm increase in stack height over v1 

Platform Width: 73mm heel (widest) / 50mm midfoot (narrowest) / 110mm forefoot (widest) US W8

$260  Available Feb 22, 2024

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Peter: This is a bold looking shoe. Pretty clearly announces itself as a race-day specific shoe with its split midsole, big visible carbon fiber plate, barely there upper and a hard plastic external heel counter fin out back. 

Not to mention the fact that the carbon plate continues up past the toe of the shoe. It doesn’t seem to get in the way of anything, but is unusual looking. Step-in is nice, aided by thin pull loops that help stabilize the very thin upper while putting the shoe on. 

Fit is true-to size and they are very comfortable. The forefoot feels nice and soft walking in them but firms up nicely as you run. The first run was super fun. I did some speedwork to really figure out what the shoe was all about and it didn’t disappoint. It has a nice quick turnover and a stable snappy ride. T

The upper is a “psychedelic ULTRAWEAVE” which is  20% lighter than the material used in the original Fast-R. The upper is lined with PWRTAPE underlays to help hold the foot. 

Renee: Aesthetically, the Fast-R remains the most wild looking of all the plated “super” shoes. As with the first version, the shoe rides much more traditionally than it looks. I was given my pair during The Running Event shakeout run with PUMA.

Like the first version, the Fast-R has an incredibly secure yet comfortable upper. The fit is more forgiving than it looks. I have a normal width foot and prefer a roomy forefoot and toebox. The Fast-R upper has more give to it than it might appear, and it’s the most secure and form fitting on my foot of all the plated racers I have tried (see comparisons below for details). I have a low volume foot, and bootie style uppers don’t always work that well. The Fast-R upper fits like a glove, although I imagine high volume feet might have issues. The shoe can be hard to get on at first (hence the pull tabs on the front and back). Once on, the upper is snug and race-ready. 

Left: Fast-R 1                    Right: Fast R-2

I think there is slightly more room in the forefoot as compared to version 1, but the comfort of the upper fit does depend on stride and foot landing (see the ride section for details).

Midsole & Platform

Peter: The midsole consists of two parts that are totally separate front and back sections connected by the PWRPLATE carbon fiber plate. The foam is called NITROFOAM ELITE, an all new aliphatic supercritical TPU foam with claimed 86.9% plus energy return and 22% more energy storage than the Fast-R 1’s foam. And there is 4mm more to it to bring the Fast-R 2 to a max World Athletics limit 40mm heel / 32 mm stack height.

The plate is full length and then some as it protrudes out past the toe of the shoe.  Puma states that this allows the plate to act as “a lever that guides pressure forward and propels the foot as it leaves the ground.” Puma research estimates its effect over the marathon is to reduce the distance by about 45 meters.

The MIdsole feels a bit softer than in V1 and the combination of the softer midsole and the longer plate seem to really propel the toe-off. This was especially noticeable when comparing the Puma Fast R2 to other plated super-shoes. 

Renee: The midsole feels a bit softer and more forgiving compared to version 1. With v1 on one foot and v2 on the other, the change is apparent. The change works better for comfort in my opinion, and it makes the midsole a bit more friendly to “slower” marathon paces, but not by much. 

The v1 (left below) had Puma’s older less efficient Nitro Elite Foam upfront with at the heel past the midfoot cap a light EVA. Now we have a full midsole front and back of the new Nitro Elite foam.

The plate extends past the toe to increase surface contact. Note how much longer v2 right above and below is than v1 at the same sizes. It has lots more far forward contact area.

I know it looks cumbersome and one might think it would be a tripping hazard, but I never noticed it and in any case the rocker puts the extension way up and forward. I’m probably not pushing strong enough from the toe off to gain much from it, but I can see how faster runners might feel an extra push. 

PUMA states the midsole is designed to remain efficient past the 200 mile mark. With 40 total miles, I can’t yet report on the longevity of the midsole foam . 


Renee: In my opinion,  PUMA GRIP is one of the best outsole compounds. in my opinion. The rubber and its forward extension adds to the weight of the shoe, but it’s easily the most grippy of the super shoe outsoles. 

My first two runs with the FAST-R were in Austin during The Running Event at casual paces. The second run was in the rain, and there’s no issues with the outsole on wet pavement. Some of the paths were washed out, and the outsole performed well over the dirt and gravel (with some dirt/gravel wedging in the outsole). Back in Nebraska, I ran the Fast-R on flat(ish) dirt and gravel, purposely running over packed snow to test the grip. Again, no issues. The grip is the best of all plated racing shoes I have run.


I’ll second all of that. Grip is excellent, never a slippy or unstable moment. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The Fast-R is one of the heavier options in plated racing shoes due I think to its extended toe area. The shoe is fine at slower paces, but requires a strong forefoot take off to remain comfortable and to be effective.

During one workout, I ran for 24 minutes at warm up paces and then picked up to 7:50/ milepace, planning to hold that for an hour. The shoe wants to go faster . I found it most comfortable closer to my half marathon pace, around 6:50 to 7:00 minute/mile pace when I’m running stronger and with a quicker cadence. 

During another workout, I ran mid-6 minute mile paces for 30 minutes (with warm-up and cool-down miles), and the shoe felt best for me at those paces. The shoe promotes a forefoot landing , making it seem like I’m running “easier” than my paces suggest. 

I think many plated racers are useful for a variety of paces, but this is one shoe that I see as being most useful for those running faster paces than I can maintain for a marathon distance. The Fast-R works fine for warm-up and cool-down paces, just not for more than an hour or so. At that point, I’m working harder than needed. For a half marathon, I’d definitely choose a lighter shoe. The shoe gains weight from v1, although the upper and midsole feel better. 

I think this version is an improvement over v1, but it is heavier which makes a difference for someone like me running around an 8 min/mile for a marathon or slightly below 7 min/mile for a half. While still a fun shoe, there are a few other options that work better for my paces, including the Adidas Pro v3, Metaspeed+, and VF v3.That said, as compared to those shoes, the Fast-R wins in the upper security department, stability, and outsole grip. 

Renee’s score: 9.1/10 (-.60 weight, -.30 requires a strong forefoot to maintain comfort). 



The Fast-R is a very nice, snappy riding shoe. I agree with Renee that it really excels when dropping into half-marathon pace. When I speed up in this shoe I really notice the shoe pushing me forward. It is, however, not as fun to run in at slower paces. It’s fine, easy enough to warm up and cool down in, but it really shines as a fast turnover tempo workout or race shoe.  

The upper, while very light and breathable, holds the foot well and the Fast-R 2 manages to feel extremely stable for a high stack super-shoe. I don’t notice any caving in towards the arch (which I do feel in some other shoes with big stacks of soft foam”. Overall it’s a great looking and fun race shoe that will do best in fast workouts and races. Could it be a little lighter? Sure. Could it be more versatile? Sure. Is it ridiculously fun to go out and run fast in? Yes. Yes it is. 

Peter’s Score 9.2/10 

weight and lack of versatility keep this from being a total home run, but it’s a damn fun tempo shoe. 


8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite (RTR Review)

Renee: Compared throughout the review. The upper and midsole are improved. The shoe is more forgiving underfoot with slightly more give to the width of the forefoot. Both shoes require a strong forefoot take off to appreciate the racing aspect, and both are probably better for runners faster than me. The v2 is heavier. 

Saucony Endorphin Elite (RTR Review)

Renee: The Elite has an aggressive forefoot rocker while the Fast-R rides more tradition. Both require a strong take off to benefit from the super-shoe factor. The Fast-R is heavier, with a more secure upper and more grippy outsole. If you like rockers, the Elite might be better. If you don’t mind the weight and have a strong forefoot landing, the Fast-R might be better. Sizing is comparable. 

Nike Vaporfly v3 (RTR Review)

Renee: Significantly lighter, the VF 3 works better at all distances as a racer or trainer for me.  I find it useful for a variety of paces, while the Fast-R needs a fast and consistent forefoot take off. The Fast-R has a slightly better fitting upper, a more stable ride, and a more grippy outsole. For me, the VF v3 is the better choice.

adidas Adizero Pro v3 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Pro v3 works at  a variety of paces. The shoe has a slight rocker from the forefoot, but otherwise rides traditionally. The upper of the Fast-R is more secure. For sizing, I thought the Pro v3 ran slightly long (I am between half sizes). Most runners can probably wear the same size in both shoes.

ASICS Metaspeed Sky + (RTR Review)

Renee: The Metaspeed+ is more comfortable for a variety of paces, with a slight rocker in the mid to forefoot as compared to the more traditional ride of the Fast-R. The Metaspeed is a lighter shoe. As for the other comparisons, the Fast-R has a more secure upper and more grippy outsole. Sizing is comparable. 

New Balance SC Elite v3 (RTR Review)

Peter: Putting these back to back was very interesting. The NB is more pleasant to run easy in. It’s well cushioned, turns over reasonably fast and does well at many paces. When I switched into the Puma Fast-R 2 though, I let out a gasp and literally said “whoa”. Compared back to back the NB felt good and the Puma felt great! My pace jumped 30 seconds per mile faster without feeling like I was working any harder. I’d probably still take the SC Elite V3 for a marathon distance over the Puma–but for anything faster paced than that I’d take the Puma in a heartbeat. 

Mizuno Wave Rebellion (RTR Review)

Peter: The Wave Rebellion is another relatively insane looking shoe. It’s got a TON of foam and can be a bit unwieldy to run in. I raced in it earlier this year and found that the first 10 miles were a lot of fun, but as my form broke down, the shoes got hard to control. The Puma feels a bit more stable and where the Wave Rebellion has a crap-ton of foam under the middle of the foot, the Puma has exactly NONE! It’s amazing that the Puma Fast-R feels as smooth and fluid as it does considering the totally separated forefoot and heel, but it is indeed fast and smooth. I’d pick the Puma Fast R2 here in a heartbeat. 

361 Flame ST (RTR Review review soon)

The 361 and the Puma are VERY different feeling shoes. Where the Puma feels relatively forgiving and has a bit of a trampoline effect off of the forefoot, the 361 feels much firmer and, while snappy, is a bit of a harsher ride. Puma over 361 here. 

Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE 

Limited release December 2023, Full release February 2024

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:21 half marathoner in recent years.

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.

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

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