Friday, February 02, 2024

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 Multi Tester Review: 6 Comparisons

Article by Ben David, Peter Stuart, Jamie Hershfang, Sally Reiley and Joost De Raeymaeker

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 ($170)


Introduction


Ben: The Endorphin Speed 4 builds on what can only be called a highly successful series of shoes from Saucony. The Speed line has been consistently reliable as the rare ‘do it all’ shoe. It functions equally well as a daily trainer, a reliable workout shoe, even a highly usable racing shoe across virtually all distances. 


I believe that the shoe gravitated toward a broader market as it progressed from the 1 to the 3, adding at least perceived bulk and protections. The question for the 4 would be whether it continued that trend or attempted to reclaim the nod to speed (no pun) that we saw in versions 1 and 2. For me, the 4 is the speediest of the four iterations. It’s light, peppy and clearly race-ready. Is this an altogether good thing? Let’s see. 


Jamie: The Endorphin Speed has been my shoe of the year for a few years now. From version 2 to 3, Saucony increased the versatility and durability of the shoe from a speed shoe, to something that could be worn for daily training. The Speed 3 has been my favorite all around shoe this past year and have gotten 400+ miles without feeling like they were breaking down. With an update that is meant to be even better, let’s see if the Endorphin Speed 4 is all it’s hyped up to be.


Joost: This was actually my first "normal upper" pair of Speed. I know it was lots of people’s favorite shoe of the year for a number of years now, but somehow I never got around to running in a pair until I got the Shield version of the Speed 3 last year. They did get some miles on them, but the upper was just too hot for the tropics and lacking breathability. They’re sitting here waiting for a trip to colder climes. So, in a way, I’m a Speed virgin at version 4.

Sally: I was enamored with the original Endorphin Speed and have loved each and every iteration since. My all-time favorite? The Endorphin Speed 2 Run Shield version. I found V3 a bit softer and more “daily trainer” oriented than V1 and V2, so I am curious as to what Saucony has in store with v4 - will this continue to be one of my favorite shoes? The suspense is killing us…


Pros:

Light, comfortable upon step-in, fun and lively:  Ben, Peter, Jamie, Joost, Sally

Great traction Peter, Joost, Sally

Good looking Peter, Joost, Sally

Great soft heel for painful achilles’ injuries: Joost, Sally

True to size : Sally


Cons:

Slightly less support and cushion underneath, may not work for longer efforts or races much beyond 10k: Ben, Peter, Joost

Supportive but more traditional ride than some of the other shoes with new foams:  Peter, Jamie, Joost, Sally

Feels more bulky: Jamie, Sally


Please find the testers full run bios at the end of the article after Comparisons.


Stats

Approx. Weight: men’s 8.35 oz  / 237g  (US9)  v3: 8 oz  227g 

                            women's: 7.2 oz / 206 g (US W8) 

Samples: 

  men’s  8.15 oz  / 231 g US8.5   v3: 7.76 oz  /  220g (US8.5) / 241g 8.5 oz US9.5

  women’s 7.2 oz / 206 g (US W8)  


Stack Height: men’s 36mm heel / 28mm forefoot  (unchanged)(8mm drop spec)

Platform Width: V4: 90mm heel / 65mm midfoot / 105mm forefoot

   V3: 90mm heel / 60mm midfoot / 105mm forefoot

$170 Releases Feb. 29, 2024 


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Ben: When I first stepped into the Speed 4 I thought I had stepped out of the Endorphin Speed line. This is a highly breathable, fun-feeling, peppy shoe (even if it is a touch heavier). The fit, in simple terms, is terrific. It has a light, appealing fit, (accentuated by the bright colorway I tested). I was true to size in my men’s 9. 


The upper is roomy, forgiving and worked well with my somewhat wider feet. This is a very comfortable shoe, certainly not aggressive feeling or as snug as you might find in current racing shoes (VaporFly, Adios Pro, Saucony Elite) but fast-feeling and highly accommodating. It does not feel bulky or cumbersome with its weight gain at all. The ride is enjoyable and encouraging, fun. 


Peter: The Endo Speed 4 is a great looking shoe that feels broken in a run-ready straight out of the box. The upper is forgiving, no hot spots, no muss  and no fuss. Fit is true-to-size and very comfortable from the jump. Platform is stable. 


Jamie: When I opened the box, I didn’t expect to see quite the bulk. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. When I initially put it on, I really enjoyed the step in feel and lightweight upper. However, it just seemed a bit much. I LOVED the Endorphin Speed 3, from the way it fit to the amount of cushioning underfoot. While this update is light, it is definitely heavier and doesn’t necessarily feel like a speed shoe. I did get some pinching at the toe, even though the Speed 4 has a 5 mm wider midfoot platform. While stable, I just feel like it’s a significant change from the shoe that I loved. With the added weight, it is definitely a shoe more people will gravitate to for daily training.


Joost: The Speed 4 is very easy to get in and feels very comfortable and roomy up front, even with my duck feet. It fits true to size. 

The upper is a double layer mesh with reinforcements on the sides and further in the back. 

The heel counter is stiff to about halfway up and then soft to the top. 

My recovering insertional achilles tendinopathy agrees with this configuration. 

The collar is soft and doesn’t irritate in any way. 

The tongue is gusseted to about an inch from the top and has an extra layer of a net-like material to give it some extra thickness. No lace bite whatsoever for me. It’s a great training days upper.

Sally: It is definitely tough to follow a favorite child in birth order… I had very high expectations for Speed 4 after my love for  the earlier versions. I was immediately impressed with the speedy good looks of V4 - Saucony really knows how to crush their colorways. 

Like Jamie, I thought this shoe looked bulkier than the earlier versions, perhaps enhanced by the geometry of the midsole in the back of the shoe. The platform is definitely wider. The step-in feel is great, however, and the fit is nicely true-to-size (another thing Saucony does well is its sizing). The heel feels softer underfoot. 

I have a narrow foot, but the midfoot and toe box feel plenty secure even while possibly being more accommodating to higher volume feet than before. The shoe feels pleasantly lighter on  foot than I initially expected.


Midsole & Platform

Ben: The midsole feels like a new material, much spongier and giving than previous versions although it is still expanded bead PWRRUN Pb. There is ample foam as well as a new, flair-type designed presumably to make the shoe more streamlined (though it might just be for appearance). The platform, at least to this eye, is reminiscent of early versions of both the Speed and the Pro. The platform is vaguely more noticeable than in earlier models, though not problematic. 


The pep is there and much more real than in earlier iterations of the Speed.

Peter: I agree that the midsole feels forgiving. There’s no harshness in the ride–overall it’s a very pleasant foam. It doesn’t have the fun, bouncy magic of some of the other super-foams, but it’s efficient feeling and relatively fun. Turns over nice and quick too. 


Jamie: The midsole in the Speed 4 is quite soft, yet heavier. It looks and feels much more bulky, which some people might like, but personally, I prefer the streamlined platform and look of the Speed 3 even though the stack height of both is the same according to Saucony.  
I liked how the Speed integrated cushioning and responsiveness in previous versions, while this one seems to lean closer to the higher cushioned side. The Speed 4 is much more comparable to other super shoes, with its stack height and the bulk. While people may really enjoy this, I prefer a lower profile, slightly firmer shoe. The platform, while wider in the midfoot and the same at the forefoot, feels noticeably narrower in the toe box.

Joost: The midsole is soft and forgiving as the others have noted. It does feel rather close to the ground in the front, but never bottoms out. The nylon plate is still quite flexible and doesn’t seem to add much to the rebound of the shoe, but its new design with more torsional rigidity does add some needed stability for this amount of soft foam. The rocker is quite noticeable when running. 

The heel looks quite bulky with the new angular foam profile. There are some cutouts on the lateral side (bottom shoe below) and some details that stick out on the medial side (top shoe above).  This might add a bit of stability, but I didn’t really notice much of an effect from it.

Sally: We are all in agreement that the midsole is soft and forgiving but not really bouncy. The Speedroll geometry is felt, but is not as pronounced as in some earlier versions. I felt the midsole was thinner underneath the toes, and perhaps that aids the propulsive toe-off. I was able to do a 15 mile training run in the Boston hills in this shoe, and there was plenty of cushioning to keep my feet happy through to the end. The softness of the shoe, particularly in the heel (fun for downhills) makes it feel slower than its predecessors to me, so more of a peppy daily trainer and tempo shoe and thus less of a race-day option.


Outsole

Jamie: Excellent traction. The outsole of the Endorphin Speed 4 is something that has also been improved. 

Endorphin Speed 3 outsole

The forefoot rubber is slightly raised in comparison to previous versions, which helps grip the ground as you roll forward. 

The rubber towards the heel doesn’t extend to the full length of the midsole, so it does wear down a bit if you strike towards the heel, but doesn’t seem to impact the ride of the shoe. 


Joost: Traction is great and I don’t see any real wear so far. There’s enough of it in the main impact areas.

Sally: I have put quite a few miles on this shoe and have had no issues with traction, even on wet or snow-packed roads. The rubber of the outsole is delightfully quiet underfoot, a weirdly important feature for me (sorry Alphafly wearers, but they can hear you coming a mile away). I also think the durability of this outsole will be much improved over earlier versions. 

Ben: Light, lively, highly forgiving, not abrasive or harsh.

Peter: Traction is good.


Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Ben: It feels to me that the Speed 4 is more race-ready than previous versions of the shoe (except maybe the 1 which felt quite speedy). It is airy and very nimble, thus overcoming its mild gain in weight. It feels fast. It works beautifully as a workout shoe (and certainly also passes as a cruiser). For me, it came alive during 400 repeats and K repeats on the track. 


Is this now a workout shoe exclusively? Probably not as it’s not as energetic and high octane as most of its carbon-plated cousins (Pro 3, Elite, i.e.). Is it exclusively a daily trainer? Well, it’s not that either. I believe this shoe will work well for those who want to occasionally pick it up on their daily runs while looking for something with some great pep on workout days. It’s not truly exceptional at either but certainly very good (even great) in both arenas. For the right runner, this shoe can do it all. I feel this shoe is an upgrade from previous versions. 

Ben’s Score: 9.1 / 10

😊😊😊😊(four smiles out of five as this is still a fun shoe, highly wearable and that can do it all relatively well)


Peter: Turnover is quick and the Speed 4 works at pretty much any tempo, though I agree with Ben that it really opens up at quicker paces. It’s a great shoe for fartleks and tempo workouts and won’t bum you out on the warm-up and cool down. I think the “SPEED” name may be a bitmisleading. I might call it “Tempo” instead. It’s just not a race shoe for me, but it is a great tempo workout shoe. 

Peter’s Score: 9.0 / 10 

A good tempo shoe that can handle any pace. It’s in a crowded space where I find some other shoes to be a bit more exhilarating. Solid tempo shoe, great looking. No major flaws. 

😊😊😊😊


Jamie: The Endorphin Speed 4 is quite the update. When the original Speed was released a few years ago, it felt special. There wasn’t really any other shoe that compared to it. As other brands started making super trainers and leaning heavily on the maximalist trend and high cushioning, I feel like the Endorphin Speed 4 has lost a bit of the magic that made me fall in love with it. While the cushioning is responsive and light, it just feels like a little too much bulk (despite being the same stack height as before) for my liking. While others may really like this update, I’m a bigger fan of previous versions of the Speed.

Jamie’s Score: 8.65 / 10 

(9 Ride - 50%, 8 Fit - 30%, 8.5 Value - 15%, Style 8.5 - 5%)

😊😊

Joost: I don’t have previous versions to compare this one to, except for the previous version with the winter upper that doesn’t really work well where I live, so my opinion will not reflect the evolution of the Speed line and if it’s a better or worse shoe than before. That being said, I really like the Speed 4. It turns over really well for me and I still feel relatively close to the ground in the forefoot, which is something I appreciate in this shoe. For me, it lives up to its name and is best suited for medium to uptempo workouts. 

Joost’s Score: 9.65/10 

(9.5 Ride - 50%, 10 Fit - 30%, 9.5 Value - 15%, Style 9.5 - 5%)

😊😊😊😊

Sally: I really like this much evolved Speed 4, but I admit to not loving it as much as I loved V2, in particular. Funny how I get really excited about the wild live-on-the-edge first versions of high-performance running shoes these days, but then each subsequent version gets more and more “tame” and better suited to a wider range of runners - someone termed it the “democratization” of running shoes. 


The V4 might be “less fun” than the earlier versions, but it is more stable and fantastic for those medium effort and uptempo miles. It is still a great shoe, and I found my paces were always slightly faster than the perceived effort.


Interesting to note: Jamie and I are both smaller and lighter than the guys, and we were both less enthralled with the update. Any possible correlation? 

Sally’s score:  9.52 / 10

Ride 9.3  (50%),   Fit 10.0 (30%),     Value  9.5 (15%),     Style 9.0  (5%)

😊😊😊😊


6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 


Endorphin Speed 4

Approx. Weight: men’s 8.35 oz  / 237g  (US9) women's: 7.2 oz / 206 g (US W8) 

Stack Height: men’s 36mm heel / 28mm forefoot. 8mm drop  (unchanged

Platform Width: V4: 90mm heel / 65mm midfoot / 105mm forefoot


Endorphin Speed 3 (RTR Review)

 V3 Weight: 7.76 oz  /  220g (US8.5)

 V3 Platform: : 90mm heel / 60mm midfoot / 105mm forefoot

Ben  As noted above, I feel that the Speed 4, despite the weight gain, is angling to become more race-ready. In both fit and appearance, it cries out for speed. It feels lively and is highly wearable, but the Speed 3 was much more obviously a do-it-all shoe, handling slow miles and uptempo miles very well. It’ll depend on what the runner is looking for in this case.


New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 (RTR Review

Ben: For me the Endorphin 4 offered much better lockdown and much more pep. It fit my size 9 much more comfortably than the somewhat bulky SuperComp Trainer. I found the New Balance to be much sloppier at slower paces. I would go with the Saucony here.

Joost (M9.5 in both): The SuperComp Trainer v2 was a bit of a letdown for me after v1, which was my favorite shoe for quite a long time. I prefer the Speed 4. It’s (in spite of the bulky looking heel) a much more forgiving shoe and all-rounder.

Peter: I love, love, love the SC Trainer V2, but also love the Speed 4. They’re different in that the SC feels more like a recovery day and every day trainer and the Speed 4 feels more like and everyday trainer/tempo shoe. There’s less bounce to the Speed 4, but it also feels more connected to the road and like a more natural ride. 


Hoka Mach X (RTR Review)

Ben The Mach X feels a bit clunky at slower miles but moves well once you pick up the pace. I think the Saucony is more agile, airy and ready to run fast, while also holding its own at slower paces. I’d lean Saucony.

Joost (M9.5 in both): I agree with Ben. The Mach X is better suited for faster work or even races. The Speed 4 is good for uptempo work too, but also rides very well at slower paces. 

Peter: The Speed 4 feels much less clunky than the Mach X to me. Much more connection with the road and more enjoyable at all paces. 


Puma Deviate Nitro 2 (RTR Review)

Ben: I think this is the closest and most interesting comparison. They are both streamlined, upbeat and work rather well at all paces. It’s a virtual tossup. I believe I would lean toward the Endorphin 4 in that it offers a bit more protection for long runs and feels more fluid at slower and moderate paces. 


adidas Adizero Boston 11 or 12 (RTR Review)

Peter: The Speed 4 feels more connected to the road and a bit less harsh than the Boston 12. I like the Boston 12, but I’d pick the Speed 4 over it pretty much any given morning. 


New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 (RTR Review)

Peter: Aha, here’s the best comparison for the Speed 4 for me. The Rebel feels like a bit more shoe (and has no plate) and I’d certainly wear it on longer runs. For shorter and faster stuff it’s a bit of a toss up. The Rebel 4 has a little more spunk, is a little bouncier and generally a little more exciting, but the Speed 4 is so smooth and disappears on the foot. Tough call. 


Joost's Video Reviews of the Endorphin Speed and Pro 4 


Tester Profiles

Ben is the Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, PA. A cancer survivor, he has run 21 marathons. He holds PRs of 3:15 for the marathon and 1:30 for the half. At 46, he still enjoys pushing himself and combining his running with supporting a variety of causes. Follow him on Instagram: @RabbiBPD or Twitter: @BDinPA 


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


Jamie is 30 years old and runs about 70-100+ miles per week. She has run many marathons, with a PR of 2:49 and has more recently moved up to ultra distances. She completed a solo 100k in 7:36:40 and set the Chicago Lakefront Trail FKT. In 2021 she was the fastest US woman on road for 50 miles with a  time of 6:07:11. She is training to qualify to represent team USA at a world championship. Outside of training, she is the store manager at Fleet Feet Lakeview in Chicago.


Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who agreed against her better judgment to run her first marathon at age 54; she has since run the past ten Boston Marathons, two NYC Marathons, one Chicago, and one London with the WMM Six Star Medal now in her sights. With a Boston PR of 3:25:55 in 2022 (9th place in AG) and two consecutive 2nd place in Age Group W60 awards in NYC, she competed in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Age Group World Championships at the 2022 London Marathon and ran an all-time PR of 3:24:02, placing 6th in the world in her women’s 60-64 age group.  She also competes in USATF races with the Greater Lowell Road Runners team. To add meaning to her Boston Marathon races she runs with Team Eye and Ear and has raised over $275,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Sally is 5’2’’ and 105 pounds and lives in Marblehead, MA, training outdoors year round. She blames her love of skiing out West for any and all Boston Marathon training challenges.


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 was on a mission to run and win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and got his 6th star at London in 2023 with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He won his M50 AG at the 2022 Chicago Marathon in 2:29 and in 2023 won his AG in London in 2:36. Only Boston, so far, escapes him for an AG win at the 6 Majors. 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. Please check out Joost's coaching service here


The Endorphin Pro 4 releases Feb. 29, 2024

SAUCONY
Men's and Women's SHOP HERE

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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun Official Store Custom Fractel Caps and Bucket Hats
Cap:$39                                                             Bucket:$49
Limited Release! SHOP HERE


WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL


Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun

Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun




3 comments:

seung.kim said...

A shoe with 36mm/28mm stack might not be enough for races beyond 10K? How in the world did people 10+ years ago run marathons in lower-stack shoes--even racing flats--for decades?

I think it's doing the running community a disservice if you say that anything but max cushion, max stack shoes can serve you for 26.2 miles.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing this. With pretty notable differences in experiences across the testers e.g., "Slightly less support and cushion underneath, may not work for longer efforts or races much beyond 10k" to Sally doing a 15 mile run in these, I think this and other shoe reviews could benefit from more objective data beyond shoe measurements. Device measures of midsole firmness for example.

Anonymous said...

Good points by kim and anon. It'd be nice if roadtrailrun could address them. I'd add, I can see a pattern in the reviews here. Most of the time, every new version of a given shoe is applauded as better and overall improvement over the old one. As a result, you're prompted to go and buy more shoes. Reviewers and shoe companies go hand in hand over here. One example in the context; the Speed 3 was considered in the running community as a clear departure (read: a failure) from the idea of "Speed" that was an appropriate name only for Speed 1 and Speed 2. Rtr claimed it as another good/great rendition of the Speed line. It was very typical of rtr.