Staff Pick: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14

Is stability sexy? Almost, says one reviewer.  

 

RUNNING SHOE: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14

Category: Stability

Best for: Training, Roads, Running, Walking

Weight: 11.3 oz. (men’s size 10)

Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm

Price: $120

PRODUCT REVIEW

There are some shoes that get me real, real, real excited. I mean, like, crazy excited. Usually, they’re going to be something sorta trainer/racer hybrid, mostly pretty lightweight, often pretty low profile, kinda flexy. That’s just what I like to wear. I don’t require stability or a bunch of cushioning. I prefer a shoe that allows my foot to do what it wants to do and move almost as if barefoot, as per Arthur Lydiard’s recommendations. But that’s just me. I know not everyone likes or wants or needs the same thing. And that’s cool.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14

So it is pretty rare that I’d be interested in writing a review about a shoe like the Brooks Adrenaline. The Adrenalines have been the stability shoe from Brooks, often reflected in nationwide sales, for years and years. Fourteen to be exact. Give or take a year. Math ain’t my thing. We’re on version 14, anyway. Generally, I don’t think about stability shoes often, because I don’t wear them and to be completely honest, I think they are often over-recommended. I’m not going to go into that now, but let’s just say that I think that people like the idea of “stability” in greater numbers than those who actually need it.

And, seriously, when are stability shoes sexy? Almost never, if not less often than that. It’s like saying a Toyota Camry is sexy. I think you know what I’m saying. Stability shoes are

The Adrenaline isn’t super sexy either, but it isn’t really supposed to be. But this new one, the 14, is getting there. It’s like when you have this old reliable friend you’ve known for years, and then you haven’t seen her in a few months or maybe a year, and then you see her out and about and she got all fit and healthy and your eyeballs explode out of your head like in the cartoons. It’s like that, this new Adrenaline.

And here’s why: They’re lighter. Duh. Everything is lighter now. Midsole materials are up to 30 percent lighter and still cushion the way older foams did. Overlays on the uppers are no longer just the familiar stitched, stiff pleather straps that you’re used to seeing. Now, upper support is provided by lighter, more flexible straps that are essentially welded on, or ironed on. Yeah, ironed on. Like your ironic 70’s t-shirts.

The fit is a very not-stability fit, too. Brooks has nailed the “comfortably snug” fit, particularly in the midfoot. Often when the midsole of a shoe is a bit stiffer, like in most stability shoes, my heel will slip up and down, just a bit. That’s not the case here, because the upper feels as if it is a part of my own foot from the midfoot through the heel.

These Adrenalines are lighter, but the single most important improvement of these bad girls is that they don’t ride like a stability shoe. Brooks was kind enough to seed me a pair, which I wore around for a couple of days in the shop, and was so surprised by how smooth they were—get this—I ran in them. I know. Seriously. I can’t believe it either, but it’s right there in my running log, so you know it’s true.

Brooks redesigned the midsole/outsole, so now the Adrenalines have complete ground contact. Well, almost complete. The medial post is still buttressed with a small torsion device, which I don’t think is necessary, but maybe Brooks is just doing a sort of design segue. Maybe next year they’ll have complete ground contact. The lateral side of the shoe is flush with the ground, and when you combine that with all the little flex grooves that Brooks calls Caterpillar grooves, maybe because they’re cute or something, you end up with a stability model—fairly high stability at that—that doesn’t ride like your father’s stability shoe. To be fair, they aren’t super flexy, but they’re not meant to be. But they’re smooooooooth. Like, whoa! smooth. I still can’t believe I ran in them. And I didn’t get sick or anything.

I’ve said it before, and it is well worth repeating: One of the single most valuable components of a running shoe is a complete ground contact midsole. For years, they were out of fashion, because of “marketing” and “technology,” but now shoe designers recognize the inherent benefit of complete ground contact. It’s exactly why the Ghost has improved so much. The Launch is brilliant because of that. (Yeah, I said brilliant.) And now the Adrenaline have it and are almost there. These are, without argument, the best Adrenaline yet. And I’m not embarrassed to say I ran in them. And liked it.

Check out the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 here

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