Few running shoes in recent memory have gotten the promotional roll-out that the new Brooks Transcend model received. Not only did Brooks take out many, many large print ads in magazines like Runners World, they went so far as to include an actual video IN THE MAGAZINE itself as an ad. The incomparable Pete Larson shot a meta video of the video, as seen below.
Combined with quirky race expo booths and a flashy website dedicated to the new shoe, Brooks did everything it could to get the Transcend in front of consumers, but they saved the best for their pros and specialty running customers, sending them a sweet spaceship shoe box, as shown below.
So, what I guess you’re probably wondering is, “what is actually so special about the shoes?” Well, I’m glad you asked. The Transcend is ostensibly meant to be Brooks’ entry into the “maximalist,” or highly cushioned, market. Brooks achieves this through the use of its Super BioMoGo DNA cushioning built into the midsole, an “adaptable” full length foam cushioning system. According to Brooks: “Super DNA delivers adaptable cushioning that provides 25% more cushioning than BioMoGo DNA and smartly adapts to your every stride.” You can see the cushioning as the white part of the shoe in the coral version. Coincidentally, I just happen to have some pictures of the mens and womens Transcends to show you. Right now!
First, the men’s.
Now, you may notice the black band right above the white midsole on the men’s versions, which band is teal and fuchsia on the women’s versions. That band is what Brooks calls the Guide Rail system. The Guide Rails, as the name implies, are designed to guide the foot through the heel to toe transition and provide a moderate level of support against overpronation. So, this shoe is billed as a stability shoe.
Other Brooks tech featured in this shoe includes the Catepillar crash pad, “a segmented crash pad that flexes with the foot, offering customized cushioning and stability for a smooth heel-to-toe transition” and Omni-Flex Grooves, which “enhance midsole flexibility without compromising cushioning” according to RunningWarehouse.com, at least. You can see both below:
For the Running Geeks out there, Running Warehouse lists the stack height at 30mm in the heel and 22mm in the forefoot, for an 8mm drop and 12.2 oz weight. For comparison’s sake, the same site lists the Adrenaline at 31/19/11.2. As you can tell from the numbers, despite its looks, the Transcend is, in theory, not as built up as the Adrenaline. It is, however, more shoe than the Ravenna, which comes in at 28/20/10.7.
Road Runner Sports also has a great page dedicated to the Transcend, including an informative video, which you can check out here: Brooks Transcend | Road Runner Sports
With the geeky stuff out of the way, the question becomes “how does it feel when running?” Now, here’s where I may be a bit contradictory. For me, at least, the Transcend doesn’t live up to the hype of offering a cloud-like ride, and that’s just fine by me. Most would probably agree that Hokas have set the bar for those who like a marshmallow for a shoe and I was worried that the Transcend would be similarly squishy. Instead, while you can certainly tell there is a fair bit of cushioning by the fact that you don’t feel the pavement smacking into your feet with each step, you also don’t get the feeling of pushing through the shoe, such that the Transcend remains responsive despite the wealth of cushioning. To me, the shoe felt very similar to wearing an Adrenaline and slightly firmer than the adidas Adistar Boost. Because of its 8mm drop versus the Adrenaline’s 12, the Transcend felt like it encouraged more of a midfoot strike to me. While some have called the ride clunky, I did not find this to be the case at all, even when doing hill repeats at a hard effort. I never felt like the shoe was getting in the way of what I wanted to do, which is really what you want in a shoe, isn’t it?
All in all, I would say that the Transcend is an interesting middle child in Brooks support family, with more cushioning than the Ravenna, but less support than the Adrenaline. Fit-wise, I found the Transcend was true to size and really like the plush upper it offers, which makes it a very comfortable shoe to wear.
I highly recommend the Transcend as a daily trainer for those who like some cushioning underfoot but don’t like squishy shoes. If you aren’t one to care about having a light shoe for tempo runs/interval work, the Transcend could absolutely be your only shoe, though I know I’ll rotate it in among other models.
Happy running to all! And, if you like what you see here, please consider supporting me as I run the 2014 Boston Marathon for the American Liver Foundation’s Run For Research Team!
Disclosure: I received these shoes free of charge from Brooks Running for review purposes, however all opinions above are my own and free of any outside influence.