Gear

First Run: Brooks Hyperion Elite Review

Brooks new carbon-fiber shoe rides smoothly and stably, and, on first run, increased pace by 3% at same effort.

On my desk when I arrived at work today was a shoebox with Brooks’ new carbon-fiber “super shoe,” the Hyperion Elite. Early this morning, World Athletics had released its ruling limiting the parameters of racing shoes and requiring them to be widely available to the public for at least four months prior to the competition date. With a release date of February 27, the Hyperion Elite is well within the window for the summer Olympics in Tokyo.

But how do they run? I had to find out. Fortunately, I had done a 5 mile loop yesterday in Brooks’ Launch 7, a speedy trainer, but no “super shoe.” The $100 Launch sits at the base of their “speed” line with a traditional EVA foam midsole (BioMoGo DNA), weighing in at 8.8 ounces. Running with a faster colleague, I averaged 7:56s, with an average HR of 139 (3.7 on the Garmin aerobic effort scale).

Brooks Launch 7 and Hyperion Elite / photo: 101 Degrees West

The Data

The Launch 7s felt smooth, but a bit clunkier than Launches of old, no doubt due to the many advances in foams and geometries in recent years. In particular, they didn’t seem to roll as fast as some shoes I’ve been wearing lately, and my cadence averaged 169 spm. I still like Launch and will be wearing them for a lot of spring training miles, but they no longer make my list of shoes for  “uptempo” days.

Heading out alone with the Hyperion Elites today, I tried to keep to the same effort level—faster than my usual training pace of late but not quite threshold. I came through the first mile 23 seconds faster than yesterday, with my HR one beat/minute lower. Trying to stay at the same effort, I hit the second mile 13 seconds faster than the first, and 27 seconds faster than yesterday, at the same HR as yesterday. I tried to slow down a bit, yet hit the third mile another 12 seconds faster.

I finally slowed in the last two miles feeling it in my lungs more than my legs, and ended up averaging 14 seconds/mile faster than yesterday at essentially the same effort level: 7:42/mile, with an average HR of 140 (still 3.7 on the Garmin scale). That represents a 3% improvement in pace, very similar to what the labs measured for the Nike Vaporfly 4% (a 4 percent reduction in energetic cost is equivalent to roughly 3.4% faster in a marathon.) Also notable in the stats: my turn-over was 5 steps per minute faster, averaging 174 spm.

Brooks Launch 7 (left) vs. Hyperion Elite Data

The Ride

My initial impression of the Hyperion Elite ride was how “normal” they felt. Despite the rigid plate, the forward roll wasn’t overly exaggerated as much as other carbon-plated shoes I’ve tried, and the foam neither as thick nor as squishy as others. They felt light and fast, for sure, but also smooth and stable, something Brooks has said they were aiming for in this marathon shoe. Like Brooks’ other energy-return foam, DNA AMP, the new, much lighter DNA ZERO seems to emphasize bounce more than cush. The cushioning was completely adequate, but I didn’t feel like I was sinking much. My feet barely touched down before launching off again.

As I tired, the magic fell away a bit. With a slower turn-over and hitting farther back on my heels, the foam felt squishier, and I stayed on the ground longer, seeming to have to push over the plate. Focussing on shortening my stride while keeping a quick cadence and tall posture brought back the smooth, stable roll, but not the effortless float that the shoes provided at a quicker pace. These are go-fast shoes that reward an efficient stride with even more efficiency. More testing will be necessary to see if I would wear these in a marathon at my slower masters’ pace these days.

For now, they’ll take their place in a short list of shoes I look forward to wearing when I’m rested and ready to fly, and will be a strong contender for races from 5K to half-marathon.

photo: 101 Degrees West

The Specs

Weight
6.9oz (unisex)
Offset
8mm
Stack Height
35 mm (heel) / 27 mm (toe)
Midsole
DNA ZERO with carbon fiber plate
Outsole
Thin Green Rubber and HPR (high durability) rubber pods on heel and forefoot
Upper
One-piece stretch woven
Price
$250.00