Road Shoes

15 Best Road Running Shoes for Fall 2020 Reviewed

We review 15 new road shoes that provide cushion, bounce, stability and performance.

We had planned to break this review down into categories such as “cush” “bounce” and “stability,” but, when it came down to doing the sort, almost all of these shoes crossed over into two or more categories, defying classification. They are simply damn good shoes. So we’re reviewing them as “beyond category,” suitable for nearly every runner and capable of taking you through many happy fall miles.

Altra Torin
Photo: Adam Chase

Altra Torin 4.5

Weight
M 9.1oz, W 7.4oz
Drop
~0 mm
Price
$140

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“Cruisy” best describes the lofty, luxurious feeling you get from the Torin Plush. Altra lightened this new version by more than an ounce and somehow managed to make it feel softer. The Torin still offers Altra’s signature wide toe box for natural splay as well as a zero drop heel-toe differential, which may require some adaptation if you aren’t used to “balanced cushioning,” but worth the effort for the light, smooth stride they encourage. The knit upper is comfortably breathable and morphs easily to higher-volume feet so those with odd-shaped toes or bunions may want to give these a try. The midsole, while buttery, provides a nice amount of energy return and held up well for longer training runs.

Asics GT 2000
Photo: 101 Degrees West

Asics GT-2000 9

Weight
M 9.9oz, W 7.8oz
Drop
~10 mm
Price
$100

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The GT-2000 is one of the best value shoes on the market and Asics doesn’t’ skimp with this update of the stable, durable, and dependable trainer. The redesigned upper has a standard-foot fit constructed from a softer, one-piece upper mesh with no-sew overlays for non-binding security. The updated footbed offers a better step-in feel and the heel cushioning is bolstered through rearfoot GEL. The dual density midsole, while not as luxurious as some trainers on the market, impressed our testers as plenty plush with a slightly firm feel that held up to pavement with a dependable steadiness. The plastic midfoot “Trusstic” bridge and impact guidance systems serve to stabilize without interfering with a natural gait, leaving the impression of a “low, lightly cushioned, stable and quick ride.”

Brooks Levitate 4
Brooks Levitate 4 Photo: 101 Degrees WestBrooks Bedlam 3
Brooks Bedlam 3 Photo: 101 Degrees West

Brooks: Levitate 4 / Bedlam 3     

Weight
Levitate: M 10.3oz, W 9.2oz
Bedlam: M 10.8oz, W 9.5oz
Drop
~8 mm
Price
$150

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The Levitate and Bedlam are the neutral and support siblings, respectively, at the heart of Brooks’ “Energize” category of shoes. And they both deliver ample energy, with a ride that feels almost like a super ball: cushioning the protruding contours of your foot, but squishing very little before rebounding strongly. That ride has been popular in early versions, despite the heavier weight of the DNA AMP foam that produces it. In this year’s models the foam is 20% lighter — dropping the shoe weight by nearly an ounce — without a noticeable change in its feel or performance.  The knit uppers are also lighter, smoother, more breathable and less structured, and the outsole is more flexible. “These shoes are incredibly comfortable and put a spring in my step from the moment I slipped them on,” said one tester. Choose the Levitate if you like a very neutral ride, almost sitting atop the bouncy midsole. Choose the Bedlam — which has firmer “GuideRails” around the perimeter of the sole, a slightly wider fit and a more filled-in arch — if you prefer a more stable platform, whether or not you need the control.

HOKA Clifton 7
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HOKA Clifton 7

Weight
M 8.7oz, W 7.1oz
Drop
~5 mm
Price
$130

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Now in round 7, the Clifton continues as HOKA’s quintessence in weightless cush, only with “more bounce and less squish.” The shoe carries forward its bottom unit — with its early-stage rocker shape that facilitates the transition from heel to toe — but shaves some weight and increases breathability from the upper with an engineered sandwich mesh. The Clifton is understandably a favorite of HOKA’s line, what with its versatility, light weight, comfort, and surprising flexibility, given the thickness of the midsole. The performance felt slightly more stable and responsive in this version: “not quite the rebound of the Rincon, but closer to that than any Clifton in recent memory.”

Mizuno Waver Rider 24

Mizuno Wave Rider 24

Weight
M 9.6oz, W 8.3oz
Drop
~12 mm
Price
$120

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Blending in Mizuno’s new midsole compound, “Enerzy” to add some rebound to what had already been a pre-minimalism favorite for long training runs, Mizuno built on its signature Wave technology a midsole that combines to absorb road impact, cushion each stride, smooth the heel-toe transition, and return a bit of energy back, all in a durable manner. This version of the stable trainer has a more spacious toe box and is both softer and more responsive than previous models. The forefoot flex grooves have been reconfigured for better forefoot flexibility and the whole package feels skimmed down, with a fast and stable ride. Said one tester, “the landing is soft, but not squishy, as the wave plate provided nice rear-foot stability and got me rolling quickly and securely onto the flexible forefoot.”

New Balance Propel v2
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New Balance FuelCell Propel v2

Weight
M 9.2oz, W 7.1oz
Drop
~6 mm
Price
$99

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Quite the bargain, this high-mileage workhorse of a trainer is lively yet firm enough for controlled placement and protection from the road. Compared to the first Propel it feels like NB has dialed in the FuelCell foam density and geometry. The midsole is firmer and more responsive, providing a springy, neutral ride that flows at any pace. “I enjoyed the radiused heel for smooth landings and the late toe spring that rolls the stride off smoothly after a solid forefoot stance and push-off,” glowed one tester. The simple roomy upper is on the stiff side and felt a little sloppy when picking up the pace, but otherwise stayed nicely out of the way. The heel fit, however, was finicky enough — some loved it, some found it slipped and rubbed — that you should try it on to see if it is the right fit for you.

New Balance Beacon v3
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New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon V3

Weight
M 7.8oz, W 6.9oz
Drop
~6 mm
Price
$120

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Not a lot changed between the second and third incarnation of the Beacon, mostly because there wasn’t much that needed changing. In other words, New Balance didn’t want to mess with a good thing. Our testers agreed, finding the soft ride a comfortable and smooth one. The new Fresh Foam X did add some zing to the cushy midsole while the updated outsole pattern rolled nicely on pavement and should add to durability. The shoe remains a flexible, lightweight trainer with a form-fitting upper. The sculpted rearfoot is particularly heel-hugging, and should be tried on to assure it conforms with your foot. “I used this for pick-me-up days when I needed some motivation and, sure enough, the Beacons inspired me to rev up the pace,” reported one tester.

Newton Fate 6
Photo: 101 Degrees West

Newton Fate 6

Weight
M 9.2oz, W 7.4oz
Drop
~4.5 mm
Price
$140

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Like a tightly-strung tennis racket, the action of Newton’s Fate 6 is highly responsive. And, in this latest round, it is also tuned for gender specificity. The new sole technology focuses on optimizing women’s performance by dialing in different impact settings and fit. Newton’s five action diffusion plates under the forefoot are designed to compress then spring back under pressure at just the right time. Whether the “Action Reaction” actually happens didn’t seem to be obvious, or matter to our testers — they found the shoe performed nicely, especially at a higher cadence, and encouraged running at a faster pace and forward-weighted posture. The new lining, softer tongue and upper overlays were also a bonus creating a seamless fit that is snug and secure.

On Cloudboom
Photo: 101 Degrees West

On CloudBoom

Weight
M 8.1oz, W 7.8oz
Drop
~9 mm
Price
$200

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On’s carbon-fiber-infused, rockered “speedboard” boosts propulsion as it flexes and rebounds, and provides a proprioceptive platform between two layers of independent Cloud pods of semi-firm, bouncy Helion foam that have variable densities and rebound characteristics based on where they are positioned under the foot. The fit is exceptional, hugging the heel and midfoot while leaving slightly more room in the forefoot. The ride feels low to the ground, connected, smooth and speedy, while limited segments of outsole rubber optimizes traction while keeping the weight down. The upper gives off an airy, “barely there” sensation, making the CloudBoom feel lighter than it is. Our wear-testers reported it rides like a surprisingly comfortable track spike for road racing, one that rides softly and smoothly enough to wear for long miles.

Puma Ultraride
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Puma UltraRide

Weight
M 8.6oz, W 7.6oz
Drop
~12 mm
Price
$90

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The UltraRide centers around a flexible TPU polymer plate that is thicker in the rearfoot, where it bridges and supports, and thinner under the toes, providing flex and pop. That “bridging” over a gap in the midsole makes the shoe look like a flashy gimmick, but it turned out to deliver a unique and enjoyable ride that lures you into going faster. The plate cradles from heel to ball, providing a strong proprioceptive connection to the ground and a stable platform that helps the shoe transition quickly to the toe, where it flexes quite easily and then rebounds, enhancing the foot’s recoil and toe off. Underneath the plate, a layer of bouncy EVA foam allows for smooth, comfortable touch-downs. That foam is rather thin, particularly in the forefoot, so don’t expect much squish and cush. The upper fabric is a thin, see-through, breathable mesh that wraps flexibly but is not at all stretchy. Combined with strategic underlays that tie into the unique lacing system that spans the top of the shoe, it locks you down securely. “Fit was the standout feature of the shoe, especially the midfoot security,” said one tester. This shoe is fast, but not minimal, and a bargain for the fun miles it will provide.

Reebok Floatride Energy 2
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Reebok FloatRide Energy 2

Weight
 M 8.8oz, W 7.3oz
Drop
~9 mm
Price
$100

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The FloatRide Energy 2 combines modern, light and bouncy foam with a simple upper to deliver a smooth, comfy, neutral ride at a value price. The foam is soft and flexible, molding to your foot and providing ample cushioning, then firming up and springing back. The design feels almost retro, with no molding on the flat top of the slab of foam, a “straight” foot shape, a simple, full-coverage rubber sole, and a thin, flat, glued-in sockliner. This version’s upper is made of a softer, more engineered mesh that wraps closer to the foot. Inside, a stretchy wrap connects the tongue to the sides. The new heel is a high, molded swoop that looks fast and holds the heel in place well, but it rubbed some testers achilles tendons. Testers agreed that the shoe runs lightly, and is remarkably durable — further enhancing its value.

Saucony Guide 13
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Saucony Guide 13

Weight
M 10.2oz, W 9.3oz
Drop
~8 mm
Price
$120

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With a new, less-intrusive stability system, the luxurious Guide 13 wowed our testers with its softer, bouncier cushioning. The new Guide’s small plastic post is minimal enough that it wasn’t noticeable for those with neutral strides, only providing a firm, proprioceptive support under the arch when you start to roll excessively. Otherwise, the new PWRRUN+ midsole/topsole felt more responsive than the former EVRRUN compound, making it “a nice daily trainer.” The unusual puffy collar was a bit “suffocating at first but it holds the heel securely and comfortably.” Saucony did away with the ISO fit and replaced it with an engineered mesh upper that felt very plush and fit well for a variety of foot shapes.

Skechers Forza 4 Hyper
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Skechers GOrun Forza 4 Hyper

Weight
M 9.1oz, W 7.3oz
Drop
~6 mm
Price
$145

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Skechers combined the signature cushioned bounce of a Hyperburst midsole with a post of firmer, denser foam that runs the full length of the medial side, creating what one tester described as “a welcome stability and push-off platform.”  The difference between the two midsole materials, however, gives the shoe an outward tilt so they are likely to feel “off” for runners who don’t need or want that kind of motion control. For those who do want some guidance, however, the surprisingly light and lively ride, the active stability of the dual density, the high-abrasion Goodyear outsole rubber, and the breathable mesh upper are all qualities you’ll appreciate.

 

Topo Ultrafly 3
Photo: 101 Degrees West

Topo Ultrafly 3

Weight
M 9.6oz, W 7.7oz
Drop
~5 mm
Price
$130

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Topo went to town while updating this third round of the Ultrafly and the changes were lauded by our test team. The upper now uses engineered mesh to raise the level of comfort, security and stability and the new Zip Foam midsole is more energetic, producing a not-too-soft, not-too-firm sweet spot between cushioning and ground feel. Further, the external heel counter and low, long, firmer-density medial post provide a touch of guidance and stability without interfering with the natural ride encouraged by the low drop, flexible forefoot and wide toe box. Given all those positive changes, the Ultrafly 3 quickly became a favorite “go to” shoe for our test team. One fan raved about the midsole ride and durability, praising their “effective cushioning and rebounding energy return. They held up nicely, feeling fresh and steady with no midsole compression and are good for long training runs.”