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Road Shoes

Brooks Trace: Sport-Luxury Ride at Economy Price

The Brooks Trace is an affordable entry into the cushioned shoe experience: a neutral, lightweight, comfortable, no-nonsense trainer.

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Brooks Trace Review

With a protective, efficient midsole, durable outsole and a comfortable, breathable and accommodating upper, the Trace is a well-made, simple trainer that is ready for everyday running. Our testers found the low-cost shoe reminiscent of the “good old days” when shoes were straightforward, affordable and lasted long enough to cost pennies per mile after pleasant mile. But this old-school shoe feels new school in its cushioning and smooth ride.

Specs

Weight: 8.9oz M, 7.9oz W

Stack Height: 24mm heel / 12mm forefoot

Offset: 12mm drop

Price: $100

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Photo: 101 Degrees West

What’s New

This is completely new to the Brooks lineup and although billed as entry-level it could easily have passed as a Glycerin Lite, given the smoothness of its ride, generous cushioning and step-in comfort that is normally reserved for premium-priced product. The Trace’s 12mm offset gives the ride an old-school feel, while defying any clunkiness due to the flexibility of its materials and its lightweight, utilitarian design.

This Is the Shoe for You If …

You are searching for one simple shoe you can wear for every training run, and you are cushion curious. The Trace is for those who want to dabble in plushness without paying the price that normally comes with such a luxurious shoe, nor have to limit their use to easy recovery runs.

Photo: 101 Degrees West

First Runs

From our first runs, the Trace came across as the near-perfect everyday trainer, almost retro in feel — in a good way, reminiscent of shoes designed to go the distance and be comfortable on any surface. The Trace fits in a new category we’re calling clean and simple shoes, because there’s nothing flashy with it, just quality materials in a no-nonsense package that create an understated treat for your feet.

Another tester summarized this well, saying, “I tend to prefer this type of road shoe over the highly-engineered ones with lots of bells and whistles, etc. I liked the immediate comfort level and out of the box reliability and the very apparent arch support.”

A third, who trained extensively in the Trace for base runs, light speed work and pick-ups, said, “Overall, this is a shoe for everyday runs at any pace, when you just want something simple to protect and provide a bit of buffer. It harkens back to the day when shoes were designed to act like a flexible, invisible extension of your feet, rather than an engineered platform you carry around to land on and roll off of.”  The Trace was universally enjoyed for its simplicity, lightness and ability to get the job done with quality, reliable turnover. The shoe’s smooth transitions are aided by segmented crash pads that help usher the foot from landing to toe off.

The Trace’s midsole is the shoe’s highlight. It is a single layer of soft, bouncy, flexible BioMoGo DNA “adaptive cushioning” foam that Brooks boasts as adjusting to speed, stride and weight, while deflecting impact away from your body. The feel is somewhat minimal with plenty of ground proprioception, especially in the forefoot. Yet it didn’t come across as sparse or harsh to our test team. The geometry of a non-rockered, flexible forefoot was also somewhat retro in this age of stiff rockers. The midsole flexes on touchdown, creating smooth landings and transitions, and then provides a stable platform under the ball that flexes with your foot as it rolls over it.”

Photo: 101 Degrees West

The upper fit is generally true to size and the midfoot saddle holds the foot comfortably in place. The mesh has just  enough stretch to make it comfortable without introducing and slop, while it also “maximized ventilation” according to one tester. The toe box felt tight to one tester, but “ever-so-slightly big” by another. A third called the upper “unobtrusively secure — moving where it should and holding where it should.” The laces stay tied nicely and the padded heel collar snugged without any achilles irritation.

Adding to the shoe’s value, the test team found the Trace to be very durable, top to bottom, holding up to many hours of testing without any visible wear.

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