The Best Maximalist Running Shoes of 2020

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New Balance FuelCell RC Elite review carbon plate running shoes
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite is an excellent carbon plate running shoe that provides comfort and versatility.
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After the FuelCell TC— New Balance's first shoe to show off a carbon plate—here's the FuelCell RC Elite, a shoe whose keywords are comfort and versatility.

It comes with a high-stack cushioning with a height of 35 mm under the heel and 25 mm under the forefoot. The FuelCell foam gives a soft and plush cushioning with a firm touch under the heel. The soft feel of the sole is very similar to that of the Adidas Adios Pro. The result is a very comfortable ride, but the testers judged the bounce to be moderate. The carbon plate—discreet under the foot—does its job and provides a responsive ride with fast transitions but maybe not as impressive as on other similar models (like the Nike AlphaFly, to name only one). Therefore, the ride is actually close to what you get from a traditional running shoe, making it an exciting option for runners looking for a more accessible, more comfortable carbon plated shoe.

Next, the mesh of the upper is soft and relatively thick for a racing shoe, which reinforces the overall feeling of comfort. The shoe fits true to size, but the lockdown is a little loose in the middle of the foot, according to several runners. It's one of the main issues of this model: runners are concerned that it may not be secure enough for racing. The toe box offers enough room, and the heel counter perfectly locks-in the foot. The design is very nice with a sleek build and bright neon colors, although, of course, it's a matter of preference.

Finally, the Dynaride outsole and its small triangular rubber lugs give good traction and seem durable: testers didn't notice any signs of wear after several runs. Besides, the lugs also equip the tip of the shoe to act as a toe bumper that protects the toes and makes the shoe more sturdy.

To summarize, the FuelCell TC is a great carbon plate running shoe with a soft and flexible platform that received high praise from many seasoned runners. Its combination of performance and comfort make it a very versatile shoe. Make no mistake though: it's a shoe built for marathon racing, but it's also suitable for daily training.
Comfort
10
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Soft comfortable cushioning
  • Discreet carbon plate that provides a good bounce
  • Roomy and flexible upper
  • Good versatility that makes it accessible and suitable for both racing and training
CONS:
  • The upper could be a little more secure around the midfoot
  • Perhaps not as "explosive" as its direct competitors in terms of ride
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Adidas Adizero Pro Adios review carbon plate running shoes
The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro is a great carbon plate running shoe with a high-stack cushioning to run long and fast comfortably.
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Adidas is making a big splash for the start of the Autumn season with the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro, its second shoe to use a carbon plate. Like its direct competitors (such as the Nike Alphafly or the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2), the Adios Pro features a very high-stack cushioning to run comfortably long and fast.

When we mentioned that the Adios Pro featured a carbon plate, we only told half of the story (or even less). Indeed, the shoe has not one but six plates! First, there's a carbon-infused nylon plate under the heel to improve stability and compensate for the narrow profile of the rearfoot. Second, there are five "EnergyRods" made of carbon-infused TPU that support the toes to promote smooth transitions and a springy ride. These propulsion plates are surrounded by the new Lightstrike Pro foam, which is very flexible. The result is a high stack sole with 39 mm of height under the heel and 31 mm under the forefoot. The testers found the outcome breathtaking in terms of performance and running sensations. Indeed, they noted "fast transitions" from heel to toe and a perfect balance between softness and bounce. In other words, the feel is soft and plush with the Lightstrike Pro foam, but the carbon plates give good structure and a natural impulse while running. The only downside is the weight of the foam, which is heavier than that of its competitors (such as Nike's ZoomX). The shoe is far from being heavy, but it is not as light as one would expect from this high-tech racing shoe.

The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro also shines thanks to its Celermesh upper that offers amazing foot lockdown with its unique design. Also, it provides excellent airflow throughout the run and features a roomy toe-box without reducing lockdown. The only criticism we've seen is that the collar could irritate the Achilles tendon, but this may be an isolated incident.

Finally, the outsole is rugged rubber but with a surprisingly flat sandpaper-like surface. Rest assured, however, the testers didn't find that this configuration diminished durability or grip—quite the contrary!

In summary, the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro is an excellent running shoe to go fast comfortably that offers a unique and impressive configuration, especially with the EnergyRods carbon plates under the toes. The comfort is there, and the cushioning is spectacular, according to the runners who have tested the shoe.
Comfort
10
Durability
9
Value for money
9.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great overall comfort
  • Impressive cushioning that combines energy return and softness
  • The well-ventilated mesh offers precise lockdown while being roomy for the toes
  • EnergyRods (TPU/carbon rods) provide excellent results at toe-off
  • Stunning design
CONS:
  • The narrow platform under the heel is surprising at first even if the stability is adequate overall
  • Lightweight shoe but heavier than some of its direct competitors
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Saucony Endorphin Pro review carbon plate running shoes
The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a very good lightweight carbon-fiber plate shoe that offers a comfortable and responsive cushioning.
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$199.95
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Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
With the Endorphin Pro, Saucony enters the highly-competitive carbon plate running shoe category that has been dominated head and shoulders by Nike so far.

It's a lightweight shoe (221 grams for men, 190 grams for women) with a thick sole (35 mm under the heel) that features a brand new cushioning technology: PWRRUN PB. It translates into Pebax fused granules with a texture reminiscent of Adidas Boost. Inside, the carbon plate is there to make the ride more responsive by facilitating a snappy rebound. So what's the verdict?

First of all, what surprised testers the most was the firmness of the cushioning despite the high stack height. They note that the cushioning is very bouncy but without offering the "trampoline" effect of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%. This configuration has the advantage of giving a more stable and natural ride with a good ground feeling. It may not perform as well as the Nike Vaporfly—only time will tell—but overall, Saucony's approach is convincing and original.

Regarding the upper, the FORMFIT mesh gives a strict foot lockdown for more safety when you go fast. The runners were impressed by the excellent ventilation of the foot during the effort. However, the shoe has a tapered profile, so it can be too narrow if you have wider feet.

Finally, the carbon rubber of the outsole ensures good durability and excellent traction on urban surfaces.

All in all, the Saucony Endorphin Pro is a very good carbon-plate running shoe that's already a solid contender to Nike's NEXT% collection.
Comfort
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great overall comfort
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Carbon plate that works well while encouraging natural movement
  • The soft and well-ventilated upper that keeps the foot secure in the shoe—ideal for racing
  • Lightweight model
CONS:
  • An overall rigid platform which may not be suitable for all runners
  • The slightly narrow profile of the shoe may not please athletes with wider feet
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Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% Flyknit road running shoe
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% Flyknit is a very good, comfortable, and versatile high-stack trainer with a nylon plate.
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Nike expands its NEXT% collection with a new model to complement the Alphafly: the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% Flyknit.

What immediately grabs the attention is its massive sole (46 mm stack under the heel!) with a curved shape that looks like an arch. Another important point is its nylon plate. It improves propulsion by ensuring a smooth transition while running. The big difference compared to a carbon plate (like the one on the Alphafly) is its firmness: carbon is lighter but firmer than nylon. Thus, the blade on the Tempo is softer, which makes it less noticeable.

In terms of running sensation, runners found the cushioning of the shoe very comfortable while being rather firm underfoot. This configuration makes the platform relatively stable despite the impressive stack height. As a result, the shoe is more stable than other models equipped with ZoomX foam. According to them, this is the work of the React foam under the heel. They also found the ride pleasant and responsive even at a slow pace, which is not always the case with propulsion plate running shoes as they are primarily intended for racing and fast speeds. Nike seems to position the Tempo as a fast and versatile trainer with its medium weight (252 g) and nylon blade, and the Alphafly as a competition shoe with its carbon plate and featherweight.

Moving on to the upper, Flyknit is quite breathable despite its somewhat "plastic" appearance. It is not very stretchy for a more precise foot lockdown without reducing comfort. The shoe remains spacious overall, especially in the toe area. However, some runners have found it too narrow in the midfoot, which may not be suitable for everyone.

Overall, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% Flyknit is a very good, comfortable, and versatile trainer with high-stack yet firm cushioning and a nylon blade.
Comfort
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Very responsive cushioning
  • Good versatility: shoe adapted for all speeds
  • Snug foot lockdown with a spacious enough toe box
CONS:
  • The upper is a little narrow around the midfoot
  • Stability is acceptable considering the maximalist stack height but not as good as with a "regular" running shoe
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Saucony Endorphin Shift review road running trainer
The Saucony Endorphin Shift is a very good and comfortable heavy duty trainer that is ideal for daily runs.
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$139.95
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Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 2:16 am
With its fun and unique pops of color, optimal padding, and modern design, the Saucony Endorphin Shift is the third model in the Endorphin line. Of the three, It's the 'every day/recovery' shoe, a workhorse to comfortably run for long distances. With a stack height 38 mm under the heel and 34 mm under the forefoot, the Shift features a thoroughly-padded midsole designed with PWWRUN foam. Runners described it as 'bouncy' and 'rolling through every stride', which is a clear plus for running longer distances. The upper shoe is described as "stellar" and comparable to the other two Endorphin shoes. It's also highly-praised for its inviting and vibrant aesthetic. Finally, the outsole is particularly notable for its rubber grip that provides decent traction on roads. With its rubber grip, the shoe does perform well on off-road terrains as well, such as sand, gravel... However, one runner noted that the shoe began to slip a bit on wet terrain but consistently does well on a variety of dry landscapes. Also, while the Shift received many good reviews from satisfied runners, a few noted that the toe box of the shoe proved to be a bit too narrow/restrictive to fit a variety of feet. Additionally, some runners remarked that the shoe ran on the heavier side, which took away from its 'bouncy' engineering. Indeed, with 292 g/10.3 oz for men and 264 g/9.3 oz for women, the Shift is much heavier than its racing counterpart, the Endorphin Pro, and its 221 g/7.8 oz. This difference can be explained by the price but also by the vocation of each shoe. Saucony wants us to buy the three models of the collection and alternate according to our training and races. ln this regard, the Endorphin Shift is an interesting trainer option to run comfortably for a long time. To summarize, the Saucony Endorphin Shift is a very good low drop 'everyday trainer' that's especially great for recovery runs with its comfortable and generous cushioning.
Comfort
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
9
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Efficient and springy cushioning
  • Sturdy shoe
  • Comfortable lockdown
  • Appealing design
CONS:
  • A bit heavy
  • Relatively narrow shoe, especially the toe box
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Saucony Triumph 18 review road running shoe
The Saucony Triumph 18 is a very good, comfortably cushioned running shoe, ideal for daily training.
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$149.95
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Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 5:15 am
The Saucony Triumph 18 is the ultimate everyday trainer with comfortable cushioning and an upper that fits most runners. With a 33 mm stack height under the heel (25 mm under the forefoot), the Triumph 18 is one of Saucony's most cushioned shoes. It now features PWRRUN+ foam, which gives a soft cushioning that comfortably absorbs shocks without being too soft. The shoe provides good stability, so the high-stack cushioning does not reduce balance while running. Overall, the runners found the cushioning lively but not bouncy by any means. Unfortunately, this reduces the versatility of the shoe: it's pleasant during daily training at low or medium speed but not for speed workouts (e.g., tempo, interval). However, on the plus side, testers note that this new model has the advantage of having a smaller heel than previously for better stability and offers smoother transitions. Then, the upper is still excellent with a comfortable and effective foot lockdown. The engineered mesh is relatively thick while remaining breathable. However, given the extra weight of this new version (over 300 g/11 oz) and the natural stability of its platform, testers wondered if such a thick and elaborate mesh was essential. Finally, there is the new XT-900 (carbon) rubber on the outsole, which provides a good grip and protects the shoe from wear and tear. To summarize, the Saucony Triumph 18 is a very good running shoe that will delight runners looking for a well-cushioned shoe for regular training and long runs. However, if you want a snappy shoe to run fast, then its heavyweight and lack of springe may not be ideal.
Comfort
9
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Upper that offers an excellent foot lockdown
  • Soft and high-stack cushioning without being dull or unstable
  • Premium quality
CONS:
  • Cushioning that lacks bounce for faster paces
  • Heavy shoe
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Saucony Endorphin Speed review road running shoes
The Saucony Endorphin Speed is a very good running shoe designed for speed with its nylon plate.
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$159.95
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Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 2:16 am
The third model of the very successful Endorphin collection is a tempo running shoe: the Speed. Complementing the Endorphin Shift (trainer) and Endorphin Pro (versatile with carbon plate), this shoe stands out for its snappy ride at fast paces. Its neon hues and fun design also make it a very appealing shoe. The Speed's midsole is one of the most notable features of this model. Made with PEBA-based PWRRUN PB cushioning, Saucony claims that this material offers an explosive energy return. This high-stack shoe (33 mm under the heel, 25 mm under the forefoot) also features a full-length, S-curved nylon plate, and SpeedRoll geometry to provide a smooth and comfortable transition from heel to toes. Testers unanimously enjoyed the ride, but with one caveat: you have to run fast as the shoe is a bit too harsh at slow paces. The Speed is noticeably much lighter than the Endorphin Shift, giving it a more weightless feel. Runners remarked that the upper of the Speed is particularly excellent, with FORMFIT technology that enhances comfort and breathability. Meanwhile, the outsole contributes to the propulsion of the shoe, engineered with durable rubber that grips terrain and stabilizes the foot. Those who tried the Speed commented on a few drawbacks of the design. The rear and plate of the shoe, though cushioned, proved a bit too firm for some runners. However, this rigidity lessened overtime. Runners also questioned the price point of the Speed, which is $40 less than its Pro counterpart but doesn't offer the same versatility and comfort. The Speed is a great tempo shoe, meaning that it works well for interval or tempo runs, but it is not a daily trainer. Runners searching for running shoes suitable for all workouts will prefer the Pro over the Shift. Overall, the Saucony Endorphin Pro is a very good running shoe with comfortable and responsive cushioning for fast running, even though its firmness may not be to the liking of everyone.
Comfort
9
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Good comfort overall
  • Snappy ride
  • Impeccable upper
  • Lightweight shoe
  • Discreet nylon plate under the foot
CONS:
  • Less versatile than the Endorphin Pro
  • Cushioning which can be a little firm depending on your preferences
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Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 review carbon plate running shoes
The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 is a very good carbon-fiber plate running shoe for competition that offers a comfortable and responsive cushioning.
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We have just unpacked the first model, and Brooks is already back with a second version! The Hyperion Elite had received mixed reviews, with many criticizing its firm and dull cushioning. Also, durability wasn't there—the brand itself admitted that the shoe had a lifespan of 150 km (!). Brooks seems to have corrected this by reinforcing the sole with more rubber. Without being sturdy, the testers note that this new model should withstand more kilometers than the first one.

The Cushioning has softened and offers greater bounce. The sole is 37 mm thick under the heel with an offset of 8 mm. Brooks has replaced the short-lived DNA Zero foam with DNA Flash, which translates into an even more densely compressed texture to promote a more explosive energy return while running. And, of course, there's the carbon plate to guide runners to a smoother, faster run that requires less effort. Reviewers found the result convincing. They especially appreciated the stable and wide configuration of the platform. Without providing the same level of bounce as some of its competitors like the Nike Alphafly or the Saucony Endorphin Pro, the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 puts on a good show. The ride is something very personal, so it's a shoe that could appeal to athletes who didn't like these other models.

Moving on to the upper, the stretch woven mesh is comfortable and well ventilated while providing precise foot lockdown. Moreover, it is remarkably roomy to please runners with wider feet. However, despite these pros, some testers did not like certain details. For example, the heel now features a moderately thick layer that some runners found irritating to the tendon. Similarly, the thin tongue tends to move while running, which is not convenient.

Overall, the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 is a clear step up over the first model. Its comfort and springy cushioning make it a great running shoe for competition despite some flaws.
Comfort
9.5
Durability
8.5
Value for money
8.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Stable and responsive cushioning
  • Upper is well ventilated and provides good lockdown
  • Versatile shoe
  • Lightweight model
CONS:
  • The tongue and the padding layer at the back of the heel are not comfortable according to some people
  • Improved but still insufficient durability
  • Not as impressive as its price tag might suggest
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Hoka Bondi 7 review road running trainer
The Hoka Bondi is a good maximalist road running shoe, especially comfortable for daily runs.
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$149.95
Buy now
Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 6:15 am
The Hoka Bondi is one of those shoes that popularized the brand with its massive high-stack sole that offers soft and comfortable cushioning. The seventh model in the series continues this trend with little change from the previous version.

The sole is slightly thinner with now 33 mm under the heel for men and 31 mm for women. The drop remains low at 4 mm. The sole uses a simple and efficient configuration: EVA foam combined with Hi-Abrasion rubber on some important areas of the outsole to protect the shoe and improve grip.

The testers found this configuration comfortable while noting a lack of bounce and flexibility. Indeed, the platform doesn't flex with the movement of the foot. Also, the shoe is rather heavy with 323 g/11.4 oz for men, 252 g/8.9 oz for women, which doesn't help for speed training that requires good agility (e.g. tempo runs). Thus, the Bondi 7 is primarily intended for daily workouts and recovery runs. Some testers even said that they liked this shoe but for walking...

As for the rest, the upper offers fits well and effectively locks down the foot. The mesh is denser than before while still allowing some airflow.

In short, the Hoka Bondi 7 is a good road running shoe with comfortable cushioning but it lacks some 'pop' and flexibility to be remarkable. To be honest, the Bondi seems like an aging collection that, in 2020, is struggling to compete with shoes that are as cushioned but much more responsive.
Comfort
9
Durability
9
Value for money
8.5
Design
8
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Well-fitted upper that provides a secure foot lockdown
  • Cushioning not too soft considering the massive stack
  • A sturdy shoe even with exposed foam on the outsole
CONS:
  • A rather heavy shoe
  • Cushioning that lacks bounce
  • Mesh a bit thick for warm temperatures
  • Few changes compared to the Bondi 6
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