Shoe Review: Brooks Levitate

Shoe Review: Brooks Levitate

Brand

Brooks Running

Model

Levitate

What Activity Were These Shoes Used For?

Running 3-5 times a week – I’ve run about 100km so far in these.

Goals

Building a base for 50k event next spring

Comparable To…

n/a

True To Size?

Yes

The Perfect Spring

Nike Shox trainer circa 2002. (Nike)

There are two things to consider when imagining the perfect spring: how difficult it is to compress and how much energy (i.e. heat) is lost during its recoil.

Footwear companies have been attempting to perfect ‘the spring’ in a running shoe midsole for a generation. Look no further than Nike’s Shox line-up from the early 2000’s to appreciate how far companies will go to create the perfect spring for the runner.

And, for good reason: preserving elastic energy is arguably the most important difference between runners and non-runners in the animal kingdom (think cheetah vs. elephant).

In humans, it is reported that up to 30% of the mechanical energy used in running is contributed by the springs of our bodies, our tendons. Furthermore, just like hair colour, not all tendons are the same with some less adept running bodies receiving less than 10% elastic energy return.

That’s a really big difference when you consider this elastic energy get cycled 800 times each kilometre!

So next time you see one of those deer-footed runners prancing down the road at an effortless 4 minute/kilometre pace and you think to yourself, “How do they make it look so easy?”, remember that it actually is easier for them because their tendons are returning a lot more energy.

Now back to shoes. What if simply using the right shoe could make you run more economically? What if it could make you feel closer to how those elite runners feel? This is exactly the motivation behind Brooks’ new Levitate runner.

The All-New Brooks Levitate

Featuring a new DNA AMP midsole unit, the Levitate feels significantly different from other Brooks’ shoes and is intended to promote ‘infinite energy’ by discovering, so they claim, the perfect spring. The people at Brooks seem pretty excited:

“We’re pushing the limits of energy return with the new Brooks Levitate and are excited to unveil a shoe that has been engineered from the ground up to provide runners with an infinitely energetic experience,” said Carson Caprara, director of global product line management, Brooks Running.

“The Brooks Levitate features our revolutionary new DNA AMP midsole technology that releases energy straight back to the runner, making the experience so fun they might feel like running forever.”

The DNA AMP midsole is one of several innovations in the new Levitate. (Brooks Running)

WATCH: Brooks Levitate Shoe Review

Brooks has a reason to be excited: the Levitate is a good shoe. It provides a surprising degree of responsiveness considering its heavier weight (11.3 oz for size US9.5). It seems that, after putting about 100 test km in, I could beat the tar out of this shoe and it would continue to deliver this distinctively tight cushioned feel.

Runners should know, however, that the Levitate has a much firmer feel than the stalwart Ghost, and especially the Glycerin, lines that have been bread-and-butter for Brooks road running for years.

The arrow-shaped outsole pattern allegedly improves heel-toe transition. (Brooks Running)

The 8mm heel pitch in the Levitate is an ideal balance of calf muscle support without pitching the leg to unnecessary ankle and knee flexion.

The Levitate’s upper features an integrated knit fabric in a circular knit design. This design accommodates and secures the foot during running. The extra cushioned top-line collar is a nice addition. This, especially if you have a narrower heel or complain about heel slipping.

The appearance of Levitate’s outsole might seem generic. However, Brook intended for this arrow-shaped design to improve heel-toe transition and reduce wasted energy.

However, I am a little lost on how an outsole pattern could achieve this on its own; foot-flat transition has much more to do with the hardness of the midsole and flex-groove placement.

So far, I can’t really say I noticed this transition feel different from running in my Pegasus 34s; probably just chalk this one up to Brooks’ marketing department feeling creative.

Overall Impression

I’d highly recommend this shoe as a versatile mid- to long-distance training shoe. With some nice upper fit, durable mid-sole material and an overall design that won’t force you to compromise speed for comfort, it works well for this.

Considering that Brooks offers a 90-day trial period where you can return if not 100% satisfied, it is well worth checking out how much energy you feel when wearing the Levitate.

Michael Ryan
Director of Research & Development
Kintec Race Team

 

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