Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 First-Look Review: Nails It At The Second Time Of Asking
When I tried the first Brooks Hyperion Elite early in 2020 I wondered if any company would be able to challenge Nike’s dominance of the racing shoe market.
Having run all of my key 2019 races in the Vaporfly NEXT%, I’d tested other shoes with carbon plates but none came close to the performance levels of Nike’s record breaker. The Hoka Carbon X was a nice shoe, but felt like more of a training option – much heavier and not as quick as the Vaporfly.
And the Hyperion Elite? It was a complete miss. It had the harsh firm ride of a racing flat, made harsher and firmer by the plate, and none of the joyful bounce of the Vaporfly. To top it off, it was £210 and Brooks said it would only perform at its best for 80-160km.
Since then I’ve tried some excellent shoes with carbon plates, such as the Saucony Endorphin Pro, which can give Nike a run for its money. And now, after a couple of runs in it, I can say the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 looks set to join the leading pack.
The essential difference between editions of the Hyperion Elite is the foam used in the midsole, which changes from DNA Zero to DNA Flash. Apart from being slightly heavier, DNA Flash proved superior to Zero in every way, offering a faster and much more springy ride.
The weight difference is hardly overwhelming either. The first Hyperion Elite weighted 205g in my UK size 9, the Elite 2 weighs 223g – a price well worth paying for the improved ride.
I’ve used the Elite 2 for two runs so far, a hard track session running four 2km reps at a mix of paces, and an hour-long run progressing from easy to steady pace. It was surprisingly good on the track even when I went faster than my 5K pace, and the extra cushioning compared with a flat meant I could finish the session strong. Do bear in mind, however, that the high stack on the shoe means it won’t actually be allowed in track races under new guidelines.
The Elite 2 felt even better on the hour-long easy to steady run, a session I ran based on heart rate, and I was consistently surprised at the pace my watch was throwing up for the effort I was putting in. Once again, I felt strong at the end of the run thanks to all that cushioning underfoot, plus the extra impetus from the carbon plate.
It’s early days, but my impressions of the Elite 2 so far is that it will be a brilliant road racing option. It’s still not as soft as the Vaporfly or Alphafly, and it doesn’t have the excellent rolling ride of the Endorphin Pro, but despite being a little firmer it seems to protect your legs in the same way as those shoes while helping you to hold your race pace. It’s also more stable than the Nike shoes, feeling more like a traditional shoe – just one which has been souped up.
I found that the Hyperion Elite 2 fit true to size and the toe box is comfortably roomy even with a tight, locked-down fit around the midfoot. The upper is very thin and lightweight, though there’s a little extra cushioning around the heel to protect your achilles.
The outsole features very little in the way of rubber to protect the midsole foam – this is a road racing shoe and isn’t suited to gravel towpaths or even the lightest of trails. My second run in the shoe featured a heavy shower and I could feel a little slippage on wet pavements, but nothing so drastic that it put me off my stride. I might opt for the exceptionally firm-gripping Asics Metaracer instead for a wet 5K or 10K though.
With the change in midsole foam comes an increase in the expected lifespan of the shoe too. Brooks has suggested the Elite 2 will last 320km, but having logged a lot of miles in the Hyperion Tempo (released alongside the first Hyperion Elite as a fast training shoe) and the Brooks Catamount trail shoe (both of which also use DNA Flash foam) with real no signs of wear and tear, I’m cautiously confident the Elite 2 will last longer than that estimate.
I still have another hard session in the shoe planned and will see how it performs over longer distances. But as of now, I’m a huge fan.