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A few months ago, we were sent a secret shipment. It even came with a non-disclosure agreement for our testers and everyone in the office to sign. We were being trusted with Reebok’s big secret, their boldest running shoe ever: the Floatride Run. While some may associate the brand with CrossFit, this shoe shows that Reebok is back into running in a big way, and that the brand is clearly taking the sport seriously with this significant leap in forward-thinking design, performance and aesthetics. 

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We’ll get into the nitty gritty of what we thought of the design and actual performance of the shoe below. But we can get this out of the way: it’s our favourite shoe that Reebok has ever sent us for testing.

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First impressions 

When we first checked out this pair, there were a few details that impressed us and sparked curiosity. First of all, we noticed that this shoe is extremely nice looking. Right now, creating shoes that fuse fashion with function seems to be a major consideration for top running brands and so, runners have come to expect a shoe that’s going to support them in training runs while also keeping on trend. This shoe passes the athleisure sniff test.

These can easily be worn as trendy sneakers to spice up an outfit after the run is said and done. For on-the-go runners whose workout wear constantly bleeds into their everyday wardrobe, we figured this new pair of kicks would be a nice addition to the shoe rack.

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The second thing that we noticed was that the Floatride combined a sock-like upper with a more structured wrap-around “cage” lacing system. It looks different and we were curious to know how it would do on the roads. We were also concerned that fusing together two very different approaches to structuring a shoe might cause hot spots, irritation or torsional issues at the midfoot. 

So how did the shoe fare overall? We tested them through three seasons, varied terrain and all types of weather conditions to find out. 

Technically speaking

First, let’s get through the technical details. What’s the science behind it? 

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Available: spring 2017

$180

Men’s size 9 weight: 233 g (8.2 oz.)

Women’s size 7 weight: 198 (7 oz.)

Heel stack height: 26 mm

Forefoot stack height: 18 mm

Drop ratio: 8 mm

Let’s start with the cushioning material from which these sneaks get their name. Floatride foam is Reebok’s answer to runner’s who complain about too clunky or too skimpy cushioning. Floatride is the cushioning which is supposed to please the growing number of Goldilocks runners who want something that’s not too heavy and offers support that’s just right. The big take-home is that Floatride is not your typical EVA foam. It differs in that the “cells” of the foam are more similar in size. That creates a more balanced, more consistent underfoot support. It feels smooth, light and responsive. Because this foam is 50 per cent lighter than EVA foam, it’ll satisfy the runner who leans towards favouring the lighter minimal sneaker. 

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Next, let’s look at the EVA support rim and the outsole.

The supportive rim is what adds structure to these floaty, soft shoes. Stacked on top of the Floatride cushioning, this strip of firmer EVA foam keeps the foot from rolling and holds the foot centered upon touch-down. Flip these guys upside-down and take a look at the soles. We tested them on trails, pavement and grass and in rain and snow. We had no problems with traction. By covering the sole heel-to-toe with a rubber ripple-like grip, Reebok is aiming to give the runner a nimble, tactile experience. Sure, this shoe is designed more for the road, but it handled well on trails and in snow.

Finally, there’s the upper.

The Floatride Run is bound to earn several double-takes during a casual training run. The forefoot is sock-like and super-soft and breathable around the toes. It should easily form to individual foot shapes and the lack of seams means that the runner can finish a slow, moderate or fast-paced run without red marks or blistering. We love its knit look and feel.

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Looking at the heel, it’s structured without being too ridged (read: it won’t skin the backs of your heels). We found that the heels hugged our testers’ foot shapes quite nicely. 

Now for the part that really made us curious–the caged lacing system. When we laced up, these shoes felt secure, kept our feet in place and we finished our runs without irritation.

But the shoe wasn’t without fault.

Narrow-footed runners who opt for shoes with more eyelets so as to get a more customized fit, may find that three lacing points aren’t enough to get that snug feel. Many runners feel that the more laces to tighten results in a more securely done-up shoe. For those runners, this system is going to be a problem. 

One tester felt that this upper was too sensitive to lace tension and noted that laces needn’t be tied as tightly as you may first think. 

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What we liked and who this shoe works for 

If neutral shoes are your go-to, this is a pair to consider. And that goes both for serious and recreational runners.

We felt that that the cushioning and sole were especially in-line with how a lighter neutral shoe should react to all sorts of different running conditions. But if structure is your thing, don’t knock it! One of our testers who normally dislikes soft shoes and prefers that firmer feel was expecting to dislike this pair. But the cushioning and fit strategy provided a touch of protection underfoot and a lot of flexibility, without feeling too squishy or floppy.

Overall, we found that the soft yet responsive cushioning and relatively mild drop, promoted a mid foot landing that felt good at a variety of paces.

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