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A max-cushioned trainer is usually only good for one type of run: relaxed runs at cruising speed.
However, the Endorphin Shift 2 isn't your average max-cushioned trainer.
The Endorphin Shift 2 has a maximum stack midsole which still delivers a highly cushioned ride but what sets the Endorphin Shift 2 apart from other max-cushioned trainers is its ability to go fast.
This unique characteristic is a result of its high toe-spring rocker technology which Saucony calls SpeedRoll. SpeedRoll features in all of the shoes in Saucony's Endorphin range but the Endorphin Shift 2 has a thicker midsole with a higher toe-spring spring so the SpeedRoll experience is intensified.
In the Endorphin series, the Pro is the super shoe designed for racing, the Speed is the up-tempo, lightweight trainer while the Shift is the cushioned daily trainer for slower-paced runs.
Just like the Endorphin Pro 2 and the Endorphin Speed 2, the Endorphin Shift 2 is only a minor update this year. The Shift 2 has an updated upper which has a more breathable mesh and a new trim heel counter.
The Endorphin Shift 2 weighs 8.5 g more than the Endorphin Shift 1 but it has the same price and the same midsole and outsole so it has exactly the same ride.
The new, updated FORMFIT upper of the Endorphin Shift 2 feels much more airy and more streamlined than the upper of the first version. The biggest changes are to the mesh and the external heel clip.
The engineered mesh of the Endorphin Shift 2 is thinner, more porous and has better ventilation than on the first version. It has a rough, matte texture compared to the soft-to-the-touch mesh of version 1 and the ventilation holes in the new mesh are so big that you can see your socks through it.
The updated, external heel clip no longer has a flat top line but a wave design which covers less of the heel so it isn't as intrusive. It's still thick and made of hard TPU which gives your rearfoot plenty of support.
The heel tab and collar of the Endorphin Shift 2 are lightly padded and are extremely comfortable around the ankle area. Your foot feels securely locked in place and there isn't any heel slippage.
The inside lining is smooth and soft so it won't irritate your foot if you don't wear socks.
The excellent lightly padded tongue is gusseted so it remains in place during runs. There is also a piece of suede attached to the top of the tongue which can be used as a pull tab.
The Endorphin Shift 2 also has new, flat, anti-slip laces which stay tied for the entire run without the need for a double knot.
The thin lines on the sides of the toe box are reflective, as well as the Saucony badge on the tongue so the Endorphin Shift 2 is suitable for night or early morning runs.
The Endorphin Shift 2 fits true to size and it has a spacious toe box for your toes to splay. It's not available in a wide version but the standard width should be fine for runners with wide feet.
There aren't many max-cushioned trainers with midsoles thicker than the Endorphin Shift 2’s midsole. At 38 mm in the heel, the Shift 2’s stack height is only 2 mm below the maximum stack height allowed for official World Athletics events.
With such a tall midsole, your foot sits far from the ground so the Endorphin Shift 2 has to have stability elements to make the ride more stable.
The midsole sidewalls are built-up so that the sides cradle your feet and keep them centered. The TPU heel clip also extends downwards into the midsole on the medial side for extra structure so that your ankle doesn't excessively roll inwards.
The PWRRUN midsole of the Endorphin Shift 2 is made of regular EVA foam so it doesn't return enormous amounts of energy with each footstrike. It does however have plenty of deep cushioning thanks to its thick stack.
Saucony added an extra thin layer of lime green PWRRUN+ which is a beaded TPU topsole underneath the insole to provide more energy return and a softer underfoot experience.
The Endorphin Shift 2 has a forefoot which doesn't flex much because of how thick its midsole is. The inflexible forefoot helps the SpeedRoll rocker to work more effectively: the shoe rolls forward instead of flexing during transitions.
There is plenty of exposed midsole foam on the outsole of the Endorphin Shift 2 which saves weight. Hard rubber is placed on the high wear areas such as on the lateral and medial sides of the rearfoot, the perimeter of the forefoot and on the toe area.
Saucony uses tough XT-900 rubber on the high wear areas for extra protection. The rubber pieces are recessed into the midsole foam so the outsole is flat and wear is spread more evenly.
A decoupled groove extends from the heel to the midfoot which saves weight and increases cushioning under the rearfoot.
With the flat outsole design of the Endorphin Shift 2 and the smooth surface of the exposed EVA foam, the traction on wet surfaces isn't great because there aren't any protruding lugs to bite into the ground.
The exposed midsole foam on the outsole starts to show wear first but it doesn't affect the ride.
The Endorphin Shift 2 is the most versatile of all the shoes in the Endorphin Series. It has a medium soft ride which isn't overly plush so it's capable of a variety of paces. From recovery runs all the way up to tempo paces, the Endorphin Shift 2 has you covered.
It doesn't have the featherlight weight of the Endorphin Speed 2 or the Endorphin Pro 2 so it can't match them in terms of top speed but it also doesn't feel out of its depth during tempo runs and it's easy to pick up the pace in the Shift 2.
The Shift 2 handles slow paces much better than the Speed 2 and the Pro 2 because of its high level of stability. The stiff SpeedRoll rocker of the Shift 2 also feels more efficient over long distances because there's a forward rolling sensation with every toe-off.
You can expect incredibly smooth ride transitions in the Endorphin Shift 2 due to its full ground contact outsole and its single density midsole. The smooth transitions combined with the rocker result in an effortless, efficient ride, especially over long distances.
There isn't much ground feel in the Endorphin Shift 2. Such a thick midsole provides plenty of cushioning and foot protection from ground pounding with almost no ground feel.
If you're a slight over-pronator and you need something with a bit of stability, the Endorphin Shift 2 will be suitable for you. Due to all the stability features such as a heel clip which extends into the midsole, a wide midsole base and built-up sidewalls, the Endorphin Shift 2 can be classified as a ‘light stability’ trainer.
With the Saucony Endorphin Shift 2, you get all the benefits of a max-cushioned trainer such as a comfortable upper and a highly cushioned ride but with the added benefits of stability features and the ability to handle speedy runs.
In the Endorphin series, the Shift 2 can do what the other two shoes in the series can't do: easy, slow runs. It's also more cushioned because of its thicker midsole so it has more long-distance comfort.
The upper of the Shift 2 has no flaws and is accommodating enough for most foot shapes. Ride transitions in the Endorphin Shift 2 are also smooth and efficient as a result of its flat outsole and SpeedRoll technology.
The Endorphin Shift 2 has a snugger fit and a more breathable upper than the first version. It also has a smaller, less intrusive TPU heel clip but it rides the same as the Shift 1.
At only $199, the Endorphin Shift 2 is great bang for your buck because it's cheaper than a max-cushioned trainer but much, much more versatile.
Reviewed By Brandon Law