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Last year’s Endorphin Speed was one of the highest rated running shoes of the year and it was rare to find someone who had anything bad to say about it.
It was so popular that it flew off the shelves instantaneously when it was launched and it was almost impossible to purchase a pair in the 6 months following its launch. Not even Saucony predicted how popular it was going to be and it took them a while to match supply with demand.
Here in Singapore, version 1 also sold like hotcakes and most retailers were sold out almost immediately. It’s still not available to this day. This has made version 2 one of the most anticipated running shoe releases of the year. This time, there is enough stock to go around- for the time being.
So what makes the Endorphin Speed so good and one of the most highly rated trainers of recent times? It comes down to three factors: versatility, durability and value.
The Endorphin Speed’s thick PWRRUN PB midsole combined with its snappy nylon plate made it fast enough for steady runs, tempo runs and threshold runs with enough cushioning for long-distances like half marathons and marathons. The Speed could also double up as a trainer and a racer.
The outsole rubber was extremely durable, being capable of hundreds of kilometres of running while its midsole didn’t show compression lines and held up very well over the life of the shoe.
It was also great bang for your buck because it had a full-length PEBA midsole and plate combo which was much cheaper than similar offerings from competitor brands.
The Endorphin Speed was designed to be the training companion to its racing counterpart, the Endorphin Pro. It has a more flexible nylon plate instead of a stiff carbon plate, a more structured upper and a cheaper price. Many runners prefer the Endorphin Speed to the Pro because the two have very similar rides but the Speed is a cheaper price point.
The Endorphin Speed 2 has exactly the same midsole and outsole combination as version 1 with a brand new upper. This will make a lot of Endo Speed fans happy because the first version was almost perfect.
So does the new upper make the Endorphin Speed 2 even better than the first version and how does it now compare to the other plated tempo trainers?
The brand new upper of the Endorphin Speed 2 provides a snugger, more dialed in, secure fit, similar to a racing shoe. The overall foot lockdown feels more secure while the lacing area has also been improved for a more customisable fit.
The mesh on the top of the box has been reengineered for more breathability. The reinforcements in the toe box used to go diagonally but on the Speed 2, the reinforcement is oval shaped so there is more open mesh.
The padded tongue which is semi-gusseted is slightly longer and sits more comfortably on top of the foot.
At the base of the lacing area, the first row of laces now goes through a suede loop. This adjustment makes the forefoot slightly narrower.
Halfway up the tongue is a band which is elastic that helps the tongue retain its shape when it lies on top of the foot.
The heel counter now has more structure and holds the heel more securely. Heel hold has noticeably improved. There's also a new heel pull tab which is made of suede.
There is no heel slippage in the Speed 2 but extra double last row eyelets are provided if you do experience any slipping of the heel.
Reflectivity is much better on the Speed 2. There's now a big reflective panel on the heel and the Saucony logo on the tongue is also reflective.
The overall fit of the Speed 2 is true to size and is a snug, racing fit so if you have wide or voluminous feet, you may need to size up.
The upper is comfortable, lockdown is superb and the material is breathable. It's a flawless upper.
The PWRRUN PB foam found in the midsole of the Endorphin Speed 2 is a unique one because unlike other PEBA foams which are one, continuous piece of foam, PWRRUN PB consists of thousands of tiny beads which are fused together.
This type of construction makes the midsole more durable because it's resistant to creasing while also making it denser and giving it a firmer ride compared to other PEBA foams such as Nike's ZoomX and Adidas’ Lightstrike Pro.
The Endorphin Speed 2 has high midsole stack heights of 35.5 mm in the heel and 27.5 mm in the forefoot so the thick chunk of midsole foam provides plenty of lightweight cushioning which is suitable for long distance runs.
Inside the midsole is the Endorphin Speed 2’s special weapon, the nylon plate. The nylon plate is flexible and not as intrusive as stiff carbon plates so it gives the Speed 2 a snappy forefoot without being too overbearing.
The plate inside the Speed 2 is shaped like a spoon with the part in the rearfoot and midfoot being straight and the part in the forefoot having a scoop. During transitions, when the forefoot is anchored, the back of the plate flexes downwards when loaded by the rearfoot. When it's released, the back part shoots you forward like a spring board would.
The Endorphin Speed 2 also has a high toe-spring which Saucony calls SPEEDROLL technology. This upward curve of the forefoot functions like a rocker that propels you forward when you load the forefoot. This helps to quicken transitions.
The Endorphin Speed 2’s outsole has a flat design with the rubber sitting flush with the midsole foam and not protruding outwards. This design helps to make transitions smoother and the ride softer, however it does feel slippery on wet surfaces because there aren't any protruding lugs to bite onto the surface.
This firm rubber is very durable, making it suitable for daily wear and tear with the estimated lifespan being at least 700 kilometres.
There is lots of exposed midsole foam on the outsole of the Endorphin Speed 2 but the foam is relatively abrasion resistant and holds up well over the life of the shoe.
The forefoot is where most of the outsole rubber is concentrated. This setup favours forefoot strikers but also makes forefoot landings feel firmer than rearfoot/midfoot landings because of the higher density of the rubber.
The Endorphin Speed 2 has a versatile ride character but it delivers optimal performance at faster paces below 5 minutes per kilometre.
During easy paces above 5 minutes per kilometre, the ride feels well cushioned and comfortable, however it's when you pick up the pace that the shoe really comes alive.
The spring-loaded rearfoot propels you forward with each foot strike when going fast. This sensation is muted when going slowly.
The Endorphin Speed 2 isn't the most stable of shoes. The midsole does have flared sidewalls however the base is relatively narrow compared to other daily trainers.
When going fast around tight corners, the instability can really be felt so slowing down is necessary. At slow paces, the instability can also be felt more whereas when going fast, the foot doesn't remain in one position long enough to feel the unstable base.
The Endorphin Speed 2 really is built to go fast, as its name suggests.
Ride transitions feel very smooth due to two factors: the midsole is one, single piece of continuous foam and the outsole is full ground contact so during transitions, there is always a part of the outsole in contact with the ground.
The 8 mm drop of the midsole is easy on the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon and this medium drop makes it suitable for a variety of runners.
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 has all the bells and whistles to make it feel like a super shoe: it has a lightweight PEBA midsole with excellent energy return, a propulsive nylon plate and a SPEEDROLL forefoot to aid in swift transitions.
The Speed 2 however is much more affordable and more durable than a super shoe so it can be used for both training and racing, which makes it excellent value.
The Endorphin Speed 2 isn't vastly different from its predecessor but it does have a more dialed-in upper which feels more secure and is better for going fast.
Reviewed by Brandon Law