I’m back baby! Brooks Launch 2 Review

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If you’ve ever run in the Brooks Launch and liked it, then you get it.  And you know the lore of the Launch.

The Brooks Launch was introduced in Fall 2009 to pretty great reviews.  Pete Larson at Runblogger loved it and made it one of his go-to marathon race shoes.  I had friends who raved about the shoe.  In fact, my friend Mike gave me a gently used pair in 2010 when I was about to transition from stability shoes to neutral shoes. When I first ran in the Launch, I had spent the previous couple of years in big stability shoes as prescribed by my LRS because I was fat and pronated.  As I started to lose weight, I ran more efficiently and got out of the Beasts. My early runs in neutral shoes, ever convinced that I would do damage to myself if I didn’t have correction, were like eating forbidden fruit. I had that fear-laced excitement that I was living dangerously, like sneaking a snort of your dad’s scotch.  I Loved those shoes.  I loved the red and orange color way.  I bought a second pair of Launch in 2011 and rotated them for shorter speedier runs to complement my distance shoe the Trance, and later the Ghost.

The Launch was a throwback shoe in an age where running shoes were becoming more and more engineered with plates and posts and the like. It offered a pretty smooth ride and nothing between you and the road but EVA and rubber.  It was soft, but you didn’t feel like you were squishing along the road with too much pillow underfoot. It was to me a Goldilocks shoe.  Not too soft, not too firm, just right. My next pair was yellow.  I really was digging the bright colors compared to the old stability shoes I had started in, the Beasts, with their various shades of Soviet-era silver or grey.

The Launch wasn’t Brooks’ greatest seller, but it had a devoted and vocal following.  Between 2012 and 2013, Brooks introduced its Pure Project line that seemed to be taking the place of the launch.  And that the shoe had no real updates since it was introduced in 2009 (except for some new color ways), made some conclude that the shoe was nearing the end of its run.  It wasn’t a great surprise then, in early 2012, when Brooks confirmed that the Launch would be discontinued.  Devotees took to the inter webs and let their voices be heard. Pete Larson eulogized the Launch, Launch fans created a Facebook page for the shoe, hundreds of others emailed Brooks, and still others took their protest to twitter.

Some runners, like me, had an emotional connection to the shoe that helped them earn PRs or breakthrough performances.  Others saw the shoe as a no frills, old school, not over-engineered shoe that reminded them of the early glory days of running.  To their credit, Brooks listened and reversed their decision.  In late December 2012, Brooks announced that they would indeed bring back the Launch with a couple of new color ways.  “You asked, we listened,” they told us.

Six years after introducing the shoe, Brooks offers an update to the Launch.  Launch 2 is out in stores soon, and I was fortunate to receive a review pair free of charge from Brooks.

The Launch family
The Launch family

I’ve put 50 miles on the shoe with runs ranging from 3 on a treadmill to 21 on the road.  The Launch 2 is a solid update.  The shoe “feels” lighter and the upper is more comfortable than Launch 1.

Out of the box:

Loved the color way.  The Launch have always felt perfect right out of the box.  Unlike the last shoe I reviewed, there was no need to run a few miles to feel comfortable.  Brooks has really done a nice job on the upper.  It lacks the “new look” of the pure Project line and stains the “old school running shoe” form but it looks, for lack of a better term, sleeker.  The toe box isn’t any narrower than the launch 1 but it looks like it is.  Hard to express this with words, you have to see them side by side.  It is a real comfortable upper.

The Launch 2 (L) just looks sleeker. Probably partly  optical illusion given the lack of contrasting colors.
The Launch 2 (L) just looks sleeker. Probably partly optical illusion given the lack of contrasting colors.

My first run was a 3 mile treadmill run at the baseball complex where my son takes individual instruction.  They felt like Launches.  Light, but some cushion, and they didn’t remind you that they were on your feet.  It has been a long time since I had a shoe that really disappeared on my feet.  The Launch 2 just kind of fade away as you run.  I love that.

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DNA logo in the heel.

 

Two days later I ran 21 miles in them along a paved rail-to-trail path.  Again, they had enough to them that you could go for a few hours in them, but not so much to feel like you just had to get them off your feet after the run.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/118371189″>running in the Brooks Launch 2</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/shadwell”>Gordon Harvey</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I set them aside for a week and ran in other shoes.  Today I did a final 20 miler as I wrap up training to pace the 5 hour group at the Mercedes Marathon in a couple of weeks.  Same result.  A quality ride, nothing reminding me they were on my feet.  A good day.

Launch 1 on the left.  Launch 2 on the right
Launch 1 on the left. Launch 2 on the right

What’s new?

They’ve added BioMoGo DNA material in the sole. Here’s a great review that describes what the DNA stuff does, really kinda cool.  It feel soft and cushy when walking, but not so much when running.  And they’ve added more padding inside the shoe, especially the area around the heel counter. The mesh upper breathes a little better than the old Launch. There’s more cushion under the forefoot than I expected, but I liked it.

Details: Brooks launch 2.  Size 11.5 D.  10MM offset

Weight: the Launch 2 weighs 11.2 ounces for my size 11.5.  This is slightly heavier than my old Launch,which weight 10.8.  But let’s be honest, most of us, especially me, will not notice the difference.  And it shouldn’t affect my chances at winning my next marathon.

$100 at the Brooks website.

Colors:

Men’s version: 1)what I call Sweden Hockey and 2)a charcoal gradient

these shoes remind me of the Swedish Hockey uniform. Love the color way
these shoes remind me of the Swedish Hockey uniform. Love the color way

Women’s version:  1)red and 2)a purple, yellow combo

Final thoughts:

50 miles later I remember why I, like a lot of people, love this shoe.  It has enough cushion for a long run and it has the responsiveness to be something I ould wear at the track or on faster, shorter runs.  It is a solid update to what was an already solid shoe.  And it is versatile enough to be your everyday trainer and maybe race shoe.

Provenance:

I received these free of charge from Brooks. The review is my own.

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5 Comments

  1. I wore the Launch 1 when I ran across america and rotated them with the pegasus and ghost! very worth it to have something more flexible and lighter. I am very excited for the 2s I always thought the originals were ugly… sorry Brooks.

  2. How do you like the Launch 2 vs. the Saucony Guide 7? I am running fairly well in the Guide 7s, but need a new pair of shoes and saw a good price on the Launch 2s. I do have a history of pronation, but have also lost 20 lbs in the last 6 months, which has changed how I run/wear my shoes.
    Thanks for any help!

    1. The Guide will give you more support than the Launch will. That said, I did long runs in the launch and wasn’t any wore for wear. Might want to buy from a place you could return them if you have doubts.

  3. I’m new to Brooks from Saucony. They changed my beloved Triumph (after about 5 pairs…hate the new ones. Saucony can suck it). Was reading up on shoes and have heard lots of good things about Brooks. I picked out two, this Launch 2 and the Ghost. I always buy the older version of new shoes to save some money and found an original pair of Launch at a $25 savings. Would I, as a newbie to the line, notice a difference between the old and new shoe? Also, do you like the Ghost for a neutral shoe?

    1. I don’t think you’ll notice a difference between one version and the other. I rarely do unless it is something that bothers me. I LOVE the Ghost. I purchased more Ghosts than any other shoe over the past 5 years. In fact I am writing a review of the Ghost 7 that should be up later this week. I like buying the old version of shoes to save money as well!

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