By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.
The Brooks PureCadence joins the Brooks PureProject (one word) lineup as a lightweight, “Pure” concept shoe with a degree of stability just above its lighter, less stable cousins in the PureProject line up.
The Brooks PureProject uses five technologies to make shoes feel lighter, more natural and provide adequate protection while helping your feet and gait adapt to a more natural running style. The PureCadence is the shoe many runners have been waiting for to bridge the gap from traditional shoes with high drop from heel to toe, motion control features and a less flexible last to minimal barefoot designs. PureCadence is not only the bridge between these polarized running styles, it is also enough shoe to fill in the middle gound as an everyday shoe for most runners. It is light enough for a zippy race day choice too. Brooks nailed a new sweet spot with the PureCadence.
“PureCadence is the shoe runners have been waiting for to bridge the gap from traditional designs to minimal barefoot designs.”
First of the five technologies in the Brooks PureProject concept is the split toe. This “Ninja shoe” design is more a styling cue than a functional feature. This is the only window dressing on the shoe. I didn’t feel much difference in the split toe design in fit or function. Unlike other “toe shoes” the design does not extend to the inner of the shoe, just the outsole.
Anatomical shape on the PureCadence contributes to its buttery ride. There is simply more outsole and less tooling away of material in the arch. The result is a subtle tendency toward less twisting. Stability without plastic add-ons. Another factor in the surefooted, comfortable feel is dialed-in fit with the Nav Band elastic band. The Nav Band extends over the instep to pull the foot down to the sole of the shoe, like the strap on top of a sandal. An added benefit for triathletes is quick donning and an oddly secure feel with stretchy speed laces because of the Nav Band. The addition of the Nav Band, and a slightly heavier Nav Band on the PureCadence than other Pure shoe models, make the PureCadence a natural for triathlon use. Nav Band works great. I had no sensation of it being in the shoe except for its improvement on fit. While many people may not notice the Nav Band at first glance this is a key feature on this shoe.
Brooks is advertising a 4mm difference between the height of the heel and the toe. That is minimal drop but this shoe does not feel “minimal”. I chalk that up to the Brooks BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning. There is also the PDRB midsole on the PureCadence for a smooth transition around what motion control features do exist in the midsole.
“I’ve reviewed over a hundred shoes, nothing has nailed ride, cushion and comfort like the PureCadence.”
A long list of factors control the “ride” and feel of a running shoe. Some models use distinct structures built into the shoe with sharp transitions from control device to control device. These tend to produce a less elegant ride than the PureProject’s more subtle approach to ride control. The PureProject is a more “synergistic” approach to how the shoe feels while running. Every aspect of the shoe design works together to make transitions less apparent, ride softer and more natural and overall comfort and shock absorption better. I’ve reviewed well over a hundred shoes and nothing has nailed ride, cushion and comfort like the PureCadence.
A key feature to the great feel of the PureCadence is the shape of the outsole, especially at the edges. I’ll often test a shoe by running with one model on one foot and a completely different shoe on the other foot to compare and contrast. With a traditionally designed outsole and heel there is a “slappy” feel to foot strike as the foot leverages onto the ground rolling forward. The radiused edges of the outsole and curve of the forefoot on the PureCadence remove that choppy feel. If there is one feature that contributes most significantly to the great feel of this shoe it is the shaping of the outsole. The first time you run in it you’ll be delighted with the smooth transition across the stride.
Another strong design cue on the PureCadence is the overall flexibility of the shoe. With the combination of the curved edges of the outsole, the precise fit afforded by the Nav Band and a flexible overall architecture Brooks has found a novel set of ways to allow the shoe to move with your foot while still providing an adequate level of support and cushioning. Imagine the best feeling shoe but without the shoe.
Fit on the PureCadence is trim and precise, a size 9.5 fitting me perfectly and the Nav Band keeping it snug. It harkens back to stretch upper designs from Zoot and even Nike before that (Sock Racer). The shoe is light at 9.4 ounces measured weight for a size 9.5. There is a gender-specific women’s model available in a different color way with the same features.
Brooks mentions on their website that the expected wear on this shoe is about 250-270 miles. For most runners that is about 12-14 weeks in the real world. While the shoe isn’t cheap at $119.95 the ride and handling are so luxurious they are a guilty and functional pleasure. I logged about 65 miles total in my test pair before beginning to write my review and more time in casual wear and in combination with other shoe use (different shoe on each foot). I run on asphalt, concrete and easy desert groomed trail terrain. The shoes held up better than I expected.
It’s rare to find a shoe so tangibly different in the constant din of new model introductions. Brooks has introduced something truly unique in the PureCadence. It fits, feels and performs differently from any shoe I’ve run in from recent years. In many ways it harkens back to the luxurious ride of the late 1980’s Phylon cushioned shoes from Nike, but with better fit from the internal Nav Band and the radiused heel construction. Brooks deserves credit for this design. The next time you’re in a Brooks dealer make a point of running in this shoe. You’ll find a fun, new alternative to conventional shoes and a functional middle ground to barefoot styles.