Monday, January 9, 2012

Brooks Green Silence Review

Despite the strange, colorful name, the Brooks Green Silence is setup in a unique way for most racing flats. Overall, it is good shoe and I've enjoyed running in it. The toebox has plenty of room, and the shoe is ultra-light, weighing in under 7 oz (advertised weight). But it isn't for everyone.

Overview

Brooks released the Green Silence in early 2010 (in one ugly color combination), intending to make a lightweight AND eco-friendly racing flat. To accomplish this, they utilized their patented BioMoGo cushion technology and reduced the number pieces of material used to create the upper. You'll notice in the picture below that there is not a clear-cut tongue to the shoe, and the upper "wraps" around your foot.
At any large race with decent prize money, you will see several elite athletes wearing this shoe. It was designed for racing, and it specs and "feel" are a testament to that.

Stats

Weight: 6.9 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm (21mm to 13mm)
75% of materials from post-consumer content
Built on BioMoGo - a biodegradable cushioning system

Likes

The shoe is super light, and the slipper like feel of the shoes construction adds to a very fast "feel". My form feels better and they really do feel fast. I'd always wondered how I would know when I hit more towards my midfoot, and the Green Silence seems to provide this. The 8mm heel to toe drop (nowhere near zero drop, obviously) is fine. It is minimalist enough to make you feel like you are wearing less shoe but not so extreme that you feel like your foot is right on the ground. I liked it. The cushioning was enough for what I use them for, which are faster tempo runs and speedwork, where I run more towards my mid and forefoot. My stride is not efficient enough to wear shoes with less protection for longer runs, but that is a topic for another post.

The toebox - my favorite part. I have a very large forefoot compared with my heel. Getting a shoe that fits my foot right is a challenge. I've yet to find a shoe that gives the room I need where I need it without giving up the secure fit I need in the heel. The Green Silence does this better than any shoe I've worn. In "Dislikes" you'll how this could be a littler better, but this is great.

I am a "closet" environmentalist, and the green footprint of the shoes is great. Every time I buy a pair of EVA  cushioned trainers there is the creeping regret, knowing that those shoes will be with us for the next 10,000 years. BioMoGo is biodegradable, which means eventually they will go away. I think somewhere I heard they go away in 30 years, but I can't say that for sure.

Dislikes

If you are looking for a nice, soft racing flat, this shoe works great. For a few miles. To build these super-light racing flats, manufacturers greatly reduce the amount of protection provided. Which you should expect in a lightweight shoe. However, if you are looking to go long and have a pronounced heel strike you'll get pretty beat up in these shoes.

My least favorite thing about these shoes is that the "burrito wrap" non-existent tongue makes the shoe feel strange. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get my foot in the shoe the correct way so that the part of the foot wrap inside the shoe doesn't bunch up on top of my foot. Also, this unique construction makes securing your foot a little more difficult. With a normal lacing system, you can tighten your laces up the hold your foot securely in the back of the shoe. The wrap-style tongue makes this more difficult, and I don't think I have it mastered yet.

The shoe does not perfectly fit my foot. The construction of the upper, in my opinion, makes the shoe not fit your foot as securely as a typical racing flat. I had more room in the heel and midfoot than I care for. Not so much that it made the difference between loving or hating the shoe, but enough where I will continue my search for the "perfect" racing flat.

I like it, but I can see a lot of people having too much room in the toebox. If you have a narrow forefoot, this shoe is not ideal, but I recommend trying them on because they are a very solid shoe.

Also, the laces provided (which are 100% post-consumer recycled) take a little practice to get right. Which isn't a huge problem, but the runner/shoelace interface should be the easiest part of wearing a shoe.

What Do I Really Think?

I like these shoes! I bought two pairs! One pair will be my training pair, and another to be my racers. They are not my lightest or only pair of racing flats, but they are my favorite thus far. Favorite being relative. The way the shoe fits is different. SOrry, they just do. However, once you become more accustomed to lacing the shoe up and setting your foot in them properly, it is worth it. Very roomy for a racing flat.

I give these shoes a solid 8 out of 10 rating. They would need a more natural fit to be a 9 (although they have a GOOD fit, it isn't great), and to be a 10, the lacing system would need an improvement. THey way these shoes are built would make these changes tough without dramatically redesigning the shoe, so I don't expect them anytime soon.

If you need a large toebox and are looking for a racing flat, give this a shot. Someone with a "fat" foot would appreciate the fit in this light weight shoe.

Other Reviews:
New Balance MT20
Shoe Preview - New Balance MT00

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