Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 Performance Review
ROBBE: Welp, let’s get it out there. We’ve been a little anxious about this review for the last six months, and quite honestly wondering if we’d even get the shoe. If you follow us, you’ll know that back in February we reviewed Brooks’ hotly-anticipated racer at the time, the Brooks Hyperion Elite 1. In that review, we basically skewered it and used terms like “dead on arrival.” Hyperbolic? Maybe. But we also weren’t alone in thinking it did not hold up to the 2020 standard of racing shoes. Since then, we’ve referred to the shoe as the “HE who shall not be named.”
So when we heard that Voldem… er… HE who shall not be named was returning for round 2, we weren’t sure if the death eaters were back on the march, or if the boy with the DNA FLASH of lightning scar would come to redeem. (I promise that will be the last Harry Potter reference… in this paragraph.)
*starts new paragraph*
Because here’s the thing– we really loved the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, a tempo shoe (duh) that could also work as a light daily trainer. Now, maybe Brooks just slipped a dose of Amortentia (that’s a love potion for all you muggles out there) into my pair, but the Hyperion Tempo is still one of my top 5 overall trainers for 2020. That shoe was to be a complement to the HE1, but ended up outshining the wooden board midsole of the HE1.
Why the stark difference? The midsole of the Hyperion Tempo utilized DNA FLASH, Brooks’ new nitrogen-infused midsole, providing great energy return in a lightweight package. The HE1 did not have that. Instead, it used DNA ZERO, which was radioactive– it had a minuscule half-life (50-100 miles) and we didn’t want to touch it.
It’s clear that Brooks realized the errors of its ways pretty soon after the HE1 went into production– after all, Des Linden ran the Olympic Trials in the Hyperion Elite 2, the same day the HE1 went on sale to the general public.
Indeed, soon after the Olympic Trials, the Hyperion Elite 2 rumors were confirmed– the shoe was already in development and, judging from Des Linden’s feet (who finished 4th), it looked like it was packing a big ol’ stack of DNA FLASH.
And that’s exactly what we have here.
The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 is that racing shoe that Brooks actually wanted, whether they knew it or not. Our guess is they were trying to fast-track some shit and get something out before the Olympic Trials and ahead of other racers (like the Saucony Endorphin Pro). In any case, the Hyperion Elite 2 corrects the main issues we had with the first version– namely, a midsole that doesn’t suck. Instead, we get a huge chunk of DNA FLASH sandwiching a full-length carbon-fiber plate that’s leveraged right behind the forefoot for a more propulsive toe-off. Instead of a couple marathons of usage, Brooks projects that this shoe will last from 200-400 miles, and we tend to agree with the latter. The upper stays the exact same (though we wish some they’d tidied some things up on that as well).
So is the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 indeed a legit super shoe? Let’s find out, starting with Thomas.
THOMAS: This review is all about the new midsole and how it rides, and let me tell you– the shoe works. The DNA FLASH isn’t as bouncy as Nike’s ZoomX, but it does have some bounce and the Rapid Roll rocker shape really keeps the legs moving. I feel the roll most prominently right behind the toes. The fast transition sensation is provided by a fulcrum that creates speedy turnover. During an 8.5 mile run I was able to float nearly effortlessly averaging 10 seconds over marathon goal pace (7:39). Additionally, I did my first speed workout since last February and was able to hit splits by feel, averaging in the mid 6-minute pace. The best part is how fresh my legs felt post-workout. All in all, I have put 40 miles in the Hyperion Elite 2 before writing this review, and I look forward to getting in some more after. The DNA FLASH doesn’t show any signs of losing its pop.
The upper fit well, true to size, and I had no issues with fit. The weight went up almost an ounce, but it’s totally worth it. The Hyperion Elite 2 weighs 8.20 oz./233 grams vs the original Hyperion Elite weight of 7.3 oz./206 grams for my size 10.5 men.
MEAGHAN: The Hyperion Elite 2 is the update we needed, and honestly, what I was expecting from the original. So, what’s changed to make it so much better? Primarily, the midsole. The nitrogen-infused DNA FLASH midsole is a very welcome addition. This stuff is light, bouncy, and durable (everything the Brooks’ DNA ZERO wasn’t). Not only is the midsole foam a total upgrade, but there’s more of it– about 2 mm, and you know I love a good stack height. Plus, Brooks added their version of a rocker geometry– the Rapid Roll Technology, which encourages a forward motion and fast turnover. It’s comparable to Saucony’s SpeedRoll or HOKA’s Meta-Rocker. I am a fan of them all.
The upper hasn’t changed, which is great. The mechanical stretch woven upper is soft and extremely light and breathable. The tongue and collar are thin, but there’s a little extra padding mid-ankle. The fit in general is superior to other ‘super’ shoes. It has a wide platform, which gives the shoes a stable ride and it’s generally more accommodating for my wide feet.
I was so excited to wear the Hyperion Elite 2 that I took them out of the box for 22 miles. While I had some heel rubbing (more on that later), it was a great long run, and the shoes felt fresh from miles 1 to 22.
JEREMY: There is a lot to like about this shoe, but the real star of the shoe is the DNA FLASH midsole. The quality of this midsole is top notch, there is a real bounce to each step and the DNA FLASH material is lightweight enough that Brooks equipped this shoe with a big slab of it while keeping the weight relatively low.
Okay, I know you aren’t on this site to read about math, but can we talk about shoe geometry for a minute? The Hyperion Elite 2 utilizes Rapid Roll technology, similar to other successful rocker technologies such as Saucony’s SpeedRoll that is used in the Endorphin Speed and Pro. The curvature of the shoe’s toe is so striking it’ll make you put away the protractor and forget all about measuring angles, because this isn’t a right angle, it’s THE right angle. Paces that normally feel tough suddenly felt like I was gliding along and not even working too hard. I noticed this effect in the first mile out of the box when I clicked off a 5:40 mile (which is a rarity since I need a 20-minute warm-up just to walk to the fridge these days), and it really shines through on tempo run workouts and long runs where you can just lock into a rhythm at a fast pace while feeling fresh 15-20 miles in.
The upper is unchanged from the original version and provides excellent comfort with a padded heel collar and a woven upper with just the right level of rigidity. The outsole is relatively minimal but gets the job done on the roads and even held up on a long run through dirt and mud without any wipeouts.
ROBBE: I don’t need to mention it because everyone else did, but the DNA FLASH midsole is money. It’s a great mix balance soft and firm, well-cushioned and responsive. The full-length carbon fiber plate helps stabilize the stack height while keeping you on your toes for a quick turnover (with assistance from the Rapid Roll).
The upper is very light and breathable, and honestly– it looks pretty good. Of course, at such a light weight (it’s actually identical to the Saucony Endorphin Pro), it will provide all the speed you’re looking for.
I think Thomas had an issue with the outsole, but I thought it gripped perfectly fine with its strategically-placed rubber patches. I also appreciated the width of the outsole for added security. I’m gonna be real– I’m on freakin’ pins and needles every time I run in the Saucony Endorphin Pro– it’s like ice-skating on the edge of a straight razor. Having a wider base provides some nice stability for those of us who destroyed their ankles skateboarding as kids.Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Men Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Women
THOMAS: The DNA FLASH doesn’t like water in that it becomes slick when wet. The rubber that is on the outsole isn’t super sticky either, but where the DNA FLASH is exposed it can feel a little squirrely on wet surfaces. I found myself slowing on turns when the surface I was running on was wet.
MEAGHAN: If you follow Believe in the Run on Instagram you probably saw my bloody heel photo. I did get some gnarly Achilles blisters from the Hyperion Elite 2, but I don’t blame the shoe entirely. I wore the New Balance Beacon 3 for a week straight (which created a hot spot) and then swapped into this shoe for 22 miles out of the box. That combo was a mistake. I would suggest testing out the HE2’s for a run shorter than 2.5 hours to start…
Also worth noting, the shoes gained a little weight. The original Hyperion Elite came in at a scant 5.8 oz, while V2 weighs 6.5 for a W7.5. Honestly, though, worth it. And still crazy light.
JEREMY: The very slight criticism for this shoe that I have is that it really wouldn’t be my choice for any distance shorter than the marathon. With the slightly higher weight, this wouldn’t be my choice in the half marathon (whereas I think the Vaporfly and Endorphin Pro are a little more suited for a variety of race distances). Additionally, I think the durability of this shoe is good but not great, with a decent amount of wear visible after 80 miles.
ROBBE: Now, a lot of what I’m going to say isn’t “catastrophically bad,” but for a $250 shoe, I’m going to nitpick. Of course, I love the DNA FLASH midsole, but I feel some of the things on the shoe could be tightened up a bit.
The upper, while quite breathable, does have a bit of extra room, notably in the forefoot. I also felt the collar was just a bit off and had some bass mouth (the fish not the instrument) going on around the sides. It’s not a deal-breaker, and I felt that I had a good lockdown in the midfoot, but the Hyperion Elite 2 isn’t as streamlined (i.e. glove-like) as some other shoe uppers. I’m postulating, but I think part of this has to do with the slightly-wider last of the shoe. The Saucony Endorphin Pro is like ice skating on the edge of a straight razor, so you almost have to feel locked in. The structure of the HE2 is a bit more accommodating (for many people, this will be a good thing).
Now, this is just me, but in some shoes with a rocker and leveraged plate, I tend to get some calf soreness (I believe because I’m more of a heel striker?). So I tend to have to work more. I believe Meaghan (who is also a heel striker) experienced this as well. To me, the ride reminds me of a lighter HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X for some reason. It forces you on your toes, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but if you’re working against it, well– it may feel like work.
In terms of actual feel, if you’re looking for a propulsive toe-off that rockets you through each step, I don’t think you’ll find it here. It’s a slightly softer ride, but you also get benefits in exchange. Like Jeremy and Meaghan both mentioned in “The Good” section, you’ll get more comfort that will save your legs for later in the race (especially in the marathon distance). But if you’re really a fangirl for that true pop (like, Michael Jackson-level pop), this may not be the shoe for you.
And lastly, the price. I know companies *can* charge whatever for racing shoes at this point, but hitching a ride on the Tony Express is an expensive ticket and maybe a bit risky for Brooks. Two and a half Benjamins is a price point that may have some people, even die-hard Brooks fans, balking.Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Men Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Women
THOMAS: Little things make a huge difference. In this case, the DNA Flash is the game-changer. It turned the Hyperion Elite from a harsh brick to a real contender for race day. Shoes I would compare it to would be the Saucony Endorphin Speed, Endorphin Pro, Skechers Speed Elite (also a nitrogen-infused midsole), and the New Balance FuelCell TC. The golden ticket question–would I choose it for a marathon I would want to try it on training runs against the Saucony Endorphin Pro, Nike Vaporfly NEXT%, and Nike AlphaFly NEXT% before I would make the call. We will probably need to add the New Balance RC in the mix as well, but we haven’t tested it yet (coming soon). The good news is that the Hyperion Elite 2 is in contention and we have several legitimate options for racing. The once seemingly invincible Nike Next% has real competitors and Mount Olympus is getting a little more crowded.
MEAGHAN: The Hyperion Elite 2 is a fun fast day shoe. I laced them up for my last two long runs and I enjoyed every mile (blisters and all). This shoe is a keeper. If you’re looking for a race day shoe that accommodates a wider foot, is a little more stable, and will last 300+ miles–the Hyperion Elite 2 is a really great option.
JEREMY: The Hyperion Elite 2 is a huge step forward for Brooks in the marathon racing scene. It provides a great long-distance shoe that keeps your legs fresh deep into a run and is very impressive for getting into a fast-paced rhythm and staying there with minimal energy expended. In terms of performance, I found it comparable to the Saucony Endorphin Pro (although the Pro has a more bouncy feel), but just a little bit behind the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% where the difference between the DNA Flash and ZoomX is noticeable. A lot of runners are going to love this shoe for the marathon and for long runs/workouts.
ROBBE: Brooks has no doubt staked a claim in the racing category and has provided a solid option for those looking for a very well-cushioned, stable, and lightweight racer. You’ll get that quick transition in a lightweight package that can easily handle the marathon distance or even tempo workouts, as this can definitely work as a crossover shoe. Looking forward to future iterations of the DNA FLASH making its way through the line as well, as it is currently only available in the HE2, Hyperion Tempo, and Catamount trail shoe.
You can pick up the rooks Hyperion Elite 2 for $250 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Men Shop Hyperion Elite 2 – Women