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Road Running Shoes • January 24, 2024

Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 Review: Somebody Stop This Train

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What You Need To Know

Weight

7.2 oz. (204 g) for a US M9 (unisex sizing)

Stack Height / Drop

40 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Best For

Speedy runs up to a half-marathon distance

Key Features

3D printed SpeedVault Race Plate, RapidRoll geometry, DNA Flash v2 midsole foam, updated breathable upper

On The Run
Extremely secure lockdown Smooth ride through each stride Not enough bounce for a full marathon
Price / Availability

$250, February 1, 2024

Introduction to the Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

AUSTIN: The Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 is my fourth super shoe, joining the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ and Nike Alphafly Next% 2 in the rotation (my other shoe, the lime green Vaporfly Next% was retired after the 2022 Boston Marathon). Since receiving the Hyperion Elite 4, I’ve put it through some easy runs, tempo runs, and a track session. From what I’ve read and discovered talking with fellow runners about the prior three versions, I didn’t miss much. Still, does version four emanate elite?

LINDSAY: I’ve never thought of Brooks when it comes to race day shoes, but here they are with one of their very own — and on the 4th iteration, no less. I guess I live under a rock because I didn’t know much about the Brooks Hyperion Elite 1, 2, or 3.

That said, a race day shoe paired with the fact that I love the Brooks Hyperion made this an exciting try. Step-in felt pretty similar to other super shoes: a little awkward and a lot of clicking with each walking step due to the carbon plate. I get a little nervous when shoes are unisex sizing, but these fit true to size (I’m a US W7 and wore a US M5.5/W7, for example).

When it comes to design, this looks like a race day shoe. It’s a huge upgrade in cosmetics compared to the Hyperion Elite 3, as far as I’m concerned. Call it a facelift, if you will. Brooks went back to the soft ankle fit of the 1 and, more closely, the 2 and kept the soft, thinner tongue but changed just about everything else. So now that it looks more like its competitors, the real question stands: does the performance match?

THOMAS: Despite many attempts (the first one being the worst one), Brooks has yet to elevate their race day shoe to the same level as the major players these days. Can they do it with this one?

What we like about the Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

AUSTIN: If I were to split the Hyperion Elite 4 into percentages, I like seventy percent of it. Let’s start with the design. The Illusion Blue/Coral/Orange colorway looks fast. Racing shoes that incorporate loud, noisy colors (neon, anyone?) are so fun to sport for local 5Ks and massive marathons. I’d love to see the Metaspeed Sky+ get the Noosa treatment at some point, but I digress.

As I regularly say about Brooks, the step-in comfort shines. The true-to-size, race-ready mesh upper is thin — paper thin — but I loved the fit. It offered good midfoot lockdown and ample volume in the toe box, too. Even though I have narrow feet, I didn’t like the low volume of the Alphafly Next% 2. My toes felt cramped in the Nike racing shoe, but they exhibited much better splay in the Brooks. I also like the serrated laces that inspire confidence, i.e. not coming undone a few miles into a race.

Although the tongue is thin, I didn’t encounter any lace bite across the top of my feet. Internal padding around the heel enhances the fit, and although the collar isn’t padded, I didn’t encounter any lift or rubbing. According to Brooks, the nitrogen-infused DNA Flash v2 midsole provides ten percent more energy return. I’ll let others gauge that claim on the roads.

The SpeedVault Race+ Plate (carbon fiber plate) and RapidRoll Rocker provided a firm but cushioned ride. As for the outsole, traction felt acceptable. I didn’t take them into any rainy or wet runs, so I’ll be curious to see how other runners feel concerning this element. From what I’ve seen, the forefoot rubber configuration on the outsole looks very similar to the SpeedVault Race+ plate design.

LINDSAY: The upper is very similar to other top racing shoes out there. It’s almost a net-like material that has a little extra give in all the right places for those of us with bunions. It’s also about as breathable as a shoe can get without being a sandal — it’s thin but durable and comfortable with some cartilage at the heel for good support. The laces are the same as you would find in the Vaporfly, with great lockdown in the midfoot. (Almost too good; more on that later).

I’m also glad Brooks stuck with the nitrogen-infused DNA Flash V2 midsole because it worked really well in the Hyperion and it adds just enough cushion here as well. Oh, and it’s very cool that the carbon plate is 3D printed. I’m not sure if that is a 1:1 translation to functionality, but it works. The carbon plate is also tailored to the shoe size so a bigger shoe does not necessarily mean more weight from the carbon plate. I can’t say that it has ever made a difference to me because I have tiny fairy feet, but it’s a consideration we love to see.

Not much to say about the outer here. Moving right along.

THOMAS: Brooks nailed the design of this shoe. The upper is a beautifully executed knit that fits well. Arris worked with Brooks to design a carbon plate structure for specific shoe sizes. The plate is not just bigger and smaller; it has a unique structure based on size.

Shop Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 - Unisex

What we don’t like about the Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

AUSTIN: If you recall, I mentioned liking seventy percent of the Hyperion Elite 4. The remaining thirty percent comes down to the ride and the price. The DNA Flash v2 feels superb underfoot, but the shoe isn’t bouncy or propulsive. My feet turned over quickly, but the absence of explosiveness left me wanting more. Speaking of which, like other super shoes, this one costs more bucks– 250 of ’em, to be exact. And that’s a lot of bucks for a marathon shoe that reminded me more of the Endorphin Speed 3 than the Alphafly Next% 2 as I zoomed around the track.

LINDSAY: A marathon shoe, you say? Not for me. The dogs were barking after five or so miles, and there was just zero bounce at that point. It felt like I was toeing off on an absolute rock. I will say they soften up a bit after a few runs, but it’s still nothing to write home about.

If you like a tight lockdown, this shoe is for you. Much like the Vaporfly, getting this shoe on and off is a struggle. There is no slipping these off; you have to loosen each crossover, and I needed the pull tab every time I put them on. It’s a nice and soft pull tab, too, but with the amount of tugging I was doing, I can see it wearing down pretty quickly.

There isn’t much of an outsole to speak of. I’m not sure if they were trying to cut weight or height, but after only a few runs, I feel like the thin outsole was getting some wear on it. I wish the midsole would feel some of that use and soften up more, but alas, it remains firm.

THOMAS: The Hyperion Elite weighs 8.35 oz./236 grams for a size 10.5, similar to the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 and the New Balance SC Elite v4, but it lacks the responsiveness of their Peba-based midsoles. Simply put, the foam is not up to the task. My feet were beat up after a 12-mile run. There just isn’t any pop. This shoe would have had potential if Brooks could replace the DNA Flash with Pebax or a similar foam, but their nitrogen-infused supercritical foam doesn’t cut it when it comes to marathon shoes these days. As is, the Hyperion Elite falls short and completely out of my rankings for race-day shoes.

Shop Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 - Unisex

Final thoughts on the Brooks Hyperion Elite 4

AUSTIN: If you decide to purchase the Hyperion Elite 4 this winter, I’d opt for some wool socks to combat the frigid air that will inevitably permeate the thin mesh upper. Conversely, summer runs and races with some thin socks should feel delightful. Then again, the heat and humidity will likely be awful. But your shoes will be ventilated.

The ride is snappy, but I’m hesitant to take the Hyperion Elite 4 into a marathon. A half marathon? For sure, but I don’t know about the full distance based on the firm ride and less cushioning than other super shoes in the market. I’ve never tried the Adidas Adios Pro or New Balance SC Elite, but I have the sense that they both eclipse the Hyperion Elite 4 in a head-to-head midsole comparison. I love the look and the ride, but I want more bounce.

LINDSAY: The Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 has a nice rocker feel with a great upper lockdown. I just don’t see myself paying $250 for this shoe when there are other options out there that are overall more comfortable at longer distances and more responsive. With that said, if you’ve had some bad experiences with other super shoes, it may be worth it to try this one out because it is certainly different. It fits true to size, and Brooks is a reliable brand for daily trainers and athletic wear alike, but sadly, they missed the mark for me on this one.

THOMAS: The fantastic upper and unique collaboration with Arris had me very excited to try the shoe. However, the foam keeps Brooks at the bottom of the super shoe category. The insistence on using essentially the same foam for the past 4 years, while everyone from Salomon to Diadora to– no joke, TYR– passes them by, is just baffling. Just stop making this shoe if you’re not going to meet the standard of race day performance in 2024.

Look, I’m rooting for Brooks, and they’ve made some nice strides with shoes like the Ghost Max, Hyperion Max, and pretty much the entire trail line. But as it stands right now, literally any race day shoe is better for the marathon than the Hyperion Elite. I would list them all, but there’s too many. 

You can pick up the Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 for $250 on February 1, 2024, at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the button below.

Shop The Shoe

 

Shop Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 Unisex
3
Comments

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. George Harris says:

    Excellent review. I agree with the comments. I feel it is a bit too firm. Why the heck did they not go with a PEBA midsole? For $250 there are better options.

  2. Oliver says:

    Thomas and Robbe exasperation with shoe companies not getting it is one of the true delights of BITR.

  3. Roberto says:

    Personally, I love there is a brand that continues to improve EVA shoes. And DNA Flash is hands down the best EVA foam around (ok, compared to the other 4-5 brands I’ve tried recently).

    I can’t handle PEBA, find them too unstable, no matter how much exercise I do to improve my stability.

    I think Brooks has not “fallen behind”, I think they have a clear strategy designed for a well defined customer profile and they hit the mark for those runners (almost) every time. I ran in the HP Elite 3, and while that shoe had issues, it was the best “supershoe-ish” for me. And it seems they have addressed those issues. It is pricey for an EVA shoe, but I’d pay the price for this level of comfort and performance (compared to other EVAs) in long races (don’t tell Brooks!).

    It is very clear to me why they don’t jump on the PEBA bandwagon like everyone else. It is a very clear strategic choice and not baffling at all.

    Unless they manage to develop a stable PEBA, I hope Brooks continue along this path

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Authors

austin bonds
Austin Bonds
Southern Road Reviewer
  • Instagram

Austin, who lives north of Atlanta, is a stay-at-home father and running store part-timer (year eleven). Based on his inability to provide a 10K or 5K personal record, he should probably race those distances more. It’s rare to not see a party size bag of peanut M&Ms in his pantry and a pair of Shokz on his ears during a run.

All-time favorite shoes: OG Altra Escalante, Saucony Kinvara 3, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%

More from Austin
Shoe Size

12

Fav. Distance

26.2

PRs
  • 3:03

    Marathon
  • 1:25

    Half Marathon
lindsey 4
Lindsay Agro
Baltimore Road Reviewer
  • Instagram

Lindsay is an optometrist by day and runner by… all other hours. Originally from south Florida, Lindsay started running with Believe Run Club when she moved to Baltimore and the rest is history. When she’s not running or fixing eyeballs, you can find her exploring with her dog, Iris, or grabbing a beer with friends.

All-time favorite shoes: Asics Novablast, Saucony Endorphin line, Nike Vaporfly NEXT%

More from Lindsay
Shoe Size

7

Fav. Distance

10-Mile

PRs
  • 3:35

    Marathon
  • 1:42

    Half Marathon
  • 44:52

    10K
  • 22:08

    5k
Thomas Neuberger
Founder
  • Strava
  • Instagram

As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be. 

More from Thomas
Shoe Size

10.5

Fav. Distance

26.2

PRs
  • 10:28

    50 Mile
  • 5:43

    50K
  • 3:20

    26.2
  • 1:36

    Half Marathon
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