ADRIENNE: When the original version of the Brooks Launch first came out I could not get enough of this shoe. It was light, quick, and versatile. It did everything. I probably had three Lotus/Purple OG Launches in a single shoe rotation back in the day.
Future versions got a little heavier and then somehow too laterally biased for my supinated feet. While I wanted to still like them, my outer ankles and calves had other ideas.
Could this work between us again? I was hopeful. I headed out for an easy 6, my favorite initial test run distance. Then an easy 12-miler that turned into a progressive run ending in a 6:30 last mile.
They didn’t feel terrible, but my mind definitely wasn’t blown. This is a very simple shoe and somewhat old school, but is it in a good way?
ROBBE: When I first started reviewing a few years ago, the Brooks Launch 5 was one of the first shoes Thomas gave me. I’d say it was the first shoe I fell in love with. I put close to 600 miles on a couple pairs of the Launch 5, including a marathon. It was just a really good shoe—comfortable upper, nice midsole, great durability.
The Launch 6 didn’t deviate much, and although the Nike Epic React stole my heart, I still didn’t mind doing some filler runs in the Launch 6.
And then there’s this shoe, which is a deviation to say the least. I’ll hold my tongue for a bit and come back to that later.
ERIN: I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating: the original Launch was one of the most perfect neutral shoes around. It was so perfect that Brooks didn’t update it for what seemed like a few years.
Ideal amounts of cushion, a shoe you could get a decent amount of miles out of, and like $90 at the time. The next iteration of the Launch I tried was the 5, which was also a great shoe, though I preferred the Ricochet. How does the Launch 7 compare?
AUSTIN: Historically, the Brooks Launch is a beloved trainer. Think simple design, lightweight, responsive, and fast. We’ve arrived at the Launch 7, which isn’t really what you loved in a Launch. Simple upper? Check. Lightweight? Meh. Responsive? Please. Fast? Yes, although side effects may include sore bones in the legs and feet.
ADRIENNE: I am a fan of the upper. Great performance fit without being too tight in any area and lockdown feels decent. The Launch 7 also gives the sensation of getting a solid foot plant, and I appreciated the forefoot stability being that’s where I tend to strike. Cornering on wet roads also is a strength of the Launch 7 and I almost felt graceful rounding them. Almost.
While there hasn’t been a ton of nice things said yet about the L7, on an individual level, these shoes fit my feet surprisingly well and had spot-on arch support. This was very unexpected, but nice. This may be why I don’t hate the Launch 7.
Let’s talk transition for a moment: As firm as these shoes are, they do seem to have a decent transition to them. The midfoot transition zone has been there since the beginning, and the same goes for the latest version. The rubber coverage is generous to say the least and these shoes should have some decent durability to them.
Lastly, they did something about that gawdawful clunky heel in the earlier versions. Much appreciated. Seriously. Also lastly, the price is just around $100 bucks. Dirt cheap considering how much trainers are going for these days.
ROBBE: One thing that the Launch has never lacked is durability, especially on the outsole. There is plenty of grip and traction; I took these in a slick rain shower and never had any issues, even when I intentionally took corners at a hard angle.
I can’t totally comment on the fit of the upper because I wear a size 8 in Brooks (7.5 in every other company), and early production sizing only went down to 8.5.
At 8.9 oz. for a US M9.0, it’s a bit lighter than its predecessors. It can work as a faster tempo shoe, but all this comes at a cost.
Lastly, it looks better than the last version. The Launch 6 was altogether boring, at least this shoe is more streamlined and faster in its looks.
ERIN: Well, it really doesn’t compare, unfortunately. But let’s talk about what is good about the Launch 7 before I start my rant.
The fit is great, and so is the upper. The Launch 7 has a single layer mesh upper that feels more like a smooth knit but has the breathability and stability of mesh. Brooks does the knit upper very well; in fact, from a step-in comfort standpoint, it’s hard to beat a Brooks shoe. I never have any issues with hot spots, the tongue is always perfectly padded, and the laces are an appropriate length. I also like the look of the dark charcoal upper and the contrasting colored midsole (purple, in my case). Stealth but still visually interesting.
The outsole provides a lot of grip, which is something else I think Brooks excels at. I do feel much more comfortable taking a quick turn in the rain in these than I do in most shoes.
Austin: Along with the Launch 7, I’m accumulating miles in the Ghost 12 and Glycerin 18. The Launch, the lightest of the three models, has a snazzy, simple super. Indeed, the charcoal grey mesh, gray midsole, black outsole, and thin Brooks logo overlay are about all you will find from top to bottom. Heel and tongue padding are adequate, not overly stuffed like the Ghost or Glycerin. As always, step-in comfort shines. In short, lace the shoes up and go forth.Shop Brooks Launch 7
ADRIENNE: The DNA midsole is needing an update. While it can give a good, personalized fit for many, it leaves me wanting more from the manufacturer. I mean, it is 2019 after all. I didn’t find these to feel completely dead and lifeless, but you do have to do almost all the work to run in the Launch 7 because of midsole deficits. I noticed that the shoe has shallow flex grooves on the shallow end on both the sidewall and the outsole.
I also have some concerns about the breathability of the upper. It looks great, however, has seems a bit thicker and not too airy. For many runners this won’t be a big deal, but I’m already thinking ahead to when the mercury and humidity rises.
ROBBE: I honestly don’t know what the Launch did to deserve this, but it’s now in solitary confinement sleeping on a cement floor. That floor being its own midsole. Holding it out of the box I couldn’t believe the firmness of the midsole. This isn’t an On— this is a classic Brooks neutral trainer up to a marathon shoe, meant for the everyman runner.
If that is so, the everyman runner will be hurting. It may be the firmest midsole I’ve worn next to the On Cloudswift, which I compared to a wooden board. And the responsiveness level is pretty much zero. The whole experience is just a letdown, especially as its one of my favorite shoes out there.
If this is the state of BioMoGo in 2020, then putting it in a midsole is an impeachable offense.
ERIN: Man. The midsole in the Launch 7 is really disappointing. Brooks is advertising this as a race ready shoe that’s also versatile enough to be used as a daily trainer and I really don’t see how that could be the case.
The midsole is very stiff, flat, and unresponsive. I thought maybe this could be partly attributed to the fact that I’m used to running in the neutral opposite of this shoe, but even after taking these for a 14 miler I was never able to break them in.
They felt hard– jarring, really– underfoot, and my legs really took a beating. Most of my training runs are in the 8 to 16-mile range and I can’t remember the last time I was sore following an aerobic pace long run. I couldn’t wait for that run to end, and I can say with certainty that I’d never wear these for any type of speed work or race, either.
Brooks says that the Launch 7– at 8.1 ounces and with a 10 mm drop– hits the “sweet spot” between a racing flat and a daily trainer. It really doesn’t, though.
AUSTIN: Without trepidation, I decided to go for a 17-mile run in the Launch 7 as part of my marathon training. The first 5-7 miles felt okay. The Launch felt semi-lively, but I started sensing some pain in both feet and shins. The midsole is stiff. Taking the shoes off was the best part of that long run. That’s a harsh assessment for sure, but that’s what the run felt like. Harsh. Unforgiving. Painful.
I haven’t run in the Launch for a number of years, but I did notice that the Launch 6 utilizes BioMoGo DNA. Based on the pain that I endured, I’d be curious to see how the Launch feels with DNA Loft so I can spare my toes some prolonged soreness.
Call it the Launch Loft. Make it lightweight (again). With a low drop (I’m thinking 4 mm). And lively (aka responsive). Is that doable? Would it sell? Between the three midsole technologies I know of that Brooks is using, BioMoGo, Loft, and AMP, I only like Loft. Let’s see some new stuff.Shop Brooks Launch 7
ADRIENNE: This is one of the okayest shoes I’ve run in in a while. You get what you pay for. I’m not in love, however, my hatred is less than others it seems. Maybe I’m just a weirdo.
Memo to Brooks: Please throw in some TPU, some air, deepen the flex grooves to liven this shoe up a bit. It’s not a ‘bad’ shoe; however, I can see it getting passed up in a hurry for those of a more energetic and responsive variety. My runs in these were fine, but I see a lot more potential in the Launch series moving forward.
ROBBE: As much as I love Brooks, especially for providing good footwear at an affordable price, I can’t recommend this shoe, especially if you loved the 5 or 6. You can probably still find the Launch 6, which I think at this point is like $75. Even better, pick up the Revel 3, which is what this shoe should be.
ERIN: In the words of the great Randy Jackson: it’s a no from me, dawg.
AUSTIN: At $100, the Launch 7 never disappoints in price. However, in the spirit of Erin’s review and American Idol conclusion, I’ll go a step further and quote the legendary Simon Cowell: “Dreadful.” (Okay, it’s not that bad, but I needed a relevant quote).
If you’d like to disregard this review, you can still pick up the Brooks Launch 7 at Running Warehouse or the Brooks Launch 6 or Revel 3), by using the shop link below:Shop Brooks Launch 7