Brooks Launch 8/GTS 8 Performance Review
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a combined review due to the very minor differences between the Launch 8 and Launch GTS 8. For 2021, Brooks has changed the definition of GTS from ‘Go-To-Shoe’ to ‘GuideSole Support.’ In an effort to streamline its offerings, Brooks has eliminated its stability shoe line, opting to pair past models up with existing neutral trainers. Hence, we now have the Launch 8 (neutral trainer) and the Launch GTS 8 (formerly the Brooks Ravenna).
AUSTIN: Moments before starting a recent run with my son in the B.O.B. stroller, I noticed a bronze statue of a miner sifting for gold as part of an art installation. The purpose of the miner is to reflect the city’s history. I looked down at my highlighter Launch 8 shoes and exclaimed, “Hey, these kicks are gold too!”
Last December, three team members, myself included, harshly criticized the Brooks Launch 7. Called it the Brooks Brick. There was no launch party; it was a lousy “lanch” party (I’ve got to insert The Office references wherever possible before it leaves Netflix December 31st). In short, the Launch 7 is fool’s gold. Grab some axes and shovels, cause there’s some real gold in the eight.
ALDREN (GTS): The Launch GTS 8 brings a lightweight look to a stability trainer. Are you trying to not blow some cash on your new shoes? Do you need another pair of trainers to run in while your other ones are still drying off? Are you looking to Run Happy, or at least not sad? Well, the GTS 8 may work for you.
AUSTIN: First off, the “Nightlife” colorway is an excellent contrast to my rotation of dark hues as daylight is limited and visibility becomes more imperative. I’ve owned a few versions of the Launch, including the first. It’s a simple, budget-friendly shoe. Simple construction, design and purpose — to provide a snappy ride that can withstand long runs.
The most evident change in the Launch 8 is a softer midsole. Not much has really changed, other than an “updated BioMoGo formula,” but it felt softer to me. The shoe is still snappy, but not harsh like the seven. Brooks improved the upper to an airy mesh that breathes well. They also added extra blown rubber to the forefoot, and the enhanced underfoot feel is fantastic. Lastly, I’d like to give the Brooks engineers and designers a hand for an appropriate lace length.
Most runs in the Launch 8 were easy, but I ran a half marathon distance at a tempo pace to see how they fared. Quick turnover? Check. Secure feet? Check. Sore metatarsals and shin pain? Nope. I like what I’m seeing.
ALDREN (GTS): Anyone that’s a fan of the previous Ravenna 11 will likely be a fan of the Launch GTS 8. I mean it won’t blow you out of the park, but it will get the job done. This handled all my speed work sessions in the last few weeks.
The upper is light and breathable while keeping your foot locked down. The fit runs a little more snug around the midfoot, but not too tight. It’s more like the shoe had a solid grasp of my foot. The Launch GTS 8 also has slightly more room in the forefoot than last year’s version. There is a slight flare in the Achilles to reduce any rubbing.
The ride is closer to smooth than snappy. I mean, it’s no Hyperion Tempo, but you get what you pay for. The full rubber outsole did not seem to add extra weight while providing a more durable speed based shoe. The BioMoGo midsole flexed with my foot very naturally and with the added GuideRails, this will suit any runner with a need for stability.
The look is bold. My shoe came in vibrant highlighter yellow with black accents. I’m usually more of a brighter shoe colorway kind of guy anyway so this was right in my alley. I like to make sure people see me running. The black accents keep the shoe clean looking and not “too out there.” Pair this colorway with the Carbonite Tight from Brooks and no one will miss you crushing some nighttime miles.
JEREMY (GTS): The upper on this shoe is a thing of beauty. The airy mesh is extremely breathable/flexible and provides a perfect fit for my foot and a roomy toe box. Not too snug, not too loose- right in the Goldilocks zone. This upper is going to come up big on those warm sweaty days, with ventilation so good that Bruce Willis could crawl through it. Similar to what we’re seeing in a lot of HOKA shoes, the Launch has a slight elf ear design on the achilles that provides a soft cushion for the heel to push into with each step.
The outsole on this shoe is another strong selling point, with blown rubber on the entire outsole. Traction is not going to be a problem in the Launch 8. Expect great durability making the Launch a heck of a deal in terms of dollars per mile.
NICK: I’m a big fan of the air mesh upper on the Launch 8. Brooks put together a very solid upper that is sure to come in clutch in the warmer months, as Jeremy alluded to. Its best feature is that you don’t even think about it on the run. As opposed to some sock-like or super techy uppers out there, the Launch 8 sits nicely on top of your foot, minding its own business and not getting in the way. The “elf ear” heel flare is a nice touch and quickly becoming the industry standard.
A small thing, but the laces on the Launch 8 are elite. The flat design locks down extremely well and doesn’t give over the course of your run.
The outsole is great. Blown rubber all along the bottom of the shoe provides copious amounts of traction on all surfaces. After 44 miles, there’s absolutely no sign of wear. This is a shoe that could eat 400-450 miles as long as the midsole holds up (more later), which is a damn good value at $100.Shop Launch 8 – Men Shop Launch 8 – Women Shop Launch GTS 8 – Men Shop Launch GTS 8 – Women
AUSTIN: I’ve got nothing. Truly. No issues have emerged yet. Some runners may find the ride too soft, but I’m inclined to think not based on how poorly the Launch 7 fared from a crushing ride standpoint.
ALDREN: I ran into a few, but not many issues in the Launch GTS 8. There’s a plastic infusing around the eyelets that’s fairly hard. As my foot flexed, it dug into my foot. It didn’t hurt, but I noticed.
JEREMY: The BioMoGo midsole just didn’t work. Even after a break-in period this shoe still felt stiff and had a slapping feeling to my stride rather than a bounce or roll through the stride. I took these shoes out for a number of runs including recovery runs, longer runs, and even an interval workout. To their credit, this shoe can get up to speed and is lightweight enough to run fast, but it didn’t feel great. The feeling in my feet and lower legs from the firm midsole just was not up to the standard other recently released Brooks shoes have given, with some pain developing in the lower legs towards the end of long efforts.
NICK: These are just not fun shoes. Trust me, I appreciate simplicity as much as the next person. Sometimes it feels like these companies are trying too hard to produce the next Boost or ZoomX or React. But the BioMoGo DNA midsole on the Launch is flat-out boring. There’s no pep, no pop, no snap or spring to this pair at all. Brooks is marketing this as their entry-level speed shoe, with the Hyperion Tempo and Hyperion Elite 2 as the next levels. Sure, it weighs in at a respectable 8.6 ounces (Men’s 9.5), but to call this a speed shoe or attempt to put it in the same universe as the Tempo or Elite is bewildering.
Maybe I’m not in the right headspace for this shoe, as I received the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2, a much more responsive shoe, at the same time as the Launch 8. Still, there’s a lot to be desired.Shop Launch 8 – Men Shop Launch 8 – Women Shop Launch GTS 8 – Men Shop Launch GTS 8 – Women
AUSTIN: I’ve got nothing. Truly. No issues have emerged yet. Some runners may find the ride too soft, but compared to the Launch 7 it’s great.
ALDREN: You really get what you pay for in the Brooks Launch GTS 8. At $100, it isn’t going to wow you, but it will get you through your workouts. The shoe is perfect for someone looking for a lighter stability trainer or someone new to running looking to save a little cash. There are plenty of places for this shoe to fit in your rotation. Whether you need a light-weight speed shoe to pair with an Adrenaline 21 or Glycerin GTS 19, or even another shoe to rotate with your Hyperion Elite 2.
Comparable options would be the ASICS GT 2000 9, the 361 Fantom, and the New Balance FuelCell Prism.
JEREMY: The Launch 8 is a solid everyday trainer, despite my complaints. They have a comfortable fit, and are more than capable of getting to faster paces. Typically, the Launch is around $100 and should get 400+ miles with the amount of outsole rubber on them, making them a deal. Those who prefer a firm, stiff ride will enjoy the shoe.
NICK: The Brooks Launch 8 is a dependable, workhorse trainer that will eat hundreds of miles. That shoe at $100 is a great value. But are they particularly inspiring? No. The Launch simply lacks life.
The Brooks Launch 8 and Launch GTS 8 release January 1, 2021 for $100.Shop Launch 8 – Men Shop Launch 8 – Women Shop Launch GTS 8 – Men Shop Launch GTS 8 – Women
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