Nobull Runner+ Review: Does This Bull Run?
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9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US M9,
7.8 oz. (221 g) for a US W7
38 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop) (approximate)
Daily training with the ability to go faster
Full Pebax midsole and full-length nylon plate
ROBBE: I’ll be real– Nobull has always given me major No Fear vibes. Don’t get me wrong, No Fear ruled when I was in middle school and could get stoked in the morning knowing I was walking around with a shirt that read: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” As someone who stayed under 130 pounds for pretty much his whole life, I can assure you the size of the dog in the fight absolutely does matter. Now that I’m a dad and try to avoid fights, I’m totally fine with second place being the first loser because all I want to do is leave the rock on the court, go home and take a nap.
For reference, this is my first experience in a Nobull trainer, and I still have no idea where Nobull came from or how they became so popular. I’m pretty the buying audience is the lovechild of the Cam Hanes/David Goggins diehards and the Allbirds “just give me something comfortable” crowd. Or maybe just everyday gym goers? On the Nobull website there’s a lot of people lifting weights and doing things like “training,” activities I generally hate but also hate myself for not doing. Which is obviously why I run so much– both to make up for it and run away from it.
When I saw that Nobull had a plated running shoe in the Runner+, I immediately thought the plate movement had jumped the shark. We’re now just putting plates in everything just to say it’s there. Nevertheless, I was interested to try the shoe, especially since it came with a 100% Pebax midsole, which is hard to come by in running shoes priced below $200 (aside from the very underrated Topo Athletic Cyclone 2).
Combine the Pebax midsole with a full-length nylon plate, a lightweight upper, and a sub-10 oz. weight, and I may not be fully “ayooooga!” level excited, but I’m definitely interested. So I convinced them to let me review this shoe, for better or for worse. Let me just say– I was extremely skeptical that a casual athletic brand could produce a performance running shoe, so I was fully prepared to trash the shoe. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised, even if the shoe wasn’t quite perfect.
There may be a little bull, but not enough to give me fear while running in it.
ROBBE: There’s more to this section than I originally thought there would be. For those of you who’ve run in high-performance running shoes before, you know that that gold standard for midsole foams is Pebax. It’s the foam composition used in everything from the Nike Vaporfly to the Hoka Rocket X 2 to the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. In short, it’s the best foam for the most energy return in a lightweight package.
In the Runner+, that Pebax surrounds a full-length nylon plate, which is meant to provide a snappy propulsion and stabilize the midsole foam.
I’m happy to report that the combination of those two elements provides a really fun ride on the run. It’s indeed bouncy and light underfoot and provides a similar feeling to many of the other shoes with a similar composition. I’m unsure of the stack height, but it has to be somewhere in the 35-40 mm range.
For those who have run in shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, the ride is almost identical, which makes sense because that shoe also features a Pebax midsole with a nylon plate. Even the outsole design is quite similar, with strategically placed rubber separating exposed midsole areas.
That right there is both the best and worst part of this shoe– the ride is surprisingly great, because it reminds me of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, one of our favorite trainers of 2022. But it’s also $20-$40 more than the Endorphin Speed, and overall not as good of a shoe, which we’ll get to in the next section. However, this is a really good ride. Like, better than most running shoes. Unlike other shoes in its range that use Pebax that doesn’t feel like Pebax (looking at you Tracksmith), this actually feels like the energy return you’re looking for in a Pebax-powered shoe.
If you’re using this shoe as a daily trainer, then the weight is pretty decent at 9.5 ounces for a US M9.0. In my book, anything under 10 is good for a daily trainer. This seems to be a hard bar for a lot of athletic brands to limbo beneath, so I’m glad to see Nobull has managed to get under it.
ROBBE: None of these are bad bad, but they’re not great so I’m putting them in here. Keep in mind that I’m also comparing this against pure running shoes, so the standard may be a bit high. Nobull is an athletic shoe company focused on trainers, so an attempt at a performance running shoe is a bit outside their wheelhouse. I don’t expect it to be perfect, and that’s fine.
My least favorite part about this shoe was the upper, which seemed like an afterthought. It’s a one-piece upper that’s kind of just… there. If you have a more voluminous foot you may be fine, but I found it difficult to get a good lockdown, it was pretty roomy, and I was sliding around a good bit on the run. This shouldn’t be surprising, as there are no overlays or supports anywhere on it, aside from internal wings to keep the tongue in place. At least there’s that. But overall the structure it claims to have is mostly nonexistent, so you may find yourself coming out over shoe on aggressive turns.
Also, the chunky laces are kind of a lot. Definitely more lifestyle vibes than performance.
The outsole rubber is there, but only covers about half the surface area. It’s also not super grippy, so I would suggest staying away from rainy conditions.
The weight is good overall, as I mentioned above. However, for a performance trainer (which is what this shoe is supposed to be), you can find just as much cushion in a lighter package and for a lower price point in something like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. That said, it’s not outrageously priced for what you get. You can pick up the pace in it, but I’d opt for something like the Asics Superblast, which is more versatile and weighs about an ounce less.
Lastly, I just think the look of this shoe is so boring, but I think that’s what people like about it, so that’s a purely subjective take. I feel the same way about Allbirds, but the masses love them, so what do I know?
ROBBE: As a net whole, I gotta say I’m surprised with how well this shoe performed. Is it the best running shoe on the market? No, but for a brand focused on gym trainers, they did a pretty solid job on their first attempt at a performance running shoe. The issue with this as a performance shoe is that I don’t see any changes being made to the upper, since that’s Nobull’s whole thing: a simple upper and midsole in a relatively nondescript package.
To be fair, you throw a full Pebax midsole at any runner and it’s gonna be hard not to like. I’m not complaining, I’m glad they did it. But since the upper is a bit sloppy, they could’ve just taken the stack height down a bit, pulled the nylon plate, and ended up with a lighter weight trainer that still offers performance benefits on the run. But then again, people want plates, so I guess you gotta serve them dinner.
Would I prefer this shoe to be a bit more reasonably priced? Yes, but it’s not completely outrageous for what it provides. And it’s a lot better than most running shoes on the market.
If you’re a fan of Nobull, you’ll love the extra bounce you get in the Runner+. It definitely puts a pep in the step and gives you that excitement you’re missing from your average daily trainer.
To sum up this review: don’t fear the Runner+.
You can pick up the Nobull Runner+ for $180 (basic colors) to $200 (limited edition designs) at the shop link below.
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe