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Road Running Shoes • December 7, 2023

TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon Review: Forward Unto Valhalla

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What You Need To Know

Weight

7.8 oz. (221 g) for a US M9 (Unisex sizing)

Stack Height / Drop

39.5 mm in heel, 33.5 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Best For

Racin’ with a big ol’ stack of foam

Key Features

LaunchPX Pebax midsole, breathable polymesh upper, locking laces, carbon fiber plate

On The Run
Fun, bouncy ride Breathable, open upper Not quite the perfect lockdown/fit
Price / Availability

$250, February 2024

Intro to the TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon

KALEB: If you’re a regular on this site, first of all, ha! Nerd.

Second of all, you may have noticed that TYR has come out of nowhere with a new lineup of running shoes, blessed with supercritical midsoles and names like Star Wars droids, with colorways to match. All said and done, TYR has done a bang-up job, especially for a company whose primary lane has been in the pool rather than on the road. Michael and I enjoyed testing the RD-1X and SR-1 Tempo, and while neither scored perfect marks in every category, TYR has successfully convinced us that they mean business.

Of course, meaning business and doing business are two different things. It’s nearly 2024, and a shoe company isn’t really considered cooking unless it’s got that sexy third member of the Holy Running Trinity: a race-day shoe.

Enter the TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon — a shoe that’s only in its first iteration and still manages to have more than six syllables in its name. Industry standard, I guess. Equipped with a maxed-out 39.5 mm stack of name-brand PEBAX (TYR is calling it LaunchPX), a 6 mm drop, a carbon fiber plate, and a race-ready mesh upper, the Valkyrie Elite Carbon looks very strong on paper. Of course, to compete with the modern-day market, it’ll have to be strong on the roads as well.

Let’s see if the Valkyrie is worthy of its spot in Valhalla.

MICHAEL: (Cue British accent, shots of a rainy day in the British countryside, and a big white tent)

Welcome back to Michael and Kaleb’s TYR week here at Believe in the Run, and it’s time for the showstopper challenge. Our only contestant, TYR, took a little bit of a step back in the technical challenge (the SR1 Tempo) but is still hanging in there with a really solid performance in the signature bake (the RD-1X daily trainer). But like Kaleb said, if you don’t have a competitive racing shoe in the lineup, are you really cooking? (That’s right, we’re looking at you, Reebok)

Luckily for TYR, they aren’t completely in the dark when it comes to what makes a good carbon-plated shoe. At the beginning of the carbon supershoe craze, crafting a truly competitive marathon racer was much like the technical baking challenge in GBBO — there were a couple of hits and even more misses when it came to attempted replication of the Nike Vaporfly. I’m talking about shoes like the OG Hoka Rocket X, the Adidas Adizero Pro, or the Asics Metaracer. And while none of these shoes were horrible, they just weren’t anywhere close to their modern equivalents (Rocket X 2, Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3, and Asics Metaspeeed Sky).

But this is 2023, and turning out a great supershoe is no “technical challenge” bake. TYR has brought all the right ingredients here, they’ve practiced at home, and they have a recipe to follow from myriad other brands. Now all that’s left is to put it all together for one final showstopper challenge. On your marks, get set, bake!

What we like about the TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon

KALEB: It’s cool to see TYR fitting their race-day shoe title with their company namesake (Tyr is the Norse god of war, and Valkyries are warrior-maiden-angel-thingies). “Valkyrie” definitely beats lacing up the “TYR R2-D2 C-3PO Zoom Take Us Seriously Elite” for your next marathon, and I hope future TYR shoes will follow suit with the naming convention.

Now on to the actual shoe. The overall look of the Valkyrie Elite Carbon is sleek: a crisp white upper paired with a bold, black TYR logo overlay makes for a striking package. Beauty may be only skin-deep, but I can’t deny the psychological boost of lacing up something that looks fast. This shoe, like its namesake, looks ready to fly.

The rocker geometry of the Valkyrie Elite Carbon is dramatic but focused toward the front end of the shoe. I found that this gave me plenty of roll and propulsion through my stride while also having the benefit of not forcing me violently into toe-off. This is my first carbon-plated road shoe (gotta start somewhere, right?), so I, unfortunately, can’t draw any comparisons to other carbon racers, but I have run in plated track spikes. Many spikes ride with a constantly on-your-toes feeling, which is great for shorter distances but can wear out the legs in the long run.

The Valkyrie Elite Carbon rides differently, with more of a roll and bounce that propels you noticeably further than usual with each step and keeps the legs fresher than careening forward on an unstable fulcrum would. PEBAX is a tried and true midsole compound, and rather than risking it with a proprietary blend, TYR went for the original stuff, which was a good choice.

While the carbon plate adds firmness, the LaunchPX midsole has the perfect blend of softness and response to last the long haul. The plate also adds some welcome stability: I raced a 4-miler on an uneven, gravelly road and was able to run confidently without fear of destroying my ankles. Nor is this stability limited to race day: the Valkyrie Elite Carbon felt at home all along the pace spectrum (though it did automatically make my easy run paces nearly a minute faster, much to the irritation of my training partners).

Below all that PEBAX goodness is a tacky rubber outsole that bites into the road in both wet and dry conditions. Even after 40 miles of use, the rubber still has that faint “new shoe” pattern and shows next to no signs of wear.

MICHAEL: Like I said in the intro, this bake has got all the right ingredients in all the right proportions. Starting from the bottom, a tacky rubber outsole performed admirably in wet conditions and looks to be pretty durable, but the star of the shoe here is the PEBAX. This is real “handshake” material, if you will — the midsole is light with all that juicy bounce you’d expect from a marathon racer. It’s got zing, it’s got pop, and I would have no problem racing a half or full marathon in these.

So while there are some bones to pick when it comes to execution, overall, this was a really, really fun shoe to run in. The stack didn’t feel too chaotic (I agree with Kaleb on the stability point above), and the upper is accommodating. Lastly, the Valkyrie Elite Carbon hits all the marks when it comes to presentation. I love the medial wings, and you really just can’t go wrong with a black-on-white colorway for race day.

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What we don’t like about the TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon

KALEB: You’ll notice that my “good” section didn’t have much of anything to say about the Valkyrie Elite Carbon’s upper. Ah, the upper, the Achilles heel of many a great shoe. In general, TYR tries to offer toe boxes on the wider end of the spectrum to encourage better foot health. Unfortunately, this was poorly executed in the Valkyrie Elite Carbon, which made for a sloppy fit. I experienced some heel slippage on my first few runs, and while the soft heel counter didn’t cause any blistering, it still kept me from maximizing the shoe’s potential.

When I cranked the laces to fix this issue, the gusset reinforcements wrecked both my inner and outer midfoot and the laces bit into the top of my foot. Even heel-lock lacing was too uncomfortable to be an option, as it dug into my ankle, courtesy of some unidentifiable quirk of the Valkyrie Elite Carbon’s upper eyelets.

Eventually, with some creative re-stringing of the laces, I found a formation that allowed me to tighten down the upper and stop the heel-lift without biting into the sides of my feet, but this sacrificed just enough lockdown security that I couldn’t take corners as sharp or confidently as the Valkyrie Elite Carbon’s grippy outsole should allow for. The laces themselves also didn’t stay tied. They never came completely undone on me, but a few times, I looked down post-run to see the shoes single-knotted when I could have sworn I started out with a double-knot.

Since there are workarounds, neither of these knocks wrecks the shoe, but they’re definitely limiting factors that hold the Valkyrie Elite Carbon back from being as great as it possibly could be, so I mention them in hopes that they will be fixed in future iterations. I guess it’s also important to mention that the tech sheet we received said, “shoe is not 100% final: all features are subject to change,” so I guess there’s still time for these improvements to be made by the time the Valkyrie hits the shelves, though I wouldn’t bank on it.

MICHAEL: While the Valkyrie Elite Carbon checks many of the boxes of what makes most modern super shoes awesome, there are a few things to remedy in version two. First, as Kaleb said, the upper fit is a little sloppy. While the mesh itself is lightweight and breathable, it has almost no stretch, and getting the fit through the midfoot and heel collar locked in proved to be quite a difficult task. Additionally, the toe box is very roomy. For some, this is a real bonus, but my personal preference would ask for a more snug fit throughout.

Lastly, I found that the midsole rocker just didn’t click for me in this shoe. The cushioning, responsiveness, and springy feeling from the plate and Pebax are all there. Don’t get me wrong — this is still a very fun shoe to run in. However, when the paces are picked up, the rocker placement causes the shoe to feel a little flat. It took me a few runs to figure out why, but I think this is largely due to the rocker’s pivot point being situated so far forward in the shoe.

I have very long toes, so the ball of my foot sat behind the rocker, ultimately causing the shoe to feel slightly inefficient through my calf and soleus muscles in a way that other super shoes don’t. I’m sure this won’t be the experience for everyone, but I thought I should note it. Ultimately, the OG Endorphin Pro will stay put as my road race day shoe of choice.

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TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon Conclusion

KALEB: TYR is lightyears ahead of where I’d expect any first-generation race day shoe to be. Sure, the upper caused issues, but once I finally got it situated, I loved every mile I put on in the Valkyrie Elite Carbon, whether on workouts or race day. I don’t know what other shoes TYR has planned, but as it stands now, they’ve made an impressive mark with their opening rotation and can proudly stand by their slogan “Always In Front” (yeah, you really thought I could make it through a TYR review without mentioning that, didn’t you). The Valkyrie Elite Carbon is a race day shoe worth its salt, and that makes me excited for TYR’s future on the roads as the running-shoe arms race continues to heat up in 2024.

MICHAEL: Like Kaleb said, this is another stellar debut for TYR. It really is wild going down the list of running shoe giants whose debut carbon-plated racers were objectively not as good as the Valkyrie Elite Carbon. This is a legit racer and will no doubt impress all who decide to give it a try for a workout or race day shoe this year. So while it didn’t 100% work for me, I will no doubt continue to enjoy runs and workouts in this shoe. The high stack of Pebax, the carbon plate, the looks, the stability, it’s all really impressive stuff from such a young brand.

Lastly, a quick word on the whole TYR lineup experience. I think I can speak for both Kaleb and myself when I say that I’m genuinely surprised and excited by TYR’s lineup. The Valkyrie Elite Carbon is serious business, and I keep reaching for the RD-1X day after day for my easy mileage. We can’t wait to see what TYR has coming down the pipeline for 2024.

You can pick up the TYR Valkyrie Elite Carbon for $250 in February 2024 directly from TYR using the buttons below.

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Authors

kaleb
Kaleb Kabakjian
Track and XC Reviewer

Kaleb is one of the younger, “both of my knees still work” reviewers on the BITR team. As a high school cross country, track and field, and road racing athlete in Pennsylvania, Kaleb loves hearing about the latest endurance-athletics studies and seeing how everything out there can fit into a well-rounded training program. If you don’t see him drinking a weird health concoction or doing some strange warmup technique, he’s probably already started the race.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Ride 14, Nike ZoomX Dragonfly

More from Kaleb
Shoe Size

9

Fav. Distance

1 Mile

PRs
  • 1:18

    Half Marathon
  • 16:14

    5K (XC)
  • 4:30

    1600m
  • 2:03

    800m
michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

More from Michael
Shoe Size

9.5

Fav. Distance

13.1 (Trail)

PRs
  • 4:48

    50K
  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

    5K
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