Brooks Launch 4

Five years ago there were no plans at Brooks to continue the Launch. It had been 3 years since the first Launch was created and it was on the cut board. Now after a resurgence of sorts we are on to the Launch 4. This one is better than the Launch 3 and with the Pure Flow taking a dive of late this is the best bet in the Brooks line for that lightweight go fast feel.

Where does it fit in Brooks? 

Glycerin – S2 – Max Cushion

Ghost – S2 – Workhorse Cushion

Launch S2- Go Fast Cushion

The Stats

Price: $100

Category: S2

Weight Men’s: 9.2 oz

Weight Women’s: 7.9 oz

Midsole Drop: 10mm

Stack Height: Moderate

 

FIT

 

This heel fit, simple in construction has a wonderful feel to it. It’s really soft to the touch and lets your heel side into it comfortably and securely. The Launch 3 had similar construction but not nearly as nice as this.

The Launch 2 had a nice open forefoot that fit a great many feet. For some reason with the Launch 3 Brooks designed the forefoot with ultra thin welded overlays. This brought the entire forefoot in tighter against your foot. For some that was a good move but for most they found the fit too constricting. The Launch 4 moves back to the basic Launch 2 design. An open forefoot with no overlays to restrict the foot.

Another view of the forefoot. That’s the Launch 3 on top (red) with all the ultra thin welding. You can also see in this picture that Brooks beefed up the eye row on the Launch 4. This just creates a nicer fit across the top of your foot.

Overall the fit is an improvement to last year and back to what the Launch is. There are lightweight go fast shoes that most can’t run in because of their fit or because of their functional design. With the fit of the Launch 4 and the general functional design of the shoe many will be able to enjoy the lightness.

FUNCTION

Most lightweight shoes don’t cover our second level (S2) of support. Most only cover basic support or another way of putting it, a simple shoe on your foot. Two things that do this for the Launch. First is the 10mm offset. There is no adjustment period in this shoe because you are going from your 10mm drop training shoe to a more typical 4mm drop lightweight shoe. Everyone that fits the profile can put the shoe on and go. Second is you can see in this medial view of the shoe that there is some build up under your arch. Simply a functional design to support the foot.

There were some slight cosmetic design changes in the bottom but functionally no changes. It’s flat, smooth and quiet.

 

As you can see in this photo there is a slight drop in the toe spring. The Launch 4 sits lower than the Launch 3. This is a result of the relaxing of the upper. It’s not a functional direction from the brand. In the Launch 4 the upper is allowed to stretch so as the midsole tries to flatten to it’s natural spring it can. In the Launch 3 with all of the overlay work,  the upper couldn’t stretch which kept the toe spring unnatural to the design.

FEEL

 

There are three ways to equate feel of a running shoe. How does it compare to the previous model or competition. How does it feel among other shoes in the same brand. How does it feel against it’s price.

 

Against the Launch 3 and Competition

It’s a better shoe than the Launch 3. The fit that is closer to the Launch 2 simply makes the shoe feel better. Personally I have so many shoes to choose from it’s crazy. Over the last year I never reached for the Launch 3 in my closet but I often reached for the Launch 2. The Launch 4 now replaces both. As far as competition, most of it is designed differently which makes this shoe rather unique. The closest fit and feel to this the Zoot Solana.

Against Other Brooks Shoes

Going from the Glycerin to the Ghost to the Launch you can easily feel the difference in the shoes. From the Launch up the line you simply get more shoe under your foot. Where the line get’s a bit trickier is against the Pure Flow. Two years ago it was a difficult choice between the shoes. They were equally good. The current iteration of the Pure Flow is a head scratcher. The descision to go with the 10mm drop Launch 4 is an easy one. It feels better.

Against the Price

There is really good value in this shoe. For the feel and the durability you’ll get your $100 worth and more. It simply feels better than other $100 shoes and will be an easy choice to go back for another pair.

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