by John Schrup
By now you are familiar with the Brooks Pure Project line—the lower-profile, lighter, “minimalist” running footwear designed to allow for a more natural running gait. The Pure Cadence is the last of our reviews, and we will continue to review new shoes in the Rogue way—no rainbows and unicorns, maybe a nip here or there on the hand that feeds us, etc.
The Pure Cadence is the, ahem, “stability” model in the Pure lineup. It is difficult for me to call it a stability shoe in the traditional sense, but it does have some features that do make for more lateral-medial stability. I think Brooks is calling it “assurance.”
To begin, by lowering the offset to 4mm, there is an automatic decrease in the lever that can increase overpronation. Picture a stilletto next to a ballet slipper. It’s a little dramatic as an example, but it is right on. The higher you are off the ground, the less inherent stability you have, don’t you? Brooks has also used an internal roll bar, or post, in the midsole of the shoe, rather than the out-dated medial posts that we are all familiar with. The midsole is two pieces of the DNA/BioMoGo compound sandwiched together, with a firmer, medially-angled piece underneath to provide the “assurance” against overpronation. If you’ve seen the Nike Lunarglide adverts for those stability shoes, you’ve essentially seen the Brooks version. I like the feel of the Brooks product much better.
The Cadence ride is a firmer version of the Flow’s bouncy, responsive feel. Firmer is the way to go, as far as I’m concerned—it means less time on the ground, greater durability and more inherent stability–and I think Brooks would do well to spread that feel to other models to differentiate themselves from all the other marshmallows. Soft feels good initially, but it will go away quickly, and more importantly, sugar coating the feel of running shoes, as so many companies have done in the last decade, does no good for the body I am almost completely convinced. Several years ago, a study out of McGill University in Canada showed that gymnasts landing on softer crash pads had higher rates of injury than those landing on firmer crash pads. Different sport yes, but same proprioceptive response.
The fit of the Cadence is Flow-like, with a roomier forefoot, and a comfortably snug midfoot. The narrowest of feet will not work well in this model, and the NavBand does little (do we see a pattern here) to secure the foot. On the lateral side of the shoe, the NavBand is anchored externally to the midsole pod under the cuboid bone and is designed to reduce the rate of overpronation. Does it contribute? Not that I can tell, and it looks cheap as well. They really could have designed that insertion point to appear a bit cleaner, but I do understand that they need to call out their technologies.
Interestingly enough, the Cadence is, I’ve been told by the Brooks sales rep, the best selling of the four Pure Project models. I can believe that, knowing that people want their shoes simpler and lighter, yet are not yet willing to let go of the idea that they “need” stability. I can’t think of the appropriate example, but perhaps it is like having a tape player in your hybrid car. You keep the tape player around because that’s what you’ve always had, and you can’t yet believe that an Mp3 is the new paradigm—I mean, you can’t SEE them, right? Not a great example I know, but you get the idea.
Running in the Cadence feels good. This is a shoe that, with some tweaks here and there could build into something really long-lasting and impressive. If you like the bouncy feel of the Pure Project line and are more comfortable with a bit of “assurance” in your running footwear, I’d go with the Pure Cadence if I were you. Brooks has done a really nice job of creating a line of biomechanically appropriate footwear for the average runner who is looking for a little less shoe than what they’ve traditionally worn. Brooks doesn’t officially advocate the “less is more” model of shoe design, but it is obvious that they know this is the way to go, even if it is dressed up as something more familiar.