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Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Performance Review: The Jack of All Trades Returns with a New Look

CEO Tinh Phung
Image source: shopmrkatin.vn What You Need To Know Weighs 7.9 oz (225 g) for a US M9.0/ 7.0 oz (200 g) for a US W7.5 Updated upper, same exact PWRRUN PB midsole Releases July 15...

saucony endorphin speed 2 - air Image source: shopmrkatin.vn

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 7.9 oz (225 g) for a US M9.0/ 7.0 oz (200 g) for a US W7.5
  • Updated upper, same exact PWRRUN PB midsole
  • Releases July 15 for $160
  • Still one of the best running shoes money can buy

JEREMY: One of 2020’s top shoes (it actually won our Best In Gear Award for the Best Overall Shoe of 2020), the Saucony Endorphin Speed is back with an updated, full NASCAR racing motif. While not much has changed with the midsole, the upper has some modifications in both design and aesthetics. Whether this was done as an homage to the first Fast and Furious movie premier 20 years ago, or because the designers were feeling nostalgic for the ska checkerboards at their last Reel Big Fish concert, or maybe a call back to some slip-on Vans, who can say! Anyway, the first thing you will notice is that the updated Endorphin line has some strong early 2000s vibes emanating from them. Love it or hate it, it’s here.

Last year, all the hype leading up to the Saucony Endorphin line release was around the Endorphin Pro, as it was expected to be a Vaporfly competitor, and perhaps the beginning of the end of Nike’s dominance in road racing. However, while the Pro was a great shoe and is beloved by many racers (especially for shorter distances), the Endorphin Speed ended up being the big surprise shoe. Throughout running, it received almost unanimous high praise as a lightweight plated trainer for workouts, faster running, and even everyday running.

The Endorphin Speed 2 is quite similar to the first edition, weighing in at 7.9 ounces (0.1 heavier than the first edition), an 8 mm drop, the same bouncy PWRRUN PB midsole, and a full-length nylon plate.

DAVE: Let me cut right to the chase and say that I categorize the Saucony Endorphin Speed into the “versatile trainer” category. What is the “versatile trainer” category? A do-it-all shoe. One that matches up well with the current day’s training discipline, but is also just damn fun to run in all the time. Very few shoes fall into that bucket, but a couple similar models would be Atreyu’s The Artist, and the smokin’ fast New Balance Rebel v2.

Last year, I pounded out over 500 miles on the first Endorphin Speed, and just as it was about to be retired, Speed 2 showed up at the door, like the Chinook salmon returning home to spawn. Nature is truly healing and I’ve got close to 80 miles in this newest version.

The original Speed was one of the best shoes I’ve run in over the past 10 years. Maybe 15. The Base Model from Atreyu made me feel that way as well. Sometimes you hit a grand slam.

ADRIENNE: The Saucony Endorphin Speed was one of my favorite performance trainers of last year. My Future White colorway quickly became Present Gray with how many times I hit the pavement in one of the rare bright spots in 2020 running. Each run had a shot at being a good one in the Endorphin Speed-and most of those that I can recall were. First impression … um … these look … fast? Loud? Extra? Although this is a performance review, the checkered flag aesthetics were the first thing that grabbed my attention. I will say, the Hot Wheels/Ska/Album Cover colorway made a statement: these shoes are made to go fast. Whether you want to break out the Sublime or Mighty Mighty Bosstones on your run in these is your prerogative.

The upper is a similar monomesh with slightly reinforced sidewall construction from the previous version. I was pleased to see that these seem just as breathable as their predecessor. As someone who really values breathability in a shoe - good job Saucony! Unlike its race-ready sibling, the Endorphin Pro, the Speed has a fairly substantial heel counter, and they added more reflectivity in the 2021 version - the entire heel is flush silver material-because every checkered dance floor needs mirrors, right??

The midsole and nylon plate remain relatively unchanged. This could not be better news. PWRRUN PB from top to bottom, and the S-shaped nylon plate gives a subtle pop to the shoe but keeps it flexible.

Let’s get on with it.

ROBBE: I’m going to be honest with you, my review will be short because it’s basically the same as last year’s, though I have some more time in it so I’ll rehash why this is my favorite running shoe right now.

saucony endorphin speed 2 - heel Image source: shopmrkatin.vn

The Good

JEREMY: Performance-wise, the Endorphin Speed 2 is very good, especially at faster paces. The PWRRUN PB midsole has a great bounce to it, and you can really get rolling once you’re in a rhythm. I was able to wear this shoe for a fartlek workout, a long run, and for a tempo run, and it’s truly a Swiss Army knife in its applicability at many paces. The major difference between this shoe and the Pro is that the Speed has a softer feel to it, whereas the Pro is firmer but performs at a slightly higher level with more bounce and roll to each stride.

The biggest updates occurred with the other components of the shoe, particularly the mesh of the upper. The fit is improved, with a snug heel fit in the altered heel counter layout, and some room to spread your toes in the toe box. The Mono mesh is quite comfortable with the right balance of rigidity and breathability to keep the shoe light and airy for those hot summer days coming up.

DAVE: I can’t believe a company finally listened and didn’t change a damn thing underfoot from a previously successful version. We see this all the time. Company X breeds a banger, they say they won’t tweak it, and then they do. There goes the ship, sinking like me into a third gin martini at a jazz club. When you feel the noise, you have to run with it! Good work by the team at Saucony for listening to the fans, and keeping the underfoot experience as badass as it was in 2020. This baby still rolls along epically.

The lacing is so much better than last year as well. Way better. I have a narrow foot as many of you hear me say often, but it’s important to note when reviewing a shoe. The S1’s, engineered upper became a bit more loose around the “throat” of the shoe, causing me to really need to crank on the laces. Lacing has been changed to create more volume and width across the throat, and keep the “expansion” across the top of your foot more normal, vs. shrinking down (causing me to crank) for us narrow footers. That, combined with the excessively firm heel counter, on occasion, would flare up a calcaneal spur I have on my right foot. (NOTE: The heel counter is changed on Speed 2, with more of a FORMFIT 3D fit, combined with what feels like a softer experience on the heel to me. So that’s pretty dope as well.)

The nylon plate is perfect for what I like. I haven’t really been that vocal about this, but maybe we should. Nylon plates, at least to my liking in a shoe, just seem to feel so much better underfoot. They are smoother, less loud (meaning it’s actually working with you!), provide much more flex, and respond far better to colder temperatures. The carbon roughs me up. I have the Endorphin Pro 2 as well and it’s seriously going to take some miles to “wake up.” The carbon plate is as stiff as me on my wallet after a weekend in Vegas (I say this as I’m about to go back to see Morrissey in a few months for his residency). Hey, don’t ever look at me for money management.

ADRIENNE: Ride-wise, this shoe is fun and fast. You have response for days with the PWRRUN PB, like the Pro, but a more relaxed feel that allows you to run at multiple paces if needed. I found that I could strike anywhere on the shoe and have a similar effect. Some plated or super shoes have a distinct sweet spot to hit, but Saucony did a good job at making this a shoe for everyone. While mid-forefoot strikers may get the most out of the Speed 2, you can get away with landing a little further back and it does seem to help when you begin to tire at the end of a long run. Stability is still average, but the faster you push it (within reason) the more solid it feels.

I run with a pretty high cadence, so SpeedRoll technology works really well for me. I took the Speed 2 on anywhere from a short recovery with strides to hill work to a fairly quick long run and had more to spare at the end of each. You just stand tall (ish), put your feet underneath you, and go. While the Endorphin Speed 2 won’t run for you, it just may motivate you to get after it a little more or faster. Getting up on my toes was a snap. Simply put, this is a fun, snappy, fairly user-friendly shoe.

Despite the fairly simple upper, lockdown was great, and Saucony boasts non-slip lacing on the second version-which isn’t a huge upgrade, but nice, nonetheless. Suede accents on the tongue and heel make for a nice touch in putting on and removal.

The only difference I noticed in this one versus the original was that the heel seemed just a tad more stable. That could also be because the shoe is brand new vs. my ones with 400+ miles, who knows? Weight comes in at 7.0 oz for a women’s 7.5 and the shoe retains its 8 mm drop.

Breathable upper: check. Super-Foam: Check. Plate: check. Efficient midsole geometry: check. If there was one shoe I would own for everything, including a race if necessary, I would choose the Endorphin Speed 2. It really does a lot of things well and can take a beating as the TPU-based PWRRUN PB midsole seems to last a few hundreds of miles. While a nylon plate doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as carbon fiber, it works really well here. I find it barely noticeable (unlike the upper design!), and that’s a good thing because you can concentrate more on your run and not have to play “find the sweet spot” like on other plated shoes.

For the given market and price points of other models, the $160 price point is decent for what it does. As it is mostly designed for, the Endorphin Speed shines on tempo day; but can get the job done elsewhere too. Like I said earlier, Speedroll and the midsole combination make for a smooth, efficient, and fun trainer. I ran anywhere from a progressive long run to 400s in the V1’s and would have no trouble doing so in the V2s either because fortunately little has changed in this shoe.

ROBBE: As Jeremy said, this shoe really is a jack of all trades, and a master of them too. From the way this shoe rolls, to the perfect balance of firm and cushioned combo of the nyon plate and midsole - I can’t get enough of it. Even at slower paces, the shoe feels fast. And at faster paces it runs fast.

The updates on this shoe are negligible and, honestly, you would have no clue it was an update if the design didn’t look like a Twin Peaks fever dream. There is a slight improvement to the lacing structure, but again, I didn’t feel like it was a “make or break” thing. In fact, I wore the Endorphin Speed 1 on one foot, and the Endorphin Speed 2 on the other for an entire day, including a normal run and grocery store run. It literally felt identical to last year’s version. And wow, if you think you get weird looks wearing a pair of checkerboard shoes, try wearing two different shoes and one of them is a checkerboard and one is white neon.

I’ll say it again, this is still the best running shoe out there in my opinion. Use it however you want.

The Bad

JEREMY: No major complaints, I think that performance wise the Speed still is not even close to the Pro (and only $40 less…), so it should be slotted more for long runs, workouts, and daily runs rather than racing. I would say while the Endorphin Pro is comparable to the first two generations of Nike Vaporfly in terms of performance, whereas the Endorphin Speed is more similar to something like the Nike Pegasus Turbo for performance in my opinion. From the perspective of this being the second edition of the Endorphin Speed, this isn’t too exciting of an update, but Saucony is doing the right thing to not modify a winning shoe and just tweaking the upper details rather than dramatically altering it.

Oh, and I think aesthetically the Endorphin Speed 2 will be polarizing with some people hating the checkered flag decals and others loving it. Certainly fills me with nostalgia but definitely has a slight tackiness.

ADRIENNE: As much as I love the shoe, the XT-9000 rubber pattern could use more traction on wet surfaces. I found myself sliding a bit more than other shoes on rainy days. Also may cause recovery runs to be faster than prescribed.

DAVE: Maybe I’m losing my mind. But the Speed 2 feels much more chunkier in how it rides this year, compared to last. First of all, Speed 2 comes in at 8.3oz/234g (US 9) - - while the 2020 version comes in at 7.7/217g in my Men’s US 9. Now call me crazy, but with the upper changes and heel changes, the pandemic didn’t do this shoe well. It definitely hit a buffet or two. Now many may not notice the difference in weight, but if the Speed 1 was more of a daily trainer, or you wore it more than just on workout days, or races, you may get my drift here. It doesn’t feel as fast, and feels like I am moving more shoe around. Can I get away with it? Sure. But I’m thinking there is another way to keep the weight under 8oz. I find the weight difference noticeable. It rides just as smooth as the previous version underfoot, but feels a tad heftier.

The toe box is also a bit more crammed. I’m feeling more pressure on my right pinky toe from some tightness in the toe box. I have a narrow foot, so remember that. Not sure how much this will be mentioned, but pay attention to this, that some could struggle with toe box width issues. The volume is fine, and the sizing is spot on, btw. The forefoot overlay just rides high into my pinky toe. Maybe this is just me, but curious to see how others fit the shoe when it hits the masses of runners, Worldwide.

I’m 77 miles into the shoe. A lot had come to light since the early runs, which were much more enjoyable. The more I run in the shoe, the more it feels like it is far heavier than the original.

ROBBE: I almost always try and find something to put in the bad column for levity’s sake, but I have nothing. This is still a dream shoe.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Conclusion

JEREMY: Saucony did the right thing with this update. If people love a shoe, don’t get crazy and change things too much. The Endorphin Speed is a high-quality performance shoe and trainer that is capable of handling all speeds. At $40 less than the Endorphin Pro, it’s a tough sell for racing, but it makes up for it in terms of being useful for every other run, a jack of all trades. Durability should be around 300-400 miles, similar to the first generation, with the outsole remaining the same.

The midsole is the same as the first edition and will serve you well on anything from easy runs to intervals. The only real changes were to the fit and upper which is quite comfortable, light, and breathable, so all in all a solid shoe choice, and one I find myself reaching for multiple times a week!

ADRIENNE: The Endorphin Speed 2 is a case study in the principle of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. It leaves major design features untouched. Short, fast, far and everywhere in between, the Endorphin Speed keeps the integrity of what made it’s previous version so good, but in a louder package. I got so many comments about the looks (mostly positive, at least); however, for those not into NASCAR or Vans vibes, I imagine some more subtle colorways will come your way. Until then, lace up, look forward, run fast, and enjoy! Now to get that Ska music outta my head…

DAVE: You win some, you lose some. I truly think we have a winner on our hands here! Unfortunately, the minor changes simply make it a different experience for me. That’s it. It’s like seeing a band you always wanted to see, but they want a grand apiece for tickets. You don’t want to drop that kind of coin, so you get the $200 seats, to still get the experience. It’s still the band you love, but you may have to pull out the binoculars to see them. Deep down, it’s a bit different than what you were expecting.

So in turn, it’s the same underfoot feeling, riding as a more natural trainer with upper and weight. Simply feels like I’m moving around more shoe. It’s not the worst thing, but can definitely be improved upon in round 3.

Remember, shoe reviews are written for individual likes and specifications. We write to what we feel, not what others think we should say. What may feel one way to me, may not to another. So please don’t let me scare you with this. I just personally felt I rolled quicker in the 2020 version, where I can sacrifice the lacing issues for the reduced weight.

ROBBE: Thanks to Saucony for not ruining a great thing. If you were worried they were gonna mess this shoe up, good news - your feet and endorphins will still be intact in the second version. The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 will give you a ton of pleasurable miles between summer ska concerts.

You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

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