Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Brooks: Transcend 3 Review

If you haven’t caught up yet with the shoe industries on what were launched this year and some recent development buzzing in the market area today, don’t worry it’s not yet too late to catch up and there are still plenty of new stuff out there that will be out in the coming months. To keep you up to speed, Brooks Running is one of the companies that launched a whole shebang and updated some of their shoe line up. I did the review on PureFLow 5 just last month and you can read it here. But let’s not take away the limelight to this beauty that we are going to discuss. One of the beneficiaries of this year’s update is the Transcend 3. Again, if you are not familiar with what the number stands for after the name…it is simply the number of versions this shoe has gone thru. Just to give you a quick background:

- Transcend (1) was unveiled August 2013 and hit the market February 2014
- Transcend 2 in August 2014 and
- Transcend 3 in January 2016. 

It took Brooks Running Company almost 1 ½ years to come up with the 3rd version (generation if you prefer) simply because it is hard to update a shoe that is already great. The biggest update was the reduction in weight as you can see below:
Transcend (1)
Transcend 2
Transcend 3
Men*
12.2 ounces
10.9 ounces
* size 9
Women**
10.1 ounces
9.5 ounces
**size 7

As we all know, innovation never ceases and change is the only thing that is constant. Consumers will always demand for better products and the industries/ manufacturers need to provide that need. So let’s take this review in details.

Description
Before we begin, Brooks shoes are categorized by the following:
Cushion Me: Soft, protective and cushion shoes.
Energize Me: Optimized for energy return, responsive and springy lift to every stride.
Connect Me: Lightweight, flexible and low profile shoes.
Propel Me: built for speed and low profile shoes.

The Transcend 3 was named Best Update by Runner’s World in the 2016 spring shoe guide. It belongs to the Cushion Me category and is considered as stability shoe; designed for runners with flat to medium arches and perfect for runner who may pronate. The shoe weighs in at 10.9 ounces for men size 9 and 9.5 ounces for women size 7; you can see from the above comparison the dramatic weight reduction and I wouldn’t be surprise if Brooks will come up with T4 in a much lower weight in a near future. The heel to toe drop is 8mm. The shoe I tested was a size 10 and it really feels true to the size. However, I read that some of the Brooks line up tend to run ½ size small so if you’re a little bit unsure, I suggest that you visit the nearest store and try them on.

There are five key features that this shoe is known for:
1.) Plush upper 2.) Guide Rails 3.) Super DNA 4.) Ideal Pressure Zones 5.) Ideal Heel
that work together, giving you that unique ride. I’ll discuss them as we go along.

Upper
You can see the exoskeletal fabric
beneath the laser cut mesh
The upper material is made of a seamless laser cut mesh that provides good air management and breathability so you don’t have to worry about your feet being on fire. With the laser cut mesh, you can see the exoskeletal fabric beneath it which is so cool. Brooks incorporated a flat lace and eyelets (instead of round) which gave me the ease to pull the lace evenly and deliver the right amount of tension on the top plus a well-padded tongue for additional comfort. The heel cup is very well padded too giving me the right amount of hug, securing my heel from sliding out. The Guide Rails are wrapped around the entire midsole for stability. So what’s the Guide Rails for? Think of it like a protective barrier along the sections of a road (or cliff), preventing the cars from falling off just in case of an accident. The Guide Rails work similar, preventing the foot from collapsing inside or pronating.







Sole
You'll notice the midsole is flaring out 
and a extremely wide forefoot
The entire sole is made of Super DNA material giving the shoe the cushiony feeling and an extremely wide profile on the forefoot area. Brooks added crash pads that are strategically located on the ideal pressure zones along the heel, midsole and forefoot areas for smoother and buttery ride. The heel is somewhat rounded but not as round like the PF5 which according to Brooks help minimize the stress on the joints. But the most striking feature that I noticed was the foam on the midsole area (lime green color) that looks like it’s bulging or flaring out from the inside (see picture). I’m not really sure what’s the purpose of that, is it just aesthetic or does some function? Well, I’m guessing that it’s there for a reason, that somehow function like an outrigger (used in heavy equipment machineries) giving the equipment more stability and balance on the ground. That flaring probably works the same way too giving the foot that extra stability, preventing the foot from collapsing on the inside, maybe similar to Guide Rails as I mentioned above…that’s my guess. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, trust me I wouldn’t feel offended:-).


The Ride
I tested the Transcend 3 on three different types of run, so that I can give you my fair and unbiased assessment. As a runner, we all know that certain shoes are created to do just one thing, but sometimes we can find some balance to use it on different types of run as well. I believe this is important so that we can get the best on what we paid for…some shoes are not cheap and it can put a dent in our wallet. The test runs I did consist of tempo, interval, and long & easy runs. I’ll tell you at the end what these shoes are best for (in my humble opinion).

The shoe was really comfortable and responsive in all the runs I did. I love the bulkiness because it gave my feet enough room and not feel constricted at all. When it comes to stability, the Guide Rails on both sides and the flaring foam on the midsole do what it tends to do preventing my foot from collapsing and gave me the additional support for balance. However, because of the added support on the midsole area, there was not much side to side flex, which makes sense since this is a stability shoe. On the contrary, the forefoot area has the right amount of flex exactly along the grooves which is a big plus during the take-off.

When it comes to cushioning, be advised that each shoe company has their own ways of measuring the firmness and cushiness level of their shoes. Brooks level of cushion tends to be firmer in comparison with other shoes like the Hoka Clifton. I tend to heel strike on my runs and I noticed that the outside sole has just the right balance of cushion and firmness (at the same time) especially when landing. This was noticeable during my long run but not much when I did my tempo and interval. Though the shoe is still a bit heavy (despite the weight reduction), it feels fast on the tempo and interval. I didn’t have any problems hitting the required pace.

My Verdict
After 9.3 miles of long & easy run
Overall, I’m very impressed with the Transcend 3 how it performed. If you are looking for stability shoe with just the right amount of cushion then look no further, it will not disappoint. This shoe is very comfortable, responsive and move along with my foot. This will be one of my "go to shoes" for  interval and tempo runs but this might not be my choice when racing for long distances. Not that this wouldn’t do the job (I know that it will) but just because of its weight, which I think might play a big role especially when my body starts to fatigue.

Are there any negatives? The price. I think the $170 price tag is a bit hefty, but that’s the price you pay for all the bells and whistles in these shoes. Comparing this price from the previous versions, they’re almost identical, so I think it’s justifiable plus with all the improvements they put in. You can purchase the Transcend 3 directly on their website or retail stores nearest you.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think. Hope this review has been helpful in some ways and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post below.

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