All new running shoes launch to a fanfare of incredible claims about the cutting-edge technology that goes into making them, and the remarkable feats you will be able to achieve while wearing them. But even in this hyperbole-laden landscape, the Brooks Levitate stands out with its promise of infinite energy and the most energy-returning midsole on the market.
Both promises are based around the shoe’s new DNA AMP midsole, which has been developed over the past couple of years to provide the most bounce you’ll find in a running shoe. That is, in a performance running shoe designed for the ordinary runner, rather than elites, who get special shoes that aren’t comparable.
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The result should be a shoe that puts an unrivalled amount of spring in your step, even though it weighs a rather chunky 317.5g. For comparison the delightfully plush and cushioned Brooks Glycerin 15 weighs 300.5g, which is surprising since the latter focusses more on comfort than speed.
Despite its weight, the Levitate didn’t feel heavy on the foot during runs, but neither did it live up to the massive energy-returning billing. It’s responsive, but I felt more pep in my step when running in a Saucony shoe with an Everun midsole, or one of Adidas’s Boost line-up (both of which use similar materials to the Levitate DNA AMP midsole).
I also found that I felt I was hitting the ground hard in the Levitate, compared with the smooth transition in the Glycerin 15. The ride was better at higher speeds, but felt slightly laboured on easy runs.
The Levitate is by no means an uncomfortable shoe to run in, and it definitely seems like it’s designed to last a long time, even if you’re racking up high mileage each week. But it wasn’t the springy sensation I hoped for.
On the plus side it boasts the most aesthetically pleasing upper I’ve come across on a Brooks shoe, with a seamless knit design that’s as stylish as it is comfortable. The looks are undermined by the unsightly silver midsole, but from the top at least the Levitate looks the business.
The Levitate is a solid all-round training shoe with a great upper. However, it’s not as comfortable as the Brooks Glycerin 15 (which to be fair is insanely comfortable – like running with pillows strapped to your feet) and I found the ride was lacking in spring, especially during easy pace runs.
£140, buy on brooksrunning.com (opens in new tab)
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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