It’s a light, fast and responsive carbon racer – but can it topple the Nike Alphafly? Here’s our review of the Saucony Endorphin Elite…
Saucony Endorphin Elite
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$275 / £280 / saucony.com
- Fast, punchy, responsive
- Good step-in comfort
- Extremely lightweight
- Good stability for a carbon-plated shoe
- Very expensive
- Fussy uppers
- Not as versatile as the Endorphin Pro 3
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The latest carbon-plated super shoe, the Saucony Endorphin Elite, is designed to compete with the fastest marathon race shoes on the market, like the Nike Alphafly 2, the Adidas Adios Pro 3 and the Adidas Prime X Strung. It’s also the snappier, racier and pricier sibling to last year’s popular Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. If the Pro 3 was made for fast training and racing, the Elite is all about chasing PBs when the gun goes.
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The Elite feature a combination of an 8mm drop, a high stack of Saucony’s latest superfoam, PWRRUN HG (the HG stands for Holy Grail, btw) and a foot-length carbon plate that’s slotted at the front section to offer a mix of stiffness and toe spring, but also medial and lateral flex to allow for a more natural movement of your foot. That also works with Saucony’s Speedroll geometry, to create an efficient roll-through and lively toe-off. Plus, there’s a PWRRUN+ sock liner for added protection and comfort.
Up top, you’ve got quite fussy uppers that mix a light, minimal perforated – and very breathable – mesh with a knitted section in the heel for comfort. It’s a fiddly design made up of multiple components. The soft and pliable knitted heel collar has a sort of external sling for heel hold but no plastic heel counter. In our tests, we were concerned the heel might collapse and lose shape over time. Or the blob of padding might not stand the test of high mileage, either.
Meanwhile, there are also sidewall cutaways to save weight, with separate support straps that help with foothold and fit. Despite the slightly complicated design, these offer good step-in comfort, good foothold and lockdown fit.
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At just 7.5oz / 211g in a UK men’s size 8.5, the Elite shoes are impressively light. Lighter than the Nike Alphafly Next% 2 (8.7oz / 248g) and the Adidas Adios Pro 3 (7.6oz / 216g), in fact. Crucially, they manage to pull that off without feeling like your foot is too exposed and unprotected, which is important for marathon distances.
When it comes to the all-important ride, we did 70+ miles in them, including a full solo marathon test and an all-out 5k. They are punchy, springy and responsive, but that wide base of midsole foam offers a more stable feel than some carbon super shoes like the Adidas Adios Pro 3. They’re noticeably livelier than the Endorphin Pro 3, but perhaps offer a little less protection over the long haul.
In the Endorphin Elite, Saucony has created a shoe that’s up there with the top-tier racers like the Nike Alphafly Next%2 – even if it’s not quite as punchy. This is a shoe lots of people will enjoy for faster efforts and all-out races. But there’s potentially one major drawback: the price. At £280, these are among the most expensive carbon race shoes going. They are pricier than the Alphafly (£270), but not better. They are also a whopping £70 more expensive than the Endorphin Pro 3, but it’s debatable as to whether there’s enough difference to warrant the extra spending. Certainly, if you already own the Endorphin Pro, we wouldn’t say you need the Elite as well.
Overall, the Saucony Endorphin Elite is a good shoe that offers a nice balance of propulsion, energy and response with a decent amount of stability. However, it would be easier to recommend if it was £50 cheaper!