The most versatile running shoe we’ve tested, the Endorphin Speed is comfortable and speedy enough to handle all your training and help you perform at your best when racing.
- Smooth and efficient ride
- Nylon plate makes it more comfortable than a carbon shoe
- Almost as fast as a carbon shoe on race day
- Outsole can slip on greasy surfaces
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There is really no practical difference between the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 and its predecessor. The wild chequered-flag design of 2 might scream that it is a new version, but the actual performance of the shoes is essentially identical.
That’s terrific news, because the Saucony Endorphin Speed was my favourite shoe of 2020. Given that it was pretty hard to get hold of, my twin hopes for the Endorphin Speed 2 were that Saucony didn’t mess it up and that it made a whole load more of them.
Time will tell on availability, but I can confirm the Speed 2 is just as good as the original, offering the same blend of speed and comfort that makes the shoe pretty much perfect for all kinds of running, and it certainly ranks among the best running shoes.
Of course there are some changes but these are minimal. There’s a slightly redesigned heel fit and anti-slip laces, and some minor tweaks to the upper. These might improve the shoe for some people, but in truth I enjoyed a great fit with the Speed 1, which had a comfortable and breathable upper as well, and noticed none of the changes.
The main appeal of the Speed lies underfoot, and it’s not been tinkered with. As in the first edition you’re getting a generous stack of PWRRUN PB foam – 35.5mm at the heel, 27.5mm at the forefoot – with a nylon plate sandwiched in between plus Saucony’s SPEEDROLL tech, which helps you move through your foot strike efficiently.
These three features add up to a brilliant ride that’s both fast and comfortable. I ran more than 550km in the Endorphin Speed in 2020, using the shoe for all types of runs ranging from short, sharp intervals in track sessions and 5K races, right up to 30km easy plods. I feel like I never had a bad run in it and there’s nothing else I’d consider as versatile.
I’ve not logged as many kilometres in the Speed 2 yet, but having tried it over slow and fast, short and long runs, I can confirm it has the same superb versatility as its predecessor.
The level of performance here is very close to a carbon plate racing shoe, and the differences between the Speed 2 and Saucony’s carbon-plated Pro 2 are minimal. The Pro 2 is slightly lighter (231g vs 235g for the Speed 2, both in my UK size 9), and its carbon plate makes for a stiffer, firmer ride that is a touch faster than the Speed’s – but just a touch.
The benefit of having a nylon plate in the Speed is that with less stiffness and firmness, it’s more comfortable to use for day-to-day training. On one day last year I raced 5K in the Speed in the morning then used it for an hour’s easy recovery run in the afternoon. That’s not something I’d be inclined to do with a firmer, carbon shoe.
Although the amount of rubber on the outsole of the Speed 2 is minimal and there is a lot of exposed foam, I can attest to the shoe’s grip and durability. I used it almost entirely on roads, but on the occasional run on hard forest trails or canal towpaths it didn’t get chewed up, and the outsole has always gripped well when running at speed on wet pavements.
At £155 the Speed is fairly expensive, but its versatility and durability justifies the outlay, especially if you’re a runner who sticks to owning one pair of running shoes at a time and still wants to fly on race day. It’s unmatched as an all-rounder, and even if you do have plans to rotate it with other shoes the Speed works well as a fast trainer when paired with a pure comfort shoe for easy runs and a fully-fledged carbon plate shoe for racing.
There are other excellent all-rounders out there, with two stand-outs being the Hoka One One Mach 4 and the New Balance Rebel v2. Both are cheaper than the Speed 2 at £125 for the Mach 4 and £120 for the Rebel v2, and both have an impressively comfortable yet speedy ride. Neither match the Speed’s top speed, but they’re far from slow shoes and might appeal to those who don’t want any kind of plate in their shoe.
Whether those others retain the advantage of being more readily available to buy remains to be seen, though fingers crossed there won’t be a shortage of the Speed 2. There’s also a chance that if the original Speed continues to be sold when the 2 comes out it could well see reductions, in which case I’d certainly advise getting the Speed 1 since the performance is so similar.
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.