Friday, July 2, 2010

Brooks ASR7 Review

Brooks has recently released its newest version of the road/trail hybrid Adrenaline ASR line. The ASR7 remains in the mold of previous ASRs with a few upgrades. The shoe is still based on the Brooks Adrenaline road shoe. It still provides some stability and is a good fit for a current adrenaline wearer looking to hit the trail. The new version is styled more like a trail runner with its overall appearance and a more aggressive tread pattern.

On The Road: Brooks markets this shoe as a trail/bad weather runner. My initial run was a 20+ miler 100% on pavement. The shoe held up well and gave me no issues. I normally would not advise running in a brand new style of shoe for this long on a first run in it. There were only 2 things that bothered me a little. First you can really feel the more aggressive thread. Think of running a car with winter or mud tires down a dry and smooth road. The ride was a little clunky, but nothing that was of real concern. Of more concern was the sweet buildup. These shoes do not breath well. Brooks has placed a water resistant liner in the upper. I completely disagree with this strategy. If moisture has a hard time getting it, it will have an even harder time getting out. This is especially annoying when crossing water in them and getting wet feet. It is not as bad or hot as a Gore Tex liner. It also does not keep water out like a Gore Tex liner.

On The Trail: I wore these shoes to run the 77 mile Laurel Highlands Ultra. This race is 90% on single track trail with a 9 mile portion in the middle consisting of dirt road, pavement, and gravel road. The shoe did very well in the race. I was happy to have the more aggressive tread pattern as some of the course was muddy. I did not slip or fall the entire race. It showed good stability throughout the race. When I came to the road section I was able to comfortably run most of it and make up some valuable time. Once again I had issues with moisture not escaping from the shoe. I have been wearing ASRs for a few years now and this is not new to this years model. Overall the shoe held up well for the entire race. I really can only point out 2 issues I had. First the rubber toe plate separated from the shoe. This has happened to me in the past with ASRs. I have gone on to wear the shoes for hundreds of miles and numerous chores around the house with no further separation. The bigger issue were my feet. I cannot blame the shoe for the blisters I suffered. My feet were not healed properly from a long spring race and as the day went on I got multiple blisters on each foot. This is partially due to the lack of breath-ability I have discussed above, and partially to me no changing socks and cleanup up my feet during the day. I am interested to see if this happens again when I take proper care of my feet or it is an issue I will have with the newest version of this shoe.

Conclusion: I like this shoe. I think I am going to love it once I get some more miles on it. My biggest complaint of the shoe was a lack of tread, which has been addressed. If you can live with the moisture issue you will be happy with the shoe. Many ultras are run on a combination of single track, road, and fire road. This shoe can handle it all and really excels on fire roads. It does not offer the protection of some trail shoes. I think this protection is unnecessary and only adds weight. If you are looking for a support trail shoe you cannot go wrong with the Adrenaline ASR7. Leave a comment if you have any specific questions about this shoe and I will try and answer them. 

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