Saucony Endorphin Racer 2 Review
The original Endorphin is an outstanding running shoe, providing a surprising level of cushioning at an ultralight weight. I had incredibly high hopes for this second generation, with reports of improved cushioning and only slight weight gain. The forefoot was also changed to use TPU foam, which can be far more resilient and long-lasting, as well as provide rather more bounce than traditional EVA foam which is still used in the rear of the shoe. Sadly, while the reports of the weight gain were true, the cushioning is actually quite a lot worse than of the original shoe. My initial runs in the endorphin 2 were a little slower than I'd have expected, and the shoe didn't feel cushioned enough to give me improved Running Economy you can get with modest cushioning. My initial impressions of this being more of a minimalist rather than optimal running shoe were confirmed by some later calculations of the shoes measured cushioning. I've rated the endorphin to as "worth considering", as I think there are far better light weight running shoes on the market, including its predecessor. You can read my review of the original at Saucony Endorphin 1. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
1 Shape and Fit
I don't normally comment on the fit of running shoes, as everybody's foot is a slightly different shape. However, I found that the Endorphin 2 has a rather unusual shape. I've found the key to getting a shoe that fits well is to ensure that the curve on each side of the forefoot matches the curves of the shoe. If you look at the photo below, the point marked by the blue arrows and red arrows should line up, so that the bulge to the inside of the ball of the foot matches the on the shoe, and likewise on the outside. With the Endorphin 2, I found that when I had a ideal fit from the ball of my foot back, the toe box was radically too small. While a misshapen toe box is endemic to running shoes, and I typically can't the toe box open, the Endorphin 2 is far worse, being too narrow and too short.
- Altra Escalante. I found the endorphin 2 to be rather under cushioned, and therefore slower than a slightly better cushioned shoe, so I'm classifying it as a minimalist shoe, though it's probably got a little too much midsole for most runners looking for a minimalist shoe. The traditional EVA foam used in the rear of the midsole is rather firm a than is typical, probably to match the cushioning characteristics of the TPU foam in the forefoot more closely. It's hard to see the dividing line between the two types of foam, but if you look closely at the photos of your see a diagonal line, and the TPU foam in the forefoot as a mostly smooth finish, where the EVA foam has a crosshatch pattern embossed on it. . The Endorphin 2 uses Saucony's EVERUN under the forefoot, which is their form of TPU foam. TPU foam tends to be much longer lasting than traditional EVA foam, and it can be rather more spring the, but unfortunately quite a bit heavier as well. I've generally found Saucony's implementation of TPU to be inferior to other companies, especially when comparing to the awesome
- . The Endorphin 2 is zero drop (in fact, I measure it with 1mm of negative drop), which is nice to see.
- . While the endorphin 2 uses two different types of foam, these are not intended to manipulate your running form in the way that a medial post would. In fact, the endorphin is a remarkably neutral shoe, with a fairly flat shape under the heel, and very little in the way of rise under the arch of the foot.
- . The Endorphin is flexible due to the thin midsole combined with gaps in the outsole.
- . The Endorphin 2 has a layer of harder, slightly sticky rubber outsole over the entire surface of the sole. This outsole is perforated with lots of triangular holes, which are easier to see as black triangles in the rear of the foot, but if you look carefully you can see these on the forefoot, revealing the TPU foam below. These gaps in the outsole help with flexibility, and I found the material they've used in the outsole to have pretty good grip.
- Cutting open the toe box open helps somewhat but the fit is still pretty funky. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . Like most running shoes, the shape of the Endorphin does not match the human foot, but the endorphin is actually rather worse than most running shoes, and as noted above, I had a real problem finding a good fit.
- . The Endorphin 2's tongue is sown to the upper on the inside edge, which helps keep it in place. Just like its predecessor, I found the tongue is so thin I had problems avoiding it rucking up when I put the shoe on, but it never caused an issue during the run, only beforehand.
- . The Endorphin has traditional flat laces that stayed tied nicely.
- . Not surprisingly, there is no real heel counter in this shoe. There is a tiny tab that sticks up from the back of the heel, but nothing else.
3 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.0||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.1||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||7.7||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||4.7||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.4||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.4||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||3.8||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||5.7||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||6.7||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||8.6||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.1||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.2||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||6.7||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.2||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.5||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.4||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.4||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.3||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.6||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.3||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.7||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.1||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.4||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||7.8||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.4||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||5.6||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||4.7||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.3||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.0||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||7.5||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||3.8||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||6.8||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||6.8||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||8.6||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.5||6|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.0||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.4||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.4||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||5.8||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.2||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.0||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.1||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.4||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||5.7||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.3||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.1||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.1||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.5||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.1||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.1||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||4.9||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||5.7||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.1||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.2||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.4||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||5.7||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.6||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||9.4||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.4||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||4.1||10.7||20.8||19||21||-1||4.4||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||8.8||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||7.5||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.9||11.4||17.7||23||25||-2||5.6||4|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||8.3||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.5||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||9.2||5.5||8.5||15||21||5||5.0||7|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.5||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.3||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Highly Recommended||$170||7.1||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||8.5||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.5||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||4.9||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.1||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.3||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.0||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||7.5||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||6.9||11.8||18.4||34||34||2||8.2||3|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||5.8||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.1||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||3.6||11.0||17.1||28||30||3||4.0||9|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||13.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||5||5.5||8|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||4.3||9.7||15.1||26||29||4||4.2||6|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||7.1||6.5||10.1||16||19||5||4.6||8|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||7.1||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.4||7|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.4||5.6||8.7||15||21||6||4.7||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||17.6||4.0||6.2||13||21||4||7.0||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||4.6||8.5||18.9||18||28||3||3.9||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.7||9.2||14.3||25||28||3||8.0||4|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||6.6||8.0||12.5||14||17||1||5.3||6|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||5.7||10.0||15.6||24||29||0||5.7||7|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||9.9||8.1||12.5||23||25||6||8.0||0|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||7.3||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||5.4||5|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||4.1||11.6||18.1||35||40||4||4.8||5|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||6.3||9.9||15.5||22||25||2||6.2||3|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.9||6.6||10.2||17||21||-1||5.2||4|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||4.6||10.8||16.8||24||24||2||5.0||5|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||2.3||11.6||28.8||30||31||0||2.7||10|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||4.2||9.6||14.9||31||25||-1||4.1||6|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||4.2||7.4||17.3||22||24||1||3.1||9|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||6.0||8.4||13.1||13||13||0||5.1||8|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||1.7||7.3||29.5||20||18||0||1.2||10|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||22.9||3.1||4.8||9||12||8||7.1||2|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||9.2||5.3||8.2||19||21||6||4.9||5|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||10.6||6.1||9.5||6||5||9||6.4||6|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||11.1||7.2||11.2||25||37||4||8.0||6|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||7.9||8.6||0.0||18||24||8||6.8||3|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.3||6.3||0.0||17||27||1||6.4||5|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||6.0||9.5||0.0||29||32||0||5.7||7|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||6.6||8.7||0.0||29||36||-1||5.7||7|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.