The fact that the words ‘Reebok’, ‘best’, and ‘running’ are used in the same sentence proves Reebok’s quick resurgence as a bona fide running shoe brand.
Between the late eighties and early 2000s, Reebok used to be a powerful force in the athletic footwear industry. And we aren’t talking just about running shoes; Reebok had its claws dug deep into other categories like basketball, tennis, cross-training, aerobics, and lifestyle footwear.
The ’90s were the golden period for Nike and Reebok, an era of hype and innovation. Footwear tech like Reebok Pump, DMX, and Hexalite went head-to-head with different versions of Nike Air. The Air Jordans competed with signature Reebok Allen Iverson basketball shoes. And who can forget the Reebok Shaqnosis?
And it went far beyond loud marketing. At one point, Reebok used to make excellent running shoes. First released in 1993, Reebok’s excellent Aztrec runner was a worthy competitor to the Nike Pegasus. Ditto for the 1992 Pyro. Reebok also brought single-piece EVA midsoles into the mainstream with the 3D Opus, Electrolyte, and the Areeba.
You get the idea – Reebok, like Nike, played an important part in shaping the sports footwear industry as we know it today.
On a side note, if you like reading about the history of the sports shoe industry or shoes in general, we recommend this guide. We have curated a list of books on this topic – collectively, these books cover the stories of the large brands and then some.
Reebok’s decline in fortunes began soon after adidas acquired it to grow in the competitive North American market. For a while, Reebok running footwear had a good home within the ‘Premier running’ category and held its own in a competitive technical running market.
Performance products took a backseat with a new focus on lifestyle and toning. That backfired spectacularly in the form of FTC fines, and Reebok began reinventing itself as a fitness brand around cross-training.
So far, that approach has worked well for Reebok – its partnership with CrossFit and Les Mills has allowed it to create and sell merchandise to a dedicated group of consumers. And if the popularity of the Nano 9 (now Nano X) is any indication, Reebok’s training-focused product line has been successful.
Thus, it was a surprise – and a rather pleasant one at that – when Reebok suddenly began selling performance running shoes at both ends of the spectrum. It began with the casual Floatride Run in 2017; things quickly turned serious with the Floatride Run Fast and its Pro version – shoes meant for fast training and races, respectively.
2019 ushered in the excellent Floatride Forever Energy and a few upgrades. For example, both the Road Harmony and the Grasse Road ST ditched their EVA midsole casing and adopted the Forever Energy E-TPU foam – which is a firmer version of the adidas Boost foam.
But as of October 22nd 2020 – adidas intends to sell the Reebok brand as per this Bloomberg piece. So here we go again.
So what’s new for 2020?
A lot of Reebok’s models carry forward into this year except for one important distinction. Reebok trades the triangular ‘Delta’ logo for its classic ‘Vector’ logo after sunsetting the triangular logo in late 2019.
And the results look pleasing. The classic Reebok logo has a strong visual impact – enough to transform the external appearance of the line-up.
The Floatride Energy Symmetros is new. This is a new e-TPU Floatride-based running shoe that is priced about the regular Energy V2. It’s got a higher-volume midsole along with a more structured upper. It’s a plusher version of the FFE 2, if you will.
There are new models like the $80 Liquifect Spring (an Asics Gel me-too) and Floatride Fuel Run, but we prefer to leave them out of this guide for now. As our budget option, we recommend the $70 Endless Road 2.
We’re not sure what’s going to happen to Floatride Run 2.0. You know, the Pebax-based lifestyle sneaker. Will a V3 follow? Not sure, but for now it’s off the menu.
Before diving into the write-up, it is important to know the difference between the two versions of Reebok’s ‘Floatride’ foam. The lightweight Pebax foam is used on the more expensive models like the Run Fast and Pro.
The Pebax formulation makes the shoe lighter and softer as compared to the lower-priced models like the Floatride Energy 2 and Harmony Road that use a heavier e-TPU foam.
Reebok still has a lot of flab around its running shoe assortment, but here’s our pick of the top six Reebok shoes. We’ve prefixed each shoe with its use-case so that it’s easier for you to find what you’re looking for.
1) Daily neutral trainer: Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 2
We fell in love with the first edition of this model, and we’re fond of the V2 as well.
The Floatride Energy V2 has the same midsole and outsole as the V1, so that means you get an identical ride character. One that balances cushioning, mild responsiveness, and smooth transitions. This just-right ride makes the shoe extremely versatile; use it as your daily trainer or long-distance shoe.
Recently, logo changes have happened through Reebok’s assortment. The V2 also gets the classic ‘Vector’ logo that not only adds visual appeal but also provides structural support to the upper.
Updates like an asymmetrical lacing free up space inside the forefoot. The price hasn’t changed, so the shoe’s value proposition stays the same.
In case you’re interested, here’s our full take on the Forever Energy V2.
2) Daily neutral trainer: Reebok Floatride Run Panthea
We all know that the Reebok Floatride Run 2 is a bit soft around the corners – in a lifestyle sneaker kind of a way.
So what does one do to get the lightweight cushioning of the Run 2 but without the easygoing upper? The Floatride Run Panthea is the answer.
The Panthea’s midsole and outsole set-up is nearly identical to the Floatride Run 2. This gives you the responsive and featherweight softness of the latter. At the same time, the upper design and fit is performance-oriented.
The upper is equipped with a proper lacing set-up, complete with an additional eyelet for tying a runner’s loop. The result is a true-to-size profile with a secure forefoot and heel fit.
It’s a nice shoe to have for your daily outings and such. For ‘faster’ shoe options, keep reading.
3) Affordable neutral trainer: Reebok Endless Road 2
The Endless Road 2 is our basic Reebok running shoe pick that retails below $100, but with a caveat.
The upper has a very narrow fit and is almost racer-like in how it locks the foot down. So if an easygoing and roomy fit is what you’re after, you won’t find it on Endless Road 2.
There’s not a lot of softness packed into the midsole. There’s no fancy e-TPU or Pebax here – just a single-density of a somewhat firm EVA foam over a full-length rubber outsole.
For $70, we say – not bad at all. If you can get past the narrow fit and firm-ish ride character, then the Endless Road 2 will prove to be a versatile daily workhorse.
4) Daily neutral trainer: Floatride Energy Symmetros
Till as recently as May 2020, the Forever Floatride Energy 2 (FFE2) was the only Reebok running shoe with a full-length Floatride (e-TPU) midsole.
The Floatride Energy Symmetros amends that situation. Like the FFE 2, it has a Floatride midsole but in a higher-volume avatar. There’s more of the bouncy foam under the foot, thus turning the Symmetros’s ride a lot cushier.
That said, the Symmetros is a very different shoe than the FFE. The thicker stack makes it softer but also gives it a care-free character; one that feels at home at slow, long, and easy runs.
The transitions are smooth due to the pronounced heel bevel and the Floatride foam but one has to expend a greater effort when compared to the FFE2. The dual-zone outsole – which is harder at the rear and marginally softer upfront – provides sufficient levels of traction.
The upper is OK. There was no need to make the heel collar with stitched edges – that just increases the risk of Achilles rubbing. Like the FFE2, the lacing begins far away from the front so the midfoot/forefoot lock-down is so-so. The fit runs a bit pointy in the front, and that’s a known Reebok issue.
If cushy is what you’re looking for, the Symmetros possesses that in plenty.
5) Cushioned Speed Trainer: Reebok Floatride Run Fast 2
The Floatride Run Fast 2 is one of the three (not counting the Floatride Run 2 ) performance running shoes in Reebok’s line that uses the lightweight Pebax foam.
Its low profile midsole that makes it an incredibly lightweight fast trainer; the Run Fast is easily the best in class.
The featherweight Pebax foam has a high cushioning to weight ratio that makes it disappear during runs. Stability isn’t a trade-off here; the EVA firm on top brings stability to the ride quality.
A speed run isn’t the only act the Run Fast 2 is capable of. There’s enough cushioning and outsole to make it versatile enough for daily runs – if your current shoe feels too clunky. The aggressive lug geometry of the full-coverage has an excellent grip too.
Shoes of this category fit snug, so expect the same of the Run Fast 2. Other than that, the insides fit smooth and have decent levels of ventilation. The classic Reebok logo replaces the Delta shape seen on the Run Fast V1, so the new edition comes out looking much better.
6) Hyper-light Racing Flat: Reebok Run Fast Pro
When selecting a pair of racing shoes, you can go two ways. Experienced runners who can do with minimal cushioning prefer racing flats – or some version of it. The other approach is to get a lightweight shoe with maximal cushioning – some of them even have Carbon plates.
If you are in the first group of runners and have $250 to spend, there is no better flat than the Reebok Run Fast Pro. This isn’t to say that there aren’t other great flats – but the Run Fast Pro does a lot of things better.
The midsole material has a significant advantage over others in this category. By using Pebax foam for its midsole, the Pro’s ride is nowhere as jarring as flats with EVA-based midsoles. The Fast Pro offers an unbelievable amount of responsive cushioning for – hold your breath – its 3.6-ounce weight.
Apart from the inherent lightness of the Pebax foam, you can see where the weight-saving measures have been deployed. The snug upper is a very breezy set-up with only a minimal amount of heel padding. There’s a full outsole that uses directly injected lugs to reduce bulk while making the underside sticky.
If money is no object, this is the ultimate racing flat pick.