Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Review

by Solereview editors

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Home.

Saucony’s marketing pitch: Work harder. Run faster.

Upper: Perforated engineered mesh, internal gusset.

Midsole: Pwrrun PB (PEBA) foam with a Nylon plate. 8 mm heel drop.

Outsole: Carbon rubber.

Weight: 229 gms/ 8.1 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27

Widths available: D - regular (reviewed).

Previous model: Saucony Endorphin Speed V2.

Country of origin: Made in China.

If you loved the Endorphin 1 and 2, chances are, you'll love the Speed 3. It's soft, bouncy, transition-friendly, fits well, and is packed with ride comfort for long-distance speed runs.
Soft and bouncy ride, speed-friendly, breathable, lightweight, upper fit proportions, reflectivity
No widths, lack of rearfoot stability at slower speeds, low versatility
Proof of purchase for the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 and Pro 3.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 was purchased at full retail price for our review. The amount is in Canadian Dollars.

INTRODUCTION

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 text callout.

An encore on a successful model isn’t easy as one would imagine.

It sounds easy, but it’s harder than you think.

Let’s say that a brand has an excellent running shoe that’s been well received in the market. Since the brand already knows what makes it good, it shouldn’t be hard to improve the next version, right?

On the surface, the process sounds deceptively simple, because it is. That would entail gathering all the best practices of the previous model, and then applying them to the new model.

But it’s surprising how many brands botch up this seemingly easy process. Instead of making a shoe better, the ‘updates’ make it worse, and send the runners back to the comfort of the previous model.

The side profile of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

Fix what’s broken, and don’t fix what’s not; that’s the mantra.

That is the reason why we love the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The top-to-bottom redesign successfully manages to include all the positive traits that made the first two versions successful. At the same time, the Speed 3 also introduces new performance-related improvements that refine the ride quality.

Of course, it’s not perfect. An optional B width would have been nice, and the midsole still lacks rearfoot stability at slow speeds. That being said, the level of support is higher than the Speed V1 and V2.

But if you were hoping to find an improved running shoe, the Endorphin Speed 3 doesn’t disappoint.

The basic specs of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

Like the previous version, it uses the bouncy Pwrrun PB (PEBA foam), Nylon plate, and rocker geometry to deliver a ride quality that makes long-distance training and races extremely comfortable yet efficient.

The true-to-size upper is very breathable, and its soft material create a secure yet distraction-free fit.

And what we said of the Speed 2 also holds for the Speed 3 – we’d pick it over the more expensive Endorphin Pro 3. Later in this review, we’ll explain why.

THE SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SPEED 3 COMPARED WITH ENDORPHIN SPEED 2

The outer box of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

Despite numerous changes, the Endorphin Speed 3 feels like a familiar shoe.

There are numerous changes between the Endorphin Speed 2 and Speed 3, but none of those updates feel forced or unnecessary.

When compared to the V2, the lower base of the redesigned midsole is slightly wider. This time, we even get a peek of the Nylon plate over the midfoot.

A deep transition groove under the heel runs down the center, a feature that was missing on the Speed V1 and V2.

The winged Nylon plate of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

This time, the PEBAX foam midsole gives us a glimpse of the embedded Nylon plate.

Only a teardown will reveal what the plate actually looks like, but we imagine it’s an S-curved form factor as the last time, but with these midfoot struts extending outwards.

Owing to these changes, the Speed 3 is slightly more supportive than the outgoing model.

According to Saucony’s product description page, the stack heights are higher by 1 mm throughout. Nonetheless, there’s nearly no difference in the weight between the two versions.

The overall score of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

While the true-to-size upper fit stays the same, the exterior gets rid of trims like the synthetic tongue overlay and heel pull tab.

The upper gets a new mesh, so the ventilation is an improvement. Not that the Speed V2 was a warm shoe, but the open-pored mesh of the Speed 3 does a better job of air circulation.

Like most running shoes in 2022, the Endorphin Speed 3 gets a $10 price increase.

THE MIDSOLE DESIGN AND RIDE EXPERIENCE

The side view of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

First, here are the basics. The Endorphin Speed 3 has a dual-layer midsole that’s made of two different stacks of Pwrrun PB (PEBA) foam.

Between these layers is a full-length Nylon plate that begins at the lower forefoot base and curves upwards towards the heel, where it is sandwiched between the soft foam layers.

This is what gives the Saucony Endorphin Speed, Pro, and other shoes like the Nike Vaporfly their unique ride signature.

The speedroll forefoot of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The inflexible forefoot acts as a rocker during roll-offs.

The front curve of the plate gives the forefoot a rocker-like quality, whereas the rear end makes the ride snappy. The suspended end under the heel acts as a springboard for the now-familiar ‘push forward’ sensation.

Of course, not all running shoes with a Carbon plate behave in the same way, but this is how the Endorphin series and Nike Vaporfly work.

The PEBA (PolyEther Block Amide) foam has been a game-changer for the running shoe industry, with parallels to adidas Boost’s success in its early years.

The beveled heel of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

Saucony’s Pwrrun PB (PEBA) foam is one of the reasons why the Endorphin Speed 3 is fun to run in.

Not only is PEBA soft and bouncy, but it also delivers cushioning comfort and responsiveness without adding weight. A case in point is the Endorphin Speed 3; it weighs a mere 8.1-ounces (229 grams) for the mean size. The Endorphin Pro3 even goes further with a 10% lighter build.

Low weight is hugely beneficial for a running shoe that’s meant to go the distance at speeds, because that’s what the Endorphin Speed 3 does best.

It feels most at home at paces quicker than 4:30 min/km (7 min/mile) rather than slow speeds. At higher paces, the efficient ride behavior makes it easy to fall into a rhythm.

The heel view of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The heel isn’t as stable as regular trainers. At slow paces, there’s a fair bit of cushioning bias towards the outer side.

Easy paces aren’t the Speed’s forte. So what happens if you drop below a certain speed? Even if you usually run fast, there are days or workout routines (like interval training) when you want to run slow. To be specific, how does the shoe feel at recovery speeds of 5:30 min/km (or 8:50 min/mile) and slower?

The Endorphin Speed 3 feels ‘ordinary’ at relaxed paces. While you benefit from the ride comfort from the PEBA midsole, a slow running speed doesn’t extract the full performance of the plate, foam, and rocker ‘Speedroll’. It just feels like any soft and lightweight running shoe.

Also, even with the improved rearfoot stability and new transition groove, there’s some lateral bias at slow and near-walking speeds.

Naturally, a longer loading period over the heel will lead to a higher level of compression. So this is NOT a walking or casual shoe – if you’re looking for one, we recommend you try the Nike Invincible Run 2 instead.

On both the Speed and Pro 3, the foot sits on top of the midsole instead of being cupped with raised sidewalls.

At higher speeds (and running cadence), the foot doesn’t spend a lot of time loading the heel, so the stability limitations are not detrimental. In comparison, the flared forefoot and inflexible rocker make the front more stable, so the Endorphin Speed 3 is ideal for forefoot/midfoot landings.

And you don’t have to worry about the 8 mm heel drop getting in the way. The beveled heel and slim midsole base favor full-contact landings.

The cushioning softness of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The cushioning bounce of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

From a use-case point of view, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 does three things very well. It’s ideal for marathons, and the pre-race training that comes with it. As for the third use case, we’ll get there in a bit.

The soft and bouncy Pwrrun PB midsole is sufficiently comfortable for high-mileage runs, and it meshes well with the speed-friendly Nylon plate and forefoot.

The removable footbed of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The EVA insole is almost identical to last year; its molded edges provide contoured arch support.

The EVA foam insole of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Speed 3 gets an EVA foam footbed; the Pro 3 gets a Pwrrun+ (E-TPU) sockliner.

The fabric lasting of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

Nothing new to see here. A fabric lasting separates the insole from the midsole.

The winged Nylon plate of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The ‘winged’ plate (seen in black) adds an element of support over the midsole. The flared sidewalls align with the insole molding for sensory arch support.

The removable insole adds the obligatory layer of step-in softness. It is an EVA foam footbed with an arch flare that complements the midsole sidewall design.

This is unlike the Endorphin Pro 3’s Pwrrun+ (E-TPU) insole that is glued to the lasting, and a nod to the Endorphin Speed 3’s attempt to appeal to a larger market of runners.

Saucony’s ‘Speedroll’ forefoot delivers on its stated performance claims. The forefoot isn’t very flexible, and has a high toe spring – a design that leaves a greater distance between the tip of the outsole and the road.

As a result, picking up speed feels quite natural. The plate and the rocker profile work together for a ‘push upwards’ and ‘roll forward’ effect, and then the responsive foam and outsole design do the rest.

The outsole of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

This time, the outsole rubber is thinner and grips better than the Speed V1 and V2.

The transition groove of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The deep channel under the heel is also new for 2022. It improves ride stability by centering the weight and helping the transitions.

The deep channel from the heel edge to the midfoot helps center the weight, and the thin rubber lugs make contact in all the landing and transition zones. Though the traction is satisfactory under most circumstances – including the occasional damp patch, it doesn’t have the superlative traction of the adidas adios Pro and Asics Metaracer.

We highlighted the low levels of grip on the V1 and V2, and the Endorphin Speed 3 remedies that. It grips better than the Speed 1 and 2 due to its reconfigured outsole geometry and thinner/softer lugs.

For a very long time, we’ve usually recommended low-profile speed shoes (like the adidas adios or Saucony Type A9) for short-distance races, of say , 5K.

Our thinking has evolved after spending a considerable amount of time with cushioned (and plate-fitted) racers. For example, we ran multiple 20-minute 5K (4:00 min/km, 6:30 min/mile) while testing the Endorphin Speed 3 and Pro 3.

Sure, the soft midsole doesn’t have the touch-and-go feel of firm racers. However, the rocker midsole and Nylon plate (or Carbon, as in the Pro 3’s case) compensate for the softness.

RECOMMENDED ROTATION

Which running shoes to rotate with the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3?

So if the Endorphin Speed 3 works well as a 5K racer, then what should an ideal rotation look like?

Given the lack of versatility at slower speeds and rearfoot striking, having a more supportive daily trainer adds rotational value. The Saucony Ride 15 complements the Endorphin Speed 3 well, and the Nike Pegasus 39 is an excellent choice should you prefer a softer ride.

The third shoe is entirely optional, since these are off-road shoes. We rated the Saucony Peregrine 12 highly in our review because of its versatile ride character.

On the other hand, a road-trail hybrid like the New Balance Hierro V7 is good for switching up surfaces without sacrificing the road-oriented ride comfort.

IS THE SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SPEED 3 DURABLE?

Is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 durable?

The jury is out on the overall durability, but 400 – 450 miles should be doable. However, there are a couple of changes that could potentially affect durability.

When compared to the Speed 2, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 uses an outsole with thinner rubber strips. In theory, since the thin strips are soft and bend with the midsole, they should not be a problem from a durability standpoint.

The new Speed 3 also uses an upper mesh with more open pores than the Speed 2, so we don’t know how that affects long-term durability.

THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT

The upper fit of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The upper fit of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Endorphin Speed 3 has the same fit profile as the Speed 1 and 2; the interior fits true to size. The toe box is broad at the front, with sufficient clearance over the toes.

Its standard ‘D’ width delivers a secure fit for most foot profiles, but just know that larger widths are unavailable.

The top view of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Speed 3 has a cleaner-looking upper with breathable mesh and fewer overlays.

The toe box of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The breathable mesh of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The updated breathable mesh looks less synthetic than last year.

The main exterior uses a single piece of mesh with synthetic overlays, so the insides are smooth and lack hot spots. The mesh has larger vents than before, and looks less plasticky.

The interior toe-box of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 excels at air circulation.

The inner gusset of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The gusset is also made of a soft and breathable mesh; there’s a slight built-in stretch.

Thus, the ventilation levels are excellent. There’s a gusset attached to the tongue, but that too, is made of a breathable mesh.

Though the tongue contains only the bare minimum of padding, the lacing top-down pressure isn’t felt. The soft laces are also slightly elastic, so that helps distribute the lacing cinch.

The tongue flap of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The redesigned tongue flap is softer and locks better over the instep. It’s a bit short for the last row of heel lock lacing, though.

Unlike the E-Speed 2, the flap of the updated tongue doesn’t have a folded edge, but uses a scooped flap with soft binding.

We like this design better, since its curved design locks naturally over the instep. If there’s a downside, it’s that the tongue runs out of length should you deploy the last lacing row for a runner’s loop.

On a whole, the new upper tones down the layering. For example, the tongue no longer has the synthetic suede strip as well as the thick pull tab over the heel.

The heel collar of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

No complaints with the heel fit; the soft lining is mildly padded for comfort. An internal counter cups the foot.

The reflective heel of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Endorphin Speed 3 has a large reflective panel over the heel.

We loved the heel collar design of the last two versions, and this one’s no different. There’s just enough padding to make the heel fit comfortable; nothing more, nothing less. An internal counter adds a tangible element of support. On a related note, the Pro 3 doesn’t have a stiff heel counter.

The rearfoot reflectivity is excellent, as it was on the last model.

PROS AND CONS

The pros and cons of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3.

The Speed 3’s only true drawback is its low versatility, since it delivers its best performance within a certain pace range. It’s not optimal for relaxed paces, and certainly not an ultra-slow run or brisk walking shoe – even with the recent improvement in rearfoot stability.

Other than that (and the lack of widths), there’re so many things to love about this product.

The cushioning comfort of the bouncy PEBA foam midsole is easily accessible for long runs, and the Nylon plate infuses the ride with its characteristic snap and forward roll. The end product is a running shoe that’s comfortable enough to run a marathon, yet allows you to build speed while doing so.

The well-ventilated and true-to-size upper does an excellent job at melding a secure fit with interior comfort.

COMPARISON: THE SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SPEED 3 VERSUS ENDORPHIN SPEED PRO 3

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 compared with Endorphin Pro 3.

Besides the obvious price difference and plate material (Nylon vs. Carbon), there’s more than meets the eye.

Dig deeper, and we find that the Endorphin Pro 3 uses a single-density midsole without the winged plate design. The fabric lasting/strobel under the insole is thinner, and the footbed doesn’t have molded edges. And unlike the Speed 3’s EVA foam footbed, the Pro uses a Pwrrun+ (E-TPU) foam.

The inner midsole of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3.

The Endorphin Pro 3 doesn’t have a winged plate, and the midsole is one piece.

The Pwrrun+ insole of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3.

The Pro 3 has a Pwrrun+ footbed; the Speed 3 has the EVA-based kind.

The breathable interiors of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3.

The large tongue vents of the Endorphin Pro 3 take ventilation to the max.

The collapsible heel of the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3.

Unlike the Speed, the E-Pro 3’s heel lacks a stiff counter.

The Pro 3’s upper also has notable areas of difference. The heel lacks a stiff counter, so that makes it collapsible. There’s no reflective trim either.

While the fit profile is nearly identical, the Pro 3 breathes much better than the Speed due to the giant vents on the tongue and lighter mesh. The Endorphin Pro 3’s deconstructed design approach translates into marginal weight savings; it is just over 10% lighter.

Any shoe comparison leads to the inevitable question – if we had to choose just one, which Endorphin should we get?

At the time of writing this review, the odds are stacked in the Speed 3’s favor. For a $55 lower price, the Speed 3 delivers a similar ride experience and better versatility. The Pro 3 may be lighter and softer, but we have to ask – is the minor performance upside worth the extra cash?

Both Endorphin models are based on the same midsole foam, so the levels of comfort are closely matched. The winged Nylon plate and heel counter add versatility by increasing the level of stability.

SHOES SIMILAR TO THE SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SPEED 3

In our opinion, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 offers the best value within its peer group.

Despite the rapid proliferation of plated racers, only a few running shoes have a form factor that’s comparable with the Speed 3. By which, we refer to the S-curved plate within a soft midsole made of either PEBA or similar super-foam.

The Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 in a marathon.

Shoes like the Vaporfly Next% 2 are great marathon racers, but you need to ask yourself whether the $80 difference is worth it.

Besides the similar Endorphin Pro 3, Nike sells its Vaporfly Next% 2. We also have the excellent New Balance RC Elite V2 (and soon-to-be V3-ed) and Asics Metaspeed Edge and Sky.

While these are all great shoes, it’s worth bearing in mind that they cost $50-80 more than the Speed. That’s a healthy pricing distance, and the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

Do you own this shoe? Improve this review by sharing your insights – submit a review here.

Other reviews and guides