Friday, June 8, 2012

An Open Letter to Brooks Re: Launch


Dear Brooks,

It's no secret that the Brooks Launch is my favorite trainer. It's a super simple shoe, no nonsense, no bells and whistles...nothing but function. My friend Andrew recommended it to me a while ago, and while at first, I resisted and bought the Ghost instead because another one of my friends told me it was too soft (and granted, it is pretty soft), I eventually listened to him and realized how right he was. The Launch is a trainer done right. It filled the gap for me when Nike changed the midsole of my beloved Pegasus from Phylon to Cushlon, and may have even eclipsed the Pegs as a shoe that just "works." And man, will I miss it when it's gone.

Remember back when PureProject was announced, you told us that there was no right or wrong in the "float versus feel" spectrum? That you wanted us to have a choice, and that you wouldn't waver from providing us with the core line that we know and love? Well, I believed you. I really did. Sure, right around the launch of the original PureProject, I had heard rumors that the Launch and Green Silence were going the way of the dodo, but I had been hearing those rumors since 2010, so I figured they were just that...rumors. So with the confidence that if I didn't like the PureProject I could always go back to the Launch, I looked forward to the release of the PureProject. And the PureProject wasn't bad, per say. I liked the PureConnect alright, though its durability left quite a bit to be desired. After all, I was able to get over twice the miles on the Launch as I was the PureConnect before they wore out, and when you're running 90 miles a week, that makes a pretty big difference. The PureFlow, well, I liked it to start, but it kind of reverse grew on me, and the more I wore it, the less I liked it. I mean, I'm not entirely opposed to giving both shoes another try when the second iterations are released, but I can't help but think about how you already have the perfect shoe on your hands, and it feels like you're replacing a Ferrari with a Yugo (with the hope that the Yugo 2 is better than the first...and FINE, the PureProject isn't really on the level of a Yugo, but comparatively speaking). I know the PureProject has been popular, and I'm not suggesting you axe that instead. Heck, from what I understand, the PureProject shoes sell like hotcakes at Dick's. But I do feel like you're killing a runner's running shoe just because it lacks the mass-market appeal of the PureProject.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that the industry has to progress. I'm really glad that our choices today are a little more modern than the Onitsuka Tiger, Nike Daybreak, and Brooks Chariot. But I've also worked as an engineer, and I've seen the effects of overengineering a product. The beauty of the Launch is its simplicity. Not every shoe needs a laundry list of technology...it just needs to work. Especially today, when companies are scrambling to return to the minimalist designs of the '70s, and simple designs are being embraced once more (which, speaking of a simple '70s-esque shoe, um, hello, Green Silence!). Well, the Launch worked, and in my opinion, it worked better than most of the more complicated shoes out there, including the ones that pretended to be a return to the minimal designs of yore (emphasis on the word "pretended," as many of those shoes are way too complicated to actually be minimal).

Apparently the Launch is a customer favorite, with an average rating of 5/5 stars from 86 reviewers

I'm not the only one who feels this way, Brooks. A quick peek at your website shows that the Launch is a pretty popular shoe. It appears as a customer favorite on your homepage, and has an average rating of 5/5 stars from 86 reviews! Those are some pretty impressive numbers. And it looks like J of RogueRunning and Pete Larson of RunBlogger feel the same way too. Look, I know it's not the most expensive or most technologically advanced shoe in your line, but it's easily one of the most functional, and looks to be pretty popular. Maybe my Ferrari comparison is inaccurate...maybe this is Honda axing its super popular and incredibly functional Civic because it's not as "hip" as an electric Fit.

Look, I'm not opposed to progression. I'm really looking forward to your Mach 14. And if I find out that the PureConnect 2 is more durable than the original, you better believe I'll be on the phone with the National Running Center, putting in an order. I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall way back in 2010 when my friend first mentioned that the Launch wasn't going to be around long, or when there was never an update released. And I'm sure I'll eventually find another shoe that will fill the gap...I always do. A shoe is, after all, only a tool. But it doesn't mean I'm not disappointed about losing one of the most solid trainers on the market today. That and, contrary to how it might look on my blog, I really hate playing the Cinderella game with a million pairs of shoes to find new ones when a company discontinues my glass slippers. But I guess that's business...

Yours,
Becki

7 comments:

  1. I am flattered and amused. I had not realized that the Launch was due to be scrubbed (pun intended) -- that is difficult to understand, especially because it had been left essentially unaltered since it debuted about three years ago. I have noticed that Asics has a line of similar-looking shoes, that 33 series, which is somewhat throwback: just foam and rubber underfoot, no plastic or other engineering gimmicks.

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  2. I was wondering why I picked them up at a running store so cheaply yesterday ($45). Now if I like them I can't even get another pair.

    I tried one of the 33 series - wasn't really a fan. The heel felt weird/super wide.

    This is the second time Brooks as pissed me off this year. First by changing the Ravenna fairly significantly (I would't buy this incarnation again), and now this. And while I like the Pure Cadence ok, it has some fit issues for me. I have a bit of a wide forefoot and I basically have to wear thin socks and had to change the lacing pattern so it takes super loose. Really, this is not a line of shoes that will work for everyone.

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  3. This is like Porsche dropping the 911, are you kidding me? The Launch hit all the right notes for me, guess I'll have to stockpile a few pair then go back to the drawing board...

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  4. Drew, I heard you met Molly yesterday!

    Molly likes the Excel33, I believe. I haven't had a chance to try any of them yet.

    The Launch should be around until the end of the year. From what I understand, this current color scheme is the last.

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    1. Wow, news travels fast! Yes, it was a pleasure. Nor have I tried any of the 33 line, I dare not add to my backstock just now -- though I would go for the Saucony Kinvara if I were to. I got a shoe recently that I really like on both road and trail, the NB 110mt.

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    2. MT110 is good on the road, huh? I used to wear the old 790 (actually still have it even though it's pretty much dead, just because it's my only pair of trail shoes). That one was actually better than I expected on the road since there wasn't much in the way of lugs. Sweet dealio. I feel like I should listen to you since you were right about the Launch haha.

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    3. I have 790s as well, better lug pattern on the 110. The fit of the last is fairly unique, make sure to try on before buying. I would imagine the Kinvara Trail would be a good one, too.

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