Friday, July 27, 2012

Gear Review: Brooks Green Silence


I put off buying the Brooks Green Silence for a long time. The shoe's main selling point is that it's environmentally friendly. Really? I'm all saving the environment and slowing global warming, but I want shoes that are known for their performance, not for saving the planet (although both would be pretty sweet). However, I had some friends who seemed to like them, and then I heard someone compare them to the PureConnect, only with decent durability. Hm, well that was enough to make me order them. Then I got word that they were being discontinued, along with the Launch, and I put off writing the review for a long time. I mean, who wants to read a review about a shoe that's being discontinued at the end of this year? In fact, I almost didn't write it (hence the pictures of the beat-up shoes below). But then I thought about it and realized that it's a pretty cool shoe, and as far as I'm concerned, people deserve a chance to hear about it and try it before it disappears. So on to the review!

The Brooks Green Silence is a road racing flat from Brooks. It weighs in at 6.9oz for a men's size 9 and 6.4oz for a women's size 8*, and has a stack height of 24/14 for an H-delt of 10mm. Running Warehouse describes the Green Silence as such:
The Green Silence is a minimum feature, minimum neutral shoe designed for speedwork and racing. It is built with a curved shape.
CUSHIONING
  • To keep weight down, this shoe contains no additional cushioning technologies.
MIDSOLE
  • BioMoGo full-length midsole offers resilient cushioning and is made of environment-friendly, biodegradable materials.
  • Hyper Pod Configuration is a flexible midsole/outsole design that sets the foot up for an efficient, balanced heel-to-toe transition.
UPPER
  • Element Mesh is a moisture-managing, breathable mesh upper.
  • Synthetic Overlays are strategically located to provide a snug, secure fit.
OUTSOLE
  • HPR Green in the forefoot is made with environmentally-friendly materials and offers durable, skid-resistant traction in dry and wet conditions.
  • Hyper Pod Configuration is a flexible midsole/outsole design that sets the foot up for an efficient, balanced heel-to-toe transition.
* Because of the weird sizing that I'll describe below (they run a half size large), these shoes will most likely be lighter than the quoted weight. Interestingly, I wear a full size smaller Green Silence than T7 Racer and Mach 13, both of which run about a half-size small, which makes me wonder if the GS is actually any heavier at all (I don't have the right kind of scale to do this measurement, and I'm not enough of an ounce counter myself to warrant buying one).

The colors, Duke, the colors!

The Brooks Green Silence is available with two very different uppers. Currently, the sponge-y mesh upper is available in light blue, white, black, and purple for women, and in dark blue, white, turquoise, and Ronald McHansons colorways for men. The other upper is available in purple, brown, black, and light blue for women, and in green, brown, black, and purple for men. There is also a Union Jack colorway available for men, but I can't tell what upper that one uses. I own the sponge-y mesh upper, so that is what will be reviewed here.

Brooks Green Silence features a burrito-like upper

The upper is the most distinctive part of the Green Silence. Not only because it's available in a ton of colors, or because the red/yellow ones take a page out of the Zoom Victory's book and are two different colors (or did the GS do the mis-matched shoe thing before the Victory? Hmm...), but because of the burrito upper. The Green Silence has no tongue, so to speak. Instead, the one side wraps around the top of your foot, and the other side overlaps it to close the shoe. While I was a bit skeptical when I heard about it, in practice, it actually works very well. There's no tongue slippage, and it's very easy to adjust to get a good fit. There are also different lace holes that you can use to customize the fit, though I haven't found that using different holes makes much difference. It is a little wider in the forefoot than the T7 Racer and Mach, and the GS is built on a semi-curved, more universal last than those two racers, though it's definitely not nearly wide enough to be sloppy. (I would assume the women's is a little narrower. I really have no idea why I have the guys', so don't ask...that's what my team said I could order. But it fits well, so maybe I'm better off with that version). Additionally, the upper is seamless and is very comfortable without socks. Finally, it seems to breathe fairly well, about on par with how the T7 breathes, and much better than the PureProject shoes breathe, anyway.

Stupid rock-hard black thing over the toes

The one problem I have with the upper is that there is this weird black piece of material that wraps around the front of the toebox. It's hard as a rock and all it takes is one good downhill to bruise a toenail. I'm not sure why they used that material, since the material in this area of the T7 is much softer (unless it has something to do with using biodegradable materials). My other flats are also softer in this area (unless you count the PureProject shoes, which also have a hard toebox...though they're not really "racing flats," per say, so I tend to buy them roomier with less of a performance fit).

Brooks Green Silence has a wider base than many of Brooks' other offerings. From left: T6, GS, Mach 13 Spikeless

The Green Silence has a slightly wider base than the T7, which gives it a touch more inherent stability. Emphasis on the word "touch," though, as it's still definitely a neutral racer. It's built off of a fairly flat platform and doesn't have much in the way of arch support. Additionally, the upper is devoid of any supportive overlays. It's a pretty flexible shoe, with a flexible forefoot and plenty of torsional flexibility. It does, however, have a firm heel counter, which provides a small measure of rearfoot control.

Brooks Green Silence has a flexible forefoot

Brooks Green Silence has a good amount of lateral flexibility

Brooks Green Silence has a stiff heel counter for a small amount of rearfoot control

The Green Silence actually has puts a fair bit of shoe under your foot for its weight, though it is still a pretty firm ride. It's definitely firmer and feels like "less shoe" than the PureConnect, though it feels like there is more under you than with the T7 or Wave Ronin (which means the feel doesn't match up with the numbers, as they all have very similar stack heights in the heel, though the T7 is lower in the forefoot due to a higher heel-toe drop. That last part you can definitely feel, as it's obvious there is more in the forefoot of the GS than the T7). The firm cushioning does give you a responsive ride though, and I'd say it's nearly (though not quite) as responsive as the Ronin. It is, however, slightly more forgiving than the Ronin, both in the heel and forefoot. Groundfeel is a touch lower than both the T7 and Ronin.

The best word to describe the ride of the Green Silence is smooth. The transition isn't quite as fast as the Ronin, as it doesn't get you on your toes quite as quickly, but it's a very smooth ride. It's super smooth whether you're a heelstriker or a midfoot striker. Makes for a really comfortable shoe for tempo runs, cruise intervals, and marathon paced training.

The Green Silence is definitely a road shoe. The traction is great on roads, not so good on trails, and downright terrible on mud.

Sole of Brooks Green Silence

Durability seems to be pretty good. While the GS does have quite a bit of exposed foam on its sole, it seems to be a harder compound than the exposed foam on the PureConnect, and while aesthetic wear appears early, this initial wear doesn't have an impact on performance. My GS still feel fairly new at a mileage that the PureConnect's ride was beginning to degrade.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that a friend had compared the PureConnect to the Green Silence, so here's the comparison. The Green Silence has a wider forefoot and toebox than the PureConnect. The GS has much less arch support, as it is built off of a significantly flatter platform. The GS is also firmer, with less soft cushioning. The GS has a more breathable upper. The GS weighs less. And the GS is a heckuva lot more durable. Honestly, I actually like the PureConnect a lot (minus it's pitiful durability), but I also think the Green Silence is the superior shoe. And with less arch support, a wider toebox for toe splay, a lighter weight, and less soft cushioning, isn't it technically the more "minimal" shoe too? The only feature the PureConnect has that the GS doesn't that the minimalists get excited over is the 4mm drop. DON'T GET RID OF THE GREEN SILENCE, BROOKS! Or else bring it back and rename it the PureConnect 3!

Then there's also the fact that the Green Silence is made of recycled materials, uses a biodegradable midsole and insole (BioMoGo degrades 50 times faster than traditional EVA, according to the Brooks website), and uses water-based adhesives. I don't buy running shoes because they're earth-friendly, but knowing that my performance-oriented shoes are earth-friendly is always a nice bonus.


The Brooks Green Silence is a solid racing flat for the neutral runner seeking a firm, yet smooth ride, but who is also looking for a flat with a little more under them, particularly in the forefoot. It's also an option for people who like the PureConnect, but are turned off by the soft cushioning, narrow toebox, or poor durability. The hard piece over the toes is a little bit of a downer for me, but other than that, this is a nicely constructed shoe that really surprised me with how well it performs.

The Brooks Green Silence retails for $90 and can be purchased on Brooks' website, as well as at many retailers that carry Brooks products. They will be available through the end of 2012, and will be discontinued in early 2013. It runs a little large, and I had to order a half size down from my regular size in Brooks trainers (actually two full sizes rather than 1.5 sizes, since I have a unisex version of the GS), and a full size down from my size in the T7 Racer (unisex) and Mach 13 (men's).

Full disclosure: The Brooks Green Silence was a personal purchase that I bought myself through the National Running Center (Brooks does not allow them to advertise the shoe on their website, so you would need to call the store at (570) 586-1620 to order). The opinions expressed in this review are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of Brooks, the National Running Center, or anyone else.

14 comments:

  1. I've wanted to try these buys but (a) I have way too many shoes now to justify it, (b) they are discontinuing it. Maybe if I come across a smokin' deal for the GS, I'll get them.

    But, I have to say, I'm super disappointed that Brooks is selling out to the trendy-minimalist stuff. I saw so many people wearing Launches at a local 5K yesterday. They are making a risky bet that they'll all just buy the PureFlow instead.

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  2. The picture I saw of the pure drift makes me think that it's basically the "pure" version of the gs

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  3. "But, I have to say, I'm super disappointed that Brooks is selling out to the trendy-minimalist stuff."
    Completely agreed, 100%.

    Drift will use the same burrito-like upper, but the midsole (and therefore ride of the shoe) will be different.

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  4. I thought the main selling point was that it is a good performance shoe that is made with environmentally friendly means. Given that I saw Hansons runners racing in them before they hit the market was a solid endorsement of the shoe's virtues. I have stocked up a few pair via closeout (prior to the announced discontinuation) -- reminds me a lot of the Nike Air Mariah, which likely came well before your time though it was revived in recent years.

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  5. Maybe it was, I just remember seeing all this stuff about biodegradability on the website, and it just seemed to me like that's what they were pushing. Glad I gave it a try though, they're pretty sweet!

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  6. Hi Becki,

    how would you compare the Green Silence to the PureDrift? now that you seem to have a good amount of miles on both... :)

    I love (LOVE) the Green Silence, but I'm willing to give a try to the PureDrift as it sells as ligther, more minimalist, and... faster? How would you compare the ride in each of them?

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. COMPLETELY different. The only thing the Green Silence and PureDrift have in common is the burrito-style upper. The PureDrift is built off a wider last, has a roomier (and sloppier at faster speeds) upper, has much firmer cushioning, is much more flexible, is a little less responsive, and has a much slower transition. It's just a slower feeling shoe in general than the Green Silence. I wouldn't hesitate to use the GS as a speedwork or race day shoe (obviously, as that's its intended purpose). On the other hand, I couldn't even get through a speed workout in the PureDrift...had to change shoes partway through. The PureDrift is a fun easy day shoe, and I'm having a blast with it on slow days, but it has practically nothing in common with the GS. For a GS replacement, I'd look to the PureConnect. The PureConnect is narrower, has more prominent arch support, and is a touch less responsive than the GS, but it's MUCH closer to the GS than the PureDrift. I've used the PureConnect for more speedworkouts (and more easy runs) than I can count, and although I still think the T7 edges it out in responsiveness, it's definitely more of a spiritual successor to the GS than the PureDrift.

      Hope that helps!

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  7. I've been reading your blog since I clicked on the link at the bottom of one of your RW Forum posts many moons ago. Because of your reviews I now eat Powerbars before every race that I run in my Green Silences. I also read and loved Running With the Hansons. You should earn some kind of commission off of this. Many thanks for the valuable service you provide to us all.

    Jack

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by, Jack, and glad you've found the reviews useful!

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  8. I am heavy. Just recently dropped below 190 pounds. The Green silence is the fastest shoe I have run in this century. I have lots of running shoes. The Green Silence is the only model that I have two pairs of. It is not the lightest pair. I have several pairs that weigh less. It is the model I wear to races. The Green Silence allows me to run with any form I feel like at the time. If I want to overstride, understride, land flat footed, on my toes, or on my heel the Green Silence will not fight me. Other running shoes require heel or forefoot landings or they just don't cooperate. The only drawback the Green Silence have is they are horrible when I have to cross uneven ground. Too much flexible cushioning makes me feel like a drunk. They are definitely made for running on concrete or pavement. My second pair seems narrower than the first even though I ordered the same size. My foot size when measured is 10.5 D but I get the Green Silence in 11.5 D and they are SNUG. I keep soup cans jammed my second pair when not using so they get stretched out a little. I have never had any toe nail problem but I keep my toe nails trimmed and my shoes are plenty long enough. They are just snug enough in width that my foot is secure when running full speed.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoy them. Stock up when you see them because they've been discontinued!

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  9. marshalls now has these on sale for $40, at least here in Brandon, FL.

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  10. I am purchasing a second and third pair because ten miles feels like five on the road My third pair is going to be a half size larger so that hopefully I can fit two thick pairs of socks for winter. I started doing this with a two sizes too big pair of minimal New Balance that I got so cheap and they felt so good. I have had great fun with this concept that is probably all my own..

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    Replies
    1. Buy them up...they've been discontinued, so if you like them, you'll want to stockpile a few!

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