Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gear Review: Brooks PureCadence 2

As some of you may know, I do some of my running in the Brooks Racer ST 5 mild stability flat. It's not an overly stable shoe, and gives me a firmer platform and a touch of support for those days when the training is getting to me and my ankles could use the support. With this in mind, the Brooks PureCadence 2 seemed like a reasonable alternative for those days, so when Brooks contacted me to ask if I was interested in reviewing the second iteration PureCadence, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Brooks PureCadence 2 is the mild stability shoe of Brooks' PureProject line. The PureCadence 2 weighs in at 9.3oz for a men's size 9 and 7.7oz for a women's size 8. It has a stack height of 22/19 for a heel-toe differential of 3mm (Brooks says 4mm, but I'm using RunningWarehouse numbers here...either way, we're talking about a millimeter). Running Warehouse describes the shoe as such:
The PureCadence 2 is a minimum featured, minimum support shoe designed for daily training or racing.
  • BioMoGo DNA fuses BioMoGo midsole and DNA gel cushioning technology for a fully custom responsive ride that adapts to the needs of each and every runner.
  • Toe Flex uses a toe split in the outsole/midsole materials that allows the big toe to function independently and engage the runner's natural balance during toe-off.
  • Internal Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB)consists of a softer density foam wedge within the midsole, providing overpronation support from heel to toe.
  • Reinforced Heel Counter holds the foot for a more stabilizing, secure fit.
  • Omega Flex Grooves enhance midsole flexibility without compromising cushioning.

  • Nav Band is a flexible, stretching band that wraps over the midfoot to help keep the foot secure.
  • Anatomical Last mimics the shape of the foot, resulting in a glove-like feel and allowing the the foot to work as a single unit.
  • Asymmetrical Lacing adapts to the foot to reduce hotspots.
  • Ideal Heel consists of a curved outer heel, to encourage midfoot and forefoot striking.
  • Blown Rubber outsole offers durability, responsiveness and flexibility.
Brooks PureCadence 2 has a fairly straight last

When putting on the PureCadence 2, the first thing I noticed is that similar to the PureFlow, the feel of the PureCadence 2 leans decidedly more towards "lightweight trainer" than "racing flat" like the PureConnect or "true minimalist shoe" like the PureDrift. It has a straighter last than most of Brooks' racers, and there's plenty of shoe underfoot, though it does retain the same low drop of the other PureProject shoes. However, while there's a good amount of cushioning, it's much firmer cushioning than that which is found in the PureFlow. This also makes it a much more responsive shoe than the PureFlow, though like the other PureProject shoes (other than perhaps the PureDrift), there's not much in the way of groundfeel for those of you who prefer shoes closer to the barefoot end of the spectrum.

Brooks PureCadence 2 forefoot flexibility
Brooks PureCadence 2 torsional flexibility
Firm heel counter of the Brooks PureCadence 2. You can also see how the medial sole protrudes a bit.

As far as stability goes, the PureCadence 2 feels marginally more stable than the Racer ST (and also feels like it has "more shoe" to it in general), but unlike the ST and most other traditional stability shoes, the stability does not come from a medial post, but from firm cushioning (well, firm for a PureProject shoe), a wide base through the midfoot, some torsional stiffness (probably aided by the sole pod that's on the lateral midfoot), a firm heel counter, and a little bit more sole protruding from the medial side. I'm inclined to say that for that reason, most (not all, but most) runners who usually run in neutral shoes should be perfectly fine in the PureCadence 2. I actually know a few athletes who usually train in neutral shoes who prefer the PureCadence to the PureFlow for its response. However, the inherent stability provided by those features should also make it suitable for those who log most of their miles in mild to moderate stability shoes, and I feel like this would be an excellent fast shoe and racer for those who need a little more support than stability flats (most of which aren't very stable at all, and are probably less supportive than many neutral trainers on the market) are able to offer. Interestingly enough, though the PureCadence 2 is pretty stiff torsionally, it is fairly flexible through the forefoot.

Brooks PureCadence 2 burrito-style upper

Like the other second generation PureProject shoes, the PureCadence 2 uses a burrito-style upper with asymmetrical laces. Definitely an improvement versus the original upper with the tongue that always managed to find its way to the side of the shoe. However, while the new PureConnect 2 and PureDrift both use a mesh-like material (the PureConnect 2 uses the same upper material as the mesh colorways of the Green Silence, and the PureDrift's is a bit thinner), the PureCadence 2 uses a similar material to what was on the original PureProject shoes. A little disappointing in my opinion, since I like the new uppers so much more, and I found the original PureFlow prone to overheating when the temperatures rose. The fit is similar to the PureFlow, in that it's wider through the forefoot than the PureConnect, but narrower than the PureDrift.

While I find the ride of the PureCadence 2 to be not quite as smooth as that of the PureConnect (I think my personal biomechanics appreciate a little more torsional flexibility), it's still a nice smooth ride with a good transition. With no interruptions in the midsole for any extra cushioning technology pods (the entire midsole is a combination of Brooks' BioMoGo foam and their DNA cushioning tech), an almost (but not quite) continuous outsole, and just enough forefoot flexibility to move with your foot, it ends up being pretty smooth.

Brooks PureCadence 2 outsole. You can also see the very small split toe (which I did not notice).

The PureCadence 2 has durable outsole rubber over the entire sole. Nice touch, and something I wish Brooks would do with the PureConnect and PureDrift (I'd take the weight penalty in favor of more durability).

Brooks PureCadence 2 Nav Band
Brooks PureCadence 2 undercut IDEAL heel

Like the other PureProject shoes, the PureCadence 2 has a Nav Band, though it's loose enough that I don't believe it does all that much, or at least not much that I noticed. Similarly, I don't notice the split toe at all. It also uses IDEAL Technology in the heel (which is Brooks-speak for an undercut heel that mimics the shape of your calcaneus), and it's actually quite undercut, for those of you who like that feature.

Brooks PureCadence 2

The easiest way to describe the Brooks PureCadence 2 is a firmer, more responsive PureFlow, for those of you who wore that shoe. For those of you who did not, the PureCadence 2 is a good, responsive lightweight trainer for everyone from neutral runners to moderate overpronators, and has the potential to be an excellent fast shoe and racer for those who need just a little bit more support than stability flats can offer. There's enough to this shoe that I think that most people (not all, but most) will be able to use the PureCadence 2 as a daily trainer and will likely be able to take it up to a marathon without too much trouble (though obviously you should experiment first during your training!), yet it's still light enough that it shouldn't weigh you down.

The Brooks PureCadence 2 retails for $120 and is available on Brooks' website, as well as at running stores who carry Brooks products. It seems to fit true to size, and I wear the same size as in my other PureProject shoes and other Brooks trainers (it actually looks like it runs large, but I think that's just a function of the material and last shape).

Full disclosure: The PureCadence 2 was provided free of charge by Brooks in return for a review. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of Brooks or anyone else.


  1. I was all fired up about the shoe until getting to the $120 retail price. : (

    1. Luckily, the ST5 is only $90. Shoes have been getting expensive though! It seems like $110-120 has become the norm for the mid-range shoes (Brooks Ghost, Mizuno Wave Rider, Saucony Ride, etc) rather than the top-of-the-line shoes (Brooks Glycerin, Mizuno Wave Creation, Saucony Triumph, etc). Increasing material prices, increasing oil prices (for transport), better quality of life in the countries where the shoes are made, etc are to blame.

    2. I just bought this shoe today, March 29th, 2014, at DSW for $49.95, and that's NOT the sale price but the regular price.

    3. They're on to the PureCadence 3 now, so the price of the PureCadence 2 may have been reduced. That's a great find though, nice!

  2. I ran about 150 miles in the original Cadence - I got them for $40 via RRS few times worn return (they no signs of real wear - one of the good things about living near the HQ in San Diego).

    Anyway, I really liked the shoe, but my ultimate assessment is that it really depends on your gait and biomechanics if this shoe is going to work. I ran into a lot of lower leg issues with the heel drop and I found that just standing, I would feel like I was rocking back onto my heels (if I wasn't careful, like I would fall on my ass). I think my weight, when standing, is more towards my heels.

    Bottom line is I retired them early along with my Kinvaras because I don't think the lower heel-toe drop works for my gait.

    1. That's true of any shoe though, that it'll work for some people and not for others. All I can ever offer is a guide, unfortunately, give some details and my best guess at a recommendation, and let people make the decision for themselves based on the description given. What did you end up with?

  3. Absolutely love my pair of Cadence 2. Replaced my old Connects and haven't been disappointed, only pleased. Really liking this shoe so far, about 150 miles so far.

  4. Thanks for this spot on review. I currently run in the Pure Flows and I like them but they are too soft for faster days. I also run in the Altra Instinct 1.5 and I love the cushion in that shoe but I'm not ready to run that often in a zero drop shoe (or close). I was looking for the firmer cushion of the Altras but a bit of a heel like the Flow and after reading this review thought the Cadence might be perfect. And it is. Thanks again!

  5. Hi Becki,

    how would you compare the Brooks Green Silence to the Purecadence 2?

    I was falling in LOVE with the Green Silence, but some sadistic Brooks executives decided to kill the GS. I have now 3 pairs of GS in my clothset, but my love story with the GS will be end one day.


    1. Pretty different, unfortunately. The GS definitely has more of a "racing flat" feel to it, while the PureCadence 2 feels more like a trainer that just happens to be light enough that it can pass for a racer for people who prefer a little more shoe. The PureConnect has a more similar feel to it, but it's narrower, softer, and has more arch support than the GS. You could also consider a marathon flat like the Mizuno Wave Ronin, though that shoe will also be a little different (firmer, forefoot is a little "snappier"), but will give you that "race-y" feel.

  6. I'm waiting for the PureCadence 3 to test vs. the Racer ST 5. I train in the Brooks Trance and am also eager to see the new Brooks Transcend. I have a mild overpronation. I know you probably have yet to see the PureCadence 3. But, if I'm looking for a track training and 5K to half marathon racing shoe with support, would you recommend the PureCadence 3 or Racer ST 5? I'll probably test one shoe on each foot at my local running store, but I'm interested in your opinion.

    1. I have not seen the PureCadence 3. Based on the PureCadence 2 versus the ST5, I would probably prefer the ST5 for racing. Just feels a touch faster and more responsive to me...but then again, it may just be that I like that shoe better and wear it more. The PureCadence 2 feels more stable if that's of any concern. They both have a more performance trainer feel versus a racing flat feel...I believe there are probably stability flats that are more "race-y" than either for the track and 5K stuff, but either should be great for the half, just depends on your preference. Try them both on and see what you think!

      I did review the ST5 too: http://themiddlemiles.blogspot.com/2012/09/gear-review-brooks-racer-st-5.html

    2. OOPS, one more thing I wanted to add. Depending on your biomechanics and how long you're on the course, you may be able to get away with a neutral flat for the really short stuff (track races and 5Ks, for example), despite normally wearing stability shoes (a la trackies who train in stability shoes but race in spikes...Rupp and his Structures is the popular example here, but there are a ton of college kids who do this too).


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