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Brooks is only making 7,000 pairs of this shoe.
The Brooks Aurora running shoe has been kept under wraps for a few months now and because of it's small production size, this special project will make waves in the shoe industry. If you look down at the running shoes on your feet, you'll likely be wearing 1 of over 500,000 pairs worldwide. This shoe is one-and-done purely to test out new technologies. In this case, the midsole foam.
This tactic (which I kind of love) is the brainchild of Brooks' new advanced concepts product group called “Blue Line”. This Group is responsible for the new Hyperion Elite and Tempo and also the new Cascade 16 (which was a complete revamp of that series). Blue Line has hinted they will be doing more of these quick-strike one-and-done small production size concept shoes. This leaves the industry excited about the new technology and wanting more! I think this is a fresh approach to athletic shoe evolution that gives a new perspective on marketing a brand and shoe technology. With the exception of Nike, nobody is doing these types of small releases. The big difference in Nike’s case is there usually is a follow-up to a small release in a shoe or the shoe starts off with small quantities and then builds into more availability later in the life of the shoe (i.e. Vaporfly 4% OG).
The specs in this shoe are very enticing and hit on the sweet spot of where running shoes are going: moderate drop, lightweight, high cushion. The Aurora sits at 8.5 oz/240g for Men, and 7.6oz/215g for Women. The drop on this shoe is 6mm and the stack height is 26mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot. The price is a cool $200. Do I feel the price is a touch high? Yes, but honestly, we are probably paying a premium because of the low quantity being produced. Fair enough. They built the mold for one shoe and then it's done. That stat alone carries a premium.
The shoe will be launched on June 10th, 2021 at Running Lab in Brighton, Michigan and a select amount of running specialty retailers nationwide. Running Lab will only be receiving 28 total pairs. Support a local shop with this launch. Now, time for my thoughts on the shoe!
HEEL TO TOE OFFSET: 6 mm
WEIGHT: 7.6oz/215g women's, 8.5oz/240g men's
USE: Everyday trainer, road running
SURFACE: Road, track, urban
The big story on this shoe is the midsole. It's the whole reason Brooks created this limited run shoe. They are gathering feedback on this new midsole compound to use it in a future Glycerin (rumored Glycerin 20). The cushioning was pretty awesome. The Aurora cushioning will support you better than most max cushion training shoes without the excess weight. I hate squishy and it did not feel squishy. This seems more rare with max cushion shoes at the moment. Most of them want this soft experience out of the box and not everyone needs this. My feet tend to ache if the shoe is too soft. I get this sensation in the Nike Invincible at times. I would describe this new foam from Brooks as not a super foam, but an enhancement on standard EVA's. I didn't feel any particular ultra response from it but it also did not feel DOA on my foot. It was a welcomed middle ground without any kind of plate in the shoe. The cushioning felt resilient and seemed like it could handle the miles. The outsole may hinder that though. I saw some wear on the thin rubber pieces on the bottom of the shoe after 40 miles on blacktop and concrete surfaces. Overall, the cushioning was impressive and my stride felt smooth in every step. This is not a cushioning you feel like you can go fast in, but it certainly feels like it would be a great shoe for longer runs and shorter runs where you just want comfort.
Although not bad, the fit of the Brooks Aurora was my least favorite thing of the shoe. It just didn't wow me or make my foot feel secure or supported. The heel of the shoe uses the new construction of heels that everyone uses now that I am particularly not fond of. Its a heel with no standard heel counter and uses foam to create the fit. I did not find the heel to grab my foot whatsoever. It sat down into the heel well, and it didn't feel like it was going to slip off of my foot, but it didn't wrap around my heel like some of my favorite shoes do.
The midfoot of the shoe has an interesting construction in that it has an extra piece of material that runs from the top eyelet all the way down to close to the bottom eyelet. I know this piece was suppose to create a great wrap of the foot, but I felt it didn't do much. The material was soft and very flexible, but again, I did not feel locked down in the midfoot. There was an issue with the laces having too many eyelets. I couldn't get the laces to tighten easily. If Brooks would have eliminated one more row of eyelets the laces may have flowed better when lacing the shoe. The midfoot was just like the heel, I didn't feel locked down but it wasn't really loose or create any blisters. It was just there.
The toe box felt like a traditional Brooks toe box. If you like the fit of the Ghost or Glycerin, this toe box seemed similar. The material they used on the upper was super light and breathable. I give them props for material use as it seemed durable but still one of the most breathable shoes I have ever ran in. See the video for showcasing how thin the upper is. The Aurora fit true to size.
The wide platform of the midsole felt really stable as a neutral shoe. Having said that, I didn't feel like the shoe was trying to control my foot-strike. The midsole had enough flex and give in the right areas to feel like it moved smoothly through my stride. I wish it had more toe spring as I am now loving that from other models, but it wouldn't be a deal breaker. The experience in the cushion was pretty fantastic.
I would recommend the Aurora for all distances (but not as a go-to for speed). This shoe is surprisingly light for how much cushion it has; but the cushioning does not compare to other super-foams better suited for your speed sessions. Since this foam is being created and tested for use in the future Glycerin, speed is not the intention. The intention is comfort and stability on long runs, daily runs, and recovery runs. I think Brooks achieved that and I am excited how this cushioning plays into future shoes.
The Aurora is in a league of its own. If I had to compare it to another shoe, I would say it's a cross between a Hoka Bondi and Clifton but at a much lighter weight and less stiff in the midsole. The hinge Brooks put in the middle of the midsole creates a smooth experience. With everything now getting some sort of plate in it, at these higher cushions it's hard to find another comparison. If I had to pick another shoe that is somewhat close, I would have to pick the New Balance 1080 mainly because of the smooth ride that shoe also provides. The Aurora feels lighter and less bulky on the upper though.
This is a new shoe in the Brooks lineup. There will be no follow-up to this shoe. No "version 2".
I honestly forgot the shoe was on my foot every run I did. The experience I had in the Aurora is not a particularly exciting one, and honestly that should be looked at as a good experience. The transition was great and even though I was a little tough on the fit of the shoe, my foot just seemed to disappear in it. When it comes to uppers, I like to feel the wrap on my heel and midfoot just a little more in my shoes. This fit may be someone else's jam and be perfect for them. That's why I always say take shoe reviews with a grain of salt. This is just my foot and it's not like yours.
The Brooks Aurora is a pretty standard neutral shoe. Any neutral runner could use it. If you like the Ghost, Glycerin, or Levitate from Brooks, you will most likely love the experience this shoe gives you. I would recommend this shoe if you do not mind dropping $200 on the latest tech in cushioning.
38 year old
Wears men's size 9
I have 20 years of experience in the athletic shoe industry. I have worked for Dicks Sporting Goods in my early days, I was a sales rep for New Balance in the running specialty division, and have owned my run shop, Running Lab, for 10 years in Brighton, MI. I find myself enjoying mountain biking lately but have been running since I was 12. I have completed distances from 5k all the way to Ironman. I enjoy the challenge of helping customers find the perfect shoe for their particular stride or needs!
Excellent breakdown of what appears to be a fantastic shoe. I am just blown away by what companies are putting out now. Great review, honest, concise and well done.