First off, I just love the name. I mean, who doesn’t need to rise above, overcome—Transcend—something in his/her life? And there are countless stories including my own, where running has helped us do just that.
Now about this shoe, from the moment I put it on and throughout the subsequent runs, I felt like it encouraged me onto my forefoot—big plus—reminding me a little of HOKA’s rocker effect (but with a higher drop, 8 mm as opposed to 4-6 mm).
The shoe is narrow and fits on the shorter end. When I firmly secure the top two laces, it holds my foot back enough that I stick with my regular size (I have loose ligaments that don’t do well with any excess length-and I don’t go up in Kayano, either, if that tells you anything).
But you will want to go up a half size if you have medium width or wider feet as the toe box upper still resists molding to my foot now with 91 miles on them!
(Finally on my last run of 16 miles, about mile 10 I loosened the laces more than I prefer for midfoot fit, and that helps.)
Brooks Transcend 4 General Info
Now in its fourth version, Transcend utilizes an improved Guide Rail system that runs the length of the midsole, as opposed to a medial post or plastic midfoot shank, to combat excess foot pronation.
It works remarkably well but does contribute to a slightly stiff ride, especially at first. The stiffness has its benefits in durability of the shoe and also by holding a shape that brings me forward, but it isn’t as comfortable as the brand’s Ravenna 8.
Transcend 4 fits squarely in the moderate stability category, competing well with both ASICS Gel-Kayano 23 and adidas Supernova Sequence 9 for long run support and challenging Nike Odyssey 2 for a stable shoe that encourages speedwork.
These shoes all share a secure heel and midfoot fit with Kayano edging ahead just slightly in maintaining that fit into a long run.
The biggest difference comes in the toe box. Transcend strikes a balance between the more snug, shallow-spaced Kayano and Odyssey, and the roomy loft of Sequence 9.
Another factor between these four shoes is the drop height with Transcend at 8mm, Sequence coming in at 10mm, Kayano’s 13mm (for women’s-men’s drop is also 10mm), and Odyssey with a 12mm differential.
Brooks Transcend’s closest competition in overall fit and ride comes from the brand’s less expensive stability model, Ravenna 8 (my favorite shoe so far).
The higher price is justified; Transcend is a more structured and thus a slightly more stable version of Ravenna, being more stiff through transition and in upper fit.
Both are on the narrow end with Transcend’s stubbornness taking me over 70 miles to break in enough that the upper felt more comfortable (after shaving off the existing callous from my medial forefoot due to blood blisters after a long run putting miles 33-47 on the shoe-it’s an unyielding upper!), but sizing up should help with that.
Transcend sports a thicker midsole with a notable curve molded up at the ball of the foot. Both feel light and encourage a quick turnover while providing a stable ride.
Brooks Transcend 4 Sole Unit
The most notable characteristic of this shoe’s sole unit are the Guide Rails. Brooks delivers on its claim to provide the “most advanced support system” that guides the whole body into its natural alignment. (It does! I immediately feel prompted onto my forefoot, and the shoe helps to guide the knee, which assists anyone working on form issues.)
The Rails eliminate the need for hard plastic in the midfoot and medial heel to combat excess pronation.
The outsole is durable blown rubber with good grip and an updated Flextra system that enhances flexibility, but there are lots of little lines that collect tiny rocks!
That’s fine if you stick to either outside or treadmill in these but isn’t well suited for back and forth.
Super DNA foam claims to provide 20% more adaptable cushioning than the BioMoGo DNA cushion in Ravenna…
I notice this when pressing on the sides of the midsoles, but the stiffness from the Guide Rails offsets any increase in softness while running; I find Ravenna to be more comfortable, which leads me to a discussion of the brands’ cushioning.
In my testing, the cushioning of Transcend is more firm initially than Kayano’s comfort (though not as firm as ASICS’ GT-2000), but it holds up further into a long run.
In terms of overall comfort and responsiveness, plus durability of cushion I rank the following shoes in descending order: Sequence 9’s Boost foam at the top followed by a Ravenna 8/Transcend 4 tie, Kayano 23, GT-2000, and Odyssey 2.
Brooks Transcend 4 Upper Info
The 3D Fit Print upper on Transcend looks great and is moderately breathable with a PEBAX external heel counter that reduces excess heel motion. My problem with it comes in the stiff forefoot material.
It fits narrow which is fine for my medium-width foot if the upper gives a little…this one doesn’t. The stiffness likely contributes to how the shoe molds upward, which I like.
Is there a way to keep the length from stretching while allowing a little give horizontally? I’d love it if Brooks can make this happen in the next model!
Brooks Transcend 4 Conclusions
Transcend was a difficult shoe for me to rate. I gave it 4 stars, but it’s helpful to know what went into that calculation.
The stability is stellar; Transcend’s Guide Rails and ride that encourages me onto my forefoot get 5 stars.
I give the responsive midsole that withstands pounding, 4 stars, but the upper that refuses to give gets 3 stars in my assessment.
Other than that, the ride is smooth once broken in, with my favorite aspect being the encouragement to contact the ground on my mid/forefoot—and it rolls forward readily from a heel strike.
This aspect makes it conducive to fast running, providing a light-on-your-feet experience. The feel underneath is firm, but it stays constant if you like running into the double digits and want a cushion that lasts.
If you’re willing to go through an extended break-in period and/or don’t mind going up a half size, I recommend checking this option out. It really is a great shoe!
Is Transcend the shoe for you? Let us know!
We thank the nice people at Brooks for sending us a pair of Transcend 4 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.