My first thought upon unboxing and trying Ravenna 9 out was “excellent, same snug fit, lighter weight!” After running in them a while, I had to concede that the midsole support was not what I remembered in the 8.
I ran in the 8 to check, and the arch support of the older model kept my foot pain at bay, while the 9 prompted its return.
Brooks Ravenna 9 General Info
Ravenna 8 was an epiphany of support possibility from a lightweight, not-highly-marketed (thus lower $$) shoe, and the 9 has maintained some of this quality in its redesign, with one not-so-hot deduction.
The upper now sports a seamless, breathable mesh that maintains a secure fit while cutting out the bit of excess that bothered me in the toe of the 8.
The midsole has been completely restructured as well, no longer sporting a mid-foot shank to keep the shoe from bending early (before the ball, where our feet naturally hinge).
Positive: it’s lighter–.7 oz lighter/shoe, in my size. Negative: there is markedly less support underfoot. Some promote this as more appealing to women, who are lighter on average than men and so supposedly prefer more flexibility in shoes.
I’m an average height, average weight women (5’5.5”, 137lbs), and for me, an inflexible build through the toes makes a shoe feel “stiff.”
In my opinion, keeping it firm in the midfoot just makes for a supportive shoe, and this is lacking in the 9, after repeated use, at least for my particular foot issues. (See “sole” section for more on this design change.)
This brings me to discuss a comparable shoe, Adidas Adizero Tempo 9 (I love this shoe, btw). Ravenna 9 is only .1 oz. heavier than Adizero (in my size), and it feels more secure in upper fit, especially in the heel into early midfoot: here Ravenna wins.
However, Adizero maintains a plastic midfoot support under the arch, and this noticeably improves the function underfoot.
In examination, Ravenna bends towards the middle of the shoe while Adizero holds its stiffness to the ball, and this negative change in Ravenna brings out my foot pain issue, at the head of my left 3rd metatarsal.
Adizero is my choice for supported lightweight performance.
DS 23 and Wave Catalyst both carry the midfoot shank, like the Adizero, but note that Adizero and Ravenna weigh in right in the middle of the ounce heavier Wave Catalyst and roughly half ounce lighter DS 23.
From the looks of it, the Mizuno Wave Catalyst will rival Ravenna for upper security, with the Mizuno best suited to a wider foot, while all three competitors beat Ravenna in midfoot support.
It’s really disappointing that Brooks didn’t maintain an aspect of stiffness to the midfoot, even with thin plastic like the adidas, along with Ravenna’s reduction in weight.
Ravenna 9 is very similar to UA’s Europa. Both are designed for light support; both have secure uppers with (somewhat) pliable midsoles.
Ravenna’s sole unit is a touch more supportive and offers better grip in the outsole, while Europa offers a more “connected” feel; I prefer it for all-around weight room work.
Brooks Ravenna 9 Sole Unit
The biggest change in the redesign comes in the midfoot of Ravenna’s sole unit. There’s no plastic or firm material to keep the shoe stiff until it needs to bend, under the forefoot.
Midsole changes also include taking out the “crash pad” in the heel and instead placing a firmer density foam in the medial heel—a change which I really don’t notice.
I do feel a slight rise in the foam of the posterior heel, that encourages the foot to roll forward.
Ravenna’s redesigned sole unit maintains the brand’s stellar BioMoGo DNA material that adapts to the pressure of each foot strike and also sports the familiar diagonal roll bar (which seems purely cosmetic, in testing).
All this is well and good. Check out this video to learn more about their non-Newtonian DNA:
The BioMoGo aspect means that the midsole biodegrades 50x faster than standard midsoles, so it’ll spend 20 years in a landfill as opposed to 1000.
It’s designed to maintain its supportive properties until experiencing the high microbial load, low oxygen, and high moisture environment of a landfill, so performance is not diminished.
The Blown Rubber divided into many “grippy” segments in the forefoot provides excellent traction.
Brooks Ravenna 9 Upper Info
Big positive changes happened here with a seamless mesh in the forefoot now replacing the floppy material from the 8. (To clarify, the 8 just had a slight bit of loose material near the lateral toe…not so “floppy.”)
As a result, the toe of the shoe is more shallow-fitting.
Ravenna changed its method of heel support from a band that cinched from the midfoot laces, to a thicker swatch that wraps from the top laces all around the back of the foot, with a sturdy heel counter fitted in the middle: the secure heel fit is the same.
It’s still a narrow shoe, but the change in design allows for a more customized midfoot fit, based on tightening the laces. The mesh in the forefoot is mid-shallow height and breathable, offering some flexibility while still supportive.
Brooks Ravenna 9 Conclusions
Ravenna 9 presented the “first feel” of a 5 Star shoe, with its secure upper and lighter weight. Unfortunately over testing, I had to drop it down to 4 stars due to the lack of support under the midfoot.
Ravenna is still a decent shoe, with its heel fit-with-support rising above the rest.
A very slight (and light) change could move it back to a great all-around trainer that can maintain stability for longer runs.
I hope that Brooks considers the addition of a thin piece of support back below the arch. Brooks’ midsole material is excellent toward responsive cushion, with environmentally friendly materials and production methods.
If they can add some light structure back into this shoe’s sole, I’d be all for it. For me the positive of decreased shoe weight was not strong enough to override the negative of a less-supportive arch. How about you? What are your experiences with Ravenna 9?
We purchased a pair of Brooks Ravenna 9 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.