Brooks is one of the leaders in the market for running shoes across the nation. They offer some of the most popular trainers and it is impossible to walk down the street and not see their emblem anymore, let alone attend a race.
However, like most companies, they offer multiple differing lines to make sure they have an offering for every runner.
On the neutral line, they currently distinguish them through the foam used — either BioMoGo DNA (Glycerin/Ghosts) or DNA AMP (Levitate/Ricochet) — and how responsive the ride.
In the case of the Ricochet, they represent the Ghost level of the DNA AMP foam offerings.
Brooks Ricochet General Info
The Brooks Ricochet is a new shoe offered by the fine people at Brooks. It represents a secondary level of DNA AMP foam offerings, below the Levitate.
This shoe is an attempt by Brooks to up the responsiveness of the cushioned-level of shoes. In this case they produced a shoe at the same price point as the Ghosts that used their bouncier foam for a more responsive ride.
When this shoe showed up I had a couple of impressions. First, Brooks really loves their black-and-orange colorway this year.
This is the third shoe by the brand I’ve ran in, and they all look similar on the foot because of the color design.
But it also felt very solid. When I first put it on, the shoe was very comfortable, and on my first run it was a pretty smooth ride.
When I work it for a full day of teaching, there was enough cushion to last the whole day and still be very comfortable.
Brooks Ricochet Sole Unit
The sole unit for the Ricochet is a combination of Brooks’ foam technologies to form a new feel underfoot.
They combined a layer of DNA AMP foam under foot to provide as much energy return as possible, but with a layer of their BioMoGo DNA foam to cut down on weight — a problem their DNA AMP foam has in the Levitate — and to add some softer landing cushion.
Sitting at a medium-low stack height of 23mm in the heel and 15mm in the forefoot, the Ricochet is meant to pick up the pace. However, this combination really didn’t work for me on my longer runs.
Although the responsiveness was great for tempo and track runs, the firmness of the DNA AMP underfoot was enough that my legs felt beat up after the long runs I did in them.
This foam does transfer energy, but for someone my size logging double-digit miles at a time, I need a little more give.
Below the foams, there is a “Midfoot Transition Zone” which uses an arrow-point rubber outsole design to “help direct pressure towards the forefoot”.
This design is supposed to provide flexibility and encourage a quick heal-to-toe transition. Although I felt the shoe was fairly flexible, I also noticed that the design resulted in a lacking grip.
I have grown accustomed to Brooks providing almost too much grip on their shoes — I have experienced this on the Ghosts, Glycerins, Pure Flows and more. However, in this shoe, the outsole feels washy at best.
On dry surfaces, the Ricochet are fine, but you don’t notice the grip. When the surface turns damp, all bets are off. I multiple times had the shoe pull out from underfoot when I encountered wet cement.
This got to the point where I avoided wet spots on the sidewalks just to not have to worry about it.
Brooks Ricochet Upper Info
The upper of the Ricochet is where this shoe actually shines. Brooks has designed a supportive upper that has premium materials that fits true to size.
Using a seamless design, and some cool technology, Brooks created a boot that is very comfortable and has many features which a runner wants.
The upper uses a 3D circular knit to allow air to come into the shoe and cool your foot down. However, this is coupled with an internal bootie that secures the foot and keeps dirt out.
These two pieces work together to create an upper that flexes and moves with your foot through your gate, while still having support and structure to keep your foot locked in place.
These technologies are then furthered with a hard, plastic heel cup that keeps your heel locked in place and adds an extra support.
This is maybe an afterthought for most companies, but something structured like this gave me peace-of-mind about my foot staying securely in the shoe.
This heel cup also has a nice feature of a faux-suede strip on the Achilles’ Tendon to keep the shoe from rubbing your tendon raw.
All of this works out to a very nice upper, something I’d love to see on some of their other offerings. However, there is one feature I just don’t understand. That would be the elastic sock collar around the top of the shoe.
This collar doesn’t actually make contact with your ankle and never truly tightens to the point of keeping anything out of the shoe. It looks cool, but it literally doesn’t add anything to the shoe. I just don’t understand why it is there.
The upper itself fits snuggly to the heel and widens a little in the midfoot, but can be secured very tightly through the lacing system.
It widens out to a comfortable, but not “roomy” toe box. The tongue stays put through any type of run, and the upper is very breathable. Overall, the upper is a shining point on the shoe.
Brooks Ricochet Conclusions
Overall, this shoe is hard for me to fully grade. I thought the upper is one of the better ones I’ve seen from Brooks and it was super comfortable for all the different activities I did in them — run, walk, stand all day, weight lift.
However, the cushion was just lacking and hard.
I like doing tempo runs, and speedwork, but that is not the majority of my runs. On those runs, these shoes were great, and I truly enjoyed them.
However, when I did a slow-paced jog, or long-slow distance, they felt hard and wore my legs down. It’s been a while since my legs felt as beat up as they did after doing a 12-mile run in these.
My shins, calves and quads all were hurting, and this was on a route that I’ve done multiple times and never had that reaction.
In the end, the thought of a lighter DNA AMP offering — one that would be on the same level as the Ghosts –makes sense. But I don’t think Brooks hit the mark here.
The upper cannot make up for the fact that this shoe had almost no grip and sometimes had me scared to pull them out of the closet. It doesn’t make up for the fact that the cushioning broke my legs down almost every time.
I hope that in later installments Brooks looks at what makes the Ghosts and Glycerins popular. Look at the cushion that they provide and find some of that to bring to these.
I like the idea of a cushioned shoe that is more responsive than just cushion. But they need to find a better combination moving forward.
There is just no way I could sit here and tell you that I would recommend these shoes to my friends. They look nice, the feel great for daily use. They are wonderful tempo runners. But they fail to be a daily trainer.
We purchased a pair of Brooks Ricochet from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.