Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Skechers GoBionic vs. Brooks PureDrift

I've been writing extensively on these two shoes within the past 10 weeks. It all started with the PureDrift being handed to me before it was scheduled for official launch and to date, I've clocked about 127miles or 204km in it. 
Brooks PureDrift
Following up from the last entry on Skechers GoBionic that I reviewed about two weeks ago. I went from 120km to 215km (as of January 14, 2013) on the GoBionic. The shoe averaged about 9km/run outing which is my typical run distance everyday. 
The main driver of this comparison review were because:
1. I've written that the PureDrift is "close to retirement" at 200km. Read on to find out why.
2. With the GoBionic clocking above 200km, this could be a good chance (before i clock in more mileage on the shoe) to compare how these two shoes are like - physically.
Here Goes
It is not a secret that I am part of the Brooks Frunners that (technically) will be given the new model from Brooks from time to time to review. It is also no secret that via Team 2ndSkin Asia, I am receiving Skechers shoes as part of the sponsorship package. I hope I've been giving honest review to assist your purchases because I know myself would appreciate first hand user experience before parting with my money. To start off, lets look at the similarity of both the shoes. They are, but not limited to (in case i missed out any, please point out):
  • lightweight. Both are sub 7oz shoes and you can "feel" it not being there when running
  • Zero drop aka minimalist (true for PureDrift if you remove the sockliner)
  • US brand - but both are made outside of US.
  • Has toe grooves which "facilitate toes flexing" - with one having more grooves than the other
  • cater for wider Asian feet (i wear a EEE wide working leather shoes)
  • Both are sold at the exact same recommended retail price - RM399
  • Both allow a sockless experience
PureDrift is my 6th pair of Brooks to date and GoBionic is my first Skechers. I was super excited with both. In fact, it hurt me to actually run that much in both of them. But in the name of review (and ensuring the companies that gave me the shoes, justice), These two shoes were my main choice for the past 10 weeks when running on the road - with fair exposure of both in races. So, after that many kilometers clocked, it all boils down to this entry as final comparison.
Wear And Tear
As I've tried very hard to land mid-foot and fore-foot in both the shoes, the heels somehow still takes a beating. I suspect it is the run downhill that cause the heelstrikes. Both shoes showed consistent wear on my left foot, which more or less confirmed that one of my leg is lazier/longer/can't adapt to midfoot strike. Consistent wear on my left heel.
Both the left heel. Red is GoBionic. Yellow is PureDrift
While the photo of the left heel possibly showed the GoBionic to be more "damaged", a closer inspection of the PureDrift showed more extensive wear on the heel. Take note of the black portion where the hexagonal shape were well worn-off and level with the yellow portion. Not to forget the Brooks logo too, almost smoothed out saved for the inner part of the heel. Correspondingly, the right heel of both shoes too showed equal wear on the heel. 
To the right, to the right...
Moving on to the midfoot/forefoot portion of the shoes, they both showed consistent wear on the front portion. If I want to be anal about it, the PureDrift actually stood up to the abuse a bit better in this department. However, I am not sure if it is because I compensated more with heel strikes instead. The photo below shows you the thickness of the black portion of PureDrift and you will get the idea how much was shaved off at the left heel (photo above)
Striking it right where it should
Moving on the the top portion of the shoe, I must say my disappointment with PureDrift as it showed sign of damages on the side where my small toes were (both side of the shoes). There is a very thin white lining behind the top layer that has worn off, making that part of the shoe to be translucent. Sad, but true.
Noticed the PureDrift damage?
Looking at the photo above, you can see why GoBionic did not suffer the same fate. Having thicker top (and yet, maintained the overall weight to be lighter than PureDrift), it prevented the wear at the small toe area. 
On the PureDrift, the white part is essentially a layer of thin cloth behind the yellow grid. The yellow grid is held together by fine mesh. Now that the white cloth is worn-out, the fine mesh is now threatening to tear off. Once that happens, it is the end of the shoe's life - which was my main reason for the retirement statement.
Can you see my (brown) finger behind the mesh?
Closer view of the mesh
I have also found the cause of my blister when wearing PureDrift. There is a layer of thicker white cloth surrounding the toe box from inside. Looking at the photo above, you can see the different density of white matters behind the yellow grid and mesh.
On the GoBionic, there doesn't appear to have any wear and tear issue on the upper portion of the shoe. In fact, despite the boring color, the shoe looked like new.
One would think I never used it
The only con on the GoBionic is perhaps the sole not being able to outlast the top. But that is expected with Minimalist shoes. I've pegged both the shoe to not last more than 250km; perhaps 300km if I am lucky. But from the look of it, the PureDrift could only last the next couple of run before it starts to tear off (at the small toe) and the GoBionic will start losing grip at the heel within the next 50km of hill run (and heel strikes).
I have to give it to GoBionic. I have no blisters in the 6 weeks i used them. Not a single one. That alone is a win. PureDrift started to give me consistent blisters at the same spot as the first usage and I could not run without socks anymore. GoBionic allowed me to do (sockless) so and return no blisters. Fitting wise, GoBionic are more true to the size with PureDrift being more generous with the space in the toebox. I would really suggest you bring a long your usual run socks to try the shoes before buying. Go in the afternoon or evening after your feet has swelled up. As always, avoid buying/testing shoes in the morning as the feet will not be at it's full expansion.
It is a fair comparison in my opinion. Both shoes performed as it should and when it should. But as they say - all good things will come to an end. I only wish that they won't "end" before 250km. If it does, the ROI would be RM399/250km = RM1.60/km. A typical full support/cushioning trainer will last a good 500km at about the same price (but at 3oz heavier) giving a ROI of 80sens/km. I know it is silly to compare it this way - but hey, we are all weekend warriors and are careful with our spending (are we? Running events aren't getting cheaper nowadays ;-)). From a consumer point of view, it is important to buy these with our eyes wide open and knowing what is to be expected - but if you are like me and clock an average of 50km/week running, do think a bit harder; or maybe you will have better luck compared to have the shoe lasting longer than I experienced. As impartial as I may want to sound, my money goes to Skechers GoBionic, if i have to buy my next pair.
Performance Shoes. That, i have to agree with both.
Expect another one (or two) update as the shoe comes to their end of life. Stay tuned.


  1. Puredrift to go first in my take ... but still it depends on who is the runner

    1. And i busting both within 3 will be painful now that I am so used (and spoilt) by lightweight minimalist....

    2. tak mengapa boss, dapat lagi kasut minimalist baru untuk review nanti. anyway puredrift lagi cantik

    3. MatJoe - haha! Betul tu. Yes, PureDrift lagi cantik.

  2. I agree that the GObionic upper will outlast the sole. My current pair shows a lot of wear and tear and I've already got another one to replace it pretty soon since I'm simply love this shoe.

    Nice comparison.

    1. Hello Happiefeet!

      The current pair is PureDrift or GoBionic?

      I recall reading your GoTrail too. I will be getting that as the next one to prepare for my upcoming trail runs :D

      thanks for sharing!

    2. Current pair is the GObionic. In fact all my shoes happen to be of the Skechers brand at the moment ... LOL!

    3. Lucky you ;-) I have two more pairs to collect as part of the Sponsorship program. I am looking at GoTrail for my upcoming Hash Challenge and Sabah Adventure Ultra Trail.

      Then I will get a pair of GoRunRide and compare it against my Fav Brooks - Ghost, and in this case - Ghost 5. :D

  3. Hi
    This is the first time I see a shoe review includes an ROI. It's pretty convincing.
    Thanks for sharing

    1. :D Weekend warrior...not professional, my gears are limited to what I can buy at a bargain and ROI is important.

      Maybe because my ancestor were from Eng Choon in Xian. Being a know how kiam siap they can be ;-)