Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 : Unboxing & Technical Review

I have reviewed the Hyperion Elite 2 about 15 months ago and this shoe has since became my go to for most A-Races and has provided me a lot of mileage (in supershoe speaks). A quick recap of the "Elite" series since 2020:

  • The Hyperion Elite (Original Version 1) was worn as a prototype by Desiree Linden (Des Linden) in the 2018 Boston Marathon that she won.
  • Then in February of 2020, she was spotted with an updated version, which eventually became Elite 2, and made/submitted to be "race legal" before the Tokyo Olympic.
  • Des Linden then took the Elite 3 prototype and broke the 3 hour women 50km record.
The story did not end there, as 2023 (fall) saw the emergence of Hyperion Elite 4

In 2023, Des, Josh (Kerr) and CJ (Albertson) took the Elite 4 prototype and set new records for (Des) Chicago Marathon Women Master category (2:27:47), (Josh) World 1500m in 3:47 and his HM in 61:51, World record 50km (CJ) in 2:38:43.

And today's review is all about this new iteration that has been part of these record breakers' choice on their race day. While it is no coincidence that they are super-athlete, we all know at their level every little bits help, and Hyperion Elite 4 was one of the common denominator.

Enter the Hyperion Elite 4

In The Still Of The Night

I received one of the five Hyperion Elite 4 that was allocated by Brooks Running Malaysia about a month ago. Needless to say, i went out in the middle of the night to collect it, that was how excited I was. No lies here as initially i thought the box given to me was half empty. It was that light. US12 doesn't come easy when it comes to pre-launch shoes, and I was hoping I wasn't pranked in the first place.

First seen in November during the Trade Show and I wasn't allowed to post any photos until it is "in my hand", so here it is!

Hello, Hyperion Elite 4 - Unboxing

First off, let me show it off in better lightings

Thank You Brooks Malaysia

The Elite 4 is a completely revamped Elite series if you were to compare it against the Elite 2 and Elite 3. There were only minor changes to Elite 3 which is the knitted upper when it was launched, and that was the reason I did not post any review as the Elite 2 was a good representation of it already.

Lets start with the unboxing video that I made for IG Reel and posted in YouTube
Full resolution video is in my IG and also in YouTube here

What Has Changed
  • DNA Flash V2. A significant upgrade over V1 (where it is more "squishy" yet provided sufficient energy return). V2 is said to offer up to 10% more energy return that it's predecessor.
  • Completely redesigned upper. Engineered mesh which is super aerated (read: a lot of holes) while still providing a lot of snug fit. Spoiler - I would need socks because engineered mesh = non-seamless surface.
  • A new propulsion plate design known as "SpeedVault Race+" which is formed in lattice rather than in "one piece" designed by Arris. Because it is produced individually, it is customised to each pair size as to lend weight savings and ensure correct thickness to lend propulsion. Brooks says this is a customised plate.
  • Higher stack overall. Elite 2 and 3 comes in at 37-29 and the Elite 4 is bestowed at maximum race legal of 40-32. Drop remained at 8mm.
  • Lighter. The Elite 4 at US12 that I own comes in at 251g vs Elite 2 and 3 that is at 256grams. 5grams of savings and just 12grams more than the Hyperion Tempo (that is at lower stack and no plate). Versus the Elite 3, the Elite 4 is 25 grams lighter at US9 sizing, officially at 221grams.
Elite 4 US12 @ 251grams
What Remains Same
  • Available as Unisex sizing and fit
  • 8mm drop and classified as Neutral
  • RapidRoll Rocker remains same to help fast feet transition
  • Same price point as Elite 2 and 3 (though you can get them now at almost 50% off)
  • Non-gusseted tongue
  • same insole thickness/feel
Holey Shoes
The Upper
This shoe breathe. It's so holey I believe the upper will dry out when wet even before you end your 10km run should it rain. The holes are everywhere, including the tongue and the heel collar. Safe to say this is really a benchmark set by Brooks themselves for future upper.

Holey Toe

Holey Heel

Holey tongue
Despite this, the toe box has the reinforcement at the front to both protect the toes and also to keep the shape. It's something I've noticed consistent throughout most, if not all Brooks shoes.
Reinforced toe box and sides

The laces that comes with the Elite4 is not stretchable and it has jagged edges which lend to how the shoe secure to your feet once you tie it down. This meant you get a very firm lock down at the right pressure you need. That is how you should feel the first time you tie them down.
Jagged laces

close up

Nice touch on the laces Brooks!
The tongue is super thin and unpadded with (again) many holes. It is not gusseted and in my wear testing, i had no issues as the tongue doesn't fold at the sides when i slide my legs in. It kept it's position when compared to Elite 2 and 3.

reinforced lace holes and non gusseted tongue stays up
The heel cup has additional padding that goes 3-quarter from one side to the other. This is some changes to the Elite 2 and 3 where one side goes almost to the first hole of the laces. I did not find this to significantly change the comfort in the Elite 2/3 and 4.
Padded (lightly) heel collar.

The Stacks
Now that we got the upper out of the way. As shared, the Elite 4 stack height is at 32mm (forefoot) and 40mm (heel) which gives it a 8mm drop shoe. This changes is significant when you compared it with Elite 2 and 3. Those 2mm makes a lot of differences especially when it comes to cushioning and put in the new midsole DNA Flash V2, it is easy to understand why Brooks claim ( up to) 10% more energy return.
Stacked 40mm and more holes
32mm forefoot

40mm "race legal" heel

It is impressive that despite all of these additional, the weight were lighter. Thanks for DNA Flash V2 where it is a super-critical foam infused with Nitrogen. It not only made them light, but made them responsive as well. This engineered foam is available full length and adaptive to every stride. The DNA gel is adaptive to the force applied so you get it firm when you picked up the speed and cushioned when you does an easy.
DNA Flash V2 Lets Go!

Lattice Carbon Plate?
Completely new and redesigned by Arris Composite and it is known as "Additive Moulding". Brooks partnered with Arris in Boston Marathon and it garnered quite an attention and had an interview in Forbes!
Full article here
So what this meant is that each pair of Elite 4 at different sizing has a specific carbon composite lattice specifically designed and produced as to maximize it's potential and energy return. 

Each set of carbon plate is customised to each size
There is a cut out at the bottom of the shoe midsole that showcase this lattice carbon plate. 
SpeedVault Race+

Position relative to the shoe sole
While most manufacturer makes the plate to be generic and "cut to fit" into each size (imagine a piece of cloth being cut to size according to the shape of the shoe), Brooks and Arris makes them specific to each size. This is important as the placement of the cuts has to be correct, lending the right level of stiffness and flexibility where needed. 
Holey Plate

Unlike the Elite 2 and 3, this carbon (propulsion) plate is not visibly sandwiched between two layers of DNA flash material. It is molded into the midsole which is an improvement over the Elite 2 and 3.
No visible DNA Flash midsole separation line. Carbon plate is moulded into the DNA Flash V2
Now that you see them up close, you will then notice the curvature or up-curve at the heel and the front. It gives the shoe the distinctive "super shoe" sole curve that lend to a fast feet turnover. Different shoe brand call it differently. Saucony call theirs "Speedroll", Hoka call theirs "Metarocker", Asics with their "Metaride" and Brooks version is known as Rapid Roll Technology. 
Upturned heel and toes
Essentially, they are "rocker" shoes and they encourage fast feet turning over at speed. One feature that you may had observed is that the foam of the sole over-extend past the shoe upper itself. At the back, the sole overextend past the heel by more than 5mm. This is similar for the Elite 2 and 3.
sole extend past the heel collar significantly compared to Elite 2 and 3
The front mid-foot and toe however has not seen the same flaring from the top. Brooks running could had improved the stability of the midsole without having to over-extend the midsole. For info, many of these high-stacked supershoes are notorious to be unstable.
No significant over-extension of the midsole at the toe

Perfect seque to talk about the outsole
2mm thick. That is how much real rubber between the DNA Flash V2 and the tarmac. The coverage is less than 50%. It is designed for those with good midfoot/forefoot mechanic. If you are a heel striker, you may wear this pair out faster due to the very limited heel pad. 
approximately 2mm of rubber between the midsole and the tarmac
Limited heel pad coverage

outsole mimicking the carbon lattice and sufficient for midfoot and forefoot runners

less than 50% coverage
The coverage is much less than the Elite 2 and 3. If the outsole material is similar to Elite 2, 3 and the Hyperion Max, I believe it will last pretty well. My Elite 2 and 3 has surpassed 200km and looked pretty good for a thin outsole supershoe, and my Max has surpassed 650km and good for another 150km easily.
Elite 2 Outsole has much more coverage than Elite 4
Last Item - The Liner
The Elite 4 socks liner is thin and light. It is semi-glued down which help it to hold it's place and not move when it is wet. However that strange placement of the sizing tab right under the arch (and sewn on the socks liner) need to be reposition or have the easy option to tear off or removed.
You know what they say about people with big feet
First Feel
I called the Elite 2 as "fix my life shoe" because it was the first legit carbon plated shoes I ever worn and raced in. Then the Elite 3 came about and I could not thanks Brooks Malaysia enough. With minor upgrade to the upper (knitted vs engineered), the differences wasn't sufficient to accept it as an upgrade.

BUT, when Hyperion Elite 4 was first showcased in November 2023, I knew this is a totally different super shoe from the Elite range, and rightly so.
The lace down was "right first time"

RapidRoll Rocker profile from the side

The upper laces down very securely. It took me only one adjustment to find and lock into the shoe. Toe box despite only "D" is very generous. Mid-foot lateral lockdown was very secure. I wore socks because this shoe upper is not as smooth as Elite 2 or 3 (because 4 has so many holes and super engineered to save weight). The jagged/staggered not stretchable lace ties down securely and despite the lack of padding on the tongue, i felt no pressure point at all on the upper part of my feet.
Right First Time

A few jumps told me that the shoe is springier than the Elite 2 and 3. I had to cycle through all three shoes at this indoor jump and roll testing to make sure I wasn't being biased with my feel. Elite 2 (higher mileage at 250km) and Elite 3 (at lower 50km) felt more squishy or cushioned when compared to Elite 4. Every forced step allows me to compress the DNA Flash V1 more. However the Elite 4 DNA Flash V2 felt much firmer.
The midsole at the front did not even looked compressed

Compared to Elite 2 that looked compressed
Having been spoilt by all the variants of Brooks Running shoes I know how the RapidRoll rocker feels. Being used to them all motion wise, I was expecting the same with Elite 4. I was not wrong in assuming it as the Elite 4 roll off to the toe effortlessly, just like the Elite 2, 3, Hyperion Max, Ghost Max and even the Cascadia 16 (Trail). I have written reviews for each of them so do check them out in my REVIEW tab at the top of my blog.

RapidRoll was good, minimal effort to step up to my toes from stationary
Knowing that the midsole is firmer, it also meant there should technically be more energy return. Something firm bounces easier than something softer. Example, if you inflate a ball to be very firm/hard, it bounces higher than an under-inflated ball. Wearing both Elite 4 vs the 2/3 and 4 gives me exactly that analogy.
The Hyperion Elite 4 bounces like a ball that is properly inflated vs the Ghost Max which is a super cushioned trainer. Then you can see how the carbon plate lattice spring the shoe away from me about 4 foot as i press it down and launched it. Full resolution of the YouTube Shorts here

In the video above, you can also see how the carbon lattice took some effort for me to bend and press down. It then launched the shoe to quite a distance approximately 4 feet away from me. Here it is again, hopefully Blogger video streaming is better than YouTube (yes, I am testing them here)
Soon after the indoor testing, I did a 6x400m Interval using the Elite 4. This is how the data for the last set looked like; 363W at 3:16 pace over 141bpm. GCT was 195ms and efficiency (FPR) of 0.18. The Elite 4 truly perform and absolutely love speed.
Run 62. 6x400m interval
This was a very good representation as I have a 5km TT coming up in two days. And I was convinced how this Elite 4 will help me break 20mins again.

First Run
  • Firm and definitely more responsive than Elite 2 and 3
  • RapidRoll rocks
  • Reminds me of the 2000s Racing flat - but with a lot of technology put in
    • I can feel the ground and know much much to push
    • very stable despite the stack height. No side-to-side movement, of not significant
    • no hot spot (I was wearing socks :P)
  • The Arris Carbon Lattice was there, i can feel the propulsion but it was very "kind", did not restrict how my feet moves/my natural gait
Clearly (first) Run Happy on Hyperion Elite 4

Two days later, I took it out for a 20mins/5km Time Trail. What better way to test the shoe than to make it or break the 20mins mark again after almost 10 months. Personal best for 5km distance remained at 18:50 over a flat elevation and the route I am taking will have elevation at half of the route, and I would need to run 2 loops to make the 5km distance. I am chasing that 20mins and ready to push hard.
Warm up 12mins
The warm up gave me a very good idea what my indoor testing and first run told me. The shoe is firm, stable despite the stack, very controlled on the foot with minimal side-to-side movement, solid transition from heel-mid-toe (yes, I do land heel on my left foot, somehow), responsive as I can feel the midsole pushes back, and very subtle plate feel. I know the plate was there (well...) and i can feel it propelling me, but yet, the midsole firmness neutralizes it. Infact, for a 40mm stacked supershoe, i actually felt the ground.

As shown in the 12mins graph above, the main metric is the power at 257W where I ran at pace 4:47 at HR of 132bpm. Ground contact time was 241ms and Leg Spring Stifness (LSS) 9.8kN/m which relates to the theorectical spring loaded on the feet (mainly changes with shoes) and I was running at efficiency of (Form Power Ratio or FPR) 0.27. For an easy effort, there were significant power return vs my usual easy run (240w) over the pace of 4:55 at similar HR but lower LSS and FPR This is using Ghost Max (cushioned non-plated, 40mm stack)

For Easy runs:
  • Power savings of more than 10w
  • Faster pace of more than 8s/km
  • Higher LSS (more loaded "spring" in the legs) at 0.8kN/m
  • Higher efficiency (almost 0.2factor)
The 5km Time Trail
20mins/5km Effort @ 19:44
The test was conducted in EG of 58m (average 0.6 gradient) vs the PB (18:50) over 1m EG (0 gradient). You can see from the graph above the route profile. I kept the power as consistent as I can running up and down these elevation. Those pace (blue) drop is likely due to sensor disconnection intermittently, which is minimal concern as the focus was on power.
The Hyperion Elite 4 is fast
I clocked my 5km Season Best of 19:44. 300W at 3:57 pace over 153bpm HR. GCT was 212ms and LSS was at 9.8kN/m. Efficiency was much higher at 0.23. Just this data alone doesn't tell much unless I compared it to the Elite 2 which I used for a 4x4:15 SupraThreshold run.
Run 67: Supra Threshold On Elite 2
The EG was lower (48m) with overall gradient to be about 0.5. I held the power at 305W at 4:02 pace at 150HR (last set, give me some breathing space k), with GCT of 211ms, LSS of 9.8kN/m. Efficiency (FPR) was similar 0.23. One other metric which i would inject in is the Impact Loading Rate (ILR) of 70bw/s or 70bodyweight/second on each legs.
What does these two runs very close to each other, using two different iteration tells me?

Elite 4 vs Elite 2 : Fast Run
  • Watt (energy) savings - I was running faster at 3:57 vs 4:05 at 5w lower.
  • Similar effort (HR) - 20mins vs 4x4:15 (approx 18mins) of 3bpm expense
  • Similar LSS, GCT and ILR - debunking that the perception of Elite 2 being "softer" and Elite 4 being "firmer" is just more "feel" than actual data shown.
  • Higher bounce - Elite 4 returns 0.25cm or 2.5mm more bounce from vertical oscilation (VO) perspective
The Hyperion Elite 4 DNA Flash V2 "more responsive by up to 10%" claims seems to hold water with the watt savings (1.7% - it is all about the "next percent") and a hefty 8s/km pace improvement sums up the experience on Elite 4. By the way, that 8s/km translate to me running the 5km in 20:30 or 40s slower in today's fitness...that is significant.
Smoking Fast
Hyperion Elite 4 is a carbon (lattice) plated fast, responsive, as cushioned, efficient shoe and fast light and stacked super shoe. A totally revamped of the Elite series, and I dare say, a totally different shoe altogether. It looked right there on the start line and does not looked like an out of place supershoe. It reminds me of a traditional racing flat of the yesteryear - and if this shoe were to go back in time, it will blend right in - PLUS the technology which will give that back to the future runner a significant edge over others.

Don't get me wrong with the yesteryear reference, it simply meant for me of not fixing anything that wasn't broken. Hyperion Elite 4 indeed has brought back that feel for some runners that felt the super shoes of today has too much hype than actual performance. The record set by the users (Des, Josh and CJ) speaks volume when it was just at Prototype stage, and my personal run, which not national level, gives me a lot of confidence to toe the start line and knowing I will break my own limits.

From distance racing perspective, I would say this Hyperion Elite 4 is at home for races up to Half Marathon for many. For myself, this is an upgrade of the Elite 2 and 3 which I ran Full Marathon in without any issues. Elite 4 will be my racing shoe for 2024.

  • Light. Fast. Cushioned. Plated. 
  • You feel grounded despite the stack, yet you know the shoe will provide adequate cushioning with the DNA Flash V2
  • Great fit. Generous toe box.
  • No noticeable hot spot in all the runs I did, maybe because I wore socks
  • No heel slips despite drenched in sweat. Very secure.
  • Very secure road-grip feel. No indication of slippage under faster pace, wet surface (it's been raining) or smooth (Bukit Jalil pavement)
  • When compared to other Supershoes (i've tried MagicSpeed2, Peaks V3, NB SC Elite), it is not as "cushioned", "bouncy" or gives the impression of cushioned ride - because they all have PEBA/X
  • DNA Flash V2 is EVA foam in supercritical stage injected with (more) Nitrogen than the older DNA Flash V1
  • Relatively expensive when compared to the other Supershoes (but I have discount code below 😄)
Here are more photos of the shoe, in case you can't get enough, because I actually felt sad when I see the sole dirty after every run... but in the name of review...

Thank you Sports Paragon Malaysia and Brooks Running Malaysia for this pair of Hyperion Elite 4 that came as part of my 2024 entitlement and priced at MYR1250. The pricing is competitive vs the other Super Shoe. Hope this detailed review help give you some idea how it all stacked up. It's hard/almost impossible to find Elite2 review of Malaysian users and I hope i did justice to it.

Discount??? You Want Cheap?
As part of my sponsorship with Paragon Vests under the Team Sports Paragon, I have a few discount codes you can use to purchase your next Brooks shoes if you want. Older models at higher discount is available in www.sportsparagon.com website. Sizing can be a challenge, which explained the better discount. If you want newer and better sizing, head over to www.brooksrunning.com.my and score a few newer models.

I have the full discount codes and brands that support me since 2022. But if you are lazy to click, here they are...

Promo Code: SPEV02
Footwear: 55%
Apparels: 50%
Sandals: 40%
Accessories: 50%

Promo Code: EEVANOFF25
25% OFF of all items ( exclude sale items )

Promo Code: ZOOTEEVAN20
20% OFF Zoot website Non promo items
10% OFF Zoot website Promotion items

Keep Showing Up