Brooks Flow (2012)

The new and highly anticipated Pure Project models are in stores now.

Are the high expectations realized? Pure Project is an entirely new line, soup to nuts, with four models.

The Pure Project line includes the Connect, the Flow, the Cadence and the Grit. The first three are made for road running. The Grit is a trail shoe. All the models are built with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop (aka “ramp”), and this 4mm ramp is a metric around which more and more companies are coalescing, when it’s “natural” running shoes that are contemplated. It’s the same as in the Saucony Kinvara and Mirage, as well as the Hokas.

But this doesn’t mean all these shoes feel the same. While Brooks Pure Project’s models and Saucony’s Kinvara and the Mirage maintain the same 4mm ramp, these Brooks shoes feel flatter, to me, than do the Saucony models.

The Flow
This is the second model in the Pure Project line. This model has more midsole thickness than the Connect, and here are the stats: 18mm/14mm midsole. Look at this as a shoe for someone who likes the idea of a lower ramp and and a minimal shoe, but isn’t quite ready for take the ultimate plunge.

So it’s built with the same 4 mm ramp, but the cushioning is much more obvious: it almost feels pillow soft. In comparison to the Connect the arch support is also much less apparent and it is a wider shoe. It’s still not wide, but it’s the widest of the 4 models.

The Flow only has 4 eyelets on each side of the shoe to put the laces through and the other road models have 6. I’m curious why Brooks built one model with this different lacing pattern. I’ve asked, no answer has as of yet been forthcoming. It also uses the same Toe Flex technology, the Idea Heel and also the Nav Band. And here I found something strange. If you try all models in the same size, the Nav Bands are not identical in tightness. The Connect and in the Cadence are tighter than the Flow. The Grit is wider yet. I’m not sure if this was Brooks’ intention.

The Flow is a complete neutral shoe and if you take a look at the back of the shoe you can see that this model has a bulge on each side of the midsole. These bulges make the midsole completely neutral, but a bit more stable than the Connect. The outsole features more durable rubber than on the Connect. When you come from a heel-strike shoe and you want to make the transition to midfoot strike—but you still have some problems holding your form when tired—there is enough durability to rely on.

The weight of the Flow is 8.7 oz. The midsole Shore values are 52 in a women’s model, and in, men’s, below size 10 it’s 55 and above its 57.

[Editor’s note: Our capable editor-at-large for footwear Jeroen van Geelen owns Total Running, one of the more important running and triathlon retail establishments in The Netherlands.]