Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 Review

The Brooks Adrenaline 14 was one of the first trainers I reviewed several years ago.  I have switched back and forth between stability and neutral for years and at the time had transitioned back to high drop with some stability due to a mild achilles irritation (from running 100 miles per week in the early parts of DPT school).  The Brooks Adrenaline at that time was the perfect choice due to the great fit through the forefoot, higher drop, the firmer ride and progressive stability.  Despite the heavier weight, the shoe felt quick due to the firmer ride and I was consistently pushed up on my toes.  Many years later now, I decided to give the 18 a shot after seeing it return to a similar feel as the 14 (I did not like the fit or feel or the 15 and 16, subsequently giving up on the line after).  In most ways, it retains the essence of what I liked about the 14, but in a different manner.  How so?  Let's talk.


Specs (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.1 oz
Drop: 12mm (30mm/18mm)
Classification: Moderate Stability Trainer


Upper/Fit

The upper is significantly softer than the previous versions of the Adrenaline.  Gone are many of the overlays and in place a comfortable engineered mesh the spreads well with the toes.  The shoe fits very true to size if not a little short.  A thinner pair of socks helps this somewhat and although the toe bumper is less aggressive, it fit a bit shorter than other shoes.  I found the Adrenaline 14 to fit similar and this somewhat contributes to a close fit while still having enough room width wise.


The heel has a solid amount of upper cushioning around it, which is likely what contributes to the slightly shorter fit. For those with sensitive Achilles insertions, the Brooks Adrenaline is a great shoe due to the soft but secure fit of the upper.  The cushioning also makes for a more snug fit around the heel without being constricting. The midfoot is held securely by an internal support saddle that helps hold the foot on the platform very well without excessive pressure (no Nav-Band here for those acquainted with prior versions of the Pure series).  It fits fairly normal width, but can be adjusted very well by the laces via the adjustable saddle system.  This is not just a random addition and helps customize the fit for those with narrow, medium or wide midfoots.


The forefoot has a good amount of room as mentioned earlier due to the engineered mesh and the decreased density of the toe guard.  It is not super wide (Altra) but has plenty of room for most forefeet.


Sole

The sole continues to be what I associate with the modern Adrenaline.  The forefoot is wider, providing a stable base with just a little flare laterally and medially for some additional support.  The shoe is full ground contact, ensuring a smooth and stable transition throughout the gait cycle.  There is a good heel bevel in the back, which leads to a smooth landing (if you land back there).  There is a decent amount of posting in the heel and the midfoot via the Progressive Diagonal Roll Bar.  Combined with "flextra" in the midsole (increasing the flexibility), the support is tuned to the runner.  So for those needing a ton, landing harder and rolling more will utilize the PDRB more, whereas those who may need more light stability, will get less to work with their gait.  The Omega flex grooves provide a great transition and flexibility, especially in the forefoot. 

This is a great versatile shoe that will work for a ton of people as a trainer due to the balanced support.  The support is not obtrusive but is there is you need it.  The ride is stable no matter where you land and not controlling.


Speed/Ride

The firmer ride is something I have always loved (when the Adrenaline is done right).  The ride contributes to a faster feel for a trainer and this is definitely a lighter shoe anyways at 10.1 oz for a trainer/stability shoe.  The Adrenaline 18 is not the lightest shoe, but it can handle uptempo runs, fartleks and long runs with ease.  I would definitely use something lighter like the Ravenna 9 (REVIEW) or Asteria (REVIEW) for workouts if you like Brooks, but it is on the smoother and faster end for trainers in this category.  As mentioned previously, the ride is very smooth, no matter what speed you are running at thanks to the good heel bevel and forefoot flexibility.


Durability

As usual (not always), the Adrenaline continues to be a very durable shoe.  Version 18 is supposedly softer than previous versions, but I seeing very little wear after 100 miles.  This is a shoe I very much expect to get 300-500 miles (industry standard) or more depending on your individual biomechanics.  In the past, this is one of the few I have gotten more than 400-500 out of, but caution that this is individual and you need to pay attention to what your body tells you.


Thoughts as a DPT

There are many different parts that make up the stability in this shoe.  I touched upon the PDRB in the Ravenna review (HERE) in that I appreciated the progressive stability, which better matches the function of the posterior tibialis in eccentrically lowering the arch to assist in shock absorption, not forcing it not to move (which many traditional posts try to do). 

One of my favorite parts of this shoe is how progressively the forefoot stability is done.  I have discussed flare before (extension of sole beyond where the foot sits), but this is a very easy way to stabilize the forefoot without posting.  Not only does the Brooks Adrenaline have great flex grooves in the sagittal plane which helps facilitate forward motion and is thus a "support" feature, but the forefoot flare stabilizes the foot during toe off.  Increasing the surface area does increase stability.  The flare is not done so widely that it interferes with the classic forefoot strike, which is usually on the lateral aspect of the forefoot.  There is however just enough to create a wider and more stable base.


Have you ever wondered why forefoot strikers tend to land on the lateral aspect of the forefoot?  The reason for this is may due to the fact that they usually land in a supinated position, which further sets them up to pronate and absorb shock.  Forefoot runners land in a plantarflexed (foot pointed) position. That is why they land farther up front.  The foot and ankle rarely work in only one plane of motion, so really that plantarflexion is combined with two other motions that make up supination.  The other two components are inversion and adduction.  Thus the front of the foot is pointed down, the sole is pointed in and the ankle is pointed a bit inward.  That is why supination and pronation are considered triplanar motions.  They are actually made up of three different movements.  That is part of why most forefoot runners tend to land in that area.  There are obviously exceptions, and it should be noted that rearfoot strikers rarely land on the medial aspect of the heel (despite the three components of pronation being dorsiflexion, eversion and abduction and they usually land in dorsiflexion, inversion and sometimes a component of adduction) but forefoot runners may land in that position due to that combined motion.  Whether that is more natural or better because they are setting themselves up into the triplanar set of motions whereas heel strikers do not is up for a debate another time.  Just an interesting point.


Conclusion

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS  (Go To Stability) 18 is a modern take on a classic stability shoe.  It is lighter, faster, uses several methods of progressive stability, customizes itself to a degree to the runners, has a great fit that is not too wide or too narrow and remains durable and consistent throughout the lifespan.  I can see why this continues to be a top selling stability and running shoe in general despite the apparent shifts away from higher stability shoes in the running market.  Brooks has done a great job of adapting this shoe to the current market.  The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 is a great moderate stability shoe for those looking for a little firmer but good fitting trainer that can easily be combined with the Ravenna and/or Asteria for training, workouts and racing in the Brooks line.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT DPT 
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow

***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase from Run With Us Pasadena and were purchased at their full US retail price. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I had 104 miles on my pair. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Comments

  1. Great review as always Matt, very detailed yet concise and easily understood description of footstrike differences and their influence on the gait cycle! Would you mind if I stole this (quoted and linked of course!!) for a mini article to use at our running store??
    Quick one re Brooks’ line up, expect more use of guiderails going forward, Desi’s Boston shoe sounds like an interesting mix of components and finally thanks for your advice in the past, just an FYI that I would echo the Ravenna 9 review entirely and would add for your readers that the Launch is a near identical option, without the DRB and post (essentially invisible in the Ravenna anyway) with a tad more width right at the back of the forefoot section for my foot shape - YMMV

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    1. Hey George! As long as you link and reference me that is fine. Glad you like it.

      Interested to see the further integration of the guide rails. Ran in the transcend a few years ago and did not know what to think of it! Curious to see that evolution!

      -Matt

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  2. Matt, thanks, the review is very helpful. Have you run in the Transcend 5? I wondered how it compares to the GTS.

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    1. Hey Mike!!

      Honestly I have not run in the transcend since version one. By the looks, the guide rails provide less pressure into the foot than traditional posting. The previous Transcend fit very narrow in the forefoot for me, but I have not run in the current one!

      -Matt

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    2. Can confirm I have tried on the next adrenaline and various unreleased models that are coming up. All brooks stability will use guiderails and the working theory is that long term eventually the number of models will decrease. For example ghost and adrenaline will eventually merge as one shoe.

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  3. That is interesting. How does the Transcend fit in? What would differentiate the Transcend from an Adrenaline with guide rails?

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    1. The transcend is the more cushioned premium option. They'll soon release the Bedlam which is the same level as the transcend but using the new DNA AMP midsole. That shoe felt really nice. I also want to stress that the shoes merging eventually is far in the horizon, maybe 10 or more years in the future.

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  4. Hi Matt,
    How would you compare this shoe to the Ravenna 9? Would the GTS be better for heavier runners and is it closer to the Ghost but with stability?

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    1. Hey Demian.

      The Ravenna 9 is a very different shoe. Lighter, faster and a little less support. I would not say the GTS is better for heavier runners. I would say it is for someone looking for a little more shoe and support. For those who need a little guidance and a lighter ride, that's where the Ravenna 9 comes in.

      Dr. Matt Klein PT DPT

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