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Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Review:
Future Forward
By Social Media Manager Bach Pham


Reebok's Floatride Energy series has always had a special place in my heart. The first version was an absolute blast and a standout for the time, offering an incredibly fun, responsive foam for an outstanding $100 value. Last year's Floatride Energy got a major remodel, softening the Floatride Energy foam and redialing the shoe into a sleek, borderline performance trainer with a streamlined upper. Reebok continues to push the mold into what a budget shoe can offer, this year incorporating sustainable elements into the shoe while still keeping the price relatively low - albeit a touch higher at $110.

Reebok Floatride Energy 4
Price: $110 at Reebok
Weight: 8.4 oz, 238 g (men's size 9), 7 oz, 198 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 26 mm heel, 17 forefoot (unofficial)
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Lightweight daily trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Reebok Floatride Energy 4 features a subtle update to last year's fully redesigned edition. This year's model features what Reebok calls their "Speed Shift Upper" which aims to add lightness, breathability, and durability. The change helps the latest Floatride Energy join Reebok's REE[CYCLED] program which aims to incorporate at least 30% recycled materials in the upper. Underneath the new upper, the shoe maintains last year's reengineered Floatride Energy foam which provides a softened, comfortable ride in tandem with their well done bevel. The shoe remains a highly affordable, well-riding shoe that does an excellent job at eating up daily training miles.



FIT

The Floatride Energy 4 fits true to size. The shoe features a new Speed Shift upper which incorporates at over 30% of recycled materials, making this the first Floatride Energy that is part of Reebok's REE[CYCLED] program. The material on the outside is a little course to the touch, but structured and protective, while the area around the forefoot is mildly translucent and breathable. The top of the forefoot features a slightly less structured material that caused some minor folding over my toes during my first run. There was also some stiffness around the midfoot with the new frame. Both improved over my runs, however, and has done a nice job conforming to my feet. It's just a comfortable upper through and through.

Compared to the last version, once broken in there is a decent amount of room around the toes to splay during longer runs. There is some minor, but comfortable padding around the heel that offers light cushioning and holds the foot in well. I did find that I had to lace lock the shoe to get a good fit on the platform itself to align the upper with the midsole. I found regular lacing to be a bit constricting over the top of my foot when I attempted to lace the shoes regularly and the upper not quite syncing up with the midsole, but had no issues when lace-locking. The tongue is very minimal and is forgettable in a good way. There is a pull tab that actually folds in slightly which is a nice aesthetic design for those who don't want a pull tab flaring out wildly.

In the heel, there is a very mild external heel counter-esque stitching that contributes to a nice lockdown. The heel itself is fairly flexible with just the external stitching and padding providing structure. I had no issues with any kind of rubbing or heel slippage. The insole provides some average cushioning and is removable. Overall, as long as the shoe was lace locked, I grew to really enjoy the new Speed Shift upper after it adapted to my foot with a couple of runs.



PERFORMANCE

When I think about the Floatride Energy, especially last year's version, I think about how clean the bevel of the shoe is and how it contributes to a very smooth ride. This year's edition carries on what Reebok calls their "engineered bevel" which continues to do an excellent job of helping facilitate quick, seamless transitions. While it often takes me a mile to get warmed up in the Floatride Energy, I found the shoe to be tremendously easy and fun to turn over once I got into rhythm. The Floatride Energy 4 feels particularly good for daily mileage and middle distance runs. Though I enjoyed it on my long run, I do believe the shoe lacks just a touch of cushion underfoot to go for a longer training run past 2-3 hours. The beveled ride is so smooth though, it almost didn't matter for me as the ride is effortless. If you are used to shoes like the Kinvara or older traditional trainers, you should feel at home with the Floatride Energy 4's cushioning for a variety of distances. The shoe can pick up the pace, but sits more as a natural riding daily trainer that can manage strides or slightly uptempo work. Those used to the propulsion of a carbon plated shoe or more performance-oriented shoe like the Rebel v2 will not find that sensation here. The Floatride Energy excels at maintaining a steady rhythm at easy to slightly uptempo paces. The shoe is also excellent for strides and some light work you may throw in the middle of your easy runs.

The "carbon outsole" is carried over from Version 3 and provides the same excellent grip and traction, which does help the shoe pick up some pace. I was able to do some light trails in the shoe with no issues as well. There has only been minor wear in the heel after 30 miles, and if prior versions are any indication the shoe should have a slightly above average lifespan of 250-350 miles thanks to the durable outsole and upper.





STABILITY

The Floatride Energy 4 is a neutral shoe. While the forefoot has some generous width that makes it stable upfront, the midfoot narrows medially (inner side of the foot), taking away from the stability there. The Floatride Energy foam is also is soft enough that it compresses a bit, making the midfoot additionally less stable. Stepping into the shoe, you would think this would be a very neutral shoe that is not at all stable based on the midfoot design, but some components do help add just a touch of stability.

The engineered bevel does a nice job of transitioning forward, keeping you rolling with mild guidance through the rocker. The shoe also very mildly flare out laterally through the forefoot, promoting a tiny bit of guidance outward. Some stitching on the medial side of the shoe's upper along with a unique insole that curves up medially helps promote the foot towards feeling a bit more centered. A full contact outsole and lower stack also helps provide some good ground feel.

I did have to lace lock the shoe, however, to feel fully centered on the platform on my first runs. The upper loosened up during my long run and made me slightly spill out medially. During a brief water break, I found retying the laces helped set me up soundly for my final miles. The shoe has gotten better with time though, and I have found the shoe to be more centered over time as it's broken in. Again, this is very much a neutral shoe. There is a deceptive amount of components though that make it a touch more stable than many neutral shoe. I have flat feet and typically enjoy a more stable neutral shoe like the Asics Nimbus Lite 3 or Craft's Ultra 2. I was genuinely surprised to find that I had few issues with the Floatride Energy 4.



CULTURE CORNER: IS THE FUTURE GREENER?

With the Floatride Energy 4, Reebok ultimately takes the direction that it's been pointing at with it's various Floatride Grow models the past two years. The shoe has been given an environmentally-friendly boost through recycled materials in the upper and insole. Reebok has been uplifting their green efforts the past two years and clearly wants to move to a fully green model in the next decade. The Floatride Energy 4 presents a subtle compromise by keeping the midsole that fans raved about in Version 3 and incorporating the materials first seen in the Grow models with a brand new Speed Shift Upper. For most folks, this likely won't mean much besides a new upper that provides a comfortable fit. For Reebok, it means their first test of A. taking their REE[CYCLED] program a big leap forward with their most popular running model and B. testing the effects of a $10 price increase to be able to incorporate this element. There was no doubt with global prices dramatically increasing that the Floatride Energy would see a price increase one way or another, but this is also Reebok's gauge into whether they can go fully sustainable successfully in the future. Last year's Floatride Energy Grow model at $120 no doubt marks the path forward for the Energy series as a whole as Reebok continues to tweak their sustainable formula to the point where it can comparably match the impression Floatride Energy foam that's been the hallmark of their series.

Many running companies today are making going green a priority. The issue is that sustainability appears to be a low priority. Anecdotally-speaking, from our discussions with consumers it often gets outweighed by performance and price. Reebok may be the one company that best sets the path forward with a well-loved shoe that is being slowly adapted year-by-year to go green. Let's say they take the shoe up to a 50% or even 100% recycled upper at equal or slightly greater cost before dialing in a midsole that matches performance by 2024-2025. Even if the shoe's ride and performance doesn't dramatically change, if Reebok somehow manages to recreate the shoe we have today into a fully green shoe in the next 3-5 years, that could mean setting a tremendously high bar for the industry as far as competitive pricing to sustainability goes. Most companies are taking higher end models to accomplish the task, and transitioning green there which means price points as high as $150, $160, and even into the $180s to $200s. If we are to get to a place where we can match performance with sustainability at a $110-$120 range, that would mean a tremendous impact from an environmental standpoint and a big move competitively, putting the pressure on other companies to be able to push product in the same range. I'm excited about where Reebok is now with the Floatride Energy 4 and the opportunity they have to push the industry green with the Floatride Energy series.


RECOMMENDATIONS

As far as a daily trainer goes, the Reebok Floatride Energy 4 is an excellent performer for the price. I personally would like to see just a bit more midsole width under the medial side to improve stability of the shoe.

We don't talk about the business side of things often at Doctors of Running, but I also would love to see Reebok expand this particular model out to more box stores and markets worldwide. A very efficient, durable, quality daily trainer is often so hard to come by. The Floatride Energy from Version 1 to today has provided a really solid foundation for both new and veteran runners alike.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The Reebok Floatride Energy 4 is a neutral daily trainer that offers a fluid ride thanks to an excellent bevel and enjoyable foam. Those who enjoyed the previous version will find a slightly roomier upper in the forefoot that's comfortable for longer mileage. The outsole grip is excellent and viable for light trails. The shoe is ideal for daily mileage, recovery miles and slightly uptempo running. For marathoners, the Energy 4 pairs well with the new Floatride Energy X from Reebok which offers a performance trainer for distance workouts or a versatile speed day shoe like the Endorphin Speed. The Floatride Energy remains a reliable neutral daily trainer that neither breaks the wallet or sacrifices quality along the way.

FURTHER THOUGHTS 

"The progression from the Floatride Energy 3 to 4 comes with an overhaul to the upper while maintaining the same midsole underneath. For fans of the underfoot feel of version 3, you will be pleased that the update maintains a very consistent ride with what you are used to. The upper does start to incorporate recycles materials and also becomes a bit more synthetic in feet. There are two layers, where the layer closer to the foot is a thin and slightly softer mesh that is covered by the top layer, a more plastic like material. Compared to the previous version, there is a bit more noticeable taper of the toe box, which is the narrowing of the toe box on both the outside and the inside of the shoe. Additionally, the volume of the toe box is a bit lower, and given the more plastic material it does not have a lot of stretch to it. This lack of stretch does seem to help with a bit of midfoot security from the upper. Overall the jump from the 3 to the 4 comes by the way of fit, aesthetic, upper material change, and a price jump of $10. The underfoot feel rides that line of being soft and firm, and the outsole provides a grippy surface that has proved durable from previous iterations." - Senior Contributor Nathan Brown



GRADING

Bach
Fit: B+/A- (Runs true to size. Points lost for minor break-in time and some snugness in the midfoot. Upper overall performs well and has only gotten better with time)
Performance:
A- (A really fun, really smooth ride that ticks miles off easily)
Stability: B [Neutral] (Though a neutral shoe through and through, some unique design mechanics help make it deceptively more stable than it seems)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Integration of sustainability elements in a $110 package is a big step forward)
Personal: A (Besides the minor break-in time for the upper, the fluid ride is as fun as ever)
Overall: A- (A versatile daily trainer that ticks many boxes and appears to only get better and better from one version to the next)
  

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Reebok Floatride Energy 4
Price: $110 at Reebok

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- Reebok's new performance trainer with a forefoot plate

Three Questions We Get As DPT/Reviewers | DOR Podcast #81
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Hoka Arahi 6 - A refined upper headlines Hoka's stability shoe update
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Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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TESTER PROFILES:

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

Bach Pham is a 140 lb male with PRs of 23 5K, 52 10K. He typically runs between 25-35 miles per week at a variety of paces between 8:30 (tempo) -10:00 (recovery) min/miles. He typically prefers shoes that provide some mild to firm cushioning underfoot that is lightweight and responsive. Currently his goals are to complete the half and marathon distances.

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.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Reebok for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our 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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Three Questions We Get As DPT/Reviewers | DOR Podcast #81

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