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Carbon Fiber Plated Shoe Resource Page
2021 Update


The current trend in racing shoes has been toward super foams and carbon fiber plates. Although plates have been used in the past, their popularity has surged. A new age of fast shoes has come about and now a variety of companies have released their products (some in small batches). For the first time (almost ever) there is an interest from the general public (and not just the competitive runners) in finding the fastest shoe to get them across the finish line. We at Doctors of Running thought it would be helpful to have a guide to all the current models to help you choose if and which one may be right for you.


361 Flame

REVIEW


Specifications (per 361)
Weight: 7.7 oz (men's size 9), not provided (women's size 8)Measured Weight Men's Size 10: 
Stack Height: 32 mm / 24 mm (not including insole)
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Racing Shoe

The 361 Flame is a "budget" carbon fiber racing shoe that was designed with enough durability for daily training. A secure upper in the heel and midfoot is paired with a very wide forefoot that allows plenty of room for toe splay for those who want it. A firmer ride with one of the highest levels of stability of all of the carbon plate racing shoes occurs due to a (overly) rigid plate. The transition will be too firm and rigid for most people to daily train in, but will work well as an aggressive but stable 5k to half marathon racer. For those with wider feet or wanting a wide forefoot paired with a very stable and rigid ride, the 361 Flame is a good option at a more friendly price compared to other shoes in this category.

Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2

REVIEW | SHOP
 

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.0 oz / 226 g (men's size 9/women's size 10.5 - Unisex sizing)Measured Weight US Men's Size 10: 8.5 oz
Stack Height: 39 mm / 30.5 mm
Drop: 8.5 mm
Classification: Maximal Racing Shoe

The Adidas Adios Pro 2 is an elite racing option for races 5k and up. The shoe certainly carries a little bit of weight to it for the racing category but after seeing the success of the Alphafly and all of the other marathon racing shoes, 8 ounces really isn't anything too crazy. The Lightstrike Pro and energy rod midsole provide for a very bouncy ride throughout without being overly soft or unstable. This certainly is a racing or workout only type of shoe. Everything about this shoe is geared towards performance. Whether it is the cutouts in the midsole, hardly existent outsole, or incredibly thin upper this is a racing option that is ready to roll with the best of them.

Adidas Adizero Pro
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.3 oz (men's size 9)
Measured Weights: 8.7 oz (men's size 10), 8.3 oz (men's 9.5)
Stack Height: 32mm / 22 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Marathon Racer
 
Coming in with a bouncy yet firm ride (compared to the other marathon racers), the Adizero Pro creates a unique experience. The shoe features a dual midsole with Boost in the heel and midline of the foot and with Lightstrike along the medial and lateral aspects of the shoe as well as a Carbitex carbon fiber multidirectional plate for propulsion. The shoe provides a little more "structure" and lockdown for those who like that especially for longer distance races.

Asics Magic Speed
REVIEW | SHOP



Specifications (per ASICS)
Weight: 8.1 oz / 230 g  (men's size 9)  6.5 oz / 184 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 24 mm (men's);  28 mm / 23 mm (women's)
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Lightweight Trainer / Workout Shoe / Racing Shoe

The ASICS Magic Speed is a long distance racing shoe for those looking to utilize the GUIDESOLE like sensation seen in the EvoRide 2 or the Noosa Tri 13. The GUIDESOLE is an exaggerated toe spring to help with toe off and unload the calf musculature. The result is a fast transitioning feel up front with a softer and more protected heel. The FlyteFoam Blast is soft, bouncy, and protective, but still carries an aspect of firmness and structure to it. This is especially noted in the forefoot. Essentially this shoe is definitely protective enough for long workouts or racing but is not overly plush or unstable in any way. This is a plated racing shoe for those that like some bounce but still enjoy a firmer ride. 


Asics Metaracer
REVIEW | SHOP

 

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.6 oz (men's size 9), 5.7 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 21 mm
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Mid Distance Carbon Fiber Plated Racing Flat
 
The Asics Metaracer is a lower stack carbon plated racing shoe that runs much lighter and quicker at top speeds than much of the competition. The Flytefoam midsole provides enough cushioning for longer efforts, though the lower amount of it makes it ideal from 5k to half marathon for most. Those who like lower profile shoes can take this to the full marathon. Overall a snug performance fit that with a design dialed in to go fast.

Asics Metaspeed Edge
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications for the Asics Metaspeed Edge (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.5 oz (men's size 9) 5.7 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 34 mm / 26 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Carbon Plated Racing Shoe

The ASICS Metaspeed Edge is smooth carbon fiber plated racing shoe for those that want the same technology as other super shoes in a slightly lower stack option. Featuring full length FlyteFoam Blast Turbo, a well rockered sole and a carbon plate, the Metaspeed Edge works best for faster and shorter workouts/races. Although it features a similar upper to the Metaspeed Sky, the Metaspeed Edge clearly fits a half size small. Those interested in one of the lightest super shoes out there should go a half size up, but once the sizing is figured out you will have a comfortable but aggressive mile to 10k racing shoe.


Asics Metaspeed Sky
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per ASICS USA)
Weight: 7 oz / 199 g (men's size 9) 5.8 oz / 165 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 33 mm / 28 mm
Drop: 5 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Marathon Shoe

The ASICS METASPEED Sky is a max cushion, slightly higher volume, unique long distance racing shoe. A new and full length Flytefoam Turbo midsole provides a ton of cushioning that responds the more you push it. Stabilized very well with a carbon fiber plate, the shoe is designed for those with longer strides (ie a more hip based movement strategy) who land farther forward on their foot and want a ton of cushioning with a bit more room in the upper. A ride that feels very naturally at consistent uptempo paces from the 10k to the marathon, this is an interesting shoe with a few personalities.


Brooks Hyperion Elite
REVIEW
| SHOP



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.9 oz (Men's size 9)
Stack Height: 33mm / 25mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Racing Flat

The Brooks Hyperion Elite is the firmest and most stable of these shoes. With a firm DNA ZERO midsole, an aggressive toe spring and a very evident propulsive plate, the Hyperion Elite may be best for shorter distances from 5k to half marathon. The upper has a little more room than others, yet breathable and supportive with structure only in a few places (toe guard and very thin strip of a heel counter in the rear) featuring a snug heel and midfoot and wider forefoot. The ride is fast and features the most prominent feeling plate of this category.  The plate also contributes to one of the most stable rides of these shoes along with a few other features that provide very mild stability. The firmness may limit the versatility of this shoe to shorter races for most people. For those looking for a firm and aggressive racing shoe, the Brooks Hyperion Elite may work best for you. (Editors Note: Version 2 is out, but we have not reviewed it.)

Hoka Bondi X
REVIEW


Specifications (per HOKA ONE ONE)
Weight:  10.6oz/300g (men's size 9);  9.1oz/257g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 33mm/28mm (men's); 31mm/26mm (women's)
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Max Cushion Trainer

The Bondi X has a lot going on, and ultimately it results in a genuinely enjoyable ride on the roads. It is very soft with a moderately rigid carbon plate that spans the length of the shoe to help stabilize the foam, and the typical HOKA geometry provides smooth transitions as well. This shoe is the best "rock catcher" I've had in a while, so only on the roads will I go with this strapped to my feet. Ultimately, this shoe has made me think about footwear design more than any other that I've seen so far this year due to the many components.

Hoka Carbon X2
REVIEW | SHOP



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.5 oz (Men's 9), 7.8 oz (Women's 8.5)
Stack Height: 39mm/34mm
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Ultra Marathon Racer

The Hoka One One Carbon X2 is an ultra distance racing shoe that will work for many people as a marathon racer, others for its intended purpose and many will find it as a great lightweight trainer. Updates include the midsole geometry, slightly softer ride, a narrower fit, an extended posterior dovetail heel flare and what feels like a slightly narrower sole. The CarbonX series gets more aggressive in this update but still works best during longer uptempo efforts.

Hoka Rocket X
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.4 oz (men's size 9)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 5mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Distance Racer

The Rocket X is a high stack height elite racing shoe for those looking for a shoe that is soft, yet still very firm through the midfoot and forefoot. The ride is very smooth with a slight bounce and feels really fluid on the road. With how stiff the plate is, the shoe does not feel vaporfly soft, but still protective enough and arguably smoother in its transition points. The shoe will probably work for a larger population for the transitions feel much more natural than some of the other super shoes on the market, though not quite as "explosive". This is DEFINITELY worth a look when comparing the elite racing flats. 

New Balance RC Elite v2
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.7 oz / 218 g (men's size 9) 6.5 oz / 184 g (women's size 8)Sample Weight Men's Size 10 US: 8.2 oz
Stack Height: 32 mm / 22 mm (not including insole)
Drop: 10 mm Drop (per New Balance)
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Long Distance Racing Shoe

The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 is a very soft, highly cushioned, high stack height marathon racing shoe. A wider, slightly short and stretching upper provides a secure fit. The FuelCell midsole is incredibly soft and abundant. Featuring a more centered and cushioned ride than the previous, those looking for a soft, max cushion carbon fiber plated racing shoe for long distances including the half marathon to marathon and beyond will enjoy this shoe.

Nike Vaporfly Next%
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.6 oz men, 5.8 oz women
Stack Height: 40 mm / 32 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Racing Flat

   The Nike Vaporfly Next% is the current version of the original super foam carbon fiber racer, the Nike Vaporfly. The ZoomX foam is the softest by far of the shoes listed here. The upper is a thin yet strong vaporweave mesh that holds the foot well, yet can crinkle and cause pressure points. There is a thick heel counter in the back that provides decent lock down. The full length carbon fiber plate is aggressive but is offset by the softer cushioning. Many will find this shoe best for 10k to full marathon, although is aggressive enough to be used in 5k races (the 5k road world record was set in this shoe). For those that like a soft and bouncy ride that have very stable mechanics, this is the classic distance racer you should look for.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%
REVIEW | SHOP




Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.4 oz (Men's size 9)
Measured weight: (Men's size 9.5): 8.1 ounces
Stack Height: 40mm/36mm
Drop:4mm
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe

The Nike Alphafly Next% offers a shoe with elite level cushioning and responsiveness in the same package. The weight does come up a little bit from the Vaporfly Next% but this is a calculated move on Nike's part. The shoe offers more cushioning, a carbon fiber plate known as Flyplate, and 2 Air Zoom pods in the forefoot. The shoe feels very unique and responds well to high force exerted on it. The shoe is definitely a racing shoe worth considering for specific populations.

The North Face Vectiv Flight
REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.4 oz / 295 g (men's size 9) 8.9 oz / 252 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 34 mm / 28 mm
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Trail Racing Shoe

The North Face Flight Vectiv is a trail racing shoe for ultramarathon distances and those who want a carbon fiber plated ride. Featuring a moderate rocker reminiscent of the Pearl Izumi trail series and several stability elements from the plate, the Flight Vectiv can pick up the pace on the trail and works extremely well bombing downhill. The plate and the Vectiv midsole provide a slightly firmer ride, A kevlar/matryx reinforced midfoot provides some security while a knit upper allows for some toe splay and swelling accommodation. The fit is fairly average with a little wiggle room from the knit, although a thick toe guard tapers the toebox. For those looking for a plated ultramarathon racer or a daily trainer for those used to running in lighter shoes for shorter distances, the Flight Vectiv is an interesting first attempt from The North Face.


On Cloudboom
REVIEW


Specifications (per On Running)
Weight: 7.94 ounces
Stack Height: Not provided
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Distance Racer, 10k to Marathon

The On Cloudboom is a new member of the "super shoe" family that encompasses elite racing shoes designed for 10k to marathon. The shoe is comparable in weight to many of its competitors and also features a full length carbon infused Speedboard. The Cloudboom is highly responsive and runs very fluid at competitive long distance paces. The shoe is a little more firm than many other distance racers on the market and might be more favorable for those who do not like overly soft foams.

Recently On introduced the On Cloud Echo. More info as we get our hands on it to review!


Puma Deviate Nitro Elite

REVIEW | VIDEO


Specifications (per Puma)
Weight: 6.7 ounces (men's size 9) 5.7 ounces (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 36mm heel/ 28mm forefoot
Drop: 8 mm drop
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe, Super ShoePricing: $200.00 US

A true addition to the super shoe category, the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite blazes onto the scene. Featuring a carbon fiber plate and nitrogen infused PEBA midsole, this shoe has some solid bounce. With a comfortable upper (no heel counter) providing more room than expected for a racing shoe, there is adequate room for swelling while providing enough lock down to go fast. The foam is the closest thing to ZoomX that I have experienced, but is far more natural and controlled. As the most natural feeling super shoe and one of the lightest, this is a serious shoe that currently checks the box as my favorite racing shoe in a long time for 10k to marathon.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

REVIEW | PART 2 REVIEW | SHOP



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.5 oz / 213 g (men's size 9) 6.3 oz / 163 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35.5 mm / 27. 5 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Distance Racing Shoe

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 returns with upper updates to create a more secure ride in the heel and midfoot. The S-shaped carbon plate, Speed Roll and PWRRUN PB continue on, keeping the efficient and rolling ride going. The upper continues to have a great deal of breathability with slightly more reinforced material throughout the length of the foot, particularly at the heel and midfoot. This provides a much better fit and lockdown through the midfoot in particularly, keeping the foot on the platform even with sharp turns. Best for 10k to marathon racing for most people, the continued roll and increased upper security will keep you going for miles.

We are not including the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 on the list due to it being Nylon plate, but you can learn more about it here.

Saucony Endorphin Pro+

REVIEW | SHOP


Specifications for the Saucony Endorphin Pro+ (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.9 oz / 195 g (men's size 9) 5.9 oz / 168g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35.5 mm / 27.5 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Racing Shoe (Carbon Plated / Peba Foam)

The Saucony Endorphin Pro + is an Endorphin Pro 2 with a track spike-like upper. Dropping the weight to under 7 ounces, this racing shoe is comfortable from the 5k up to the marathon. A completely updated upper features a track spike like, super lightweight and breathable mesh that hugs the foot well in all the right spots. Despite supposedly having a similar sole, the lighter weight makes it far easier to turn over faster in the Pro +, dipping its versatility into shorter distances. For those who want a super shoe with a track spike upper, the Saucony Endorphin Pro + is worth a look.

Skechers GORun Razor Elite

REVIEW | SHOP



Weight: 5.1 ounces (Men's 9)
Measured Weight: 5.9 oz (Unisex sizing)
Stack Height: 27mm/23mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Carbon Plated Racing Flat

The Razor Elite features a forefoot carbon infused plate, a very light synthetic upper, a 5.1 oz weight (men's size 9) and plenty of HYPER cushioning for fast running and racing. This combination  provide a unique 5k/10k racer for most with enough cushioning for protection from miles and enough responsiveness to go really fast.

Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper

REVIEW | VIDEO | SHOP



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.0 oz (men's size 9), 5.1 (women's size 8.5)
Stack Height: 23mm / 19 mm
Drop: 4 mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Racing Flat

The Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper features a H-shaped carbon fiber plate, a snug but very lightweight upper and full HYPER BURST cushioning. The Speed Elite is the lightest member of the super shoe category, yet still remains a versatile shoe. The H plate and HYPER cushioning do allow for fast paced runs at 5k pace and below, while the HYPER cushioning allows for the maintenance of consistent paces up to the marathon. For those looking for the lightest weight with a snug upper, great ground feel but really great cushioning, the Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper should be on your try on list.

Skechers Speed Freek
REVIEW
| SHOP


Specifications (per Skechers Performance)
Weight: 7.2 oz / 238 g (men's size 9) 5.8 oz / 164 g (women's size 8)Sample Weight Men's Size 10: 7.4 oz
Stack Height: 34 mm / 30 mm
Drop: 4 mm
Classification: Distance Racing Flat

The Skechers GOrun Speed Freek is Skechers Performance long distance racing shoe. 34 mm of stack height raises the bar (and the midsole) for cushioning while a carbon infused winglet plate provides an efficient toe off. The rockered sole combined with full length HYPERBURST makes for a bouncy ride meant for races from 10k up to the marathon. An incredibly light upper provides a bit more wiggle room and comfort in this model. All this while staying in the low 7 oz range (per our scales). For those wanting a bit more out of the Speed Elite, the Speed Freek will provide some extra protection to take you farther.


Xtep 160X 2.0
REVIEW

 

Specifications
Weight: unknown
Measured Weight Men's US Size 10: 8.5 oz / 235 grams
Stack Height: unknown
Drop: unknown
Classification: Marathon Racing Shoe
 
The Xtep 160x 2.0 is for those wanting a carbon plated, PEBA foamed shoe with a more traditional stack height and a little more flexible forefoot for longer races and tempo runs. With a slightly firmer PEBA foam and a unique plate design, the Xtep 160x provides mild stability at the heel and forefoot while still having enough cushioning for use as a lightweight trainer. A new upper provides a secure, slightly snug and slightly long fit that handles swelling from longer efforts well.

The forked plate is shaped like an X, providing a snappy forefoot that still maintains stability and a stable heel. For those wanting a great tempo/uptempo shoe that can handle longer distance racing, the Xtep 160x 2.0, now available to individuals in the US without the hassle of navigating international websites.

CONCLUSION



For those looking for a soft, super cushioned and bouncy ride, the Nike Vaporfly Next% is still on top when it comes to soft and fast shoes. For those looking for a lighter ride with a snugger fit that can handle 5k to marathon, the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite features the most traditional racing flat weight and natural ride. For those looking for a cushioned and consistent ride with a firmer forefoot, the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 checks the boxes with a little more stability than the softer shoes but definitely one of the more comfortable uppers. For those looking for maximal cushioning as high off the ground as possible yet still wanting an aggressive shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% is the tallest of the bunch with the thickest carbon fiber plate and two zoom air pods in the forefoot. For those looking for stability and a firm ride, the 361 Flame features the firmest and most aggressive ride of the bunch and may work better for most at shorter distances. Finally, for those looking to just get their feet wet in this category, the Hoka Carbon X2 has enough cushioning and design similar to a traditional trainer to not be a too aggressive jump with plenty of cushioning and smooth ride (although by far the heaviest of the bunch). We'll have more updates to this page as we visit more carbon plated shoes.

Remember that each person is different and thus may find a different shoe works better for them. Thanks to the incredible variety of the shoes above, that is possible. 

ABOUT WRITER

Dr. Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.  IG handle: @kleinrunsdpt

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.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: Several of these shoes were provided free of charge and many were purchased for their full US retail price. This in no way affected the honesty of this review. The Saucony Endorphin Pro, Nike Vaporfly Next%, Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% and Brooks Hyperion Elite were purchased for their full US retail price. The Hoka Carbon X, Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper and our recent pairs of Saucony Endorphin Pros were provided free of charge in exchange for reviews. 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.


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