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Brooks Aurora BL: Is This the Future?
By Matthew Klein

Despite their current tendencies, Brooks was once a wild company. They had aggressive, fast racing shoes like the Brooks T Racer series. The Pure series was unique at the time as cushioned but flexible minimally inspired shoes that were drastically different from anything on the market. All that recently had seemed to tone down. For many that is not a bad thing, as finding a consistent shoe series is difficult in today's world. It just isn't exciting. Although we are late to this party, a peak at the wild side of Brooks, clearly still simmering under the surface, came to market in the form of the Brooks Aurora BL. Straight from the Brooks BlueLine lab, an innovation department for the company, it showcased many things that we were curious to try.

Brooks Aurora BL
Price: $200 at Brooks Running
Weight: 8.5 oz, 241 g (men's size 9), 7.6 oz, 215 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 37 mm / 31 mm
Drop: 6mm 
Classification: Lightweight Cushioned Trainer


The Brooks Aurora BL is a lightweight cushioned trainer with a bouncy and a unique flex groove. A large amount of DNA Loft v3 provides a light and bouncy ride underfoot while a unique midfoot flex groove provides a surprisingly easy transition. The upper is light, lower and reminiscent of the Brooks Pureflow fit while a heel counter with a ribbed internal edge grips the heel well but will be a bother for those with sensitive calcanei. While far from the perfect shoe, the Aurora BL provides an interesting, light and fun ride that will certainly grab your attention due to its stark contrast from the rest of the Brooks line. 

: Skechers Maxroad 5


The Brooks Aurora BL fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is slightly snug throughout. The toe box does taper a little bit but the major reason the front feels a little snug is due to how low the upper sits on the foot. This is noticeable while not moving but goes away with running. The midfoot also has a slightly snug fit, mostly due to the tongue being a one piece compressive wrap that locks the foot down well. I have found that I did not need to tie the laces down tightly to get a secure fit, although it is still recommended. I did not have to lace lock the shoe due to how well the tongue/wrap kept the foot on the platform. The rearfoot features a flexible counter that is more of a thicker piece of material. There is no heel collar cushioning and the inside part of the heel is ribbed. This actually works well to keep the heel locked down but causes an incredible amount of pressure on the heel bone. Those with any form of heel sensitivity will not be able to stand this shoe and will need to avoid it. Those who want additional security will like this.

This shoe should be worn with socks. The upper is an extremely thin performance throughout most of the shoe with reinforcements around the toe box and thicker material in the heel. I immediately had blisters due to the ribs at the rearfoot, so socks are highly suggested to protect against this.


The Brooks Aurora BL is a bouncy lightweight trainer with an interesting midfoot flex groove. Unlike other uses of DNA Loft v3, the midsole is softer and cushioned throughout the length of the shoe. The foam is not mushy and actually responds when you push it, giving it a performance trainer/lightweight trainer feel. The weight is light for how much cushion it feels like it has and it certainly feels like an 8.5 oz shoe (men's size 9). There is a 6mm heel drop and it feels like the exact same drop from the old Pureflow. The heel transition is incredible smooth. There is a large heel bevel that I wish existed on other Brooks shoes. The bevel is slightly posterior lateral which combined with the softer ride makes for the smoother landing. The midfoot transitions extremely quickly into a stiffer but rockered forefoot. I did feel some pulling at my plantar surface on both feet with longer efforts in this shoe, making me concerned that the shoe is flexing in a place my foot doesn't. The forefoot feels snappy with a quick toe off that makes the shoe feel like it wants to pick up the pace.

Purpose-wise the Brooks Aurora BL leans toward the performance side. The lighter weight and bounce ride lend it to picking up the pace well. I have used it on an uptempo run and a fartlek with tempo pace thrown in and it feels best at steady efforts. Easy runs are fine in this shoe, but slow runs can make the midfoot transition a little awkward. Extremely fast efforts also feel awkward as the midfoot becomes too contrasted with the rockered heel and stiffer forefoot. If you are a forefoot striker this will feel fine as you'll miss the midfoot, but the transition was odd for me. This makes this shoe best as a normal training pace/uptempo and tempo paced shoe. I personally would not race in this due to the concerns around the midfoot but there is potential there.

Durability and traction-wise, the Aurora BL is best mean for the road. I have 25 miles on my pair and there is an average amount of wear on there. Given the midfoot mobility, I would expect an average life expectancy for the outsole and potentially slightly lower overall durability due to a potential for comprising the midsole. The grip is not great and only works well on roads. Trails immediately got rocks stuck in the midfoot gap and any wet surface was incredible slippery. For those reasons, the Aurora BL should be kept on dry road.


The Brooks Aurora BL is a neutral shoe with some mild guidance elements in the heel. There are mild sidewalls in the heel with a large amount of sole flare as well. There is additional sole flare on the medial and lateral sides of the forefoot but it is minor. The heel bevel also does a great job of guiding the foot in. The rest of the shoe is less stable. The midfoot flexibility with the flex grooves provides a large amount of motion, including medial and lateral. There are no sidewalls in the midfoot or forefoot. The softer bouncy foam is also fun, but not overly stable. This all balances out for a neutral shoe overall that has extra mobility at the midfoot. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Flex Grooves vs Rockers
By Matthew Klein

The design of the Aurora BL is contrary to many of the maximal shoes on the market. Instead of having a full rockered sole or having flex grooves in the forefoot, the Aurora BL does the exact opposite and has a deep flex groove in the midfoot while the forefoot is actually stiff (longitudinal bending stiffness not cushioning stiffness). We have discussed previously how each part of the foot has a specific rocker that maintains forward motion. The curved heel, like the beveled heel in the Aurora BL, helps roll the foot forward during heel contact. The talocrural or ankle joint helps the tibia rotate over the foot to keep the body moving forward. Finally, the ability of the toes to extend is the forefoot rocker, allowing the body and rest of the foot to transition over them and forward. 

It appears as if the midfoot flex groove is meant to facilitate the ankle rocker or talocrural joint. This is an odd place to put it as this motion happens above the foot and not below it. Additionally, there are no joints in the midfoot that allow large amounts of sagittal plane motion (front-to-back). This was my concern with this shoe. Although there is not evidence on this, my clinical experience as been that shoes have excessive contrasting mobility in the midfoot tend to irritate the plantar fascia. This did happen to me, although it was extremely minor. 

This begs the question as to what is better, flex grooves or rockers in these kinds of shoes. The answer is that it depends on the individual and their unique joint lines, bones shapes and biomechanics. There are likely some people who have a talocrural joint that lines up perfectly with where the flex groove is. Others, like myself, may not. Typically, maximal shoes have a fully rockered sole as shallow flex grooves do not do enough to allow for the sole to bend enough for forward motion. If there are flex deep flex grooves, they tend to be in the forefoot as the sole is closer to the ground and has less inherent stiffness anyway due to less midsole. It is also more advantageous to have forefoot flex grooves as that is where the majority of joint motion in the foot that allows sagittal plane motion occurs. This however is problematic for those who have limited joint mobility there (hallux valgus, hallux limitus, etc). For most people, I suspect a full rockered shoe will be best. For the few out there that do well with extra midfoot mobility and potentially have stiff ankle joints, this may be a unique shoe to try. 


Neumann, D. A. (2016). Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system: foundations for rehabilitation. Elsevier Health Sciences.


While I have enjoyed the Aurora BL, there are several things that have been challenging for me. The midfoot flex groove is in an area that I mentioned isn't the most natural and tends to pull on my plantar muscles and plantar fascia with longer miles. I have gotten irritation with runs over 6 miles, which confirms my suspicion that you need to have flex grooves where the foot is supposed to move and not where it doesn't. My first suggestion is therefore to place the flex grooves in areas conducive to normal foot mechanics, ie in the forefoot or at least more evenly throughout the shoe. 

While the heel aspect of the upper is quite flexible, the ribbed internal aspect was incredibly irritating and borderline painful to me as someone with a sensitive heel bone. Even with thicker socks this was bothersome. While an interesting idea, I would suggest that Brooks look for some other way to keep the heel from slipping. A potential idea is to use a similar wrap idea in the midfoot around the heel or just leave the wrap as the primary stabilizer and keep the flexible counter. If the sidewalls in the heel were made larger, additional lockdown may not even be needed. 


This shoe has me "split" for a few reasons. It is a fun, light shoe that has been a breath of creative fresh air from a fairly consistent company. However, the ribbed heel has been irritating and limited my use. If not for the heel, this would be one of my top Brooks shoes even with the weird midfoot flex point (which again I suspect to be an attempt to replicate the ankle rocker). I really want to see the same midsole feel found in the Aurora show up in the daily trainers. This sole has the sensation I expected from the Glycerin series but never experienced. It gives me hope for the future.

This shoe will work best for those who do not have sensitive heels, want a performance fit, a bouncy, light ride that has some flexibility for the ankle. It is the rare highly-beveled Brooks shoe that has an incredible smooth and cushioned heel transition and a toe off that can move surprisingly fast. The flex groove will probably not work for those with sensitive plantar fascia. That said, it is good to see Brooks trying things and I am extremely excited to experience the next round of performance footwear from them. The cost is a little much for an experimental shoe, but its uniqueness may make the cost worth it for those seeking a different experience.


Fit: B-/C+ (Low volume performance fit with light mesh and wrapped midfoot. Extremely irritating heel design that bothered my sensitive heel)
Performance: A- 
(Fun, light, bouncy ride. Split in midfoot does make for surprisingly flexible feeling)
Stability: B/B- [Neutral] (Soft sole with extra midfoot mobility that is borderline unstable. Balanced out by wider heel with sole flare)
DPT/Footwear Science: B- (Midfoot flex groove in non-anatomic place, causes irritation and may be problematic for those with sensitivity of the plantar fascia)
Personal: C+/B- (I really enjoy the midsole bounce and the ride but the ribbed heel absolutely ruins this shoe for me. It does show me how much potential Brooks has, so I will look forward to the next evolution)
Overall: B/B-


Brooks Aurora BL
Price: $200 at Brooks Running

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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 Brooks Running 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 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.

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Skechers GO RUN Ride 11

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