It’s official I am not a one review wonder !
About three weeks back as I was concluding the review of the Reebok ONE Cushion I came across another running shoe launch in India by Reebok – this time with a very bare-chested and in your face John Abraham showing off the Reebok RealFlex Run 2.0. This shoe looked really interesting – it was being touted as flexible, minimalist and meant for fast running – seeing that I have a closet full of similar shoes I was eager to test this one out and see how it stood up. Out went a mail to the good folks at Reebok and about a week later a box turned up with a US 11/UK 10 size eclectic blue RealFlex Run 2.0 (Photo 1 below).
I was a little foxed as the courier handed me the box, it felt very light and I wondered for a second if by mistake an empty box had been sent to me. My mind settled as I gazed upon another beautiful shoe from Reebok (remember the really nice looking ONE Cushion!). Part of the fun of being a runner these days is all the sexy, flamboyant and flourescent shoes you get to wear and if you are running (pun unintended) into middle age (like me) it’s almost as good as acquiring a Ferrari to tide over the “mid-life crisis” !
The Official Line:
Reebok says that the RealFlex Run 2.0 is “for the consumer looking for the barefoot / minimalist footwear experience, but is not willing to compromise cushioning” and goes on to describe it as “lightweight, 360 degree flexible, functional, cushioned, minimalist, responsive, etc, etc” a lot of adjectives for a running shoe, some of which actually feel contradictory. They also provided me with a photo with all the little its and bits neatly labelled (see Photo 2) ! But I am going to just ignore all those details because I have a load of adjectives to test instead 🙂
First Impressions Pre-Run & Some facts:
It is uncanny how things turn out – at the end of Part 3 of my review on the Reebok ONE I had made three suggestions and if I didn’t know better I would have thought someone at Reebok had read them and then redesigned that shoe as the RealFlex Run 2.0!
- First I said the shoe needs to lose weight, about 25-30gms. The RealFlex feels really light and in fact I was quite sure that it was as light if not lighter than my Frees and the Kinvara (all below 225gm). I was surprised when I found out the shoe weighed 240gm. Much lighter than the Reebok ONE (at 283gm) but just a tiny bit heavier than the other shoes.
- Second I said the Reebok ONE needs to be more breathable, well this shoe with its significantly less padding in the heel and tongue area definitely looks more breathable and this has contributed to the lessor weight. I hope this would also translate to better heat management (which I will know only after I run in them).
- The third thing which I would have liked to see is a perforated fabric insole but I still see a lot of smooth rubber. I am beginning to think that maybe all Reebok insoles these days are made of rubber on top (unlike the Nikes, Saucony and even Adidas I have used earlier). My problem with this is the heat & sweat management but let’s wait and see how this shoe manages that during runs.
Before moving any further let me address that the all important question “whats the price of the shoe” – well the retail price is Rs. 6,999 which compares well with other similar shoes in the market.
I decide to slip the shoe on and walk around.
- This shoe too feels very roomy and in fact at first I think I have been sent a larger size, I almost pack it back up to send back to Reebok for a smaller size but then decide to compare it with the other shoes. Almost identical, only very marginally bigger – in fact the fit is very similar to my Kinvaras (which are a perfect fit by the way). The Nike Free 3.0 V4 is comparably pretty tight and the foot feels restricted at times. The fit is also very comparable to the Nike Free 4.0 V2
- The heel-to-toe drop, which I actually only get to know after my first run, is 8mm (21mm-13mm). This is a real revelation and surprise for me since when trying it on (and while on the first run later) I couldn’t make out any difference in the way my foot was landing compared to the 4mm heel-to-toe drop for the Kinavara and the 6mm for Free 4.0
- The shoe is indeed flexible – however I think Reebok has over emphasized this since it is nowhere as flexible as the Nike Free 3.0 or Free 4.0 or even the 5.0. But we have to do a few runs to find out whether this makes any difference whatsoever. I remember getting my Kinvaras, which are pretty rigid in comparison, and thinking I bought the wrong shoes – it made no difference and as of now they are actually my race & training “go to” shoes !
- The shoe has a lot of bits and pieces on the top and the side including a different type of lacing system support and side band (called the FitFrame LT) which is claimed to make the shoe very functional and a better fit. Well the only thing I can say is that the shoe felt comfortable and I didn’t have any problems getting the right tension in he lacing nor did I feel any lace pressure on the top.
- The shoe does feel nice under the feet but cushioning and response are best tested on a few runs (you should read my earlier blog to understand cushioning and response in some more detail – here is the link – https://runindiarun.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/review-of-the-reebok-one-cushion-33-wrap-up-shoe-physics-and-recommendations/)
- The comparison photos below were actually taken after I did a few runs in these shoes and once again I was very pleasantly surprised. From the runs and the feel and look the shoe felt & looked very similar in height and construction to the Frees and Kinvara (minimalist) and significantly smaller than the Reebok ONE Cushion – but the side by side comparison had another tale to tell – check out the photos below the RealFlex Run 2.0 is actually as tall as the Reebok ONE Cushion ! Doesn’t feel like that at all !
Reebok made several claims about the shoe and till now (by just observing, wearing and walking around in them) I have been able to confirm that it is indeed lightweight, quite flexible, fits well, feels good under the feet and has a minimalist feel to it overall. For the rest of the test we will have to pound some tar !
The day I got the shoes I had already done a 16k run in the morning otherwise I would have headed out in the shoes for a run right then, I was that excited to get them. Well I did go out the very next day morning and the good news is that I have now already put in 86km in them !
So watch out for the impressions of the RealFlex Run 2.0 from my first run and also for a personal learning and lesson in “breaking-in” new shoes which I learnt the “hard” way !
Till then …