When you first see the Brooks Neuro, it’s hard not to stare. The outsole of the shoe looks like it came from the bottom of the ocean, and the upper is transparent mesh, printed with some kind of circuit card graphics. Just visible under the mesh are bright bands of shoelace-like material that zigzag across the shoe from heel to toe.
Once you get over the Neuro’s strange appearance and try it on, you soon realize that all the odd elements have a functional goal. The Neuro was designed to to give the runner a comfortable and highly flexible ride at fast speeds. It’s unique composition propels the runner forward and offers a running experience unlike any previous Brooks model.
The outsole of the Neuro is unique, to say the least. The Neuro is the first shoe in the new “Propel” category for Brooks which translates into a fast and bouncy ride. Round, BioMoGo DNA foam pods, placed throughout the bottom of the outsole, allow for adaptive cushioning throughout the shoe. The pods also create bounce as they compress on impact, then firm up and transfer the energy back to the runner. These pods give the shoe a slight "sea creature" appearance, but work well to give the runner a quick transition with every foot strike. Many runners said that the faster they ran, the more they felt the bounce and energy. The pod design also adds flexibility to the shoe and a level of ground feel that is quite different. Some runners said it took a few miles to get used to the feel, but was very enjoyable and made them want to run faster
Having individual pods on the outsole also allows the foot to move more naturally and independently in all directions as opposed to a single piece outsole. According to Brooks, this independence is further enhanced by the pods being decoupled at the midfoot which releases the “sub-plantar joint”. Brooks calls this “the Gearing Mechanism” which allows the forefoot and heel to move independent of each other and gives the runner a powerful toe-off.
The midsole features Brooks’ BioMoGO DNA cushioning which is specifically designed for a lightweight and responsive ride. The cushioning adapts to the foot based on the amount of force placed on it. “Dynamic Flex” foam in the forefoot area gives the shoe flexibility and a rounded heel encourages a natural running movement and a smooth landing. The decoupled midfoot, or gearing mechanism, allows the heel and the forefoot to move independently of each other which helps with power generation. Runners liked this feature for uphill runs.
Just like the unique outsole, the upper of the Neuro is also a totally new design for Brooks and features a light, three-layer, mesh construction. The outermost layer is made of a thin PVC-like material that is very durable. Unfortunately, this material does not allow the shoe to breathe very well despite laser cuts for ventilation. This outer layer is fused to a very fine mesh that helps keep debris out of the shoe. The third innermost layer is a much softer mesh that is comfortable against the foot and wicks away moisture quite well. What really makes the upper of the shoe unique is the “Dynamic Hammock” lacing system. This system uses a series of laces that weave in between the outer and inner mesh layers and wrap around the entire foot, not just the midsole. The laces tighten at the eyelets to hold the foot to the sole and keep the foot aligned. Many runners raved about this feature as it allowed them to create a custom fit by simply adjusting the shoe’s laces
The Brooks Neuro weighs in at 9.3 ounces for men and 7.9 ounces for women. For a running shoe designed for fast speeds, this is a little on the heavy side. The Brooks DNA midsole is fairly light, but the podded outsole and and flashy upper add a lot of extra weight to the shoe. Several runners complained about the weight
of the shoe, but enjoyed the flexibility and high energy of the overall ride.
There were many complaints about the Neuro being a hot shoe. The thick upper does not breathe well. The innermost layer of the upper that rests against the foot has some moisture wicking properties, but there is very little airflow coming into the shoe. Laser-cut vents in the upper did not seem to allow much air into the shoe. For 5K races and short runs, most runners were able to tolerate the heat, but would not recommend the shoe for long distances
. Some runners had no problem using the shoe for long distance runs and said their feet were a little hot, but not too bad.
Although not a heavily cushioned shoe
, the abundant pods on the outsole provide a cushioned ride. Many runners praised the “dynamic hammock” lacing system that allowed them to customize the fit of the upper to their foot. A padded tongue protects the top of the foot and allows for a snug fit. There was very little, if any, break-in time needed. The toe box was wide enough for the average foot. Most runners said the shoe ran true to size; only a few felt it ran small. The Neuro is best for runners with medium to high arches. Flat footed runners may find the shoe a little uncomfortable.
The radical design of the Neuro is not for everyone. The pods on the outsole give the shoe an unconventional look and the graphics and overlays on the upper were a bit too flashy and confusing for some. Younger runners seemed to appreciate the design more than older runners. Colors for the Neuro are red with black, blue with black, and white with black for men. Women have a choice of blue, teal, and pink. The Brooks logo sits towards the back of the shoe and fits in well with the overall abstract design.
While not necessarily meant to be a long distance shoe, most runners said the Nero held up as well as any Brooks racing shoe. Many runners were able to get 300 miles or more from the shoe before noticing a decrease in comfort and stability. Some runners reported the pods on the outsole wore unevenly, but this did not seem to affect the performance of the shoe. The three-layer upper was said to be very durable and could withstand a lot of abuse.
The BioMoGo DNA foam pods on the outsole are designed mainly for propulsion and energy transmission, but they also protect the foot from sharp rocks and rough pavement. The pods are a mix of hard and soft rubber strategically placed for even wear. The durable upper makes up most of the shoe and does a fairly good job of protecting the foot, but the outsole pods provide the majority of the protection. There is no traditional toe guard, but a raised section of the outsole at the front of the shoe provides some protection to the forefoot. The Neuro is listed as a road shoe
and would not offer much protection on rough trails.
The Neuro is an amazingly responsive shoe. It responds quickly to forward and lateral movements thanks to the Gearing Mechanism which allows the forefoot and heel to move independently. The pod propulsion system also allows for a quick spring-up after initial contact with the ground. Despite its rather bulky appearance, runners were pleased with the responsiveness and speed of the shoe and praised it for its quick turnover and cushioned ride. Wearers stated that the shoe liked to go fast and the rebound energy increased as the speed increased.
The Neuro gets high marks for support. The highly adjustable upper allows the runner to customize the shoe to his or her foot. There is a moderate amount of cushioning and medium arch support without the feeling of being overly corrective. The shoe is listed as a neutral road shoe, but there is some level of mild pronation control from the podded outsole. The supplied insert is easily removed to accommodate a more supportive insert
The Neuro is a great road running shoe, but not really designed for off road. Runners looking for an off-road shoe similar to the Neuro should consider the Brooks Mazama
which shares some of the same technology. The outsole of the Neuro is designed to absorb the shock of hard pavement and does not do as well on grass or soft trails. A few runners did wear the shoes on mild trails and were surprised by the smooth ride, but commented that the pods do tend to collect small rocks.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of the Neuro when new was $130 making it a moderately priced shoe. Because the shoe has been out for over a year, and the Neuro 2 has been released, some pretty good bargains can be found.
The podded outsole of the Neuro provides plenty of traction on roads and hard surfaces. The outsole’s ability to “propel” the runner means the sole has to make good contact with the ground in order for it to spring back and push the runner forward. There were no reports of of the shoes not doing well on wet roads
, but runners will want to avoid muddy conditions as the outsole does not grip well in mud. The shoes performed OK on mild trails, but their real home is on the road.
The design of the Euro makes it a very flexible shoe. The uncoupled midfoot is great for attaining fast speeds and the adaptive cushioning enables the shoe to feel firmer during fast runs
and softer at slower speeds. The podded outsole, although stiff and bulky looking, has a great deal of flexibility. Runners said the outsole allowed their big toe to move freely which helped achieve a more balanced push-off. More than a few runners described the shoe as the most flexible running shoe they had ever owned.
The Neuro is considered a neutral shoe and has limited motion control to prevent overpronation
, but the hammock-style lacing system allows the runner to customize the shoe to their foot and stride. The design of the shoe promotes a forefoot strike, but heel strikers had no problem running in the shoe. The outsole makes full contact with the ground and provides a stable base for efficient push-offs. Runners reported the propulsion feel took a little getting used to, but allowed them to run at faster speeds with less effort. Runners needing more stability might want to try the Brooks Asteria or Hyperion which share some of the same design features as the Neuro.
The stack heights (23 mm heel, 17 mm forefoot) and 6 mm heel-to-toe drop make it ideal for fast paces and high foot turnover. The lower drop enhances the stability and responsiveness of the shoe by keeping the runner’s foot closer to the ground and in a more natural position.
Key Features of the Brooks Neuro
Key Features of the Brooks Neuro
• Unique design for fast speeds
• 6 mm heel drop
• Adaptable material adds firmness when needed
• Highly adjustable lacing system
• Propulsion pods on outsole for fast turnover
• Superior flexibility from “uncoupled” midsole
Brooks has shaken up the running shoe world with the introduction of the Neuro. With an adaptive midsole and unique propulsion pods, this lightweight shoe offers efficient energy return with every step. Runners can easily customize the shoe through the use of Brooks’ “hammock” lacing system which provides a sock-like fit and helps align the foot with the shoe. Uptempo runners praised the new “propel” category which now features several models including the improved Neuro 2.