Brooks Racer ST-5 Review Facts
With the Racer ST-5, Brooks produced a unisex stability shoe that’s ideal for races and tempo runs. It’s not common to find the words “stability” and “racer” in the same description of a running shoe. But this is precisely what you have with the Racer ST-5, a lightweight stability trainer without the minimalist in it.
For the most part, when fabricating a lightweight racer, manufacturers have the neutral runner in mind, ignoring the fact that there are plenty of fast runners who overpronate and require additional assistance. This is where the Racer ST-5 reaches a niche market by being built like a traditional running shoe while being as responsive and light enough to race against a lower-drop competitor. Brooks utilizes the use of several innovative technologies that make this shoe unique in its own right.
The rubber outsole features Brooks’ own HPR Green Technology. The ST-5 is an environmentally friendly shoe since it also incorporates biodegradable materials in its midsole. But don’t let its eco-friendly status fool you. The ST-5 has a full contact outsole that’s thick and provides excellent grip and traction. In the front, medium sized lugs are dispersed around the forefoot area.
Flex grooves align the mid foot and stretch all the way through the front. The grooves make for easier transitions and provide flexibility for the bottom of the shoe. In addition, a Stable Pod configuration is placed at the bottom for stability.
The technology packed eco-friendly
midsole features HydroFlow ST Gel. This is basically a fluid-filled encasing located in the heel area of the shoe, between the outsole’s pod configuration and the midsole. This feature helps with heel stability, shock absorption and to some degree, additional cushioning for the rear part of the foot.
Extending the entire length of the shoe is the BioMoGo DNA midsole. Brooks claims that it’s an adaptable type of platform that only provides cushioning where necessary. This makes it a customizable cushioning unit that adapts to the individual runner — and by the same token, it eliminates any unnecessary weight from the shoe by reducing any extra mass. Brooks also claims that it provides better cushioning results than standard EVA.
On the medial side, a feature known as DRB, or Diagonal Roll Bar, protects against over pronation by maintaining this portion of the foot in alignment. And finally, a TPU insert, in concert with the outsole’s flex grooves, makes for smoother and more efficient transitions.
The ST-5’s upper has seen a few upgrades since the last version. Utilizing Element mesh, the perforations have been enlarged in order to make this version more breathable than the last. The mesh extends all through the shoe, reaching as far as the tongue.
Synthetic overlays add structure and provide a secure fit. The interior features OrthoSock Liner technology which contains moisture-wicking abilities and anti-microbial features to promote a healthy interior environment.
Weighing in at a mere 8.6 ounces, the Racer ST-5’s weight is one of its main selling points. In fact, this is one of the features that allow the shoe to claim title as a “racer.” Not only is it suitable for racing, but it’s also a perfect for daily training sessions and quick tempo runs. And the unique identifying quality is that it addresses overpronation, something that many race-inspired shoes cannot claim.
With the mesh material upgrades, the Racer ST-5 has the ability to breathe through every angle. Take a good look at it and the entire shoe looks like it’s made out of fishnet fabric. Like weight, breathability is another key highlight and something that is highly important for a racing shoe. Faster runs produce more energy, and more energy produces more heat. This calls for a more aggressive cooling system. That’s precisely the intent of having larger perforations in the mesh. Larger holes means air can enter the interior with greater force. Additionally, keeping your feet dry and cool are enhanced by the moisture-wicking features of the interior.
With exceptional breathing capabilities and internal comfort, there’s no question that feet will be more than happy to reside inside a pair of ST-5s. The mesh material allows for a consistent airflow to penetrate the inside which keep your feet fresh and dry. In fact, internal comfort is so good that many runners are comfortable enough to go sock-less
With cushioning, the verdict is still up for question. There is plenty of cushion for some runners but given the fact that this is a shoe built around speed and responsiveness, it may feel too firm for some. It’s soft but not extremely flexible. Also, the high drop offset can make for an awkward feeling ride.
Structurally, the shoe doesn’t look like much of a racer. With a mid-profile height and larger heel to toe drop, it reflects the appearance of traditional shoe. It also appears much heavier than it really is. Color combinations are limited but the available offerings consist of bright neon hues and yellows. The interesting color combos make up for its less than exciting structural appeal.
A runner can expect to get some descent mileage out of the ST-5. There is no question that the outsole is fairly thick and aggressive but some users felt that it wore off too quick. It could be that the harder impact from fast tempo runs puts more pressure on the outsole, causing premature wear and tear. But generally speaking, construction materials on the Racer ST-5 are acceptably durable and should allow for a lifespan of over 300 miles before a replacement is necessary.
Purposed as a stability trainer, a shoe like the Racer ST-5 will be more protective by nature. With features like a pod configuration and flex grooves on the outsole, the ST-5 helps a runner stay in alignment and maintain efficiency during the gait cycle. The shoe’s DBR, or diagonal roll bar, works as a barrier for the medial side of the foot and serves as protection against over pronation. HydroFlow ST Gel adds heel stability and offers an extra layer of cushion that your joints will be thankful for. And finally, the shoe’s Ortho Sockliner protects the skin against irritation,
germs, and any related issues.
As with all race-inspired shoes, responsiveness plays an important role. These types of shoes are outfitted with firm midsoles that bounce off the ground with greater force than their plushier counterparts
. The Racer ST-5 is no exception to the rule and most users can vouch for its exceptional responsiveness on the road. In addition, the combination of light weight construction and a responsive midsole results in a fiery burst of energy that any speedy runner will appreciate.
Arch support is medium height. And with the the rear portion of the midsole being considerably taller than the rest, most support is focused on the heel. Closer to the mid-foot and forefoot areas, support relies mostly on the outsole’s pod configuration unit. On the upper, the overlay system wraps around securely, thus providing a lateral form of structure and support for the top of the foot. In essence, the Racer ST-5 provides support in every direction, horizontally and vertically, ensuring that the foot can stay as straight as an arrow during running.
With a full contact outsole outfitted with carbon rubber, the Racer ST-5 is mostly meant for the road. But it can also work on a light trail where the lugs can be of good use. The outsole has a fairly complex construction so we see no reason why couldn’t preform well over some mild to moderate uneven terrain. With exceptional traction, a runner can expect good grip over wet surfaces. However, it’s not a waterproof shoe, so if you plan to tackle a wet road, it’s probably best to do so after the storm.
The shoe has since been discontinued and the Brooks Asteria
has replaced the Racer ST-5. This is both good and bad for anyone who wants to get their hands on a pair of ST-5’s for the reason that choices are limited but deep discounts are to be found.
In fact, price is another plus for this shoe. Even during its initial release, Brooks maintained a reasonably inexpensive price tag, below $100, for what amounts to be a technologically advanced shoe. Now that it has been discontinued, you can find the Racer ST-5 for as low as the $50-$60 range.
It’s not often that you get a road shoe with a few lugs scattered on the outsole. It’s always a nice added bonus as lugs generally enhance the experience of road running for the added safety and security of additional traction. Not only do you have grip from rubber’s natural qualities but you also have lugs that gnaw against the surface and ensure that you don’t slip. This is precisely what you have with the Racer ST-5 — a thick outsole that gives you grip and traction through its rubber components and wise use of lugs, all of which give a runner added peace of mind.
Just like responsiveness is a critical factor for race-inspired shoes, flexibility is just as vital. A faster pace means that a runner needs more mobility. In the ST-5, mobility is aided by the shoe’s flex grooves located on the outsole, which also help with making transitions more efficient. As far as the upper is concerned, some users feel that the toe box is too constricted.
As mentioned at the top of this review, most racing trainers are built with the neutral runner in mind and not the overpronator. This is what makes the ST-5 a special find in that it’s a racer built for the overpronator, and it’s done through the use of technological components like Stable Pod Configuration and HydroFlow ST Gel, both of which provide stability and support.
Forefoot height measures 16 mm and heel height measures 28 mm, resulting in a 12 mm drop. It’s a large drop offset with the heel being significantly higher than the remainder of the shoe. Such a high drop measurement will not work well for neutral runners who will find the height differential awkward-feeling, especially on flat even terrain. The differential is less noticeable over uneven surfaces.
Key Features of the Brooks Racer ST 5
Key Features of the Brooks Racer ST 5
• Stability trainer designed for racing and tempo runs
• Light weight construction
• Breathable Element Mesh upper
• Stable Pod Configuration for stability
• Flex Grooves for better transitions
• BioMoGo DNA midsole made from biodegradable materials
• HydroFlow ST Gel for added heel stability and protection
• OrthoSock Liner with moisture wicking and anti-microbial properties
The biggest caveat on the ST-5 is the drop differential. It’s unclear why Brooks felt it was so necessary to make the heel unit so high. Not only does it affect neutral runners but the average runner may feel the difference between the forefoot and rear to be noticeably uneven.
But setting that part aside, what we have in the Racer ST-5 is a shoe that plays a role as a hybrid between a racing flat and a traditional stability shoe. This places it in a distinct category among other similar stability racers like Saucony’s Kinvara 7
. It’s the type of shoe that retains racing characteristics through the implementation of light-weight construction and a midsole platform that produces a lot of energy. At the same time, it provides guidance, support, stability, and motion control, making it ideal for overpronators and runners who require some help with their running stride.