12 April 2018

Road review: Reebok Harmony Road 2

The 'Bok?

As in a running 'Bok?

Yup.

Having formerly been an employee of Nike in my twenties I recall Reebok being a bit of the 'also ran' of the sports-and-fitness world ... not quite a heavy hitter like Adidas, but had still enough of a recognizable presence that people would think of the brand when it came to athletic shoes.  We wouldn't quite snicker at their employees, but we wouldn't give them much thought either.

Well, Reebok has managed to hang around all these years.  The Union Jack logo has gone, and they've also found a new niche for themselves:  the CrossFit revolution.  They've also managed to snag an exclusive contract with one of the world's fastest growing professional sport associations, the UFC.  And now they're returning to the culture of running.

After a few notable attempts with the "Zig" tech design for running shoes the designers at Reebok appear to have returned to a more traditional approach to building performance running footwear - and it looks to be turning some heads.

Thanks to a friend who works with Reebok Canada's events and partnerships division I received a pair of the new Harmony Road 2 to test drive.

 Pretty!

My initial impressions as I picked them up out of the box was that they were much more shoe than I had become accustomed to wearing - and the specs bore this out as well.  At a reported 10.8oz for a men's size 9 and a stack height of 30mm-to-20mm (or 37.3mm-to-22.8mm if you take Runner's World at its word - which is it folks?!?) it is definitely one of the beefiest shoes in my rotation with the most significant heel-to-toe drop.


What contributes to it's weight?  It could be the carbon rubber applied to the outsole's 'impact zones' or the plush synthetic upper (which by the way provides a really nice wrap-feel on my foot).  But truth be told the empirical data may tell one tale while the subjective experience reveals another ... and in this case the actual ride of the shoe was not nearly as cumbersome as other shoes that I've had on which may have been equally as robust or even lighter.  My first outing in them involved a series of hill intervals with the RunNinjas and I was most pleasantly surprised at how they allowed me to pick up the pace and hold half-decent form.


The anticipation was there that a 10mm or more drop that I would find myself inadvertently heel-striking especially during easier effort segments but that didn't turn out to be a reality.  I was able to stick with a forefoot (or at worst, midfoot) strike even while going at recovery paces, which is all the more surprising given that the Harmony Road 2 doesn't quite pass the one-handed roll-into-a-ball flex test.

I cheated - pressing down against the top of my dryer!

Here's what I liked about the Harmony Road 2:
  • Looks - Call me superficial, but the simple design of the HR2 actually appeals to me.  Normally I like glitz and glam on my footwear, but something about these kicks say 'dignified' and 'efficient'.  Plus there are just enough reflective accents to help keep me safe on the roads.
  • Fit - True to size, suitably wide for some toe splay on impact, no heel slippage.
  • Feel - The upper is comfortable without any noticeable seams along the top of the foot or around the sides/edges.
  • Ride - There is an ample amount of cushioning thanks to their TriZone midsole design featuring the KOOSHRIDE TPU foam core, and it just seems nice and smooth without being marshmallowy/energy-depleting.
  • Traction - Probably due to the amount of rubber on the outsole, but add to that a decently grippy design these shoes have fared well so far even on the slushy/mildly icy surfaces that I've use to test them.
  • Durability - This is just going to be a guess of mine but based on my initial runs but there seems to me to be enough heft to this shoe to last well past 500kms of wear, so I should be keeping it in the rotation for a while.
 And what would I change?
  • Weight - This is definitely the downside of the 'traction' and 'durability' pros that I listed above ... if it could come down to something closer to 9oz. then it would be what I would consider a great everyday trainer (but then it might just have to be called the "Floatride Run" ...!).
  • Drop - As much as this doesn't feel quite like a shoe with a 10-14mm drop I believe that it would promote a better footstrike and running dynamic if it were closer to a 6mm heel-to-toe ramp.
  • Flex - The fact that the shoe doesn't pass my 'fold in half with one hand' test means that it probably isn't conducive to a full range of proprioceptive feedback via the footstrike.  I'd like my shoes to work a little more with the flex of my foot and less against it.
  • Price - At $145 CDN it's not cheap, but if it does last as long as I think that it will then it might pay for itself in the long run (no pun intended).
All things considered I would happily recommend that you give this shoe a try if you are looking for something to use for your easy run days or if you need one pair of shoes to last you a good while - I give the Harmony Road 2 a solid four footprints out of five:


Here's my video review for your entertainment:


So it looks like this player has re-entered the game ... and the other models in their current lineup (plus a crazy-light racing flat due out this summer!) lend credence to the fact that Reebok is a serious contender when it comes to what's shodding the feet of runners.  Welcome back, 'Bok!

Disclosure: I received this product from Reebok Canada at their expense but was not obliged to provide anything but an objective review. All opinions expressed (however poorly) are my own!
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