We are at that stage in the evolution of running shoes that a sub Rs 10,000 price point doesn’t guarantee success. Purely because the competition in this price bracket is now more robust than ever before, and no one can rest on laurels and “value”. This is why the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy (it is a long name for sure) isn’t going to glide into the stores and straight into your heart. The latest running shoe from Reebok is a part of their more affordable line, but does it have the style and substance to tick off the checklist? Remember, this comes just after the radical and brilliant Sole Fury line-up.
For starters, the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy priced at Rs 9,999 is going into battle against the UA Hovr Sonic2 (around Rs 9,000), the Nike Free RN 5.0 (around Rs 8,000) and the Skechers Go Run 7 (Around Rs 9,000), all of whom are very competent running shoes in their own right. Reebok is jumping into this battle with simplicity as the foundation. A thick midsole cushion, a universally acceptable upper, keep the weight down and good grip levels from the outsole. There are no revolutionary changes, no gimmicks and no claims of revolutionising running shoes. The Reebok Forever Floatride Energy is all about keeping the convention going, and that perhaps helps it appeal to more age demographics than some of the other running shoes claim to redefine the definitions every time a new shoe comes along.
From the outset, the design and the bulk of the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy looks like a traditional running shoe. No experimentations with the design of the upper, the thickness of the mid-sole and the lacing systems. Everything is what and where you would expect from a running shoe that doesn’t pose a learning curve. This is a good and a bad thing. Good because familiarity is what comforts a lot of people. Yet at the same time, standing still when the rivals are experimenting could be a bit of an issue. The engineered mesh upper fits well around the contours of the foot yet provides enough room and breathing space. The toe box doesn’t narrow as much as you might assume looking at the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy from the outside, which is great for the comfort yet. This is a single knit upper which has midfoot reinforcement on the outside and support for the heel. Even if you aren’t wearing socks, there are no seams on the inside of this upper that would irritate you.
The only real issue with the design is the narrower than usual tongue, and if it slips either side even slightly, you will have the lacing system interacting with your foot at some point.
Apart from the visual choice which Reebok has made. The insert at the back of the Forever Floatride Energy, perhaps as a design choice, has been left to look like an add-on. And it does. The dual colour theme is also quite jarring, and not that we haven’t seen colour themes working together on running shoes before, this just doesn’t feel that pleasing and seamless. That is irrespective of which colorway you pick. I really can’t put my finger on it, but something looks odd. Yet you need to remember that even with these overlays, this isn’t a heavily reinforced shoe. It is a nice mid-pace runner, and very versatile at other times but if speed is your primary concern, you’ll be left wanting more.
Slip your foot in, and what sits beneath is a generously thick cushioned midsole. Reebok calls this Floatride Foam, but this is slightly different from some of the more expensive Floatride shoes. This is not Pebax foam, but instead, is expanded polyurethane. Adidas apparently also has a similar material in some of the Boost soles in their shoes, but the Reebok implementation just looks a lot better on the outside as well—not everyone wants their shoes to look like the thermocol from the packaging is still clinging on because you’ve been absent-minded. Nevertheless, whatever the pedantics of the matter, the similarities do exist. But then again, that could just be me and I really don't know everything. This definitely is also much lighter which runners would appreciate in the long run. It also doesn’t feel the same, because it has smaller and denser packaging of the expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) beads which have their own advantages. The primary one being the balance of softness while running. And then there is carbon rubber.
The Forever Floatride Energy feels soft and comfortable when you are running without the foot ever feeling isolated or in need of feedback from the running surface. Yet this somehow tightens up when you are not to provide that much more confidence in terms of foot stability, and that is good because the foot doesn’t feel like its sunk-in. There is good support for the foot all through, and I did not notice any roll. Reebok hasn’t done much experimentation with the outsole on the Forever Floatride Energy which means this is a full-length contact implementation. The grip levels are good though only Father Time will testify to how long this will last of you run on rougher surfaces.
There is no doubt that the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy is a great every day running shoe that ticks off the comfort and design checklist. Good grip levels too. But you will be often reminded of the thin tongue, and some may even argue that the collar sits a bit higher than some other running shoes—though this is subjective. At first glance, it doesn’t look quite visually appealing. Yet the fine improvements while retaining the conventionality is its strongest point. Reebok has made a fine impression with the Forever Floatride Energy.