Bizarre looking shoe, but surprisingly stable feel on the road
two minute review
The Brooks Aurora-BL is a limited edition neutral running shoe that’s all about the looks. It’s certainly striking, with a split sole design, masses of squashy nitrogen-injected foam, and a translucent upper that lets the whole world see and judge the condition of your socks.
With a sizable toebox, and a good, secure grip on the heel, it’s also comfortable to wear. Just be careful not to tie the laces too tight, or you risk putting pressure on the middle of your foot, where the sole is torn.
What’s most surprising about the Aurora-BL isn’t its space-age look (complete with nitrogen injection port), but how normal it feels to run in. Thick cushioning provides a measure of bounce, but the lack of stiff midsole means it feels more stable and less springy than many similar squishy shoes.
As a showcase for what’s possible, it’s certainly a success, and we look forward to seeing what elements Brooks chooses to bring to its mainstream lines in the future.
price and availability
The Brooks Aurora-BL is a limited edition, with only 25,000 pairs being released. It was released in June 2021, priced at $200 / £180 (about AU$260) directly from Brooks and third-party retailers.
Brooks Aurora-BL certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste. It was developed by the company’s Blue Line Lab—essentially an experimental R&D department—that works on new materials and manufacturing techniques to get you on your feet as quickly as possible.
Ahead of the shoe’s launch, Nerdshala spoke to Brooks Blue Line senior manager Nikhail Jain, who explained that its look was inspired by the space suit, and will definitely be a ‘love it or hate it’ look.
We’re leaning east, for the sheer adventure madness of it all. Its most striking feature is the split sole, which is made from two thick pieces of DNA loft foam. It’s a new material for Brooks, consisting of EVA foam and rubber, injected with nitrogen instead of air (as the ‘port’ on the heel informs you). There’s a precious little outsole between this foam and the road, so we definitely wouldn’t recommend this shoe for wet conditions or for accumulating in severe miles.
Its upper mesh is almost transparent around the toe, which means your socks are clearly visible. Cracked tongues are very thin, but flat laces mean they shouldn’t be pressed against the top of your foot unless fastened too tightly. Wearing tight laces will also put pressure on the soles of your feet, causing splitting in the soles, so take care.
In case you can’t easily identify, the heel has a large area of Proviz-style reflective material that keeps glare at night. It’s a smart, practical feature that we wouldn’t mind seeing employed on more Brooks shoes in the future.
Split souls are not a completely new concept, although they are commonly seen in dance shows, where freedom of movement is of paramount importance and you need to be able to pivot on the spot. Here, the intention is to let your foot move more freely. A couple of off-road shoes have employed a similar design before, allowing runners to choose their way through technical trails and sneak among tree roots, but it’s beautiful for road shoes. is novel.
Despite its pretty appearance, what impressed us most about the Brooks Aurora-BL was how Simple it felt. You won’t be able to feel the articulation in the sole when walking, and its width means the overall feeling is one of stability.
This is not a shoe for speed sessions or race day. The foam is definitely soft and squashy, but without the rigors of a shoe like the super-squishy Asics Novablast Tokyo, none of that shoe’s springiness is there. It has advantages and disadvantages: It doesn’t feel as responsive, but it doesn’t feel shaky at similarly slow speeds.
We have doubts about the durability of the laces in the long run, as there is no stitching around the eyelets and they tend to stick when pulled through the plastic mesh. It’s not the happiest sound in the world. Likewise, we don’t anticipate running the console before you walk directly onto the foam, at the very least.
After all, the Brooks Aurora-BL is a shoe to behold. It looks cool, and that’s exactly the point. It should also serve to help Brooks refine its manufacturing techniques. We expect to see this specific type of super-light nitrogen-infused foam in shoes of the future, but perhaps in a more traditional form.
buy it if
you are in the mood for fun
The Brooks Aurora-BL is about to get your attention, and will be a great point to talk with other runners.
you want to peek into the future
While this extreme design isn’t intended to go mainstream, it shows off some of the same techniques that Brooks is hoping to use in the upcoming shoes, which have been developed in its Blue Line lab.
don’t buy it if
Are you looking for longevity
There’s not much between the road and the middle console, and the mesh scrapes against the upper laces, so we wouldn’t want to put too many miles into the Aurora-BL.
you need speed
A split sole means your foot doesn’t roll over like it would in a shoe with a tight midsole, resulting in a less springy ride despite the hefty amount of foam.
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