Carbon Fiber Plate Sneakers: The Ultimate Guide
Is it worth buying a pair of shoes with a carbon fiber plate? Why is the carbon plate so important in a running shoe?
Why are almost all the major brands now releasing models that incorporate this element? Is the benefit it brings to the generated media noise in proportion? And the amount of money that the shoes that use this technical resource are worth?
Many questions, some easy to answer, others not so much and others that are subjective to the fullest. I am going to try to synthesize this information somewhat to see if it is possible to shed some light on so much “noise” that floats in the environment.
Carbon Fiber Plate Sneakers: Properties and Benefits
Many times I refer to "the battle for the midsoles" as the place where the prestige (and sales) of all Running brands are played. The look of the shoe (a purchase trigger) is important, but whoever is willing to spend the real money is also going to be picky, and in the midsole more. Without trying to get too involved, it must be said that this part of the shoe is responsible or has direct influence on such important characteristics as cushioning, stability, energy return, reactivity, elastic memory, durability, flexibility, lightness…, And, in some models where it is perforated, even for breathability and / or fluid drainage.
There are many ways to get all of that, but what a carbon fiber plate primarily does is to increase or at least improve the response of the cushioned material of the midsole. It helps it to compress due to the effect of the runner's fall on the shoe when running and to expand later, more quickly and efficiently, taking advantage of part of the energy produced when running and focusing it on launching the next stride.
Too improves stability, distributing the runner's pressure in a more supportive way by the midsole, in addition to controlling the rotation of the ankle and that the metatarsals are forced (and tire) less.
Price, costs and marketing
Brands are already surrendered to the fact that this is an important push in sales and, those that can pay the best athletes (those who win races, championships or break world records), need to do it with their models to win or maintain prestige and… sales.
The truth is that the tests carried out by the brands themselves in their tests say that yes, there is a benefit. In fact, one of them put "4%" as part of the name of one of its models after its own measurements evaluated in that percentage, the benefit obtained from using that new model, with that resource, compared to his best competition shoe in recent years.
A lot of investment in R&D that brands have to recover and multiply later. For this, there are their marketing departments, which have made, do, and will make the maximum amount of media noise to meet the objectives set for them in each of their firms. Among them the palm of the attempt (first) takes the palm, and later achievement of the descent of the two hours in marathon, regardless of whether it cannot be homologated or whatever…. They didn't care. They wanted the data for history, but above all, the worldwide impact they achieved and that was greater than many incredible world records or Olympic feats throughout history.
A lot of money at stake and also a lot of money in the shoes. The most expensive they have ever made… And by far. And it's not just because of that badge. She alone is not worth the total amount to pay. It is a domino effect: you cannot put a technologically advanced material and cover it with cardboard or whatever waste is left by the raw materials warehouse. In the end, this technology forces to put around the best material for the midsole, the best solid or blown rubber compound in the sole, and the best design and materials for the upper cut of the shoe. And achieve it all with benefits.
Plaque slippers: Who are they for?
Which leads us to wonder if it is worth spending € 200, € 250, € 300 (The most expensive ones are already going around, and going up ...). Personally, I think that only those who receive a clear and direct contribution should bet on this type of footwear. Professionals, those who are in the process of doing it or dreaming about it, of course. Those who are not, but fight for good rankings, even podiums or other types of rewards in territorial championships or even the clock in local races, could also justify it. Pursuing a personal brand (which perhaps no one cares about, but someone does, which is what counts), a brand that resists time and time again…, perhaps it could also enter into that justification.
I'm running out of justifications, although there are already a good handful of people who I think can feel identified with each other ... and who, of course, are willing to make that important expense. Also those who want to wear the latest or the best just because and who have not understood (or do not care) that, in the end, more than the arrow, what really matters is the archer (without training, there are no miracles).
Anything goes to want to know what it feels like to have that type of shoe on your feet.
Carbon fiber plate running shoes - featured models
And to make it clear what type of shoes I'm talking about, here is a good selection of how the patio is in terms of models of shoes with carbon fiber plates.
NEW BALANCE FUELCELL TC
With New Balance TC I am (again) before a model that has very pleasantly surprised me. For the concept (training and competition) and for the execution: without leaving a single detail.
Well, it is a sneaker concept that I love because it is a tremendous solution for many people who want something that has most of these things: lightness, cushioning, reactivity, response, breathability, ... But, and here comes the grace: that you can use it for both training and competition. In other words, those who only work with one shoe for everything, this one is luxurious.
Thanks to its thick midsole and the FuelCell material, it is not only indicated for low or medium weights, it could also be used by runners of high weights but always knowing that the protections of the upper are the right ones to go joyful of rhythms. Another thing to keep in mind is that, although the last is normal, the upper closes tight on the foot, something logical when talking about shoes designed to go fast, which are usually tight. The mesh gives enough in the area of the fingers so that they have freedom and ventilation. This means that whoever has a thick foot is going to be tight, and the thicker the foot, the more.
It is very difficult to find a but to this shoe. The only thing is that I have not seen it would be a strip where the laces pass on the tongue, but I understand it because they have prevailed the ventilation with some holes, which prevent a stitching at that point.
Of course, those who have to get the most out of it will be those who bet on that material of the midsole and its carbon fiber plate to go fast or very fast, more than they usually do (you have to work on it too, eh? that no shoe does the job alone). In that sense, the ideal would be to use them in training sessions where you are working on improving and consolidating your race rhythms. In competition, obviously to what is possible, although it must be said that the faster one is, the more justifies the investment, that is the part that comes now:
The official price of New Balance FuelCell TC is € 200.
NEW BALANCE FUELCELL 5820
This shoe, which I have already said is a kind of “spike shoe, but for the asphalt”, has been conceived from analyzing the fastest athletes of Team New Balance itself. It is one of the first to jump into the ring, so it must be recognized the merit of being born without being a reaction to anything or anyone, as is happening with other models from other brands that seem to be getting into the car while in motion. The aesthetic, from my point of view, is very successful and I find it beautiful, although I think I have never used that expression, not even remotely, in any shoe before.
It includes a piece of carbon fiber that adapts and flexes with the shape of the foot, but is rigid enough to return a very fast propulsion at the final moment of the transition of the footprint and that the foot prepares to stop contacting the floor. A cushioned midsole, but with high energy return capacity, is combined with an upper with a Hypoknit mesh that gives a perfect fit. The drop used is 8mm.
It is focused on asphalt races, but shorter than long, the mile being the test where it stood out as soon as it came out of the oven. I think miles, 5k and maybe 10k will be races where you can use them to get the most out of them. I don't think so for half marathon or marathon anymore, where I would look for a more structured model like FuelCell RC Elite or even FuelCell TC.
The official price of New Balance FuelCell 5280 is € 220.
NEW BALANCE FUELCELL RC ELITE
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite is a model just out of the oven that seems to be going through the details because it is very difficult to get the glove to squeeze it to see what it takes. It is a pure competition shoe, with a high energy return and designed for elite athletes or any other runner of a good level.
It's focused on running at top speed, with the FuelCell reactive foam and, obviously, the carbon fiber plate inside, to launch the stride.
Underneath, in contact with the ground, it uses a material called Dynaride. It is a very light compound that provides high grip and traction. The mesh is very open, for maximum breathability and has a somewhat aggressive look, with the NB logo spread between the toe and upper.
They have a relatively high profile to precisely take advantage of the FuelCell foam to the fullest and still keep the weight at a measly 198g.
The official price of New Balance FuelCell RC Elite is € 230.
ASICS Metaracer is a competition or flying shoe, with a construction of apparent simplicity, but that is the opposite: a sum of materials and cutting-edge technologies, applied to traditional formulas of building a competition shoe with a face and eyes.
The use of a carbon fiber plate following the curvature of the midsole and sole, in what is known as Guidesole technology helps to be more efficient in the race, reducing unnecessary ankle movements and helping to launch the next stride forward.
And it is not an alternative to other very striking models of the competition. This is a genuine model with which ASICS does not fool anyone with this flying shoe with radical overtones, but with more human performance for those who wear them. The human thing does not mean that anyone can use them. Well, anyone can buy them, but like all flyers, they are demanding for those who wear them and it is better that whoever uses them is hardened in quality training, and has a well-trained musculature to use competition shoes.
The type of tread for which it is intended is neutral (and the inner template cannot be removed). On the other hand, there is the weight of whoever uses them because, being a flier, she will always perform better with low weights or even medium weights. That to use them in distances from 5k to marathon and as long as the rhythms are fast. If the user has a high weight, perhaps the distances should be limited to 10k. For more distance, maybe they should look for a more structured shoe than this or try them, a lot, in quality training to see if it really supports them well in intensive use.
The official price of ASICS Metaracer is € 200.
NIKE AIR ZOOM ALPHAFLY NEXT%
Nike Air Zoom AlphaFly NEXT% is a technologically very advanced model designed not only to compete, but to do so at high speeds. It can be used in training sessions, but only in those that consist of series where to squeeze the rhythms or that serve to reproduce race situations. In no case for daily training. It looks big, but weighs only 210g.
The star part of AlphaFly NEXT% is the midsole, thanks to the cushioned, lightweight and reactive material that is ZoomX, the carbon fiber plate that it includes inside, and a new location of the air chambers, all for a better ride In race. The sole and upper complement a design with a radical appearance, but also a maximalist one, far from what a flyer has always represented, in that sense.
The rhythms at which to use them are the maximum that one or one of them can carry in the race, but here you do have to put a piece of information and that is that for averages greater than 3.30 ”a thousand, perhaps it is losing sense to pay what they are worth, that is not little. The distance is another thing to take into account because thanks to its exaggerated midsole, the best performance is going to be obtained in long-distance races, where the half marathon and the marathon clearly stand out.
The official price of Nike Air Zoom AlphaFly NEXT% is € 300.
NIKE AIR ZOOMX VAPORFLY NEXT%
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is the evolution of the ZoomX Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, a true bestseller. Not only from Nike, but from all of them in general, because of the commotion it raises, because of the brands of the professional athletes who wear it and because of the implantation in non-professional runners as it is possible to see in any race of more or less importance on the calendar.
This is based on a groundbreaking design, very high quality materials with great features, and a (controversial from the outset) carbon fiber plate inserted in the midsole. All this results in high performance, as its name suggests (the percentage refers directly to the profit). The midsole material is ZoomX, Nike's most advanced to date, with high cushioning, reactivity and response capabilities (the ability to be instantly ready for new compression).
On top it uses VaporWave technology, which is the sum of an engineered mesh made with Woven fabric, which is light and breathable. In addition, making it transparent gives it an even lighter touch. The laces are passed through separate eyelets, to give support but some adaptability, something that has been taken care of, such as the extra space in the toe area. The sole is quite peculiar since a good part of it is the material of the midsole itself, to reduce weight. Wear resistant rubber is only used on both sides of the heel and in the entire area under the metatarsals and toes, where grooves will favor flexibility.
The official price of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is € 275
NIKE ZOOM FLY 3
The greatest value of the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is to maintain performance in the wake of any of the Vaporfly saga, but at a much lower price. And with greater wearing comfort, which makes it a very good alternative for those who want a shoe to compete without reaching the Vaporfly prices. The weight, despite the large volume, is 274g for men and 227g for women.
And there is not so much distance with Vaporfly, since in this third installment of Zoom Fly, it includes, as in that one, a carbon fiber plate. It does so embedded in one of the highest midsoles on the grid: 34mm in the heel and 23mm in the goal area, for a drop of 11mm in the male model; and 31.5mm by 22mm, with a 9.5mm drop, in the female. By the way, the material is different, since it is React here.
The sole also “copies” Vaporfly in the sense that the material of the midsole is part of the sole in those areas where there is less wear when running. For the sides of the heel and the entire forefoot, Zoom Fly 3 does use abrasion resistant rubber, although the forefoot is softer for greater grip. Above is where you can see more changes compared to the previous version, going from Flyknit to VaporWave ... yes, like Vaporfly. The outer layer of the mesh is transparent, for aesthetic reasons (it transmits lightness) and is very flexible and adaptable. What it does not have are just reinforcements. Of course, the laces are passed through straps that go down until they are inserted into the midsole, and that distribute the tension of the lacing on both sides.
The official price of Nike Zoom Fly 3 is € 160.
ADIDAS ADIZERO ADIOS PRO
Adidas Adizero Adios PRO is a competition shoe at the highest level. It uses a new midsole where several exceptional elements stand out: a material based on EVA called LightStrike that is cushioned, with high rebound capacity and very light; some carbon rods that run under the phalanges and will help in the tread and in launching the stride; a carbon fiber plate that will help in the transition, also providing stability; and a Nylon strip just above that plate, improving wearing comfort.
The ultralight and breathable Celermesh mesh will hold the foot, while traction and grip are provided by a new sole without studs.
The runners who want to use this shoe (the same, since it is unisex), should be those who seek to run to the maximum, to the limit, to improve their records or positions in the race. Obviously it should go even at any rate below 4 'per thousand and from there to approach, or even lower, 3' per kilometer. Those who want to use it at more placid rates should be aware that they may not be taking advantage of all that they have paid for it.
The sneakers of the Adizero family are the fine cinnamon of Adidas, and this Adios PRO, the weapon to fight the throne, to other brands, of the best competition shoe in the world, both professionally and amateurishly.
The official price of Adidas Adizero Adios pro is € 195.95.
ADIDAS ADIZERO PRO
Adidas Adizero PRO is a competition or flying shoe of only 235gr and that stands out for the use, for the first time at adidas, of a carbon fiber plate in the midsole to help efficiency in the race.
This plate is combined with a midsole in which two different materials are used: Boost and LightStrike. Both have damping properties, but the former with a high rebound capacity and the latter with lightness. The difference in height in the midsole provides a drop of 8.5mm. Underneath, on the sole, two compounds are used: Continental® tire brand rubber and QuickStrike DSP, a derivative of EVA injected in the form of fine and incisive studs. If we go to the upper cut, we see that a very fine Celermesh mesh will hold the foot lightly and with high breathability.
And although this adizero PRO has been conceived for runners of a certain level, it is within the reach of any runner who wants to give a plus to their performance in the multiple races on the calendar. Always better if he or she has some experience and work on the legs. The pace of those who want to take them should be the maximum at which they can compete in a competition, always in search of the best performance, whatever it may be.
The official price of adidas Adizero PRO is € 179.95.
BROOKS HYPERION ELITE
Brooks Hyperion Elite wants to be the fastest shoe of the American brand. For this, it has been equipped with a midsole (8mm drop) that uses DNA Zero material around a carbon fiber plate. It is very light, since it weighs only 195gr.
DNA Zero is a non-Newtonian compound. That is, it does not behave like most materials. Applied to running, it is that the slower you go, the softer the damping, while the faster you run, the firmer it becomes, obtaining a better response.
This means that DNA adapts to the footprint of each runner. I repeat: of each runner or broker. It can be said that the shoe will respond differently depending on who sees it and how it is used. Inside the DNA Zero, Brooks has placed its carbon fiber plate, (Propulsion Plate), which helps the transition of the footprint trying to propel the foot forward and up.
As it is unisex, but the sizes are focused on men (Could that be improved, “Mr. Brooks”?), The American brand itself recommends women to order a size and a half smaller than what they usually ask for as women's shoes (a bit the equivalence with respect to men ... (they will have to do calculations).
A curious fact, but one that honors Brooks, is that they objectively calculate their use with 100% of the benefits: a range that goes from 80 to 160km. Any popular runner who puts his hands on his head, must be told that no, that is a natural distance for an ideal model for competition shoes and elite athletes who run one or two marathons a year, at most and that, for Therefore, it gives them for one or even two campaigns. They are unthinkable figures for the most common of mortals, but real for years for various models of competition shoes that only go out onto the streets to… compete.
The official price of Brooks Hyperion Elite is € 250.
HOKA ONE ONE CARBON X
The French brand Hoka One One has as its competition standard this Carbon X model where the name already makes it clear what its password is. It uses a carbon fiber plate with the clear intention that it propels its user forward, in addition to improving acceleration with each stride.
To accompany said carbon fiber plate in the midsole, it uses a compound called Profly X, which consists of a foam that is the lightest and most resistant used by Hoka One One. The sensation it provides is that of a soft footprint, but with a high responsiveness. In construction, it also uses a wide base that helps a stable footprint.
The upper has very smooth lines and uses large holes in the toe area and on the sides for good ventilation. On the back, on the heel, they have included a strap to facilitate putting on, if someone finds it difficult to pass the foot and everything wrapped in some elaborate embroidery whose function is not merely aesthetic, but is responsible for reinforcing the hold of the ankle by the heel.
The natural place to use it will be the asphalt, the design of the sole says so, and the type of tread is neutral, for a midsole with a 5mm drop. The weight in the male finish is 246gr, while in the female it is 204gr.
The official price of the Hoka One One Carbon X is € 180.
HOKA ONE ONE EVO CARBON ROCKET
Hoka One One Evo Carbon Rocket is a very light model that happens to be the most aggressive of all the French brand. Its appearance is robust, thanks to a superior cut with a sturdy-looking mesh, but that does not penalize at all in weight as attested by a scant 218gr for a finish that is unisex.
Although it does not reach 30mm of separation from the ground (it is not much, considering that Hoka is one of the precursors of maximalism), what is surprising is that the drop is only 1mm, not usual in shoes where or some Few have zero, or all of the rasto, the vast majority, and they are already going up from a few millimeters onwards. But one, just a millimeter, you see very little.
The material used here is Profly, which is the one that gives that spongy touch, but with response and the design is focused on runners with a neutral tread. Inside is where the carbon fiber plate has been embedded. Underneath, on the sole, a solid rubber compound is used which, due to its thickness, is not clear if it is the sole, or part of the midsole in contact with the ground. Despite hinting at flex grooves, they really don't have to work much if the fibreboard is to leverage precisely.
On top, the upper is built in a single piece, but in two layers: the outer very thin, transparent, and the inner full of generous holes for breathability.
The official price of the Hoka One One Evo Carbon Rocket is € 160.
SAUCONY ENDORPHIN PRO
Saucony also has a model with a carbon fiber plate. This is Endorphin Pro, produced from the work experience of the American brand, on other previous competition models and the intervention of some of its elite athletes (but who focus it on the use of any runner who dares to they). With just 213gr in the male finish and 179gr in the female, it seems that it will facilitate improving marks.
The names with which Saucony defines its technologies are sometimes not very intuitive, so it must be explained that PWRRun PB is the material with which the midsole is built and where the carbon fiber plate is inserted. By the way, the midsole has an 8mm drop. With Speedroll, Saucony aims to raise the toe to make it easier for the tread to rock further forward in the final part of the transition.
The general line is quite smooth and transmits having a lot of concentrated material in the midsole. Above, a mesh made with 3D Overview technology is used to obtain a fairly tight and ventilated upper. The side gusset is the Saucony logo itself. It is crowned with flat laces passed through six eyelets, leaving a seventh free for those who want a greater tightening.
The sole is one of the striking points of this Endorphin Pro, as it has a massive cast of the resistant rubber from the midfoot to the heel. The American brand has only left solid rubber covered the entire part of the metatarsals and toe (with arrow-shaped studs) and the outer edge of the entire heel. They are areas of high traction, the first, and high wear the second, hence Saucony saves on material, but not in those areas.
The official price of Saucony Endorphin Pro is € 200.
SKECHERS GORUN SPEED ELITE HYPER
Skechers always has a model that stands out when it comes to conducting competitions. Currently that honor goes to GORun Speed Elite Hyper, a stylized sneaker that is very radical in terms of low weight since it stays at a measly 170gr, both for men and women since it is unisex.
It is designed to provide a quick transition and use the benefits of a plate inserted in the material of the Hyper Burst midsole: cushioned and light.
Underneath, on the sole, we find another jewel in the form of a solid rubber compound produced by Goodyear, the famous tire manufacturer, now serving the American brand. Thus, the resistant rubber is distributed mainly in the area under the metatarsals and the big toe and, behind, on the outer edge of the heel. Skechers only places it in such limited areas because solid rubber is one of the heaviest elements in a running shoe. Saving it on the rest of the sole contributes to that low total weight.
Midfoot Strike is the technology of the midsole that helps the user to be more efficient in the tread. By the way, the heights are 23mm at the heel and 19mm at the forefoot, which gives a resulting drop of 4mm.
The official price of Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper is € 190.
ON RUNNING CLOUDBOOM
On Running did not want to be left out of what it is to have a competition shoe with a carbon fiber plate and has created this Cloudboom. This young brand, created by ex-athletes (old beasts of the asphalt with many podiums under their belt), lacked a model that would rise above the rest of its catalog. He designs it for any fast race that takes place on asphalt, even the marathon if that is the case.
A Speedboard plate, located between the midsole and the sole (with those big clouds + studs that keep you off the ground) benefits from the use of the Helion material (a high-performance foam) with which CloudTec is manufactured, the cushioned material. One layer of CloudTec is passed over and one under the board and… the chassis is already assembled!
At the top, the mesh is very light and engineering is used in its elaboration to obtain not only great breathability but also good temperature control. The sole uses the pressure zones under the “clouds”, to use small but incisive studs to pull very well on the asphalt, its natural surface.
The tread for which it is focused is the neutral one in a midsole that uses a 9mm drop. The weight is quite low, being 225g in their case and 185g in theirs.
The official price of On Running Cloubboom is € 199.95.