The Launch 9 is a neutral daily road trainer, designed to be lightweight, streamlined and responsive, used for everyday runs and also race day. It is a mid range shoe price-wise, and towards the lower end in the Brooks’ range, available in variety of sizes, with some available in narrow and wide fit too.
For runners requiring a stability trainer, Brooks have also added a virtually identical version with Guiderails, or GTS (Go-To-Support) for added structure, which is simply the addition of a mid foot support band. As a neutral runner I have been running in the standard Launch 9 for the purpose of this review.
Brooks Launch 9 First Impressions
My first impression of the Launch 9 was great: super lightweight in the hand and on the foot, high quality, premium materials with good construction and attention to detail.
The fit was slightly on the smaller side both length and width-wise, despite sizing up vs regular shoes. This has loosened up slightly after a month of wear, but for longer runs, I’d consider adding another half size up if I was to purchase again.
My first run was a warm 10km along a road and canal path about 8km in I could feel blisters on the inside of the arch of my feet on both sides. The next time I ran these blisters had disappeared and hadn’t reappeared, so it may have just been a case of getting used to them and my fault for pushing it a little too far on the first run.
Looks-wise these shoes are unmistakably Brooks- loud garish block colorways, and bright patterns, and are as bright today as the day I took them out of the box.
Brooks Launch 9 Sole Unit
The Sole unit in the Launch 9 uses Brooks BioGoDNA midsole foam, with a 10mm drop. I generally prefer a cushioned but not squidgy running shoe, and to me this felt a great bouncy balance.
The heel was cushioned with good shock absorption on impact and transitioned well to the forefoot for a powerful toe-off. This was exacerbated by the high heel drop, which also took the pressure off my joints for a smooth run, and didn’t feel too high or unstable even on more rocky terrain.
It’s not the most exciting foam out and didn’t feel like it was a game-changer for my running, but it’s difficult to find fault so far, it simply gets the job done.
If you’re looking for a softer, more plush ride consider the Brooks Ghost range, but for a faster more responsive run, the foam in the Launch 9 is spot on. It also felt good for gym workouts with bodyweight movements due to this slightly firmer foam.
The outsole is made of Green Rubber which is a new compound composed of silica instead of petroleum rubber which is much more sustainable and better for the planet.
The rubber outsole gives full coverage of the midsole but with lots of segments, grooves, and ridges to give good flexibility and movement in the foot, whilst adding to the stability in the ride. There were no problems with grip or traction on a wide range of surfaces, and it’s showing hardly any wear after 50 miles.
Brooks Launch 9 Upper Unit
The upper is a fine engineered mesh, with minimal overlays and no seams to give a streamlined look. The mesh features a variety of densities with a small amount of stretch give structure and support in some areas. This did cause some rubbing on the first run on the medial side of my foot, possibly due to the shoe being on the narrow side. I didn’t find the material the most breathable and my feet were warm even just wearing the shoes to run errands in.
The tongue is thin, flat and curved anatomically around the top of the foot. This has a slightly plasticy feel with a suede lining which gets quite warm out on a run. On the top of the tongue runs two padded inserts to raise the laces up and give comfort to the foot without adding unnecessary weight.
The heel counter is well padded, yet high and rigid but this gave no problems with rubbing or slipping even from the first wear, but something to consider if you prefer a softer heel counter.
The flat laces stayed in place well during runs and workouts despite being on the shorter side. They also have the added feature of two extra eyelets at the top to adjust the fit accordingly around the top of the foot and heel, although this makes the laces abit too short and difficult to tie.
Overall the upper performed well and the seamfree fit meant the shoe was very comfortable after being broken in on the first couple of runs, if a little warm. Similar to the sole, durability is great and I can see this shoe lasting a long time, giving good value for money.
Brooks Launch 9 Conclusion
After my mixed first impressions of the Launch 9, I’ve come to the decision they’re a good solid running shoe.
One I’m super excited to put on and go for a run in and beat my pb? No.
One that I’m confident I can maintain a good pace in, feel comfortable and provide adequate cushioning? Yes.
Add to this durability which you’re not going to get in some brand’s newer foams and this could be a great, reliable shoe for you to go for.
The durability of both the upper and sole unit gives the Launch 9 a good score for value for money, and this will be a shoe I keep coming back to brighten up runs on dull days.
One thing I love about Brooks is their 90-day money-back guarantee so you can really put them to the test yourself and return them if you don’t love them, so for this alone, I’d definitely say they’re worth a try. (This was true buying them directly with Brooks on their website – check your retailer!!)
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Brooks Launch 9 at Brooks.com with our own money.