The Brooks Bedlam is the missing link in stability as we know it—and a preface for what is to come.
The word “bedlam” is synonymous with “confusion” and “uproar,” as well as “pandemonium,” “furor,” and my personal favorite, “rumpus.” Brooks’s new shoe was bestowed this title—so what’s in a name? The trainer is equal parts familiar and anomalous. Like its siblings, the Levitate 2 and Ricochet, the Bedlam has a knit upper, cushy DNA Amp midsole, and a ribbed heel collar. But a burrito tongue (so named because it’s attached on one side and wraps over the foot) and a GuideRails stability system will cause even Brooks aficionados to wonder who’s this new kid on the block?
The GuideRail in the Bedlam is much like the original Transcend’s, and can be considered a precursor for what is to come: Stability that focuses on knee alignment, with a “coupling system” (an outer rail on the outsole keeps the calcaneus (heel) from rotating outward and putting torque on the knee). In early autumn, Brooks introduced an evolved version of the GuideRails system in the Bedlam; it’s the same support system concept used in the original Transcend. This new stability system is a paradigm shift from what was once believed: that the runner’s gait needed correcting and a medial post in the outsole would solve that. At the Runner’s World International Shoe Summit, senior product line manager Jon Teipen introduced the new system as similar to the bumpers in a bowling alley, with your foot being the ball.
Though the Bedlam’s stability will soon be a remnant of the past (the new Adrenaline GTS 19 debuts an updated GuideRails support system that’s lighter and even more subtle), testers found the support they on their runs. Said a tester, “Very stable and decent support for an overpronator who doesn’t need much cushion.”
One issue that most of our testers agreed on was sizing. The Bedlam is a comfortable, albeit slightly bulky stability shoe, but runners may want to go half a size down trying it out
Similar to the Levitate (BUY MEN’S or BUY WOMEN’S) the Bedlam has a weighty feel, yet delivers on its line’s promise: high energy return. “I liked the responsiveness of the shoe,” said a tester. “Despite being slightly heavier than previous models I have worn, these shoes did not feel too heavy.” Brooks’s DNA Amp midsole delivers energy back to the runner; despite the heft, testers were shocked by the “springy” ride on their runs.
Stability was also a standout feature for our testers. “The GuideRails system seems to achieve what was intended and provides support without adding a lot of weight,” said a tester.
The outsole has an arrow-point tread pattern for quick heel-to-toe transition. Most testers had no issue with traction, finding easy footing on wets roads. “These shoes can take a beating—trail, rocks, etc.—and still hold up,” said a tester. “Great traction. Ran in the rain with these and wasn’t worried about slipping at all.”
The shoe has an internal bootie for a cozy feel, a ribbed heel collar that hugs your heel and will keep your sock up, and a heel pad that protects you from irritation. Testers liked the burrito tongue, which made putting on and taking off the Bedlam easy. However, some reported rubbing due to the tongue’s length.
Testers—including myself—found the sizing of the Bedlam slightly off. Despite having a wide foot, I had to tighten the laces because of the loose fit and some foot sliding, which seemed to solve the problem.
We put each shoe through real-world usage and a battery of mechanical tests in our lab to provide you with objective—and exclusive—data. In addition to a shoe’s weight, we measure sole thickness (everything that sits between your foot and the road), how well the foam cushions your stride, and the flexibility of the forefoot. All this is taken into account in our reviews of each shoe.