This affordable neutral trainer is lightweight with just enough cushioning to go long—and fast.
The RW Takeaway: The Launch 6 is a neutral road shoe that’s lightweight yet amply cushioned for longer distance racing.
- An updated midsole with more foam in the forefoot.
- BioMoGo DNA provides a bouncy ride.
- A one-piece breathable seamless upper.
Weight: 266g (M), 218g (W)
The Launch is somewhat of an underdog in the Brooks family of neutral trainers. It tends to be outshined by the luxuriously plush Glycerin and ever-enduring Ghost. (In turn, its stability twin, the Ravenna, loses limelight to the Transcend and Adrenaline.) The Launch’s purpose is two-fold. First, it’s an affordable shoe for beginner runners looking for a neutral trainer that doesn’t hit extremes, i.e., it doesn’t feel like a marshmallow, nor does it skimp on softness. One wear tester referred to them as her “Goldilocks shoes.”
“They were just right in many ways,” she said. “They felt light but not minimal, cushioned without being squishy. I would feel very comfortable racing anything from a 5K to a marathon in these shoes.”
This segues into the Launch 6’s second strength: a reliable trainer for long distance racing. Brooks added a little more foam in the forefoot of the midsole for a springier feel. Pair that bouncy ride with a new sleek and seamless upper, and you have a flexible, lightweight trainer that can take on long, hard efforts up to 42 km’s without skimping on cushioning.
More Foam, More Spring
The Launch 6 is a part of the Brooks Energize line, yet absent from its midsole is DNA Amp, a TPU/PU midsole that provides more rebound—but adds more weight. Instead, the Launch has a strictly BioMoGo DNA midsole, which doesn’t tack on extra ounces. This left some testers wanting more cushioning, especially those who prefer the pillowy softness of the Glycerin. Those who liked the moderate cushioning, favoured the Launch for its lightweight and faster feel.
Two things to note about the Launch 6’s outsole is the X-shaped tread under the arch that helps with smooth heel-to-toe transitions and its surprisingly reliable traction.
Tested on icy pavement, rainy runs, and over some grass and cinder paths, we were shocked at how the seemingly average outsole can have an enough grip without being sticky, and instill confidence no matter the weather conditions. Said one tester, “I think the design is very simple—and it works.”
The Launch 6 has a one-piece upper that feels like a second skin over your feet. Brooks tends to run small, so we recommend going half a size up for more toe room. We liked the flexibility of the shoe after toe-off, and experienced no hot spots or blisters. The only minor complaint—at least for heel strikers—was that the heel felt a bit stiff. The heel would eventually loosen up and flex after a mile or so, but the ride can feel a little jarring at first.
I’m training for the Boston Marathon and have mostly switched between two shoes during my tempos: the Transcend 6 and Launch 6. The former I favor for its cushioning and guide rail system; I never knew I could appreciate a heavier shoe with built-in stability. On the other hand, running in the Launch is a whole different matter.
At first, contact on pavement was a little forceful on the Achilles (I’m an aggressive heel striker). The Launch grew on me, though; in the end, I’ve been running in it exclusively before my taper.
The shoe is ideal for gliding over pavement when you have fast turnover. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I felt like I was gaining momentum thanks to the sleek silhouette and flexible upper. The Launch also nicely blends weight and cushioning; it’s easier on the legs than running in Saucony’s Kinvara, and is as comfortable as the Transcend minus an approximate 2.5 ounces.
Running through tempestuous February and March in this shoe, I’d also say the outsole has satisfactory grip on wet roads and post-snow dusting. One thing to note is that turning corners can be sometimes a strain if your ankles are inflamed from overtraining like mine. I’d recommend switching to a more cushioned shoe or one that has more stability in the heel, as I had with the Transcend, if that’s the case.