Spring 2009 Shoe Guide

Brooks Infiniti II
Price: $125
Widths: Standard
Weight: 11.7 oz (M) 9.5 oz (W)
Contact: 800-227-6657

We Say: The one complaint about the original Infiniti was that it wrapped the foot too tightly. To address this, Brooks redesigned the upper to open up the forefoot a little more. Our testers didn't have any complaints about the fit, but many noted that the shoe felt firm underfoot. RW Lab tests reveal a soft heel and a rigid forefoot, and this rough transition results in a firm ride. This update also uses Brooks's new biodegradable midsole foam. Recommended for runners with normal arches looking for a firm-feeling everyday trainer.

Wear-Testers Say: "I liked the snug fit, but they needed more cushioning." —Debeline Holder, 43, Allentown
"They were lightweight, but there's not much cushioning in the forefoot." —Pat Logghe, 33, East Lansing

Etonic Jepara 3 SC
Price: $110
Widths: Standard
Weight: 12 oz (M) 10.2 oz (W)
Contact: 866-838-6642

We Say: The latest Jepara offers more support than the previous version, even though it's more flexible and significantly lighter (by 2.4 ounces). Chalk it up to lighter midsole foam. Etonic also reduced the amount of rubber cushioning material in the heel but widened the midsole plate to help spread impact forces more evenly throughout the shoe. The result is firmer cushioning, according to RW Shoe Lab tests, which is why we recommend Etonic's Jepara for bigger runners with normal arches or lighter runners who need plenty of motion control.

Wear-Testers Say: "Fantastic all-around shoe. It just worked." —Chris Hughes, 40, East Lansing
"I loved the shoe's glovelike fit." —Chantalle Battagglia, 21, East Lansing

BEST DEBUT: Karhu Strong Fulcrum Ride

Price: $140
Widths: Standard
Weight: 11.2 oz (M) 9.6 oz (W)
Contact: 877-662-7238

We Say: Unlike Karhus of the past, which tended to run small, the new Strong Ride not only fits true to size but it fits well, too. Part of the reason is a new, roomier last that's wider in the forefoot to accommodate more foot shapes. The shoe uses a carbon midfoot bridge to help smooth the transition from heel-strike to toe-off. Overall, testers liked the shoe's comfortable ride. Recommended for normal-arched runners looking for a stable trainer.

Wear-Testers Say: "This shoe was so comfortable that I looked forward to putting it on every day." —Darleen Malkames, 52, Allentown
"I had some trouble getting the right tension on the laces." —Kristopher Koster, 26, East Lansing

BEST BUY: Mizuno Wave Nexus 3

Price: $80
Widths: Standard
Weight: 11.2 oz (M) 8.9 oz (W)
Contact: 800-966-1211

We Say: The Nexus offers decent stability with few frills. Mizuno has made only minor adjustments to the latest version. Most notably, it added a longer Wave plate and new midsole foam to provide the foot with a fluid transition through toe-off. Mizuno also lined the upper with softer material to reduce irritation. Our testers didn't comment on the ride as much as they did about the ample room in the toebox, noting that even with the added volume, the shoe did not feel sloppy. We recommend this as a solid everyday trainer for runners who prefer lighter shoes.

Wear-Testers Say: "I loved the spaciousness of the toebox." —Chad Austin, 38, San Diego
"They felt lightweight and breathable." —John Limpar, 31, Allentown

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