Brooks Launch 2: Mako Classic or Black Sheep?
By: Austin Bonds
I believe the title of this article fully encapsulates the persona of the Brooks Launch 2. I’ll start with some remarks on the black sheep reference. In case you need a refresher on this phrase, a black sheep references an odd or unusual person within a group. In terms of footwear, the Launch might be regarded as a black sheep when it is compared alongside the Ghost or Glycerin, both namesake shoes by Brooks that have a strong fan base. The popularity (and corresponding sales) of the Ghost, Glycerin, and other liked models led Brooks to nearly discontinue production of the Launch; however, diehard fans rallied around this favorite shoe to save it from a near certain dismissal from the fold. In 2013 the Launch was bestowed with some fresh color options, and the shoe was updated again recently. This brings me to the other reference I employed in the title, “Mako Classic,” and the significance of this badge of honor for a shoe like the Launch.
The Launch 2, like its predecessor, is a simple, lightweight shoe. The Launch 2 came to market with two color options, though more are now available (including one with lobsters on the upper part of the shoe for the city of Boston). I chose the Mako/Black color scheme because this is classy look. I can picture the iconic Frank Sinatra wearing a tuxedo with the Launch 2 on his feet. Classy meets classy. The upper of the Launch 2 has less stitching as heated overlays take on a greater presence to reduce the possibility of irritation and blisters. The toe box in version two feels slightly more spacious than the original Launch; furthermore, the tongue is softer and has some additional padding to create a plush feel on the top of the foot. This may seem to be of little note, but I’ll add that the shoe laces in the Launch 2 are flat whereas the original Launch had rounded laces. This may seem trivial, but it is a subtle way that weight can be reduced. As to the midsole, the cushioning in both the heel and the forefoot is superb. In fact, the forefoot softness reminds me of the Saucony Zealot ISO, another shoe I’m running in often right now. The Launch 2, despite being five years removed from an update, still has a solid price point of $100. And should you need some motivation to go for a run on an off day, take a look at the tips of the shoelaces. One lace says “Dig” and the other one says “Deep.” Get to it then.
Frankly, I’m not sure if any critiques can be lodged against the Launch 2, but I have seen some reviewers say that version two feels softer than version one. Also, the Launch 2 is slightly heavier than the original, though I doubt that most runners will notice the difference. A preference for softness versus firmness in a shoe will obviously vary from person to person.
In conclusion, I’d like to return to the title of this post one last time. Is the Launch 2 a Mako Classic or a Black Sheep? Perhaps this unique shoe embodies some characteristics of both labels. In light of the success of the Ghost, Glycerin, and Pure series, the Launch may be on the outside looking in; however, this shoe is also dubbed a classic by many runners as a simple but wonderfully comfortable ride for miles on end. Decide for yourself.