Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 Review: A Snappy, Plated Super Trainer

I have been an avid runner for the last nine years, for most of which I’ve also worked in running retail and been a running gear tester and writer. In short: I have tested a lot of running shoes. 

While I like a few Saucony models, I have not been a fan of the Endorphin Speed in the past. When the brand released the Speed 4 — a plated shoe designed to be a responsive and speedy everyday trainer — I reluctantly took them out for a test run. Then, I was shocked and surprised at how much I liked them. 

Our writer testing the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 for review on a gravel run.
Gabrielle Hondorp

Unlike their predecessors, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 feel durable and supportive enough for everyday wear. Simultaneously, they also provide incredible energy return that I found to be worthy not only of speed training, but in my opinion, also race day if you’re signed up for one of the highly popular half marathons coming up. 

I tested the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 on multiple types of training runs, on track, road, and cinders, and found that it performed well wherever I ran. And despite being a bit biased from the start, this shoe won a place in my heart — and more importantly my shoe rotation. 

Specs

Detailed specs from testing as part of our Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 review
  • Fit: Some customers note these run on the small side, but in my experience, they were pretty true to size — maybe even slightly long compared to the fit of my other Sauconys. That said, it shouldn’t be necessary to stray from your usual size. 
  • Comfort: I’m wary of plated shoes since I’ve struggled with shin splints and pain in the past. However, these were gentle enough to not cause any irritation, probably thanks to the PWRRUN PB foam, a responsive and durable foam used in most Saucony higher-cushion models, but lighter with more energy return. I did find these shoes lacked solid support for my high arches; even just standing, I felt a huge gap between my midfoot and the shoe.
  • Upper Fit Security and Comfort: True to the brand’s other models, the upper fit here is light and breathable with a soft mesh while still giving a snug, supportive feel in the midfoot thanks to reinforced eyelets near the arch. 
  • Toe box comfort: I have a narrow foot in general and found this toe box had plenty of space. The midsole also flares a bit so you can’t fall off the side of the shoe even if you fill the upper.
  • Heel Lock: This shoe doesn’t have a particularly rigid heel cup but it’s structured enough that it doesn’t feel like you could just fall out of it either. It fits snugly on the heel — something I’ve found with most Sauconys — but sits low enough not to put pressure on the achilles.
  • Cushioning: I would call this shoe cushioned but not plush. It’s on the bouncy and responsive side, so you get excellent energy return with each step, but it doesn’t feel squishy. I actually prefer this type of foam because it’s more durable, provides more support, and I think it feels better over long distances. 
  • Midsole Stability: This is a neutral shoe, so it won’t affect your gait. If you do need additional support, I would suggest adding an insole. 
  • Ride Responsiveness: The Endorphin Speed 4 is designed to be fast — and that it is. The combination of PWRRUN PB foam and a winged nylon plate makes it super springy and light, and gives incredible energy return. Though not as responsive as a carbon plate, the nylon plate is notable enough that I think it fits in that category of racer and trainer combined. 
  • Transition Quality: This shoe has Saucony’s Speedroll Technology, which helps to propel you forward and encourages a full heel-to-toe roll-through. I am a midfoot striker myself but this tech works for heel and toe strikers as well. Overall, it offers a smooth ride which can help decrease shock. 
  • Traction: These shoes have a decent outsole and more than enough grip for road, track, cinder, and treadmill. It performed fine in wet conditions during testing. Since it’s not particularly textured, these shoes were a bit slippery on loose materials like gravel and wet grass. I’m concerned about the longevity of the grip since it seems like it could wear down pretty fast. 
  • Durability: Though slightly lighter than some of their other models, the upper here does not feel flimsy in the slightest. The midsole is also particularly durable, as it’s made from a dense foam that tends to have great longevity both in feel and aesthetics. The outsole seems most likely to wear out first, as it’s not particularly thick nor lugged.
  • Breathability: This shoe is excellent in the breathability department. It allowed for great airflow and didn’t feel hot at all. I do think that this may make it a better choice for warm weather running though, as it could be too breathable for colder months, letting in chilly winds and wetness. 
  • Weight: At 7.2 ounces for women’s and 8.2 for men’s models, this is a pretty light shoe. The fact that it is so responsive makes it feel even lighter because you are getting so much energy returned. 
  • Design/Aesthetics: In my opinion, the aesthetic here is a solid 7 out of 10. They certainly are not ugly, but also not as attractive as modern competitors. 
  • Innovation: The Endorphin Speed 4 hits the nail on the head for a light, responsive and durable super trainer. The nylon plate gives you a snappy feel but won’t destroy your shins like a carbon plate can. This, combined with the resilient but lightweight PWRRUN PB foam has leveled up the Endorphin line designed for speedwork and racing. 
  • Versatility: If you want a light and responsive shoe that you can use as a daily trainer, this is it. It’s cushioned and stable enough for your long runs, won’t beat up your legs on recovery days, and is light and fast enough to wear for speedwork, potentially even races.

Design and Aesthetics 

Side profile of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4
Gabrielle Hondorp

Though I love the feel of many of Saucony’s shoes, the fashion design is often lacking. The Endorphin Speed 4 is more attractive than some of the brand’s previous models, with a sleeker silhouette and more flattering look on-foot. 

The color choices are fine with some better than others and most offering a fun pop of color to your running kit. There aren’t many visually neutral options, though.

The design and technology of this shoe really outweighs the underwhelming aesthetic. The shoe is designed with a TPU-based PWRRUN PB foam and a winged, nylon plate. Together, these factors make the shoe light, durable and incredibly responsive — a balance that can be hard to hit. 

Plus, opting for the nylon plate over carbon makes the shoe more affordable. It will also last longer — closer to the mileage you would get out of a traditional trainer than a racer (300-500 miles vs about 150-250). 

How I Tested the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

I tested this shoe over the course of five runs on different surfaces including track workouts, cinders, grass, road, and treadmill. I also tested it at different speeds to determine how it performed for different workouts and how it transitioned from one speed to another. 

How the Saucony Endorphin 4 Performed During Testing 

Gabrielle Hondorp running in the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 for testing
Gabrielle Hondorp

I will start by saying: I did not expect to like this shoe. Though I do try to go into product testing with little bias, I really disliked past Saucony Endorphin models. So I was surprised when, after a few training runs, I had nothing but positive experiences.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is light, comfortable, and feels fast as heck. It fits pretty true to size — perhaps a tad long but not enough to make me want to size down. It felt very comfortable on my feet from the start of the run through to the end. 

The one place I did feel could be improved is the arch gap. It felt as though my arch was floating way above the sockliner — and I have a medium arch, not one that’s particularly high. 

This shoe is also incredibly versatile. It felt great at any pace, on multiple surfaces, and transitioned well between slower to faster speeds. While it didn’t necessarily make me run faster, I do think that it made running at faster paces feel easier — and kept my legs from tiring as quickly as they normally would. 

I didn’t notice much wear and tear on the shoes yet, but I’m also a pretty gentle runner. However, nothing stood out to me as a concern besides the tread which I do think could wear quickly and lose grip, causing you to retire the shoe before it’s dead. 

Pros and Cons of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

Not every shoe will work for every runner, but there are some objective pros and cons that can help you determine if it’s the right fit for you. 

Pros:

  • Feels very light and responsive 
  • Can handle rigors of daily training 
  • Feels great at any speed 
  • Breathable upper 

Cons:

  • Tread seems that it may wear quickly 
  • Large gap in arch 

How the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 Stack Up 

View of the Endorphin Speed 4 tread underneath
Gabrielle Hondorp

When it comes to the responsive do-it-all training shoes, there are a couple on the market. The closest to the Endorphin Speed 4 is the Hoka Mach X and New Balance SuperComp FuelCell Trainer 2.

The Endorphin is 0.8 ounces lighter than both the Hoka and New Balance, which both weigh 8 ounces for the women’s shoe. This doesn’t make a ton of difference, but it’s something to note if weight is important to you. 

The Hoka and New Balance both feel quite a bit softer than the Saucony as they use softer foams. Because of this, they also have a taller stack height which can result in feeling a bit bulkier underfoot. 

The real difference between the three lies in what gives them the snappy feel: 

  • The Endorphin Speed has a nylon plate
  • The New Balance has a carbon plate
  • The Mach has a PEBAX plate

The New Balance is probably going to feel the speediest as carbon is the least flexible of the materials. This means that it snaps back harder than the nylon and PEBAX plate would. A PEBAX plate is quite a bit lighter than carbon and it’s made from a renewable resource. There hasn’t been that much research on whether this is as effective as carbon or nylon, but with PEBA foam and the plate, it still feels very springy and light. 

As far as cost, there’s not a huge difference, but the Saucony does save you some money at $170 per pair compared to the $180 for the other two. 

What Other Runners Think

One of the main things runners say in reviews of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is that they love how these shoes are both lightweight and well cushioned. Many also note that they loved the versatility with many runners saying they used these both for training and racing. A lot of reviews also highlighted the durability of the shoes, as well as excellent airflow. 

The main complaint was that runners who liked the Endorphin Speed 2 and not the Speed 3 found this to be quite similar to the 3. Many also noted that they felt that the toe box had been widened which was a benefit for some, but those with a narrower foot felt that it was too much room, and it caused them to slide around in the shoe. 

Price and Value 

The back view of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4
Gabrielle Hondorp

At $170, I would argue that this shoe is pretty well priced. Many plated shoes reach easily into the $180 range and above, and even some of the best cushioned running shoes are often priced at $160 at least. The nylon plate used in the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is more affordable than those that use carbon plates, which is a bonus for buyers. 

When pitted against similar models, this shoe is definitely worth the price in all categories — durability, performance, design, comfort, and fit. 

If you are someone looking for a do-it-all training shoe, or a more affordable option to a carbon-plated racer, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is an excellent option for a snappy feel on a reasonable budget. 

Is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 Worth Buying? 

Considering this shoe is cheaper than other plated shoes but gentler on your shins, and that it offers a snappy, responsive feel, I would definitely recommend buying the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4.

Like any running shoe, it won’t be a guaranteed fit for every runner, but it has the makings of a shoe that will work for most. It is light but cushioned, springy but supportive, breathable, but durable — altogether it’s a well-designed running shoe. 

Since this is a neutral shoe, those that overpronate may benefit from something with more support (check out our top stability running shoes of 2024). Also, if you have high arches, you might feel a gap under like I did.

Overall, I think the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is a great option for anyone that likes a lighter, faster shoe for training, or is looking for a cheaper — and more durable — alternative to an expensive carbon-plated racing shoe.

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