Best Road Running Shoes Compared 2021

Last updated: November 17, 2021

Running Shoes / Best Road Running Shoes Compared 2021

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When you’re running out in the suburban streets smashing the pavement, your supporting muscle tissues are going through shock. As such you want to ensure that you have the perfect fit running shoes for you.

Finding the best running shoes for road running should ensure that you look for a pair that are both light but contain enough cushioning to support you. We go a bit more into detail on this further down the page.

If you’re looking for trail running shoes, check out our page here. The running shoes reviewed on this page are most suitable for road running or even for treadmills. We’ve compared these against their popularity amongst other runners. Remember, what you want to look for is something that maximum cushioning for minimum speed loss. A completely lightweight shoe may not have the right level of cushioning throughout and a highly-cushioned running shoe might be too chunky for some.

Best Road Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed

Responsive
On Cloudswift
On Cloudswift
Best Balance
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14
Lightweight
Adidas SL20
Adidas SL20
Wider Toe Box
On Cloudflyer
On Cloudflyer
Light + Snappy
Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24
Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24

1. On Cloudswift

Key Features

  • CloudTec midsole
  • Helion foam
  • Speedboard plate
  • Weight: 310 g (10.9 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Versatile aesthetics
  • Enhanced heel support
  • Carbon fiber plate insert
  • Responsive and snappy strides
  • Lightweight and supportive upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Laces are thin and slippery
  • Stiff arch support might be uncomfortable

Specifically designed for urban tracks, the On Cloudswift is a light, agile, and great-looking city shoe that you can bring anywhere.

The Cloudswift’s minimalist and modern design is actually one of its selling points. Road running can take you through crowded places, and this shoe’s looks can fit in whether you’re running through parks, city streets, or long stretches of roads.

This look also makes it more versatile: aside from just road running, these are shoes that give you a flare of techno style in any everyday, casual affair.

Made to perform as well as it looks, this shoe has a distinct, innovative midsole design called CloudTec, which segments the midsole into “cloud” elements of versatile Helion foam instead of having just one slice. This makes the shoes lighter while still retaining their responsiveness on the road.

This Cloudswift, in particular, has larger cloud modules on the heel to provide additional support and protection on the road. It also features On’s proprietary carbon fiber plate insert, the Speedboard. This plate is inserted right in the midsole, soaking up impacts and adding to the shoes’ propulsive returns.

To top it all off, it sports a breathable, lightweight upper, with an integrated tongue for more convenience and a comfortable interior lining that fits like your favorite socks.

Although, one glaring problem is the existence of tall arch support on the insole, which isn’t really for everyone. The laces, too, would be better if they were thicker and less slippery.

Nevertheless, these are extremely minor inconveniences in what is otherwise an incredible pair of road running shoes. With the Cloudswift, you can burst into a run no matter where you are and still feel comfortable.

2. Brooks Ghost 14

Key Features

  • Hybrid DNA Loft plus BioGoMo DNA midsole
  • 3D Fit Print upper
  • Segmented crash pads
  • Weight: 249.5 g (8.8 oz)
  • Drop: 12mm

Reasons to buy

  • Lightweight
  • Reliably cushioned midsole
  • Durable and assistive outsole
  • Comfortable and supportive upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Pricy
  • Runs small
  • Flat and slippery laces

Glide through the urban jungle with the Brooks Ghost 14’s light, dependable cushioning, and excellent support.

One of the most reliable running shoes around, the Ghost 14 is the result of a hybrid DNA Loft and BioGoMo DNA midsole technology from Brooks.

This combination is made to achieve a smooth ride, with just enough snap to its returns to make running long distances feel worthwhile. The crash pad outsole design is durable and grippy, holding up well on asphalt roads, concrete, and even on light park paths, and even optimizes weight distribution.

It’s not the most responsive feeling, but all these traits make it comfortable, protective, and reliable – a must when running through the hard city streets.

The upper is made of breathable mesh with interior lining, especially placed around the heel, collar, and tongue. It’s shaped with Brooks’ 3D Fit Print, so even if it is light and airy, the upper remains supportive and robust.

In terms of sizing, these tend to run small, so make sure to size appropriately when paying for its high price. Also, the laces are thinner and noticeably shorter than the previous version, although this can easily be remedied by a simple replacement.

It’s not the flashiest shoes out there, nor is it the most responsive, but the Brooks Ghost 14 is something that you can slip on and run with at any time of the day.

3. Adidas SL20

Key Features

  • Lightstrike midsole
  • Continental rubber outsole
  • Weight: 230g (8.1oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Perfect heel lock
  • Great value for money
  • Snappy and light midsole
  • Lightweight, form-fitting upper
  • Durable continental rubber outsole

Reasons to avoid

  • Stiff laces
  • Decorative tongue flap can cause discomfort

One of the giants in the running space, Adidas has brought tons of functional running shoes to the market, and the SL20 is one of the newest offerings.

Unlike the UltraBoost series, which have become primarily symbols of the fashion-forward “athleisure” genre, the SuperLight 20 is made for performance.

It features a Lightstrike midsole: a firm, responsive rubber that remains light yet still cushiony. As a result, you get a snappy ride with just enough cushioning to last you through long runs over concrete or track.

The outsole won’t be outshined, as well. It features a full-coverage sturdy and grippy continental rubber sole that will keep you moving forward even on the rainiest days. It also boasts a seamless upper, made of lightweight engineered mesh with a padded collar. The heel lock is perfectly rigid, and the shoe is plenty supportive despite its weight.

One of the best aspects of this shoe is the price. Its price sits on the low-to-mid price range despite the premium materials and build, making it an accessible offering from a trusted brand.

There are a couple of downsides, though. There’s an extra flap of decorative material on the tongue that goes beyond where a tongue is supposed to go, which can quickly become irritating if you’re running long-distance and wearing low-cut socks. The laces too, are stiffer and thicker than usual, making them a bit difficult to work with.

These are minor differences though, and for the excellent price point, the troubles are hardly worth noting. If you want a versatile, everyday workhorse that is light and snappy, the Adidas SL20 is definitely for you.

4. On Cloudflyer

Key Features

  • CloudTec midsole
  • 3D molded upper
  • Speedboard plate
  • Support tube insert
  • Weight: 280g (9.88oz)
  • Drop: 7mm

Reasons to buy

  • Great aesthetics
  • Has a waterproof variant
  • Lightweight yet springy midsole
  • Protective and responsive inserts
  • Very supportive, 3D-molded upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Not durable

Sleek, stylish, and undeniably enduring, the On Cloudflyer is a supportive shoe that can take you through long runs in the city sprawl.

Typical of On shoes, the Cloudflyer has a subtle, techno minimalist look that is unlike any other brand on this list, allowing you to blend in wherever you are in the city and not look too “sporty.” In effect, you not only get a workout shoe but a fashionable casual piece as well.

Its looks are matched by its functionality. The Cloudflyer features the largest cloud module on the brand’s roster as of yet, which makes it more cushioned and protective than usual.

The Helion foam is firm, yet springy and light, so you won’t sacrifice the lightness that characterizes the Cloud line. Perfect for marathon runs on wide stretches of asphalt.

The upper is composed primarily of airy engineered mesh, molded with 3D technology to make sure it hugs your foot optimally. It also has a stability tube inserted in the midsole to add side support, as well as On’s proprietary Speedboard insert for a more protective and responsive stride.

To top it all off, there’s even a waterproof version of the shoe so you can look good and perform even better, no matter the weather.

Its main weakness, though, is its durability. The outsole is thin, and daily wear affects the Helion midsole more.

It would be so much better if On solves this problem in the future, but for now, if you want fashionable yet supportive shoes to wear when braving the streets, the On Cloudflyer is a solid choice.

5. Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24

Key Features

  • Dual-density midsole
  • FlyteFoam Lyte midsole
  • Trusstic System
  • AHAR Outsole
  • Weight: 255.1g (9 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Locked-in heel
  • Responsive ride
  • Lightweight but still snappy
  • Comfortable and well-fitting upper
  • Special outsole for maximum traction

Reasons to avoid

  • Loud color schemes
  • Less cushioned in the forefoot
  • Doesn’t have much toe box support

If it’s the speed that you want, you’ll find something to like in the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24.

Designed to help you achieve the speeds that you want, the Gel-DS Trainer 24 features FlyteFoam Lyte technology for the midsole. It’s also designed with a Trusstic System, which creates air pockets supported with trusses that naturally conform to biological traits of male and female feet. All of these work together to be extremely responsive while maintaining less weight.

To keep you comfortable despite the firm, snappy ride, the midsole is created with a dual-density design, with the firm side facing towards the hard concrete road and the softer side cushioning your feet. For added durability and to maximize traction, this shoe is created with AHAR Outsole.

The Gel-DS Trainer 24’s upper is composed of a seamless, lightweight engineered mesh, designed to let your feet breathe and stay comfortable as you run. It has a minimally padded tongue, collar, and heel lock to keep you stable, although the toe box region doesn’t really have any dedicated side supports.

Nevertheless, forefoot strikers should be wary, as these shoes have noticeably less cushioning in that region compared to the rest of the shoe. The garish and clashing color schemes that these models have might not suit everyone as well.

Other than those, the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24 is a great performance shoe for racing days or when you simply want to beat a personal record.

6. Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

Key Features

  • Nike React midsole
  • Engineered Air mesh upper
  • Forefoot Air unit
  • Weight: 284.9 g (10.05oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Light and flexible upper
  • Modern minimalist design
  • Propulsive and soft midsole
  • Specialized cushioning on sole and forefoot

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Runs small

From another industry giant comes the well-loved Nike Zoom Pegasus 37. Be prepared to pay a premium for the equally premium materials, make, and features of this high-performance shoe.

With a fashion-forward, sleek, and modernistic look, the Zoom Pegasus 37 steals the spotlight in many tracks – not just because of its slightly flashy design but also for its excellent performance.

This shoe features the React midsole, created to maximize responsiveness while keeping you plush and comfortable the entire time.

Also, despite the thinner cushioning on the forefoot area, the Pegasus 37 houses a small air pocket to make sure that every inch of the shoe is energetic and propulsive. As a result, you get smooth and bouncy runs that will keep your feet happy, even on harsh concrete.

For added durability, the outsole is composed of high-wear segmented rubber. The segmentation adds to its flexibility, making it last long for road running purposes. Its upper consists of sock-like engineered mesh, supporting your feet while giving it enough flex to move the way it wants to.

For all its flair, this shoe is unsurprisingly pricey. It also tends to run a bit small, so keep that in mind when sizing to avoid an expensive mistake.

That said, if you’re a sucker for great-looking and highly functional shoes, the Zoom Pegasus 37 should be at the top of your list.

7. Under Armour Charged Assert 9

Key Features

  • UA Charged midsole
  • Leather lined upper
  • Weight: 230g (8.1oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Durable soles
  • Excellent laces
  • Great value for price
  • Locks in the heel properly
  • Supportive, leather-lined uppers

Reasons to avoid

  • Runs small

If you want something simple to wear on one of your city runs, then the Under Armour Charged Assert 9 is a no-bells-and-whistles solution for your road running cravings.

From the get-go, one of the best aspects of this shoe is the price. Without a doubt, the Charged Assert 9 is one of the most price-effective offerings on this list.

At this price, you get the UA Charged compression-molded foam, creating a responsive shoe that doesn’t sacrifice its durability. You also get a solid 100% coverage rubber outsole that helps it weather against the rough surface of the road, so you know that you can squeeze all the value that you need from this shoe.

The upper is made with lightweight mesh, overlaid with leather strips for added durability and stability, especially in the heel and midfoot area.

One of its stand-out features, especially when compared to other shoes in this list, are the laces: they are long, soft but sturdy, and hold up well in a runner’s knot. It may be a small touch, but for a pair of shoes at this price, it’s definitely a well-appreciated one.

These shoes do tend to run a bit small, though, which can be especially irritating in the toe box area – although you can simply size up to solve this.

Aside from that, the Under Armour Charged Assert 9 is a solid workhorse of a shoe that will guarantee you a pretty good run.

How to Pick the Best Road Running Shoes Suitable To You

Although they look very much alike, road running shoes differ slightly from normal running shoes. They’re specifically made to grip better, last longer, and let you run faster on hard, plain surfaces, such as sidewalks, pavements, city streets, and roads.

When considering the best road running shoes to pick, think about these three factors: weight, responsiveness, and support.

Weight

Depending on the kind of road running that you do, you might want more or less weight.

A more lightweight shoe is always preferred if you’re aiming for maximum speed. If you don’t care about that and would just like a more comfortable shoe with more materials like cushioning or interior padding, however, then you probably won’t mind a weightier shoe.

For instance, some of the lighter shoes on this list are the Brooks Ghost, the Under Armour Charged Assert and the Adidas SL20. Pick them if you’d like to go fast.

The heaviest ones are the On Cloudswift and the Nike Zoom Pegasus, and it’s no surprise that they also have more cushioning than the others.

Responsiveness

The responsiveness of road running shoes can vary. Typically, the faster you run, the more important it is to have snappy feedback. Meanwhile, more relaxed runs tend to favor softer cushioning with less responsiveness.

Some of the most responsive shoes on our list are the On Cloudswift, the Adidas SL20, and the Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24.

Support

Proper running form is important, especially when you’re running on hard roads. This aspect is more subjective, as this depends on the structure of your foot, but you should keep in mind what kind of support you expect from a running shoe based on previous pairs you’ve had.

Luckily for you, when it comes to support, all road running shoes on this list are pretty great picks. If you’re on a budget, the Under Armour Charged Assert should suffice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which road running shoes are best for me?

Every shoe on this list is a top contender, but the best road running shoes for you specifically depends on several factors, such as the weight you want, the responsiveness that you prefer, and the kind of support that you need.

Are road running shoes good for treadmills?

Road running shoes are made to last on concrete, which means their outsoles typically provide maximum traction on many types of surfaces, treadmills included.

Can you use road running shoes on trails?

It depends on the type of road running shoe and the amount of protection that it has. Shoes with durable rubber outsoles and 100% coverages are typically sturdy enough for light trails. That said, very technical off-road tracks are better left for specialized trail running shoes.

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