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Brooks Launch GTS 8 vs Ravenna 11 vs Launch 8 Comparison Shoe Review

by Sportitude
8 Feb 2021

Josh reviews the Brooks Launch GTS 8 running shoes and provides guidance on whether this or the Brooks Launch 8 offers the most fitting partnership for you as a runner. After more than a decade of ruling the road, Brooks are retiring the Ravenna franchise in preference for this new and improved addition to their running shoe family.

Staying true to the Brooks Ravenna 11 but in a softer and lighter package, the Brooks Launch GTS 8 continues to cater to mild overpronators. It features a wider platform underneath the midfoot than the Brooks Launch 8 for improved stability and GuideRail technology to keep you on track of your most efficient motion path.

On the other hand (or foot), the Brooks Launch 8 is a pure example of a neutral running shoe – remaining free of support technologies while still sharing the BioMoGo DNA cushioning and other engineering features with the new Brooks Launch 8 GTS.

With a lighter and more responsive feel than other Brooks shoes gone by, the Launch GTS 8 is your go-to interval/tempo shoe to quicken the pace or your first race day shoe if you prefer to steer away from traditional racing flats. Not only does it offer mild stability, but it's also soft enough underfoot to clock on the Ks on your high mileage runs.

It’s complete with a breathable engineered mesh upper and modern flared heel design to prevent irritation around the Achilles when you’re pushing to set a new PB.

Check out the review with full transcript below.

Hello guys, Josh here from Sportitude Running and today we're doing a shoe review to introduce you to the Brooks Launch GTS 8.

This shoe has just landed in Australia in the first half of 2021 and although it’s a new name to the Brooks running family it is a subtle upgrade on the Ravenna franchise which Brooks have had for a decade now.

We're going to talk to you about all the engineering features in the Launch GTS 8 from the outsole, midsole and the upper. We're going to profile the runner that could be considering this shoe and explain what it's designed for with regards to the amount of cushioning and responsiveness.

We're also going to talk about the subtle variances from the Launch 8. It’s a very similar shoe to the Brooks Launch GTS 8 but is obviously targeting a different runner. Without further ado let's get stuck in.

Runner Profile

First things first we're going to profile the foot type that could be considering the Brooks Launch GTS 8. On the medial side we have a blended GuideRails support system. That essentially means that the GuideRail technology and the outsole is all one piece. A couple of seasons ago in the Brooks Ravenna that was co-moulded so the GuideRails were sitting on top of the midsole technology.

It's all one piece now and the GuideRails are placed on that medial side for a little bit of arch support for that runner that needs some assistance through the midstance phase to minimise the impact of overpronation.

When you have a runner that comes down on contact point at the heel and comes through to the midstance phase, there’s a tendency to collapse on that medial side before they engage and get ready to toe-off out of their gait cycle.

However, if someone is an excessive pronator and needs more support, I'd be cautious of putting them into a shoe like this for their daily training. The main reason is it's not an overly supported shoe. It's almost another take on that dynamic support system to give a little bit of support for that runner.

Talking about what this shoe is designed for, it is a lighter shoe so it's not your traditional Brooks Adrenaline GTS or your Brooks Glycerin out there, or your Brooks Ghost for that matter from the Brooks running family. It's not as cushioned as those three models. It is slightly firmer underneath the foot and also lighter.

Therefore, it is really targeting that runner that's looking for a lighter tempo/interval shoe and even for that person who's looking potentially for their first race day shoe and hasn't gone down that racing flat path just yet. When you put yourself into shoe like this, notice the reduction in weight, notice the responsiveness underneath the foot and see how you go.

There are some runners out there that still like this shoe for mileage running and there's no rule to say you can't use this for mileage running. It's for the runner that doesn't want to feel like there's too much squish underneath their foot. They want a responsive feel the whole way through their transition. It's a very versatile shoe.


Let's get stuck into the engineering of this shoe. I’m going to do a three-way comparison. We’re going to be looking at the Brooks Launch GTS 8, Brooks Ravenna 11 and Brooks Launch 8.

There's a fair bit of information to get through although the changes are so minor across the outsole, the midsole and the upper. We're just trying to give you all the information you need at home to see where this shoe sits and whether you can add this into your shoe rotation.

Outsole

I’m going to talk about the changes between the Brooks Launch GTS 8 and the Launch 8. It’s very confusing as they’re almost the same colours.

You've got the medial posts or the medial GuideRail support with the Launch GTS 8 for that overpronator. The Launch 8 is a neutral shoe on the midsole platform.

The main change in the outsole is a wider platform through the midstance phase in the Launch GTS 8 compared to what is on offer in the Launch 8. There’s a little bit more real estate underneath your foot as you're coming through your whole transition.

The other noticeable change is regarding the entry point for heel strikers. You can see the cutaways or the flex grooves into the midsole in the Brooks Launch GTS 8 is going to be marginally softer underneath the foot, so it's going to compress at a different rate to the Brooks Launch 8.

The Brooks Launch 8 is really neutral. Although the geometry in the midsole is exactly the same with the same BioMoGo DNA cushioning system, just making those subtle changes with the slits in the back corners under the heel of the outsole will offer a slightly different experience on that entry point for a heel striker. The same goes for the transition through to the midfoot as well with the Launch GTS 8 being marginally wider. It is a little bit heavier, but you've got slightly more stability on offer with the Launch GTS 8.

It’s time to compare it to the Ravenna 11. We're saying goodbye to the Ravenna series right now. It’s served a lot of runners very well for over a decade but at this point in time we're saying hello to the GTS series.

You can see a similar concept for the outsole. You've got full ground contact the whole way through but the major difference between the Ravenna 11 and the Brooks Launch GTS 8 is the flex groove or the encapsulated rubber in the forefoot.

You can see flex groove one and two. The rubber on the Brooks Launch GTS 8 covers a little bit more of that horizontal plane on both medial to lateral side in comparison to what you have on the Ravenna 11.  

You might argue why would they make such a drastic change, and that is all in the midsole density which will get to in two ticks.

As you can see they are very similar concepts from the Ravenna 11 to the Launch GTS 8. If anything, they've just improved the overall stability with the outsole which is a good thing.

Midsole

Let's get talking about the midsole. As I've touched on, it is a BioMoGo DNA cushioning system. The best way to explain that is it's a really simplified foam.

Inside this set-up, there's no overly complicated extra silicone pods or changes in features with regards to the cushioning system from the back half to the front half. The only change is in the heel-to-toe drop which is a 10mm offset between the heel and the forefoot. It's a very consistent foam from the back to the front.

In comparison to where it was with the Ravenna 11, yes on paper it's a BioMoGo DNA cushioning system but the new model is significantly softer underneath the foot.

From that first step in it feels softer and lighter than what was on offer from the Ravenna franchise last season. As I said before with that flex groove set-up through the forefoot, the reason it covers more across the front on that encapsulated rubber is because the foam is softer.

Due to the foam being softer, the shoe itself needs to offer a little bit more rigidity under that first metatarsal as you release out of your running gait. That's the biggest change in the midsole between the two. They still have the GuideRails of course on the Launch GTS 8.

The biggest change between the Launch 8 and the Launch GTS 8 which we've touched on a couple of times is the GuideRails. You have GuideRails in the Launch GTS 8 and you don’t have GuideRails on the Launch 8. It’s the same cushioning system and the same heel-to-toe drop, they’ve just taken away that GuideRail system in the Launch 8.

Upper

Let's get to the upper of this shoe because it’s probably one of my favourite features of this update. The first thing that most people experience or dial in on when they're trying on a new shoe or trying a shoe for their first run is the cushioning system. What's it doing for me and is it giving me cushioning and response where I want it?

Since the Brooks Launch GTS 8 is a simple design with regards to what's on offer underneath your foot, I really wanted to focus on the changes in the upper when I went for my first run.

The great thing about this shoe is it's available in widths, unlike the Launch 8 which is only available in standard widths being D for men and B for the women's model.

They’re rolling out widths in the Launch GTS 8 like the Ravenna franchise. You've got a D standard and a wider 2E width in the men's model. For the ladies’ they are going to have a B and a D, so you have a good variety of widths. I love it when brands make a shoe and offer it in widths.

The reason I like the upper of the Brooks Launch GTS 8 is because the engineered air mesh up top is very light and breathable, but they don't sacrifice fit, feel and durability to get that outcome.

The other great feature is this new heel counter design. The Ravenna last season had a traditional heel counter. There’s nothing too magical about that little guy from what you see across the industry.

However, we're seeing a few shoes now that are being led by a couple of brands with a new heel design. The flared heels are almost pixie-ing out in an ‘elf’ shape or design. Technically there probably is a name for this design but I haven't dialled into what it is. The reason they’ve done that is to increase the comfort levels at the back of your heel.

The internal heel counter, the plastic system that locks in your heel, is the same height as the Ravenna 11. However, the Launch GTS 8 runs up a little bit higher up the back of your Achilles and ever so slightly leans away but you still get the lockdown support you require.

The comfort levels at the base of your heel as the shoe curls away takes a fair bit of pressure off of your Achilles so you’ll get very minimal irritations from friction which is a fantastic feature.

As I touched on, as you come through to the midfoot it's got a really good lacing lockdown. I really like the flat lace in this shoe. I could dial in and get pretty versatile with our lacing tricks. We can miss eyelets, create more depth if people need it and they have that additional eyelet on offer for those that want to lock in those heels with a heel lock lace system which is fantastic.

The Wrap Up

There you have it, that is my take on the Launch GTS 8 for this season from Brooks. Just to recap, it has replaced the Ravenna in the running offering from Brooks.

Don't be alarmed if you've had a Ravenna previously and you've liked them. You can easily transition yourself into the Launch GTS 8 and that'll be an easy switch for you the runner. Just note the Launch GTS 8 which stands for go-to shoe and the Launch 8 itself are very similar shoes but are targeting a different runner.

There’s a little bit more arch support in the Launch GTS 8 in comparison to the Launch 8 which is on a neutral platform, so keep that in mind as well.

If you've tried the Ravenna series previously I'd love to hear your feedback on what you've liked about this shoe and what you possibly disliked about this shoe.

Please contact our Sportitude shoe experts if you have any questions, comments, queries or concerns about the Brooks Launch GTS 8. It's a little ripper.

I'm really looking forward to hearing runner feedback over the next few months with this shoe and your feedback is just as important so please let us know how you have gone.

If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to the Sportitude YouTube channel to stay up to date with everything running related. Until next time stay safe and be kind to each other.

Happy running and we’ll see you out on the road.

FEATURES

Brooks Launch GTS 8

  • Support: Stability
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Midsole: Brooks BioMoGo DNA
  • Heel Height: 25mm
  • Forefoot Height: 15mm
  • Offset / Drop: 10mm

Men

  • Weight: 249g / 8.8oz
  • Widths: D (standard), 2E (wide)

Women

  • Weight: 230g / 8.1oz
  • Widths: B (standard), D (wide)

Brooks Launch 8

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Ravenna 11

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