IT’S CALLED DNA, and Brooks reports its new technology makes its Glycerin 8 shoe ($130 retail) the first ever to adapt to each wearer’s individual running requirements, offering customized cushioning with every stride. Call us nerds, but this innovation lands high up on the Footwear Plus Cool Index.
“Brooks’ DNA is the only cushioning system on the market that instantaneously adapts to a runner’s needs,” claims Derek Campbell, manager of the Bothell, WA-based company’s Future Concept team. “Other cushioning systems need to be individually tuned for each specific runner and don’t adapt continuously or quickly enough as the runner’s gait or biomechanics change.” Campbell says if a runner starts out at a slow pace, Brooks DNA will feel softer. But like magic, as the runner picks up the pace, the DNA becomes firmer and more resilient.
The key DNA ingredient is a highly viscous non-Newtonian liquid that doesn’t react to stress as most liquids would. “It adapts to the force applied to it,” Campbell explains. “It was engineered to perform at the molecular level like millions of resilient ‘nanosprings.’” In the footwear world, this is pretty darn cool. Even cooler: The funky liquid’s molecular structure will never break down in normal use. Want more reason to geek out? Campbell asserts that DNA provides 30 percent better cushioning than standard gel or EVA materials; twice as much energy return with maximum force applied; better efficiency across a range of impact forces; and enhanced forefoot flexibility for a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off.
Elements of customization have been popping up in other shoe categories, but “DNA is a game-changing technology in the world of running,” asserts Brooks president and CEO Jim Weber. “Traditional cushioning systems attempt to work for runners of all shapes and sizes, even though each person’s weight and gait are vastly different from the next. DNA offers a real solution to this challenge.”
Now throw in something for the eco wonks: Thanks to the brand’s ongoing sustainability efforts, DNA is also completely recyclable. As opposed to typical cushioning systems that include four materials—making them difficult to recycle and more energy-intensive to produce—DNA consists of only one, and all post-process material waste goes back into making additional shoes. Additionally, DNA uses less adhesive, reducing the amount of volatile organic chemicals, and the Glycerin 8 features the brand’s eco-friendly BioMoGo midsole made of biodegrable materials.
The custom technology may not be suitable for all runners, Campbell says, noting it doesn’t take the place of doctor-prescribed solutions or custom-built orthotics. Still, Weber reports Spring ’10 bookings of the Glycerin 8 are up 27 percent and 43 percent, respectively, compared to orders of the Glycerin 7.
The running cult has spoken: Science rocks. —Greg Dutter