Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Review

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Introduction

The Fast-R is one of the most unique and interesting super shoe designs currently on the market. No other brand is gutsy enough to have so much of the shoe’s delicate carbon plate exposed and to have no midfoot section.

I had my reservations about the Fast-R when it first came out 2 years ago but after reviewing it, I admitted that the design works and it’s not a gimmick.

When I reviewed the original Fast-R, I enjoyed its ride but I found the heel section to be a bit too firm. I also felt that it didn’t have enough cushioning for a full marathon. I didn’t ever race in it but I used it for speed training.

In the past two years, most Puma long-distance athletes chose the other Puma racer, the Deviate Elite 2 to race in which had smoother transitions and more heel cushioning. It was the more comfortable and the safer option of the 2 Puma, long-distance super shoes to race in.

The Fast-R 2 has the same design as the original version but with some major changes. The midsole foam is different, the stack height has been increased and the carbon plate has been tweaked. It also costs $10 more and it weighs 0.6 oz (17 grams) more than its predecessor.

There were some supply issues when the first version was launched and it was extremely difficult to get a pair. This time, Puma has done a better job in making the Fast-R 2 available. There seems to be plenty of pairs still available.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 First Impressions

My first run was a 400 m interval session. The first thing that I noticed was how much softer the heel section felt. In version 1, the firm heel made it feel like there was a rock wedged under my heel. The heel of version 2 felt softer than the forefoot section.

The Fast-R 2 felt a bit sluggish due to its weight and its soft cushioning. I felt like I was putting in a lot of effort to increase my pace. It didn’t feel as fast as other carbon racers.

The other thing that I noticed was that the carbon plate felt stiffer than the one in the first version. This made the ride feel more rigid and less natural.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Upper

The Fast-R 2 has a good upper. It’s a semi-bootie construction and you can still use a runner’s knot. The upper mesh is breathable but it feels plastic-like and doesn’t stretch. It reminds me of Vaporweave on the Vaporfly Next%.

Lockdown is great but the heel tab comes up a bit too high and irritates my Achilles when walking. When running, I don’t notice it. I find the fit true to size. It has a narrow midfoot and forefoot but I don’t suggest going up a half size because the length would be too long.

On my pair, the upper is starting to separate from the midsole in the forefoot which is disappointing for a $260 shoe. The build quality of the Fast-R is not as high as other super shoes.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Sole Unit

The biggest update in this new version of the Fast-R is that the heel has been changed from EVA to the much softer Nitro Elite foam which is a nitrogen-infused TPU blend. The heel and the forefoot are now the same foam.

I find the heel section to be a lot softer than the forefoot section. This results in a sinking-in feeling when I heel strike so transitions from heel-to-forefoot are not very smooth. The heel feels a bit “sticky”. It’s an 8 mm drop but it feels much lower due to the heel section being so squishy.

The other noticeable change is the carbon plate. It’s now stiffer and extended in the front with the tip of it exposed. Puma says that it provides extra propulsion by increasing the last point of ground contact. In reality, I didn’t notice a difference and it’s more of a gimmick than a functional feature.

In terms of energy return, Puma’s Nitro Elite foam is behind other super foams like ZoomX, Lightstrike Pro, FuelCell and FF Turbo+. It doesn’t rebound as quickly so it doesn’t feel as springy or bouncy. I would take a PEBA-based foam over Nitro Elite any day of the week.

The midsole stack height has been increased and it’s now at the maximum limit of 40 mm in the heel. This makes it a lot more cushioned and better suited to the marathon distance. The longest run I did in the Fast-R 2 was a 33 kilometre Saturday run at mostly steady pace with a 10 kilometre marathon-pace section incorporated into it.

That long run felt comfortable but it didn’t exactly feel effortless. There isn’t much of a forefoot rocker (compared to other super shoes) so you have to work a bit harder to push off. It’s also not as easy to get into a rhythm as with a shoe that has an aggressive rocker.

Stability is decent for such a tall shoe. This is because it has such a wide forefoot base. My foot strikes always feel very planted when running in the Fast-R 2 and it’s not very demanding on my ankles. It feels really

Pumagrip rubber on the outsole is plentiful. The entire forefoot is covered in thick rubber, except for the centre cavity. There are 2 oval pieces of rubber which protect the heel and outsole durability is above average. I think they could reduce the rubber on the forefoot by making it thinner or using less of it to lower the weight.

Traction is exceptional. I used the Fast-R 2 in the rain at least 3 times and I had no slipping issues whatsoever.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Conclusions

The Fast-R 2 is now a long-distance racer and it has enough cushioning for a full marathon. It’s disappointing that the heel is so squishy and transitions from heel to forefoot are so slow. This shoe suits midfoot and forefoot strikers more than heel strikers.

Compared to the original Fast-R, it feels slower. It’s heavier, it’s softer and transitions are slower. For long distances, I’d pick the Fast-R 2; for short distances, I’d pick the Fast-R 1.

To me, the Fast-R 2 feels more like a training shoe because of its weight and its clunkiness. I don’t enjoy it for intervals and workouts- it feels slower than other super shoes and not as efficient.

With a price tag of $260, I can’t recommend it. There are cheaper racers which feel faster and have better build quality. It still however has a fun, unique ride with deep cushioning and I find myself looking forward to running in it every time. I enjoy using it for easy and steady-paced runs but that isn’t exactly what it was designed for.

Puma has to use PEBA in the midsole of their race shoes to be competitive. The TPU blend that’s in the Fast-R 2 just doesn’t cut the mustard; it’s not light enough and not energetic enough.

When it comes to the Puma long-distance racing range, I think that most of the Puma sponsored athletes and most non-elite runners will still choose the Deviate Elite over the Fast-R; it’s cheaper, lighter and smoother.

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