Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review TL;DR: amazing, albeit slightly expensive, carbon-assisted running shoes that are a joy to run in.
The Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel is One of the best running shoes this year. I was offered a review unit a while back when the shoes were announced back in August, but they were out of stock at the time, so I completely forgot about them. That is until a parcel from Craft turned up at my door!
My initial impression was that the CTM Carbon Race Rebel looked chunky but light; it had curves and angles and cutaways and all sorts of things going on. Probably best that the shoes are all black; adding any colour to this would have been too overstimulating.
But it wasn't until I put them on when I became utterly addicted to the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel. They felt comfortable yet agile, raring to go the second the shoes touched my feet. And boy, oh boy, was it a fun experience, running in the shoes!
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Price and availability
The Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel is available to buy now directly from Craft UK and Craft US for a recommended retail price of £220/$249.99.
AUS price and availability TBC.
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Tech
CTM stands for "Craft Tailored Motion" and CTM shoes represent the best Craft has to offer in terms of materials and innovation. As such, you can expect the CTM Carbon Race Rebel to be on the cutting edge of running shoe design and it really is.
The shoes are built on the Ultra Platform, a lightweight foundation Craft builds its Ultra series running shoes. As Craft explains, the "Ultra platform includes a perfect balance between stack height, drop and foot angle to enable runners to keep the form as effortlessly as possible."
Embedded in the UD Foam Pro midsole you'll find the carbon fibre plate that provides sublime energy return. Made of carefully sourced carbon fibre, this fine-tuned plate comes with a "precision" split at the front, allowing the big toe to press independently on the medial side of the plate and the other toes on the lateral side. In theory, this creates torsion provides "ultra-rebound" at all angles.
The Nano Weight Race Trac is a 3-piece rubber outsole was designed specifically for road running. It's lightweight and features a fine, contoured lug pattern that gives traction on smooth surfaces.
Inside the shoes is the Ultra Insole, a mix of EVA and PU. It features a "hyper-springy popcorn foam" known for its exceptional rebound. The mesh upper is made of one piece for added durability (less glueing involved). It's also comfortable as hell.
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Ergonomics
The Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel weighs 245 grams (UK men's 10) which is comparatively light but not the lightest of shoes for sure. The Brooks Hyperion Tempo weighs less and so does the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, the latter of which is still the best Nike running shoe in IMHO. That said, the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel is by no means heavy; it certainly doesn't feel heavy.
I was blown away by the step-in comfort of the shoes. The construction of the toe box is amazing: it opens up and welcomes your feet all the while holding the shoes in place. The one-piece mesh upper is light and well-ventilated and the lacing secures fastens things in place perfectly.
The sole has a distinct curve, reminiscent of the Hoka One One Carbon X 2 and the Hoka One One Mach 4, helping the shoes roll efficiently. Unlike the firmer Saucony Endorphin Pro, the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel bends easily so you can utilise the rebound effect of the carbon plate.
From a running dynamics point of view, the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel reminded me of the ASICS Metaracer and the Salomon S/LAB Phantasm but strangely, it provided a completely different experience from those. I found the CTM Carbon Race Rebel more approachable than the racing shoes mentioned just above, making it more accessible to beginner and intermediate runners.
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Aesthetics
If I were to summarise the way the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel looks, I would say it's subtle. The matte black look conceals some of the features of the shoe – not in a bad way, though – but interestingly, it also emphasises others such as the CRAFT logo at the front.
A detail that stands out is the short Tommy Riv's quote on the lateral side of the heels. It's just two words but encapsulates well what the shoes are about. Tommy Riv is an awesome guy, battling cancer while providing inspiration for thousands of runners around the world.
As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I think we can all agree that the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel looks badass. It's not supposed to be a sneaker and I doubt anyone would buy it for that purpose. However, I would totally wear it for outings, if I wouldn't use it for running all the time.
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Verdict
The Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel is an astounding running shoe. It's not cheap, but if you're happy to shell out this much money for a pair of running shoes, you won't be disappointed in choosing the CTM Carbon Race Rebel over other available options.
And at the end of the day, you pay the premium price for premium running shoes; if I were Craft, I wouldn't sell my shoes for less if it took me years of R&D to come up with the technology that makes them competent.
Technology aside, the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel is just a joy to run in. It doesn't matter if you can go fast or slow, you'll feel the difference, although the shoes will obviously make you run faster at any speed.
One small caveat to mention is the inclusion of the carbon plate. No matter how ergonomic it is, running in carbon-assisted shoes will always be more taxing on the legs than running in 'standard' trainers. If you're happy to accept this, by all means, buy the Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel today.
Craft CTM Carbon Race Rebel review: Also consider
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite V2 is softer and taller than the CTM Carbon Race Rebel but equally as fun to run in. Despite the stack height, it's actually somewhat lighter than the Craft shoes. Go half size up your usual size, New Balance shoes tend to be on the tight side.
If you're not keen on the carbon plate, try the Saucony Kinvara 12 instead. It's a fast and responsive running trainer that offers sublime ground contact without sacrificing comfort or cushioning.