The running shoe market is highly saturated, to say the least. Big-ticket brands, from Adidas and Asics to New Balance and Nike, have more than enough shoes to fill gaps in the market we didn't know existed (see also: what are super trainers), which is why it's exciting when an up-and-coming brand like R.A.D. decides to challenge the status quo with a brand-new concept, the RAD R-1.
I've been using the RAD R-1, the company's first running shoe, for a month, and I must confess, it's not half bad. It's not like I expected it to be terrible, but even top-tier running brands sometimes get it wrong the first time. And although the R-1 isn't perfect, it's a good enough trainer coming from a brand predominantly known for its workout shoes.
[First reviewed December 2023]
R.A.D. R-1 review
R.A.D. R-1 review: price and availbility
The R.A.D. R-1 was launched in July 2023 and is available now at RAD UK and RAD US for a recommended retail price of £150/ $160 (approx. AU$ 234.91)—AU price and availability TBC. The shoes are currently available in seven colourways: Black Gum, Tungsten, Black Pearl (tested), Green Gum, Clay, Sand Mid Gum, and Black. The RAD R-1 has a unisex sizing, ranging from 4 to 13.
R.A.D. R-1 review: specifications
- Best for: daily training
- Upper: Textile - Air Mesh, Synthetic
- Sole: Rubber
- Stack height: 24/32 (forefoot/heel)
- Drop: 8mm
- Pronation: Neutral
- Weight: 276g (UK 8)
R.A.D. R-1 review: design and build quality
RAD built the R-1 from the ground by
poaching headhunting some of the best product designers from across the performance footwear industry. As such, the shoes are a combination of brand-new technology and new iterations of RAD's existing ones.
The standout feature, and the one that caught my eye, is the SwellFoam N2 'supercritical' foam midsole technology. It uses a 50/50 cane/fossil composition, a 20% bio increase from the SwellFoam in RAD's cross-training shoe.
The company claims that the supercritical foaming process allows them to utilise a higher bio content while maintaining the performance attributes needed for running.
(As a side note, RAD appears to be an environmentally-conscious company, proudly displaying its '1% for the Planet' badge on its website. The brand also says it produces its shoes in very limited runs and only produces as many as we think it can sell to reduce waste. Seeing a small company trying to make footwear production more sustainable is nice.)
The RAD R-1 has traditional lacing, a well-padded heel collar and a puffy tongue. Overall, the shoes feel well-put together and durable, although I've yet to put more than 30-40 miles in them, so stay tuned for info on this.
R.A.D. R-1 review: performance and comfort
The RAD R-1 provides what the brand calls 'Bubble Tech Energy Return' cushioning. It's said to give back enough energy to boost when you need it. I found the RAD R-1 okay for long runs, and the energy return was certainly good but not mind-blowing.
The running dynamics of the R-1 reminded me of the Allbirds Tree Flyer 2, also using a bio-based foam. I wouldn't use either for tempo sessions, but for daily training and recovery runs, they are excellent.
The synthetic Air Mesh upper is airy and roomy, allowing your feet to expand as it gets warmer. It's reinforced around the edges and other key areas. It's not quite Altra-levels of roominess, but my wide feet didn't feel too restricted in the RAD R-1 – pretty good.
There is plenty of padding around the ankles, and the heels are held firmly in the shoes. The RAD R-1 is a neutral shoe and offers only a little support, so if you're a pronator, you're better off with something like the Asics Gel-Kayano 30.
R.A.D. R-1 review: verdict
The R-1 is an exciting first running shoe from RAD. It's a decent daily trainer from a company that not only tries to scale up its production more sustainably but also branches out into new categories. It's not an easy position to be in, especially considering the fierce competition, but from what I can tell, the company is ready to take on the challenge.
I look forward to seeing the agility RAD keeps mentioning in its ethos manifesting in the brand's running shoes in the future. Will RAD be able to create a genuinely sustainable performance running shoe that's good for the planet and the runners? Hopefully, we'll find out soon enough. Until then, the RAD R-1 should keep more runners entertained.
R.A.D. R-1 review: also consider
Already in its 13th iteration, New Balance's 1080 franchise is the ultimate running trainer for cushioning. It's soft but responsive, comfortable but supportive, letting you do whatever you want in them, whether it's walking, jogging or running. You might even want to give them a try for racing. Highly recommended. Read my full New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 review.
On's Cloudmonster is so popular that the Swiss brand didn't launch a new iteration this year, as the original is doing so well still. It features the most amount of Cloud elements ever to be found in On shoes, combined with the springy Speedboard, making the shoe an excellent choice for 10K+ runs. Read my full On Cloudmonster review.