Our review: the Brooks Bedlam blends a bouncy responsiveness with a subtle stability system to create a sweet ride even for neutral runners.
- Stack Height
The Bedlam personifies the next generation of stability shoes that support without controlling or compromising anything in terms of performance. Brooks combined their GuideRail technology with their energy-return “encased” DNA AMP foam and topped it with a stretchy knit upper, creating a comfortable, responsive ride for any runner.
- 9.9 oz. (W), 11.2 oz. (M)
- DNA AMP with BioMoGo DNA GuideRails
- Crystal rubber
- FitKnit, with reinforced, burrito-wrap tongue
100 Miles In: The Review
From the first run, the Bedlam exceeded my expectations. Granted, as a neutral runner whose tastes trend toward minimal, I didn’t expect it to be a shoe I took to immediately. Its heritage also didn’t compel me: The Bedlam combines the GuideRails of the Transcend, which is more shoe than I prefer, and the DNA AMP midsole of the Levitate, which I find too bouncy, making it unstable and out of sync with my stride, seeming to slow my cadence as I bound from step to step. To my surprise, however, the Bedlam’s ride ends up greater than the sum of its parts and I found myself reaching for the shoe regularly.
On the run, the Bedlam provides a smooth, stable touchdown and a quick transition across the midfoot down the moderate 8mm drop to the forefoot. That’s when the magic happens: the midsole compresses just enough to surround and cushion foot bones, then, as weight comes down on the metatarsals, it firms up and delivers a springy push off. Arrow-shaped flex grooves with connected edges of stretchy crystal rubber outsole contribute to the shoe’s pop.
The GuideRails, which surround the foot in a donut shape from heel to toe, create a stable frame to land and push off from. They also seem to dampen the return of the DNA AMP so that it better matches my stride and turnover, feeling both comfortable and fast. They even seem to reduce ground contact time and increase cadence. Although this shoe is built on the same last as the Levitate, the GuideRails also make the Bedlam feel wider, further enhancing stability and performance by providing a platform under the full width of my splaying forefoot. Unlike the Levitate, which remind me a bit of rolling atop a Superball, the GuideRail/DNA AMP combination of the Bedlam creates the feeling that the surface of the earth beneath me is made of a thin layer of wrestling mat over a tube inflated to 90 psi.
The knit upper with a burrito-wrap tongue, reinforced and connected on the arch side, also contributes to the wider feel. It holds without gripping tightly, feeling almost loose and surprisingly un-controlling, but never sloppy. The knitted ankle collar also emphasizes comfort over hold, but fortunately the heel cup is contoured and the padding grippy, so my heel always felt secure. In fact, I had to loosen the top eyelet and slide my foot slightly forward to get the shoe off, but the padding around the back prevented any Achilles rubbing. Overall, the upper is invisible, which is the highest praise I can give it.
No part of the Bedlam demonstrated significant wear after 100 miles. If anything, the ride became more comfortable as the sockliner molded to my feet, allowing more feel of the foam below, and the GuideRails, which are made of a dense EVA and initially felt a bit firm, also seemed to break in.
There’s The Rub
You can’t ignore that these are heavy shoes by today’s standards. While they run lighter than they weigh-in, I’d love to see a version without the heavy DNA AMP in the heel, where my research says its rebound properties are unnecessary.
As is, I found that I didn’t mind the heavier weight on recovery days and on moderate long runs—anytime I wasn’t concerned about pace. And the subtle, unobtrusive support of the GuideRails was appreciated more on these runs, when fatigue compromised my stride and limited my muscles’ ability to keep my joints in their preferred movement paths. After a few runs I stopped noticing the weight, and when I switched to lightweight trainers on fast days, the comparison made feel me feel weightless.
A stability shoe that is as or more responsive than its neutral sibling, the Bedlam delivers a smooth, comfortable fit and ride. The knit upper secures without binding and holds up over time. Underfoot, the GuideRails bring out the best in the DNA AMP, channeling its energy and delivering a comfortable, stable and responsive platform underfoot, with a touch of welcomed support when you show fatigue. Runners who want and need stability will feel at home here, yet there’s no need for a neutral runner to shy away. Not the fastest shoes in your quiver, due to their weight, the Bedlam makes long, easy miles fly by in comfort.