R.A.D R-1 review: A new kid on the running shoe block

Say hello to R.A.D's first ever running shoe

a photo of the R.A.D R-1 running shoes
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

R.A.D's first ever running shoe, the R-1, is here and infused with exclusive technology like the SwellFoam N2. This is a unique foam midsole partially derived from sugar cane, aligning with the brand's green philosophy. It's a great supportive and cushioned shoe for long or easy runs but not the bounciest ride during tempo or speedwork sessions.


  • +

    Sustainably designed

  • +

    Comfortable and soft

  • +

    A well-engineered upper for locking down the foot


  • -

    Little energy return

  • -

    Laces come undone easily

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.


Price: $160/£150  
Drop: 8mm
Weight: 276g / 9.7 Oz
Type: Road
Neutral/Stability: Neutral

The running shoe world is always abuzz with the arrival of a new contender, and the R.A.D. R-1 could be about to make waves since its debut this year. Emerging from the realms of CrossFit-centric footwear, R.A.D. takes its first strides into the running shoe arena with the R-1.

After reading the specs for the R-1 and getting my first glimpse of the shoe, it was clear R.A.D had three things in mind: sustainability, design and comfort. 

The main standout feature of this running shoe is the midsole. The R-1s midsole is powered by R.A.D.'s groundbreaking SwellFoam N2 technology. Comprising a 50/50 blend of cane and fossil composition, it marks a 20% bio increase from the R.A.D One training shoe's SwellFoam. This unique foam mix is designed to deliver next level cushioning for your long runs. The midsole also incorporates something called Bubble-tech, which is composed of nitrogen bubbles for a lightweight midsole and noticeable energy return. But how did these innovative features fare up when I put the shoes to the test?

While trying to build up my base levels again before beginning marathon training, I tested the R.A.D R-1s during a variety of runs including interval work, one tempo session, two long runs and various easy miles. Read my full R.A.D R-1 running shoe review below and see how they compare to the best running shoes

R.A.D R-1 review: Price and availability

Retailing at $160/£150, R.A.Ds first running shoe can be bought in a Men's size 4.5 to 14 and a Women's 6 to 15.5.  With 11 colorways to choose from, ranging from the understated Black to the vibrant FTC Red, the R-1 is set to cater to diverse tastes.

R.A.D. suggests that this shoe fits true to size but to size up by 0.5 if you usually do in running shoes. But, If you’re ever unsure about sizing, read our how to buy running shoes guide here. At the time of writing you can only buy the R-1 running shoes from the R.A.D website, we will update here if they become available through other retailers.

a photo of the R.A.D R-1 running shoes

(Image credit: Future)

R.A.D R-1 review: Design and fit 

Let's start with the basics. I opted for my usual size during testing and found the fit to be spot-on, supporting the idea that true-to-size is the way to go with the R-1.

If you were to tell me that a brand best known for CrossFit shoes is planning to create a running shoe, the R-1 is exactly what I'd envision. That may sound silly, but the R-1's are not as extravagant looking as some popular running shoes appear (like the On Cloudmonsters) and are subtle enough in appearance to pass as a training shoe in the gym. However, the chunky and rounded sole does give the game away that they are in fact designed for running.

SwellFoam N2 is R.A.D's answer to a cutting-edge midsole tech for running shoes, that incorporates sugar cane, actively capturing carbon during growth, reducing reliance on less eco-friendly materials. With a 50/50 cane/fossil composition blend, it marks a 20% bio increase from the R.A.D One training shoe's SwellFoam. 

The upper is crafted from a visually intriguing 3D looking mesh featuring horizontal lines that I felt enhanced both structure and breathability. Around the toe, heel and lateral sections of the shoe there is a TPU film strategically placed to help with durability in areas where wear and tear is more common. 

The entrance to the shoe features a soft foam enveloping the ankle and foot and ensuring a comfortable fit. There is also a little additional cushioning in the heel cup area which helped prevent any unwanted foot movement during testing. The tongue is gusseted and made from an airy mesh material which provides cushioning and allows for a snug fit without causing discomfort. However, the Achilles heel of the design lies in the laces, which I found frequently came undone mid-run and got a bit annoying during my tempo and interval training runs when pausing to retie my laces wasn't on the agenda.

a photo of the side of the R.A.D R-1 running shoe

(Image credit: Future)

The heart of the R-1 lies in its midsole, as we've already touched on, it's powered by R.A.D.'s proprietary SwellFoam N2 technology. This supercritical foam midsole, not only should deliver cushioning for long runs but is also supposed to exhibit the necessary responsiveness for tempo and interval sessions. Plus, the use of nitrogen bubbles in the foaming process is designed to create a lighter-weight midsole with enhanced energy return. While I definitely enjoyed the soft cushioned feel of the shoe on my easy and long runs I'm afraid I can't say the same for any runs where I needed to pick up the pace.

I tried finishing a speedy-ish 5K in my first two runs with the shoes and felt I was working harder than I have to when I wear my On Cloudmonsters or go-to Parkrun shoe, the Hoka Kawana. It was a similar story when I came to wear the R-1's during a tempo session or for interval training. I felt like I was stomping my way along rather than bouncing seamlessly from one foot to another. However, I did feel really comfortable in the R-1's during my long runs and will be returning to them for long, casual, chatty runs in the future.

The outsole is relatively simple in its design with four rubber pieces. Two weeks into testing the R-1's and as expected so soon on, no sign of wear was evident. However, once these sections do begin to wear away, you'll find yourself running directly on the midsole. That being said, it reminds me of the bottom of the Hoka Rincon, and they seem to hold up just fine from what I've heard from fellow runners.

A photo of the R.A.D R-1's running shoe outsole

(Image credit: Future)

R.A.D R-1 Run Performance:

Initial impressions during speed sessions and interval runs did leave me questioning the R-1's prowess. It seemed to demand more effort to maintain pace than some competitors. However, as my testing progressed into longer runs and easy miles, the shoe's potential began to shine for me in the form of reliable cushioning.

The upper provided excellent lockdown and ventilation. I have only tested these shoes in winter conditions but I'm holding out for the R-1s to become a trusty long distance running shoe in summer with its breathable upper.

The R-1 ended up being a comfortable, plush option for easy miles and extended outings. However, it lacks the specialized features necessary for speed and tempo runs. While not designed as a performance powerhouse, it serves well for casual runs or those seeking a comfortable companion for lengthy excursions.

a photo of the R.A.D R-1 running shoe

(Image credit: Future)

R.AD R-1 review: Verdict 

For runners seeking a plush, comfortable experience on easy miles and extended outings, the R-1 is a solid choice. Casual runners and those prioritizing comfort over speed will find a reliable companion in these shoes. With that being said, this is quite a pricy shoe. Had I found design features like the Bubble Tech to have delivered greater energy return or the Swellfoam to provide more bounce I definitely would be more in favor of the price. 

The R.A.D. R-1 earns its stripes as a casual running shoe but sadly doesn't stand out as a solid shoe choice for energy return or bounce. I'm excited to see where R.A.D goes with running wear now that it has entered the scene. 

If you're looking for a reliable everyday running shoe for a slightly smaller price, you should check out the Nike Pegasus 40. Or if you want to find a snappy and responsive shoe, you might like the Adidas Ultraboost Light.

Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.