RealFlex. It's the company's answer to the Nike Free and Saucony Kinvara, both of which have been popular models. But like Nike and Saucony, Reebok's "reasons" for the shoe and its super technology only make me sit here and laugh at it because a couple of them are flat out WRONG.
Check out a review and videos on BirthdayShoes.com. In the video, Reebok's representative makes several good points about the mechanics of barefoot running and how they are beneficial. I applaud Reebok for acknowledging that and wanting to embrace it in their shoes. However, that's just about where the praise ends. Claims that humans can't run barefoot on man made surfaces like concrete is ABSURD! Where do you think I do all of my barefoot running? On concrete. In fact, barefoot is the only way I can run on concrete without getting any top of foot pain (which yes, can eventually lead to a stress fracture). Barefoot keeps me safe, and good concrete is the absolute best surface to run barefoot on (in my own opinion). I am protected by those dreaded impact forces (as the video mentioned) because I can feel the ground beneath me, and have learned to step softly. I can't do that in any type of footwear, even the most minimal. That's why I prefer barefoot on concrete whenever I can.
So we've got Reebok claiming that barefoot in the man made world won't fly. False. They go on to say that running barefoot down hills doesn't work either because you HAVE to land on your heel. Also a big fat false. When I go downhill, I shorten my stride up and allow my momentum to carry me down the hill. As a result, I maintain my midfoot strike and have no issues. It's all about technique. I think the majority of people would be outright shocked to discover what their body is capable if used correctly.
The RealFlex looks like another over-engineered piece of footwear. The sensor pods (really??) look very appealing to those looking for the next advancement in shoes, but I don't think they're necessary, and contrary to the idea of "less is more" when it comes to running shoes. The shoe even has a substantial heel on it, which for me, was a huge reason why I heel struck in shoes and caused myself injury. Lifted heels on running shoes encourage heel striking. That's why a good "natural running" shoe would have a minimal drop, or no drop at all.
In my mind, the Reebok RealFlex looks like just another running shoe. It's probably lighter and more flexible like the Free, but in the end, they're all still running shoes. I have no problem with that. If anything, I'm somewhat excited about this, because this gives runners in traditional trainers a lighter option (thought not as light as the Kinvara or Free) and hopefully a path to healthier running. It means that major shoe companies are embracing the idea of less is more, and encouraging a more natural gait. I just wish companies would stop selling them through lies/false information. But I guess they still have to sucker in people to make a profit.