You can’t go wrong with a shoe that took more than two years to construct, built on aerospace technology and designed for a customised fit for your feet
It was back in 2013 when Adidas first unveiled its radical Energy Boost collection and those that had the privileged to have slipped on a pair of those would have felt that nothing else could be better. Doing away with standard ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam and replacing it with a lighter thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) midsole made out of thousands of miniature pebbles for improved cushioning, it was then the shoe that every runner wanted to get their feet into.
However, running buffs had to endure more than two years before the celebrated sporting goods maker finally rolled out its long-awaited upgrade, the Ultra Boost; as this writer found out, it clearly does not disappoint.
“We pay great attention to what athletes tells us about our products and asked them about their first Boost experience from the initial Energy Boost launch. It has been two and half years since we had our first brainstorming for the shoe and the Adidas innovation team have been researching and testing different ideas and prototypes since then,” describes David Wong, Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd’s senior manager of brand activation.
The result of combining these feedbacks with its advanced engineering tools is what Adidas claims is its “greatest running shoe ever” providing 20% more cushioning material and the “highest energy return” in the running industry.
Using the same Aramis 3D shape and surface measurement system as those used by Nasa, Boeing and BMW to measure crash tests, vibration analysis and durability studies, the German brand has created a shoe that intuitively adjusts to a runner’s stride, offers superior support and adaptive comfort over hundreds of kilometres, in virtually any running environment.
By filming the foot at 500 frames per second, the Aramis system provides an in-depth engineering data backed up by visuals including a topographic map of a foot’s shape change and deformations through every stage of the running stride.
“We used Aramis to build knowledge on the natural movement of the foot and how well the footwear we’ve developed adapts to the movement. The findings enable us to develop a new upper construction using Primeknit fabric that adapts to any kind of foot shape for better comfort,” says Wong, adding that temperature tests from -20 to +40 degrees Celsius revealed that the Boost foam is more temperature resistant than standard EVA material, resulting in a more consistent run.
Unlike other knit technologies, the innovative Primeknit pattern of Ultra Boost provides comfortable support in less expansive areas of the foot and adaptive stretch where it is needed to deliver maximum comfort. A new dual-density Torsion system is embedded into the shoe’s base that allows greater independent movement between heel and forefoot for increased stability while running.
One of the most advanced features of the new design is the stretch web outsole that adapts and stretches to your foot strike and movement. The perforated elastic design perfectly complements the shoe’s attention-grabbing energy capsules.
The Ultra Boost also features an entirely new heel construction that frees the natural movement of the Achilles tendon. A carefully tuned external heel counter comfortably cradles the foot and adapts to the high extension of the Achilles while a new featherweight sock liner adapts to the runner’s natural foot form for a customised fit and feel.
Wong professes that not enough attention has been paid in the conventional running footwear sphere as to how the foot dynamically changes shape during the running gait. As a runner’s foot can expand up to 10 mm or more in width while running, if restrained, this expansion can cause severe discomfort, friction and blisters.
“We realised that there are still too many runners out there complaining about ill-fitting footwear in the forefoot area. We looked for ways to create an unrestricted yet supportive upper which can adapt to each individual foot type and movement to make a real difference in fit and feel,” says Wong, pointing out that the shoe was designed to amply handle the different types of running terrain and also for both serious and casual runners.
He adds: “Our goal was simple; create a shoe that unleashes the full potential of the amazing Boost foam while at the same time ensuring an unsurpassed adaptable fit in the shoe’s upper, which is the part of a shoe covering the top of the foot.”
Available in core black for both men and women and an extra colour option of solar red (men) and flash pink (women), the Ultra Boost is available at Adidas Sports Performance stores at the retail price of RM650.
Boost to the self-esteem
Hitting the gym with a new pair of shoes will undoubtedly set you back a couple of hours. Fellow members whom you have never even so much as blinked at before, are now suddenly standing next to you expressing unsolicited running advice, while at the same breath, quietly admiring your shoes.
After the Ultra Boost has helped added a handful of ladies’ contact number to my phone, it was time to put the shoes through its pace. On the treadmill – comparatively softer to the asphalt roads – the most sensed difference was in its cushioning; not overly dense but yet plenty of bounce from the midsole.
As both the speed and incline level increases, the upper knits, side panels and elegant matte finish heel counter kept my feet secured consistently throughout the 30-minute run. Differing from some of the gym members’ view that it lacked the essential back support, I found the v-shaped heel design useful for increased Achilles’ flexibility.
Unlike those who are unaccustomed to running shoes that wear like a padded sock, I surprisingly bonded very well with the improved PrimeKnit, despite my slightly wider feet. Clearly, the designers at Adidas did a very thorough job of getting the overall firmness of the knits just right at the specific areas of the shoe.
When it went onto the road, the higher toe provides a much better roll off especially when on the uneven paths and to a certain degree, striding through the next step seems a tad easier; perhaps it’s merely the nimbleness of the shoe. After a two-hour assessment, it’s clear that my next marathon’s timing is definitely coming down substantially.
Clocking up a couple of weeks with it, without a doubt, the Adidas Ultra Boost is by far the most cushioned and comfy pair of shoes that I have ever put on and one that makes running almost effortless.