Sunday, August 06, 2017

adidas Aero Bounce Review: Bar Bouncers?

9.3 oz./264 g (M9)
28/18mm. 10mm drop
$100. Available now.
The adidas Aero Bounce is a light trainer which departs from adidas recent use of Boost TPU midsoles in its performance running shoes by using a new EVA midsole material called Bounce. 
Bounce is described by adidas as  "soft at step and gives a bouncy elastic experience when running." The Bounce midsole is paired to a single density soft blown rubber outsole and not the customary firmer Continental rubber or thinner Stretch Web.  Also departing from recent higher priced trends this modern, light shoe is priced at a reasonable $100 setting it up to compete with shoes such as the ASICS Roadhawk FF, Hoka Hupana, and Skechers GOrun Ride 6. 
It is clear from my runs in this shoe that adidas wanted to produce a similar experience to their premium Ultra Boost at a lower weight,  far lower price point and with modern style. The spare black, white and gray is very classy looking with its fades at mid foot. While the heel is decently responsive and with some pop the forefoot is soft, flexible and only slightly more agile and responsive than the Ultra Boost, a shoe whose forefoot I found to be overly soft.  The Bounce foam is outstanding with great cushion and that bouncy and especially a sense of that "elastic" experience adidas calls out. 

But... from a performance running shoe standpoint the soft blown rubber outsole tends to sap the energy out of the shoe, particularly up front.
The upper is fine at the heel and forefoot with plenty of volume and width but the mid foot is looser than I like, lacking some in foot wrap consistency and hold. For once maybe the adidas 3 Stripes are too minimal to wrap the foot as securely as I would like.

UPPER
My pair was true to size and fit to length just fine. As stated above the mid foot hold even when laced overly tight is somewhat lacking. It appears the instep area volume may be to high, the heel collar to wide, and the mesh not as foot conforming and to stiff where it meets the lacing as it could be. 
The upper is almost seamless with just a seam around the last lace hole eye stay area. The upper is made of a not particularly soft engineered mesh. Given the reasonable price, something has to give so the finish stitching of the heel collar and especially the tongue on the inside is cruder than say in the Boston 6. In particular the "flap" left over from where the tongue attaches at the front is quite large. Not an issue so far with socks but I would not wear this shoe barefoot.
The heel counter is excellent. Not as goofy high as some adidas, soft and with excellent hold from the two exterior wings, there being no internal stiffening or counter.

MIDSOLE AND OUTSOLE
Source: adidas
The midsole is adidas new Bounce EVA blend. It is excellent in its cushion and rebound reminding me of Skechers 5GEN most closely with a little less rubbery feeling than Hoka's RMAT and a bit softer than Saucony's Power Foam. It is more "elastic" in feel than Boost, less bouncy and hard to tame and has more even in its cushion feel that distorts less under load. Bounce does not appear to need a Torsion plastic or an EVA layer, expect maybe in the fore foot as the effective Boost performance shoes such as the Boston 6, its closet cousin, seem to require to tame the Boost.
The AeroBounce is very flexible even torsionally this last not always a good thing for me as I prefer some mid foot rigidity for transition to toe off, again some EVA might help. The flex and forefoot somewhat remind me of earlier Saucony Kinvara.

The outsole is a new pattern and at least in my experience a new material for adidas, soft blown rubber..

The outsole is where I think the Aero Bounce falls apart as a performance running shoe making it more a casual, comfortable runner and lifestyle shoe. I have no issue with a softer midsole such we have here and one with some bounce. But, when combined with a very soft outsole a touch heel pop is lacking such as the Saucony Zealot ISO 3 has (RTR review).  Transitions are more labored and toe off is "natural" feeling but not very dynamic.
I measure the outsole duromter (firmness) in the lower 50's at the heel. Most outsole rubber at the heel is at least 60 so firmer. Upfront we see the same firmness as the heel which is not an issue by itself but.. as the midsole is soft as well the toe off, is not very dynamic. I am already seeing some wear at 20 miles although the rubber is quite thick overall. Clearly this outsole is not going to last as long as adidas Continental rubber.
This shoe would benefit from an outsole swap. Take the overly firm outsole rubber over firmer midsole of the stiffer ASICS Roadhawk FF (RTR review) and  put it on the Aero Bounce and take the soft outsole here and put it on the Roadhawk and I think both shoes would be improved! The Roadhawk would be a touch softer and I suspect more flexible, the Aero Bounce would gain some heel pop, a touch more needed stability at mid foot and a more dynamic snappy toe off.
RIDE
The ride is comfortable if a bit thin in the forefoot due to the softness of midsole and outsole. The heel has a wonderful soft but stable landing, due in part to the vertical midsole wall slits but one lacking in a touch of pop due to the soft outsole. Slower runs are more labored than faster ones in the Bounce. At speed the Bounce material seems to increase in its "elastic" rebound and pop but the soft outsole is still an impediment to a really snappy ride.
CONCLUSIONS
The Aero Bounce comes close to being a  good performance trainer shoe for me. Its very attractive price point seems to force compromises around the upper, not as supportive for narrower feet as many even in its class and outsole, 100% soft blown rubber. 
Underfoot the feel is comfy at step in and walking around, a great shoe for kicking around with modern classy style but lacks somewhat in dynamic pop at the heel and then snappy enough transition to toe off, all I believe due to the choice of that very soft blown rubber outsole and lack of much toe spring. If you might like a lighter variant of  the Ultra Boost at a far lower cost , or a soft flexible shoe with a "natural" relatively unstructured and flexible run feel in a higher 10mm drop shoe then it could also be a good option. I do think that moving some of the stack height from heel to forefoot would improve the Aero Bounce, lowering drop and making the forefoot more cushioned and also stiffer with more snap could improve the ride.  As for the Bounce midsole it is a superb new material which we hope will be incorporated into higher performance shoes. 

SCORE 9.65/10
-0.2 for overly soft and potentially rapid wearing outsole which takes some of the fun of Bounce away.
-0.15 for difficult to dial in upper fit.
-0.1 for over flexible and soft forefoot lacking in toe off pop.

COMPARISONS 

Boston 6 ($120) ( RTR Review)
A cousin, the lighter Boost adizero Boston 6 has 2mm less cushion front and back. It has a snugger, maybe to snug upper for some and Boost instead of Aero Bounce as its midsole with a layer of firm EVA as well. I find the Aero Bounce heel a touch more stable and also more cushioned and softer (the outsole the culprit) than the Boost in the Boston. The front of the Boston is far snappier and more dynamic and in the end somewhat less fatiguing as well. For performance Boston is my choice.
Hoka Hupana ($115) ( RTR Review)
Lighter by an ounce, with a superior if snugger knit upper the Hupana also has a similar  energetic ride and one that completely does away with an outsole per say relying on the durable RMAT midsole. The underfoot feel is similarly consistent from heel to mid foot.  The front stack in the Hupana is 2mm thicker which not only provides a touch more cushion but also stiffens the shoe slightly over the Aero Bounce. While I think the Bounce material is a potentially better and more dynamic midsole than RMAT, the execution in the Aero Bounce, soft outsole and not as secure upper leaves it behind the lively Hupana.
ASICS Roadhawk FF ($100) ( RTR Review)
At the same price take your pick. Firm almost to firm and more responsive take the Roadhawk. Soft and bouncy pick the Aero Bounce. Swap the outsoles between the two shoes and both would improve and be outstanding. I give a slight nod to the Roadhawk for its far better executed if snug upper and potential as a faster pace shoe while the Aero Bounce is more casual and easy, maybe to easy and casual.
New Balance Vazee Rush 2 ($90) ( RTR Review)
Priced very attractively with a similar fairly crude upper the slightly heavier Vazee Rush v2 is definitely firmer and harsher and with less bounce but is clearly more responsive. I give a slight nod to the Aero Bounce for its more comfortable underfoot feel. 

The Aero Bounce was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Would you use this as a daily trainer for say 5 to 10ks 80kg runner. Currently love boost but my pegsusus feels to firm and not cushioned enough for me. Tried the hupana but struggling to adapt to the low drop. Great review as always!

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous, Agree with you on Pegasus. They are firm. The Aero Bounce would be OK but maybe not enough shoe as a daily trainer due to soft forefoot You might also consider Saucony Ride 10 or Zealot ISO 3. If you want to stay with Boost the Boston 6 would be a good choice on the lighter side. I really also like the Tempo 9. While a light stability shoe it is decently light as the Energy Boost 4 is quite heavy and the stability element there but not that noticeable. Brooks Ghost 10 and Launch 4 are also good choices. Reviews of all the shoe mentioned can be found at our index page here http://www.roadtrailrun.com/p/blog-page.html
Sam. Editor
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Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, I like running in soft cushion shoes like the ultra boost and hoka shoes. Looking for some casual shoes that are soft enough to handle 3 to 5 miles in every now and then as o can pick these up for 70 dollars. Any suggestions?