Monday, May 28, 2018

adidas Solar Boost Initial Review: Splashy Tropical Vibe. Lively yet Mellow Ride

Article by Sam Winebaum

adidas Solar Boost
The adidas Solar Boost recently released with a great splash. The look is a wonderful combination of black and white and tropical vibe. The upswept achilles collar adds a visual dash of speed and motion while the 3 Stripes only on lateral side are an interesting and effective contrast.
Looking at the specs I was curious to see if adi had, at long last, released a daily trainer which was not heavy and ponderous as the last Energy Boost was or soft and mushy as the Supernova Glide 9 and Ultra Boost were. adi has great lighter more performance oriented trainers such as the Boston 7 and light stability Tempo 9 but nothing in the class of the Brooks Ghost, Nike Pegasus, or Saucony Ride. Our last great adi trainer were the first couple versions of the Energy Boost, at 9.3 oz a wonderful all around trainer and for us marathoner racer. In later years, many raved about the earlier Glide Boost, until version 9 a completely different heavier softer shoe, although we never ran the earlier Glides.

Out came our digital scale for the weigh in. Surprise!  Our 8.5 weighed under 10 oz at 9.9 oz translating to about 10.2 oz, so right in the weight class of the direct competition.  Specs online had shown it at 10.6 oz or even more so in the weight class of the current Energy Boost or Supernova. Now we were very interested. Read on to see how they performed.

Weight: Approx. US M9 10.2 oz. /289 g
              Sample US M8.5 9.9 oz /281 g
Stack Height: 28mm heel /18 mm forefoot
$160. Available now.

Upper and Fit
The fit for my medium narrow foot was true to size in length. The fit is relatively low volume up front with the upper stretching some to fit. There is only very slight stiffening and shaping of the toe bumper front of the toe box area so comfort way up front is fantastic.
The front of the upper reminded us of the soft-shell like fabric of the original Energy Boost here with welded elastic TechFIt overlays similar to what the 2017 Energy Boost had in a denser pattern, so stretchy and secure. This said, as with the original Energy Boost 1, I noted some bunion area pressure, very unusual for me in any shoe. Over time the upper stretched in the EB1 and hope and expect it will here too.
Gone are the heavy plastic mid foot cages of most recent adi trainers replaced with a dense and substantial 3d Tailored Fibre Placement saddle made from recycled plastic. The Solar also has an inner bootie tongue construction. Even though we no longer have the plastic cages we have a super secure mid foot hold to go with the stretchy forefoot. This is not a particularly breathable upper.
My first run in them was a moderate tempo 10 miler in them. My foot was very well locked down. There is plenty of under arch room. The fit is far less constrictive in the arch than the Nike Epic React at mid foot.  Over the foot it is somewhat low feeling at the front lace up and the saddle dense and structured so I laced more loosely than with many trainers.

There is an issue with the new Tailored Fibre Placement saddle for me and one that may be related to the bunion pressure felt from the forward stretch upper.
The lace holder panel is thick, not particularly pliable, and ends abruptly over the unpadded stretch front of the shoe. The last 2 lace holes are not notched or split. 
I felt some pressure at that point from the combination of the lace panel and the lace below it on the medial side. On the the lateral side I felt some bunion irritation on one foot from the stretch upper.  I mention this as such bunion pressure is unusual for me and as I stated above the last time I can recall it is in the original Energy Boost where after some miles the upper stretched to fit.  I expect the same to happen with this upper but will see. My next run I will lace the front more loosely and try some different socks
The tongue is of the newer molded variety and is perfectly padded and secure. We have a very easy lace up here. 
The upswept achilles tab and the ankle collar were super comfortable and secure. 
The Fit Counter, two side plastic wings with the achilles in a soft cocoon from top to bottom is a home run in comfort and hold.

Midsole and Outsole
The main component of the midsole is of course the white adidas Boost. This midsole first emerged 5 years ago in the Energy Boost is softer, bouncy, and has great energy return. It does not function well being somewhat untamed lateral under load without some "assistance" from other materials.
We noted plenty of that essential heel, mid foot, and forefoot orange Torsion plastic to tame the Boost. Under the foot, we have a thin layer of colorful EVA with prominent EVA Solar Propulsion rails to stabilize and direct the gait without resorting to hard posts or plastic under mid foot on the medial side.
The rails are a softer EVA and essentially a vertical extension of the EVA layer are back of mid foot above the Boost layer.  I found the Solar Propulsion rails to be well named as they are on both sides not creating any unbalanced guidance feel of excess medial support. They are a great addition to a Boost shoe as they provided noticeable directed transition and a touch of stability and were less obtrusive than Brooks and Altra's similar approaches or adidas own in the Tempo 9. I have not tested "ST" stability versions of recent Boost shoes.
We were especially thrilled to see and feel the orange forefoot Torsion plastic. This is one well tuned system bridging a soft ride overall with good stability and decent if softer response. More cushioned up front than the original Energy Boost, more dynamic than the latest Energy Boost and certainly the Supernova Glide 9 or the overly soft no Torsion Ultra Boost,  the cushion system is worthy of a daily trainer which can handle slow to moderate paces and heavy mileage.
Finally, we have adi's Continental rubber Stretch Web outsole. We love Continental rubber for its durability, relative softness, and incredible grip. To date we haven't been fans of the Stretch Web in the forefoot as it reduces pop and response compared to the more traditional lug coverage of the original Energy Boost. A version of the Energy Boost 4 is available with the older style outsole. At the heel the medial Torsion piece just ahead of the heel and the thicker denser rubber coverage and the overhanging "wing" all contribute to an excellent soft but in no way sinking heel landing and a quick enough transition off the heel.

My initial test run was a slower tempo pace 10 miler. The miles went by smoothly. The ride is on the soft side for sure but unlike other recent adidas such as the Energy Boost and Supernova Glide 9 with no ponderous, heavy, over soft feeling. The Torsion plastic gave the Solar just enough snap to keep me rolling along with a softer yet characteristic adidas forward flex point just ahead of the laces. I did miss the denser fuller rubber forefoot coverage of earlier Boost shoes or a thicker EVA layer right underfoot which would lead to a bit more response and snap. The 10mm drop was not noticeable likely due to the Solar Propulsion helping me get of the heel quite quickly with the Torsion helping transition further forward.

Finally a legit daily trainer contender from adidas. It is decently light at around 10.2 oz, so a departure from the recent heavy Energy Boost and Supernova Glide 9. Clearly targeted at a somewhat softer feeling ride than competitors such as the Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride, and Nike Pegasus, the underfoot comfort and cushion is top of class, or close, even if the response and snap a bit more muted than some of its competitors. As such it is maybe not quite as fast a daily trainer when the pace and workout calls for faster tempo running, but it sure will be a comfortable stable ride. It is a good option for adidas fans who felt the Boston is a bit thin upfront and the Tempo 9 a bit firm and with to many underfoot stability features.

The rear of the upper from lace up to achilles collar is outstanding in its comfort and hold. The front of the upper lace up and saddle has some challenges.. While cool looking, the Tailored Fibre saddle is in my view overbuilt and to thick, especially as it also includes a bootie. The Under Armour HOVR has a similar dense knit saddle and pulls it off better as it is thinner, more pliable, and more breathable.  The front edge of the Solar saddle with the two sharp thick wings where the laces and with no padding beneath  feels like some "unfinished business". Unusually for me, I noticed some bite there on top of the foot on the medial side from the wings.  I will also keep an eye on the bunion area pressure I felt. I will play with the lacing and wear thicker socks to see if that makes a difference.

adidas is back in the daily trainer game with the Solar Boost with a softer, yet well directed and decently dynamic Boost ride, but do try them on first to be sure the upper will work for you.

For reviews of all the shoes mentioned in the article see our index page here
Updates and a full review to follow.

Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday a 3:40 marathon.  He also runs trails in rocky rooty New Hampshire and smooth Park City, UT. 
The Solar was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
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demian said...

Interesting impression of this shoe. With such powerful and sexy marketing by Nike and Adidas, one might be led to believe (especially new runners) that React and now Solar Bounce are the absolute cutting edge in running tech - and they are fine shoes but hardly Saucony, Brooks and NB killers.

Anonymous said...

I agree. After trying few from Nike Adidas include their popular lineup say Pegasus,UB, they're just strongly marketing while the technology are nothing significant over running shoes specific brand eg Asics Saucony NB etc. One who are new and seriously into running now may think Nike and Adidas have surpassed those but again they're not. Just my opinions. The only brand im seeing vast improvement in their shoes is Under armour and Skechers.

Anonymous said...

Any comparison to the Brooks Glycerin 15 or 16? They are all neutral, similar in weight, and highly cushioned.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
I tested the Glycerin 15 and found it very soft especially at slower paces. Its upper is fantastic in comparison to Solar Boost’s overdone saddle but definitely prefer Solar Boost’s ride over Glycerin’s. More dynamic at all paces due to Boost bounce well tamed by Torsion and those side rails. If you asked about a comparison to Ghost 10 I would give it a slight nod over Solar.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

I have read it has a hot upper and may not be suitable in hot weather. Did you find that? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Have to do they compare to the Nike Epic React?

As always outstanding reviews, keep up the good work.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous x 2
Solar Boost not the best in warm weather. Closed soft shell like front, dense mid foot saddle.
While the Solar Boost has some upper challenges of its own I have big problems with the over snug at mid foot Epic React. Gets in the way of transitions for me but many don't complain. The Epic React is of course considerably lighter but I find the ride kind of lifeless and dull in comparison to Solar Boost. Many love it. Another good comparison is the new Pegasus 35, review below. A much more lively shoe if a bit firmer than Epic React or Solar Boost. Reviews of all below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading!
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André said...

I tried the Solar Boost today. Found it comfortable (as I find most Adidas as they seem to use a last very close to my foot shape save for the toe box which could be more 'humanly' anatomic). BUT... I fail to see why I should buy these instead of the adizero Boston. They're cheaper, their more breathable, they're 45g/1.6oz lighter and they're just as cushioned (maybe more? 1mm more on both ends, same drop). Same great Conti rubber. Unless a runner buys based on looks over everything else which would be debatable anyway?

Sam Winebaum said...

Andre, I would generally agree with all your points. One key difference however is that you would find more and softer forefoot cushion and a touch more at the heel in the Solar, at least I did. So if you look like adidas and wanted a more substantial trainer type shoe that isn’t super heavy it is a good option. Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi, Great reviews as always.
How would you compare the Sketchers Go run ride 7's with the Adidas solar boost. Which would be better as daily trainer? Which is most breathable, responsive - good at fast and slow runs and comfortable. Do you have a preference between the two. Thanks

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for kind words about RTR! Much appreciated! A tough question as while the Ride 7 has a better upper I personally prefer the extra stability of the Solar Boost and its copious rubber can get almost 2 pairs of the Ride for the price of one Solar. The Ride 7 is more fun to run that's for sure but I find not as stable as I would like for a daily trainer for day in day out. The Solar Boost upper towards the front may provide some challenges for those with wider feet or bunions while Ride 7's had no such issues for me. The Ride is more breathable but not by much. I find the Solar more responsive but not as lively fun.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Are you going to review the Adidas solar glide? It would be great to compare it with the solar boost.Thanks