Tuesday, January 29, 2019

adidas Solar Glide Review- Splitting the Differences With Its Siblings For Your Benefit!

Article by Jeff Beck

The 10.5 ounce/297 gram Solar Glide is the $140 middle child of Adidas' new Solar line, positioned in price point and features in between the premium $160 Solar Boost and $120 Solar Drive. It seems to take the best of both worlds to create a well-cushioned shoe with a supportive yet breathable upper. The spiritual, if not actual successor to the Supernova Glide series, the Solar Glide combines Boost cushioning with Solar Propulsion Rails to create a neutral shoe that is still very stable.
-Best toe box Adidas has ever made
-Midfoot cage is soft and flexible, but still gives the shoe some support
-Lots of cushioning while still relatively flexible
-External heel counter can definitely be felt at times
-Upper, especially in the toe area could have durability issues

Listed Weight M9 - 10.5 ounces
Sample Weight M10.5 - 11.1 ounces/314 grams
17/27mm Stack Height, 10mm Drop

First Impressions and Fit
A soft upper, bouncy midsole, and very grippy outsole, the Solar Glide set the bar high right out of the box. After running in the Solar Boost briefly at launch (with its tight toe box and unbreathable upper that was overbuilt in the mid foot), I was cautiously optimistic, and found the Glide doesn't suffer from the same issues as its slightly lighter and more expensive brother. The toe box is more than ample, and the upper breathes very well. I went true to size at 10.5, and they fit perfectly.

The Solar Glide upper is an engineered mesh, with slight reinforcement around the mid foot (in lieu of a plastic mid-foot cage that Adidas has saddled so many Boost shoes with), along with a hard plastic heel counter that splits in the middle. 
Like more and more shoes, the Solar Glide has a creative, if not elf like, feature going up the achilles, but it does not affect the way the shoe fits in the slightest. 
The mid-foot reinforcement is accomplished with a thin translucent film on top of the mesh upper, which holds the mid-foot well without being cumbersome. The tongue is padded, but not thick and bulky. The upper is soft and comfortable, though not as comfortably plush as the Saucony Triumph ISO 5 or New Balance 1080v9 uppers. The upper feels similar to the Skechers GoRun Ride 7 upper , with a little more stretch, and a lot more breathability.
The forefoot has a number of thin lines running through it, ostensibly to increase flexibility, but at ~30 miles of running..
I'm already seeing some extra wear in the folds and could very easily be a point of failure down the road.
The heel counter uses two external plastic pieces with a sizable gap in the middle. For the most part, it is very unobtrusive and gives the shoe just a little more support. However, on two different occasions I wore the shoe for a while after my run (extensive stretching and some cross training) and as I stood around in the shoe I could feel the heel counter digging into my foot on both feet. Not a huge knock, these are running shoes, and while running in them I couldn't feel the heel counter at all, but if they dig into my foot at times it is safe to assume there will be some folks and foot shapes that have a legitimate problem with it.


Boost. The midsole is almost completely Boost, and it works really well. The gray EVA Solar Propulsion Rails and continuing layer towards the front line the outer rim of the Boost midsole, and seem to help it keep its structure. While mushy is a word some would use to describe a number of Boost shoes, I wouldn’t use it at all for the Solar Glide. For my daily trainers I typically like a little more stack height in the forefoot, but 17mm is more than enough to give actual foot protection, but not too much to slow things down when the run speeds up. 

When Boost first came out the rest of the running shoe industry didn't seem to have a premium and similarly dynamic material to answer with, but fast forward five years and nearly everyone has their version or something similar. If you have tried a few of them, you probably have a personal preference, and the Solar Glide has made me a Boost convert. So many of the previous Adidas shoes had enough other issues (cough cough tight toe box and terrible mid-foot plastic cage cough cough) to keep me from appreciating what the shoe did well, but this shoe gets out of its own way, and that's a great thing.

The Continental branded rubber outsole has plenty of grip and durability.
The Glide uses columns of six circles in a row going across the foot (except in rows that show the exposed Torsion System) with hints of Boost peeking out in between. Between the exceptional grip and wear, the outsole is the boring part of the shoe which is great. Much like a long snapper on a football team, if you notice their existence it likely means something has gone wrong. I wore the Glide on a very casual trail nearby, and they were fine in the dirt. I wouldn't take them on anything technical, the shoe just doesn't have the foot protection for it, but this is a very capable daily use shoe, and the outsole adds to that.

The Torsion system is the biggest variable in the Solar line. The more expensive Solar Boost has a more robust Torsion System, that extends well into the forefoot as well as the on the medial side going back. The middle of the road Solar Glide has the Torsion System as well, but it starts at the visible bar, and extends back on the medial side. The most budget friendly Solar Drive (RTR review although I was not one the testers) does not have any Torsion System whatsoever but does have a thin TPU plate just below the sock liner from mid foot back.

Pictured below is the Solar Glide (top) with Ultra Boost 19's (below).
The Solar Glide is on top and you can see the black plastic that leads to the medial side. The Ultra Boost Torsion System is harder to see as it uses translucent plastic. But the Ultra Boost 19's does extend back to the medial side, as well as forward on both the medial and lateral side (if you look carefully in the 2nd & 4th gap directly in front of the Torsion Bar you may be able to see the translucent plastic). However, it is not as extensive as the Solar Boost’s Torsion System.

Time for some buzzwords ladies and gentlemen, because this shoe is both smooth and snappy. In that when you run slow easy miles it is a very comfortable shoe, but if you pick up the pace for a tempo run, the shoe feels very bouncy like it wants you to run faster. The Boost midsole really worked for me, and while there are a number of other brands making their own version, this shoe rides better than most. It isn't lightweight by any means, but it runs lighter than it feels in hand. I purposely didn't weigh this shoe or look at official weights until I started writing the review, and I would have guessed it as an upper nine ounce shoe, instead of an eleven ounce shoe. Not that an ounce or two really matters all that much, but if you are a weight snob, you should relax your standards for this one.

Conclusion and Recommendations
The Solar Glide is a premium daily trainer that balances slow days comfort and tempo run speed very well. The upper is comfortable and breathable, providing lots of room up front for runners who appreciate a foot-shaped toe box. The scoring lines in the top of the toe box could be the shoes undoing though, with durability concerns, and the heel counter could be problematic. But runners looking for a comfortable Swiss Army Knife of a shoe should give the Goldilocks/middle option of the Solar line a chance.
Score 9.5 out of 10
-.25 for upper durability concerns
-.25 for heel counter drama

Adidas Solar Glide vs Skechers GoRun Ride 7 (RTR review)
The Solar Glide is an ounce heavier and has less cushioning, but is more fun to run in, has a more breathable upper, more room in the toe box, and a more durable outsole. It is also much more stable than the GRR7, and substantially better at pace. While the Skechers shoe has a legion of fans, its a no brainer, the Solar Glide for me.

Adidas Solar Glide vs New Balance 1080v9 (RTR review)
Two very similar shoes. Nearly alike in weight and cushioning, and both work well at both easy and uptempo paces. Both are very comfortable under the foot, with plenty of durable traction. I'll give the nod to the 1080v9 just by a hair, even though the Glide more room up front and zero heel sleep issues, which was my my main complaint of the 1080v9. Both outstanding shoes, but the heel counter digging in and the possible upper durability issues of the Glide make the 1080v9 the winner.

Early in 2018 the Epic React was my favorite shoe, but as the year went on I found I liked it less and less. Yes, it's a full two ounces lighter than the Glide, but traction is an issue, and while the upper is more comfortable overall, it isn't as roomy up front as Adidas. More importantly, every uptempo run I had in the Epic React left me wanting more, while every run I had in the Glide left me wanting to run in it more. No question, take the Solar Glide.

Adidas Solar Glide vs Nike Pegasus Turbo (RTR review)
Similar but different. The Peg Turbo is two ounces lighter, but the cushioning just doesn't work for me as much as I want it to. Also, it is tighter up front makes it hard for me to take the shoe more than five miles or so. The Glide is as smooth while running slowly, and feels better when picking up the pace. Easy choice, the Solar Glide.

Adidas Solar Glide vs Salomon Predict RA (RTR review)
This is up there with the 1080v9 comparison, it's that close to call. The Predict has a slightly firmer ride than the Solar Glide, but otherwise two very similar shoes. Predict has a more comfortable upper, but the outsole doesn't have nearly the traction of the Solar Glide. I'll give the edge to the Solar Glide by a hair, but you could do a lot worse than the Predict.

Adidas Solar Glide vs Adidas Ultra Boost 19 (RTR review coming soon)
I know, I know. The Ultra Boost isn't a real running shoe. Except, the 19 is a real running shoe, and we'll have a full review very soon. In the meantime, the battle for supremacy within the Adidas line is a tough one. They both ride very similar, both have a comfortable Boost midsole, and both have a very durable and sticky Continental rubber outsole. However, the UB19 is a bit of an anomaly. While it is heavier and has more cushioning under foot, I think I like the UB19 more for uptempo runs. Last weeks hill repeats were in the UB19, and when running uphill at 90% effort it feels better than cruising the neighborhood at an easy pace. Also, for as comfortable as the upper is, the Solar Glide has more room up front. At $40 less (and can be found for well below that if you aren't particular about color) and a little more versatile, the Solar Glide wins.

Reviewer Bio
Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs both roads and trails throughout North Phoenix, and at the start of 2019, he began training with Ame For It Run Coaching as he gears up for his first ultra marathon. He's published three books, Outside Service, Prove Me Wrong, and Suck Less Less at Golf and along with his wife launched Mythic Brews Cold Brew Coffee Company in 2018.He enjoys running desert trails as well as the road, and is trying to get his 5K time to sub-twenty.
The product reviewed in this article was purchased. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
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Jeff said...


Anonymous said...

Great review as always Jeff.
You should throw in a comparison to the saucony triumph iso 5 and the new balance beacon.
Between the 1080 v9 and solar glide which is better for uptempo pace and overall response and versatility. I did find the solar glide great cushioning at the heel but lacking in cushioning at the front of the shoe, it reminded me a bit of the Nike vomero 14 which I tried recently.

I am surprised you like the solar glide over the Skechers gorun ride 7, the skechers just seemed more cushioned and have more get up and go for me even though it has a hot upper.

Jeff said...

Hi Steve,

I debated including both of those comparisons, but neither one really felt like it matched up with the Solar Glide. That said, here you go.

adidas Solar Glide vs New Balance Beacon
Match ups like this are the reason that simply looking at weights and stack heights to decide if a shoe will work is flawed. The Beacon has 5mm more underneath the forefoot and 1mm less in the heel, but the Solar Glide feels more cushioned and has more of a pop to it in casual running. The Beacon still inspires to push a little harder and faster on the run, but I enjoy the ride of the Solar Glide much more. I'd take the Beacon if I was doing intervals, and the Solar Glide for literally anything else (easy run, long run, tempo run, hill repeats, etc).

adidas Solar Glide vs Saucony Triumph ISO 5
This is the exact opposite of the Beacon. These two shoes should be the Coke and Pepsi comparison, same shoe with minor variables coming from two different manufacturers. But they are so massively different. Tangent - my first car was a late 90s Toyota 4Runner. I had a roommate in college who has a similar year Ford Explorer. Every time he rode in or drove mine he remarked on how much more nimble and car like it drove. And every time I drove his, it felt lumbering and numb, like a full-size pickup truck from the early 90s. They were virtually identical vehicles made at the same time by two competitors, but they could not have driven more differently.

The Triumph is a lot more underneath the foot (24/32 vs Solar Glide 17/27) and you definitely feel that in the extra weight and overall cushioning. But compared to the Solar Glide it feels like it is getting dangerously close to Hoka levels of over and beyond, and it feels very lumbering and numb when on the opposite foot as the Solar Glide. If Saturday's long run was slated to be 20 miles or more, than I'd probably favor the Triumph, but anything shorter than that, or any other type of run, I'm taking the Solar Glide.

The GoRun Ride 7 does have more cushioning, but it just has never really worked for me. I keep giving it one more shot, hoping that this will be run that changes everything and I see what everyone else likes about it, but its yet to happen. It's like grabbing coffee with the girl you've had a crush on, only to realize that she's got zero personality whatsoever. I know Sam has experienced the GRR7 similarly to me, the midsole of that shoe is just too mushy in a way that doesn't lend itself to any positives. Hokas can be mushy, but still work out well for the right kind of run, but it just doesn't land for me in the GRR7. But I'll keep trying :D

I hope that helps,

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff for the helpful feedback,
I suppose shoes can can work someone and not for others -it can also be subjective as well may not suit how you run. The GRR7 you should try without the insole, it has a dual personality, without it its firmer and more responsive, the initial roadtrailrun review highlighted this. Initially I was not sure about it but it worked for me with a firmer insole and also i put a heel lift which gives me more like a 8 -10 mm drop. The slight rocker feel seems to give me good transitions.

I just found the solar glide when I tried it briefly, not enough cushion at the front of the shoe, to firm and to much road feel. Its a bit like the Nike Vomero 14, some love the shoe others don't.

Mike said...

Thanks Jeff. This is a really helpful review. Can you please comment on how stable they feel compared to the Supernova or Superova ST? I tried the Supernova ST and found them too squishy/soft for me.

Jeff said...

Hi Mike,

Thank you very much. Unfortunately I haven't run in the Supernova or Supernova ST, but the EVA Solar Propulsion Rails definitely make it stable, they wrap around the Boost midsole effectively. That said - Boost itself is pretty soft/squishy, so it may be a non-starter for you. Regardless of what they use to provide more stability you may find the shoe doesn't work for you. Sorry I can't be more help, but you could always give 'em a shot from RW.

Hi Steve,

Absolutely. If there was one shoe that was the best for everyone no one else would bother making shoes. I did a run with the GRR7 without the insole, and I liked the extra room up front it afforded, but that drop in cushioning didn't make my feet happy - they felt more jarring than I'd like. Ultimately I think that type of EVA just doesn't work for me.

I'd experienced what you are talking about with earlier Boost shoes not having enough underneath the forefoot, but every run I've had in the Solar Glides has felt great underneath my foot. But again, to each their own.

I hope that helps,

Dem said...

Hi, I bought these shoes 1 week before a 50k ultra marathon (December 2019). All I can say that it's one of the best shoes for long distance running. I ran 10k on them before raceday. No blisters and I even had a lot of PR's during that race.

Great review by the way :)