Tuesday, June 23, 2020

adidas adizero Pro Multi Tester Review - Racing Flat 2.0!

Article by Nils Scharff, Michael Ellenberger, Derek Li, and Peter Stuart


adidas Adizero Pro ($180)

Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 7.8 oz / 221g (US9) 

  Official: 8.3 oz / 235g (9.5)

  Samples: 8.3 oz / 235g US M10    8.3oz / 234g US M9.5

Stack Height: 

32mm heel / 22mm forefoot (Running Warehouse) // 21.5mm heel / 12mm forefoot (adidas)

Nils: adidas seems to be a bit off with what they are publishing on their website. It can be discussed from where to where the stack height needs to be measured, what is included, and size for listed spec sample. My sample size US10 weighs as much as US9 is supposed to officially weigh

Available now. $180

Introduction

Nils: For a long time we runners longed for competition for the ubiquitous Nike Vaporfly. And this year, most manufacturers have finally managed to catch up with one or the other interesting model. After Hoka One One played the pioneer (among the pursuers) last year, Skechers, Saucony, ASICS and Brooks have finally delivered with New Balance rumoured soon with their RC. The adidas Adizero Pro is one of the last “super shoes”, meaning marathon racers with carbon fiber plates, which was still missing on the market.


In fact, little was known in advance about the new fast shoe out of Herzogenaurach. To my knowledge, it was seen for the first time at the New York Marathon at the feet of world-class runner Mary Keitany, who took second place in the American metropolis in 2019. But even with this great result, the Adizero Pro did not attract much attention, because compared to the competition from Oregon it looked relatively modest and almost minimalist in terms of the midsole. Everyone thought “there is going to be something from adidas”. Maybe that's the case, but the Adizero Pro is already there! I will discuss in the following whether it is really minimalistic and at a certain distance just runnable for pros or if it’s an option for the normal runner as well.


Michael: As early as this winter, Adidas was teasing something special, with edgy, blur-laden Instagram ads and edited photos galore - “Faster than Fast,” they said. Coming soon. Well, the world changed a lot since February and us runners, thinking the drop of a new racing flat was the biggest thing to happen in the Spring, were thrown for a loop as Adidas (and others) delayed launches due to the global pandemic.

And then? Well this summer, Adidas did launch the Adizero Pro - with a brand new Celermesh upper, a new Omori Last for fit, Lightstrike and BOOST in the midsole, Continental Rubber and, oh yeah, that Carbitex Carbon Plate. At $180, this flat had everything, and was Adidas’s new flagship for a new genera- err, I stand corrected. Within weeks of hyping and launching the Adizero Pro, Adidas came out with a newer, beefier, marathon-centric Adidas Adizero Adios Pro, and that one-word addition made everyone look at their online shopping carts and think… “what do I do?”


I haven’t reviewed - or even worn - the new Adios Pro (shortened for clarity’s sake), but I have put the almost-as-new Adizero Pro through its paces and, I’m happy to report, it’s good. Really good, actually. The Adizero Pro is like an old-school flat that’s been rejuvenated with just enough carbon fiber to make it competitive in 2020. It’s probably not the super shoe you’re expecting but - especially in a race-free year, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain.


Derek: When pictures of the Adizero Pro first surfaced, I have to admit i was a little underwhelmed. The upper looks amazingly thin and very promising, but there was very little in the way of new tech that i expected to wowed by, especially given the placement of the carbon plate as a topsole. I reviewed the new Adios 5 at the end of last year (RTR Review), and while I like the Adios 5 a lot more than prior Adios versions in terms of vibration dampening, Lightstrike does not seem to be a big advancement over Boost as a midsole material. With all that in mind, and expecting the Adizero Pro to be more of a carbon-plated Adios 5, I thought I knew what to expect from this shoe. I was so wrong...


Pros:

Nils: 

Racing flat with the propulsion of a well designed carbon fiber plate (Carbitex)

The upper is a great piece of art, and disappears when you run!

Very stable! Because it is built closer to the ground than the competition, it is an excellent option for runners with pronation problems

Super traction

Probably long lasting as race flats

Michael: Really smooth toe-off; enough carbon fiber to drive you forward without feeling like the shoe is driving you; build quality (from upper to outsole, this shoe will last); range (could race from 5K to marathon in this thing without issue).

Derek: Very propulsive toe-off at fast paces; Not a harsh shoe at all; Excellent breathable upper.

Peter: Upper is sublime!. Runs smooth and stable. Fun at speed


Cons:

Nils: Just something for faster runs and/or runners! My marathon pace of 7:26min/mile is just the limit at which the Carbitex plate starts to work for me.

Not as much midsole stack and comfortable as the competition.

Should be a few grams lighter.

Michael: Lack of midsole stack disadvantages it even within its own brand; slightly heavier than expected; would be killer at $150.

Derek: Could have used a bit more rocker profile to aid transitions.

Peter: a little harsh, could be lighter and more fun.



Nils 30 years old, located in Heilbronn – Germany and married to my beautiful wife since last year. I’ve done all sorts of sports for all my life, often 5-7 times a week. But my young running career just started 3 years ago with a company run which I joined together with some colleagues in 2017. From there I never let go. I ran roughly 1000km in my first year, doubled and then trippled that number in 2018 and 2019. I've run 4 marathons to date with a PR of 3:14:49h. My other PRs are 18:14 for the 5k, 38:17 for 10k and 1:28:12h for the half. But besides chasing PRs and dreams on roads and trails, especially getting outside and escaping my desk is what makes my love for running (and other outdoor sports like hiking or climbing).

Michael is a patent attorney and 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon.

Derek is a family physician based in Singapore. He only started running seriously in 2013, having dabbled mostly in triathlons for about 10 years prior. He primarily runs road marathons and has a PR of 2:41 for the full marathon and 1:17 for the half marathon.

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years


First Impressions and Fit

Nils: adidas Adizero Pro was that it? It might be the Adios 6 that I had in hand. Visually, the similarity to the Adios 5 is undeniable. Both shoes look really good and extremely fast!

But in direct comparison, the Adios looks a little more robust, while the Adizero Pro is more streamlined and elegant. Everything is a little thinner, finer, lighter. And that has to be the case, because both shoes weigh exactly the same on the scale - 8.3 oz in my test size US10. But the Adizero Pro offers more cushioning and a carbon fiber plate at the same weight, which is why every material in the rest of the shoe has been questioned in order to reduce the weight, gram by gram. 


And the first impression on the foot is that this process was an outstanding success. The shoe feels much more comfortable and softer on the first steps than its quick appearance suggests. The fit is typical adidas: narrow and long. In most cases I wear US10.5 (e.g. in Endorphin Pro, Terra Kiger 6, 1080v10). But in the adidas Adizero Pro the US10 fits perfectly. I have enough room in the toe box and at the same time a secure fit on the heel and midfoot. If I only wanted to run shorter races up to 10km in the Adizero Pro (and it is definitely suitable for that), even a US9.5 would have been possible.

Michael: I have to agree with Nils at the onset; what is called the Adizero Pro could easily be called the Adios 6 without much uproar; the addition of a carbon fiber plate to an already stellar racing flat would not have been a surprise to many. Instead, Adidas has seemingly made the Adizero Pro a new model within the brand and, slipping it on, there are some distinct ways in which it has improved. First and foremost, the upper is more open, more stretchy, and overall is more accommodating to a variety of feet (the Adios, especially in models 2-4, was extremely narrow). While it’s not the lightest racing flat by any means - about 8.3 oz. in my size 8.5 - it does still maintain a sporty profile, and I don’t think many would mistake it for a trainer. In the toebox, my 8.5 was more than accommodating - I could probably have gotten by with an 8.0 if needed, but I think most will prefer true-to-size with the expectation of just a little more room than on your average flat.


Derek: Upon closer inspection, i realized the stack was a little more across the board than the Adios 5, and is perhaps closer to the SL20 in stack, so maybe SL20 Pro? Anyway, I really like the upper of this shoe. It is so incredibly thin that visually it is just stunning. The fit is very snug in a nice way. I liked the Adios 5 upper a lot for its lockdown without needing much lace tension. The Adizero Pro is very similar in many ways, but the upper is thinner and softer. Step in feel is very comfortable, and you really appreciate the way the tongue is designed (more on that below). The fit is true to size for me, though it seems to be a little bit longer than the Adios 5 for me. Walking around, there isn’t a whole lot of compression in the shoe, but once you start jogging, it is immediately obvious that the shoe feels a lot softer and bouncier underfoot compared to the Adios 5, something i was completely not expecting in a shoe with a top-loaded carbon plate. 


Peter: Right off the bat, I’m a huge fan of the upper. Running in Texas summer heat leads to very wet shoes--but not these. These are light without feeling cheap. The upper is light, fits great, laces up easily and looks great. My first run in these was a bit disappointing, but I’m feeling pretty beat up in general right now. Will see how they break in (spoiler alert--they’ve gotten better with more runs). They fit true to size and I’ve had no issues with chafing or blisters. 


Upper

Nils: The one-piece Celermesh upper, which is used in the adidas Adizero Pro, is awesome! On the one hand, it is a real eye-catcher. You can look through the shoe from almost every perspective! 

If you take a closer look, you can see that it is a very, very thin black fabric that is covered with a grid-like internal reinforcement over the entire surface. This is the same principle as that used in Adios 5, but here with a finer structure. The internal reinforcement feels similar to a t-shirt flocking and is super comfortable on the foot even without socks (attention! If you want to wear the shoe without socks, remember to reduce the size!).


From the outside, the shoe works well without any noteworthy reinforcing elements. The Adizero Pro's lateral support is outstanding nonetheless. 

The three giant adidas stripes are very thin and give little structure. The same applies to the only flat seam on the inside of the shoe. Only around the holes in the lacing is a reinforcement sewn in. This reinforcement is a bit wider on one side, because adidas has come up with something extraordinary here: The Adizero Pro has 9 additional holes for the laces on the lateral side. 

To be honest, the fit is perfect for me even when using the standard lacing holes. But with the help of these additional options, the pressure can be distributed even better and the Adizero Pro can be easily adapted to different foot shapes and needs. I've only seen this on the Saucony Mad River TR so far and definitely think it's a cool feature.

The tongue of the adidas Adizero Pro is made of a thin, neoprene-like material. Two small cushions are worked into the upper end. Material and cushion together protect the midfoot wonderfully against any pressure from the laces - there is nothing to be felt. However, when the marathon lacing is used it is a little fiddly to pull the tongue high enough to protect the foot. I respect every gram adidas tried to save here, adidas could have given us half a centimeter more tongue here. As usual, the tongue is sewn to the rest of the shoe to secure it against unintentional slipping and at the same time to optimize the fit of the shoe. On the inside it reaches down to the midsole, on the outside it ends at the bottom of the lacing holes - probably to save a few grams again. At first I had concerns about friction there. But the seam was worked perfectly, which is why these concerns were groundless.


The Adizero Pro is padded relatively thinly around the entrance of the shoe. The padding wraps around the ankle in an approx. 2 cm wide ring and extends a little further down the heel. All of this feels very comfortable on the foot and offers an excellent lockdown together with a very narrow but relatively high heel counter. A fairly thick insole with the inscription Lightstrike rounds off the, all seeming high-quality, materials. It is not particularly perforated, but is characterized by a 5mm thickness and a particularly soft feel. That feeling is what surprised me the most about the Adizero Pro. The shoe looks like a weapon, but feels like a slipper on the foot.


Michael: Many of us sung the praises of Celermesh when it appeared on the Adidas Ultraboost PB earlier this year and while that version was great, Adidas has fine-tuned it even further for the Adizero Pro. The upper here is super-thin and super-breathable; it’s also seemingly nearly seamless and those who prefer to race sockless will likely have a good go of it here (though those runners will want to carefully examine sizing - and may want to go down .5 in that case). 


Fortunately, the airy mesh does not compromise structural integrity; on one up-tempo run in the Adizero Pro, I was constantly dodging walkers, runners, bikers, and cars, including some really tight lateral jumps and turns, and had no concerns with ripping the shoe or putting undue strain on the upper. Likely the lower stack height actually contributes to this confidence; some of the 40mm monsters (like the existing Vaporfly Next% and the upcoming Adizero Adios Pro and Nike Alphafly Next%) do not instill the same confidence.

Derek: I like the way the tongue has an elastic gusseted design attaching all the way to the topsole on the medial side, and attaching midway along lateral side just farther down from the eyelets. I tend to get pressure on the lateral midfoot from full gusseted designs if the wrap is too tight, and this is a happy compromise wherein you get the medial arch support from the gusset, but let the lateral aspect of the foot run pressure free. The upper breathes very well for me, and has very good lockdown. 


I think most people should be able to achieve a reasonably good fit given the ability to play with lace placement to adjust lace tension with the multiple eyelet options. That said, the shoe last is not the widest, and already I am using the widest shoe lace configuration as a default. The toe box is decently voluminous for a racing shoe, and should again accommodate most foot shapes without feeling sloppy. 

One thing i want to point out is the heel counter. It is a triangle shape with the base at the back of the heel, and the top of the triangle extending up to rest against the Achilles tendon. I only noticed it on one of my runs, but i had a bit of Achilles rub from this heel counter. In retrospect, i would have liked for the heel counter to extend more around the sides, and maybe be less pointy right in the middle to minimize risk of irritation. 

Peter: I’ll keep it brief as the others have gotten all of the details in. For me, the tongue is a tiny bit short. It’s fine in the run, but can be a little bit of a struggle to keep in place while putting the shoe on. It’s minor,  but if I were trying to put these on quickly, say in transition during a tri, I’d be annoyed. The material on the upper feels like a revelation--it’s light, thin and holds the foot beautifully. I’d love to see this material on some other shoes. Mostly the upper just disappears completely while running. It’s great!


Midsole

Nils: adidas takes a different approach with the midsole than most of its competitors. Where, for example, Nike and Saucony save the cushioning material used in their high-end shoes for the price range mostly beyond $180, the designers from Herzogenaurach use proven materials: Boost and Lightstrike. The way in which these components are used is also very similar to what we’ve already seen in the Adios 5. 

An almost continuous outer ring made of the stiffer Lightstrike foam gives structure. Boost is then used in the interior of the midsole and at the heel to ensure comfort and an energetic running feel.


The big innovation in the adidas Adizero Pro is the additional Carbitex plate embedded in the midsole. As with all manufacturers, this is “uniquely shaped” and looks like a big spoon (surprise). This spoon differs from all carbon fiber plates I've run so far (Next%, Carbon X, Endorphin Pro) in that it is relatively flexible. The shoe can be bent at least a little in the forefoot. This way, the Carbitex plate in the Adizero Pro ensures a relatively flexible toe-off and thus the sparkle of this shoe. In addition, the plate is still torsion-resistant, which is why the adidas Adizero Pro offers high amounts of stability for such a minimalist racing flat. Because it’s cushion is relatively modest with 22mm* in the forefoot and 32mm* at the heel, the adidas Adizero Pro is also a shoe with a lot of groundfeel and excellent lateral stability - at least compared to maximalists like Vaporfly or Endorphin Pro. It is therefore a good option for more demanding courses or runners with pronation problems!


*Both dimensions originally come from the product sheet of our partner Running Warehouse. I have measured and can confirm both measurements if measured including the out- and insole. adidas itself states 12 / 21.5mm on its website. But even if it is difficult to measure without modern technology, I cannot explain these values. In the forefoot I get at least 15mm without the insole, at the heel at least 25mm.

Michael: It's 2020, and this is a racing flat, so you can reasonably expect to be treated with a plate of some sort. Fortunately, adidas hasn’t just wedged a stiff flank of material in here and called it a day - instead, they developed a unique Carbitex plate and anchored it with both its classic BOOST midsole material and their more modern Lightstrike compound. 

Believe it or not, this is the first Lightstrike-equipped shoe I’ve tried, and while I think an all-BOOST option may ultimately be superior, there’s no shortage of bounce here. No, it’s not the super springy “trampoline” effect of the Nike offering, but it’s adequately energy-return-y so make you feel like you’re constantly moving forward. Add in the late-stage snap of the carbon fiber plate, and you’ve got a really (surprisingly!) smooth ride from the Adizero Pro. There isn’t a distinct rocker sensation (think of, say, the Hoka Carbon X), but there is a gentle roll into that toe-off. It was pleasant - and fast - and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. 

Derek: This is the part that surprised me the most about the shoe. With a top-loaded Carbitex plate, i really expected the shoe to be very stiff and harsh, but Adidas chose to go with a relatively flexible plate, that blends very well with the Lightstrike and Boost and manages to come to a nice balance of propulsion at the toes, while still bending enough to feel smooth and cushioned at slower paces. The vibration dampening in this shoe is surprisingly good for its stack and the way it is designed. It is not a soft shoe by current standards, but without going in depth into comparisons, off the top of my head i would say this shoe is less jarring than the following shoes: NB Beacon, Reebok FFE, Adidas Boston, ASICS EvoRide. They judged the stiffness very well here. Sure, a softer plate has its drawbacks, mainly in the form of a less aggressive rocker, so you still feel that it is sort of like a traditional shoe without any very special rocker transition, but still getting that extra snap when you really lean into the forefoot and load the plate.  


Peter: I’m not sure I’d know there’s a plate in here if I wasn’t told. It feels like a relatively stiff and slightly firm racer. I prefer a shoe with just a little more give than this (like the Endorphin Pro) but it’s grown on me over time. I like the Lightstrike better here than I did in the Adios 5, but still don’t love it the way I love some other foams (ahem, Hyperburst, ahem). The best thing about this midsole is that it is relatively transparent--what I mean is I don’t feel like I’m running on a mountain of foam or getting a huge boost (no pun intended) from the shoe. I feel the road and can really focus on form.


Outsole

Nils: The outsole of the adidas Adizero Pro also has a lot that is known from other shoes in the Adizero line. In the forefoot, a large area is covered by the proven continental rubber. In the past, this has always been characterized by excellent durability and traction (even when wet), which is why I also like to wear adidas shoes in my free time. I also think with the Adizero Pro you can rely on the rubber with the Continental logo. Compared to the Adios 5, the rubber used is thinner, less profiled and also used in full coverage of the forefoot. In the Adizero Pro, there are no cutouts within the rubber surface through which the midsole could be seen. I wonder if more profile in combination with cutouts would not have provided better traction at a comparable weight. Even so, I haven't encountered any traction problems so far.


The Adizero Pro's heel is protected from abrasion by the so-called Adiwear rubber. This is also a tried and tested remedy that has already worked for other shoes. What is new is the transition from the heel to the midfoot. 

This is where Quickstripe DSP comes into play, which is described with the words “lightweight outsole for flexibility and durability - on the road and on the track”. These stripes feel similar to the inner reinforcements of the upper - somehow like the reverse side of a velcro strip with nubs on it. First of all, this is a very strange material for an outsole. But this "textile tape" is provided with very hard, angular knobs that work almost like mini spikes. So far, I have not really noticed them on the road or on the running track, but they look as if they would provide excellent protection from one or the other slide under difficult conditions - for example, on the wet tartan track. At the same time, they don't feel too hard on the road. I still have a little bit of concern about how long these stripes will last on the shoe, but as long as they do they are a great addition to the proven Continental and Adiwear materials.

Michael: Really great performance here from the outsole - you can tell, visually, that there’s a lot of coverage here and I don’t think it disappoints at all. There’s more than enough grip for wet roads and though my testing was limited (we are in a hot, dry spell lately), I have full confidence in what Adidas and their Continental Rubber outsoles can do. It’s rare to see such a complete outsole on a racing flat and yes, it may come at the cost of some weight, but ultimately it’s worth having, in my opinion (see On’s blown-rubber response on the new CloudBoom compared to Adidas’s scant offering on the Adizero Adios Pro).

Derek: The nubs on the midfoot and heel have been used before in some Adidas racers e.g. Takumi Sen series, and while it is used extensively in e.g. Takumi Sen Boost, it is curious that they decided to use it in this shoe. Historically the nubs are made of hard polyurethane material, and are used more in the forefoot for traction. While they look durable, my experience is that they tend to wear faster than carbon injected rubber. The current outsole configuration works fine. I have never had any grip issues with adidas’s road range and this is no different. Continental rubber is excellent on most surfaces, so you can expect to corner with confidence on the wettest roads. I would be wary of using it on wet trail as the forefoot doesn’t have a lot of grooves though.

Peter: Continental rubber makes me happy. Adidas Boston are always my go to shoe for a workout in the rain. These are similar gripsters. They hold the road and don’t let go. Flexibility is reasonably good as well (especially considering there’s a plate here). 


Ride

Nils: Now that we have talked about many technical details and materials used, the all-important question is: How does the adidas Adizero Pro feel? 


First of all - pretty good! I went out for a test run for my first impressions in the Adizero Pro just 15min after the package from adidas arrived. Boy was I excited for this shoe! The impressions I had during these first 5 miles just were cemented the more kilometers I completed. While running slowly, for warm up, cooldown or cruising the Adizero Pro is just a normal shoe. The great upper material disappears on foot, you have good lateral support and nice ground feel. Due to the used carbon fiber plate and the outer ring made of Lightstrike, it is also very stable in the midsole and therefore ideal for runners with slight pronation problems. It feels even lighter than its 235g suggest and can go well over all distances with all these properties. My longest run in the Adizero Pro has been 28km so far and even if the forefoot felt a little more harsh than necessary (at some point around 25km) the shoes could definitely have gone further.


But none of these are the reasons why you absolutely want to run the adidas Adizero Pro - and you want, believe me! The reason that makes the Adizero Pro something special is called Carbitex! The carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole begins to make itself noticeable to me at around marathon pace (4:35 min / km, 7:22 min /miles). At this speed, I struggled a little with the Carbitex plate because its incredible propulsion made me run faster than I wanted to. 


This fight was over when it went even faster and towards half marathon pace (4:10 min / km  6:43 min/ miles). The shoe just flew there. On slightly downhill sections of the route, I felt the effect even more. It is exciting that the plate in the forefoot seems to be relatively flexible, which makes the springy effect even more noticeable for me. At the same time, the shoe does not feel stiff like a board, but has a relatively flexible toeoff.


Otherwise the rule of thumb for the adidas Adizero Pro is - the faster, the better. Marathon - here we go! Half marathon - great! 10k - definitely! 5k - for sure! For 5km races and shorter it may be said that there are certainly lighter alternatives on the market. At some point you have to weigh the advantage of the Carbitex plate against the weight. I would say that with the Adizero Pro, the more ambitious runner can race them up to 42.2km. 


Of course, it does not offer the comfort of the sometimes more cushioned competition. But if you like a little more classic and direct feel for the road, adidas will provide you with a top-class racing flat. If you are going a little slower, the shoe can still be a great alternative for shorter races. In addition, the adidas Adizero Pro is likely to be relatively durable and therefore doesn’t need to be saved for racing exclusively. Bring it to your interval sessions - you won’t regret it.

Michael: The all important Ride section. If you read any part of the review, it should be this one (or the Comparisons… or the Conclusion… okay - you should read it all!). Luckily, as Nils has indicated, the ride on the Adizero Pro is impressive. As discussed in the Midsole section, I didn’t detect that “rocker” sensation that many shoes (even non-racers, like the Endorphin Shift) are packing. Instead, the Adizero Pro is a pretty balanced performer, and allows for a more natural, even footstrike before rolling you off that toe with the carbon plate. It’s not intrusive - it’s not even necessarily obvious - but it’s quite pleasant when you start turning over and realize you’re getting a little extra spring from that Carbitex plate.


The next questions should be - is it aggressive? Is it marathon-ready? The answers there aren’t entirely clear. Functionally (in terms of use case), I think the Adizero Pro is basically a Adios 6 - and I long heralded the Adios line as being the best non-plated marathon racer. So it stands to reason that the Adizero Pro is a great marathoner… right? Well, it’s a little complicated. The stack here isn’t high - as Nils measured and described above - which places it in a different class from the Adios Pro or Nike’s AlphaFly. But the low stack comes as a benefit in this shoe’s versatility; the quick toe-off and low center of gravity make this an agile and even preferred option for shorter races where the carbon snappiness will serve to maximize efficiency and speed - rather than promote energy return and leg refresh late into a 26.2 mile race.


Ultimately I think the Adizero Pro is impressive in that versatility - it’s not quite light or nimble enough to be an ideal short-distance racer (see: Reebok’s Floatride Run Fast Pro or Nike’s upcoming (rumored) 5K/10K flat), and it’s not necessarily cushioned enough to be an ideal marathon racer (see aforementioned Adios Pro or AlphaFly), but it comes close enough on both to make it a compelling option.

Derek: I like the ride of this shoe a lot more than I thoughtI would. I was expecting more of a race day option for shorter races, but I found that the shoe works well even for moderate pace longer runs and tempo efforts. Having tried the shoe for easy runs, strides and a longer run of 24km, I have come to the conclusion that this shoe would be best run at moderate to uptempo paces and can easily support harder long run efforts e.g. the type where you have some segments run at marathon effort. At recovery paces, the shoe works fine, but doesn’t feel particularly special. At faster paces, the forefoot starts to feel bouncier and the plate starts to propel you forward a little more at toe-off. I think the plate would have been more impressive if it had been a more curved design, but as is, it works decently well and makes a big difference to the ride if you are using e.g. SL20 or Adios 5 or Boston as a baseline, so kudos to adidas there.


Peter: The ride here is ultra-stable and provides a nice, quick turnover. The plate feels good on uphills and at tempo, and the ride is relatively forgiving at slower speeds. It’s growing on me and I like it a lot, but I don’t LOVE it. I mean, it doesn’t make me laugh when I run in it like some other shoes do. For me it’s a little too harsh to go the distance of a marathon, and lacks some of the snap that I like for shorter races. I’d consider it for 10k and half marathon and certainly for tempo and hill workouts.  The ride feels close to the ground and smooth and gives me a chance to focus on form.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Nils: I didn't have high expectations for the adidas Adizero Pro. “Too little” cushioning, no “super foam” - where could the magic come from? So I kind of expected some variant of the Adios. A very good shoe, but without the wow effect. Somehow I was right, but at the same time I was completely wrong! I simply hadn’t in my mind that the manufacturers a) are designing their carbon fiber plates drastically differently and b) integrate them into their top models for  very good reason and purpose.


Yes, in my opinion the Adizero Pro is a continued development of the Adios 5, now  further perfected. But there is still a wow thanks to the forward push of the Carbitex plate! The shoe is really fun at higher speeds and should have enough cushioning for most runners even without "super foam" and big stacks of it.  At the same time, the Adizero Pro convinces with its ground contact, lateral support and its suitability for both overpronators or underpronators. The fact that it also promises good durability makes it almost a bargain at $180 (among carbon fiber plated shoes).


Nils Score 9.6 / 10 (-0.3 for weight; -0.1 for tongue that is too short)

I am very happy that I got to review the adidas Adizero Pro. It’s not a Vaporfly or Endorphin Pro, but it also doesn't want to be. It is probably wishful thinking that the Carbitex plate will also work for the 5 hour marathoner. adidas has probably already got the best possible out of this as the plate also does not stand in the way while running more slowly. 


A little more tongue would be nice. Otherwise, only the weight remains to complain about. Despite its great properties, Boost is just a little too heavy compared to what else is on the market right now. In my imagination, an Adizero Pro 2.0 has a Boost 2.0 cushioning - same properties with less weight. If adidas manages to reduce the weight of this already great shoe to less than 200g, the 10/10 will fall next year!


Michael: What can I say? I’m impressed with the Adizero Pro. It’s absolutely crazy how good of a year 2020 has been for racing shoes - in a year without racing, no less, and I haven’t even tested Nike’s Alphafly - but the Adizero Pro genuinely stacks up. It feels like a racing flat of old - in the image of a classic Adios, to be sure, or an old Nike Streak model. Even with the carbon fiber plate, I think this is a roll-up-your-sleeves, hardworking flat - it won’t do the work for you, but it sure will reward you if you’re ready to roll.


For me, I think this will slot in perfectly as a hard workout shoe - for when you don’t quite want to break out the Vaporfly or Endorphin Pro, but you want this one to count. Plus, unlike those thick-midsoled competitors, the Adizero Pro doesn’t feel out of place running short, fast repeats on a track.


I didn’t expect to love the Adizero Pro. In fact, in the wake of the Adios Pro announcement, I wasn’t even sure what the point of the Adizero Pro was. But after putting it through its paces, I’ve realized there are a lot of runners who should absolutely consider the Adizero Pro as their singular racing flat. It’s fast, it’s bouncy, and, even without the massive stack, it can cover a lot of distance. Sure, the Adizero Pro could benefit with a little more BOOST and a little less Lightstrike (functionally an Adios 5+), or a little more cushion period to make it a true 26.2 racer, but considering its range, I think what Adidas has crafted is actually quite a compelling option.

Michael’s Score: 9.3/10


Derek: The Adizero Pro is not a super shoe; it just doesn’t have that X factor ride character, but it is a very competent uptempo trainer or marathon racer. The big problem Adidas may face is the pricepoint. At $180, it is competing mainly with the Saucony Endorphin Pro ($200) and Speed ($160), and both those shoes have very good bouncy midsoles and a fantastic plate to boot. Really, you are pitting the ride of the Endorphins against the superior outsole of the Adizero; that is a tough battle to win unless you are racing in a downpour. The Adizero is good at a lot of things, and pre-2017 it would have been the best shoe on the market, but things have moved on, and for me, this is now more of a lightweight trainer than all out first choice racer. 

Derek’s Score 8.9 / 10

Ride 9 40% Fit 9 40% Looks 9.5 10% Value 7.5 10% 


Peter: I agree with Derek! There are lots of good things about the Adizero Pro, but it doesn’t wow me. It gets caught somewhere in the middle of being a good training/tempo shoe and being a race shoe. It’s good, really good, but not great. I have liked it more and more with each run, but I’m not sure it would be a go-to racer for me.



Comparisons

Index of all RTR reviews HERE

Note: German language reviews below are by Nils


adidas Adizero Pro vs. adidas adizero adios 5 (RTR Review GermanRTR Review English)

Nils: I have mentioned this comparison several times during this article. Ultimately, the Adizero Pro is what the Adios should be in 2020. Everything is optimized a little more and then expanded by the factor of the Carbitex plate. I can't think of many reasons why I would choose the Adios over the Adizero Pro but  price could be one. Otherwise adios 5 only for very special purposes such as a race on gravel roads or on very buffed out trails. Otherwise, the Adizero Pro beats its “predecessor” in all respects! It feels better even at slow speeds. 44 EUR in both shoes.


Michael: As I wrote in the review (and in spite of the name), I think the Adizero Pro is more a descendant of the Adios than the Adios Pro. From that standpoint, I think the Adizero Pro suffices as a welcomed upgrade over the Adios 5; those whole loved the Adios line should really appreciate this model, and those who turned away from it for its lack of carbon fiber plate will 

be appeased here. I imagine the Adios 5 is available at a relative discount now, at which point it may still be worth considering if you plan on using the model primarily for workouts - but those seeking a dedicated racer should upgrade to the Adios Pro!


Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Adizero Pro is significantly better in almost every way than the Adios 5. They are nearly identical in weight, but the Adizero Pro is much more cushioned and forgiving, and has a more bouncy propulsive ride. I still prefer the upper of the Adios 5 better. I think the stiffer fabric allows you to have better lockdown without needing as much lace tension, but otherwise Adizero Pro is better in all other areas. 


adidas Adizero Pro vs. adidas SL20 (RTR Review English)

Nils: I have not yet run the SL20 apart from a few kilometers to break them in, since it arrived at the same time as the Adizero Pro. The first impression is a little more towards the trainer and accordingly a little more comfortable. I have both shoes in 44EUR here, the Adizero Pro is a bit longer in this size than the SL20.


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review English RTR Review German)

Nils: Here I quote my comparison between Adios 5 and Endorphin Pro: “Both have the same function in the catalogue of their respective manufacturers: long-distance competition. Both weigh the same in my size. Both have excellent upper fabrics.” But while I have described the Adios 5 as a racer from another time, the Adizero Pro has arrived here and now and can therefore definitely compete with the Endorphin Pro! The Endorphin Pro runs more effortlessly and is the better shoe for me to “roll” on fast marathon courses. It also works at a slightly more leisurely pace and is therefore probably suitable for more runners. But at the half marathon or shorter, it is a matter of taste which shoe you prefer. The Adizero Pro is closer to the ground, feels more direct and faster. For more demanding courses with lots of sharp turns and possibly cobblestones or gravel, it is definitely an alternative that you should think about. Adizero Pro 44 EUR, Endorphin Pro 44.5 EUR.


Michael: Saucony has been crushing it this year, undoubtedly, and the Endorphin Pro is probably the single most impressive model they’ve ever created (though I admit, I was really taken by the Endorphin Shift). Actually, this matchup is pretty simple: I’ll take the Endorphin Pro for anything longer than 13.1 miles, the Adizero Pro for anything shorter. That’s it. Both shoes are awesome - the Saucony is bouncier, the Adidas is a little lower and meaner, and at 13.1 exactly I don’t know exactly which is better… whichever matches your singlet? 


Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I really like the Endorphin Pro, and it is lighter and fits me better too, with a bouncier and more rockered ride. The Adizero Pro has more cushioning at all paces slower than marathon race pace, but the Endorphin Pro isn’t far behind. Overall i think the Endorphin Pro is a better package and well worth the extra $20, but bear in mind the poorer outsole grip of the Endorphin Pro on wet surfaces; it does fine when it is dry.


Peter: Endorphin Pro all day long. So much bounce, so much fun, so much speed!


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Saucony Kinvara 11  (RTR Review English, RTR Review German)

Nils: The Kinvara 11 was my last marathon shoe, which is why I list it here. Both are similarly cushioned, Kinvara a little more in the forefoot. The fit and upper materials of the Kinvara lean much more in the direction of a trainer. Nevertheless, it is light enough to work for (half) marathon races. The Adizero Pro, on the other hand, is a racer top to bottom in which you can train (at higher speeds) due to its durability. The Kinvara lacks the propulsion of the Carbitex plate. Kinvara for training, Adizero Pro for competitions. Kinvara 44.5 EUR, Adizero Pro 44 EUR.


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Nike Vaporfly Next% (RTR Review English)

Nils: I never owned the Vaporfly Next% and only ran it once for a 10k threshold run. In the Next% you can feel the carbon fiber plate feeding as strongly as it is the case in the Adizero Pro. However, in the Next % it is paired with the uniquely soft and light feeling of ZoomX, which is obviously lacking in the Adizero Pro. But to do this, you stand significantly further above the ground and accordingly less secure in the Nike. With the Vaporfly, the carbon plate badly affected my Achilles tendons (2 weeks of pain), in the Adizero Pro I have no problems. Similar to the Endorphin Pro, the following applies here in my opinion: Marathon - Vaporfly. Half marathon - tie. Everything below - Adizero Pro. Depending on your taste, you can surely run all these distances in the other shoe. Adizero Pro should work better for overpronators or demanding routes, Vaporfly also for slower runners. Next% 44.5 EUR, Adizero Pro 44 EUR.


Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The two are very different shoes, with a big difference in technology and price. I feel like i enjoy doing short intervals more in the Adizero Pro as I get a bit more responsiveness out of the shoe, but when it comes to the longer stuff, the NExt% is a much better shoe. 


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Hoka One One Carbon X (RTR Review English)

Nils: Hardly any comparison. The Hoka is much more cushioned and weighs 40g more in my size. It is much stiffer and has a much wider base, which makes it an even more stable option. Surprisingly, despite the enormous midsole and weight, it still works very well for 10km races. Would only get it off the shelf for fast, long training runs if I also have the Adizero Pro available. Both in 44 EUR.


Michael: I like the Carbon X as a trainer or longer-workout shoe, but the Adidas is just leaner, faster, and more fun to run in. If you’re running an ultramarathon, I’m told the Carbon X is a great choice, but I would take the Adizero Pro for everything else - marathon included.


Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I really like the upper of the Hoka Carbon X as it fits me really well, but overall the shoe is a little too firm for me for longer runs, and anything over 15 miles, i start to feel the firmness of the plate in this shoe. I would say the Adizero Pro is a more enjoyable ride for me, and is definitely more versatile in terms of handling the slower paced runs. Head nod to the Adidas Adizero Pro here.


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Brooks Hyperion Elite (RTR Review)

Michael: Two relatively firm, carbon racers. The Brooks gains points by having a little more stack, and I think it’s probably a more competent marathon racer. That said… you might not be able to find it, with the Hyperion Elite 2 coming soon(ish). Even if available, I think the Adidas does 90% of what the Hyperion Elite does with a more even, smooth ride than the relatively harsh Brooks. Both are good, to be sure, but I think I’m taking the Adidas at everything besides 26.2, at which point… it’s really close. I think I prefer the Brooks (having topped out at 18 in it) but both are great.


adidas Adizero Pro vs. Skechers Speed Elite Hyper (RTR Review)

Michael: Very similar profiles here. The Hyperburst is certainly bouncier than the Lightstrike/BOOST combo of the Adizero Pro, but both give that definitive energy-return sensation. I found the upper of the Speed Elite a little constricting and hard to deal with, which is certainly not the case with the class-leading Celermesh on the Adidas. We lamented in our Skechers Speed Elite review that there wasn’t enough Hyperburst to make it a true marathoner - the same is true now, of course, and even though the Adidas doesn’t have much more underfoot, I think it is a little more capable in covering 26.2.


Derek: I wear US9.5 in the Adizero Pro and US10 in the Speed Elite Hyper. Over the past few months, The Elite Hyper has been my go-to shoe for short intervals and 5K-pace efforts. It does not seem to work so well for slower runs as it has a very aggressive and stiff forefoot rocker. It also has a slight drawback in terms of outsole grip and durability. I would say go with the Adizero Pro if your focus is more half-full marathon training, and the Speed Elite Hyper if your focus is more 5-10km or shorter.


adidas Adizero Pro vs. ASICS Metaracer (RTR Review)

Michael: ASICS’s MetaRacer is one of the coolest-looking flats available, to be sure, and a darn competent racer to back it up. In terms of profile, both the Adidas and the ASICS are low and lean, breaks from the high-stack profiles we’ve seen in the recent past. And they match up very closely in terms of race range; I can’t think of one race where I’d definitely pick one over the other. The ASICS has a slightly better upper, and the Adidas a slightly smoother toe-off, so…. Go with your heart. You can’t lose between these.


Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Metaracer has one of the best fitting and feeling uppers on the market right now, and i use it a lot for long intervals and the occasional short intervals run. The plate is a lot stiffer than the Adizero Pro and hence it is a bit less versatile and feels a bit awkward for slower runs, but for race pace efforts and tempos, it is a very good option. Overall, i would say the Metaracer is a better shoe for me, though in terms of underfoot cushioning, the Adizero is better. 


Watch Sam's Metaracer vs. adizero Pro A/B Test Run ComparisonReview


adidas Adizero Pro vs. New Balance 1400v6  (RTR Review English RTR Review German)

Nils: The 1400v6 was my last 5k and 10k racer. It is significantly lighter than the Adizero Pro, but also less stable and hasn't anything to compensate for the propulsion of the Carbitex plate. Adizero Pro wins in all respects. Both in 44EUR (Adizero Pro also possible in 43.5 if it is supposed to be a pure 5 and 10k competition shoe).


Our multi tester review with additional comparisons including to the same class ASICS Metaracer is coming soon.

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9 comments:

Nils said...

Following

Nic said...

My prediction for the next development in high end carbon-plated running shoes: Custom-built carbon plates that take into account the runner's dynamics, weight etc, to optimize energy return for each individual runner. Possibly already happening with the elite runners?

Will Bates said...

How do they compare to the ASICS Metaracer?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Will,
Nils doesn't have Metaracer but I do and will be receiving the Pro along with a few others on the team this week so we will be closely comparing. We mention this at the end of the comparisons above,They do play in the same wheelhouse of Flat 2.0, carbon plated with somewhat more cushion than traditional "flats" so for most 10K to Half shoes
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our index page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Florian said...

Hey Nic,
designing a shoe for the individual apart for fit is against World Athletics (IAAF) rules and not allowed in competition. Given that the rules were just updated this year to allow for the new carbon plated shoes and specifically mention shoes have to be available to all I wouldn't bet on that to change in the near future.

From Book C – C2.1 (Technical Rules)
"5.2.1 A shoe that meets the criteria set out in this Rule 5 may be
customised to suit the characteristic of a particular athlete’s foot. Shoes
made to order to suit the characteristics of an athlete's foot or other
requirements are not permitted."

Nic said...

Hi Florian, thanks for the insight regarding the IAAF rules. I understand the reasoning behind the rule, but it would be very interesting to know what gains could be made by customizing the plate. Maybe a Nike 14%... :)

Anonymous said...

Something doesn't seem right, what is this then: https://www.adidas.com/us/adizero-adios-pro-running-shoes/FX1765.html

This looks more like a vaporfly competitor than this adizero pro. Are these different shoes or what?

This adizero pro looks like a new take on the Adizero RC 2.0 or adizero adios but combining boost with lightstrike. Seems like Adidas is really confused on what to sell, way too much of the same or similar shoes out in the market. Plus I forgot about the SL20.

I'm a fan of adidas (run in adios, boston, solarglide) but this seems to be getting ridiculous.

Nils said...

You are right, Anonymous. Adizero Pro and Adios Pro are two different shoes.

Adizero Pro is a plated more traditional racing flat, that can go the distance. Adios Pro is a long-distance racer probably comparable to the Vaporfly (noone of us has run in them yet).

Davis said...

@Nic: custom shoes are being pioneered by Nike. The Alphafly, unlike the Vaporfly, has different carbon fiber plate layups for different sizes. A guy who wears a size 14 Alphafly is probably heavier than a guy who wears a size 6 Alphafly, and different sizes of Alphaflys get different plates. The bigger shoes get plates with more layers of carbon fiber for added stiffness.

The Peg 37, with its forefoot zoom air unit, has different pressures depending on whether it's a female-specific or a male-specific version.

The Alphafly has 2 zoom air units for a reason. It's a testbed for future Nike products. Think about tracks. You only make left turns on a track. If you look through Nike's patents, you'll see they've been experimenting with different air pressures across zoom air units in the same shoe, to make running the turns on a track faster. There's a reason that racing cars have asymmetric tires--they only turn in one direction, too, and an asymmetric tire can eek out the critical fractions of a second needed to win the race.