Monday, June 20, 2022

adidas Terrex Agravic Flow 2 Review. 10 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski

adidas Terrex Agravic Flow 2 ($140)



Introduction

After never having previously run in any adidas trail shoes, I’ve been able to run and test most of the current Adidas Terrex/Agravic trail lineup.  Just to set expectations - the Speed Ultra (RTR Review) still holds the spot as my favorite all-time trail shoe.  But I’ve been quite disappointed with the Adidas trail shoes designated with the ‘Agravic’ tag.  Neither the Agravic Ultra (RTR Review) or the Agravic Pro (RTR Review) have found a spot in my rotation.  Both felt overly heavy and bulky on the run, and both had big problems with their uppers.  Will the Agravic Flow 2 break the string?


Pros:

Secure fit and foothold

Good width across the forefoot - no foot squeezing

Solid and durable Continental rubber outsole

Rocker up front keeps the shoe moving

Upper made from 50% Parley Ocean plastic, 50% recycled polyester


Cons:

Weight (320g printed on shoe) - seems too high for this type of shoe

Firm cushion

Midfoot (Promoderator) insert is very noticeable under arch

Feels thin at forefoot - combination of lower stack/higher drop/firm cushion


Tester Profile

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. Mike recently finished 2nd at the Scout Mountain (Idaho) 50 mile trail ultra. Mike shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, with plenty of forefoot space, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.


Stats

Weight: men's 11.3 oz  / 320g (US9) 

Sample: men’s  11.7 oz  /  332g (US 10)

Stack Height: men’s 28 mm heel / 20 mm forefoot (8mm drop)

Available now. $140


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

After testing the Agravic Ultra (AU) and Pro, the first thing I wanted to check was the upper fit - specifically the ankle and achilles collar.  The Flow 2 clearly features a similarly designed and shaped upper as the AU.  I find the Flow 2 collar has the same shape and design as the AU, which right off the bat, was not a good sign for me.  

I inspected closely and found that the collar is less rigid all around than the AU, and the material also seems to be a bit softer.  I also noticed a slight depression at the top of the achilles collar, but it’s still the same (in my opinion, needlessly high) height as the AU.  I guess they are stuck with whatever last they are using for this iteration of Agravic shoes.


I sized up to a 10 for the Flow 2, after finding the AU in my usual size 9.5 to be a bit snug for longer distances.  The 10 fits me well, so I’d say it’s in line with the rest of the Adidas Terrex trail lineup - 10 fits best for me in all versions.  The fit feels very similar overall to the AU - solid midfoot hold, wider across the forefoot, and squared off at the front rather than pointy.


On the run, I noticed that the ankle collar felt a bit more compliant than the AU and I didn’t notice any irritation.  The Achilles collar on the other hand, was still noticeably high, and I was constantly worried about getting a blister.  As mentioned in my AU review - it is without a doubt the highest achilles collar of any shoe I’ve ever run in.  Frankly, I don’t see how having an overly high achilles collar serves any stability purpose.  It’s definitely a drawback for this shoe.


[Yarn in upper contains at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic and 50% recycled polyester]



Midsole


The midsole features standard (not Pro) Lightstrike EVA foam, with what is called out asl an embedded “full length promoderator foil”.  The intention of the “promoderator foil” is to provide full protection underfoot to handle technical terrain.  The combination definitely feels firm underfoot.  I also notice a somewhat blocky feel under the arch.  It feels similar to the Torsion insert of the Speed Ultra, but it’s even higher and more noticeable.  If you’re a fan of big under-arch support, this will be nice, but if you dislike any pressure under the arch - this is not the shoe for you.  


I didn’t notice much bounce or “energy return” from the midsole.  It just generally feels firm.  Out of the box they felt really firm, but as with the Agravic Ultra, they did break in a little bit after 20i miles or so.  As a forefoot striker, the firmness was most noticeable up front, as there’s only 20mm under the forefoot.  The firmer foam makes the 20mm feel thin in comparison to a “softer” 20mm.  



Outsole

The outsole features full coverage Continental rubber.  In my experience the durability of adidas’ Continental is excellent.  The lug pattern grips well in dry, rocky, and loose terrain and should also shed mud well.  The lugs themselves are similarly shaped to those of the Agravic Ultra and also resemble those of the Saucony Peregrine.  I didn’t have any appreciable rain in my test period, but based on previous experience, Continental rubber is a great all-around outsole.  


There are no cutouts up front for rocks to collect, and the cutout under the midfoot is much shallower than that of the Agravic Ultra.  There were no issues with mud or rocks collecting in those areas for any extended periods. 



Ride

The ride noticeably depends on a front rocker - starting around the ball of the foot.  The midfoot/rear of the shoe feels quite firm, and there’s a distinct falling-forward rocker effect up front.  The rocker effect does help mitigate the weight of the shoe.  It feels like the shoe should be lighter, but it’s not, nor does it feel lighter on the run.  The rocker just makes it feel slightly less bulky.  It does feel quicker than the Agravic Ultra, which depended on the carbon-plate impulse rather than a rocker effect.


While the Promoderator Foil definitely does the job of protecting the foot - especially at the midfoot/rear, I did feel a bit “dis-engaged” from the ground.  The blockiness under the arch really takes away from any sense of ground feel, yet at the same time you feel some harshness under the forefoot.  They felt ok in moderate, predictable terrain, but in anything uneven or technical, I felt a bit unsteady due to lack of feel around the midfoot area.  It’s a bit of a strange sensation with the shoe feeling tall and stiff under the midfoot, yet firm and thin under the forefoot.  The Lightstrike EVA is also firm at the heel.  I guess it makes sense why the Agravic Ultra uses a Boost insert at the heel, but you don’t get that in the Flow 2.



Also of note - I was constantly aware of the potential of the very high Achilles collar grating across my Achilles.  My first few runs felt just on the edge of blisters.  In subsequent runs I preemptively taped my Achilles. 



Conclusions and Recommendations

While it’s the best and most runnable of the “Agravic” line so far, I’m still disappointed with the Flow 2.  Based on the listed features, and even the name, I would have expected a lighter, more flexible, and agile shoe for technical terrain.  Instead, it’s just a slightly different flavor of the Agravic Ultra.  



Mike P’s Score:  7.65 / 10

Ride: 7 - Ok in predictable terrain, weight is apparent though

Fit: 7 - Excellent and secure, but same stiff ankle collar, high & stiff Achilles collar

Value: 8 - A well made shoe, with durable materials, but doesn’t stack up well against competitors

Style: 8 - Kind of generic Adidas look, aside from the colors

Traction: 9 - Solid and durable

Rock Protection: 9 - Very good, but firm, and hinders ground feel


“Smiles” score: 3 / 5

This score is about how pleasing/fun the experience is on the run, or in the case of race type shoe how effective it is to race.


10 Comparisons


Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra (10): Speed Ultra is much lighter, more flexible, and agile.  The stack is also lower, and you do feel much lower to the ground and faster.  The stiffness can make the Flow 2 feel a bit tall.  Speed Ultra’s plastic Torsion insert under the arch is noticeable, but not as much as the Promoderator protection of the Flow 2.  I’d pick the Speed Ultra for any training and racing. The Flow 2 does have deeper lugs so possibly better traction in looser terrain. (RTR Review)


Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra (9.5): The ride is very similar between these two shoes.  The Ultra feels a bit more cumbersome to run and really dependent on the plate for propulsion.  The Flow 2 feels a bit quicker with its front rocker, but the weight of both shoes keeps them from feeling fast in any way.  Both shoes have similar issues with a stiff ankle collar and very high Achilles collar.  The Flow 2’s are a touch softer and more compliant. (RTR Review)


Adidas Terrex Agravic Pro (10): Bulky, really heavy, very stiff, and overall not fun to run in.  I’d give it a 1 on the “smiles” scale.  Big problems with upper fit and lockdown in the rear foot.  I don’t recommend this shoe at all, especially given its price point.  The Flow 2 is a much better running shoe if you had to choose between the two. (RTR Review)


Brooks Catamount (9.5): Similar in having a somewhat firm ride, but the Catamount midsole is quite responsive and fast in smooth terrain.  I’m not a big fan of the Catamount upper though, its just a bit loose overall and not as locked down, but if your foot fills it out well, there would be no issues there.  The Flow 2 upper and fit is really good, except for the ankle/Achilles collar.  Catamount is 2 ounces lighter and much faster. (RTR Review)


Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (10):  Just throwing this one in there to illustrate that you can have a much more cushioned, protective, and faster shoe and still come in nearly an ounce lighter.  The Mafate Speed 3 is one of my favorites - the upper is so secure and it can handle very technical terrain if you are adept at it.  The MS3 beats the Flow 2 in every category. (RTR Review)


Hoka Torrent 2 (9.5):  The Torrent 2 seems like the shoe that the Flow 2 wants to be.  Unfortunately (for the Flow 2), the Torrent is a full 2.5 ounces lighter.  The Flow 2 is a bit more protective underfoot, but with the Torrent’s much lighter weight, you can run it more agile and avoid the big hits. The Torrent is lower stacked, but feels more cushioned than the Flow 2. (RTR Review)


Saucony Peregrine 12 (9.5):  This is somewhat of a close comp on paper.  Both have firm rides, but the Peregrine is closer to the ground, and its woven rock plate really works well to protect without taking away from ground feel.  The Flow 2’s Promoderator foil protects well, but I felt disconnected from the ground.  Perhaps the Flow 2 would feel better in moderate terrain, but the Peregrine is nearly 2 ounces lighter.  Peregrine is a very technically oriented shoe.  The Flow 2 wants to be, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. (RTR Review)


Saucony Xodus Ultra (9.5):  Have your cake and eat it too?  Need an all mountain shoe that can also eat up moderate trails and everyday mileage?  1.5 oz lighter than the Flow 2 - the Xodus Ultra does everything that the Flow 2 does, better.  No contest here. (RTR Review)


Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC (10):  When I first ran in the Flow 2, I immediately thought of the Ultra RC.  Similar with a bit of a high drop, firm cushion, and a firm/thin-feeling at the forefoot.  Both uppers are really secure, but the Scott has a well done ankle and Achilles collar.  The Kinabalu Ultra RC has more moderate trail-oriented lugs, while the Flow 2’s outsole can handle more mixed stuff.  I’d call it a toss-up here, depending on terrain and fit. (RTR Review)


Topo MTN Racer 2 (9.5):  Interesting comp here, even though very different shoes.  Leaving aside the Adidas ankle/Achilles collar, both uppers fit well.  Choice would depend on preference with the broader Topo toebox vs. the more snug, yet secure Adidas fit.  The Topo has a softer ride, and I find the forefoot a bit thin and wish it had more protection.  On the other side, the Flow 2 is more protective, but it could definitely be a bit softer underfoot.  The Topo feels more stable for me when the terrain gets more technical. It’s more flexible and also 1.5 oz lighter. (RTR Review)


VJ Ultra 2 (10.5):  Keep an eye out for our upcoming review - this is a great update from VJ.  Just as protective as the Flow 2, but super flexible and very adept in technical terrain.  Also much lighter, and best in class grip/traction.  Very similar feeling upper as the Flow 2 - secure, with a touch of a stiff collar, but nothing like the Flow 2.  The Ultra 2 feels awesome at speed in technical terrain, whereas the Flow 2 feels precarious. (RTR Review v!)


The Agravic Flow 2 is available from our partners including REI, Running Warehouse US, Backcountry, and Roadrunner Sports below


Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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2 comments:

Nic said...

I have to say Adidas' trial line is in general a big disappointment to me, except maybe the Speed Ultra in certain use-cases. Whenever I read reviews, the same complaints are always raised: too heavy, too firm, overbuilt. Why does a company of their size, and R&D budget, persist with the outdated "Lightstrike" (if ever something was named incorrectly...) foam that no one enjoys? Do they even take notice of the reviews and complaints? It seems like the same problems are carried over from one model to the next. Until they upgrade their "trail" midsole foam, they remain a HARD NO (pun intended) for me.

The Stoat said...

Overall, the focus on shoe weight in recent years has resulted in many brands compromising too much, with outsoles that don't have enough coverage for wet conditions and mushy midsoles that pack out after 100km. I applaud Addidas in somewhat bucking this trend, and I for one really like their lightstrike foam and full Continental rubber outsoles even if they are a touch heavier.

If they put a bit more effort into their uppers (less taper in the toebox please) and moved to a slightly more more trail friendly lower drop then I would be a big fan. I love the Speed Ultra whose toebox, while narrow has less taper and I'd love for them to get it right on a more cusioned '100 Mile' shoe.