Tuesday, December 27, 2022

adidas Adizero SL Multi Tester Review

Article by Dominique Winebaum, Peter Stuart, Zack Dunn, and Michael Ellenberger

adidas Adizero SL ($120)


Dominique: The Adizero SL is a new addition to the Adizero line of running shoes , a daily racer trainer at an entry level price ($120), designed with key features from the franchise, such as the Lightstrike Pro Drop-In in the forefoot and Lightstrike EVA midsole frame.  For runners like me, it is an opportunity to step into the Adizero world class and fast range of shoes – and crank up the pace.  For competitive runners, it is a racer trainer at an affordable price.  So the question is how does this SL model live up to the high performance level of the Adizero fast range of shoes? 


Affordable racer trainer Dominique

Entry level price for an Adizero running shoe Dominque/Peter/Zack/Michael

Very breathable Dominque/Peter/Zack/Michael

Lightstrike Pro drop-In for a fast ride Zack/Michael

Fast and fun ride Zack

Attractive design and colors Zack/Michael

Sustainable platform (50% of upper is made of recycled content) Dominque/Peter/Zack/Michael


Shoelace system is a bit tedious Dominque/Peter/Michael 

A bit firmer at the heel than I prefer Dominique/Peter/Zack

Requires a tight lacing for a good hold Dominque/Peter/Michael

Upper is a bit voluminous Dominique

Average hold in the forefoot Dominique

Firm ride  Peter

Overly cushioned ankle collar Zack


 Sample Weights: 

men’s 9.80 oz / 277.8 g (US 11)

women’s 8.29 oz / 235g (US W9)

women’s: 33mm heel / 24.5 mm forefoot: 8.5 mm drop

men’s 35mm heel / 25 mm forefoot: 10 mm drop 

Available now. $120

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Dominique: I received a pair of Adizero SL at the Adidas booth at The Running Event in Austin. The shoe is a fast daily trainer at an entry level price ($120) and my first introduction to this elite range of running shoes.  Mostly, I run easy - and happy - yet I get a kick when pushing the pace in order to keep up with my friend Karen.  With the Adizero SL, it is an incentive to run faster than my regular pace of 11 min/mile, especially so as the shoe is more pleasing to run at a faster pace.  As of my fourth run (5 milers), I am easing into the firmness of the shoe, especially as I pick up the pace, and getting a feel for the Lightstrike Pro drop-In. This is more than just a trainer! 

I was seduced by the looks of the Adizero SL when it was presented to us at TRE in the colorway pulse mint/zero metallic/lucid fuchsia. I am presently in Geneva, Switzerland, and I took note that the SL is offered in 4 different colorways in Europe versus 2 on the US market.  It is very attractive and looks matter to consumers. . 

The engineered mesh upper is a bit voluminous and the hold in the forefoot is onlyvery average, especially for what is supposed to be a performance shoe.  Not the tighter knit mesh uppers that I have gotten used to in middle of the range shoes at  $140.  On the plus, the upper is covered with punched holes of different sizes, which is a bonus when it comes to breathability, and it is made with at least 50% of recycled content. 

Although this is pretty standard for Adizero shoes, I find the shoelace system a bit tedious as I need to pull each lace individually through the eyelets to tie my shoes while the shoelaces are also quite flat and narrow. 

The shoelace system is not entirely made of eyelets on the SL, as in other Adizero models, as there are cord loops in the first two rows which help pull the extra material of the upper into place.  I take extra care to pull the shoelaces for a tight fit and I am good to go. 

Both the collars and the tongue are well padded for a comfortable and secure fit.  The foothold is a bit weak in the forefoot.  Overlays on both sides reinforced the upper though they could be more generous and spread out more in the forefoot for a better hold. 

The fit is roomy as opposed to snug, yet I would not recommend sizing down half a size.  I compensate for the roominess by wearing a thicker pair of running socks and by tying my shoelaces pretty tight, albeit comfortably.   

Peter: The women’s colorway is a beautiful shoe. The men’s version I received is, um, black. Black with white strips. It’s about as basic and boring a colorway as you could imagine. Classic and simple? Sure? 

I find the fit to be a tiny bit short. I don’t need to size up, but there’s not a ton of room at the toes. Step-in is fine. As Dominique pointed out, the laces are thin and there are a ton of eyelets, so getting the fit dialed in is a bit of a chore. The ankle collar is very heavily padded. It hasn’t caused any irritation for me, but it seems like a place this shoe might have shaved some weight. 

Overall hold of the foot is okay, but not amazing. The overall firmness of the shoe tends to force my heel to shift up a little. Again, not a dealbreaker, but not ideal. 

There’s a little fold up tab on the back that you can use as a pull-tab to pull the shoes on and then flap it back down. It’s a cute design touch. The upper is extremely breathable and overall comfortable. 

Zack: With first impressions, this shoe definitely caught my eye and intrigued me. It has a very simplistic look and has a much different look to it than other Adidas shoes. It does not look as fast as say the Adios Pro / Takumi Sen shoes, but is not as built up as the Solarglide lineup, so I was excited to see what this shoe would bring to the table. In terms of looks, I like the colorway I received (full white with pink and purple accents), and I enjoy the quite simplistic, yet modern look of the shoe. 

I enjoyed the upper quite a lot with no real problems encountered. The collar and tongue are perfectly padded, and there were no issues with lockdown at all, or the the laces and midfoot lockdown also presented no issues. Adidas even added the slight detail of the pull tab at the back of the shoe which is quite nice. 

Michael: The Adizero SL is a shoe I very much looked forward to testing! Adidas has long been making top-notch racing flats (we all know the Adios Pro, but the Takumi Sen, Adios, and even Adizero pro are strong performers), but I’ve had much less success with Adidas trainers… until now! 

Starting at the top, the SL is quite a looker, and comfortable to boot - my previous complaints with Adi trainers have been, as Zack alluded to, that they’re overbuilt and sort of bulky, even if pitched as “lightweight.” Not so here, the Adizero SL is quite svelte, and even with a padded tongue and heel cup (it’s a trainer, after all), there’s some racing DNA here, to be sure. I can’t totally speak to breathability (it’s been freezing cold everywhere, and even our treadmill is in the mid-60s), but I imagine this being a terrific summer shoe - the mesh is airy and light.


Dominique: This being my first pair of Adizero running shoes, I cannot speak on the differences of the new softer Lightstrike main midsole.  However, when pressing with my fingers it is softer in comparison to Sam’s Adios pro 6. In short, the new Lightstrike appears to be softer. 

The forefoot insert of Lightstrike Pro is very dynamic and helps create a propelling motion. It can be seen through a little gap in the center of the midsole as shown below. 

There are no rods or Torsion system midfoot plastic shanks here, as are found in other Adizero trainers, such as the Boston and Adios respectively.  

We do have the characteristic front lateral “notch as the other current adizero have. 

The stack height and drop is less for the women's version: 33 mm in the heel and 24.5 mm in the forefoot and 8.5 mm drop than the men’s at 35mm / 25mm with a 10mm drop.

Peter: Lightstrike just hasn’t done it for me yet. Even in this newest iteration, Lightstrike feels overly firm and unforgiving. Between the already firm Lightstrike in most of the shoe and then the even firmer lightstrike pro in the forefoot I just don’t get any give at all from this midsole combination. Overall stiff (and it hasn’t broken in with about 45 miles so far) and with a noticeably firm forefoot–the SL midsole could use some cushion and some bounce. 


In terms of the midsole, I have actually never tried a shoe with the current Lightstrike foam before, so I was quite excited to try it out. Through my testing, I can say I enjoy the feel of the midsole for most of my runs. I found the midsole to really feel good at moderate paces, as at slower paces it felt somewhat stiff and unforgiving, and  at fast workout paces, it felt too soft and not responsive enough. 

I will say during my tempo run (5:29 / mile pace) I definitely could feel the forefoot had more of a responsiveness to it, which is certainly the Lightstrike Pro doing it’s superfoam thing. There are also notches throughout the midsole, but none of them are noticeable underfoot. Overall, I do think the midsole was quite nice when used at the right paces which was in the moderate range for me.

Michael: I’ll agree with the others that there’s a distinct firmness to Lightstrike and Lightstrike Pro, but I have to say - I’m a fan! Not only is the geometric shaping of the midsole quite interesting to look at, it contributes (somehow!) to a solid yet lively ride . Adios-Pro-level bounce, this is not - but I agree with Zack that at “medium” paces (say, tempo and long run paces, if not a little faster), the SL is a great performer. I didn’t try anything faster than about 5:20 (goal marathon pace, give or take), but it was comfortable enough there. To be sure, I’d pull out one of the three-striped plated shoes for harder efforts - but the SL works well in a lot of pace ranges, which I can appreciate.


Dominique: No Continental® rubber in the forefoot as for other Adizero models here, but regular rubber which appears to be very durable. The colorful design for an outsole is cool. 

Peter: Plenty of rubber coverage on the bottom of the SL  I have run them in wet conditions with no traction issues at all.  

Zack: The outsole is pretty simple but works well with what it needs to do. Unfortunately it does not feature any Continental Rubber, but it does seem like it’ll still last long, as after 60 miles I'm seeing very little wear. I can second to what Peter said in that there are no issue in wet conditions in terms of traction, or even on packed snow. 

Michael: More than half of my miles on the SL were on the treadmill (where I found the grip to be very good - surprisingly not always the case!) but even my outdoor snowy runs had no real lack of traction. Consider me impressed.


Dominique: In order to enjoy the ride I need to run at a faster pace than my usual 11 minute miles.  I find the shoe a bit firm, more so than my regular daily trainers, yet the firmness helps deliver a faster ride.  I have been “ trending faster” even on my solo runs in the Adizero SL, so indeed the shoe is delivering, but also I have been pushing the pace because that’s what the shoe is calling for. 

Peter: Firm. Firm and kind of stiff . Not a lot of smiles for me in the SL. I’ve felt pretty beaten up after runs in these both in the forefoot and in the knees and hips. For me the ride is overly stiff and not supre fun at any pace. I don’t HATE running in them, but I really don’t love it either. In addition to the firm feeling, I don’t feel like I’m getting any help from the shoes. They aren’t propelling me forward in any appreciable way, nor are they bouncing off the road.

Zack: In terms of the ride of the shoe, I overall really found it to be quite enjoyable, and definitely filled in a missing gap at Adidas had in running shoes, which I feel is an everyday workhorse training shoe that can hit a large variety of paces. For this shoe, I took it through nearly a week's worth of running, and a variety of different runs, paces, etc. 

The first run  was a 7 mile tempo run , and the shoe performed really well. It isn't as lightweight as other shoes, but it did have enough pop and is still a decent weight so it definitely got the job done with no issues. 

I then took it on a normal run, which was 8 miles at an easy effort, and they were decent but definitely were not the best for easy runs. They are not as soft and cushioned as other daily trainers, but they still get the job done with no pain, just with less forgiveness. 

I then took it on a 15 mile long run, and I definitely think this run made the shoe shine. I do long runs as progressive, so typically I start at 7:30 / mile and drop to a moderate pace which is around 6:00 / mile, and I would say in the moderate paces is where the shoe shines the most. So overall, I think the shoe can perform a variety of runs, but definitely shines at slightly faster, moderate paces. 

Michael: I once again align pretty closely with Zack on this one; I think the SL is a great performer for those medium paced runs (including long runs) where you are going to need a little get-up, but where you’re not quite reaching for your racing flats. The forefoot here, as noted, is loaded with some Lightstrike Pro and while I can’t say I definitely felt a difference between it and “regular” Lightstrike, I found the entire midsole to be relatively lively. There’s not some spectacular secret sauce here, but I do think this is a really, really solid trainers - and one I’ll keep coming back to, for sure.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dominique: I applaud the Adizero franchise for providing an affordable platform to their elite-level running shoes with this new SL model. This entry-level  shoe in the Adizero line is designed to help you run faster, and undoubtedly, it has delivered for me. I do find them a bit firm and the hold in the forefoot is a bit lacking.  Not a daily trainer for me, but one for those runs when I am ready to run at a faster pace.  Great design and colorways along with an honorable sustainable  platform.  

Dominique: 9.2


Peter:  This shoe feels like a lifestyle/gym shoe. I appreciate that Adidas are trying to bring tech from their race shoes down to “the people”, but the SL doesn’t really provide an enjoyable running experience for me. It’s like a shoe that you keep waiting to break in but never quite does. I may wear them out and about because the black and white design reminds me of my old school Sambas, but I probably won’t run in them much.

Score 7/10. The most meh of scores

Smile score 😊

Zack: Adidas did something quite well with this shoe in my opinion, and added something much needed to their lineup that I felt was lacking. It's a shoe that is versatile , and manages to to perform multiple types of runs. I found it to be a good blend with enough comfort while maintaining a lower to the ground feel, as well as having a lively forefoot. It is priced at a fair price point and is truly a good shoe. 

Zack’s Score: 9.3/10


Michael: The SL had me in the beginning for looking so cool, and at $120, I was even more ready to love it. After a few runs, well, I’m still a fan! It’s not “the Adios Pro of trainers,” or some absolutely world-shattering pick, but it is my favorite Adidas trainer to-date. If you’re a fan of the Nike Pegasus (not thinking specific models here, just no-frills, neutral trainers), or just want a relatively budget option that can handle a bunch of different types of running, then I think the Adidas Adizero SL is well worth a look.

Michael’s Score: 9.0/10.



Adizero SL vs. Hoka Mach 5 (RTR Review)

Peter: The Hoka Mach 5 weighs in at a full ounce lighter and has a more forgiving ride as well as a bit more energy return from the road. Mach 5 was easily one of my favorites this year, and the Adizero SL does nothing to change that. 

Adizero SL vs. On Cloudmonster (RTR Review)

Peter: The On Cloudmonster comes in at about an ounce heavier than the SL, but to me runs lighter. There’s more bounce in the forefoot and an overall less stiff and clunky ride. 

Adizero SL vs. Asics Superblast (RTR Review)

Peter: These are actually pretty similar shoes. Lots of foam but of course much more in the Blast, fairly simple upper construction and a stiff mid/outsole. Both of these shoes feel a little clunky to me, but I’d be more likely to wear the Adidas out to the gym or to dinner. 

Michael: Though both are great newcomers, I slightly prefer the “chunk” of the Superblast to the svelte platform of the Adizero SL. The ASICS might feel a touch “slower,” but the benefit is some massive cushioning that’ll keep the legs fresh. If you’re working out, though, the Adidas is a no brainer.i

Adizero SL vs. NB Fuel Cell Rebel V3 (RTR Review)

Peter: The NB Fuel Cell Rebel V3 made me miss the V2. It’s a bit firmer and a little less fun to run. That said, I still find it a bit more fun and flexible than the Adizero SL. 

Michael: I similarly miss the Rebel v2. For me, between V3 and SL is a toss-up; I prefer the V3’s midsole overall, but have a slight preference for the fit and instep in the SL, and would likely take the SL over the New Balance for a long run. Both quite good, though!

Adizero SL vs. Pegasus 39 (RTR Review)

Zack: When I first saw this shoe, I immediately drew comparisons to the Nike Pegasus. Even through the first couple of runs, I definitely could feel similarities, such as a firmer heel area with the forefoot having a more responsive pop to it (with the Pegasus being the Zoom Air and Adidas being the Lightstrike Pro). However, I would say if I had to pick between the two, I would choose the Adizero SL. This is due to the fact that in my experience I think the Adizero is slightly more versatile and almost an ounce lighter than the Pegasus. 

The Adizero SL is available now for men and women at our partners below

Running Warehouse US HERE

Road Runner Sports HERE

Top4 Running Europe HERE

Running Warehouse Europe HERE

Tester Profiles

Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles and once a week down in the mid 9 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:21 half marathoner in recent years.

Zack Dunn: is a college sophomore/ runner at Lewis University. I’ve been running for 7 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 60-75 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 4:25 for 1600m, 9:45 for 3200m, 15:27 for 5K, and 25:24 for 8k.  

Michael is a patent attorney and graduate of Northwestern University Law School. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). Michael’s PRs include a 67:43 half-marathon (Chicago Half-Marathon) and 2:22:18 marathon from the 2022 Chicago Marathon. Michael continues to race on the roads, and is chasing a sub-2:20 marathon and potential OTQ in the future.

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Mark said...

Love to see comparison between Adizero SL & Adios (6 or 7). SL seems to have more stack but may be stiffer ride. SL appears to have a rocker geometry where the Adios appears not to have one. Also, can't use the Boston (10 or 11) as a daily trainer as it is too stiff.

Anonymous said...

120$ for this shoe is affordable?! It should be max 80$.

Anonymous said...

First- an adidas running shoe without a ton of rigid hard plastic crud in the midsole?? Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah!!!! Adidas has ruined so many shoes with the use of rigid plastic, it approaches fetishism If this runs like a plastic-less Adios 6, I may give it a try.
Second, I detest abhor and hate the 4 or 5 lace hole trend. Seriously you can just skip an eyelet if 5 extra seconds bothers you that much. Punching another lace can be tricky or even impossible. I personally got so used to the Boston models 5-9 multi-hole lacing that I think it should be the standard. I think I would see about doing that (punching eyelet) with the first 2 loops in this model, kinda like Nike flywire.
Third, I noticed the adios 6 midsole foam got much firmer around freezing and feel like this might be a factor here. I might test at a confirmed 60- 70s to really be proper in analysis.
Lastly, I kinda agree about price but fully expect to see this around $70 by spring. Going to be interesting to see how COVID affects Chinese supplie lines in 2023. May the gods have mercy on them...