Is Adidas' new Ultra Boost the "greatest running shoe ever"?
What makes this neutral running shoe so special that the company can make such a bold claim?
Most running shoes use midsoles of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, but the Ultra Boost's sole is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is said to be three times more resistant to temperature changes than EVA.
Thousands of TPU pellets are stuffed into the midsole, allowing energy to be stored and returned with every stride for better energy efficiency. The new shoes are said to have 20 per cent more of the Boost cushioning foam than earlier shoes. So, the Ultra Boost should be more bouncy and save you more energy.
Ah, but there is more. A new dual-density Torsion System embedded in its base allows more independent movement between the heel and forefoot, thus delivering better stability and control.
The upper uses Adidas' Primeknit technology, a soft knit material, and a new featherweight sockliner that adapts to your foot for better fit and feel. The Ultra Boost review unit is mostly black, except for the white Boost midsole and its coloured heel counter.
When I slipped on the shoes, I was immediately impressed by the snug fit and how comfortable they felt - like wearing a pair of thick socks. Yet my feet felt secure and my toes had enough room to wiggle.
Unlike the Adidas Energy Boost I reviewed two years ago, the Ultra Boost felt well ventilated and my feet did not heat up much.
For injury-prone ankles like mine, the Ultra Boost's newly designed external heel counter is heavensent. It cups the ankle securely without restricting movement or comfort. It is the best heel counter I have experienced in a running shoe.
The energy return on every stride is evident instantly. Whether you are a heel or midfoot striker, the bounce can be felt. The shoe also feels lightweight, though it is about 80g to 100g heavier than most minimalist running shoes.
On my "initiation" 2.4km run with Ultra Boost (without socks), I shaved 70sec off earlier runs in minimalist running shoes. Yet, neither my feet nor ankles felt any pain. On longer runs of 5km or more (with thin socks), there was no letdown in performance or comfort, and I sometimes managed to shave off up to 90sec.
Other than its hefty price tag, I cannot find anything wrong with the Adidas Ultra Boost. It is, by far, the best running shoe I have tried.
Material: Adidas' Primeknit upper with proprietary Boost midsole
Weight: 305g (US 9, Mens)
Value for money 4/5
This article was first published on April 22, 2015.
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