Brilliant, but Flawed: Adidas Adios Boost Review

It’s fitting that the Adios Boost boasts a sole made of Continental tire rubber because a car often comes to mind when I think of this shoe. It’s what I imagine it’s like to be in a Corvette stuck in traffic: it’s frustrating.

I don’t know what sort of shoe company Adidas wants to be. Do they want to make solid performance shoes, or do they want to sell gimmicks? In 2013 they gave us Boost midsole foam which is good, maybe even great (more on that later), but they also gave us the Springblade, which looks like a joke and a serious dog turd trap for incautious sidewalk runners. The Adios Boost could have been a really impressive shoe, and it certainly managed to be one of the buzziest and most sought-after shoes of 2013, but to me it feels like it was rushed to market to showcase the Boost midsole foam.

My Runs in the Adidas Adios Boost

I like to get at least 60 miles on a shoe before reviewing it. So you can get a sense of how I run/at least how I ran in these shoes, here’s a list of the runs:

Thursday, January 9, 2014
8.08 miles
1:03:54
7:54.50/mile average pace
6:00/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 6:35 am
4.08 miles
32:12
7:53.53/mile average pace
6:40/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Thursday, January 30, 2014, 6:11 am
6.28 miles
48:26
7:42.74/mile average pace
6:00/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Friday, January 31, 2014
3.34 miles
25:31
7:38.38/mile average pace
6:00/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Saturday, February 1, 2014, 5:18 pm
3.13 miles
25:30.38
8:08/mile average pace
Terrain: Mostly hilly sidewalks

Sunday, February 2, 2014, 4:21 pm
5.05 miles
45:55.29
9:06/mile average pace
Terrain: Paved trail and mostly hilly sidewalks

Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 6:21 pm
3.16 miles
26:31.08
8:23/mile average pace
Terrain: Mostly hilly sidewalks

Thursday, February 6, 2014, 7:00 am
2.28 miles
17:44
7:46.67/mile average pace
6:00/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Thursday, February 6, 2014, 6:14 pm
3.10 miles
25:52.66
8:20/mile average pace
Terrain: Mostly hilly sidewalks

Saturday, February 8, 2014, 6:57 am
5.03 miles
41:20.67
8:14/mile average pace
Terrain: Paved trail and mostly hilly sidewalks

Sunday, February 16, 2014, 8:01 am
2.18 miles
24:12.59
11:06/mile average pace
Terrain: Thickly iced sidewalks

Monday, February 17, 2014, 9:57 am
1.76 miles
18:55.16
10:45/mile average pace
Terrain: Thickly iced sidewalks

Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 6:49 am
4.07 miles
32:29
7:58.87/mile average pace
6:40/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Thursday, February 27, 2014, 6:04 am
9.07 miles
1:12:17
7:58.17/mile average pace
6:00/mile max pace
Terrain: Treadmill

Total: 60.61 miles

The Good

The best thing about the Adios Boost is the Boost foam. I’m coming around to the idea that simpler is often better. That’s not to say that new technology and innovative design doesn’t still turn my head, but at its core a shoe should be simply a slab of foam, a slab of rubber to protect the foam and add traction, and a step-in, lace up upper to secure my foot  to the foam + rubber. Improve the upper, the midsole foam, and/or the sole in this formula and you might have a winner. I don’t need plastic plates or tabi toes or arch wraps or bomb-proof toe caps or any of that goop. Just the basics.

Boost foam is an improvement on the industry standard EVA foam midsole. It’s bouncier. I’m not sure it offers the 1% energy return that Adidas claims, but it’s impressively springy and lends the shoe a fast feel. I ran outdoors in cold weather and the Boost material didn’t stiffen up like some other midsoles do in frigid temperatures. If only I were as unaffected by the cold as Boost foam!

The Bad

There’s a lot of bad.

1. Too firm forefoot. The Adios Boost seems like it was designed with heel strikers in mind. The 10.5 mm drop flies in the face of the 4-8 mm drops that are becoming more and more common. Not only is the heel stack height much higher than that of the forefoot, but the Boost foam gets awfully thin at the forefoot and there is absolutely no Boost foam at the front inch of the toe of the shoe. How exactly are we supposed to get energy return from this magical midsole flubber at toe off if there’s none of the material in the toe area? Land on your heel and the Boost foam can do its job, but land anywhere north of there and you’re on your own. During the time I was putting the initial 60 miles in on this shoe I was doing a lot of treadmill running due to extreme cold and that treadmill running caused me to develop a shorter stride and more of a midfoot/forefoot strike, so the firm forefoot was particularly noticeable to me. I grant that some of that firm feel may be desirable in a performance shoe/racing flat, which the Adios Boost reasonably could be considered, but the firm feel isn’t consistent throughout the shoe since the heel is so bouncy so I tend to think that a firm feel wasn’t what the shoes designers were going for.

2. The lacing system is a nightmare. Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic here, but this lacing system sucks. I always double knot my running shoes since I don’t want to have to stop to retie my shoes during a run, especially during a race (I once ran the last five or so miles of a half marathon with one shoe untied because I was that determined to not stop to tie it). I’ve never found it so inconvenient to take the extra moment to untie a double knot to get my shoes off that I’ll complain about laces that don’t stay tied with single knots. Some people do that. I’m not one of those people. My gripe with the laces here isn’t that they’re too long (they are) or that they don’t stay tied (like I said, I do double knots so this isn’t an issue for me — come undone from double knots and we’ll have a problem), but that they get caught in the notches in between the eyelets. Every. Single. Time. The laces are supposed to lay over the eyelet tabs, that’s the only way they’ll pull tighter/looser as you adjust the shoe when you step into it. However, invariably the lace loops slide between each eyelet tab into the notch of no return, from which they have to be individually plucked out in order to adjust the shoe. This is a pain and seems like it could’ve been avoided by eliminating the tab+notch design of the lacing system.

20140314-060253.jpg

3. Sloppy fit. The lacing system is really a pain because I always have to adjust the fit of the shoe when I put it on because I can’t seem to get a decent lockdown. I’ll pull the laces so tight that the upper puckers at the toe and I’ll still feel like I’m not locked in enough. Not only is the toe pucker a bad look, but feeling loosey goosey in the forefoot in a performance-oriented shoe is unacceptable. The upper puckering started after about 30 miles in these shoes, so I have to wonder if I somehow stretched out the upper which then forced me to have to lace the shoes tighter and tighter.

4. Not flexible enough. I found that I was able to bend the forefoot of the Adios Boost manually, but it only bends in one place and it feels like I’m breaking the shoe when I do it. The layer of firm midsole material that sits above the Boost foam (or directly above the Continental rubber outsole if we’re talking about the toe area) coupled with the lack of flex grooves in the forefoot make this shoe very inflexible. That inflexibility along with the swim my forefoot actually led me to stumble and catch my toes on uneven surfaces while walking. Not even running. Walking. Not a great choice for confident outdoor running on anything but the smoothest of roads.

5. Only built to go fast. Here’s where I got the Corvette simile. I took the Adios Boost out for a couple of runs on snowy, icy sidewalks in DC. There is a statute on the books requiring residents to shovel their sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time (either 24 or 48 hours), but that doesn’t mean that people do it. I had to slow way down to traverse some particularly treacherous sidewalks and these shoes made what was already turning into a bummer of a run feel like a slog. 9:00/mile is about as slow as these shoes are willing to go happily. Any slower than that and they just start to magnify that slowness and make it feel like a death march. Exactly how they do this is hard to explain, but trust me when I say that you don’t want to find out what I mean.

6. Ugly. I can deal with the purple and pink of the upper even though it looks like a box of Nerds exploded all over my shoes on Valentines Day, but why exactly did the classic Adidas stripes have to be silver? The silver doesn’t match, doesn’t even go, and it doesn’t look good.

By the Numbers

Fit: 4/10 (At least my heel didn’t slide around)

Performance: 7/10 (They are indeed fast and the Boost is bouncy.)

Feel: 7/10 (Pretty comfy, but nothing to write home about.)

Looks: 5/10 (They’re loud, I’ll give them that.)

Overall: 6/10

I like the Boost foam enough that I’d consider trying it in a different model, maybe the Glide Boost at some point, but despite being the the shoe of choice for the top finisher at the 2013 New York Marathon, the Adios Boost is not a winner for me.

2 thoughts on “Brilliant, but Flawed: Adidas Adios Boost Review

  1. 2 Cups 'N Run says:

    Great review, so thorough! I heard such good things about this shoe, it’s nice to read a review with some negatives as well, if only to be aware of what to pay attention to.

    • HopeAgainstHopeRunning says:

      Thanks! Whenever I post a review, I think about all of the other things I could have added to make it more thorough. I love diving deep with a product and really thinking about my experience with it. Glad that my gear geekery can be put to good use.

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