adidas' marketing pitch: A tempo running shoe designed for mid to forefoot strikers.
Surfaces tested on: Road, ambient temperature of 18° C/64° F
Upper: Mesh, synthetic nubuck overlays, welded layers. Inner sleeve construction.
Midsole: Dual density. EVA upper rim and forefoot sidewall over a Boost foam layer.
Outsole: Single piece, Continental branded carbon rubber. Torsion plastic shank under midfoot and medal heel.
Weight: 279 gms/ 9.8 Oz for a half pair of US11/UK 10.5/EUR 45.3/CM 29
Widths available: Single (reviewed).
Undeniably, there’s a bright side to most adidas models getting the Boost makeover. Namely, an introduction of a novel ride character which mixes responsive cushioning, transition consistency and a deformation free midsole, all of which are hallmarks of the Boost foam. Our Energy Boost 2 review has all the goods on the science of it, in case you’re interested.
And likewise, you could discuss the flip side of Boost-ification. Most shoes start losing their individual personality traits, overwhelmed by the singular influence of the new Boost material. It removes the layering from each shoe’s ride, and it’s almost as if you can second guess a shoe model just on the basis of how much Boost it packs in.
It becomes even easier if you’ve owned a few pairs of adidas Boost models in the past. Then you can point at a shoe and say things like, ‘yeah, it seems to have slightly less Boost foam than my Supernova Glide, so it should be a little firmer, yet have some of the bounce my Glide 7 has’. And you know what, that might just end up being a fair assessment of the situation.
So when we had an early look at the Tempo 7 Boost pictures last year, we thought, ‘this should feel like a firmer, stability version of the Boston 5 Boost, and a lighter, speedier version of the Sequence 7 Boost.’ This was without any prior experience on the Tempo 6, and guess what, that is exactly what the Tempo 7 Boost turned out to be.
Naturally, things like the upper fit and how it differs from other adizero Boost models is something you can’t take a blind shot at. But besides that, there’s a sense of predictability which accompanies the Boost line. This makes differentiation a hard nut to crack, and that invariably leads into a price-value challenge at some (future) stage.
There is only so much you can do with an upper (ok, the Ultra Boost’s prime knit top is an exception, and an example of clear segmentation), so there needs to be an overall freshness and tiering strategy.
Boost is definitely a magic bullet in adidas’ arsenal of footwear tech, but the brand needs to know how, when, and where to use it. Otherwise, product fatigue is a distant but real threat. Nike excels in this fine art of differentiation. Lunarlon, Free and Air bag based models are able to differentiate themselves by the virtue of their on-ground performance. But hey, who knows, adidas still might have some cards yet to be played.
Getting to the matter at hand, then. The newest link in the chain of Boost midsoled models is the 2015 Tempo 7 Boost, a shoe which is part of the lightweight adizero line-up. The adizero assortment focuses on performance oriented footwear, and cuts across multiple categories, including soccer. On paper, the Tempo 7 is the successor to the non-Boost Tempo 6. But as with most Boost upgrades, the level of differences should be huge. We haven’t tested the T-6, so will be great to have someone fill in the blanks for us.
In running context, adizero translates into a motley crew of training and race focused models. This is a well established sub-category which most adidas loyalists should be able to successfully recall, as a number of past lightweight models have been graced with the adizero prefix.
In present day, the adios 2, Boston 5, Takumi-sen and Tempo 7 are recognizable members of the adizero collection. Takumi is a true racing flat, followed by the more cushioned adios 2 boost, with the latter being the choice of many long distance adidas athletes. Boston 5 Boost shares some elements with the adios Boost, but is biased towards being more of a daily lightweight trainer.
The Tempo 7 Boost differs from the Boston 5 in a few ways, and we’d like to think these are the summarizing stats for the shoe. The Tempo is the firmest of the trio which includes the adios 2 and Boston, in addition to the widest fitting. Its upper also includes an inner sleeve, which is not part of the other two. Perhaps an apt way to describe the Tempo 7 is that it sits at the fringe of the adizero line, a point where lightweight ends and traditional trainers begin.
Much like the Adios and the Boston, the Tempo 7 also boasts of regular heel to toe drop (10 mm or whereabouts), so will work for users who don’t want a reduced drop yet crave the lightweight construction.
A Stableframe midsole is what differentiates the Tempo 7 Boost’s ride, making it firmly cushioned, and with a moderate motion control character. Like what we encountered on the Sequence 7 Boost, the adidas Stableframe design does not choose to employ a firmer density medial post, which is usually a mainstay of stability shoes.
Instead, the Stableframe midsole focuses on improving stability as a whole, and limits motion control to late stage instead of kicking off from the heel area. So adidas is not off the mark when they say that the Tempo Boost is designed for forefoot strikers; the latter group of runners will be able to better tap into the shoe’s stability potential than rearfoot strikers.
This is how it works. A firmer layer of compression molded EVA is placed atop the Boost midsole, and except for an opening under the forefoot, it completely insulates the foot from close contact with the Boost foam. The midsole walls are left relatively untouched, with Boost foam forming majority of the sidewall. The only structural difference between the lateral and medial side is that the medial midsole has slightly raised rims.
The Stableframe design changes medially once the midfoot area ends and forefoot begins – the firmer EVA drops down as a support structure while keeping the core untouched. Boost still runs from heel to toe tip, except for the fact that in the front, Boost foam is encased in a EVA shell of sorts
The effect of this is a firm ride, and as the name suggests, tempo run friendly. Transitions are helped by the consistent feel of the midsole, and by the full contact Continental rubber outsole with a Torsion midfoot shank. Lateral heel section cuts in at an angled bevel to smoothen heel strikes; a familiar characteristic of most adidas shoes, including the adios, Boston, Glide and the Sequence.
The Tempo Boost might have an exposed section of forefoot Boost inside, but the Stableframe sidewalls increases firmness when compared to the Boston 5 Boost. And yet again, forefoot striking runners will be in a better position to access the cushioning and ground feedback through the softer Boost foam core – rather than heel strikers who’re going to use the forefoot merely from a transition perspective.
In short, the level of ground feedback will be decided based on how you land in the Tempo 7.
Cushioning’s there in deeper reaches of the midsole, and is not something you get right under your feet. The molded EVA insole is what lines immediate underfoot, and that’s the first layer of cushioning.
The Boost foam is beneath the firm Stable frame, so its cushioning effect and responsiveness is felt at a higher cadence and speed.
As in many other shoes, the midsole is left uncovered in a recessed cavity under the heel. At higher speeds, the Boost foam will extend downwards and make contact, further heightening the cushioning sensation.
For this picture, we cleaned up the area before shooting, but you can see faint traces of dirt lodged in between the Boost globules.
Like the adios and Boston, the Tempo 7 should universally do well for shorter runs up to 10 miles, although it plays second rung to adios’ more race focused feel. For longer runs, many might prefer the more cushioned Boston or Adios to the firmer Tempo Boost. Then there’s the thing about the Stable Frame midsole edges, which tends to be felt underfoot over time. But some runners might feel it more than others, while many might think nothing of it. It really depends on how you load that area in course of your gait cycle.
Our opinion is that unless you crave the additional firmness and slightly spacious upper which comes with the Tempo 7 Boost, models like the Boston Boost will fulfill the same purpose.
When measured from the outsole, the midsole width in forefoot and heel is greater than Boston and adios, and this translates into a roomier forefoot fit. Why? Because it gives the upper a larger base to set camp on.
There is also a fundamental difference in the Tempo Boost’s upper construction when compared to the Boston and Adios, and that happens to be an inner sleeve.
Tempo Boost ditches the free moving tongue design, and instead uses a full inner sleeve. The tongue is attached to the upper just below the eyelets, and then is further stitched to the forefoot by a flat lock seam. This gives the Tempo 7 a true bootie construction, and instantly remedies two things which we were found wanting in the adios and Boston.
We talked about the scratchy feeling of the inner tongue edges when those shoes were worn barefoot. The inner sleeve takes care of that, and the shoe is as comfortable to wear without socks as it is with. The other area is an obvious one; tongue slide, though it was minimal on other adizeros, disappears completely on the Tempo 7.
Despite the space consuming nature of the inner sleeve, the Tempo 7 still ends up feeling more spacious than the Boston. One of the reason seems to be a wider midsole base, and also factor in the semi-stretch tongue. The tongue is made of a neoprene like textile with slight elasticity, and if you loosen up the cotton laces, it creates extra room inside.
However, that describes the ideal scenario, which wasn’t the case in our pair. We noticed serious assembly flaws in the shoe which affected the fit quality, and is talked about in detail in the later part of this review.
The increase in side space does not necessarily translate into a more accommodating length-wise fit. Space is at a premium right at the front, with a super shallow toe box pushing down on the big toe.
Typical of many adidas running shoes, many will find the Tempo 7 Boost to fit half size smaller, and opt for an upwards size over their Asics/Brooks/Nike.
Midfoot fits well due to the inner sleeve, and the rear collar performs well without slippage. The collar lining and construction is almost identical to the Boston Boost, using a slightly narrow molding of the hard internal counter.
There is one place to watch out for, and this would generally apply if you’re wearing the Tempo Boost barefoot and sensitive to Achilles chafe.
Unlike the softer tongue material of the adios and Boston, the Tempo 7 uses synthetic leather near the tongue flap. When the last row of lacing is tied tight, the folded corner of the tongue’s synthetic tends to put pressure on the foot.
We felt this only on the medial side of the right shoe, but this is a heads-up for anyone who’s planning to run without socks in the Tempo 7.
Breathability is on par with something like the Boston 5 Boost. Mesh openings in the rear quarter and the ventilated mesh upper do a good job at keeping cool, yet the sieve like air flow of the adios is missed. Reflectivity is included in the heel screen print with the adizero branding, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Things would have ended rather nicely for this review if the level of manufacturing wasn’t so terrible. We felt something amiss on the Tempo 7 Boost, so we actually went out and put the shoe to additional test runs. And what we found was unpleasant, to say the least. We paid $120 for a shoe of factory second quality, a piece of footwear manufacturing rejection which shouldn’t have never have got on the boat out of far east. What was supposed to be an easy review turned out to be a tangled mess, with the shoe going back under the camera so that we can show everyone the magnitude of faults our Tempo 7 came with.
You know what, we don’t think much of adidas using cheaper grade materials (Response TF Boost, Glide 7 Boost) on shoe uppers, because in most cases, it doesn’t make or break the shoe functionally. But having being in footwear product management ourselves, nothing irks us more than a pair of badly assembled footwear. What makes the case even more tragic is that the shoe was never designed to be this bad; it is simply manufacturing execution running off the rails.
Because of this, we docked off a chunk of points off the total score for the Tempo 7 Boost. One could say that out shoe could be a one off case, but we beg to differ. Our shoe was bought at full price in mainland US, and this pair is symptomatic of adidas’ approach to quality. So if there was a yardstick for quality standards, our pair is good as any. And don’t believe this is an isolated case either. One of our readers recently called out a Tempo 7 complaint on the French version of Wiggle.
What is just so bad about the pair we tested? The Tempo 7 fails on a couple of critical levels.
One, the different upper patterns aren’t fitted properly – the way in which different upper components are placed and stitched over one another. And two, the shoe has improper lasting – the process which involves assembling the finished upper with the sole unit. Combined, both of these result in a noticeable fit difference between the left and right shoe, with the left fitting tighter than the right.
It might be hard to visualize this with just words, so let’s look at few of the pictures below.
It’s pretty clear, isn’t it? The variances in upper fitting is huge here. In the first picture, around 10 mm (!) of material disappears inside below the midsole line, followed by similar discrepancies around the forefoot area (5 mm gap difference) and lateral side.
What all of this does is not only reduce the amount of upper room on the left pair, but also change the orientation and lasting of the upper over the midsole. Check out what that looks like below.
The picture above shows exactly how much. Sideways length along the first stripe is off by 5 mm across the left and right pair, and if you do a similar thing for the third stripe, then it is a mind boggling 15 mm. To put that in perspective, the difference of 15 mm alone is close to the entire forefoot stack height of the midsole. There is simply no comeback for this kind of flaw.
These discrepancies translates into a vertical height difference of 4 mm throughout, which means the left shoe fits tighter than the right. It also means that the left upper is fixed a bit forward compared to the right shoe, when viewed relative to the midsole.
And if this wasn’t enough, the tongue flaps are sewn with a poor alignment of patterns, making the left tongue look lopsided and skewed. Even if there was nothing else wrong with the shoe, this cosmetic defect alone should have dispatched this particular pair to a factory outlet store.
Even with all our tirade against quality, we feel genuine pain for the shoe. Because the Tempo 7 Boost was never meant to be like this. All the CAD files, paper patterns and the pre-production samples would have started out perfect. But then, a flawless plan is only part of the entire picture; what ultimately matters is perfect execution of that ideal, and in that department, the Tempo 7 Boost comes up short, very short.
The dreaded question is, just how many such examples sit boxed in retailer warehouses and backrooms?
(Disclaimer: Solereview.com paid full US retail price for the shoe reviewed.)