Color: Solar Slime/Grey/Runwhite
Intended use: Recovery runs, long distance. Use on all surfaces except trail.
Surfaces tested on: Road, synthetic track 21° C/70° F
Upper: Dual layered mesh, internal sleeve.
Midsole: Injection molded EVA, expanded TPU Infinergy foam made by BASF (Boost)
Outsole: Rubber developed in association with Continental, the tyre manufacturer.
Weight: 326 gms/11.5 Oz for a half pair.
US Retail: $ 130
Okay, the name is slightly confusing. The Adidas US website calls the shoe Supernova Glide 6 Boost, while the box label says Supernova Glide 6 M. The shoe upper decides to name itself ‘Glide Boost’. Some retailers call it the Supernova Glide Boost without using the ‘6’ suffix. But for our convenience and everyone else’s, we’ll include the 6 and Boost in the name. And after this paragraph, we’ll simply refer to the shoe as SG6. Otherwise a long name eats up a lot of words, and makes a shoe review look long without actually being so. Not to mention the keystrokes. If we typed the full shoe name twenty times, that would be around 500 keystrokes and borderline carpel tunnel syndrome. Which would be a bummer, won’t it?
We’ll dive into the review soon, but before that, a brief explanation of the pecking order. Adistar represents the brand’s statement level products, with retail prices nudging the far side of $100-200 spectrum. Supernova sits right below the Adistar in pricing and features, but still above the $100 priceband. Both of these line-ups offer different shoe models and categories in their repertoire, like cushioning, stability and racing. The Supernova Glide series so far have come to represent a premium level of cushioning with most of the bell and whistles from the German brand’s hoard of shoe technologies. The Glide platform has been successful for Adidas commercially the past five years, so incorporating the winning Boost platform was an expected next step in the model’s evolution.
Before Boost gatecrashed the party, the 2012 Supernova Glide 4 was by far the best shoe in the franchise’s pre-Boost life – so we’ll use that shoe as a reference point. The 2012 SG4 was a plush, cushioned neutral running shoe, featuring premium upper materials and the shear inducing ‘Formotion’ heel technology. Formotion is an articulated foot-pad attached to the midsole by an urethane chamber. The goal of Formotion was to improve foot transition for heel strikers while providing cushioning by isolating landing impact. This, when paired up with a well meaning up resulted in a shoe of many talents, appealing to many a runners. So far so good.
But this is 2014, and much water has flown under the bridge. Rules of engagement have changed for Adidas, and it no longer relies on familiar tricks to impress. There is a new found fervour within the walls of its headquarters in Herzogenaurch, driven by stellar success of the Boost platform. The brand is building a veritable army of shoes, each packaged with different treatments of the Boost foam. The Supernova Glide franchise is pummeled over by this tidal wave of enthused change, and undergoes a complete transformation in the process. This is by no stretch of imagination a negative thing, but for three-stripe loyalists who are used to putting miles on past versions of Supernova Glide, the finer details are worth knowing.
The 2014 SG6 shares little with its 2012 namesake when it comes to design, materials and overall approach to construction. The Glide 6 does away with ‘Formotion’ crash pad and the soft Adiprene EVA(Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) midsole, and in its place inserts a layer of near heel-to-toe Boost foam which stops just below the toe base. But unlike the more expensive Energy Boost 2, the SG6 employs a layer of firm, injected molded EVA lining between the upper and Boost foam. This EVA liner, when combined with Boost, results in a ride sensation which hints at firmness, yet delivers a cushioning feel which is responsive. This is a marked departure from SG4 and SG5, where deep, foam-padded richness ruled supreme in lower regions of the shoe. Disappearance of the Formotion crash-pad also leads to a flatter heel strike, with none of the previously experienced shear.
Admittedly, the SG6 isn’t in the same league as the Energy Boost 2 when it comes to the level of cushioning. The Infinergy foam layer is thinner when compared to the Energy Boost, and is also set-up differently. There is, however, a definite sense of uniformity in underfoot padding from heel to toe, thus resulting in consistent foot-strike transition. The heel area comes across as firmer because the relatively hard EVA adds a layer of separation between the foot and Boost foam.
The best way to describe the SG6 ride is that one experiences an unmissable feel of underfoot cushioning, but that is somewhat insulated by the EVA layer in the heel. There is more than enough padding, except that the experience isn’t sharp around the edges. The cushioning is delivered when it is called upon, if you know what we mean. It won’t be far from the truth if we say that the SG6 has a duality of character and purpose, which is discovered once you throw some variations in running pace. At slow speeds, the shoe won’t feel as cushy as the Energy Boost or the Supernova Glide 4/5. But crank up speed on these runners, and you’ll be rewarded with feedback from the Boost midsole.
The forefoot feels more cushioned than the rear, as Boost foam exposes itself through two rectangular cut-outs. A natural consequence of that design element is spongy feel and better ground feedback under the forefoot area. Use of lesser material also makes the forefoot easier to bend, and outsole grooves further help increase flexibility. These properties make the SG6 adapt well to forefoot strike patterns, and the heel cushioning will agree with most rear-foot or heel strikers.
The drop-in, 6 mm footbed is exactly identical to the one used for a few years now, with the only change being the printed text on its cloth lining. The last marking (21045) is the same as previous Glides so it is safe to assume that the upper fit and heel-to-toe drop remains unchanged. Adidas has not published heel drop in SG6’s specs but it should be between 10-12 mm, typical of shoes in this category. If you ask us what we think based on the wear-test, we felt that the 2012-13 SG4/5 sat a little higher, but that assumption could very well be because of the Formotion foot-pad.
The outsole design is flatter, with less exposed areas – a functional trend which kickstarted with the 2013 Energy Boost. Compared to past Supernova Glides, there is more rubber coverage in the forefoot, bolstering grip and durability. A notable mention is that the SG6 comes shod with Continental (yes, the tyre company) branded rubber, which is meant for better grip. Last year’s Supernova Glide 5 and Sequence 6 had it, and do does the Takumisen racing flat.
A four-banded plastic Torsion plate joins the rear and front outsole pieces, but its use is restricted to just underneath the midfoot. It does not extend forward like in the Energy Boost, nor towards the rear-foot.
The upper is such a contrast to previous Supernova Glides, it makes us wonder whether a comparison is even worth pursuing. Past versions of the Glides were unpretentiously plush, but the SG6 refuses to dwell in the past – it just wipes the slate clean and starts over afresh. The mesh is no longer an expensive looking spacer variety. In its place is an engineered mesh in the forefoot, the design of which looks suspiciously similar to Nike Lunarglide 5. It is breathable, yes, and comes with some sideway stretch, but it looks and feels very frugal.
The tongue has a very basic construction, with air-mesh stitched over sandwiched foam and fabric lining. It does not have the unfettered plushness of the older Supernova tongue, but now comes attached to the upper, forming an inner sleeve – which is a good thing. If there’s any drawback of the leaner tongue, it is an increased sensation of lacing pressure. The latter is also caused by a wider gap between the eyelets as compared to the older construction. Greater the lacing length over the foot-top, greater the top-down pressure generated at the intersection where laces cross over.
Mid-foot area sees a lot of clean-up. Panels are molded in the shape of Adidas 3-stripes, and form part of the lacing system at the top. Ventilation is good too – the panels are separated by gaps lined with open mesh underlays which let air in with ease.
There’s room upfront ahead of the toes, so can’t label the SG6 as true to size. But this gap is small, more 1/3rd than half size, so would recommend trying them on before buying.
Overlay treatment is a familiar sight, example of which was last seen in the 2013 Supernova Glide 5. The toe bumper is layered with a thick film of urethane, and other fused bands run along the forefoot side, aligning with the design language used in other Boost shoes. There’s massive cutback on use of thick, traditional synthetic in the mid foot and heel, replacing that with a thinner material.
Night time visibility is dialed down on the 2014 SG6, limiting reflectivity to a triangular area on the heel. Till last year, the tongue lace loop used to be reflective, but not anymore. This year the SG6 has a gusseted tongue so the lace loop is more decoration than function. And so is the ‘Mi’ call-out on the lace loop, short for MiCoach. There isn’t a MiCoach pocket, so not sure what the point of having the logo there is. MiCoach, like Nikeplus now comes digitally integrated into smartphones, making the choice of footwear irrelevant.
To sum up, the Supernova Glide 6 Boost is a capable shoe, delivering performance in a no-nonsense manner. It’s got plenty of cushioning which comes across as soft and responsive, yet throws in an element of firmness by means of a traditional EVA foam liner. The upper’s quite breezy, the fit is snug and comfortable and the Continental rubber clad outsole grips tenaciously. The SG6 is capable of taking on most running routines – be it fast, short distances or marathons. At 326 gms or 11.5 ounces, it is lightweight for a shoe in this category.
At the same time, you can’t shake off the nagging feeling that Boost could be too much of a good thing. As the use of Boost becomes widespread in other shoe models, the brand must proceed with caution. Else there will be little to differentiate between shoes separated by more than just a $20 bill. The Boost line is still in its infancy, but cannibalization is already a reality. For example, why should anyone spend $130 on the SG6 when the cheaper Sonic Boost sells at $100 and will do as good a job. And wait, they have the same lining material and footbed…
Now you see what we’re getting at. It is important for Adidas to make sure that each Boost shoe makes a compelling case for itself, by having a clear differentiation and tiering strategy. Otherwise, sooner or later going to be a problem selling more expensive versions of the Boost.
Adidas has a good thing going with the Boost, and it would augur well for them to tread wisely. After all, it is not everyday that one conjures up materials like steam-molded expanded Thermoplastic Urethane foam.
(Disclaimer: Solereview paid full US retail price for the shoe reviewed)