adidas Takumi Sen 10 Review: 5K racer par excellence

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on
For this review, Solereview purchased the adidas Takumi 10 at full retail price; the proof of purchase (in C$) is here. We do not accept free samples for our reviews and have no ties to the industry.

The adidas Takumi Sen 10 in the outdoors.

adidas Takumi Sen 10
adidas Takumi Sen 10

OUR VERDICT: 94% – GREAT

At the time of writing this review, there’s no better 5K racer than the adidas Takumi Sen 10. The tight fit is by design, so going up half a size will degrade the shoe’s performance.

Buy from adidas.com

  • adidas’s marketing pitch: Race-day running shoes for a fast 10K
  • Upper: Engineered mesh, collapsible heel.
  • Midsole: Dual-layered Lightstrike Pro foam, Energy rods. 6 mm heel drop.
  • Outsole: Two-piece Continental rubber outsole.
  • Weight: 201 gms/ 7.1 Oz for a half pair of Men’s US 9/UK 8.5/EUR 42.5/CM 27.
  • Stack heights: 33 mm (heel), 27 mm (forefoot).
  • Available widths: Single, D – regular (reviewed)
  • Previous model: adidas Takumi Sen 9.
  • Country of origin: China.
  • Recommended use: 5K and 10K races, intervals.
  • Footstrike orientation: Heel, midfoot/forefoot (full contact).
  • Median lifespan: 300 miles.
  • Recommended temperature range: Warmer than 0° C/32° F.

Pros

  • Responsive ride
  • Quick transitions
  • Secure upper fit
  • Outsole grip
  • Ventilation
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No widths
  • Heel pull tab needs to be longer

Also consider:

  1. adidas adios 8
  2. Hoka Cielo Road
  3. Nike Streakfly
  4. New Balance SC Pacer

The side view of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

The running shoe brands – and the customers they sell to – have developed a somewhat unhealthy obsession with max-stack midsoles. Every other day, we hear of a new shoe with ridiculous stack heights. Shoes are also getting softer by the day, and the uppers are roomier than ever before.

Except for a few brands, product segmentation is now an afterthought.

While it’s very nice to have a few max-cushion shoes with fancy Carbon parts (or none), that shouldn’t come at the expense of other categories. The low-profile racer segment has been ignored by most brands, so it’s refreshing to see adidas update the Takumi Sen for the 10th time.

A decade ago, the Takumi Sen was originally developed for Japan – one of the few markets that still love the minimalist purity of racing flats. Back then, these were ultra-lightweight racers with a barely-there upper and thin midsole with a grippy DSP (Dual Stencil Process) outsole. More recently, the New Balance Hanzo comes to mind.

The Takumi Sen didn’t change much over the years, except for the introduction of Boost foam on the V3 – a trend that continued till the V7. The Takumi Sen 10, on the other hand, has more in common with the Takumi Sen 8 and 9 than it does with any other version. The V8 was the first Takumi with a Lightstrike Pro midsole, Energy Rods, and a then-shocking $180 price.

What does Solereview think of the Takumi 10? It might be expensive, but it’s an excellent shoe. It’s the near-perfect 5K racer, and an equally good 10K speedster.

That’s the headline, but there are a few other things you should know about the adidas Takumi 10.

1) KNOW WHAT YOU’RE BUYING

The heel counter of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

Setting expectations – and performance boundaries – with the Takumi 10 is important. This is NOT a daily trainer. It’s NOT ideal for marathon distances. This isn’t saying that the Takumi is a bad marathon shoe, but there are better shoes for the job.

Comparing the cushioning to Adios pro or even the Boston is doing this shoe a disservice.

The Takumi Sen 10 does one thing very well, and that’s being a fast, lightweight, and responsive racer for short-distance speed runs – like a 5K and 10K race. The Takumi has just the right quantities of everything to help it excel during a short race.

It’s also great for interval training, mile repeats, and other speed-training workouts. The reactive Lightstrike Pro midsole, Energy Rods, and Continental rubber outsole work together with the tight upper to create an efficient touch-and-go character.

2) THE TIGHT FIT IS INTENTIONAL AND PERFECT FOR THIS SHOE

The top view of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

The Takumi Sen 10 fits tighter than your average running shoe, and even when compared to the adios and Boston. That is by design, so don’t buy a half-size larger – that would defeat the whole purpose of this shoe.

Buying a size larger in the Takumi is like asking a master sushi chef to serve your sushi with ketchup. Yeah, don’t do it.

By having a conforming fit around the toe-box, forefoot and midfoot, the upper locks the foot down for maximum power transfer. The tight upper allows the foot to take full advantage of the Lightstrike Pro layers, the Energy rods, and the grippy Continental rubber outsole.

The ultra-secure upper also makes sharp turns effortless – something that many high-stack shoes struggle with. The Takumi’s lacing extends into the forefoot further than most shoes, and that’s one of the reasons behind the tight fit.

If you so wish, you can dial in the fit further by passing the laces through the first loop.

3) THE ENERGY ROD(S) IS THE MAGIC SAUCE

The energy rods of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

While there are comparable low-profile racers with a superfoam midsole (Hoka Cielo Road, Nike Streakfly, New Balance SC Pacer et. al), none of them have the Energy Rods. That might change in the future, but that’s the current state of affairs.

The carbon-infused tubes are a great match for the Lightstrike Pro midsole. It doesn’t control the toe-off the way full plates do, and lets the foot manage the gait workload. The articulated plate design also worked very well on the now-discontinued Asics Metaracer, a racing shoe that we loved.

The rods work in the background without being noticed, and the forked design doesn’t dilute the connection with the ground. The Energy Rods age well, and will take around 30-50 km to fully break in and become a tad (more) flexible.

4) THE ONLY ADIZERO UPPER WITH NO BUGS

The inner upper of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

The adios Pro 3 has its potentially irritating eyelet seam. It can be a struggle trying to dial down the Boston 12’s fit. The Prime X 2 Strung’s stiff eyelet can turn into a hot spot for some runners.

You don’t have to worry about these things on the Takumi Sen 10. The lightweight and breezy upper has no hot spots or annoying plastic bits. The midfoot is reinforced for durability and arch support.

The collapsible heel of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

The collapsible heel minimizes Achilles irritation.

There’s some lacing top-down pressure due to the thin tongue, but that’s par for a 5K racer. There’s not much heel padding, but the ultra-secure midfoot and forefoot do most of the heavy lifting. There’s an optional eyelet available for a runner’s loop, just in case one needs better heel lockdown.

The only thing we’d change about the Takumi 10’s upper is the length of the foldable pull tab over the heel. It’s too short to be effective and hard to grab with the thumb and index finger.

5) THE LIGHTSTRIKE PRO FOAM HAS EXCELLENT BOUNCE AND FEEDBACK

The Lightstrike Pro foam of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

In our adios Pro 3 review, we said that the LS Pro is the bounciest of all super-foams. The Takumi has much lower stack heights (33 mm rear, 27 mm front) than the adios Pro, but the Lightstrike Pro shines nonetheless. It’s very reactive to changing speeds with no cushioning stall – that makes it great for quick touch-and-go.

There’s a pleasing sensation of bounce-back, be it the footstrike, loading or toe-offs – something that most comparable racers don’t deliver. The thin and partially perforated Continental rubber outsole flexes with the midsole.

The rear outsole of the adidas Takumi Sen 10.

The deep transition groove under the heel also adds to the cushioning and overall stability. The insole is not removable, as it should be for racing shoes. While not very thick, the footbed creates the right amount of step-in softness.

6) ROTATE FOR BEST RESULTS

The adidas Takumi Sen 10 on a sidewalk.

The Takumi 10 may be a great shoe for short runs up to a 10K. However, the midsole is less forgiving during long runs when compared to higher-stack trainers. Also, despite being Continental rubber, the thin outsole will have a lower lifespan than sturdier trainers.

What we’re saying is this – the Takumi 10 doesn’t have what it takes to be a do-everything shoe. So you need to pick at least one more shoe to complement the Takumi’s excellent speed manners.

A more cushioned shoe like the adizero Boston 12 or Asics Novablast 4 can be reserved for everyday mileage. For long runs and marathons, there are many options, be it the adidas Adios Pro 3, Asics Superblast, or Hoka Cielo X1.

Other reviews and guides