We hope that adidas goes the Asics way, and soon.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Asics overhauled its entire running shoe almost overnight. While many of their legacy models receive regular updates, innovative releases such as the GlideRide, Metaracer, and Novablast not only infused freshness into the assortment but also brought value to the running shoe ecosystem.
Unlike many other brands that copied prevailing trends without adaptation (like Carbon plates and Pebax midsoles, for example), new Asics running shoes offer differentiation by delivering a unique ride experience.
Early signs from adidas’s redesign efforts are promising. The complete do-over of the adidas adizero adios Pro 2, adios 6, and Boston 10 models caught us by surprise, and it’s a strong sign of what’s to follow.
The fact that these models were due for an update was no secret. But the ‘new’ adios 6, and Boston 10 share nothing in common with the older versions – except for the name and price, that is. Even the adios Pro 2 has been redone from the ground up.
The Boston 10 is no longer the low-profile speed trainer that people once knew it to be.
With a heel thickness that’s just a sliver below 40 mm, the Boston transforms into a cushioned long-distance trainer. Even the adios 6 leaves its traditional racing flat roots behind and adopts a cushioned ride character. The new adios 6 is more cushioned than the Boston 9, so that’s saying something.
Just in case you’re missing a traditional road racer, Adidas still sells the Takumi Sen 7 Tokyo.
Speaking of the price, the adios 2 and Boston 10 are excellent value propositions. Even with a half-length Lightstrike Pro (a new cushioning material) midsole and high-performance bits, the adios 6 retails at $120. The Boston 10 is also superb value; its $140 sticker includes a full-length Lightstrike Pro layer along with Carbon-infused ‘Energy rods.’
On the other hand, adidas’s previously $100 Supernova is now $120, thus putting it at par with the adios 6. That doesn’t make sense, does it? We like where the adios and Boston sit in the overall price-band pyramid, so the Supernova should now be a $75 shoe.
Design innovation eventually trickles down to other parts of the assortment, and we hope that’s a part of adidas’s future plans.
For now, the rest of the running shoe looks familiar. The Ultraboost gets its annual refresh for 2021, and so does the Solar pack that includes the SolarGlide 4 and Solarglide 4 ST. The outdoor Terrex line-up receives a minor facelift along with new Speed trail products.
Not much has changed within the Boost-based Solar pack. The form factor is still based on a Boost + EVA midsole, but that could potentially change in the future.
The budget assortment is represented by the Duramo SL and EQ21 Run; the latter is a new addition to the sub-$100 assortment.
Adidas now uses recycled content (Primegreen) in many of those models; while that doesn’t have a functional impact, it’s a sustainability-oriented improvement.
The following models are our top adidas picks tagged with their sub-categories.
1) Cushioned long-distance racer: adidas adios Pro V2
Last year, the whole ‘adizero Pro’ business got a bit confusing. There was the adizero Pro that retailed for $180; it had a Boost midsole with a supportive EVA (Lightstrike) frame and Carbon plate – in other words, nothing much to write about.
In September 2020, the adizero adios Pro had its general release. It was adidas’s take on the pinnacle PEBA and Carbon plate form factor, but with a difference.
Instead of a full-length Carbon plate with a flat profile, the adios Pro V1 used five parallelly-placed tubes Carbon tubes under the midfoot and forefoot. Their intent was not to deliver a springboard-like snap of shoes like the Endorphin Pro and Nike Vaporfly, but more like a transition device – a different take on what Asics does.
The Pro V1’s midsole was a thick stack of bi-layered Lightstrike Pro foam; its abundant thickness (39 mm heel and 30 mm forefoot) delivered high-mileage comfort. A featherweight upper made the fit distraction-free.
The 2021 Adios Pro V2 isn’t a mere facelift. Even though the adios Pro V1 only had a brief market run before being discontinued, the Pro V2 has been completely redesigned from the ground up.
The upper is new, and so is the midsole and outsole. Whereas the Pro V1 felt like a hastily cranked out prototype, the adizero Pro v2 leaves the impression of being a finished product.
And Pro V2 also has one thing that the V1 lacked; the ‘Energy Rods’ are now visible on the underside. While the novel outsole concept from the V1 makes its way to the V2, the new layout covers a lot more ground, and tiny perforations allow the thin sheet of rubber to work better with the midsole.
From a ride perspective, the adidas adizero Pro V2 delivers a comfortable ride that’s now become a hallmark of cushioned high-end racers.
However, the adios Pro V2 doesn’t have the snappy feel under the rearfoot, and the stability is not bad at all – even though the heel lacks a firmer frame. At least it feels more supportive than the Nike Vaporfly and Saucony Endorphin Pro.
The adidas Lightstrike Pro is firmer and more supportive than the likes of Nike ZoomX and Saucony Pwrrun PB. At this time, we’re not sure of what exactly this foam is made of. It feels like PEBA, but the adidas literature doesn’t mention specifics. The Carbon tubes work as intended and help produce a speed-conducive ride character that’s also versatile enough for long-distance races.
2) Soft neutral cushioning: adidas UltraBoost 21
With the Boost foam no longer a part of the adizero (adios and Boston) assortment, what is the future of the Ultraboost? Will adidas’s premium lifestyle sneaker abandon Boost and jump on the PEBA train, now that a competing product such as the Nike ZoomX Invincible exists? Perhaps adidas could borrow the PEBA-based floatride foam from Reebok – a subsidiary brand.
Or will the UltraBoost exist as a ’retro’ shoe alongside newer models? There are so many questions we don’t know the answer to – yet.
But for now, we have the Ultraboost 21 – the 2021 update to the popular series. Almost everything is brand new – be it the midsole, outsole, and the upper. The midsole gets more Boost, and the plastic cage returns on the snug-fitting stretch upper. Here’s our full review for your reading pleasure.
The firmer outsole means that the ride is less soft but more supportive. As a running shoe, the Ultraboost 21 is OK at best – its lumbering 12-ounce bulk makes running a chore, and the snug upper isn’t great for long-distance comfort.
In short, the Ultraboost 21 offers limited running performance for low-intensity workouts. On the other hand, if it’s used as an athleisure sneaker, the high-volume Boost midsole is excellent for everyday comfort.
3) Soft neutral cushioned trainer: adidas SolarGlide 4
The SolarGlide 4 is based on a proven formula that includes a full-length Boost foam midsole and supportive EVA frame. Its 11-ounce weight makes it a durable and dependable everyday neutral trainer for easy-paced runs.
The Boost core has a higher rearfoot volume, so heel strikers stand to benefit from the cushioning softness. The forefoot is more supportive and firmer because of the EVA rim. The EVA frame partially supports the midfoot, and in doing so, helps the SolarBoost 4 deliver a neutral ride character.
The engineered mesh upper packs plenty of interior comfort. The heel and tongue have a plush and secure fit, and the insides wrap seamlessly over the foot in a true-to-size fashion.
4) Versatile daily neutral trainer: adidas SL20.2
The SL20 flies under the radar; it’s an underrated running shoe that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Its $110 retail price is very reasonable for the value it delivers.
The cushioned ride is versatile enough for most training runs – its 10 mm offset (14 mm and 24 mm stack) goes easy on the Achilles while delivering mileage-friendly cushioning.
Be it a daily trainer for unhurried runs or slightly peppy workouts – the SL20 is capable of most runs, even though it doesn’t excel in a single area.
The four-piece Continental rubber outsole blends well with the midsole cushioning delivery mechanism and delivers reliable traction.
The nearly all-mesh upper has a smooth and secure fit, and possesses satisfactory levels of ventilation. The minimal upper layering helps the SL20 achieve its respectable 8-ounce weight.
5) Soft, mild-support cushioned trainer: adidas SolarGlide 4 ST
The ST variant of the SolarGlide 4 looks very similar to the standard SolarGlide 4. So how exactly do the two differ?
Look closer, and you’ll notice that the EVA part of the SolarGlide 4 ST is not only larger on the medial side, but also extends to the heel. On the standard SolarGlide, the upper is affixed directly to the Boost core.
The longer and larger EVA frame results in higher stability from the heel to midfoot, and here’s where the Solarglide earns its ST suffix. The rearfoot is a mite firmer, and the arch side has a higher level of stability.
And it’s not just the midsole. Even the upper is designed to make the arch side more supportive, with additional overlays acting as structural reinforcements.
That being said, the SolarGlide 4 ST is neutral in its cushioning delivery, and has the same use-case as the regular Solarglide. Which is being a comfortable daily trainer for easy-paced runs. The Boost core provides plenty of long-distance comfort, and the Continental rubber outsole is as durable as they come.
6) Entry-level neutral trainer: adidas EQ21 Run
The EQ21 is an $80 neutral trainer that borrows its design language from the Ultraboost and Solar models.
The premise of this sub-$100 neutral trainer is fairly simple. Take an EVA foam midsole, aka ‘Bounce’ foam, add a full rubber outsole (not Continental, though), and finally top it off with a comfortable upper.
The design inspiration from the Ultra and Solarboost is apparent in the plastic midfoot frame, heel stabilizer clip, and the Achilles lip.
The engineered mesh upper breathes and fits well – the padded Achilles lip and collar deliver a comfortable and secure heel fit. Adidas makes partial use (10% content) of recycled materials (Primegreen) upper.
The EQ21 does what’s supposed to. The ride delivers sufficient comfort and stability for daily runs, and the outsole grips well and adds miles to the overall lifespan.
7) Affordable neutral trainer: adidas Duramo SL
The Duramo SL is excellent value for its $65 price. Sure, there are no fancy tech parts like Boost foam or Continental rubber outsole, but this neutral running shoe is functional as they come.
A single-density EVA midsole delivers everyday comfort and a supportive ride. A full-coverage rubber outsole adds dependable traction and protects the foam midsole from wear and tear.
The snug upper fits is well put together for its price. The variable width lacing results in a secure fit; the synthetic leather overlays and strips make the fit structurally supportive.
8) Cushioned speed trainer/pacer: adidas adizero Boston 10
Sure, this shoe is called the ‘Boston’ 10. But forget what you knew about this series; this is a brand new product that shares no parts with the Boston 9 or any other iteration of this model.
The midsole is part EVA foam and part Lightstrike Pro. With a rear and front thickness of 39.5 mm and 31 mm respectively, this is no longer a low-profile trainer but a highly cushioned running shoe that goes the distance.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the ride has a firm character – even though half of the midsole is made of Lightstrike Pro foam. The lower EVA section has a firm density, and even adidas’s answer to the PEBA foam – aka the Lightstrike Pro isn’t as cushy as say, the Nike Zoom X.
The forefoot and midfoot have ‘Energy rods’ as well – a set of parallel rigid tubes that serve as a transition device. And underneath all that are multiple slabs of hard-wearing Continental rubber. For $140, this is good as it gets.
So the resulting ride experience is cushioned with a firm overtone, the kind that makes the transitions efficient without punishing the feet. This makes the Boston 10 a more comfortable long-distance pacer than the previous Bostons.
We like what adidas has done with the adios 6 and Boston 10’s uppers. The design hits the sweet spot between the old and new. The soft synthetic suede and mesh forefoot is a throwback to vintage racers, whereas the large inner sleeve adds modern-day comfort while preventing tongue slide.
Also, it’s finally great to see adidas offering widths. In its standard width, the Boston 10 is secure and true-to-size, but not overly narrow. But it’s always great to have a wide as an option – which the Boston 10 does.
9) Cushioned road racer: adidas adizero adios 6
If you cover the lower half of the adios 6 with a piece of paper, the upper looks familiar.
With its thin racing laces, synthetic suede overlays, and a breathable mesh exterior, the adizero adios 6 appears similar to many of the past versions.
Sure, there are modern touches like the foam-filled collar and satiny smooth inner gusset, but the upper fits and feels very traditional racer-like. The forefoot has a secure and snug fit, and the thin laces cinch effectively to deliver an excellent midfoot fit.
But the lower half is where the adios 6 differs from the prior versions.
Instead of a Boost and EVA foam stack, there’s Lightstrike Pro under the forefoot and a firmer EVA stack under the heel. A plastic shank bridges the front and the rear, and the on-road traction is delivered by thin rows of Continental rubber strips.
Though the V6’s midsole design is unlike any other Adios before it, it still does what it’s supposed to. It’s a firmly cushioned shoe that’s excellent for speed runs and races.
With heel and forefoot heights of 27 mm and 19 mm respectively, the midsole is (more) amenable to longer distances than the previous models.
In some ways, the new adios 6 is akin to the old Boston 9 – a low-profile pacer that is easier on the feet than traditional racers.
10) All-purpose trail running shoe: adidas Terrex Agravic Flow
The Agravic Flow is based on the often-used Terrex form factor. In other words, a secure and protective upper is glued to a cushioned midsole and an aggressively lugged rubber outsole.
Here, the Terrex Agravic Flow delivers its cushioning through a full-length Boost midsole that’s supported by a firmer EVA frame. The Boost core adds comfort to high-mileage trail runs, whereas the EVA section adds stability over uneven terrain.
Though the midsole lacks a rock plate, the full-length Continental rubber outsole acts as a protective barrier – besides delivering traction, that is.
The Agravic Flow earns its keep in the adidas assortment by being a versatile trail running shoe that’s equal parts comfortable and multi-terrain friendly.
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, the Terrex Two Flow (see next) is Solereview’s pick.
11) Entry-level trail running shoe: adidas Terrex Two Flow
Compared to the previous year, the price of the Terrex Two has inched upwards by $10, thus making it a $110 running shoe.
Not much has changed over the last model which had a slightly different name. The 2021 model is virtually identical except for its ‘Flow’ suffix.
Historically, most adidas trail running shoes have been designed around the 10 mm + form factor. So it’s refreshing to see a budget option that caters to runners who prefer trail footwear with a lower heel-to-toe drop. The Terrex Two Flow has a 6 mm heel-to-toe offset.
Else, the Terrex Two Flow has all that’s expected of adidas outdoor products. It’s a solidly constructed trail running shoe that offers sufficient versatility.
The undersides are made of the tried-and-tested Continental rubber that grips well over most terrain. Large lugs are widely spaced to reduce clogging while delivering adequate bite.
There’s no Boost in the midsole, but you do have the Lightstrike EVA – yes, of the SL20 fame. With rear and front stack heights of 30 mm and 24 mm, the ride makes long-distance runs comfortable with ample stability over non-technical trails.
The Terrex Two’s 10.5-ounce isn’t bad at all, considering the full-length rubber outsole and well-kitted upper.
The upper is basic but thoughtfully put together. The exterior is nearly all spacer mesh – and that makes it breathable and lightweight but without any water resistance.
Fused overlays add protection and structure, while the padded tongue and heel make the grip secure and comfortable. The speed loops make the upper quick to lace.
Buy this shoe if your trail running route doesn’t involve sharp roots, extreme grades, and very uneven surfaces. The Terrex Two is best used for mild trails where its cushioned ride and roomy fit makes runs comfortable.
We also recommend the Terrex Agravic TR if you’re looking at a sub-$100 trail running shoe. Also worth considering is the $100 Agravic TR Gore-Tex – a waterproof running shoe that’s one of the cheapest trail shoes with a GTX upper.
12) Speed trail running shoe: adidas Terrex Speed Pro Trail
For a long time, adidas was missing a running shoe for speed and/or ultra trail runs. In 2021, we not only have one, but two options – the Terrex Speed Pro Trail and the Terrex Speed Ultra Trail.
The Terrex Pro (pictured) delivers a stable ride with plenty of proprioceptive feedback from the firm and low-profile midsole.
The ride quality is Spartan as they come. A cushy insole is missing inside – taking its place is a non-removable lasting that doubles as the footbed. The stack heights are a mere 16 mm in the front, and 20 in the rear, so cushioning comfort isn’t a priority here – just protection and stability.
A Continental rubber outsole and its aggressive lugs bite deep into the trail surface. The minimally constructed upper is form-fitting to deliver a planted fit – something that works as intended over difficult terrain. Though there’s no waterproofing, the mesh upper and its supportive layers strike a good balance between ventilation and protection.
Thus, the Terrex Speed Pro is a serious trail running shoe meant for technical trails.
If you’re looking for high-mileage ride comfort, it’s worth checking out the Terrex Speed Ultra Trail instead. Its Boost midsole and 8 mm heel-to-toe offset (18 mm and 26 mm stack heights) makes it a better candidate for more comfortable trail runs.