(This list has been updated with current models for July 2019.)
It has been a mixed couple of years for adidas. And by that, we don’t mean the company, but the state of its performance running line.
Business-wise, adidas is doing great. Sales are up, the profits have increased, and its shares are in a bull run.
And we don’t blame adidas for doing what they do. The truth is – those kinds of shoes sell a lot faster than performance running shoes. A focus on the athleisure segment makes better business sense, that’s all.
And what’s true for adidas holds good for solereview too – why do you think you see more adidas, Asics, Nike, and Brooks reviews here instead of Altra, Hoka, or Topo athletic? That’s because it is a better return on our investment – the reviews of popular shoes attracts more traffic.
At the end of the day, everyone has to pay their bills. We own and run in shoes from niche brands, but putting together a detailed review isn’t the best use of solereview’s time and money.
If the entire world wants soft running shoes, adidas will sell them – it’d be foolish not to. As a consequence, you’re unlikely to see hardcore running shoes like the Supernova Glide 7 in the 2019 line-up.
The legacy Supernova and Response series is succeeded by the Solar catalog – one which includes the SolarBoost, Solar Glide, the Solar Drive. And of course, the 2019 UltraBoost as well.
Some of the staples have remained untouched – at a conceptual level, we mean. Even with updates, the adizero adios 4 and Boston 8 carries forward similar ride and fit dynamics.
Here’s a good way to filter the casual products out of the adidas running line.
1) Stay away from all adidas shoes which contain the word ‘Bounce’: adidas sells a few entry-level models based on the Bounce EVA midsole.
While the Bounce material itself isn’t an issue, the overall shoe design isn’t best suited for performance. All Bounce shoes are targeted at casual-wear consumers who just want a pair of comfortable shoes to walk around in. Sure, you can run in these shoes, but only for shorter distances.
2) Skip shoes which go by the name PureBoost: Recent PureBoost models are a vast improvement over the terrible 2014 PureBoost, but keep in mind that this assortment is also focused on the lifestyle consumer.
3) Adidas running shoes with rigid plastic cages are also best avoided: It’s ironic how adidas markets a shoe made with recycled (plastic) Ocean waste but uses so much plastic on their products in the first place.
Discard the PureBoost, Bounce, and shoes with rigid plastic shells, and what remains is this buyer’s guide. We’ve tagged the shoe names with the categories they represent:
1) Soft neutral cushioning: adidas UltraBoost 19
As the suffix suggests, the UltraBoost 19 is this year’s update to the original Ultra Boost. And all the updates are visible improvements over the old design. For example, the new upper has better-flexing midfoot panels for comfort. On the back is a skeletal clip which clasps both the heel and the midsole top for support.
You’ll get unmatched durability, softness, and traction from the large Boost midsole and the one-piece outsole made out of Continental rubber. The UltraBoost 19 is good for easy long-distance runs and such.
Also see: The Ultra Boost ST.
2) Soft neutral cushioning: adidas Solar Glide 19
Though not as soft as the UltraBoost, the Solar Glide’s midsole is directly joined to the upper without an EVA rim separation. This makes the Solar Glide a lot softer than the previous generation Supernova.
The Solar Glide 19 is a 10 mm drop shoe with most of the Boost loaded under the heel, so this is very much a rear-foot striker’s shoe. While it does not feel as efficient as the older Supernova, the Solar Glide is a comfortable daily trainer. It’s perhaps not the best tool of choice for a tempo run though – may we suggest the Boston 8 instead?
The Glide has been redesigned for 2019. Not much has changed; only the upper gets a little less plasticky without the midfoot overlays. The sole is identical to the 2017-18 model so there’s no difference in the ride quality.
3) Soft, mild-support cushioning: adidas Solar Glide ST
If you miss the uber-supportive midsole of the Supernova Sequence, then the Solar Glide ST isn’t going to deliver. Rather, it’s a spin on the neutral Solar Glide.
The ST uses support props on either side of the midfoot (Brooks Guide Rails, anyone?) to provide a hint of support. There’s also a thin laminate over the inner midsole which acts as a mild firming agent.
There’s more structure on the ST’s upper versus the Glide. The midfoot panels are stiffer and the toe-box comes reinforced on one side.
Though there are visible differences between the Solar Glide and the ST, the latter has plenty of Boost cushioning underfoot. It is a durable daily workhorse if ride comfort is your priority.
4) Neutral cushioning: adidas Solar Drive 19
The EVA covered Boost midsole is one of the best things about the Solar Drive 19. This separate sheet of EVA over the Boost foam makes the ride more efficient than the softer Solar Glide – all without the cushioning trade-off. It’s got a bit of the Supernova Glide in it, if you know what we mean.
If you were wondering where the Response Boost disappeared, you’re looking at it. The Solar Drive is old wine in a new bottle – it is based on the same midsole and non-Continental outsole seen on the Response. The upper is newly designed to match the Solar visual story.
Nonetheless, it is a good choice for a) runners looking for a firmer ride than the Solar Glide, b) those who want a Response Boost replacement.
2019 is the second year for the Solar Drive; the refreshed model features a cleaner looking upper over the same midsole/outsole as the 2018 model.
5) Affordable neutral trainer: adidas RunFalcon
Adidas sells a couple of competent affordable running shoes. You would be familiar with the Duramo, of course. The second shoe is the adidas RunFalcon, a relatively recent induction to adidas’s footwear assortment.
The design offers excellent value for its $60 retail price. The single-piece mesh upper breathes well and has a smooth interior fit along with a supportive midfoot.
The midsole is 100% EVA foam so there’s none of the Boost-type cushioning. And yet, the ride is comfortable enough for mild athletic activities. The bottom is completely covered with rubber for decent grip and longevity.
Also see: the adidas Duramo 9.
6) Lightweight neutral: adidas adizero Boston 8
The adizero Boston 8 is perhaps adidas’s best performance running shoe at the moment. Though the Boston is perceived as a shoe for fast training runs (which it is), it is equally suitable for a wide range of runs. You can use it as a responsive daily trainer and also as a race-day shoe for up to half marathons.
Its ride is cushioned but firm enough for fast runs. The outsole made of the durable Continental rubber that grips well and lasts long.
7) Lightweight mild-support: adidas adizero tempo 9
Think of the Tempo as the mild-support version of the Boston 7. It has a low-profile midsole but with a small support element over the inner midsole.
The upper shares similar design and fit characteristics with the adios and the Boston. The upper breathes well and fits snug – which is just right for fast training and races. The model is redesigned for 2019 with a brand new upper and sole but retains the characteristics which gave it the cult following in the first place.
8) Lightweight racer: adidas adizero adios 4
The adios has always been a race day favorite because of its cushioned ride and a breathable upper. This isn’t technically a racing flat, but its low-profile midsole makes it suitable for fast runs. Before you ask – the adidas Takumi sen isn’t widely available outside Japan, (LINK adizero Japan page) so you’ll have to make do with the adios.
It’s more durable than a flat too due to the Continental outsole. The adios 4 could be cheaper though – the original $140 price was due to the high-tech suede upper and the stenciled-outsole. Adidas cheapened out on the materials but has not passed down the benefit to the customer. If the Boston has everything (material-wise) that the adios has, then there’s no reason why the adios should cost $10 more.
9) All-purpose trail running shoe: adidas Terrex Aggravic XT
The Terrex Aggravic XT – which is also available in a waterproof Gore-Tex version – is the best all-purpose adidas Trail running shoe. Don’t let the full-length Boost and the absence of a rock plate scare you away. The Continental rubber outsole provides complete under-body protection and makes the ride firm but cushioned.
adidas has put its Continental rubber compound to very good use here. The Aggravic XT’s outsole is the footwear equivalent of a motorcycle knobby tire – the rubber has plenty of useful grip for varied terrain. The protruding knobs create a wide tread which keeps mud and debris from sticking.
The upper is thoughtfully put together. The entry is a Jaw-Paw type bootie with a padded Achilles dip. The forefoot and toe-box are solidly built – a thick urethane bumper protects the foot while a fused laminate strengthens the upper edges.
Thanks to the flat speed loops, the Lacing is tactile and very responsive to cinch pressure. Unlike many other adidas trail shoes, the Aggravic uses proper laces and not cords.
And surprise – this adidas upper fits half a size longer instead of the other way around. So getting a half size smaller should give you the conforming fit required of a trail shoe.
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