The adidas ultra boost is the latest addition to adidas's boost range and though the familiar white midsole remains, this new shoe has evolved quite dramatically from its energy boost predecessor.
The big new word for this shoe is 'energized' - the heel-to-toe transtition, the fit, the torsion system, the whole premise of the design is to maximise on the energy return from the boost EVA foam.
What does this mean? Well, quite a lot. First of all, the ultra boost apparently has '20% more boost' than the energy boost, so in theory we're looking at more comfortable yet repsonsive shoe.
There is a new 'stretch web' outsole that is designed to adapt to each runners' foot strike and a new version of adidas's long running Torsion system to provide a 'smooth, controlled ride'.
The fit has changed too as the upper is now constructed/knitted out of a single piece of fabric.
There is an external heel cup to secure the foot in place, but with a central section missing to allow for the achilles to move correctly -
The foot is then held in place by side panels that are incorporated into the adidas three stripes and form a cage around the sock-like knitted upper.
Here's where the sock-like upper really stands out, there is no separate tongue, meaning the knitted upper is designed to wrap around the foot -
So, have all these developments made a dramatic difference? Well we've had a few pairs in the office for testing (as you can see from the pictures) and below are the initial thoughts from Andy, Kerry and Joe -
Andy Dixon - Editor
" There are many impressive things about this shoe, but after running 100 miles in them over the last month or so, the standout quality is comfort. It combines an ultra smooth and cushioned ride with an excellent fit. I felt like I was floating through the miles in them.
The biggest difference between this and existing Boost models is in the upper. The one-piece, knitted upper (there’s no separate tongue) offers a sock-like fit which moves with the foot as you run. The more rigid plastic three stripes sit externally on top of this – the laces run through the ends of the stripes and act as an arch lock. It’s possible to tighten the stripes individually to achieve the best midfoot fit. Similarly, the heel counter is also on the outside of the shoe, with a notch down the back to avoid any pressure on the Achilles.
The outsole has also been revamped – it now features a full-length stretchy rubber grid with a small recessed torsion bar. This makes the shoe significantly more flexible, offering a smoother heel-to-toe transition during the gait cycle. My one criticism was that grip on frosty and icy surfaces could have been better. But overall, with these amendments, Adidas has made a great shoe even better."
Kerry - Commissiong Editor
"I've run about 50 miles over the course of half a dozen or so runs in the Ultra Boost and it's pretty clear they're a worthy addition to the Boost pantheon of shoes. The fantastic bounce and energy return given by the midsole cushioning is once again one of the key features, and the rubber waffle outsole design also helps to whip your foot through to toe-off a bit quicker.
I found the fit a little narrow in the midfoot and I actually have narrow feet anyway so wider footed runners may have issues with this. The heel is a little chunky for my liking as I'm a midfoot striker - and I found the heel scuffing the floor when I started to tire. However the forefoot responsiveness is impressive. I'd say this shoe is, unusually, a reliable high mileage option for both forefoot and heel strikers."
Joe - Deputy Editor
"As a huge fan of the first outing for adi’s boost midsole – the Energy Boost – I was pretty excited to get out in this latest evolution. The Ultra Boost is most definitely a different beast, offering much more cushioning and more shoe in general (coming in at over 300g for a men’s nine).
As well as the extra weight, you do pay a price in terms of that signature energy return and responsiveness and consequently I wouldn’t use these for speedwork or short races. However, for longer runs the Ultra Boost really strikes a fantastic balance. You get a seriously smooth and cushioned ride, but there is still a discernible kick-back off the surface injecting that little bit of extra energy into every step. For me that’s a real best-of-both-worlds scenario in a long run shoe and I’ve already earmarked them for my next marathon.
The upper is a welcome evolution, too. Adi’s woven mesh upper hugs the foot in similar fashion to Nike’s bar-raising Flyknit, though it's all a bit softer/looser, so re-enforced by plastic overlays. I found the fit across the upper and around the ankle really comfy. All in all, a great performer on for big mileage days."
These are just our first opinions on the shoe, so remember to buy the April issue of Runner's World where the ultra boost will be tested and rated against the best running shoes on the market.