This is the super shoe that Adidas fans have been waiting for. Ever since the Nike VaporFly 4% was released in 2017, running enthusiasts have been waiting for Adidas to release their very own carbon-plated running shoe to go head to head with the VaporFly.
The Adizero Sub 2 was an Adidas marathon shoe designed to help Adidas athletes run under two hours for the full marathon distance.
The Adizero Sub 2 was super light, but its Boost Light midsole was too firm and missing a carbon plate, so it did not possess the explosive propulsion to give their elites an advantage in marathons. I ended up using my pair of Sub 2's as a casual shoe.
Three years since Nike launched the VaporFly 4%, Adidas has finally launched the Adizero Pro, their take on the marathon carbon-plated super shoe.
Over the last three years, various pictures of the Adizero Pro have been leaked, and elite Adidas athletes have even been pictured running in them during prestigious marathons. This has only increased the hype surrounding the Adizero Pro.
I'm not an elite marathon runner by any means, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on one of the most eagerly awaited super shoes on the planet.
The Adizero Pro features Adidas' newest and most advanced running shoe technologies in a sleek, lightweight package.
The Adizero Pro is a whopping $95 cheaper than Nike's flagship marathon racer, the AlphaFly Next% and on paper, looks like a much better deal.
So how does the performance of the Adizero Pro stack up to the Nike VaporFly and was it worth the wait?
The first thing I was drawn to when I picked up the super shoe for the first time was its midsole. I immediately flexed the shoe to see if I could feel the carbon fibre plate inside it. The forefoot had some flex to it, but the plate prevented it from bending.
When I slipped the shoe on for the first time and walked around, I was pleasantly surprised by the high volume of cushioning in the forefoot. It felt like a beefed-up version of the Adios 5.
Underneath the forefoot, it felt like a firm bubble of cushioning which reminded me of a very slight mini rocker.
My first run in the Adizero Pro was a short 10-kilometre tempo workout. They felt a bit underwhelming. I felt no propulsion from the carbon plate in the midsole, and they felt like just another average racing flat. I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed.
My next run in them was a long 30-kilometre weekend run. This was the furthest I had run in weeks, and I enjoyed the extra cushioning that the midsole provided over a regular racing flat. My pace was also faster than I estimated it to be for that long a distance.
Upper and fit
The upper of the Adizero Pro may be the most breathable upper ever placed on a running shoe. I went for runs in the early hours of cold Winter mornings and the icy wind whipped through the thin upper and numbed my toes.
It's made from Celarmesh, a gauze-like mesh which is smooth and not at all stretchy. Underneath the mesh is a latticed layer which gives the upper some structure without sacrificing breathability.
You can expect a snug racing fit from the Adizero Pro upper. I went true to size, and it takes quite a while to put them on because of the narrow fit. If you have medium to wide sized feet, you will definitely have to go up a half size.
The tongue is flat with a small amount of padding. It is gusseted, so it does not slide laterally but slides downwards on runs. The tongue is also too short, so when I laced them to the top using a heel lock, I could feel the lacing pressure.
The heel of the Adizero Pro is padded, but I experienced heel slippage. Heel lock lacing helps but the heel lockdown still isn't great for a racing shoe. The problem is that the heel doesn't sit deep enough in the shoe, and the heel counter doesn't come up high enough to be able to grip the heel.
The most interesting part of the Adizero Pro upper is the extra two rows of eyelet holes that you can use if you want a more secure foot lockdown. Its laces are also extra long if you need to use the extra lace holes.
It takes a lot of lace adjusting to get the fit right, and I have to stop several times during my runs to re-adjust the laces. The lack of any plushness combined with the narrow fit makes it a very finicky upper.
Midsole and ride
The combination of Lightstrike and Boost go together like peanut butter and jam. The two TPU foams work in tandem to create a sophisticated ride character.
The soft Boost in the heel cushions rearfoot landings and as you transition through the shoe, the Lightstrike in the forefoot provides a firmer, fast-feeling toe-off.
The star of the midsole show is the carbon fibre plate. It's called Carbitex and is unique in that it's made by a third party and not by Adidas.
It's different from other carbon fibre plates because they usually remain the same rigidity, but the Carbitex plate stays flexible while running slowly but stiffens up and when going fast.
So how does the Adizero Pro's carbon plate affect its ride? It gives it a snappy feeling forefoot which excels at tempo paces below 5 minutes per kilometre.
I can't say that I noticed the stiffening of the carbon plate while picking up the pace. The carbon plate is also less intrusive than other carbon plated shoes such as the Vaporfly because of its flexibility and its flat shape.
The density of the Adizero Pro midsole is medium-firm in the heel because of the Boost and firm in the forefoot because of the Lightstrike. You don't get the soft, bouncy ride that you get in the Vaporfly but it's cushioned enough for at least 30-kilometre runs. I wouldn't wear them for the full marathon distance.
Stability in the Adizero Pro is good as a result of its low midsole stack height, and it's firm midsole. There is no lean bias, so your ankle remains straight and upright.
Ride transitions are not very smooth because of the two different densities in the midsole. You get lots of cushioning in the heel and only a small amount in the forefoot.
Outsole and durability
A lot is going on on the outsole of the Adizero Pro. In the rear, you get Adiwear rubber, and in the forefoot, you get super durable thick Continental rubber. The midsole has small, rubber nubs that protrude and "bite" into the ground.
Traction is superb on all types of surfaces, wet and dry. I hope Adidas uses the small rubber nubs on more of their shoes because the grip they provide is amazing.
Durability is a mixed bag when it comes to the Adizero Pro. The midsole has high levels of durability because both foams are TPU based and they won't lose much cushioning depth over the lifespan of the shoe.
The Continental forefoot is extremely thick and hard-wearing while the Adiwear heel rubber is thinner and won't last as long. I have run less than 100 kilometres in my pair, and the Adiwear on the lateral heel has almost worn down completely to expose the Boost.
The Adizero Pro is meant only for race days, so you have to keep that in mind when it comes to durability.
Adizero Pro vs Adizero Adios 5
The Adios 5 has a more accommodating and more comfortable upper. The Adizero Pro has slightly more forefoot cushioning as has the carbon plate, which makes its forefoot more snappy. The Adios 5 has a more agile ride with better ground feel and for me is the more fun shoe.
I choose the Adios 5.
Adizero Pro vs Nike VaporFly Next%
The Adizero Pro has the more breathable upper and is more comfortable because of its wider base. The Vaporfly midsole is soft and bouncy while the Adizero Pro's midsole is firm and stable.
The biggest difference between the two shoes is their carbon fibre plates. The Adizero Pro has a flexible plate while the VaporFly has a stiff plate which is more propulsive and ultimately gives its runner a huge advantage.
I choose the VaporFly.
So does the Adizero Pro possess the "magic" to give runners the edge in a marathon? Can it compete with other flagship racers, and does it have enough cutting edge technology to be called a super shoe?
Unfortunately not. I really wanted the Adizero Pro to give the VaporFly, Endorphin Pro and Metaracer a run for their money but the Adizero Pro just feels like a regular racing flat with a tad more cushioning.
Although the Adizero Pro isn't what I consider a super shoe, it still has a lot of things going for it. It has an extremely breathable, light upper, a midsole with deep cushioning and thick, durable forefoot outsole rubber. It's also one of the cheapest carbon-plated racing shoes you can buy.
I still think the Adizero Pro needs slightly more stack height for more long-distance cushioning and I think a stiffer carbon fibre plate will help make the shoe more propulsive and competitive.
- Great value for money
- Excellent outsole grip
- Super breathable upper
- Finicky upper fit
- Not enough cushioning for a marathon
- Carbon plate is not propulsive
Adidas Adizero Pro: a carbon-plated trainer for tempo days
Since the introduction of Nike's first carbon-plated race shoe in 2017, the running community had eagerly anticipated a response from Adidas. Only 3 years later, in May 2020 the world saw the Adizero Pro.
Despite having a plate, the shoe did not turn out to be a typical super shoe with its low stack height. The Adidas Adizero Pro appears more of a hybrid between a racing shoe and a lightweight speed trainer, which makes it best for:
- 5K to half-marathon distances at moderate and fast paces
- speed training: tempo runs and intervals
As a neutral running shoe, it does not offer support for overpronation but its stable base has a touch of inherent stability.
Notable features of the Adidas Adizero Pro
- Carbitex carbon plate: The brand's first take on carbon plates. It is a bit less curved and more flexible than most plates which makes it less intrusive on moderate paces but effective at faster runs.
- Celermesh top: Adidas' thinnest upper material yet. It gives ultra-lightweight support, ventilation, and moisture-wicking.
- Dual-cushion midsole: Responsive Boost is caged inside the firm yet light Lightstrike.
- Continental and Adiwear rubber: Delivers excellent traction and superior durability.
Adidas Adizero Pro vs. Adidas Adizero Adios Pro
- More cushioning for long distances: Adizero Adios Pro has a higher stack - 39mm/31.5 mm over 32/22 mm (Adizero Pro).
- Softer, more responsive ride: a full-length Lightstrike PRO foam is considered an upgrade from the Boost.
- Lighter and smoother rubber shaves the bulk off the outsole but is meant for even roads only.
How Adizero Pro compares
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