words & images // Zac Dubasik
adiZero Rose 1.5
When it came to their two marquee athletes, adidas took two very different approaches to their second-half-of-season signature shoes. While the Dwight Howard-worn Beast and Super Beast had similar names, that’s where the similarities begin and end. The Super Beast was an entirely new shoe, top to bottom. And while I felt the Beast was a good shoe, I didn’t love it, and was excited about how much of an improvement I found the Super Beast to be. The adiZero Rose, on the other hand, I felt was already an excellent shoe, and only a few tweaks away from being even better – at least for its intended audience of point guards. “We were really happy with the adiZero Rose 1. It was lighter, faster for Derrick and had Pure Motion technology. The shoe played great and got great reviews,” explains the shoe’s designer, Robbie Fuller. With the team at adidas recognizing that they had a hit in the original, they opted for more of an update, rather than a full reworking, of the shoe. The result is the appropriately named adiZero Rose 1.5.
I say “appropriately named” because it’s basically half the same shoe. The Sprint Frame-based tooling of the adiZero Rose has been carried over to the 1.5. While I didn’t love everything about the tooling in the original shoe, its drawbacks had more to do with my size, and cushioning preferences, rather than it’s lack of performance. So, what that means is, if you liked the original, you’ll still like the 1.5. The shoe once again plays and feels even lighter than it is, thanks in major part to the excellent design of the tooling. The TPU chassis utilized by its Sprint Frame construction begins as an external heel counter, then wraps underfoot to become a midfoot shank. It not only stabilizes the heel and midfoot, but even gives a level of responsiveness and tactile feedback, similar to a track spike. Under the Sprint Frame is a large oval-shaped pod in the heel, and a detached Puremotion area in the forefoot. The transition is exceptionally smooth, and makes the shoe feel very light, with perfectly placed flex points. The shoe just feels fast, is low to the ground, and stable. The Cilia Traction Surface is once again present, and this tooling has been my preferred use of it. It’s not my favorite traction out there, but it’s very solid. It requires more swiping than I like to do, but it’s reassuring when it’s clean.
That brings us to the biggest negative of the tooling, and the whole shoe for that matter. The price you pay for the shoe’s sublime court feel is a very firm cushioning experience. Court feel and transition are among the most important things to me in a shoe, but the lack of cushioning will be a deal-breaker for many bigger players. I liked everything else about the shoe so much, that I was willing to deal with it, but my knees, ankles and feet reminded me after every wearing that they would appreciate something a little more protective under my heel and forefoot. That said, smaller players, and guards in particular, shouldn’t have as many problems with the firmness. I did notice a very slight improvement in sockliners between shoes. I thought the one used in the 1.5 was marginally softer, but unfortunately not nearly enough to make a tangible difference in cushioning. It is slightly more comfortable to my feet though.
Now that we’ve covered the area that was carried over from the original adiZero Rose, it’s time to examine the “point five” part. The upper of the adiZero Rose worked excellently with the tooling, to create a holistic performance experience. But there were comfort issues. I found the collar to be very harsh, firm, and it just didn’t hit my ankle right. I had to even wear thicker and longer socks to help protect my skin from the shoe. One of the biggest differences you’ll notice is the increased collar height in the 1.5. According to Fuller, it’s “more built up around the ankle, which was a request straight from the man himself. Derrick likes to lock down the ankle, so the Speedwrap ankle braces he wears are a must, but going into the back half of the season and playoffs he wanted even more comfort and protection, and we obviously did our best to give it to him.” The great thing is that despite the collar itself being taller, it’s actually less restrictive than in the original shoe. In a side-by-side comparison, you notice that while the front of the collar is slightly higher in the 1.5, it dips down significantly lower in the heel, thus creating room for a greater range of motion. You won’t mistake it for a low-top, but you also won’t feel like the collar is holding you back. This is the single greatest area of improvement for me between the two shoes.
After the collar height, the next biggest upper change was the incorporation of adidas’ basketball-specific SPRINTSKIN. “The micro molded skin is directionally engineered to provide optimum reinforcement during hard lateral movements,” explains Fuller, quite technically. It’s a material that offers multiple benefits for a hoops shoe. “It is seamlessly applied to a mesh base for superior breathability, and is made of a rubber-based material that adds increased durability for continuous wear. It also doesn’t have the wrinkling issues that synthetics typically have.” I found its use here to be even better than in the Super Beast. With less backing, it offered commendable breathability without sacrificing stability. Also, it offered abrasion resistance protection not normally found in a guard shoe, without increasing bulk, which is very important to point out. I would have liked to have seen it on the medial side as well, rather than just the lateral, but of course, I assume this was to keep costs down, and because it offers the greatest stability benefits on the lateral side (not to mention a good shelf view). From a breathability and fit standpoint, it would have been great on both sides.
In terms of overall comfort, you can’t ask for much more than what the 1.5 offers. If you like a minimal upper, the comfort is near reference-quality. There are more padded and supportive options out there, but from a pure comfort standpoint, this is as close to a sock-like feel that you’ll get in a performance hoops shoe. I felt that the overall stability of the original adiZero Rose was marginally better, and it functioned slightly better with the shoe’s tooling, but the trade off for comfort was well worth it. While the 1.5 may not be quite on par with the original in those departments, the original was so good that it doesn’t hurt the shoe in a significant way. Between the large heel counter and SPRINTSKIN upper, my foot stayed reliably over the footbed during cuts – just not quite as well as with the original — but still well above average compared to most other shoes. Also worth noting is the shoe’s sizing ran slightly big for me, and is on the wider side through the forefoot. If you are normally between sizes, I’d recommend going a half size down. I’m a true 13, and a 13 in the adiZero Rose 1.5 worked fine for me. If you fluctuate between sizes, I’d opt for the smaller of the two.
Derrick Rose has made the transition from an exciting young prospect to a true superstar, and his signature line is starting to take on even more of his input. “Derrick’s getting more involved each project and shoe we launch,” says Fuller. “We meet and show him designs and get feedback on a regular basis. The raised collar height is a great example of his feedback incorporated into the final product.” Thanks to changes like the one to the collar, the adiZero Rose 1.5 took an already great shoe, and made it even better. If the cushioning in the original shoe was too firm for your body and playing style, unfortunately, the updated version won’t do anything to change your mind. But if you were a fan of the original, or are a guard looking for as good of a court-feel and transition experience as you’ll find, the 1.5 should be at the top of your list.
best for: guards
colorway tested: Black/University Red
key tech: Freemotion; basketball-specific SPRINTSKIN on lateral side of upper; Sprint Frame construction; Cilia Traction surface
pros: outstanding court feel; upper comfort; fit; traction; no break-in period
cons: cushioning best suited for smaller players
improvements: find a balance between court feel and cushioning; SPRINTSKIN on medial side of shoe
buying advice: The original adiZero Rose was a great shoe, but the 1.5 is even better. That said, the shoes do share a tooling, so you won’t find any improvements in that department, but you will in almost every other aspect of the shoe. What that also means is that if the original didn’t offer enough cushioning, the 1.5 won’t either. If you are a guard who places an emphasis on speed rather than impact protection, the adiZero Rose 1.5 comes very highly recommended.
Available now: adidas adiZero Rose 1.5