words and images_Zac Dubasik
Very Fast, But Very Firm
While I think “adiZeroCushioning Rose” would not be a totally unfair name for this shoe, I thoroughly enjoyed playing in it, despite that lame joke. My feet, ankles and knees may not agree, but DRose’s first signature shoe is my favorite pair of adidas hoops kicks in as long as I can remember. Make no mistake, if you are looking for a highly cushioned shoe, don’t walk, run, away from these. I even played in them for an extended period of time thinking that, perhaps, the cushioning would break in. I had no such luck. Not in the forefoot, not in the heel, not anywhere. So, how can I like a shoe enough to give it an A-, when it has no cushioning to speak of? It has to do a lot of other things well. Really well.
Leading off the list of the things the adiZero Rose does right, is its exceptionally light weight. The combination of synthetics and patent-like materials in the upper are very minimal, yet strong enough to hold your foot over the footbed. What’s even better though is that this shoe plays and feels even lighter than it is. This is in big thanks to the design of its tooling. Dubbed the “Sprint Frame,” a TPU chassis begins as an external heel counter, and sweeps under the foot, becoming a midfoot shank. Under the Sprint Frame is a large, oval-shaped pod in the heel, and a detached Puremotion area in the forefoot. These three elements work in almost perfect unison, minimizing the perceived weight by providing such a smooth and guided ride. The shoe flexes exactly where you want it, and never fights against you. The Sprint Frame, as the name may imply, even gives a track-spike-like level of responsiveness. Detaching the outsoles of the heel and forefoot also gives the added benefit of one more area to reduce rubber, and, more importantly, weight.
And while I’m talking about the shoe’s tooling, I have to mention the thing I think the adiZero Rose does best. Simply put, it has some of the best court feel I’ve ever experienced. Adidas’ classic Feet You Wear concept was notable for many reasons, not the least of which was its outstanding court feel. From a court feel perspective, Puremotion picked up last season where Feet You Wear left off many years ago, and its implementation in this shoe is right on the money. If you like to run and play on your toes, you’ll find that the Puremotion is targeted perfectly. All of that court feel wouldn’t matter much without the grip to translate it into speed, and traction is another area where this shoe excels. On both clean and dusty courts, the Cilia Traction surface’s two-tiered, multi directional design provided consistently sticky grip. It’s not among the absolute squeakiest traction I’ve ever felt, which is why I only gave it a 4.5/5, but it was never a problem. It added to the shoe’s already great court feel, which is, basically, so good it could have only been provided by a shoe with downright bad cushioning. (More on that soon.)
Moving back to the shoe’s upper, adidas had minimized weight here as well thanks to the design’s great use of materials. One of these materials, found on the shoe’s medial side, has been named SPRINTSKIN by adidas. This is an odd choice for a name, considering that Nike’s second generation of Flywire is known by many as “Skinwire.” Making it even more “interesting,” is the fact that it features a tonal pattern strongly resembling elephant print. Sometimes I have no idea how these things make it to market. Questionable product marketing choices aside, the upper is well shaped, and hugs the foot very nicely when the laces are snugged. I did have a bit of a problem getting the shoe laced tightly though. Metal eyeleys line the shoe’s lace holes, and don’t provide enough friction to easily lace up. You can do it, but it’s more work than it should be.
The upper’s most notable feature is its GEOFIT collar system. From a lockdown standpoint, it worked well, but it was a bit of a double-edged sword. This collar is attached to the upper only at the heel, and near the top eyelet on both the lateral and medial sides. By connecting the upper at only three points, it allows the collar to closely hug your ankle independently of the rest of the upper. The GEOFIT collar uses molded, segmented padding on the underside, which doesn’t conform to the ankle quite as well as I’d expected. I thought it would have more of a memory foam-like effect, but it just didn’t feel that way to me, and actually became quite uncomfortable after extended periods of play. The pressure, rather than being distributed across the whole width, seemed to instead be found at the very top. At times, it almost felt as if a thick wire were run through the top of the collar. Switching to a very thick, high quarter-length sock, I was able to get just about enough protection to alleviate the irritation, but my problem is, I don’t like playing in those type of socks typically. I think adidas is onto something good with this concept, but it still needs some fine-tuning in terms of both shape and materials. I’d also like to see a bit more padding right where the collar meets the upper in the heel area too. Properly shaped, this could provide even better heel lockdown.
Available now: adidas adiZero Rose
I’ve put this off as long as possible, but for all this shoe does right, there’s one area where it simply falls as short as possible. As mentioned earlier, there is no compromise in the adiZero Rose’s court feel. Unfortunately, when no compromise is made in court feel, there’s total compromise in cushioning. When it comes to impact protection, I just didn’t find any. Knowing that foam-based shoes’ cushioning can improve as it breaks in, I gave this shoe an extended testing period. I liked it so much that I wanted to believe it would get better. If it did get better, it wasn’t nearly enough to be able to make a difference. In my opinion, there has to be some compromise, at least for my feet and legs, when it comes to the cushioning-to-court feel ratio. Even though I prefer more emphasis on court feel, I’m willing to give in a little bit for some cushioning. I’d almost rather see a softer foam that will break down faster, than something that will always be this firm. The lack of protection will really limit the amount of ballers this shoe will be a good fit for. That said, not every shoe has to appeal to all players. And it’s not like small, light guards is that much of a niche market.
The adiZero Rose plays exceptionally light, fast and agile. It’s one of those shoes than when you have it on, it makes you just want to cut and slash your way to the hoop. While it just doesn’t offer the impact protection I personally need, there is a place for it. If maximum (or even moderate) cushioning is what you are after, stay far away from the adiZero Rose. But for smaller players that crave the best court feel possible, this shoe comes highly recommended.