Performance Review: adiZero Rose 2.5

Performance Review: adiZero Rose 2.5

Adidas adiZero Rose 2.5 Performance Review | Dialing Things In For The Home Stretch
words & images // Nick DePaula

There’s nothing that I hate more in sneakers than signature lines that don’t evolve. In theory, as a series moves from season to season, year to year and model to model, there should be a progression of all that is so expertly crafted into it. Better performance, improved storytelling and in some cases, correcting the missteps of the past are all a must.

Derrick Rose’s adiZero Rose 2.5 is the only signature shoe of this year that I thought accomplished that. While other new models on the market took on convoluted modularity stories at the expense of true performance, got a bit fussy in design or took steps backward in fit and comfort, the Rose 2.5 truly took all of the best attributes and traits of DRose’s start-of-season model, the Rose 2, and improved on everything from the ground up. You could argue that the Rose 2 is a better-looking shoe, and you might be right, but where it counts most – on the hardwood – the Rose 2.5 really begins to dial in all of the performance cues that the Rose 2 fell short on.

The very first thing you’ll notice, both by simply looking at the shoe and by trying it on, is that the collar is exceptionally more plush and built up than the Rose 2. While the luxe-driven elastic gore bands along the collar of the 2 looked pretty damn cool and hinted to the best-kept secret Y-3 line’s Kazuhiri, it certainly didn’t offer exacting lockdown for all shapes, sizes and styles of play. The collar is just one of many areas where there’s a huge jump in performance, and the added comfort right away from the memory foam-like fit around your ankle is a great improvement. I thought the Rose 2 laced up just fine, but the gore bands stretched and frayed after just a few weeks of play. The 2.5 should hold up much longer, and the padding and sheer softness of the collar feels awesome to the foot. If you, like Derrick Rose, also wear an ankle brace, you’ll definitely appreciate the more traditional and accommodating closure here, too.

Coupled with that increase in comfort comes some exceptional lockdown. As designer Robbie Fuller explained it, there’s a subtle nod to the brand’s iconic three stripes in the collar design, and there’re three points of lockdown along the throat that’ll really hold you in. You’ll notice two triangles along the sides of both ankles and another along the tongue, and when laced tightly, you’re firmly locked right into place. The shoe’s modified SPRINTWEB quarter panel through the midfoot allows the body of the upper to cinch up and hug the foot well, and with a bolstered and enlarged SPRINTFRAME chassis seeping further up along the heel, there’s lockdown galore. I’m not exactly quite as fast as Derrick Rose, but on cuts and jabs, I was precisely where I wanted to be for every step.

A lot of times in a basketball shoe, impressive midfoot fit and heel lockdown can be practically worthless if the shoe has poor traction. While the Rose 2 took Derrick’s line to a new space for both on-court appeal and off-court versatility, the shoe’s huge backstory had one huge drawback. The volcano-inspired traction pattern that began along the medial side of the heel and flowed into the lateral side of the forefoot never quite cut it. Gone is the storytelling splatter traction pattern for the Rose 2.5, in favor of a fully grooved rubber outsole. Along with the difference in collar comfort, the upgrade in pure traction is something that’s immediately noticeable. It’s not quite as good as the industry-leading Crazy Light, but it’s right up there at the very top. Because the grooves are a bit more shallow than the Crazy Light, you’ll have to swipe a bit more from time to time, but keep the outsole clean and you’re completely set for sudden stops and changes of direction all night long. One of my main complaints on the Rose 2 was its lack of hold, and I loved the traction here.
What made the Crazy Light such a great shoe was, of course, its feathery weight and all-new modernized design, but there was a distinct difference in the way the shoe was actually constructed that I most appreciated. The shoe went from synthetic upper to SPRINTFRAME plate and straight to tooling, and the lack of a more traditional midsole meant you were sitting directly on a slab of, according to Fuller, what he so often calls “premium-sourced foam.” That subtle difference on the Crazy Light resulted in the best out-of-box comfort ever from adidas Basketball. The Rose 2 didn’t follow that same approach and was more firm to start, and thankfully, the 2.5 goes back to the upper-plate-foam construction that made the Crazy Light such a big hit. It’s something you might never be able to immediately notice just by glancing at a shoe, and it certainly will take a far more sophisticated consumer to be able to gather that this setup offers more cushioning and performance than an oft-duping visible technology like Air Max, but it’s greatly welcomed here in the Rose 2.5

Aside from the shoe’s improved cushioning, collar lockdown and traction, something I didn’t care for on the Rose 2.5 was the slightly roomy toe box. I have a pretty standard-width foot, but there’s some extra volume both above the foot and from side to side. If you lace your shoes a bit tighter, you’ll be fine thanks to some sweet heel and midfoot lockdown, but if you like a relaxed fit through the body of the shoe, you might find your forefoot sliding around a bit on cuts.

Another pretty noticeable issue was how slick the top of the shoe’s sockliner was. On top of the added volume in the toe, the insole doesn’t exactly keep your foot in place either. One solution I went to after just the third wearing was replacing the Rose 2.5’s sockliner with the “Crazy Comfort” insole from the Crazy Light. I felt immediately more secure, but that might not be an option for everyone, of course. The 2.5’s volume and slick stock sockliner are the only real issue in the shoe, and a good reason to possibly look into sizing down a half size. Otherwise, I didn’t notcie any hot spots or problems areas of note worth pointing out.

All in all, the Rose 2.5 carries on the quickly emerging Derrick Rose signature line with several great and targeted improvements from his first-half shoe. If you play the point guard position or consider yourself an active player, you should definitely like the great traction, lockdown, court feel and transition. If you have a narrow foot, the shoe might be a bit roomy up front and you might want to look at sizing down a half size. At “just” $110, the Rose 2.5 is a great value at the signature level and also a real durable buy. The slight toe rubber wrap and balanced foam cushioning setup will give the shoe a great lifespan over a full season of use, and unlike the fraying and decaying gore bands found on the Rose 2, the 2.5’s upper and collar foam package are definitely in for the long haul. The Rose 2 had some clear flaws that needed addressing, and it’s impressive that within the same NBA season, the Rose 2.5 is exactly the upgraded model I had in mind.

Grade Breakout & Details:

designed by: Robbie Fuller

best for: guards and forwards

colorway tested: Black / White / Scarlet

key tech: full-length premium-sourced EVA foam midsole, SPRINTWEB midfoot panel, SPRINTFRAME full-length chassis, plush memory foam-like collar padding, targeted grooved traction pattern, miCoach cell technology

pros: outstanding lockdown and support, solid traction, lightweight, outstanding court feel and control, real durable

cons: forefoot is a bit roomy and could hold the foot over the footbed better; miCoach compatibility is inconsequential

improvements: Work on fit from midfoot through the forefoot and tighten volume throughout toe.

buying advice: If you’re after court feel, transition, traction and lockdown, the Rose 2.5 is a great option. With improvements on literally every downside of the Rose 2, the 2.5 offers better hold on hardwood, a more comfortable collar and sheds weight in what is the lightest Rose shoe yet.

Available Now: adidas adiZero Rose 2.5

Performance Review: Merrell Pace Glove

Performance Review: Merrell Pace Glove

Merrell Pace Glove

words // Sara Accettura
photography // Zac Dubasik

Merrell’s new line of barefoot running shoes combines the best of both a minimalist shoe and a heavy-duty outsole that can hold its own on both street and trail running. As someone who has enjoyed minimalist running shoes for a few years now, I have been lucky enough to try out a handful of these types of shoes, and Merrell is definitely one of my favorites. Not only was it super light, but it was extremely flexible and durable. Whenever I had these shoes on, I forgot that I had anything on at all, but at the same time, I felt like my feet were protected while running in a variety of environments. It was an overall great experience.

The first time I saw the Pace Gloves in the box, my thought was: They’re really cute. When I picked them up, I was in shock. Even with a heavy-duty Vibram outsole, these shoes were light, extremely light, weighing in at a mere 4.7 ounces. But, I’d have to say, looks are deceiving, because they really do appear to look like any regular shoe. Only, they’re not. After interviewing Hy Rosario, Vice President of Men’s Product Development, I learned that everything was a deliberate choice all pushing towards the end goal of making these shoes as minimal as possible. So far, I think they’ve done an amazing job.

Merrell Pace Glove

TECHNOLOGY
Rosario summed up the inspiration behind all of the barefoot line by saying that it’s, “a manifestation of that idea of less is more.” And in the technology of the shoe, that is the guiding force you will notice. There isn’t a whole lot to these shoes, but what is there is deliberate and has a functional purpose. A good example of that is the toe bumper, which is fused onto the extremely breathable, ultra-light microfiber and air mesh upper. The toe bumper is actually one of my favorite parts of this shoe, because it almost looks like a styling element, but it’s really there to give a little bit more protection, and I found that it also serves to generally keep some small stuff out of the shoes (such as dust and small debris). Another of my favorite parts of the Pace Glove was the Omni-Fit lacing system secured with welded TPU. Not only do you have your heavy-duty laces, but the top two eyelets are connected via horizontal strips that are stitched to the tongue. These strips then extend out of the first two eyelets, where the laces are threaded through them. This allows you to tighten your laces for a secure fit, but it also serves the purpose of holding the tongue in place as well. The heel is as minimal as it gets as there is no heel counter, only a synthetic leather foot sling with an elastic band at the top to also insure a secure fit. This setup offers a very close, almost a glove-like fit around the heel and midfoot as nothing is shifting around, which means there’s no chafing. For the outsole, Merrell teamed up with Vibram, which has yielded a flexible, durable, custom outsole. While you can see traces of similarities to Vibram’s FiveFingers in this outsole, the toes are fused, which is one major distinction between the shoes.

Merrell Pace GloveToe bumper

Inside of the shoe is just as impressive; the footbed is non-removable (and thankfully treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution that resists odor) and there is no insole/sockliner. While there is no insole, there is a 4mm compression molded EVA midsole and 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate to help protect the foot by distributing pressure. But, these shoes still maintain a zero drop, which basically means that there is no difference in height between the heel and the ball of the foot. So, while you can feel a very, very tiny bit of cushion in the midsole, it is extremely thin and doesn’t disturb how in-tune to the ground you will feel. I know people interested in the barefoot experience might not be thrilled to hear about this cushioning, but truth be told, when I have the shoes on, I can’t really detect cushioning. So, I put a Vibram FiveFingers on my left foot and the Pace Glove on my right and ran around a little bit to see if I could tell a difference, and while running, if I concentrated really hard, I could feel a slight cushioning in the Pace Glove. But, let me emphasize slight, because it isn’t the springy, pillowy feel of a traditional shoe or even of lightweight shoes. This is such a small difference that I had to really pay attention to even feel it.

FIT
I think part of the reason I love barefoot running so much is because I like to be barefoot as much as possible in my normal day. I go without shoes as often as I can, and if I have to have shoes, I hope I don’t need to wear socks. I also don’t want running to be something I have to prepare for. With two very busy kids, I don’t have a lot of time to myself, so when I have the time to squeeze in a run, I’m out. If I have to take time to get ready, I run the risk of hearing a kid yell, “Mom!” I’ve got to get out of the house before that happens. Or if I’m traveling, I want to be able to pack a pair of shoes that doesn’t take up as much space as my clothing. These shoes are amazing because they are so flexible, they can be packed into small pockets in my luggage, but they have everything I need: they protect my feet, and they fit well sans socks. So, I did wear socks the first time I ran in the Pace Gloves, and all went great. They felt wonderful, and I decided to ditch the socks and see how things went then. Thankfully, I had no problems; I didn’t come across any hot spots or areas of rubbing. The inside of the shoe has a thin layer covering all stitching that could cause irritation. I think the fact that I didn’t experience any chafing also had a lot to do with the secure fit around my heel and midfoot, because the toe box had ample room, even for my wide feet. So while the lacing system kept the shoe in place, my forefoot had enough room to spread out and provide maximum contact with the ground. I’ve read some reference to rubbing in the heel portion, but I did not have any issues whatsoever there. I have a more narrow heel, and that could be part of the reason. But, the materials overall are very soft and breathable.

DURABILITY
These shoes not only look durable, but they have held up extremely well for messy trail runs and runs in the rain. Merrell is a trusted name in outdoor shoes, so I really didn’t expect anything less, and partnering with Vibram, a trusted name in outsoles, only solidifies my confidence that I will be wearing these shoes for a long time to come. During the many miles I ran in this shoe, other than getting dirty, these shoes did not show any other visible signs of wear. I know these shoes were mainly created for trail running, but I tested them on a variety of surfaces, and I was amazed to see how well they held up. So, aside from getting a little dirty (my own doing), the shoes look just like new. And the best part is they can even be washed and air dried.

OVERALL
I would strongly recommend these shoes to anyone who is interested in trying out minimalist shoes or anyone who is a minimalist shoe enthusiast. In fact, I was gushing about these shoes to my neighbor who had no experience with minimalist shoes, and she ended up purchasing a pair in pink (they are absolutely adorable), and she loves them. (Although, if you’re new to barefoot running, be sure to take it slowly; check out more information on barefoot running in the Athletic Resource Center.) I would give this shoe an A overall. What would I change? I’ve been wrestling with this question for a while now, and I can’t think of anything major. All I can think of is lose the laces, but I don’t want that to compromise the amazing fit of the shoe. I love these shoes and strongly recommend them for runners or active people looking for a more minimalist shoe.

 

Merrell Pace GloveVibram Outsole

Merrell Pace GloveHeel foot sling with elastic.