When adidas announced the Samba Pack of boots last week, it was apparent that it was more than just a new set of colorways for the company's four boot silos. The newly-released Nitrocharge and Predator lz2 received a fresh coat of paint and little else but it opened the door for a reworked f50 adizero and an updated 11pro silo.
The latter received a number of important changes, namely to the upper, but that's another story for another piece. The former received a new stud design, a reworked outsole, a brand new upper, and a small but significant weight reduction. Adidas showed off the new f50 in full and talked about the innovation that went into the redesign at their pre-World Cup event in Portland before allowing those in attendance to take to the pitch in one of the confederation kits that they unveiled at the event with a pair of the new boots on their feet.
When adidas first launched the f50 adizero as the successor to the Tunit series, fans were in awe of the sheer lack of weight in the iridescent-purple-to-green boot was. For years, manufacturers had been bulking up boots trying to get more force behind the shot, hoping to increase player power. Then, they identified the player that they call the "speed demon" and built a boot specifically for them.
Originally weighing in at 165 grams, the 2010-spec adizero was a bit of a footwear engineering marvel. Hollow studs, a lightweight folded outsole, and a thin upper accounted for a lot in weight savings and it has paid dividends adidas. That f50 was impossibly light and the question soon became "what will they do next?"
As adidas slogan goes, Impossible is Nothing and that was certainly on show back in May ahead of the Champions league final where they unveiled the unbelievably lightweight future of the adizero. In that iteration, a concept with a launch goal set in the not too distant future, adidas reduced the weight of the boot by a mind-blowing 40% with this version weighing in at just 99 grams. A new upper and new materials in the architecture were mostly responsible for the dramatic change.
The concept offered a fascinating look into the future of the adizero and now we're seeing the fruits of those innovations coming to bear, just six months after the initial unveiling. On top of a redesign to the existing adizero F50, the Samba f50 features a weight reduction to just 150 grams. The upper, one of my biggest issues with the boot's last iteration, has been completely reworked and, in our playtest at the adidas village, performed phenomenally. It's thinner, it's softer, and it's infinitely more comfortable.
The back half of the foot sees a move to a material that adidas calls SPEEDFOIL and it is directly from the 99 gram boot shown off in London. The material looks like a tightly-woven mesh and is ever-so-slightly translucent due to just how thin it is. Despite that, it is solid and very comfortable, helping to reduce weight while keeping the athlete's heel in place.
In addition to the upper, adidas have reworked the boot's studs in their design and placement. The new configuration is called SPEEDTRAXION and sees the studs in the forefoot moved to a radial shape with six studs forming a circle around one more in the center. adidas say that SPEEDTRAXION is designed to help the player with seven key movements that they have identified in the sport.
After the technical presentation, we were given the opportunity to take to the pitch to play seven-a-side in the new gear. There were two teams, both captained by former United States Men's National Team players with Jeff Agoos taking command of one (with me in net) and Jimmy Conrad of the other. The artificial pitch that the game took place on increased the speed of play to a frenetic pace with both teams trying to beat each other on the counter attack. It only got faster as the rain fell in the second half.
Still, on a harsh field in conditions that were far from dry, the adizero F50 performed with aplomb. Touch on the ball was not compromised, no water got into the boot, and, best of all, the new upper provided a real sense of "second skin" for the player. Being at the back allowed me to see just what the f50 was like from a standing start and for quick sprints. While the ball was at the other end, it was good to know that the adizero was comfortable to simply stand in.
I was thoroughly impressed by the boot in the admittedly brief play test but will be giving the adizero F50 and the rest of the Samba Pack an extended run out for an extended review whenever the ground in Western New York thaws out from the early winter freeze.