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I’ve spent the last two weeks putting these sneakers to the test. It has accompanied me to work, to the gym, on runs, to events, to the pub, everywhere. After all, 900Dh ($250) is a chunk of money to drop on these kicks.

Before we jump in, here’s adidas’ epilepsy -inducing promo video for the UltraBOOST 19.



The UltraBOOST 19 is one of the boldest editions yet. adidas have claimed their UltraBOOST line of sneakers is “The Greatest Running Shoe Ever” and that’s believable.

Regardless of what ‘sneaker unboxing specialists’ on YouTube or ‘fashion influencers’ have to say – these are amazing running shoes – because runners and athletes wear the UltraBOOST themselves.

The original ‘OG’ pair was launched by Spanish footballer David Villa back in 2015. Four years later and closer to home, Mo Salah was spotted with the new UltraBOOST 19 at an adidas event in Dubai.

If the pair has Salah’s stamp of approval, read no more.

Here’s a link to buy it. Go away.

For those who need a detailed breakdown on support, construction and comfort…read on. But first: here’s all the colourways available as of mid-April 2019.


adidas UltraBOOST 19: First glance

Having just come off a long term review of Reebok’s flagship runner the Sole Fury – I would have to admit that the Clear brown colourway isn’t the prettiest of the lot. Unfortunately, it’s the colourway we received, so for this section, I’m going to pretend we reviewed the cleaner ‘Laser Red’ instead. adidas have made design changes with the new sneaker – however when compared to other recent sneakers, it’s not as daring as the Puma RS-X or as futuristic as the Reebok Sole Fury. It’s gorgeous in its own ‘adidas way’.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

The pattern is intricate – as one would expect from a flagship. The upper largely consists of the Primeknit 360, where the intertwined vertical and horizontal stitching makes it look like a perfectly woven tapestry.

The extra support on either side of the midfoot that hold the lacing together have a similar web-like, netted design and the three strips are embossed on both sides of the panels rounding off the typical adidas aesthetic.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

Generally, UltraBOOSTs are performance sneakers. You find them in gyms or on the feet of early morning runners. If you wanted to flex – you would prefer the NMDs or EQTs. UltraBOOSTs on the other hand were never considered to be a ‘show sneaker’. Luckily adidas fixed that with the 19 – perhaps due to their rampant marketing campaign – and it is now one of the most recognisable sneakers of the year.


Comfort

The UltraBOOST 19 effectively killed sales of any previous UltraBOOSTs still out there. There’s a lot more bounce in your step and a greater rebound than previous models and other runners from other brands.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

The new UltraBOOST is stuffed with extra foam as well. Adidas state that there is 20% more Boost in the midsole alone.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

The Primeknit is tight and comfortable. It essentially moulds around your feet so much so, that you don’t even need laces on the sneaker. If you are someone with feet that heat up – stay away from these sneakers. Outdoor runs, especially in a Dubai summer will be incredibly difficult with the tight and intricate Primeknit.


adidas UltraBOOST 19:Construction

Adidas completely reimagined the UltraBOOST 19. They stripped the sneaker bare and started from scratch. The entire shoe comprises 17 pieces with only 4 being integral to the overall performance.

The collar is a nice touch, from a design point of view and from a practical standpoint as well. The collar is padded, and this helps cradle the ankles and support the Achilles.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

Another point worth mentioning is the construction of the outsole. Expecting runners to drift across tarmac, adidas teamed up with Continental: yep, the guys who make tires for vehicles. Look closely at outsole, towards the tips of the sneakers and you’ll find the Continental logo staring back at you.

The Continental rubber was specifically included for the new generation of urban runners and city dwellers who regularly hit the tarmac. The special undersole tackles the wear and tear that asphalt or tarmac can cause on your running shoes. Good shout adidas.


Fit

The collar has mild padding on it to support the ankles and the Achilles. My only issue with its fit would be that the sneaker is so snug that it tends to suffocate your feet if you’re wear it for over 10 hours.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

Surely, they weren’t made for all-day use since these are performance trainers not daily-wear sneakers. I bet sneakerheads would have a separate adidas collection of street wear sneakers anyway such as the NiteJoggers for example (in-depth review on these coming soon).

They fit true to size, however if you do get uncomfortable after a few hours, remove the insole and you’re good to go.


Support

The see-through panels with the embossed three stripes on either side of the lacing system are just not pretty design add-ons. The panels are designed to prevent vibration during a run. 

And since we’re on design elements doubling up with dual jobs, lets talk about the 3D heel frame. It comes in an “OMG-Notice-Me” bright neon orange on the Laser Red and Clear Brown colourways; and a toned down grey and black on all the other colourways.

adidas UltraBOOST 19 review

The heel frame wraps around the back of the heel and extends up to the midsole. The futuristic tech is a replacement of the much-moaned-about TPU heel counter in previous models.

If you have read our previous reviews, you would know we’re massive fans of sneaker support systems such as propulsion plates, shank structures and sneaker cushioning.

The UltraBOOST comes with its own special tech in the form of a torsion spring; a thermoplastic layer within the cushioning unit that steadies the foot during a run. 


Verdict

Adidas stayed true to their promise of creating ‘The Greatest Running Shoe Ever’. While this does replace every training sneaker currently in my collection – I wouldn’t be inclined to wear it out on the town or use it as a show sneaker.


adidas UltraBOOST 19: RANKING

Looks: 4/5
Comfort: 5/5
Construction: 5/5
Fit: 4/5
Support: 5/5

Total: 92%


It’s no surprise that the athletic footwear market is growing steadily. With a high disposable income amoung millennials and Gen Z, this is a good time to be a sneaker manufacturer.

If you would have to choose the ‘Best Sneaker Brand’ in the world, arguments on aesthetics and design could go on for weeks. Some even go as far as conciously boycotting a brand due to their blind loyalty for another.

Luckily, we have statistics on our side. Data Journalist Felix Richter broke it down for us last week with a report on the annual footwear sales of the global sneakers market.

With annual footwear sales of $22.3 billion, Nike is still number 1 in the global sneakers market. Having started as an enterprise licensing Japanese running shoes for the American market, Nike quickly developed a name of its own in the 1970s when some of the company’s most iconic silhouettes were introduced.

Interestingly some of the models released in the 1970s are still among Nike’s most popular shoes today. The sneaker market is probably unique in the way it’s constantly moving between innovation and nostalgia, with shoes designed in the 1970s and 1980s still selling equally well or in many cases better than shoes featuring state of the art technology.


Via Statista

Nike has seen steady growth from 2016 to 2018. While adidas (and Reebok included) took a slight hit in 2018, when compared to their 2017 sales.

Asics and PUMA are battling it out for third place while Under Armour rounds off the top 5.

Reebok. The English-founded, American-headquartered, German-owned sneaker brand has dropped its latest sneaker., the Reebok Sole Fury.

(Yep Reebok is technically English. The brand, founded in England over 60 years ago, is so English that all its products featured the UK flag for nearly three decades up to 1986. A similar logo now features on all of Reebok “Classic” products.)

But enough of the history, we’re all here for the Reebok Sole Fury: the brand’s first flagship sneaker of 2019.

Reebok went big with the Sole Fury. The initial reveal featured rappers Lil Baby and Future, fighting legend Conor McGregor, Game of Thrones beauty Nathalie Emmanuel and LA Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

Nathalie Emmanuel (L) and Conor McGregor (R)

We’re seeing a lot of chunky sneakers and 90s throwback reissues of late. These trends don’t seem like slowing down. However another trend is emerging, trainers that double up as show sneakers. Performance to street (copyright pending).

We saw this last year with the Under Armour HOVR range for example. These sneakers are built for performance, training, running etc. – but still look good enough that they effortlessly blend into the scene on a night out in the city.

What is interesting about the Reebok Sole Fury is its “split cushioning”. However this isn’t new, nor is it a gimmick to set the sneaker apart from the rest of its competitors and their various other cushioning technologies.

Reebok’s split cushioning has been around since the 1990s. Two of the most famous split-sole pairs, which are still collectors’ sneakers today, are the Insta Pump Fury (94) and the Reebok Opus (98). Two decades later – we saw split cushioning on the Sock Run.r and Run.r 96.


REEBOK SOLE FURY: FIRST GLANCE

Realistically, these shouldn’t be mass-produced consumer sneakers. The Sole Fury looks like a famous rapper, or a sports star designed a limited edition run via a collaboration with Reebok.

They are quite sleek. Futuristic from afar and intricate when you’re up close. While the main design element that gets the most attention is the split in the sole, what takes its design to a whole other level is the arrow-shaped dents on either side of the split.

The sharp angled-lines sit neatly within the flowing curves of the rest of the sole.

As of early 2019, the Sole Fury’s are rare out in the wild here in Dubai. Having used these kicks quite regularly for the past two weeks, you notice people noticing you, since these are brand new and the first of its series. I could spot people checking them out and wondering what kicks they were.

“RBK: 6373/4241 – 2L VER. INV Mesh TECH. Graph Split”

The Reebok logo, on the outer heels, is about the size of a fingernail.  And random letters and figures accompany it, which is probably the internal code for the sneaker. Regardless if you Google the above you’ll only find Sole Furys.

What I love about the design, besides those arrow-shaped dents on either side of the split, is the imperfect, asymmetrical lacing system. Either side of the lace guards are different. It’s refreshing and its almost-audacious lacing design reminds me of the Reebok DMX Run Fusion Experiment by Pyer Moss.

reebok sole fury

Regardless the angle, the sneaker is rather handsome especially when you’re wearing them. And this is important (at least to me and I’m sure several sneakerheads reading this would agree), you can have the sexiest sneaker ever, but when you’re wearing them, you would want to appreciate its beauty from a top-down, bird’s eye view as well.

For example, the chunky dad-shoe Puma CELL Venom is a well-designed shoe. But that is only when you’re looking at someone else wear them, or checking them out from the sides, twisting your ankle. When you wear them – they seem quite basic.

My sneaker vanity is satisfied with the Sole Fury thanks to both the mismatched lace guard and the mini racing stripe that run down the shoe. Oh and then there’s the thick bright yellow neon and black round laces if you’re looking at the black colourway, or the neon green that comes with the white colourway.

A well-thought of addition to the design, the mini racing stripes that run down the length of the shoe, serves multiple purposes, which we’ll get into in detail under, ‘Construction’ below.

Expect a lot more variations, since this is just the beginning of a very promising range. There are already 19 Sole Fury sneakers on the Reebok website, each with at least three colourways. 

Now, that’s how it looks. However the main feature about the sneaker is its split sole, which according to Reebok removes weight and ads flexibility. So how comfortable is it really?


REEBOK SOLE FURY: COMFORT

The shoe is way too comfortable for a performance sneaker. It is without a doubt the lightest shoe we’ve reviewed here. When you think of knit uppers, you think comfort. And while the knit upper on the Sole Fury isn’t as soft and comfortable as Nike’s Flyknits or what you’ll find on Adidas’ EQT range, it’s incredibly sturdy. Which, for a performance sneaker, is more important than soft uppers.

I love all my EQT’s, however I can see my toes protrude through the upper and I worry constantly that my toenails (at any length) with rip through it. That isn’t the case with the Sole Fury.

The Reebok Sole Fury features a primarily knit upper with several textures. Unlike Nike’s Flyknit, the knit upper on the Sole Furys feel a lot thicker and stronger. Reebok also claim that it utilizes 360° of ventilation with its aerodynamic vents.

reebok sole fury

While I will touch on the Split Sole under ‘Support’ it does feature and help in comfort as well. Having a massive chunk of your sneaker’s sole missing really helps in overall weight reduction. The Split in the sole effectively acts as a hinge or an additional joint right in the middle of your foot.

You will feel the benefits of this split mid-stride when most of your weight is on the ball of your foot and your instep arch is stretched.

The Split Sole essentially is an evolution of sneaker sole design that is absolutely genius on Reebok’s part. Jogging, running or even walking in these things is a new experience, but keep in mind that you will get used to it and if you do fall in love with them as your primary training sneaker – no other sneaker could replace it.

The Sole Furys were on rotation along with the RS-X Toys and Under Armour HOVRs for my evenings in the gym. All I can say now is that the Furys are going to be a staple in my gym kit going forward.

REEBOK SOLE FURY: CONSTRUCTION

This is my favourite section of any sneaker review. The thought and engineering that goes into sneaker construction today is astounding.

The Sole Fury, after nailing design and comfort, nails construction too. The lightweight but durable upper is essentially two different textures separated by those racing-line stitching we talked about earlier.

The sneaker also features a tough-to-notice band that runs from the heel all the way to the midsole. Here’s where the white text and the Reebok logo sits. However it’s not just a design add-on. The band is built into the upper and is rather sturdy. The material feels a lot stronger and thicker than the knitted parts of the sneaker. In simple terms, think of them as imaginary straps on sandals, that is attached to the sole and wrap around your heel or lower ankle.


Other interesting materials include the neoprene tongue that is cotton-soft to touch and wraps around the bridge of your foot and take its shape like melted velvet. Obviously, I’m a fan of the tongue. However I do worry that cleaning it would be a bit tedious, as you’ll have to remove the laces to get to it. And if you take a look at the intricate lacing system – putting those laces back would be a task.

Lastly, I’ve mentioned the “racing stripes” stitching that runs across the top of the shoe earlier under design, however it serves a bigger purpose. The stitching on both the left and right pair is placed exactly above where your big toe sits. This reduces wear and tear greatly, and you will never have to worry about your toes or nails damaging the upper.


FIT

Fit’s a bit funny, since about 10% of the people who bought it (based on buyer reviews on Reebok.com) found that it ran half a size small. I didn’t have a sizing issue with the pair I was reviewing. It’s not that wide, nor narrow, it’s actually the perfect fit.

The upper wraps around the bridge of your foot quite snugly and the asymmetrical lacing system ensures that the fit is as cosy as possible. Remember the band that runs from the heel all the way to the midsole that we touched on in the previous paragraph? While serving as a design add-on it also supports the sides of your feet, which you don’t really notice. The fact that Reebok managed to merge a structural component of the sneaker and a design element is quite remarkable.

You wont have to struggle to get the sneaker on and you won’t have to keep lacing them up as well. The neoprene tongue is has a decent amount elasticity and the pull tabs on the heel counter and towards the side of the tongue are larger than most to slide your fingers in, pull them wide and shove your foot in.


SUPPORT

When I first heard about the Reebok Sole Fury, I thought the whole split sole was just a gimmick. But you can really feel that the sole is two independent pieces when you walk or run in them. Since a massive chunk of the sole missing, it helps in weight reduction and flexibility too.

The sneaker rides on ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) cushioning pods. And these are attached to a plate that runs along the base of the sneaker. Reebok call this the Propulsion plate.

This plate is an important addition to any running shoe as it helps stabilize and propel stride by minimising compression. It also eliminates the compression on your feet.

Essentially, performance sneakers are constantly placed under a lot of repetitive stress. And those movements, be it running, crossfit or specific sport causes the sole to bend, wear and tear in specific sections, depending on the sport and your foot type. In order to rectify this, sneaker manufacturers use a propulsion plate to counter these repetitive movements and reduce the bending in the sole.


Brands like Asics, aides and even Nike all have their versions of the propulsion plate. Reebok also dabbled with an almost-similar carbon fibre shank plate in its 1994 Instapump Fury.

Carbon plates, propulsion plates, shank structures, etc. sound interesting yeah? There’s a good piece by Dave Jewell that explains it in detail here if you would like to know more about it.

To summarise, Reebok’s “built-in propulsion plate technology” in the Sole Fury is a feature you won’t consciously notice when you’re wearing the sneaker, but you will notice that it is missing when you wear anything else.

If you would like to know more about the technologies behind sneaker cushioning, head here to this amazing post by Tim Newcomb for Forbes.


VERDICT

2000 words later, here’s my verdict: It’s a staple addition to any sneaker collection. It’s rare right now and it’s an amazing performance sneaker disguised as a show sneaker. While it belongs in the gym or on a running track – it will still be one of the most classiest sneakers at a restaurant, bar or club when you do head out for the evening.

The Reebok Sole Fury is priced at Dh550.

On pricing, the sneaker is incredibly affordable. For the technology, design and materials used in its construction, Dh550 is an absolute steal.

Lastly, one of my favourite features about the split sole is how your feet neatly fit into the footrests of a barstool. The ridges caused by the split in the sole hook on perfectly. And the additional flexibility also helps when you’re driving as your heel is usually in one position as the balls of your feet and toes move to accelerate and brake.

The only issue I would foresee with the shoe is keeping the neoprene tongue and the outsole clean so you will have to Crep them quite regularly. On that note – if you are picking them up, here’s where you can buy Crep products in Dubai.


RANKING:

Looks: 5/5
Comfort: 4.5/5
Construction: 5/5
Fit: 4.5/5
Support: 5/5

Total: 96%