crazypower tr

New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer Review (MX40v1)

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Long before I even got into CrossFit, I somehow got into minimalist shoes. My buddy had gone to REI and picked up a pair of Vibrams, so I followed suit. Back in the globo days, I wore Vibrams and my New Balance Minimus MT20’s religiously. The whole thought process of training your feet to be stronger made a lot of sense to me, even if it was all a hoax at the end of the day. Still, my big takeaway from all that was that cushion was not good for power output; the more “support” you have, the harder it is to exert power to the ground. Since you can’t always actually goto the gym barefoot, you’d want as dense “protection” as possible but not so soft that it would create too much of a barrier between you and whatever you’re pressing against.

In an ideal world, we’d all just be lifting, but in the real world, fitness is multi-faceted. In functional fitness, you have to be able to do anything, at anytime, and that includes running. This introduces a huge issue, comfortable running shoes are bad lifting shoes, and effective lifting shoes are horrible running shoes. Many companies have tried to come up with a solution for both, but most have failed, until now. New Balance has come up with the best blend of comfort and stability in a cross-trainer yet with the Minimus 40, and they don’t look half bad either.

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Looks/Construction:

New Balance had always tended to have an understated look with their shoes and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. Understated does not mean shoes have to be ugly, and while the Minimus 40’s are simple in design, they’re far from ugly. There are no gaudy logos, no crazy prints, and all but just excellent color combinations. The lines of the shoe keep it modern looking without being too silly; these shoes are made to look like they’re actually capable of doing work. One thing that will never change is the unmistakable “N” logo that adorns the side of the shoe. People have said that these shoes look like Metcon 3’s, but in all actuality Metcon’s look like the Minimus 40 since the New Balances came out first.

The uppers found on the Minimus line of training shoes have been decent, but always bit on the thin side. I thought the MT20’s were some of the best constructed shoes I’ve owned. After I retired those, I picked up a pair of MX20v3’s because I thought they looked cool, but they just felt a bit flimsy. Never did I go hard on them because I was always worried they would not stand up to the test of CrossFit. The Minimus 40 brings a refreshed no-sew woven synthetic mesh upper to the Minimus line that not only flexes extremely well, but is comfortable to wear with or without socks, and is resistant to abrasion. Couple that with the flexible Vibram outsole that should be as durable as the upper (though I don’t have any long term durability tests.) and you’ve got a shoe that is nothing less than confidence inspiring for all the rigors of CrossFit training. All the materials are top notch, the shoe actually feels like it’s worth it’s cost now.

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Fit/Comfort:

My original MT20’s were a size 9 and fit like a glove, but I always wore them without socks. Since then, I think my feet have somehow grown a bit from all the squatting I’ve done over the years. My last pair of MX20v3’s were a size 9.5 but did not accommodate my Morton’s toe well, so with the Minimus 40’s, I went up to a size 10. The fit for me is slightly long, but I would say they’re comfortable. If you don’t have Morton’s toe, size them your normal training shoe size. Though New Balance’s offer different width shoes, they generally fit on the more narrow side of things and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. This is something that you might want to take into account if you’re coming from Metcon’s or Nano’s, because those shoes are very wide in comparison. Here are my sizes for comparison:

  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • WL Shoes – 9
  • NoBull – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Boots – 8.5

Comfort isn’t necessarily one of the things at the top of my list when I look for training shoes; my number one priority is that I’m able to lift efficiently in the shoes. Over the years, my feet have gotten much more tolerant and used to not having any kind of cushion when I run, in fact – I prefer it that way. Call me crazy, but all “support” ends  up doing is make my feet work harder to stabilize when bounding, which causes them to ache. This was a huge problem that I had in the Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit. It still happens to a lesser extent, but I can deal with it as it doesn’t usually set in until late into a workout. That being said, it’s nice to have a little bit of impact deadening so my knees don’t get wrecked afterwards. New Balance’s Rapid Rebound foam makes for an easier ride, and paired with the REVLite heel, the Minimus 40 are firm enough training shoe at the same time.

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Performance:

When I first put on the Minimus 40, I thought to myself “There’s no way I can train in these, they’re too soft!”…how wrong I was. As I mentioned earlier, I judge my training shoes on their ability to be a lifting shoe and usually the more comfortable the shoe, the worse it is to lift in. You might think this too initially, but that’s why we need to try things out, because you never know what you’re gonna get. Though the insole and midsole combination compresses, it doesn’t go down very far due to the low midsole height and fairly solid Vibram outsole. Power delivery is excellent, rivaling even the most stiff soled shoes out there. The insole/midsole might feel a bit squishy, but at the end of the day, stability is almost as good as it is in any of the best training shoes out there. So much so, that I was able to PR my snatch hitting the 225 milestone. I’m not saying the shoes helped me hit that lift, but they certainly didn’t interfere either.

 


With all Minimus shoes, the 40’s are neutral and have a 4mm drop that actually feels flatter than it is. Pair the measley 10oz per shoe weight with the Rapid Rebound midsole and you’ve got one of the most responsive rides in a cross-trainer. New Balance’s claims that the Minimus 40’s are a new approach to training footwear, is entirely accurate as they never become too harsh for running, or too plush for lifting. They’re responsive yet comfortable enough to rebound box jumps, flexible enough for multiple burpees, and a more than stable enough platform that will never let you down when you need to pick up something heavy. I abhor shoes that have too much “support” because it usually ends up with my feet becoming excruciatingly sore after trying to find balance after repeated bounding. My support comes from ground feel, which the Minimus 40 never lack.

Can you run in them? Absolutely, they happen to be now one of my favorite shoes to comfortably do running WOD’s in, all while remaining stable enough to hit lifts in. I prefer neutral runners that don’t force your feet anywhere, so the Minimus 40’s stable, responsive, yet still “plush enough” platform is perfect for me. These are the kind of shoe that you would want to wear for a workout like “Helen”. At the end of the day, they’re still training shoes, if you want to run distances, get some running shoes, but if you’re looking for an all around metcon shoe the Minimus 40’s are one of the best choices. Take notes bigger brands.

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Value/Conclusion:

It’s really hard to tear people away from Nike and Reebok, especially when you’re not typically known as the “cool” brand (Exception: 247’s!). Retailing at around the same price ($120), the Minimus 40’s are definitely worth the look for anyone looking for a great performing and great looking shoe that can pretty much do it all. I’m not keen to giving up any kind of power output for comfort but New Balance has successfully come closer to finding the balance between comfort and rigidity in a fitness shoe to date. I’ve used a lot of shoes, liked a bunch, disliked even more, but I’ll  definitely be using my Minimus 40’s for a long time after this review.

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Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0 Review

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I almost can’t believe it’s already been seven generations of the Reebok CrossFit Nano. When I started CrossFit, the Nano 2.0 had just been released; at that time I was working out primarily in minimal  shoes. Lucky for me, the theme of CrossFit shoes was minimal, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing a pair of Nano 2.0’s, mainly because they were acutal CF shoes. They were, are, and probably will forever be, my favorite Nano’s. Ever since then, I try not to use shoes not designed for “CrossFit”, even if they are training shoes; mainly because they’re usually not capable of doing all we do proficiently.

CrossFit is an all encompassing fitness regimen, you have to be able to lift, run and jump in them. Being able to balance all the traits is where things get tricky, and few have been able to come close to total solution for a shoe. Though I’ll forever love the Nano 2.0’s, last year when Reebok released the Nano 6.0, they came pretty damned close to putting together the perfect CrossFit shoe, and definitely made it difficult for them to create a follow-up. Surprisingly, Reebok strayed away from Nano 6.0’s with the 7.0’s, not only completely changing the winning formula of the shoe, but also changing the release schedule it had always had. There were a lot of salty people after they found out the Nano 7.0’s would be released in the beginning of January, after they had just gotten 6.0’s for Christmas.

The release of the seventh generation model was met with nothing short of criticism, mainly for their appearance, but also because of the change in release schedule to “undercut” the Metcon. For whatever reason, the Nano 7.0’s are here in January, once again being touted as the best Nano yet (of course they would be), but they’ve got some big shoes to fill, pun intended.

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Looks, Construction & Fit:

Personally, I think people are being a little harsh about the way the Nano 7.0’s look. True, they take a huge departure from the no nonsense styling of the Nano 6.0, but different doesn’t mean bad.  I think the main issue was the launch colorway, which at my box we’ve dubbed “Shoe by the Foot”, because the colors resemble the Fruit by the Foot flavor no one knew they were eating. Since then, more colors have been released and I think people are starting to warm up to them a bit; I think the grey is pretty good looking. When I see the shoe, I think of all the possibilities for colorways, in which the 7’s have quite possibly more options than any Nano before it.

Gone is the Kevlar outer shell and replacing it is the brand new “Nanoweave”. I don’t blame Reebok for not wanting to pay Dupont and going with a proprietary option; I never thought the Kevlar worked well anyways. The texture is rough and has a basket-like weave over a traditional synthetic upper; it feels sturdy enough, but also very stiff. Before you get the shoes broken in, it creates uncomfortable ridges in the toe box area; it takes a few days for them to go away. I’ve never had an issue with durability in Nano’s yet and I don’t think there will be any questions about how well Nano’s hold up any time soon. I did a few rope climbs and the shoes looked as good as new afterwards.

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While the platform largely feels the same as far as width, the Nano 7.0’s are definitely the tallest shoe in the line-up. I don’t know why they chose to go this route, but it doesn’t effect the performance of the shoe much. The heel to toe drop remains the same as it’s always been at 4mm. Inside the shoe, there’s a little bit more arch support compared to the generally flatter, older models. Initially, people were saying that the Nano 7.0’s were more narrow, but I don’t really find this to be the case. I think the stiffness in the upper is what they’re talking about, I measured the shoe at almost identical dimensions as the 6.0. The only one that was off, was the length of the shoe, which the 6.0 was longer. Oddly enough, the 7.0’s feel longer to me, giving me a little bit more room for my Morton’s toe.

For sizing, I would recommend you size the exact same as all of your other Nano’s. Be wary that these ones take more time to break in, but after that they should be fine. My sizing for reference:

  • Nano 6 – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

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Performance:

In my extremely biased opinion, CrossFit is the most demanding fitness regimen, both mentally and physically. With that, the expectation for functional, durable, and high performing footwear is as equally demanded. Specialization is punished in the grand scheme of fitness, this theology translates into the footwear made for the sport. You could wear weightlifting shoes for stability and power, but you’d be giving up agility. You could wear running shoes, but you’d be giving up stability and power. The key to a great CrossFit shoe is to be able to blend all of the facets of fitness into one. Like every Nano before it, the 7.0’s were designed to handle everything you can throw at it, but they lean further than ever in one direction than ever.

Remember that stiffness we talked about earlier? Well, it’s not just in the upper, the outsole is the most rigid and dense of any Nano as well; probably in part due to the thickness of it. The heel is near in-compressible, making power delivery and landings the best yet. Lateral stability has always been good, but this time it’s excellent with the addition of the new TPU heel cup and the midsole’s new shell. I’ve always thought Nano’s were some of the best platforms for lifting, but the Nano 7.0 really takes the cake. You’ll never second guess a lift or landing because of lack of footing. They’re still flat as can be, so powerlifting movements have never been better; which seeing as how all the powerlifting shoes were discontinued, makes sense now. Personally, I try to not spoil myself by lifting in Oly shoes and the Nano 7.0’s make me not miss them at all.

Where the Nano also shines is the new redesigned outsole pattern and material. Meta-split grooves carry over from the previous models, giving your toes a little more flexibility to splay. The multi-directional tread pattern has been reworked, but I think the tackiness of the outsole is what gives the 7.0’s such sure footing. It’s a little gummy in feeling, compared to the standard rubber on the previous models. You might not notice the Rope-Pro, but it’s there and it is the best version yet. This year, they ditched the traditional spikes for a ribbed pattern across the middle of the outsole, but it does an insanely good job of holding onto the rope when climbing. From asphalt to the platform, the Nano 7.0’s have the best grip yet.

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Lifting, check. Grip and rope climbs, check. Running..?

The Nano 6.0’s were so good because you could actually run in them too.  Sure, there are better running shoes, but none of which you can lift in as well. What makes the 7.0’s such great lifting shoes, makes them horrible running shoes, probably the worst yet. Imagine what running in clown shoes would feel like and you’ve pretty much pictured running in Nano 7.0’s. The overall flexibility and comfort of the shoe took a big hit with the “improvements” to the upper and outsole. I don’t think even the best running coaches could help you efficiently run in the Nano 7.0’s. Even if you pose run, the forefoot isn’t very flexible and the upper is uncomfortable and heel strikers will get wrecked because the heel is so dense. I did a running workout with some snatches in between and my IT bands and TFL’s were wrecked for days afterwards.

Any other type of plyometric exercises are just passable. Thankfully, since the shoes are so rigid, they’re also very responsive. Box jumps felt sure enough, though landings were a little hard. Burpees are a little rough on the way up because of the inflexibility of the shoe. Double unders weren’t bad at all and my plantar fascias never got the “burn” even after a few hundred of them. All things the Nano 7.0 do well, but not nearly as good as it’s predecessor. Weight is so similar it’s almost not even worth noting. I weighed the 7.0’s at 11.8 oz and the 6.0’s at 11.4oz for a men’s size 10.

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Value & Conclusion:

One thing that hasn’t changed, and probably will never change is the price of the shoe. Nano 7.0’s retail for $130 and right now, while the 6.0’s are still for sale, I don’t know if I could recommend them over the less expensive 6.0. What really hurts the Nano 7.0’s is that the 6.0’s were just SO good; I’m talking about one of my favorite pairs of training shoes of all time good. If you’re a powerlifter or globo gym person (both of which probably would’t even be looking at CrossFit shoes), the Nano 7.0’s would be a better performer. Don’t get me wrong, the 7.0’s are still an excellent training shoe, as every Nano was before it. As a complete CrossFit shoe, the Nano 7.0’s are just not as good as the 6.0’s. 

I can appreciate the work that Reebok is continually putting in to make their shoe the best, but I feel like the 7.0’s might have been rushed out a little bit. The enhancements detract too much from the overall experience. Historically, the odd numbers in the Nano line up have been the odd ones out that people don’t really care for, and the even models people love. It’s kind of like when Apple decides to release a new iPhone, but then corrects all the faults with the “S” model. Maybe Reebok has something else in store for this year that might be an alternate model to the Nano line up. As it is right now, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0’s are great lifting shoes, just not the best CrossFit shoes.

Get your Nano 7.0’s here!

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Adidas CrazyPower TR Review (Women & Men)

Quite possibly the biggest thing to rock the functional fitness world, was when the Adidas CrazyPower TR’s were announced last December. All the talk about the Metcon 3’s vanished, and it was all about Adidas. Honestly, I think the CrazyPower’s became the most hyped up shoe of 2016 real quick. Which is fitting, because Adidas has been dominating the premium sneaker market as of late. Though the release of the CrazyPower’s coincides with the Metcon 3’s and Nano 7’s, the current giants of the fitness world, I think they couldn’t have possibly picked a better time to jump into the functional training shoe market.

Here’s why:

Many people have expressed an almost extreme displeasure with the timing and appearance of the newest Nano. Also as great as it is, Nike relatively hasn’t done a whole lot with the new Metcon; making people pay the premium of $160 for the more different, DSX Flyknit. That’s where Adidas comes in – a brand new model shoe with a fresh look, new platform, tried and true features that make a great training shoe with the currently premium Adidas name. The only issue that could make Adidas fail is if the shoe just doesn’t perform as it should…which it doesn’t…for the most part.

Right when the CrazyPower’s were announced, I didn’t waste any time putting my order in. The problem was, at the time only the female models were available. Another would be problem is that the women’s and the men’s models varied slightly in features and in looks. Thinking there couldn’t really be any major performance differences, I sized the women’s shoe up and pulled the trigger on it; also putting in a pre-order for the men’s, just in case. Honestly the women’s model looked a little more appealing because I liked the design, colorways, and the feature set was a little better. Looks are only skin deep though, as there are actually a few major differences. I thought the women’s model was just a pretty good contender, that is, until I received the men’s version.

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Looks/Construction:

Styling of the CrazyPower’s is unlike any fitness shoe out there at the moment; even the Metcon 3’s and Nano 7’s share similarities. Both models look great, but in their own ways; personally I prefer the look of the female model just because it’s a little bit more loud than the guys. The women’s model has the slightly more risque design of the upper due to it’s not uniform pattern compared to the men’s, but both models sport an RPU (rigid polyurethane) overlay over fabric. Think of basically what Reebok did with the Nano 3.0 and 4.0, which are some of the more durable and well liked shoes of their line. Though they both have the RPU cage, the women’s model seems to be more pliable, but flexes oddly in certain areas. Whereas the men’s model is more rigid, but still flexible and doesn’t have any weird hotspots inside. This difference tips its hat in favor of the men’s version.

I immediately noticed that the women’s model has the TPU heel clip exposed and figured that was a benefit to the shoe, but if  you feel around the same area in the men’s shoe, you can feel the “pro-moderator” heel support inside the shoe, which is basically doing the same thing the exposed heel clip is. The overall profile of the shoe is similar between both models, they both have a 3mm drop, wider fit (they really mean wide), and a flat, low to the ground platform. The main difference between the two models lies where you can’t really see, and that’s the insole. I was extremely surprised to find this out when I put the men’s versions of the CrazyPower’s on; there was much less cushioning than the women’s model! More about this later on when we talk about performance.

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The outsole of the shoe has what Adidas refers to as their “TRAXION” system. I don’t get that that means, but I’m going to assume it’s the compound they’re using, since the tread pattern varies between the men’s and women’s shoes, once again in favor of the men’s. Though both provide no shortages of grip on rubber or asphalt, the men’s shoes have a more aggressive pattern at the front of the shoe, rope grips in the middle of the shoe, and protrusions at the heel. Compared to the mostly flat, but well patterned women’s shoe. It seems like the men’s was designed for more varied, rugged surfaces, where the women’s was designed for hardwood or rubber flooring.

The final thing that varies between the two shoes is the tongue. One of my early complaints with the women’s shoe was that the more flat styled tongue never really sat right. The men’s has a more padded tongue and doesn’t suffer from this issue at all. Once again, odd.

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Fit:

Both versions of the shoe fall into the extremely wide category of shoes. I have a pretty average sized foot, not narrow or wide, but I have a bunion on my right foot that makes some narrow shoes uncomfortable. I’m satisfied with the fit and would call it comfortable. Sorry narrow footed people, this is not the shoe for you but fans of the Nano 3.0 will love the extremely wide forefoot of the CrazyPower’s. Length is pretty true to size, though the typical rule of going 1.5 sizes up to fit a women’s shoe doesn’t apply here as my 11’s are slightly long. If you’re looking to get the women’s model, just go up 1 full size. Otherwise, size them as you would your normal running shoes. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • CrazyPower M/9.5 W/10.5
  • Metcon’s 9.5
  • Nano 10
  • Chucks 9
  • Weightlifting shoes 9

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Performance:

Before I got my hands on the Metcon 3’s, the women’s CrazyPower’s were my current go-to shoe. Initially I was worried that the amount of insole cushioning might affect my lifts because it was just something I wasn’t used to having, but surprisingly I was able to do all of my lifts just fine from weightlifting, powerlifting, and lifting in WOD’s. I was skeptical about being able to hit my higher percentages, but the shoes performed well from snatches to back squats. The only hitch that I came across was during WOD’s, the softer insole made it a little awkward to set up lifts when you’re limited on time. Even then, since the outsole is still extremely dense, power delivery was good enough for me to not ever have to worry about missing a lift because the insoles were too squishy.

Traction is probably the CrazyPower’s strongest suit; the outsole material grips everything excellent. When testing the shoes on the rope, I never had any kind of issues with it slipping through my feet. It’s tread pattern also allows for very good flexibility throughout; workouts with a lot of double-unders never caused me any kind of discomfort. It also probably helped out that the insoles are softer than I’m used to. Response is still spot on when you need it, though you might be unsure it’s there at times. I haven’t done any major running in the shoes yet, but they feel like they’d be like any other wide, flat training shoe – clunky.

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Once again, the major difference between the two models is that the insole is more cushioned in the female model. Why Adidas did this, we might not ever know, but rest assured that it’s not enough to detract drastically from the performance of the shoe. The platform is pretty much the same between both and it makes for an excellent training shoe. If I had to go with one for functional fitness, it would have to be the men’s version; mainly because I prioritize lifting, but if you wanted to sacrifice a little bit of rigidity for comfort, go with the women’s model.

It seems like the more flexible, comfortable female CrazyPower’s were designed more for a HIIT style workout, whereas the men’s was designed more for heavier lifting and stability. Personally, I don’t agree with the way they made the CrazyPower’s different, but it’s all I can come up with for why they’d want to make slightly varied models. Everything else that differs between the two shoes is pretty dismiss-able, but the insole might be a deal breaker for some.

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Value & Conclusion:

Adidas is slightly undercutting the rest of the pack with a price tag of $120 for either model shoe. Still, I would place the CrazyPower’s at the same price point, which begs the question:

Why would you want to pick these shoes over the established models that are currently out?

I’d say the main one would be that you needed a WIDE shoe, possibly because you liked the way they looked, but the main one is probably going to be because they’re Adidas and they’re different. All reasons are fine and you really wouldn’t be making a bad choice going with the CrazyPower’s. The models are slightly different but mainly the same, they both perform well, though in my opinion, the men’s shoes are superior. It’s like they took all the complaints I had with the female model and fixed them; almost like a revision. They fit better, they flex better, and the insole is more dense. Like I said, either way, it’s a great alternative and finally cements Adidas into the functional training market. They’re on the right track with the CrazyPower TR and if they keep this up (and maybe make it slightly less wide), they could make a major play for the functional trainer crown.

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Adidas CrazyPower TR Functional Fitness Shoes!!!

**Click here for the FULL detailed review and video of the CrazyPower TR**

Things are starting to heat up in the world of functional fitness shoes as we approach the new year. Without much notice, the Adidas CrazyPower TR’s dropped in women’s sizes, with men’s to follow next month. Interestingly enough, the shoe has a different design between the female and male models.

Here’s what we know about them:

Men

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Product Description:

Men’s ADIDAS® CRAZYPOWER TR :: Tap into your training beast mode with the Men’s adidas® CrazyPower TR. Built tough and ready for any tempo, a wider forefoot keeps you stable and feeling strong during lateral moves and squats. Lock down your heel to ensure efficient bursts of energy while the upper wraps your foot in a sturdy, comfy fit. Feel quick as lightning in your CrazyPower TR with low-profile cushion that’ll keep you efficient as you power through workouts.

Features & Benefits:

  • Textile and synthetic upper with RPU protective cage: Adds durability
  • Wider forefoot and raised toe cap: Provides extra stability, traction and allows your forefoot to splay naturally
  • Comfortable textile lining and low-profile cushioning with rubber cage: Provides additional comfort and support
  • PRO MODERATOR™ heel support: Stabilizes the heel
  • TRAXION™ outsole: Provides maximum grip in all directions
  • DROP: 3 mm
  • WEIGHT: 12.1 ounces’

 

Women

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Product Description:

Women’s ADIDAS® CRAZYPOWER TR :: Tap into your training beast mode with the Women’s adidas® CrazyPower TR. Built tough and ready for any tempo, a wider forefoot keeps you stable and strong during lateral moves and squats. Lock down your heel to ensure efficient bursts of energy while the upper wraps your foot in a sturdy, comfy fit. Feel quick as lightning in your CrazyPower TR with low-profile cushion that’ll keep you efficient as you power through workouts.

  • Textile and synthetic upper with RPU protective cage: Adds durability
  • Wider forefoot and raised toe cap: Provides extra stability, traction and allows your forefoot to splay naturally
  • Comfortable textile lining and low-profile cushioning with rubber cage: Provides additional comfort and support
  • TPU heel clip: Provides stability
  • PRO MODERATOR™ heel support: Stabilizes the heel
  • TRAXION™ outsole: Provides maximum grip in all directions
  • DROP: 3 mm
  • WEIGHT: 9.6 ounces

Anyways, I think they look pretty badass, but I’m wondering why the men’s version is missing the TPU clip. Looks like the upper has some kind of polyurethane cage covering it like the Nano 4.0, tabs for the laces akin to Flywire, and a nice wide base. The world has been waiting a long time for this, and I can’t wait for mine to come in!

They’re available for women right now at Roadrunnersports.com, BoxBasics.com, and Adidas.com.

Men are available for preorder at Roadrunnersports.com.