Laceless boots that make sense
Adidas having been doing the laceless concept ever since the launch of the Ace 16+ Purecontrol back in 2016. That is six years of chopping and changing models without really making a solid case for why a laceless boot is the best option in a line up. There is an argument that could be made for the Copa 19+/20+ plus but it was not quite what the killer boot that people expected to come out at some point from adidas. That is – until now. What the adidas X Speedflow+ offers makes a compelling case for the future of laceless boots. I’ll even admit that I partially thought that adidas should completely drop laceless models from their lineup. Finally, there is a boot that not only makes sense as a laceless option, but like it’s little brother the Speedflow.1, it surpasses the potential that the line always seemed to have.
The one issue with many laceless boots is that you never feel locked into the boot, and while the laced Speedflow.1 does have better lockdown, the difference is not as great as you would expect. Wearing the boots on artificial grass and firm ground, the boots never feel like they will slip off, even while making aggressive cuts and turns. The grippy heel does a great job of locking the back of the foot in place, but the rest of the Primeknit upper and the laceless system work well in combination with the Agilitycage system to keep the foot locked in.
Interestingly, while the boots are surprisingly easy to get on, they are neither super stretchy nor are they constrictive. The fit is balanced in this way and as long as the shape of the foot follows the shape of the boot, as it does in my case, the boot has an excellent fit. This is not something that can be said of a lot of laceless boots, as there always seems to be a spot where a compromise has been made to allow the boot to remain laceless. The X Speedflow+ does not suffer from these problems and it does not feel like adidas is forcing the boot to be laceless, but rather having boot be laceless allows for it to perform to the best of its abilities.
It is also comfortable as well. The upper is even softer and more pliable than the X Speedflow.1 and only takes a short amount of time to break in. After just over an hour in the first session in the Speedflow+, they felt broken in. It is impressive how thin the upper is and yet it manages to keep the foot stable during play. Normally, stiff, reactive soleplates do not work with a soft upper, but adidas deserves a lot of credit for pulling it off.
There is also not any negative space on the top of the foot, unlike what is sometimes experienced in a laceless set up. Adidas has shaped the Speedflow+ upper in such a way that the shape of the boot somewhat flattens out towards the part of the foot that flexes when running, instead of following the angle the boot has on top of the midfoot. This is something that adidas did with a majority of their laceless boots in the past. This change ensures that the forefoot fits the front of the foot closely and also allows for a greater touch on the ball.
In spite of all of this good news about the fit, these are still not recommended for wider feet. A medium-width foot, like a D-E, are great for these boots as are they probably going to fit people with a slightly narrower foot. But unfortunately, it is not a people’s speed boot.
As far as sizing goes, I went with my normal size in adidas, which is a half-size down from my usual size in other boots. I do not understand why so many places recommend going a half size up, as this would ruin the excellence of the boot by making them too long to truly perform.
Touch and Dribbling
One of the biggest advantages of a laceless design is that it allows for various types of designs to be used on the upper without having to worry about the laces getting in the way. Lotto did this with great effect on the Lotto Zhero Gravity and the grip added to the top of the foot. Adidas has only recently started doing this, like seen with the Predator+ models and the Copa Sense+. The Speedflow+ also has made excellent use of this idea by texturing the upper and adding raised sections on the instep and outstep.
Both of these sections are great when dribbling and getting a touch on the ball. One of the best parts about the boot is that they are really enjoyable to dribble in. It is great to have a boot that is just fun to play in. It is very responsive when dribbling and thanks to the rough, texturized upper, the touch on the ball is excellent and has a very close to the foot feel. And unlike the Speedflow.1, the Plus model has this rough to the touch Primeknit all over the boot. Which means that there is some grip to be found no matter what part of the boot is used to control the ball.
The X Speedflow+ is an excellent boot for dribblers because of the before-mentioned reasons but also because it just feels so good to dribble in. There is again that fun factor that the boots have, and it feels as if the boot wills you on to dribble. Even people who prefer to dribble with the top of the foot angled down will enjoy what is on offer here since the top of the boot still is rough and has a good, uniform surface.
Passing and Shooting
Just like other speed boots, the X Speedflow+ has that pingy feeling when shooting and hitting long balls. Personally, I prefer shooting in the Speedflow+ over other speed boots. Shooting feels very solid, and you can hit absolute rockets in these. The before-mentioned rough Primeknit upper also adds to this experience since it provides just that little bit of grip when placing or curling a shot or pass.
What was even more impressive is that this rough Primeknit continues to do well even in wet (or snowy in my case) conditions. The second session in the boots took place while it was snowing and there were no issues to be found when hitting the ball. Pretty impressive given the weather.
Now, obviously there is not the kind of grip that can found on the Predator series, but there is enough for it to be noticeable. The rougher upper on the Speedflow+ is one of the reasons why the boot is a step up from the Speedflow.1 and a huge upgrade over the Ghosted series.
Once again, it has to be mentioned I feel that having a knit upper is better than a synthetic and this one of the reasons why I prefer the Primeknit upper of the Speedflow+ over a synthetic. It is softer and more pliant and thus easier to break in and wear on the foot. Hopefully, adidas continues to use Primeknit in future models of the X series.
From the Blog’s X Speedflow.1 and X Ghosted.1 reviews:
“There is nothing new with the Speedflow over the Ghosted in terms of the soleplate, but I do find that the soleplate almost works better with the softer upper. This might be down partially to the Agilitycage that keeps your foot locked down so that you are able to take full advantage of the CarbiTex plate without having your foot feel like it is not in the boot properly. This was the issue with the X Ghosted, the boot did not feel like it was on your foot correctly, so it felt like I was losing some performance.
The CARBITEX SpeedFrame does its job impressively. From the first time going to run in these and onwards it has a noticeable impact on your running. The way adidas has executed the use of carbon fibre is extremely clever and is hands down the best implementation of the material in football boots, ever. You can feel the immediate pushback from the carbon fibre as soon as you flex your feet. It’s instant, responsive and explosive. The way the claw-shaped carbon fibre is placed on the underside of the foot means its activates when your foot does. It’s a clever way to use carbon fibre, instead of having it there for looks or to save weight. Giving it a reason to exist on the boot means it is something to look out for and makes it worth having.”
It is one of the best soleplates on the market and maybe one of the best speed boot soleplates of all time. Bold, but true. It will be interesting to see if adidas can improve on this soleplate design and tech.
What a boot. The adidas X Speedlow+ is an enjoyable and very capable speed boot. It is probably one of my favourite speed boots I have ever used and the best laceless boot I have ever worn. Given my affinity for the Lotto Zhero Gravity, I was surprised by this outcome. It was almost a certainty that these boots would be sold to make way for others upon completion of this review but instead I am now considering another pair, and this pair will go into my rotation for this season. For me, this is some of the highest praise that I can give a boot. Yes, the X Speedflow+ is expensive, but if you love speed boots, these are a must try, even over the Speedflow.1. Grab a pair and enjoy the experience because it is something else.
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