Going, going…awesome.

The adidas Rocket shoe review, by John Schrup

One of the biggest pet peeves we hear from you is that once you determine a shoe to be your very favorite, the shoe company changes it in such a way as to be unrecognizable as your favorite shoe, or better yet, sends it to the shoe graveyard, leaving you hunting far and wide a replacement that might be as comfortable, forgiving and familiar.

And so I became a bit worried when I heard that my beloved Rocket—the adidas low-pro, Japanese designed racer—was going buh bye!  Three pairs (and well over the recommend mileage recommendation on each) of this gem and I had become convinced that, with a few slight changes, this could be the ONE shoe I use, day-to-day.  When the crew from adidas was in to discuss various and sundry with Team Rogue Elite, I went so far as to beg, order, direct and plead to them to build a series of shoes around the Rocket, a few tweaks here and there, so that all of us on the running spectrum could share the Rocket experience.

First, I love that the shoe is $80.  I am a cheap sumbitch, and visible hives manifest when I wear-test shoes north of the $100 barrier.  Sure, $100 is average these days, but my brain is, in many ways, stuck back in the, oh, late 80’s, early 90’s.  And that means that if you are blowing through shoes on a monthly basis, you’ll have fresh shoes AND enough money left over for the luxurious Chameleon Cold Brew.

Second, and this could be the topic sentence, the Rocket fits my ideal of what a running shoe is supposed to be.  A running shoe, in my very humble opinion, is supposed to protect the foot from the ground and all the attendant niggles that asphalt and concrete can so generously provide.  But because we all have different histories and DNA and attention spans and such, we all don’t want a shoe to be a really protective house slipper with some reflective doo dads.  Most of us want a bit of the soft stuff here and there to make us feel safe.    The Rocket gives you that, too.

It is maybe a bit narrower in the toe box than it could be.  The asymmetrical lacing overlays can be irritating, both to your tender toes and to your contemporary aesthetic, but it does leave you with a clean, snug fit from heel through the metatarsals.  When the shoe is laced up, it disappears on the foot, as it should.  Only toward the end of some 2.5 hour runs did I begin to notice my toes feeling slightly pinched, though nothing that really detracted from the run.

Underneath the foot, the midsole and outsole combination provide a firm and responsive ride that makes you feel fast, whether you are jogging through 6:30 kilometers or sailing through 6:30 miles.  The heel to toe offset is at a claimed 6mm, but because of the relatively low heel stack and firm ride, the shoe feels much, much lower.  The combination of snug fit and firm ride deliver one of the most performance oriented feels of any shoe I’ve worn in a long, long time.  I love this shoe so much (I wouldn’t marry it, but you get the idea) that I don’t select it for any particular run or workout, I wear it to run in, period.

The thing that I find most appealing about the shoe perhaps is the broad spectrum of people who wear it.  Not restricted to the Light and Fast Club, the Rocket appears on the feet of mostly people who prefer some simplicity in their footwear, regardless of the pace or volume of their training.  It is a minimalist (biomechanically appropriate) yet very protective shoe that doesn’t really feel minimalist.

Aesthetically, the Rocket leans a bit retro.  Other than the asymmetrical toe piece, the Rocket looks like something Mr. Shorter might have worn back in the day.   But for the subtly cool color accents, the look is mostly unremarkable, though I do get comments and questions about them when standing in line at the Ho Foo juice bar.  So, maybe not so unremarkable.

Alas, after this year, the Rocket is going through a slight, but dramatic metamorphosis.  The midsole will be all that remains—upper, outsole and name all get refashioned into a more contemporary, more competition focused package.

The new Hagio (named after the guy who designed it, as I understand the story) will sport the new adidas badge, rather than the traditional three stripes, a lighter, cleaner upper and a lighter, more flexible outsole.  All of which leads me to believe that this new incarnation will find its way onto my feet and into my heart.


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