From left to right: The Adidas Springblade Razor; The Nike Flyknit Lunar2; and the New Balance Fresh Foam 980.
The running industry would really like to put a spring in your step. The newest running-shoe technology features cushy, uppers knitted with a single string of yarn, supportive foam midsoles, and soles that are made from plastic blades that will propel you forward with each and every step.
Greg Zuckerman said the shoe business and industry is finding different and unique ways to customize shoes to the runners’ body movements. The footwear buyer for Boston-based City Sports said “They’re really looking at the biomechanics of a runner and coming up with innovative solutions to problems and innovative technology that increases performance through geometry.” The latest of the collection is the Fresh Foam 980. It is a New Balance shoe that was just released last week which only costs $110.
The shoemaker has been calculating and measuring the forces and pressures present on the runner’s foot as he hits his stride. The secret is a midsole specially made of a single piece of lightweight but strong foam shaped to offer more cushion in the front as well as more stability at the heel.
Claire Wood, senior product manager for performance running at New Balance, said the said technology allowed the company to create a soft shoe which has great stability that runners shouldn’t be at greater risk of injury. Wood said that the reason why it took them so long to go to market this shoe is because of the fact that they wanted to make it possible for the runners to have an experience that was not possible before. They want runners to really get a soft shoe that performs just as long as a firm shoe does.
On the other hand, rival Nike in Portland, Ore., has a more radical step-up: The upper portion of the shoe, above the sole or bottom, is knit from a single strand of fabric. Running shoes are usually created from several different materials that are cut and stitched together. It may involve materials from leather, nylon to plastic supports as well as mesh cloth. However, the updated version on its best-selling running shoe called “Flyknit Lunar2” features strands of polyester yarn that are knitted in numerous layers to the shape of a regular running shoe.
The technology has changed the way running shoes are created and even makes for a lighter shoe: At 8.4 ounces, the men’s Flyknit Lunar2 is just about 1/2 ounce lighter than the New Balance Fresh Foam 980. Zuckerman said that the Lunar2 is the most comfortable upper that you will be able to put on these days as it has way more structure compared to its predecessor, as Nike wrapped more fabric around the arch of the shoe. The upper feels like a luxurious sock, but the midsole provides the stability of a trainer. Also, the shoe retails for only $150.
Adidas may have the majority of all the unusual-looking shoe. The Springblade Razor, priced at $180, features a series of toothlike blades created from high-performance polymer bonded to the bottom of the
shoe. From a certain distance, the blades give the footwear the look of being attached on a platform. The 16 blades of the new Springblade Razor are roughly 1/8th of an inch thick, with some variance. The blades are shorter and thinner at the forefront of the shoe and become progressively larger toward the heel. Every single blade is placed at a certain angle to give a natural landing for the runner’s feet.
Adidas design director for advanced concepts, Robbie Fuller, said the blades collapse under pressure and then expand upon release to spring the runner forward. Adidas also wants the blade material to last much longer than the shoes made with standard UVA foam.