by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova

Have you ever had something that was so close to perfect, so close to being “just right”, that its very proximity to near-imperfection became its defining quality? That’s what the adidas adiZero Rose 2.5 is, essentially. The great things about the shoe make the shoe so, so good instantly, but the takeaways from the 2.5 are so few in number and yet so crucial to the shoe’s makeup, that they are extremely difficult to ignore, as a performance shoe. I’d like to make clear that the 2.5 is a good shoe. The build quality is excellent, the form is immaculate (in black, specifically), and the technical aspects of the 2.5 as a framework of the finished product are dead-on, but it’s just that there are two changes that could have made the shoe the absolute best product of the year from the three stripes. Before I get into those, let’s jump into the multiple positive aspects of the new Rose signature, but not before detailing the tech outline of the shoe, per adidas:

Synthetic leather upper for light weight and durability

Comfortable textile lining

PU insole for durable comfort; Internal EVA midsole for cushioning, fit and comfort

Welded Sprint Web for lightweight support and breathability

Sprint Frame construction for the perfect balance between light weight and stability; miCoach compatible

One, the 2.5 is beautifully made. The form of the shoe is very attractive, and the black micro-suede with the red ankle triangles dually give the 2.5 great character. The chassis and the last of the 2.5 are also great for this model; it’s based almost identically on the adiZero Crazy Light Sprint Frame and employs the exact same Crazy Light sole (though I suspect the Rose version to be of a stronger grade of rubber). The lateral stability of the 2.5 is much improved and a lateral outrigger is even more pronounced in the feel of the shoe itself (building from the outrigger that was used on the adiZero Rose 2); the support from both the lateral outrigger and the micro-suede Sprint Web is excellent and is the best that’s come from the adiZero Rose series. Also, because of the Sprint Web and Sprint Frame chassis, the 2.5 is very lightweight, particularly for a mid-high basketball shoe. And there’s more goodness.

The 2.5 seems to have a high strength-to-weight ratio, and I attribute that to the impressive blend of synthetic materials that are used in the upper of the shoe. The micro-suede Sprint Web is an impressive feat in and of itself to me; the Sprint Frame of the 2.5 is also made of a denser TPU than the adiZero Crazy Light; and the triangles in the collar and in the tongue of the 2.5 make for this tri-part GeoFit ankle fit that secures the foot when laced. All three GeoFit parts provide very reliable security in the shoe.

Comfort of the 2.5 is relatively high as well, but particularly in its breathability, which is top-notch in the 2.5 as well; the Sprint Web windows in the medial and lateral sides of the shoe are big and visibly transparent with mesh; the venting for the shoe is the best that I’ve ever experienced in a basketball shoe, which isn’t really a surprise for those who have experienced the rest of the adiZero line, marked by its emphasis upon breathability and open-hole mesh packages in the upper (adiZero Feather, adiZero F50, adiZero Crazy Light, adiZero Ghost). Also underrated comforts of the 2.5 are the mesh-laden tongue and the laces, which are wide and flat and help provide unquestionable lockdown when laced and secured.

That’s the good stuff. What follows was obvious to me in my own multiple evaluations of the 2.5, but the weaknesses of the shoe were only so pronounced to me, because they were so close to being strengths of the shoe.

The main issue I experienced in my evaluation of the 2.5 is that it has what I consider to be inadequate cushioning, particularly in the forefoot. Regardless of the polyurethane insole, the shoe lacked pop; it had no snap, no spring…the cushioning seemed dead. This isn’t something that is totally foreign to the adiZero Rose series – the first incarnation of the adiZero Rose also lacked snappy cushioning and it made landings difficult to bare, particularly on the initial wearings and the same could be said of the 2.5. The EVA midsole in the 2.5 I found to be of little help, and the strobel board underneath the 2.5 was very hard and unpadded, further disrupting the potential comfort of the shoe while I put it in action.

I’m a big fan of adiPRENE+ as a standard in all of adidas’ top footwear products, and while I understand that keeping the pricepoint comparably decent when compared to other top-level basketball shoes, what makes the shoe is the cushioning, as a performance sneaker, and so this was a disappointment to me. As it is, the 2.5 is on par with the original adiZero Rose, and as strong as the first Rose was, that’s not a bad comparison, but the cushioning doesn’t allow for it to supersede the adiZero Rose 2 as the elite shoe of the series.

The other attribute of the 2.5 that had me feeling insatiable through my evaluation was the addition of the miCoach feature in the shoe. Something akin to the famous Nike+ feature found in the Swoosh’s running shoes, miCoach is a technology that allows for specially selected adidas shoes to house a sensor that tracks performance and fitness thresholds, underneath the insoles and within the midsole of said shoes. In the case of the 2.5, miCoach is found in the midfoot bulb of the Sprint Frame. While it’s a logical place to put it, because of the stress-deflecting nature of the Frame, the miCoach did two things that were made apparent to me; the first was the miCoach bulb undermined the shoe’s flexibility and impact protection, as the Frame was not designed to channel shock with the attached bulb; the second thing that I noted in testing was the shock absorbed through the shoe centered at the miCoach molded bulb directly beneath my arch, which was pretty uncomfortable for me during landings and strides.

Unlike the 2.5, the other Rose-affiliated shoes like the adiZero Rose, the adiZero Rose 1.5, the adiZero Crazy Light, and the adiZero Rose 2 used the Sprint Frame without miCoach and the transition of the shoes was intact in all models and altogether smooth, which enhanced the cushioning of each model and kept the integrity of the literal shock values of said shoes. A great solution for this is found in what I believe to be the lack of foam around the bulb. As seen, the miCoach bulb is visible to the naked eye, as the TPU bulb is literally in the bottom center of the shoe between the forefoot and rearfoot. If the bulb were encased in foam, instead of being exposed, my theory is that the surrounding foam that would house the miCoach bulb would absorb the shock and stress that is centered in the bulb’s location under the arch. Already recovering (successfully) from a long bout of plantar fasciitis, less pressure in the arch (and more support) would be a major win for me.

As I said, the 2.5 is near-perfect as a constructed product, but those two major points of weaknesses kept it from reaching its full potential, and that’s the worst thing about it: the weaknesses of the 2.5 are easily correctable, in that there only needs to be a cushioning additive in the forefoot, and depending on whether the miCoach feature were present, there’d be additional foam in the midfoot or if miCoach were removed, the Sprint Frame would be restored to its original stress-management level, which without the bulb has been perfectly fine.

Having said that, the adiZero Rose 2.5 is a very solid, light, and fairly comfortable basketball shoe. It’s easy to casually hoop in, and if you are the sort of player who doesn’t bounce around in the air a bunch, it can be a very pleasurable experience; but, if you’re the kind of player who is big on playing on your toes and forefeet, there may be some moderate discomfort, but the great remedy of the shoe is the ability to either double up or replace the insole with your own orthotics, which may enhance the cushioning level of the shoe and totally negate any kind of issues that I experienced on my own. The adiZero Rose 2.5 is still a worthy shoe, but just flawed, but not mortally wounded…but what shoe isn’t flawed?

(For additional photos of the adidas adiZero Rose 2.5, go to Facebook.)

Sandy Dover is a published author, fitness & media consultant, and a SLAM web columnist & print contributor whose work has been featured and published by US News, Yahoo!, Robert Atwan’s “America Nowand ESPN. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and via his website at About.Me/SandyDover.