Ever since their re-branding, no pun intended, exercise, Reebok has closely associated itself wth fitness. They have positioned themselves as the, unintended pun alert, front-runners every time someone mentions the terms ‘H.I.I.T’, ‘Bootcamp’, or, the in-word for fit-hipsters, ‘the box’.
For long Reebok had been the fence-sitter about running shoe. In fact, they almost seemed to not care while all other major brands scrambled to get a foot hold in the space. Sheesh, another pun. Clearly running gear is open field for the enthusiastic punster.
But back to Reebok while they have maintained a keen connect with their client, pulling at the nostalgic strings with re-inventing the classics like the Pump or the indomitable Kendrick Lamar collection, on running they seemed to have been rather mute.
Then, some change emerged. The Z series gave them a lovely silhouette, a good chassis which became the skeleton for many a running shoe that the company put out. The sleek lines and the mid-level drop was a one-size-fits-all arrangement which could cater to a large segment of runners. I used one for a trail run out in the White sand plains of Rann of Kutch and they served me well. I ran a PB back in the Zpump fusion when it had just released.
The Reebok Floatride Run builds on this reputation and catapults the brand into a whole new sphere of running gear; this is finally a pair to aspire to. For one, it is possibly the prettiest running shoe that Reebok has brought out. It is a visually appealing blend of the alien with the normal i.e. it looks like a running shoe and then it manages to look futuristic too. But let’s take it step by step, from the start.
For starters, the shoe is mostly sock. This is the first time Reebok makes a departure from the usual defined uppers and has done an entire shoe where the front uppers are a knit, stretchy, sock-like material. It is much in line with what Nike Free and Adidas Ultra Boost have. The difference lies in two things: the heel support in this shoe is not sock like, it is more structured. The second point of difference is that the lacing isn’t worked into the sock but passes through a cage – two bridge-like constructions on either side which have been engineered to provide lateral support. So the Floatride Run is a good mix of providing that barefoot feel with adequate support to keep the foot shifting too much. Come summers, all that breathability will definitely a plus during long runs.
The heel area needs a special mention for this is the futuristic shiny part of the shoe. It is fashioned out of foam with a satin finish on the outside. It is flexible but not too stretchable. Great for support even if it lacks some grip (my heel could slide a fair bit on the inside during my run and no I wasn’t wearing a size too big.) It was extremely comfortable with no chaffing but I did wish that the grip was a tad more, well, gripping.
The cage columns are fashioned out of hard plastic and run from the midfoot on either sides right around the back of the heel, and while flexible enough to accommodate the foot, are still properly firm to keep it in place.
The laces are run through this bridge and they are rather old school, thick and chunky, but I guess the thin types would probably cut into the feet through the socks so this is more comfortable even if unsightly.
The sole comprises two parts glued onto the uppers; the Floatride sole is a soft proprietary foam and with this, Reebok now too has its answer to Adidas’ Boost and Puma’s Speed. You can see it through the rubber lattice on the sole and it does resemble the others closely so. It is soft to touch but holds shape and form — my test pair has been already been well run-in and yet shows no signs of losing its spring. The coloured foam bits are slightly harder to create zones which can absorb impact better. The have been placed in the midfoot area which is the ideal strike point.
With an 8mm drop it isn’t the runflat for the ultimate minimalist ride but it is acceptably low for the majority of runners out there. The waffle-like rubber mesh on the bottom has a linear strip cut out slap down the middle which provides a little more flexibility and bounce to the toe-off stage of the gait cycle.
Finally, the overall aesthetics, this is a real looker! I have worn it outside of my run routines and they definitely have eyeball value. I have the blue pair but I know that a whole host of colours will be made available. So if you are looking for a cool running shoe that can double up as off-piste accessory too, this pair delivers.
The shoe is priced at around INR18,000 which puts it right next to the Adidas Ultra Boost which was THE most popular running shoe of 2016. But that shoe comes with a legacy, not to mention a host of unprecedented sales records (and running PBs) to its name. With the Floatride Run, the Vector brand is definitely not shying away from the taking on the competition head-on. Time will tell how the running communities accept this dynamic new pair.