It’s always a dangerous proposition to mess with success, and as a result sneaker manufacturers are keenly aware of the inherent risks of changing a widely popular flagship model. Conversely, manufacturers are also sensitive to the pitfalls of stagnancy, which is to rest on your laurels by only changing colourways, and in the process allow your best-selling sneaker to become a has-been.
This was the dilemma that adidas must have faced with the Ultraboost. The time had come to update the aging profile, but rather than risk alienating the fans of its design with something radically different, adidas’ designers took a conservative approach and made sure that the new Ultraboost 19 had a familiar appearance despite the number of significant changes made to the original design; anyone familiar with the outgoing Ultraboost would immediately recognize the 19 as an evolutionary model rather than radical replacement.
It’s our guess that the majority of Ultraboost shoes sold are used as lifestyle sneakers rather than high-performance runners. Despite this reality adidas went to great lengths to update the Ultraboost to reflect what it claims is a changing demographic in the running community and “to create the most responsive, performance-driven version of the adidas Ultraboost possible.”
The redesign focused on the performance characteristics of the Ultraboost and included: twenty percent more Boost material in the midsole; a modified, quicker torsion bar; a changed midfoot cage; and a wireframe heel counter. It’s that wire heel counter that adidas wants everyone to focus on: adidas’ marketing hyperbole describes it as the “radically engineered icon of the Ultraboost 19.”
The outsole is still the Flexible Stretchweb manufactured by Continental (that’s good news), which is designed for traction on wet or dry pavement. The actual pattern of the sole appears to be different to us, but we’re not Ultraboost aficionados and it’s possible that the outsole design on the 19 was used for previous variations of the Ultraboost.
For those who actually buy the Ultraboost for running, the performance specs for the Ultraboost 19 include:
- Weight: 309 grams [size 9 US]
- Type: Neutral [for runners who supinate]
- Offset: 10 mm drop from the heel to forefoot [29 mm / 19 mm]
- Arch: Normal support