The adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra are distinguished by their pronounced rocker, designed to shift the trail runner’s weight forward and maximize propulsion.
They incorporate Lightstrike Pro technology and use carbon-infused Energy Rods, offering responsiveness and cushioning for long distances without compromising the foot’s sensitivity to the ground.
Available from spring 2024 at 230 euros.
Their profile aòready tells you that the adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra are something completely different from the usual trail shoes: the rocker is very very pronounced. Did I say “very?” It is: very much so.
This type of midsole profile is intended to shift the runner’s weight and center of propulsion forward. In short, it is an unstable geometry by form. “Unstable” is something you don’t want to hear in a technical trail and on very uneven surfaces, but adidas has its reasons, tested among other things at the recent UTMB where two athletes wore them (although they will not be available to the public until spring 2024).
adidas calls it a “dynamic rocker,” suggesting that it does not have a static function but rather serves precisely to put the runner in a position to have maximum forward propulsion. The reasoning is unheard of in the trail world, which is accustomed to much flatter designs and exploiting the full useful tread surface area. Of course, such a solution could not work without a properly proportioned midsole, and it is especially in this one that the Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra shows how much DNA they share with their road cousins.
If there are in fact any shoes that are explicitly referred to, these are those in the Adios Pro family, that is, adidas’ highest-performance models. From which they derive not only the geometry but also the technological solutions, so much so that they could be mistaken for road shoes, were it not for the Continental treaded sole.
Those who have tried them have succinctly described them as the first supershoes (i.e., shoes with midsoles with stacks over 40 mm and employing very special foams) for mountaineering, and indeed, even seeing the materials and technological solutions employed, one can only agree.
The presence of adidas Lightstrike Pro ‘s ultralight, super-reactive foam is evident, so much so that it “overflows” from the edges. Its function is both to create the outline of the rocker and to cushion and discharge energy propulsion in the area on which these shoes work most, namely the midfoot.
However, there is more than just the Lightstrike Pro foam. As with some adidas road models (up to the top of the range, i.e., the Adizero Adios 3), the Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra also have the Energy Rods, namely the carbon infused rods that replicate the design of the bones of the foot and function as an exoskeleton that protects and adds energy to the take-off from the ground.
The misgivings that there have been to date about the use of the carbon plate in the trail world have always concerned the not particularly appreciable contribution of this solution or the fact that it takes away from the sensitivity of the foot, a fundamental prerogative when you have to “feel” the terrain to assess how and where to run and to measure effort and balance.
Energy Rods, focusing only where it is needed and not being a shield between the sole of the foot and the ground, might be the right solution.
The Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra have already been race-tested at the Transgrancanaria, Western States 100 and, as we mentioned, UTMB 2023, clearly indicating their vocation for long and very long distances. And also adidas’ involvement in coming up with a disruptive and innovative solution for an industry, like trail running, that likes to experiment but understandably cares a lot about the safety of runners.
Another striking aspect of these Terrex is the upper, which is very lightweight but durable and has very few reinforcements at the most exposed points, such as the toe. The tongue also has a light, shallow design and a low profile on the instep, so that it closely resembles road models.
Its width is more pronounced at the toe and midfoot, so as to leave the foot free to seek its own stability by opening up as much as possible. It is not ruled out-but we would have to try them out first-that the choice of a wide toebox is also related to the need to balance instability (controlled and intended, remember) by leaving the foot free to open up until it finds the best footing.
The Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra will cost 230 euros and will be available from spring 2024 through adidas .com, the adidas app, and at selected retailers.