The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra ($160) is a trail running shoe made for going fast, light, and pretty far from the company’s sustainability-focused line of shoes. We found that this shoe works on a variety of trail conditions, with its middle-of-the-road amount of grip, cushioning, and stability.
The shoe isn’t particularly good for one type of trail or another, but will work just about anywhere with the exception of super-technical terrain. It weighs 9.1 ounces (259 grams) in a men’s size 9 and has 8 millimeters of drop. Watch our video review to learn more.
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adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Review Transcript
Hey, and welcome to Trail Trials, the video review section of iRunFar. My name is Travis Liles and in this video, we’re looking at the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra.
adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Outsole
We’ll start off by talking about tread on the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra — adidas often uses Continental rubber. That’s what they use here, and it’s a pretty good all-around type of rubber. It’s fairly grippy, not overly sticky, and it works across a lot of different terrain relatively well.
An area where it doesn’t excel is really slick stuff: slick rocks, slick bridges, those types of things. But overall, it is a very good all-purpose type of tread. The lugs here are rear-facing, very standard. You have a middle section here that is a little bit open and has the adidas Torsion System, which is some plastic in the inside of the shoe that manages the stability of the shoe. So it’s not just foam, and the plastic acts as a little bit of a rock plate.
As you move up here, you have the forward-facing lugs for climbing. The lugs are fairly shallow, a couple of millimeters long. So again, this is a really all-purpose kind of tread, that according to their literature, they like this idea of looking like a mountain bike tire.
That’s sort of what you have to think about, is tread on a tire, which again, since it’s Continental, makes a lot of sense. It’s a general tread pattern that works across all kinds of terrain relatively well.
An asterisk to that point: If you like to do road running in your trail shoes, these have no impact at all on your road running. A lot of times with trail shoes you might feel lugs push through; that makes for weird feelings on the bottom of your foot when you’re on flat surfaces.
This shoe is so low profile and so uniform across the bottom, that it does really well in those flat surfaces where it’s not digging in and biting into dirt. It transitions really well to road surfaces or even hardpack trail.
adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Midsole
Moving on to the midsole of the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra. If you’re familiar with adidas, you know about this Boost technology, which you can see is very cushy. It smashes down fairly easy; I’m not putting a lot of pressure on that. It feels very much like styrofoam, like a rubberized styrofoam and it even has a bit of that look to it. And that’s what makes up the heel all the way up really into the ball of the foot is the Boost.
Boost is hyper-popular on adidas high-end road running shoes. It’s very cushy; it has a lot of rebound to it. You get some of those properties of high rebound, but without a whole bunch of the weight.
As we move into the toe of the shoe, we see this is a dual-density midsole, and it gets into a firmer type of foam here, known as Lightstrike. You can see a layer above the heel on the midfoot, and then it transitions here to the front. This is a much firmer cushioning. The bottom part of the shoe, it squeezes in fairly easily.
But this has got a much more dense feel to it. It takes a lot more pressure to squeeze that down. So that means you’ve got better toe off, which means this shoe transitions fairly well. And again, for a speed type of shoe that this is made for, that’s exactly what you’re going to be looking for.
A couple of things I’ll also point out here is the weight of the shoe and also really small and kind of etched in here is also its 8-millimeter drop. You got 240 [grams] on the shoe, men’s size 9, and then 8 millimeters of heel-to-toe drop.
I think that’s just one of those examples of a company kind of looking at who their audience is. We’re looking at grams, we’re looking at ounces of the shoe, we’re thinking about drop. It’s right here. [Editor’s Note: The actual weight for a men’s size 9 is 9.1 ounces (259 grams).]
adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Upper
As we move up to the upper of the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, we have a little bit of a toe cap here. It’s pretty mild, but it’s this same rubber outsole that’s stretched across the bottom, comes over to the front, and hits at this apex to create a slight toe bumper. It’s not a very heavy one, so it collapses pretty easy, but there’s enough there so it’s not just exposed mesh.
Off of that, you have a little bit more of this overlay material here in white, which feels very rubbery. This is going to be kind of nonbreathable at this point, and just kind of keeps water out from this early spot if you’re running in tall grass or something along those lines; it gives you a little bit of protection and adds a little structure to the upper part of the shoe.
The mesh on this shoe is really kind of interesting. It’s got an almost a plastic feel to it: it’s not plastic, but it has some kind of covering on it. It’s not just a pure kind of soft fabric mesh. You can definitely feel that it’s slick and has some sort of treatment to it, which is good for abrasions and those kinds of things.
What I found [this shoe struggles with], is it doesn’t lock down super well, and I think there just isn’t enough give in this upper. It’s so structured that for my foot, I couldn’t ever quite get it locked down well enough to be really confident on sketchy stuff.
Again, your mileage may vary depending on your foot type, but for my foot type, it’s a little bit wider in the forefoot. I couldn’t ever quite get what I needed out of this. You can see that for the most part, it’s pretty floppy.
There aren’t a bunch of overlays creating structure in the shoe. A lot of shoes will use some of this three-dimensional printing in these overlays, and it’ll create a bit of a skeleton on the outside of the shoe that maybe connects down to the laces.
You can catch a little bit of that on the inside of the shoe here. As you look in here, you kind of see these triangles so there’s a little bit of structure that’s added through this. But none of it feels like it’s really integrated into the lacing system to give that good wrap that I tend to look for. But again, it’s not loosened and overly floppy. There’s enough structure in the mesh and overall that you can get it locked down.
There are a couple of lacing options here as well. If you look, you’ve got an extra eyelet on each side of the shoe that would allow maybe a wider foot or a narrower foot. Again, I’ve got a little bit of a wide forefoot, so I couldn’t quite get this dialed in 100% the way that I wanted to feel super confident, but overall, I think it’s an average-fitting shoe.
It’s not too loose and it’s not too tight and athletic. This kind of fits in that middle ground of, it’s not overprecise, but it’s not really floppy either. It’s just kind of a regular fit.
As we move up to the tongue here, it’s a very thin padded tongue. You can look from this view right here and see that it’s not very thick at all. It’s a piece of fabric on the bottom, a piece of fabric on the top, and then a light piece of foam that’s sandwiched in between. It’s gusseted through here; that’s really just to keep that tongue in place.
When you put your foot in, it’s got a fairly good, kind of sock-like feel. It’s smooth in there. There aren’t a lot of hotspots and areas for your foot to kind of rub against things. There’s a removable sock liner that’s fairly thin. It’s not an overly structured … again, this is a speed shoe.
I think component-wise, all the stuff you would expect from a faster shoe is here, right? Lighter weight mesh, not a whole bunch of fluff, not a whole bunch of extras. There’s a thinner footbed. It’s about going fast. And what do you do? You strip away weight for that.
As we move to the heel part, there’s no heel counter in this at all. On both sides, there’s a little bit of this shiny black rubberized overlay that exists here and adds a little bit of structure and then there’s some foam, kind of from the heel collar, and then the way that the shoe is sewn together that creates this heel structure. But it’s fully collapsible. You can see my hand puts that down really easy.
If you don’t like things rubbing on your Achilles, you like a loose heel or a less form-fitting heel, this shoe has it. I would have liked to have another lace on this top part, because I think maybe I could have gotten a little bit closer to my ideal heel fit. It’s a little bit on the looser side of things.
adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Overall Impressions
Closing thoughts: I really like what’s going on with the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra. I like that adidas has put the effort and the work with athletes, that they are really approaching ultrarunning and trail running in a serious way, that research and development is going into that. I think this is a really nice outcome for what I think has historically been a shoe company that has made trail shoes, but they’ve been less focused.
They’ve made road running shoes and then they just change the colors on it and make it dark blue or gray and then slap some rugged-ish tread on the bottom. But now there’s some thought put into this, and you can tell. You can tell by the way they’ve marketed it, by the way they’ve created it. You can look at the story on their website, but there’s a real, concentrated effort here with what this shoe is all about.
Does it hit the mark? I think it hits the mark in some ways. I think this is a really good hybrid shoe. I think the types of cushioning that are on here work well for going fast. I think it works well for kind of low to medium technical terrain. For me, there’s just not enough underfoot protection and there’s not a good enough fit on the upper for me to want to take this on the most rugged terrain.
I think if you’ve got a fairly basic trail, dirt, gravel roads, fire roads, like you got a lot here, right? That doesn’t require tight cornering or really insane descents where it’s technical and sharp. That was not an area where the shoe excelled, but it did on those other ones. So this is a shoe to keep in the car. Trail to road, that kind of hybrid thing.
I think this fits well because it’s light, it’s fast, you can do a lot of things. It’s lighter than most road shoes, so you can get a lot done in the adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, and again, I’m just excited to see that adidas is making an effort here.
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Call for Comments
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[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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