Adidas has, again, raised the bar in their fight to be top-dog in the elite world of soccer cleats, by releasing a completely new and advanced type of power boot; the Adidas Predator X.
With just 8 months until the beginning of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Adidas have unleashed a cracker of a boot on to the market! Over the past few months, Nike has been releasing new cleats left, right and center, while Adidas has simply kept their cards close to their chest. Well, no longer! The Adidas Predator X is now available for all to wear. Thanks to the folks over at soccer.com, we have been lucky enough to be testing a pair for the past few weeks, in games and in practices, in order to bring you the most in-depth review right as the cleats are released.
First off, let me just say that I have never been a big Predator fan. Growing up, I was the one who avoided the Predator range, as they always seemed a little too gimmicky for me. On top of that, I see myself as more of an Andrei Kanchelskis than a David Beckham, so I have always looked for the lighter boot that is advertised for speed and acceleration. These cleats are a little different, and I must admit, I am a big fan of what they have to offer.
I wear a size 9 soccer cleat, and for this review I wore a 9. Size wise, the Predator X fits true to form. I was wearing the White/Dark Brown/Yellow version. Visually, they have a ‘whoah’ effect, testament to the fact that anyone who has seen them really likes how they look. They have a sleek attractive look about them that makes them very appealing. There is plenty of yellow in the design, but this actually looks really good. It is the simple things like the yellow area where ‘Adidas’ is embroidered into the cleat that make it look good. I am also a fan of the ‘Predator’ logo that is embedded in the ‘Predator Zone’.
Breaking Them In
From the first day of testing, the cleats felt comfortable. Breaking them in was pretty easy, and thankfully, I did not encounter any blistering. Having the right size is obviously crucial, and from my experience, there were no pressure points where the cleat rubbed. One thing I noticed (and I am not sure if this is a design that Adidas added) was that the inside heel has a series of ridges or lines. They are very small, but they definitely help with keeping your heal gripped to the cleat and I personally think that this will reduce in first wear blisters on the heal. After 3 games and several practices, I still have no comfort issues to report.
One of Adidas’ developments on this cleat is a new upper material called ‘Taurus’. You can tell that quality materials are used in this cleat by the feel of the full-grain calf leather. Along with its super-soft, lightweight properties, you also get the added bonus of weatherproofing. One thing that is very noticeable about the cleat is how thin the material feels. Adidas maintains that this allows for a barefoot feeling when touching the ball, and I tend to agree with that. On passing the ball, it feels super close to your foot, but you are not losing protection. On the inside of the cleats and along the tongue, you will see the word ‘Optifit’ printed, and this is the technology that allows for this. Another aspect to the design that I really like is how they have removed the tongue, leaving an extra snug fit when you tighten the laces. This is new to the Predator range, and for sees Adidas move towards an adiPURE style design. The lacing system is asymmetrical allowing for a larger strike zone.
What really separates this version of the Predator from its predecessors is the new ‘Predator Zone’. In this version, the strike area is covered with ridges of bubbled silicon. One thing I have not liked about previous versions of the Predator is the area covered by the actual ‘Predator zone’, but on this version it seems to cover exactly the area that is needed. This area is designed to help with swerve, control, and accuracy. And there definitely is some benefit to the technology. If anything, it will help you focus mentally on striking the ball as you intend. I spent some time taking corners and free kicks, and it did seem easier to place swerve on the ball. I was pretty impressed with the amount of whip that I could get on the ball.
There are two negative sides to the release. In my opinion, they are again priced a little high. I think this would have been an ideal opportunity for Adidas to give back to its legion of fans by lowering the cost. The second thing that I don’t like is the fact that Adidas have not found a way to decrease the weight of the boot. Seeing as they removed the tungsten elements (and all the other gimmicky insoles they have had in the past) I thought this boot could have weighed somewhere around the 10oz mark, instead they are a modest 11.2oz. Adidas need to address this on the next release in order to stay competitive with the likes of Nike.
To sum up, I have to say that not only is the Adidas Predator X my choice for ‘Surprise cleat of the year’, but it will also fall into the ‘Best Release of 2009’ category! Not only do these cleats look good, but they also offer great comfort and quality. In terms of who they suit, I have to say the options are pretty open! From Goalkeepers to strikers, I am sure that all types of players will be wearing them.
David Beckham has been the center piece of Adidas Predator releases in the past, and this new version will be no different. Even though much has been said about Beckham’s decision to play in the US with LA Galaxy, he is still a high class player and one of the best free-kick specialists in the wall. Expect to see the plenty of highlights while he is wearing the Predator X!
If you are looking to be one of the first wearing a pair, find them at soccer.com.
(*boots supplied for review by soccer.com)