With the release of the Adidas Nitrocharge 1.0, we were introduced to a boot that has been tailored to a very specific player – the Engine. This is the first time we have seen Adidas take this approach, although it is not something that is new to the market. All previous Adidas releases have focused on a style type, like power or control. This release moves away from the category dynamic and places the shift more on the players actual playing style.
Seeing as I am a more offensively minded player, I have been sitting on this review for a longer period than I normally would, in an effort to really get a feel for how they perform over time and in an extended period of play.
The Nitrocharge is currently available at WeGotSoccer for $179.99.
A new soccer cleat silo designed to retain energy, improve lateral movement, sharpen on field reactions, deliver added sprinting power and increase protection specifically for players who are tirelessly on the move.
Has there ever been a more perfect definition for a new boot released on the market? It is important to bring this up as it defines the boot and gives you something to base my review of them against. Honestly, I can’t say that I disagree too much with how they have defined it.
Breaking In and Comfort
Even with a pretty consistent base, Adidas has modified several key elements of these boots to really differentiate them from other releases, and in turn that has affected how they break in. For example, the soleplate is the same one used on all other modern Adidas releases – except this one features EnergyPulse technology built into the sole. Its purpose is to provide rebound (you can read more about that in the section below) but it starts out extremely stiff. Bending the boots actually proves extremely difficult to do and that transcends into play. It took a few wears before they loosened up to a more natural state, but even at that they still help a stiff feel that Adidas has intended.
Then there is the addition of Mesh through the midfoot and around the heel. I love this addition as it allows the boot to envelop around your foot. When you bend a leather or synthetic boot, there is always another point where the material produces a fold. With a mesh it is completely different as the fibers are much more flexible and independent of each other. We also seen this in play on the Adidas adi5 X, although the downside to those was the fact that it ran through the strikezone and proved problematic under impact. On the Nitrocharge it is very complimentary to the make-up of the boot and proves comfortable right from first wear.
Inside the boot, Adidas use a material with a sort of suede feel. It is very soft to the touch and makes the boots very nice to slip into. Definitely makes the Notrocharge one of those boots you could wear bare-feet without stressing about any areas that might rub or cause problems.
EnergySling – What is its Role?
The EnergySling offers a completely new dynamic in boot creation. In all of Adidas advertising, this is the addition intended to improve lateral movements and help retain energy. At times, there are additions to boots that leave us a little confused as to how it works or why it is added. This is the case with the Energysling.
For example, if the band is intended to improve lateral movements, shouldn’t it run right across the forefoot keeping your foot in place? Instead, there is 80% separation across the lace region, with only a small layer attaching boot sides of the boot. I received a lot of questions about how it impacted shot power and if that was one of its purposes. With all the questions in mind, I’m just going to write my exact experience with it and whether it adheres to Adidas specifications or not is arbitrary. This is simply what you can expect from my personal viewpoint.
The material used is a rubber compound, so it has limited opportunity to stretch. It sits very snugly right around the forefoot except across the lacing, where there is about 80% separation. This is actually key and allows the boot along the lacing system to really stretch up around your foot shape. The remaining 20% then holds the EnergySling in place across your foot. Where Nike Flywire failed, Adidas seems to have picked up some bonus points and created a system that works more effectively without pinning your foot into the boot. The EnergySling also runs underneath the soleplate on both sides, so as your foot moves into a forward position, it automatically pulls the sole up against your foot and keeps everything securely in place.
The real benefit, in my opinion, is the dampening provided by the rubber. In similar fashion to a suspension system, rubber actually soaks in energy and reduces the amount of vibration. What you get is a more smooth and comfortable ride without unnecessary movement. This is something I definitely noticed as the boots seem to really sit closer to your feet right through wear. Compared to other boots, there is a difference, even if it is very minimal.
In terms of shooting, it really is in the right spot across the strikezone and it is in a position where you can strike the ball with it. Does it add more power? That is definitely not definitive and it would be extremely difficult to prove. But because it is a rubber material, there has to be some natural rebound effect. Realistically, I’d say there is a lot more of a placebo effect to this one – so I will leave it to individual players who wear the boots to determine!
Striking Shots, Playing Passes
Along the forefoot, Adidas has added a region of slightly raised panels. You can really see the region thanks to the layer of stitching that Adidas has implemented, with each panel feeling about twice as thick as the normal leather region. In reality, I don’t see this playing any role in strike power, but I do see it as a complimentary addition for players that want to control the ball closer to there feet. You see, the more you learn about the boots, the more you understand how they have been crafted to be a more defensive minded players boot, for the player that doesn’t really get forward a lot and doesn’t rely on striking many shots.
Along the side of the boot, Adidas has added another small control element. It is one that I hadn’t noticed before receiving the boots and I am not really sure if it is an intended strategy by Adidas. Each of the signature 3-stripes has been covered with a light layer of ridges. It adds a light grip effect and in play it provides more traction as you come in contact with the ball. This is not the type of addition that could compete with other energy control zones on other boots (notably Nike and Umbro) but it is a very welcome addition.
EnergyPulse and Stud Configuration
Again, Adidas has gone with its tried and trusted Traxion stud configuration on a SprintFrame soleplate that has been so successful on all their recent releases. The difference on this version is the EnergyPulse, as seen on the soleplate. It is the yellow zig-zag region that sits along the forefoot. its purpose is to add spring and it really does. There is the stiffness as described in the break-in section, so it does come with faults. But its purpose is to be stiff and add a rebound as you push off the ground.When you hold a normal pair of boots in your hand and bend the soleplate, it will slowly come back to a straight position after you let go. The difference with these is the fact that when you let go it immediately springs back. You can definitely feel this in action as play, especially when you take the immediate, quick step. it does serve a purpose, but again it comes with that slightly stiff soleplate feel.
Protective Mesh Layer
Protection is a big selling point behind these boots and again Adidas has got it right. In fact, there are several elements on this shoe that I would really like to see on my attack minded shoes. For example, the protection on the heel is an exciting addition. Players in the Engine room position like to tackle a lot, so protection makes sense. But as a winger, I also want that protection on my heels for when I caught by tackles from behind! And lets be honest, the extra weight that is added to the boot is really very minimal – especially since these weigh in at 8.4oz. Adidas, give me some more of this please!
How do they Fit?
In true Adidas form, these are consistent with the rest of their boots and very much true to size. The mesh are from the midfoot around the heel provides a sneaker like fit, where the upper has the ability to really form naturally around your foot. Because of the addition of the EnergySling, you get a slightly different fit through the forefoot, as the opening between the lacing and EnergySling creates a sort of wedge effect across your foot.
So, everything about this boot caters to the Engine, or the busy player who tries to rule the center of the pitch. It comes together nicely and I really do think that Adidas has created a winning formula with this boot. In saying that, there is no reason why these won’t suit other players like outside backs and wingers. Don’t become offset by the labeling behind the boot as they are equally adept at suiting other styles on the pitch.
The Critic’s Notes
My only real concern lies with the soleplate and the addition of EnergyPulse. It could be that I don’t quite understand or need its inclusion as a winger, but the stiff feel out of the box really set a negative tone in that area. If you consider yourself to be part of the Engine category, let me know below if you agree or disagree that it is a feature you need.
>> The Nitrocharge is currently available at WeGotSoccer for $179.99.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A highly efficient boot that caters to the more defensive styled player on the field, or the Engine. There is a lot of technology that specifically focuses on creating a boot that provides energy retention and added protection.
Category: Even if Adidas categorizes them as the “Engine”, I see them as a boot styled toward Control.
Weight: A very, very impressive 8.4oz.
Would I Buy Them: Even as a winger, I would definitely consider these boots. My only issue is the higher price tag. In my opinion, these should sit in around the same price range as a boot like the adiPure.
Player Position: Obviously, Adidas is labeling them as a boot for the Engine or midfield general who likes to run a lot, but I see them offering many positives for other players such as all defenders, wingers and even goalkeepers.