Adidas is back in the cycling shoe game

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Fifteen years on from its last cycling shoe, Adidas has made a return with a new offering simply called “The Road Cycling Shoe”.

According to Adidas, the mid-range lace-up design draws inspiration from “iconic silhouettes of the sport”. That might sound like a stretch … if the iconic Eddy Merckx hadn’t himself worn Adidas shoes that looked quite a lot like this for much of his career.

The shoe features a seamless Primeweave upper, paired with a three-bolt synthetic sole with a “nylon/glass composite plate”. Details are fairly scant – we don’t know if the sole bumpers are replaceable, or whether there’s a DWR treatment on the outer, or how amenable the cleat positioning is for a mid-foot position, or all those other things that us dweebs get tied up in a knot about.

Adidas has released no stiffness rating, nor have there been any weights released. All of which suggests that these probably aren’t all that earth-shattering from a performance perspective.

But that’s also probably not the point here: they’re fairly reasonably priced at £130 / €150 (with further international pricing TBC), they look cool, they have lots of reflective detailing, and they’re allegedly aimed at a “young and burgeoning generation of cyclists” who probably don’t care if their sole stiffness goes up to 15.

Because, if you’re young and burgeoning, you understand that – as Adidas suggests – “life on two wheels is no picnic. It’s about the pursuit. The journey. The struggles. The win. Open roads, city streets, different surroundings, same focus – speed. Blink and you might miss us.”

Got that? Good.

Adidas – which is pronounced ‘AH-dee-dahs’ and absolutely not ‘Ah-DEE-dus’ – was one of the more prominent clothing sponsors in the sport from the ‘70s onwards, with big names such as Eddy Merckx catapulting the brand’s three stripes into newspapers and TV coverage. More recently, the company had a long association with Telekom/T-Mobile as clothing sponsor, with Jan Ullrich wearing the brand’s shoes to his one Tour de France win and his many podium finishes.

Jan Ullrich, Adidas poster boi, leads Marco Pantani up a French mountain in 1998.

Perhaps stung by the revelation of the sordid practices of that era, Adidas stopped producing cycling shoes in 2005, and had a break from the sport between T-Mobile’s dissolution and the arrival of Team Sky, acting as clothing sponsor of the British squad until Rapha and Castelli took over the mantle.

In the years since, the sportswear titan hasn’t stepped away from cycling footwear altogether – Adidas owns the mountain bike sub-brand Five-Ten – although this is the first road-oriented model issued under its own name since the Ullrich years.

Tantalisingly, the release of the Road Cycling Shoe may be part of a wider return to the sport for the brand. Adidas’s vice president of specialist sports, Celine Del Genes, said that the shoes represent “the first step of our long-term journey towards creating a range of products that enhance the cycling experience.”

Adidas has a growing collection of cycling apparel already, although only available in limited markets. A quick glance shows a surprising depth of focus on road cycling, with a smattering of mountain-bike clothing and even the intriguingly named “strapless cycling bib short”. It all looks pretty good, especially if you’ve got a fondness for the German company’s stripey branding.

Those shoes though?


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