Among the Elite
When Mizuno launched the original Morelia Neo 2 Beta it marked the start of a new approach from Mizuno that would push them to compete more in the speed boot race. While the Morelia Neo 2 was a speed boot by all accounts, it never had the tech that other boots in the space had. The Beta models changed this. And this year we got a new Beta with some new tech, like the Beta Mesh upper and the BF (barefoot) knit. Although it shares a lot of similarities with it’s younger brother, the Morelia Neo 3 Japan, the Morelia Neo III Beta Japan stands apart from its sibling and shows that when it comes to performance, the Beta deserves to be talked about in the same breath as other speed boots.
Fit and Feel
Surprisingly, one of the other things that seems to be upgraded from the regular Neo III Japan is the kangaroo leather. It was easier to break in than the regular Neo 3 with only a short jog needed to soften up the leather. Because of the one piece upper the boot is a bit more difficult to get on but once you do so you get a really nice locked in feeling. What was interesting is that even though it is still a one-piece upper boot, there is still a decent amount of adjustability thanks to the knit used on the tongue. There isn’t as much adjustability as the regular Neo 3, but there is enough for most people.
Tightening the laces gives you a very nice and secure lockdown in the boot and no matter how I tried, the laces refused to let any of that lockdown give. Like it’s sibling, the laces are improved over the previous generation and this helps add to the locked in feel the boot provides.
What doesn’t happen is that your feet don’t feel cramped through the middle. With most speed boots you expect to feel some tightness on the sides and a stiffness to the upper. Remarkably, the Beta Mesh is just there. You don’t notice it squeezing at all, but your foot is still very secured in the boot. It is especially interesting because for one the midfoot is stiffer than the regular Neo 3 and in the regular model, while it is very comfortable you can feel the boot wrapping around your foot. I had to double check a few times to makes sure that the midfoot really did have such an excellent fit.
The Beta Mesh does an excellent job of providing all of the responsiveness you need without getting in your way. It really does feel quite barefoot. Aside from the Wave Cup, the Neo 3 Beta Japan has one the best fitting midfoots and forefoots out of any boot I have ever played in. It really is that good and it makes it an absolute dream to run in.
Except for one issue. I have heard from a few people saying that had blister issues with the boots. While I have not encountered any problems myself, I do find the heel to slightly stiffer than I want, and I was surprised that I preferred the heel of the regular Neo 3. I feel part of this issue could be fixed by using a softer internal heel counter and I would love if the Beta had the same lace hole options that the regular Neo 3 does. I was able to mitigate this by changing the lacing set up by going in the bottom of the three laceholes at the top and coming out of the middle one without using the top one at all. This mostly fixed the heel issue and stopped the boot from flaring out. Wearing a slightly thicker pair of socks also helped with this issue.
Lastly, you definitely want to go half a size down. Aside from running long, the leather does have a bit of stretch to it, but I have also found no issues with overstretching.
Touch and Dribbling
Given the high standard set by the Neo 3, you would think that the Beta would be very similar in terms of touch on the ball but in reality, it is erm, better. A large part of this is because of how well the midfoot and forefoot fit. The boot does it’s best does aid you while getting out of your way in a sense and letting you focus more on what you’re doing. I loved the fact that the boot adjusted so quickly so that there was nothing to “get used to”.
Because of the Beta Mesh material, it feels more in line with other speed boots in terms of a barefoot, on the ball touch. The argument can be made that it is above other speed boots in this because of the brilliant kangaroo leather. It’s absolute fantastic and I will boldly claim that as a consequence of this, it is one of the best leather speed boots ever.
A lot of bold claims are being made but if you try the boots, you will know that the excellent first touch and the exquisiteness of the leather on your feet is something that can only really be experienced in this boot. Yes, the regular Neo 3 is awesome but the touch with the Beta just feels like that step up. It is shocking how natural it feels to play in these.
There was never a point when I felt I needed to change what I was doing to get the most out of the boot because it just delivers the same solid performance consistently.
Passing and Shooting
The Beta Mesh being thinner does mean that there is less of a cushioned touch in the midfoot when compared to the regular Neo 3 but instead of being a detriment to the boot, its actually a positive. The reason for this is that there is much more of that pingy sensation when hitting the ball in the Beta. The fact that the Beta Mesh does it’s job without being noticed only serves to increase the great feeling you get when taking a shot or hitting a long pass.
In my Neo 3 review I mentioned how I prefer having a softer surface when I’m making passes, so I thought I was going to have issues with the Beta. To my surprise I really enjoyed passing the ball in these and I felt like I always want to have the ball at my feet. I was the one in control and not the boot.
One of the reasons some prefer speed boots is because how good they feel when shooting the as the thinner materials make you feel more connected and to the ball to give you a satisfying feeling. The Beta offers this same sensation though because of how well the boot fits and the inclusion of that supple kangaroo leather means that, in my opinion, its above over other speeds boots in this sense.
And the curl I can get in these boots is simply perfect. This is again down to that extremely great fit of the forefoot and the leather. When the fit is exactly right in a boot, the shooting and crossing feels just delightful. Mizuno deserves credit for the way the leather and the Beta Mesh come together on the forefoot because that is the one area where it is obvious to me when the fit is off, or something isn’t quite right. But Beta is brilliant in this area.
The Beta has the same soleplate and stud layout as the Neo 3 so you would expect it to be in much the same vein as the Neo 3. And for the most part this is true. You still get a surprisingly grippier-than-expected stud layout that is so versatile it can be used on almost any surface without any issues to speak of. However, the Beta Mesh has such good lockdown that the soleplate hugs your foot just that little bit closer. It’s similar to what people say they feel that the Vapor has your foot “sink in” to the soleplate.
This means that your feel more connected to the soleplate. This did also mean that I expected there to be stud pressure, but I surprised that I didn’t find it to be an issue at all. Given how hard some of the fields tend to be hard ground here and the prevalence of matches on AG pitches meant that this was a relief and like other aspects of the boot, meant I could concentrate on my game.
A quick aside
This is a bit weird, but I was pleasantly surprised how little amount of water the boots took up while playing the rain and also how quickly the boots managed to dry out afterwards. It only took a few hours for them for them to be dry enough to play in again without feeling uncomfortable. It needed to be noted at least and its great considering its still raining a lot here.
The Morelia Neo 3 Beta Japan is and absolutely brilliant speed boot that impressed me every time I wore them. The only issue is I wish the heel counter was softer and the same as the one found on the Morelia Neo 3 because then the boot would be pretty much perfect. It still definitely has the versatility that the Neo 3 has but is a higher performing boot and more speed like than it’s sibling.
It would be a stretch to call this the best speed boot ever because there are a ton of boots that could rightfully fight for that crown. What I will say is that for me personally, this is one of the best speed boots I have ever worn. The fit and performance along with the leather and the always top notch made in Japan quality comes in together in an excellent way. If you love speed boots, you owe it to yourself to try these.
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