Mizuno should pay attention
ASICS is mostly known as a running and athletics brand in the global market but in its home country of Japan, it is one of the biggest brands when it comes to football boots. Any match you watch, any place where people are playing the World’s Game, you will see at least a few pairs of ASICS boots on feet. Though they constantly go head to head with Mizuno, Mizuno has more recognition when it comes to the category of speed boots because of the Morelia Neo series. Though in the past the X Fly was positioned as a speed boot, the launch of the X Fly Pro is meant to truly be a response to the Neos. But ASICS have gone about it in a slightly different and interesting way.
Fit and Feel
The fit is nothing short of excellent. The boots have a nice, deep lacing system that allows for plenty of adjustment. Even besides that the fit all over the foot is fantastic. There is a little bit more thickness to the upper than you would find on the Neo, but this actually works very well in the X Fly Pro’s favour because that means not only that the fit is superb but also that the midfoot feels solid and comfortable from right out of the box.
Another part of the where a lot of comfort is found is the heel. It was a bit surprising to see that the boots don’t have an external heel counter, like what is found on the majority of speed boots these days, but it actually works to the X Fly Pro’s advantage because there is a lot of cushioning on the heel. Normally you might expect the extra cushioning and lack of heel counter to effect lockdown in the heel area, but my heels felt quite secure throughout my time in the boots. Having the inside of the boot covered with a soft brushed material also helped with the comfort and the lockdown.
Lockdown through the midfoot is really good because of that previously-mentioned deep lacing system. The laces work really well in conjunction with the Micro SK material that is used for the midfoot. Structurally, this makes the boots quite solid, and my foot always felt secure in place with no rolling to be found. There is some lace bite since the tongue is quite thin, but its not as bad as other boots in this category can.
The forefoot of the boots continues the running theme of an excellent fit and they followed the shape my foot well. It wasn’t as snug as you might find with other speed boots, but it never felt too wide or sloppy. Just a good, solid, fit. The kangaroo leather is good, but I was expecting more. Obviously, since its not a made in Japan product it won’t be as soft as what Mizuno has (or what ASICS have produced before) but I thought it would be a bit softer out of the box. Its not stiff or anything, and it didn’t take very long to break in, but I found myself wanting a bit more suppleness. I think this partially is due to the MOIS-TECT treatment on the leather which stops it from drying out too much. The leather did still stretch to the shape of my foot and there has been no overstretching.
There was also very little water uptake in wet conditions, and this lasted until it turned into a downpour and even then the boots didn’t absorb a lot of water.
A word too about the extra lace towards the mouth of the foot. It is one of the things ASICS’ boots are known for and it allows the wearer to make a runner’s knot, which helps provide more lockdown and lace holes like this are always a welcome addition on any boot.
For sizing, I did go down my usual half a size as is normal for most ASICS boots. However, the X Fly Pro does fit more snug than other boots in ASICS’ line up and you can go true to size if you don’t like your boots to be snug.
Touch and Dribbling
While the kangaroo leather is not as soft as I would have liked, it does excel when it comes to the touch and making quick moves on the ball. Since the stitching is asymmetrical, I found that it gives the forefoot a nice, clean area with which to dribble the ball. On another positive note, the midfoot ASICS logos have just enough stickiness to them that it is noticeable. It gives a feeling of reassurance when controlling the ball with the instep.
Since the kangaroo leather is thinner than many other k leather uppers, this means you gets a bit of a normal speed boot vibe when touching the ball. Its nothing crazy, but it is still nice to experience this feeling in the X Fly Pro.
The touch is not some groundbreaking thing you might hope to find, but I found myself to be quite happy with how solid and consistent the touch is. I do not like when speed boots try to do something crazy that ends up effecting how the boots feel when playing so I am pleased with the X Fly Pro in this regard.
Passing and Shooting
Like mentioned in the previous section, the thin leather makes you think about a speed boot when playing in the X Fly Pro (as it should) and this also applies here as well. There is an ever-so-slight pingy sensation when hitting long balls and taking shots. Again, this is due to the fusion of the leather and the MOIS TEC.
If you are wanting something that feels solid when hitting the ball but do not want to give up kangaroo leather, the X Fly Pro will tick a lot of boxes. Again, its not as soft as a MiJ Mizuno but it does quite well when shooting regardless.
I also found that during wet conditions the upper still performed really well and I didn’t have to adjust at all when it came to shooting, even if the surface was not great. Same with passing as well. ASICS seem to have put a lot of thought into making this upper work no matter what is thrown at it and its pleasing to feel this. Maybe Nike should take some notes as well.
Again, nothing too fancy really went into the upper. An excellent fit with a multi-functional upper will always win out over something that packs a ton of tech into its package. Some will still prefer having the softer leather and midfoot that is found in the Morelia Neo 3, but the X Fly Pro deserves a good amount of credit for the way it does things.
Which leads us to probably the most impressive part of the boot, the soleplate. ASICS have made a lot of noise about their data driven AI-assisted approach with the soleplate and they managed to pull it off. This is probably the part of the boot where Mizuno should learn a thing or two. Of course, ASICS packs a ton of tech into their running shoes and a lot of this thinking goes into their football boots as well.
But the surprising thing as that I don’t remember seeing AI and algorithm-based tech being used in their running shoes as much but this seems like a well taken risk. There is no heel lift in the rear of the boot as is found on other ASICS boots. Instead, there is a visual slope that can be seen where the soleplate meets the upper on the profile view of the boot. Because of this the boots feel more natural to run in than other boots, which just have a straight line from the heel to the toe box on the part where the soleplate and upper meet. Sure, sometimes you would find an upward curve like is found on the X Ghosted, but nothing as well thought out as what is seen on the X Fly Pro.
This means that the actual profile of the boots is made to work in conjunction with the soleplate itself, which I would argue helps improve grip since it takes into account the body mechanics when running.
There is also a ton of stability on the soleplate because of the design. This stability means that the soleplate provides terrific support in spite of the fact of how thin it is. There is not as much springback as you might find on other speed boots, but it is still there and noticeable. The mesh on the soleplate works surprisingly well in that you do not notice that the soleplate is not one solid piece. Maybe ASICS can make this stiffer, but I quite like how it is now.
A key component for grip is the studs of course. And the shape and design of the “Accelerator Stud System” on the X Fly Pro are fantastic and are probably my favourite thing about the boot. No matter the surface, no matter the conditions, the studs gave tons of grip without preventing me from pivoting or making sharp cuts. This is where Mizuno falls behind with its Morelia Neo soleplate. The little indentations found on each stud on the X Fly Pro allows you to get grip in any direction and there is even a Jason Chua (of BOOTHYPE and @nosajbootreviews) approved toe pick stud. And the two studs behind that are in a triangle shape to provide more grip when pushing off.
Its also appreciated that the studs have some texturing on the bottom because this means that they are great for controlling and dragging the ball around with the bottom of your foot.
A small note, but still something worth pointing out is that even playing on muddier surfaces the studs didn’t clog up like you might think. I am not actually sure what ASICS have done to make this happen, but a welcome surprise all the same.
The flip side
I was not expecting to like the ASICS X Fly Pro as much as I do now. The fit is brilliant, the grip is fantastic, and the performance is solid. These are actually going to become my match day boots for the time being. Maybe the upper is not on the same as the Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 MiJ, but the soleplate, grip, and fit are so good that they cannot be ignored.
ASICS have done very well with these boots, and I am looking forward to seeing how their AI-developed tech is used in the future. If the “Accelerator Stud System” is anything to go by, the future is very bright for this tech. Hopefully, the boots will get an international release because if the pricing can stay relatively the same since the boots are not MiJ, I can see the X Fly Pro picking up a lot of fans.
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