With the release of the X Ghosted last year, adidas put themselves back in competition with Nike in the speed boot race. The CarbiTex soleplate showed that carbon fibre could be effective when used properly. Having gone with a synthetic, adidas tried to push the envelope of what a synthetic could do but unfortunately, the stiffer material meant that many people still preferred the Vapor because of the comfort of the knit. But adidas is back with a new upper on the X Speedflow.1, which is softer and more pliable to once again take the fight to Nike and the Vapor. The Speedflow has taken the lessons learned from the Ghosted and improved on them.
Fit and Feel
The changes are immediately noticeable from the second the boots are in hand. The X Speedflow’s Primeknit/textile upper is a great choice to replace the synthetic found on the Ghosted. This is because it is far softer and more pliable. Once the boots are on feet, there is now a noticeable softness and while the boots are still snug, it does not feel suffocating like it did before.
It is also impressive how quickly the boots break in, with mine only needing about a couple of sessions (about 2+ hours) to feel ready to be used for a match. The upper also seems to have just a little bit of stretch to it, so it forms around the shape of your feet, rather than being constrictive. While there is that bit of give to the upper, they have by no means felt sloppy throughout my time in them. Part of this is down to the Agilitycage, which is like a modern version of the support structure used in the original adiZero. The name is a nod to the fact that the Speedflow are supposed to not only be a successor to the Ghosted, but the Nemeziz series as well.
There have been improvements to the tongue area too. The Ghosted tongue could feel overly pressed against the skin at times. Adidas have fixed this by going with a full Primeknit tongue, which is more elastic and softer against the ankle. This helps with that more comfortable feel that the boot is striving towards. It is a much welcome change for me since the Ghosted began to get annoying in this area after a while.
In the previous model, the lockdown was not quite there for me as I felt like the .1 models were an afterthought. The X Speedflow is much better in this aspect, with the laces and the upper designed properly to work together to give more lockdown. The addition of the Agilitycage is of great benefit here.
And the heel is fixed. The cushioned pads are at the right height and give great lockdown and provide some nice cushioning without getting in the way. This was one of the biggest problems with the Ghosted and adidas seem to have listened and repositioned the heel pads. Much, much better here. And those who have been reading this blog long enough know that I am not easily impressed with the heel fit of boots.
While the cramped feeling that I had in the Ghosted are no longer present in the Speedflow, this does not mean that the boots are good for wide feet. They are perhaps a bit better because the upper has that bit of stretch, but this does not mean I can recommend them for wider feet. As always, see if you can try the boots on before buying, if possible.
As far as sizing goes, I am once again wearing my usual size in adidas which is half a size down from my normal size. The Speedflow has a higher toebox than the Ghosted so my toes do not feel as cramped and for some people that might mean that they could try half a size down from their normal size.
Touch and Dribbling
Here is one of the places I appreciate having the Primeknit/textile upper. While it is ever-so-slightly thicker than the Ghosted’s FLUROSKIN, the touch on the ball is excellent. I feel that the more pliable upper on the X Speedflow is better since that softness makes it feel less like I am controlling the ball with a thin piece of plastic. The raw sensation that one expects from a speed boot is still found here but the softer upper means that it feels like it is more tailored to your feet.
I also appreciate the rougher material on the midfoot instep which allows you to have just a bit of grip on the ball when controlling it. It would be cool to have seen this roughness show up on the forefoot, but I have not had any negative issues when it came to controlling the ball in this area. Even when it rains, the upper still gives me the touch needed to play with confidence.
There is something that has not been picked up on as to the reasoning why the touch is still good in the forefoot, in spite of the lack of a rougher material. It is visible and when you feel the boot in hand and run your fingers across the forefoot, you can feel these slight indentations underneath the top layer of material. These indentations seem like they help with controlling the ball and means that even when dribbling, there is a slight deftness added when touching the ball. I tried searching, but I did not find anything listed in the official specs about this part. That being said, I do wish that the graphics on the forefoot had a bit of stickiness to them.
Passing and Shooting
Interestingly, passing and shooting the ball still gives an almost barefoot and pingy sensation when hitting the ball. There is not a lot of material between your foot and the ball. While it is not as raw as the feeling found with the Ghosted, I find that I much prefer the Speedflow here as well. This is probably down to the softer upper, which should not be a surprise given my affinity for soft, leather boots.
The midfoot feels good when passing the ball, which is again a product of the rougher material found in this area. It is solid without feeling over the top, it gets the job done.
For me, I always prefer having a softer boot as it is, and I feel like I can get better contact with the ball when crossing or shooting. And so it goes with the X Speedflow as well. It would have been nice to have a little bit of grip on the forefoot, but I do not find it to be a deal breaker. I do find that I prefer how the boot feels over the previous generation when shooting and I enjoy it more.
In my X Ghosted review I talked about how unique the boot was because it was a synthetic speed boot and other speed boots were knit. Now the tables have flipped, and the Vapor 14 is a mostly synthetic boot while the Speedflow is a knit/textile. I do prefer having that textile upper, because I overall will give up some of that pure, raw sensation when hitting the ball if the boot is softer and more fitted to my feet.
There is nothing new with the Speedflow over the Ghosted in terms of the soleplate, but I do find that the soleplate almost works better with the softer upper. This might be down partially to the Agilitycage that keeps your foot locked down so that you are able to take full advantage of the CarbiTex plate without having your foot feel like it is not in the boot properly. This was the issue with the X Ghosted, the boot did not feel like it was on your foot correctly, so it felt like I was losing some performance.
I will include some of my previous thoughts on the soleplate below:
“The CARBITEX SpeedFrame does its job impressively. From the first time going to run in these and onwards it has a noticeable impact on your running. The way adidas has executed the use of carbon fibre is extremely clever and is hands down the best implementation of the material in football boots, ever. You can feel the immediate pushback from the carbon fibre as soon as you flex your feet. It’s instant, responsive and explosive. The way the claw-shaped carbon fibre is placed on the underside of the foot means its activates when your foot does. It’s a clever way to use carbon fibre, instead of having it there for looks or to save weight. Giving it a reason to exist on the boot means it is something to look out for and makes it worth having.
The slight curve of the soleplate also plays its role well by allowing you to have a better push off when sprinting. In spite of the pronounced curve, it doesn’t feel awkward and is quite natural. It can be argued that the carbon fibre wouldn’t work as well without the curved toe, so the combination of the two provides for excellent performance.
The studs themselves are also very solid and I especially like the inclusion of vertical studs along with the more triangular studs because it means you get support and grip when cutting and jutting across the pitch. “Agile” is the word that comes to mind.”
This is still the most impressive soleplate on the market in my opinion and it is part of what makes the boots enjoyable to play in. It is one of the best speedboot soleplates I have ever used, and I do not say that lightly.
And I must repeat this: It is NOT RECOMMENDED TO WEAR THE FG STUDS ON AG. You are asking for trouble if you do so.
The X Speedflow.1 is one of my favourite boots on the market right now. Every time I get a chance to play in them, I do so just because I enjoy what the boot has on offer. They are not perfect, and a little bit of refinement (and some grip) to the upper would enhance the boots but it does not change the fact that these went from a boot to try just because to something I recommend all fans of speed boots check out. They have the performance; they have the technology; they are a lot of fun; the X Speedflow.1 is a boot that I predict will stay popular for some time.
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