adidas F50 adiZero - The SoccerBible Interview - Part 2/2
In the world of football boots he's a pioneer - the man responsible for creating the lightest ever boot. So when the SoccerBible was offered the chance to discuss boot weight, design ideas, boot technology and prototypes with Aubrey Dolan, the senior Product Manager of the adidas F50 adiZero football boots, our reply was quicker than a cheetah in adiZeros (that's fast by the way).
Check out the final installment of our exclusive two-part interview with adidas adiZero product manager Aubrey Dolan, as we discuss the quest for creating the best football boots out there...
SoccerBible: Are there any developments from the F50 adizero that were lead by a specific player?
Aubrey Dolan: Definitely - I would say there are several features: The TPU support bands inside the shoe, the TPU bottom frame to the outside, and the new stud shape. It became more and more clear after the first field-tests with the initial prototypes. Players highlighted again and again the importance of lateral and medial movements which reflected exactly that of the player tracking patterns that we had seen at the top clubs like Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Players commented that these movements were vital to their game and that the more stable and less movement that they can have in the shoe, the less energy they lose, and the quicker they are in accelerating after breaking to stop or turn. This shift of weight and stability was a key factor behind the new stud shape, and the positioning of the TPU support bands.
SB: What design feature or element of the F50 adizero are you most pleased with?
AD: My favourite feature of the product is the SPRINT FRAME outsole construction - for me, its a piece of magic and Im still amazed how our developer, designer and Outsole expert were able to create this. This really was a scientific masterpiece - I had set the deliverables: Super-light, super-stable mid-foot and very flexible forefoot, fantastic fit and pressure-distribution (critical in a lightweight product to ensure that the foot is relaxed and is not "tense" and squeezed, as this creates potential pressure-points which could also damage the upper), and a functional stud-shape which makes the player faster in straight line speed, but even more importantly in the lateral and medial movements - so as you can see my expectations were low! [smiles]
"The outcome was an outsole using ground-breaking materials never seen before on the market, a unique shoe construction which creates the stability through geometry (i.e. using 3D shapes which are cored out to create the stability, but keep the product extremely light, and the lightest and fastest outsole ever created"
SB: Are you a footballer yourself? Did you try the F50 adizero out?
AD: Im a die-hard footballer - and like most young guys dreamed about playing at the highest level. I played for years in the League of Ireland Premier Division at Sligo Rovers and Galway United, and then tried my hand to play professional in Germany in the 3rd league. It didn't work out, and I eventually signed for a 4th league team in Bayern and have played here ever since. So I think you could say that football is in my blood - and if I dont hit the pitch at least 3-4 times a week, then I feel Im missing out on something!
"Marco MÜller (the developer) also plays in the same league - we´ve had many tough battles against each other on the pitch! But I think we are honest enough to say that the hardest and most enjoyable battle we had was the development of the F50 adizero. I think it really helped that we play semi-professional - we were in daily contact with players, and to a certain degree you can say we had a close link to the professional players in what their needs, thoughts and ideas were."
"We had clear expectations on what a footballer expects from this prouct, and we have been both testing the product for over 22 months now. We were also the most critical - we know how players behave, how they buy, what they buy, how they (actually don´t) care for their football boots, and what they are asking for even if they dont know this themselves."
SB: How long is a boot like this development?
AD: The entire development lasted 24 months from point to point - from the first conceptual ideas until the launch of the product. However, what is important to know is that this is even longer if we are to count in the time prior to briefing to find suitable materials - the material development lead-time is very long, and Marco and the Material Development team had been working on suitable materials for 6 months prior to the briefing of the concept.
SB: How many prototypes have you seen in the development cycle?
AD: Very good question! The press behind my desk is still full with many samples - I dont think I'll ever get rid of them. They are a great reminder of where we started and where we wanted to go - I'd say that we have seen 6 official sample rounds.
Understand though that each round brought with it it's own complexity - i.e. in the first round of samples we had 6 Upper materials in testing, plus we had different versions (construction-wise) - so this meant already that in the first testing round that we had close to 80 pairs of shoes out for wear-testing. We also had a new Firm ground, Hard Ground and a new Hybrid XTRX Soft Ground outsole - which meant we had 3 more variables.
SB: That's a LOT of samples for boots. Did you have a colourway in mind when initially concepting the boot?
AD: For sure. I had a clear vision : it needed to be fully integrated with the concept i.e. Revolutionary, Visually very light, Very Impactful, Something fresh which the market has not seen before.
"Executing this vision was more difficult as with Cyan, Macaw, and the UCL Red F50i, we had used extremely strong colors and set a strong benchmark. So the challenge was laid down to design and the materials team to come up with something special. And they delivered."
"With Chameleon Purple we created a colour which did all of the above, and more. It fitted perfectly into the story of the speed of light and this was the inspiration behind the colour - when white light breaks up into the colour spectrum - we wanted to create this colour-changing effect and the Chameleon Purple (like the animal) changes its colour depending on how light hits it - sometimes its a deep purple, sometimes Chrome Silver, and in certain lights metallic green."
"Whats very interesting is how it looks during day games, compared to how it looks under flood-lights. The reactions of players was amazing. They werent sure how to describe it - but they really liked what they saw..."
SB: So as you overseen the project through from concept to delivery, what's your reaction when you see the boots on pitch for the first time?
AD: To be honest, at the moment I feel like Im kicking every ball, making every pass and going into every tackle with all of the F50 adizero players at the moment - I cant describe it - I think this is the feeling you get after having been involved in this project with these players for over 22 months - you get very close to the concept and the players.
I'm delighted to see that ALL of the F50 adizero professional players have worn the shoe in the critical games of the season, especially knowing how superstitious footballers are (Forlan scoring 2 in the Europa League Final, Messi scoring 2 in the last critical game of La Liga season; Robben in the German cup final scoring 1, Kalou in the FA Cup Final, Pander, Robben and MÜller in the Champions League final)
"I dont think I'll ever play Champions League football, but this is the closest I will get! Visually, the product looks very sleek and looks very different to anything we have seen before - I think the player uptake has been fantastic. We are all extremely proud to have such a high performaning product weighing in at only 165g and we have laid the foundations for something special I believe. But we wont get carried away and we won't rest on our laurels - a lot done, more to do! The need for speed has never been greater......to be continued!"
In case you missed it, catch up on part one of the exclusive interview here...