Next up for the SoccerBible Play Test treatment are the laceless
Lotto Zhero Gravity
football boots, the fourth variation in Lotto's Zhero project.
Crammed full of technologies, what will the SoccerBible Play Test Team make of the
innovative laceless boot...
These new Lotto football boots were debuted on the SoccerBible just a few weeks ago, and are up for an official release in late April 2010.
We had the pleasure of putting a pair of the top end Zhero Gravity Ultra versions through their paces, with the aim to find out how they really perform and therefore if you should consider something other than the obvious speed boot contenders for your next purchase...
The very first thing about the Zhero is of course the laceless upper. Ok, so this is nothing new - Lotto have been producing the Zhero series since early 2006 - but our play test team were still initially intrigued at the fit and stability of the boot. Lotto describe the Lace Less tech as "ensuring a perfect fit to the
shape of the foot" and in dishing out the play test pairs, the reactions were very similar, with "will it slip off!?" being a common theme.
Perhaps surprisingly however, once on the Zhero Gravity does feel snug and secure. The high-riding ankle and tongue sections wrap around the top of the foot and ankle area, but leave enough flexibility that you don't feel constrained by a boot trying to hard to "hold on" to your foot.
Our team of play testers had all picked the same size as they would normally and suggested that this would be the recommendation. Yes, you could choose a half size smaller for an even more snug fit - but then the main issue comes with getting your whole foot through the opening of the boot.
Once the SoccerBible team got their boots on and began jogging and warming up for the first time, it was quickly apparant that the comfort and fit was much better than anticipated. The boots do a very good job of not being intrusive, with the microfibre upper being soft and flexibile. You certainly get the feeling the boot is adapting to your foot, rather than forcing into a shape or position. A good start for the Zhero then.
Lotto's other major innovation is the use of a Twist'n'Go pivoting stud at key points at the front of the sole. With our SoccerBible Team increasing the intensity of the session with sprints and quick evasive direction change drills, this is where the boot comes into its' own. Keeping you on your toes throughout, the pivoting stud allows full rotation and direction change feels easier.
However we would raise the point that a lot of time this could be purely pyshcological, as the boot never feels sluggish at any stage anyway. But, if a boot is part performance and part confidence boosting, then the Zhero scores marks here for giving you the feeling you ARE quicker through turns.
Moving on to work with the ball and our play test team were feeding back that the Zhero Gravity was becoming comfier and more fitting as the session went on. The rubberised panels across the upper hint at added swerve and control panels, similar to that of a Predator, but these are very minimal and due to their placement are probably more a design asthetic than performance feature.
The microfibre upper does a great job of providing close contact and
feel with the ball as that huge kicking area across the top of the boot
feels smooth and
pure. Putting your...err..."laces" through the ball still feels as
satisfying and controlled and Lotto have done well to reduce the rubbery feel that previous versions of the Zhero could often be accused of.
More drills through slaloms poles and cones
incorporating passing and dribbling still found the boots were responsive
throughout. Of course, the Zhero is a lightweight boot which firmly puts it into the speed boot category.
But many will argue (members our SoccerBible team included) that light
is not always better, and the Zhero offers just as much stability as
its' big-brand rivals - despite being that bit heavier at the weigh-in. Our players are always eager to strike some shots, so it was time to put the Zhero to the test. More positive responses here, with plenty of testing our stand-in keeper and hitting the back of the net.
But before we get accused of singing the praises of every football boot, unfortunately it can't be all positive for the Zhero Gravity. For example, the majority of the SoccerBible Play Test team suggested they wouldn't wear this boot in a match, although everyone admitted it was great for training. Which raises the point of value for money. With this top end soccer shoe retailing for £150 that would certainly make it an expensive training cleat!
We really like the subtle styling and colourway - but are acutely aware this can be too conservative (there is also a black/silver version available) and goes against the trend in the speed boot category - although we appreciate when talking about colours and style it is very subjective. With the speed football boots category dominated by three stripes and swoosh fanatics, not standing out could leave the Zhero passed by in the most competitive boot category.
So overall, whilst there’s a lot to like about the Zhero Gravity, and a lot of promise it offers, it still falls short in some areas. The Zhero argues the case for laceless boots better than anything else available, but even this might not be enough for some players who would prefer the psychological security that a laced boot would offer.
But what is for definite is that the Italian brand have delivered a comfortable and solid boot that easily
competes with the best speed boots out there, despite not quite hitting the heights of an essential purchase.
Agree or disagree with our verdict? Have YOUR say and share YOUR opinion
with the world on the SoccerBible!