Just a number of years ago the F50 range was in big trouble. The lead athlete (who happened to be the best player on the planet!) wouldn't wear the top-end versions, and in the speed race with the Mercurial, F50 was losing badly.
But all this changed in 2010, when adidas launched a modern and refined version of the F50, branded the 'adizero'. The 'adizero' changed the face of boot design, and evolved a players expectancy in their footwear. But since that launch there has been mutterings adidas are resting on their laurels, that in over 24 months the boot hasn't really changed (barring the addition of miCoach technology).
In answer to such rumblings, we took our macro lens to the upper of the four synthetic editions of the standard adizero. To see just how radically different they are, the attention to detail their craft entails, and just how adidas have developed the range.
In essence, the current boot construction is a winning formula, and the boots are hugely popular and successful with some of the games best players. Any suggestion adidas have settled on their production, can be rebuffed with a close-up examination of the current upper. The texture is truly quite astonishing and the detail is certainly unique.
The Sprintskin is an adidas exclusive single-layer synthetic, which serves great ball feel and reduced weight, at a thickness of just 1.5mm. The performance is in the detail though, and that's what we are interested in here, as the 3D texture and finish has been developed to offer better ball control than previous incarnations, and looking back through the generations we can see how how the upper has evolved.
The idea of a textured upper has been there from day one, as physics dictates the increased surface area generates increased friction for ball control. But the construction of the upper is a two-fold process, as adidas have used additional plastics to create raised ridges to enhance the uppers performance.
On the first generation adizero, this texture was more subtle but the ridges were quite prominent and placed in a position to assist shooting and passing. For the second release, adidas developed the principles set-out in the first boot. The raised ridges took more prominence, and the texture was a more uniform weave.
Seemingly aesthetics was to come into play for the third launch of the adizero, the version which incorporated miCoach. The texture was designed in such a way to create a pattern which became part of the look, but due to an erratic configuration could also offer enhanced friction.
Now arriving at the most recent launch, adidas have dedicated more thinking and craft into the surface of the upper. The construction is impressive, and it's multi-directional shaping delivers ball control and assists shooting and passing from an impressively light and thin upper.
By drawing attention to the surface of the adizero synthetic upper, we are acknowledging the work done by the product designers in Herzogenaurach. At a glance you'd be forgiven for thinking apart from a few changes the adizero has only really received aesthetic changes over the last 24 months. But get up-close and you see the evolution of an upper, the attention to detail and craft that goes into developing the latest F50. This is the reason the dark days are behind the F50 range, and why since 2010 it has been one of the speed market and boot industry's pioneers.