The ACE 17+ Purecontrol might have technically be a 2016 release, but it certainly put adidas on the front foot for the new year. The Purecontrol still feels like the perfect embodiment of the adidas revolution, and if a laceless, knitted boot doesn’t feel like it’s pushing boundaries, then nothing will. We've laced up, or slipped on rather, to see if the Three Stripes have taken their second-generation laceless boot to the next level.

It's the first adidas boot in what we anticipate to be a busy 2017... will it set the tone?

The time for adidas is now. The end of 2016 might have seen the arrival of the ACE 17+, but it wasn’t until the black chequered pack descended that we finally got the finished product. It will be interesting to see how the world views a boot that, only three colourways in, has already had a massive adjustment (the altered collar from the Red Limit launch edition). Perhaps this would explain the rapid fire nature of colourways we’ve gotten from adidas recently, but we now have the finished product.

The ACE 17+ Purecontrol is a chance for adidas to take a boot that easily claimed the title as 2016's most interesting concept, and match that interest level with an incredible level of play. We loved our time with the original, but noted that the lack of lockdown during bigger movements and the difficulty with a perfect fit when it comes to a boot that can’t be customised in any way. If adidas could fix the spots where the 16+ came up short, we might be seeing the boot of the year get launched (technically) at the end of the previous year.

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Let’s see what happens when the laces come off and the boot goes on…

The Chequered Black pack found a great balance between modern leanings and classic styling. While it looked like a blackout, a design on the upper mixed with silver dots that covered the entirety of the boot make this anything but standard.  This boot will check off the boxes for a wealth of personal preferences.

The collar on the new versions of the boot sit higher than the 16+ and it feels more like a complete unit, rather than just adding PrimeKnit on top of an already completed silhouette. We still get a sticker warning us about the finish on the soleplate wearing off, but the best part of the soleplate is the clear spine down the middle showcasing the Boost tech. We love how they’ve worked that into the look of the boot, and it definitely gives the sole a truly unique look. The sole still has all conical studs to keep the ACE in the FG/AG category, but we think that the boot looks much sleeker than its predecessor. The ribbed toebox isn’t as pronounced, and the only thing offering texture on the back half of the boot is the NSG dots.

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It might have “Pure” in the name, but can it deliver when it comes to comfort?

One of the downfalls of the original Purecontrol was that it softened up a bit during wear, but what you felt out of the box was pretty much what you get. The look of this boot has never really had us think that it could be as soft as the original, so we certainly had our concerns going into the ACE 17+ Purecontrol on whether it could juggle comfort along with embracing the tech. Even without laces, the questions about fit, durability, and how the boots feel out of the box don’t get skipped... if anything, things get even more scrutinised.

The first thing you’ll notice when you slip the boots on is that the boot squeezes all around your foot. The inside of the boot actually has a sleeve lining the inside of the boot that helps keep your foot locked in despite the lack of laces. If the Purecontrol did have a tongue, this is it. The sleeve is built out of a soft material that makes sure that you foot stays put without feeling constricting, and it’s something that adidas has been perfecting ever since the PrimeKnit 2.0.

The Purecontrol does take a little bit of break-in time. The soleplate has a slight bit of stiffness out of the box, and the upper in the forefoot and back half of the boot, while surprisingly soft out of the box, soften up after a few sessions. Once it starts to blend together, the boot has great flex where the forefoot meets the midfoot and offers some serious comfort. We would like to prepare you for the side of the boot with the three stripes logo to feel a bit stiff, but that’s because adidas have used this construct to add some structure and help with the lock-in factor... but it doesn’t take anything away.

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The front half of the upper connects to the midfoot through similar stitched area from what we’ve seen on all of the recent adidas Pure releases. It doesn’t flex well at first, but it quickly softens up. The back half seems like a different build of PrimeKnit, but it has a nice bit of stretch to it and allows you to slip your foot in but still sit tightly along your foot. Don’t worry about the PureCut collar constricting your ankle or doing anything other than being a serious upgrade on the original’s sock-like collar. It has a uniform feel that flows with the back half of the boot and we’re big fans.

One of the absolute biggest items with the Purecontrol has always been finding the perfect fit. Without the laces, it’s going to ruin the fit if you don’t hunt down your perfect size. There are aspects of the boot that will soften up, but don’t look for it to stretch. Out of every boot on the market, there probably isn’t one that needs you to actually try the boot on for sizing like the adidas ACE 17+ Purecontrol. What we can tell you is we found that the boot fits true to size for us, but we would advise against heading down the path of Purecontrol if you have wide feet. The soleplate is a tried and true set-up from adidas, and we don’t foresee anyone having any type of stud pressure during their time with this boot. This boot feels like it is built to last, and we really don’t think that it’s going to break down very quickly.

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The concept might be interesting, but it’s what happens when they’re slipped on that matters.

The ACE 17+ Purecontrol is what adidas touts as the best a playmaker could put on their feet. The laceless aspect of the boot was just an added bonus. If adidas could give us a little more lockdown while still giving us a boot with a great touch, we’d have an incredible release on our hands.

Despite having a sleeve on the inside of the boot, the entire upper is thin throughout. The ball feels incredibly close no matter where you’re addressing the ball in relation to your boot. Even though the sleeve ends at the area where the boot has the stitched line connecting forefoot to midfoot, it has a consistent feel. The forefoot might have some slight grooves, but it doesn’t have any noticeable effect on the ball. When we really fell in love with the Purecontrol is during those slight, intricate touches you make before you execute a pass. The thin touch lets you know the ball is still there as you search for that pass, but the boot is perfectly built for you to quickly zip the softly weighted through ball when the window opens.

While the upper is thinner than we expected, the adidas ACE 17+ Purecontrol feels great when you blast through a ball. There isn’t a cleaner striking surface on the market, and it feels great when you get everything you have behind a shot. If you’re launching the ball across the pitch or bringing the ball out of the air, the boot isn’t so thin that you’ll be worrying about a bruise on your foot after your game, but it will offer enough of a padding to help you bring the ball down easily. It isn’t nearly as thick as what we’d see on ACE boots of the past and not as thin as a barefoot release, but it’s a perfect blend once you get on the ball.

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The soleplate’s set-up isn’t too different from what we’ve seen with other adidas releases with conservative conical studs that work on FG/AG pitches. However, that’s not where everybody’s focus is with this release... it’s all about the BOOST.  Sitting in the insole and built into the soleplate is the adidas showstopper that we’ve enjoyed on lifestyle footwear and indoor options as well. However, our high expectations were never fulfilled on this aspect. It offers a comfortable and smooth ride, but this piece of tech didn’t seem to really offer much extra during wear. It doesn’t take away from an incredibly impressive boot, but we were definitely expecting more from something that is so prominently displayed for the ACE 17+. Perhaps the benefit will be better received on extremely hard pitches.

The previous ACE 16+ Purecontrol had one big issue in locking down your foot whenever you tried to plant or cut hard. The 17+ has improved in this area, but there still a few moments where we do miss laces and we slip a slight bit more than we’d like. It’s going to be a tall order to completely lock down the foot in a boot that doesn’t have laces or offer any type of customisable fit, but adidas is hot on the trail.

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The Purecontrol 17+ is a class apart, and the huge sign of intent from adidas.

The original Purecontrol was a success, but it also made us ask an endless array of questions. A lot of those questions have been answered with the ACE 17+ Purecontrol. The lock-down is improved (we wouldn’t say no to a bit more), the upper construction is better, and the PureCut collar is adidas giving players the height of collar they’ve been asking for (and it does a damn good job). Sure, the Boost might be a bit superfluous, but we’ll never tell adidas to stop adding NSG, even if the benefits are marginal, it's certainly not harming the performance, put it that way.

Adidas has taken the Purecontrol and continued to elevate it, which is all that they needed to do. It doesn’t take a big leap to make the statement that this is the “best laceless boot that’s ever been released,” but we’re willing to say it... best laceless boot ever. To put it in simple terms – the ACE 17+ Purecontrol is better than the previous edition. Progression. The laceless waters have never been more welcoming... it’s time to dive in.

Want a pair? Get them here.