When a tyre company and a running shoe manufacturer get together, the result is either going to be special or a huge let down. Would this German powerhouse of a partnership deliver?
Continental have been working with adidas for a number of years and many of their roads shoes can be found with Continental rubber outsoles. When it came to Adidas relaunching their TERREX outdoor division, the design teams took one step further, and thus the X-King was born (my brief history lesson from a chat I had a couple of years ago, may not be 100% accurate).
Rather then purely make another shoe, the process of manufacture was looked at, with the goal to create a shoe, that mirrored the best characteristics of a mountain bike tyre.
The main feature of the X-King is the outsole, based on the lug pattern of the X-King mountain bike tyre, optimised for x-country riding. The lugs are broader then that of their cycling sibling and have generous spacing in-between for self cleaning. Continental rubber is used and the grip on wet rock and moderate mud is exceptional. Outside of many local runs, I ran in the Langdales at the end of November and they stuck to everything I could find. Furthermore, the outsole has worn well. Continental have managed to combine grip with durability, a trait that isn’t too common with a lot of their competition.
For durability the sole has been compress moulded to the upper and so far, it’s showing no signs of breaking free or the early signs of a struggle, despite good use in the mountains. It’s also one piece the entire way around, which makes is visually very clean.
Top marks for the Grip.
But the X-King has a secret. A party trick. It’s flexible. Seriously flexible. It it wasn’t for the heel cup, you could roll this into a small roll and stick it in your pocket. For an aggressive shoe, with no grooves cut into the outsole, it’s the last thing you expect to see. This is down to A) the construction and B) the insole.adidas have used their Ultra-light internal EVA midsole technology. This provides the structure, support, cushion….. everything under your foot, bar grip. With flex in the toe and a stable platform for your heel, it unlocks the X-King and allows you to hammer descents and attack all manner of terrain, whilst getting good energy return and comfort.The X-King is a light shell, a zero drop minimal, super flexible tyre for your foot without it (not one I felt the urge to try running in). With the insole, a 6mm heel to toe drop, mountain muncher. The insole, with its side walls, remind me of the beads of a tyre, has moulded gradually to my foot and though its multitasking, has provided a constant level of cushion and support. It’s a comfy shoe, once you spend a little time in it.
The X-King is something different, a design concept which shows you don’t have to follow the norm, but how do the regular features stack up?The toe has a sizeable rubber rand, which withstood the best the Lake District’s ancient rock could throw at it. The toe box itself is relatively broad and never felt restrictive. The shoe features a speed lace system which is accurate and remains in place through all runs. My only criticism is the length of the lace, it could be a fair bit shorter, so much so I wrap them around the “lock bungee” loop near the bottom of the system shown above.Stated at 315 grams, my UK size 10 came in at 341 grams, measured on Park Tool’s scales. They don’t feel heavy or cumbersome when running. One thing to note, they aren’t the best for shedding water or drying out if you get them absolutely soaked.The heel is well supported and you are truly locked in, once the laces are tensioned. The little sip/protruding layer above the lugs, slows the heel down from sinking on less firm terrain.Now one of my favourite features could be seen as unnecessary…. I mean, we do ok without heel loops on shoes don’t we. Well, in fact, the little loops do make getting the shoe on easier, without breaking down the heel cup or wedging your finger in the rear between the shoe and heel. Being a speed lace, I take less time to worry about de-tensioning all the lace system and delicately placing my foot inside. I just want to run and they were great. When on, the loops sit flush and I genuinely forget about them till the next time I put them on. The upper is constructed for a blend of synthetic and hardwearing mesh materials. As I said above, when wet, they do hold onto water and aren’t the quickest to dry out. However, they last. Much like the sole, it feels like the upper was built to last and so far, rings true to these assumptions. Despite the hardwearing nature, they are comfortable. When I first put them on, I wished I had opted to go up in size as they were tight, but after a few walks around the village and time spent on my feet in the office, they have become supple. In fact, sizing up (for me) would have been a mistake.
The X-King isn’t a lightweight, racing specialist, designed to perform at 100% and start to breakdown at equal speed.
For the mountain bikers out there, no where else is this summed up, then with the little chequer plating design on the side or would be sidewall, of the outsole. Continental use this on their Protection tyres, reinforced to protect against punctures on the harshest of enduro tracks.For me, this sums the adidas TERREX X-King up perfectly. It’s not the lightest, nor is fastest, but it will perform time and time again, delivering a consistent level of grip on a whole variety of trail terrain. The Continental rubber compound is one of my favourites currently and I’ve purchased a pair of adidas road shoes (Adios 3) for that reason (if you want to call me out for some bias).
But, don’t let this make you think they are a tank. You can and will carry speed and run fast, in the knowledge they’ll survive your training runs and ultra, rather than merely race day itself.
adidas TERREX X-King provided by Continental Tyres