adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 Review

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adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 19 1

Adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 Introduction

“Takumi Sen” is Japanese for “artisan of the highest order.” “Adizero” indicates it to be a top-tier performance shoe with the latest tech geared for serious training and competition. Together these terms place high expectation on this shoe. How does it measure up? Read on!

Adizero Takumi Sen is a 5k/10K racer that along with its sister shoe, the Adizero Adios Pro, carries a full-length Lightstrike Pro midsole.

Takumi Sen has the perfect midsole for short-mid distance protection and spring; Adios Pro just more of it and a more aggressive cut for toe spring for protection in half and full marathon distances (or beyond).

Takumi Sen combines the protective, bouncy ride of the Adios Pro with the ground feel of a more traditional racer for a combo shoe that aims to leverage the best of both worlds.

List price is $180 USD, which is lot to spend on a shoe to save for short races unless you hit the local circuit pretty hard to bring home all the bank . . . or, for the rest of us, perhaps an age group award!

These top racers have full-length Lightstrike Pro midsoles and ENERGYRODS for a springy, responsive ride with a quick transition.

What’s changed between the 8 and 9 is an upper update which dropped the weight about .4 oz. Takumi Sen is the lightest shoe I’ve ever worn with a list weight of 6.6 oz. for the unisex M9/W10. My M8.5/W9.5 weighs in half an ounce lighter at 6.1 oz.

It fits narrow and true-to-size. Size up for a medium to wide foot.

There is slight possibility for a med-narrow forefoot fit by keeping laces loose at the ball, which allows the narrow fit to expand a bit during foot plant. I do this, which works great for races, but my feet start to hurt if I wear them for extended periods.

Since I have reviewed a few Adizero shoes this year, I will give a brief overview of some of the line.

  • The Adizero Boston has a more sturdy heel counter than the pure racers and can work as a stability model racing shoe or a more durable trainer to take on lots of miles.
  • Adizero SL is a softer version of the Boston and is especially good for easy recovery runs and daily training; it is also $40 USD less expensive than the Boston and brings a light, comfortable ride.
  • The Adizero Adios 7 is a fast, low-profile shoe that is great for speedwork.
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Comparable shoes to Takumi Sen include the Nike Vaporfly, New Balance Fuelcell Pacer, and Nike Streakfly.

Adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 First Impressions

Pulling these out of the box I felt anticipation in the air. The (near) paper-thin upper looks like it will shed water like nobody’s business through the tug-resistant mesh that is semi-transparent due to little spaces. This upper is extremely thin, light, and breathable.

Mine popped out of the wrapping inside the shoebox in solar red, an appealing attention-getter; it also comes in mint, a deeper green, and black.

Walking around in it I was surprised by how soft the midsole felt. Will it be as good of a high performance 5k/10k racer as Adizero Pro?

It seems that the top shoe companies have already abandoned carbon plates. Running speed, stride, runner’s weight, and many other things influence the degree of benefit from carbon fiber plated shoes, with (debatably) the greatest advantage going to those who can maintain a 6.5 min/mile pace or faster.

For the rest of us the latest tech, ENERGYRODS, are effective for propulsion while still allowing some flexibility for comfort.

On the first run, this shoe felt buttery smooth, like my foot was a knife gliding across a summer-sun-softened cube that yet holds its form beneath the cut.

The ride is soft and responsive, making me want to get up on my toes and sprint even though I went into this short initial run with tired legs.

Adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 Upper

The upper and tongue are made of thin, see-through mesh with thicker support strips reinforcing key areas: a significant toe cap, medial and lateral patches at the ball, the logo, an extra strip running vertically midfoot, diagonal strips along the heel, and a patch at the back.

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The tongue is very thin with no padding but a support strip of neoprene running down the length. Perhaps a slightly thicker arch at the top of the lacing protects the foot from the pressure from the tie. I had no issues with hot spots from the laces, surprisingly, though I did re-tie a couple times to get the pressure right.

For a race in hot weather, I would run in this shoe barefoot. Twice I ran 3 miles barefoot with little issue. When I ran 6 miles barefoot I had two small blisters develop on one foot from rubbing: at the top of the base of my right big toe and on the pinky toe.

The biggest issue I faced with the upper is that the tongue would fold under at the medial ball, and the thicker edge irritated the top of my foot until I took the shoe off to reach in and try to put it on again without the tongue folded, which took some maneuvering.

There is no heel counter beyond the reinforced lateral strips. Moderate pads line the ankle opening beside the Achilles; there is more here than I would expect, given the rest of the upper, and I think they made a good decision to “spend some weight” at this spot. I had no problems with heel fit or function.

The pull tab above the heel actually helps when pulling on the shoe! I found Takumi Sen’s pull tab more useful than Boston’s since the upper offers less resistance to slipping the foot in.

After running in the rain I weighed the shoe to find it only went up about an ounce and a half as the water shed right out of this upper!

Even with the water weight it was still only as heavy as my previous lightest shoe.

(Actually four shoes tied for my previous lightest: adidas sl20, Adizero Adios 7, ASICS Noosa Tri, and ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 26.)

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Adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 Sole Unit

The medium-thickness midsole is made up entirely of Lightstrike Pro, which offers wonderful protection and a smooth, snappy ride. This is one of the best foams I have felt underfoot!

Fiberglass ENERGYRODS run through the midsole and provide a stiff ride with enough flexibility to keep it comfortable.

Tapping on the rods with my fingernail where they show through the peek-a-boo window in the sole they feel (and sound) like cheap plastic. However, the engineers have a difficult task: make it strong and functional—but keep it light, please. Indeed, make it one of the lightest running shoes, while you’re at it. No problem!

With just over 50 miles on the shoe I have not had any problems with the rods, though some people report noticing a “popping” sound.

Version 9 of Takumi Sen has the same 6 mm. midsole as version 8, with 33 mm. in the heel down to a 27 mm. forefoot.

The outsole has a significant pad of Continental rubber with grip strips running laterally right where we need it for propulsion in races: the medial forefoot.

Smooth rubber patches offer some protection to the lateral foam and heel, but not much, with two cut-outs exposing the ENERGYRODS and saving weight.

Adidas adizero Takumi Sen 9 Conclusions

The Takumi Sen 9, is truly an “artisan of the highest order” for racing. It is a superb shoe for 5k/10k distances: landing is firm with a quick roll forward and pop into toe-off. The see-through mesh upper is supper light, breathable, and sheds water in a downpour.

The down sides include little support, low heel outsole durability, and a tongue that can irritate if it folds over. It is expensive at $180 USD—but not when compared with the top marathon shoes; “expensive” is relative!

The pluses and minuses both indicate how light the shoe is, which may make the low points acceptable—for a racing shoe.

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