Adidas Switch FWD Introduction
Adidas has never been afraid of trying innovative, new tech in their running shoes. The Adidas Springblade shoe of 2013 was one of the most interesting looking running shoes to ever be created but its performance was underwhelming and it was killed after a couple years due to a lack of sales.
The 4D FWD is another Adidas trainer with a bold design which is marketed as a running shoe but is extremely heavy and doesn’t return any energy. It makes a better casual, lifestyle sneaker than a running shoe.
The Switch FWD is a brand new trainer which claims to turn gravity into forward motion. It has voids in its EVA midsole, a design which resembles the On Cloudsurfer 7. I don’t think that Adidas copied On because the Cloudsurfer 7 was launched just a couple months ago and it takes 18 months to develop a new running shoe from start to finish.
The big difference between the Switch FWD and the On Cloudsurfer is that the Switch FWD has a mammoth 45mm heel stack height, making it illegal to race official World Athletics events in. The Switch FWD also has a TPU plate in its midsole to help with stability which the Cloudsurfer doesn’t have.
With so much midsole foam and a thick plate, the Switch FWD is a heavy running shoe by today’s standards. It weighs 11.8 oz (335 g) for a men’s US 9. It costs $140 which is the average price that you pay for a daily trainer these days.
Adidas Switch FWD First Impressions
I wasn’t very excited about the Switch FWD until I tried it on in the store. I expected it to be firm, blocky and unresponsive but when I walked around in it, it felt surprisingly cushioned and energetic. The midsole was a lot thicker than it looks in pictures.
My first run was an easy-paced one. The Switch FWD felt stable and on the firm side. I could feel the firm TPU plate poke into the midfoot of my right foot which was a little uncomfortable but not painful. This sensation disappeared after the first run.
The ride didn’t feel smooth because I could feel where the voids in the midsole were situated. Some parts of the midsole compressed more easily than other parts. The ride felt completely unique and didn’t remind me of any other shoe that I’ve ever run in. It had a noisy ride and I could hear the midsole creak as it compressed with every footstrike.
Adidas Switch FWD Upper
The upper of the Switch FWD is made from a hard, rough material that doesn’t stretch or conform to your feet. It reminds me of the Adios Pro 3 upper but thicker. I would prefer a softer upper material because when your forefoot flexes, you can feel the top of the toe box poke into the top of your feet.
The tongue is flat and semi-gusseted. There’s a loop in the middle of the tongue for the laces to go through so the tongue doesn’t move around during runs.
There’s an internal heel counter and foot lockdown is good when using a runner’s knot. The 3 stripes on the midfoot are reflective so there’s a high amount of visibility in low light when wearing the Switch FWD.
It fits true to size with the length being longer than the average shoe. It has a narrow fit so I don’t recommend sizing down or buying it if you have wide feet. I tried a half size smaller and it was too narrow through the midfoot and toe box.
Adidas Switch FWD Sole Unit
The Switch FWD does not have a soft ride but it’s also not uncomfortably firm. This is due to one factor: there is a rigid TPU plate above the midsole of the Switch FWD and this is Adidas’ version of the Speedboard which you find in most On Running shoes. It provides structure so that the shoe isn’t unstable when the midsole compresses.
The plate is situated right underneath the strobel lining so it feels like your foot is sitting directly on top of the firm plate. I would prefer the plate to be thinner and placed lower to the ground which would both result in a softer ride.
The Switch FWD is designed to turn gravity into forward motion. The voids in the midsole are angled diagonally so that when compressed, the entire midsole is designed to shift forward. In reality, I don’t really feel the forward motion during footstrikes. This is because the plate is so thick and rigid. The ride feels very “mechanical” without much ground feel.
I don’t enjoy using the Switch FWD for easy or recovery runs because the midsole doesn’t have enough squish. I also don’t use it for speed workouts like intervals or tempo runs because it’s just too heavy and clunky. It performs best at steady or moderate paces.
The longest run I did in the Switch FWD was 39 km and from kilometre 30 onwards, my feet were uncomfortable because the ride was just too firm. It’s for half marathon distances and below.
The Switch FWD is only the second Adidas running shoe to have a midsole stack height above 40 mm (the Prime X being the other). This feature allows the shoe to possess more cushioning than the average running shoe and to have a more prominent heel to toe rocker. The rocker in the Switch FWD is not that noticeable but I do feel it assisting me from heel to toe offs during transitions.
There’s 45 mm of foam in the heel, making it one of the taller shoes in the market, however, when you’re wearing the shoe, it doesn’t feel all that tall (unlike the Prime X) because of how much the midsole foam compresses when it’s loaded. You get the sense that you’re inside the shoe and not on top of it.
The holes in the midsole don’t go right through to the other side like in On Running shoes, so the midsole compresses less. Heavier runners will find the ride softer because they can compress the midsole a lot more during footstrikes but I’m 60 kilos (132 pounds) and I find the ride quite balanced, albeit on the firmer side.
The outsole has triangular cutouts along the entire length of the shoe so the ride isn’t extremely smooth. The cutouts make the midsole lighter and allow it to compress more when it’s loaded. The large cutouts get stones caught in them which is slightly annoying.
Thick Continental rubber protects the midsole and gives it a really durable feel. Outsole durability won’t be an issue in the Switch FWD. Grip is also outstanding due to the pattern on the surface of the Continental rubber. You really feel it biting into the ground.
Adidas Switch FWD Conclusions
So is the Switch FWD a running shoe gimmick like the Adidas Springblade and the 4D FWD? In my opinion no, it’s not. I enjoy running in the Switch FWD and it has a unique, engaging ride.
It took a couple runs to get used to the firm ride but the more I run in it, the more I like it. The only drawbacks are its hefty weight and firm ride (if you’re a light runner) so it’s not a versatile trainer.
At first glance, the Switch FWD looks like an On Cloudsurfer copy, however, the 2 trainers have very different rides. The Cloudsurfer has a very soft, plush ride more suited to slow running. The Switch FWD has a faster ride which is more similar to the On Cloudmonster.
For a first gen running shoe, it doesn’t feel like a prototype but there are things that I would change about it. Its upper mesh is hard so it doesn’t conform to your feet and its TPU plate is too thick and rigid- it’s too noticeable. The ride also needs to be about 20 percent softer.
At $140, it’s decently priced and much better value than the Adidas Ultraboost Light which costs a ridiculous $190.
I would much rather train in the Switch FWD than similarly priced, traditional daily trainers like the Brooks Ghost 15 or the Nike InfinityRN 4 which have ordinary, bland rides. The ride of the Switch FWD feels a lot more modern.