The Adidas Adizero Ace 4 is probably the easiest shoe that I own to review. It’s a solid light-weight neutral trainer that can easily serve a role as a marathon and road racing shoe for many runners. The Ace is also about the closest thing I’ve managed to find that compares favourably with the original Adidas Adizero Adios marathon racing shoe. Like many runners I’m not quite as in love with the Adidas Adios 2 as the original version, largely because of the additional stiffness added through the forefoot. The Ace on the other hand is probably a touch more flexible than the original Adios, which pushes it slightly more towards being a light-weight trainer rather than a racing shoe. Having said that many runners who prefer a more flexible shoe will enjoy the Ace racing from 10k through to the Marathon on the road.
I’ve now worn three iterations of the Adidas Ace, version 2 of this shoe was almost identical to the original Adios, but a bit more flexible through the forefoot – I liked it a lot – version 4 of the Ace marks a return to this style of shoe. The third version of the Ace (pictured in green below) had a bit more stiffness and cushion through the forefoot. They’re were heavier as a result and didn’t have quite the same feel for the ground.
The Ace 4 seems to be a bit unloved by the Adidas marketing machine – it doesn’t get brought into Australia and I haven’t seen it promoted much on the Internet. I came across it almost by accident on the Wiggle website. The Ace 4 is much more flexible than the new Adios 2 so those that liked the old Adios but prefer a more flexible shoe may want to move over to the Ace – hopefully Adidas keep it going!
Breaking in period
These shoes shouldn’t need a long breaking in period – mine have started feeling good after about 40km of running. The cushioning compound used feels slightly more forgiving than that deployed in the Adios 2. You’ll also note the so called torsion system and plastic strips that extend the full length of the sole in the Adios 2 do not extend into the forefoot on the Ace 4. This is a major contributing factor to the shoe feeling much less stiff and unforgiving.
Uses of the Ace 4
As I indicated I feel this shoe could fulfill a range of purposes depending on the background and intent of the runner. In terms of the structure we generally use to classify and recommend running shoes to clients I’d have these in the tempo running/light-weight trainer category. This means they’re suited to longer tempo runs or tempo pace intervals done at somewhere between your 10km and half-marathon race pace – solid rather than flat-our running. However, given the flexibility inherent in the Adidas Ace 4 they’re also going to be ok for use on steady paced longer runs and potentially as a minimalist running transition stepping on point. They’re obviously not a flat shoe but they’re much lighter and more sparingly cushioned than most everyday trainers. Not a bad place to start you minimal running aspirations if you were so inclined.
If I were to step down to running mile paced shorter repetitions of 200 – 400m or 5km race paced 1,000m intervals I’d probably start to look towards a shoe that has a bit more pop and stiffness available to help out when searching for some extra speed. However, I also see benefit in doing some of these sessions in a flatter, and/or more flexible shoes. In my case I’d probably do some of these types of training paces in the Nike Free 3.0 version 3 or in spikes (faster reps) for variety and race preparation. In the past 12 months I’ve also cautiously done the occasional tempo paced fartlek session barefoot on grass. The Ace could conceivably be used for faster work, but I personally wouldn’t do so.
I’m not able to provide any measurements around the heel-to-toe drop on this shoe but if feels pretty similar to the old Adios – perhaps even a touch flatter. The good news is it tapers away nicely toward the toe end of the shoe – something that I always enjoy in shoes made to go faster. The foot-bed is pretty flat and unshaped so over time your foot can make its own impression – another reason why this style of shoe responds well to a controlled wearing in period.
I’d be relatively comfortable wearing the Ace on a range of surfaces from road, packed granite sand and trails. Just be aware if you’re heading out to run fast in these shoes on rocky unsealed roads and trails you might get some stones pressing up into the forefoot.
I wouldn’t describe the Adidas Ace 4 as an extremely generous fitting shoe but it does have a decent amount of room. My slightly wide forefoot and high arch fits in well, so unless you’ve got particularly wide flippers your should be ok in these.
Overall this a a very nice simple shoe. Not much more to say than that, it slides into the background and lets you get on with running.
Words and images by Brian Martin