RoadShoe Reviews

Adidas Solar Drive Performance Review

adidas solar drive

The Good

Erin: I have a few positive things to say about the adidas Solar Drive, but not many, and most of those will come with caveats. I’ll preface my review by saying that I’ve never enjoyed running in an Adidas shoe; I bought a pair of Bostons in 2005 and still remember with clarity how awful my one and only run in those shoes felt. When I finished that run, I actually took my shoes off and threw them in the street. So, positive #1: none of my runs in the Solar Drive were anywhere near that terrible.

Positive #2: They have a smooth ride and are decently responsive. I’d guess that a lot of people would be OK with these shoes. In fact, “they’re OK shoes” is, I think, an entirely accurate statement. Luckily, there are a lot of comparable shoes that are significantly better than “OK”.

Positive #3: I like the fit and feel of the ribbed mesh upper, and I like the reflective heel panels for running in dark winter mornings. When I put these on, I feel like they make me look fast, which is always nice. I just wish they made me feel actually fast.

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adidas solar drive

The Bad

Erin: The Solar Drive weighs 9.3 ounces for a women’s 8, and has a 10 mm drop. For comparison, the Pegasus 35 weighs 9.0 ounces, and the Brooks Launch 5 weighs 8.3 ounces. The Pegasus is probably a better comparison, but all three shoes are a similar price point ($120), and for the price, I’d choose the Peg (or the Launch, TBH) over the Solar Drive 100% of the time.

The Solar Drive is apparently a replacement for the prior entry-level Boost model, the Response Boost LT. The upper is different on the Solar Drive, but the midsole and outsole are exactly the same. The midsole is full-length Boost sandwiched between layers of EVA, which makes the Solar Drive more responsive than if it were Boost foam only. It also makes the shoe heavier. The outsole is carbon rubber, and it feels both grippy and durable. It isn’t Continental, like many other Adidas models, but it still feels decent to me; it does its job.

Overall, I’m having a hard time trying to understand who this shoe was made for and why. I assume there must be fans of the Response LT, and if that’s you, you’ll probably also be a fan of the Solar Drive. Otherwise, there are many better options (the aforementioned Pegasus, for one). The Solar Drive isn’t listed on Adidas’s U.S. website and isn’t sold at my local running store. It seems to have been developed as an entry-level shoe to be sold at DSW and the like, and that’s where it belongs. This is the shoe you’ll see 50 pairs of on the DSW sale rack 2-3 months from now.

I’ll end this with a potentially petty complaint: The eyelets are very stiff, and they’re oblong rather than round. This would be fine if the lace aglets were similarly shaped, but they’re round. No joke, I had to cut a run short because it took me 10 minutes to get the lace through the eyelet. So don’t plan on ever lacing these shoes up or down unless you want to take a knife to the eyelets.

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adidas solar drive

adidas Solar Drive Conclusion

Erin: If you’re an Adidas person, and you either a) love the Response Boost LT, b) think the Boost foam is too mushy and are looking for something more responsive, or c) like to do some of your runs in heavy shoes so that when you switch to something lighter you feel artificially faster, try the Solar Drive. If none of these things apply to you, probably don’t try the Solar Drive.

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Erin is our resident female trail runner and enjoys running ultras all over the East Coast, in addition to her hometown of Baltimore. Check out her gnarly review of the Georgia Death Race here.

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