adidas brought a completely different visual experience to running with the original AlphaBounce. Does the equally jarring design of the AlphaBounce Instinct hold the performance torch? Here we go…
The original adidas AlphaBounce was, at first, different. Patterned after the markings of a quail, used for camouflage, and developed using foot-mapping Aramis technology, the shoe was a serious bargain at only $100. That was two years ago so it was time to get different. The adidas AlphaBounce Instinct is that difference — it combines the best of the original and the follow-up AlphaBounce Beyond.
The AlphaBounce Instinct is available for men and women at Eastbay.com
adidas completely went away from the dot pattern of the original and opted to evolve the herringbone-style traction from the AlphaBounce Beyond. It isn’t a basketball herringbone, but angles and cuts across the foot from heel to toe that are then covered in Mars-surface texture. It’s leaps and bounds better than the original, which wasn’t bad at all.
The AlphaBounce Instinct also felt more secure on wet surfaces like slick concrete or tile and even holds it own on hardwood. Continental rubber makes an appearance again, proving adidas is serious about durability, and since there was no signs of wear — except dirt — the outsole holds up great.
One slight change is the almost-decoupled outsole. Cutaways under the arch make flexibility and transition smoother than the original or the AlphaBounce Beyond and the shoe, overall, just feels faster because of it — even though it is bulkier in the midsole than the original (about the same as the AB Beyond).
With a name like the AlphaBounce Instinct, you know where we are going. Bounce was introduced almost three years ago in the Lillard 2 and it was a revelation — soft but responsive, low profile, a little heavy but resilient — and it worked well across all activities.
The original AlphaBounce was incredibly smooth and impact-absorbing. The AlphaBounce Instinct follows the same suit — matter of fact, it feels like the exact same midsole. The initial impact is absorbed with no issues, no feedback coming back up your joints, and also no real feel of energy return.
If you are looking for a Boost-like soft/spring, the Bounce midsoles don’t have the same feel. If you are looking for a quick, smooth transition that translates well into multiple activities, sometimes all at once (jumping into running into weightlifting) you will find Bounce a better system. Bounce is a fast-feeling foam — there is no lag time when landing and it provides a solid platform for propulsion.
The original AlphaBounce had a Forged Mesh upper. The AlphaBounce Instinct has a Forged Mesh upper. Sounds the same, but it couldn’t feel further from the truth. While the original did feature the folds and seams like the AlphaBounce Instinct, it was a forgiving, pliable, and stretchy material that needed some help with containment and lateral stability. While most running shoes don’t need to worry about those issues, the alphaBounce crossed over into a workout shoe for all activities, which meant stability was a problem.
The AlphaBounce Instinct is a stiffer Forged Mesh, much like what was used on the Dame 3, and lateral stability is almost basketball-shoe like. The folds and molds are still there for flexibility in the forefoot, so no worries about the transition and toe-off suffering if you actually use the shoe for running. The upper is a one-piece again, with a softer, spandex-like insert under the laces for ease of entry (the pull tabs on the tongue and heel help too).
The inner lining gets the same smooth spandex-like materials as the tongue area and hotspots are nonexistent. One thing that was added was pillows around the ankle bone; there is one on the lateral and one on the medial side. These helped with any heel slip that might have been present — however, I lost one during a workout when it came unglued. It didn’t affect fit for the most part, but I could feel the empty space compared to the other shoe. Slight quality control issue, but nothing that destroys the review.
The original Alpha was hella long — some people went down a full size because of the length in the toebox. The AlphaBounce Instinct is very similar; the toebox is about a half-size long, but I didn’t downsize for two reasons: first, the midfoot fit is a little narrower with the one-piece upper and midfoot support cage; second, the lacing system stops way before the toebox, so even a half-size down felt long. I decided to deal with some extra length to get the extra midfoot width, and it worked great for me. If you are a normal width and went half down on the original, I would recommend the same with the AlphaBounce Instinct.
One thing the original missed, and we covered it above, was lateral stability. Again, as a true runner, it isn’t completely necessary, but with the crossover appeal stability is needed. The sole on the AlphaBounce Instinct has been widened and sits outside the foot and upper, leading to a super-stable base with outriggers like a basketball shoe. There is no feeling of tipping or rolling at all while wearing the shoe. Additionally, the stiffer Forged Mesh holds your foot over the footbed without feeling restrictive at all while the waves and folds keep it flexible.
As for the midfoot, you might have noticed the black lace pieces. Yeah, those are cool. What you might not have seen is that they are independent of the upper (I figured this out while writing this review and I’ve had the shoe for almost a month). The pieces pull completely away from the upper and are attached to the midfoot shank, tying the lateral support into the sole for extra stability. It’s a welcome concept, but I was ready to send my pair back because I thought they came unglued. The Torsion Bridge, as it’s called, works to allow the forefoot and heel to operate separately, almost decoupled, while still providing the arch support to keep your foot from flexing in the wrong way. Magic.
While the original AlphaBounce was a straight running shoe, the AlphaBounce Instinct has been redesigned for more than that; adidas.com says the shoe is “recommended for: Multidirectional movements, running for your sport, and agility training movements.” adidas seemed to realize how much this shoe was worn for everything but running, and I have seen more than one pair of the original on basketball courts, used as a cross-trainer in the weight room, and on treadmills.
If you are looking for an all-around shoe for multiple activities, with cushioning good enough for running or basketball, a court-friendly traction pattern, and support and containment for almost any level of lateral movements, look no further — the AlphaBounce Instinct will cover anything you throw at it.
Also, let’s be honest — the upper is eye-catching and unique, and that never hurts. The minimal branding and the way the upper flows into the midsole creates a shoe that looks like nothing else on shelves today. With the popularity of the original AlphaBounce (that shoe came out two years ago and is still on store shelves), it is no wonder adidas keeps new models coming. And as long as they keep performing like the AlphaBounce Instinct, they should never stop.