The single biggest surprise of the shoe world last year had to be the success of the Under Armour Curry One. I really don’t know what was better – the performance or the fact the shoe sold out in every colorway almost immediately.
Face it; the shoe was NICE, on-court and off. But we have seen good performers from Under Armour before followed by, let’s just say, some lacking ideas and designs. The Curry Two looks like a killer, but how did it work out? Yeah, it’s that time…
MATERIALS – Already, I have a problem. See, I really liked the Anafoam. I didn’t just like it, I LIKED it liked it. I thought it was a nice, thick, padded, supportive material that fit better the more you wore it. Not leather, but very solid. So, taking a page out of adidas’s tech book, they completely switched from what worked.
Now, on the Two, we get a Speedform upper. If you are familiar with the UA running line, you know Speedform is basically Spandex for your feet. It fits close, forms to your foot, and stretches and flexes like skin. What it isn’t, however, is supportive, but we will cover that further down. It’s very comfortable; it feels like a runner, especially around the heel and ankle.
One thing that surprised me was that the tongue is a normal, traditional tongue system; there is no sleeve or bootie structure. This allowed the tongue to slip around a little even though it is wider than normal and semi-wraps around the ankle. True Charged Foam in the midsole and two-piece sole with herringbone traction separated by a TPU shank – sounds like it’s time…
FIT – Even though I liked the Anafoam of the One better, and I kind of sold out the Speedform in support, I have to say it fits. Developed with a bra company (yeah, a BRA company) for the Speedform Apollo runner, the material is made for stretching and comfort. I wear a true 10.5 in almost everything, and on the Two I felt TTS fit perfectly. It was a little shorter than the Rose 6 and Curry 1 but the squared toe allows the foot to spread naturally and the shorter space, coupled with the Speedform, means your toes don’t get smashed in the end of the box but still fit snug. There is a little more give in the Speedform than the Anafoam so containment is not as good but you are still locked in.
Heading back to the midfoot and ankle, the lacing is simple and easy to pull tight — almost too tight. I had some foot cramps when I yanked hard, but if I didn’t pull I had some movement. It was a katana-sharp line between too tight and not enough, but after about three games the upper loosened up a bit and I found the middle ground easily.
The heel and ankle materials are VERY thin, just Speedform and some rubber grip along the top line to hold the foot, with little additional padding anywhere. Feels a little lacking when you put them on and looks like a Chuck Taylor, but when I was playing I didn’t notice anything – if there was any feeling it was a sleek, streamlined touch.
TRACTION – BAM!!!! Now we are talking evolution. The traction on the Curry Two is untouchable. There are some AS good, but none better. The star herringbone pattern covers all directions and covers well. It is thick, pliant, wide channeled, and basically stuck to anything I wanted it to. Dust pickup was minimal due to the spacing. The star acts as a pivot point but still holds tight. I played at my usual suspects (two crappy 24 courts, church gym, driveway, and high school court) and it was good on all. Between the Curry Two and the Rose 6, I may start climbing walls and lusting after redheads.
Since traction was so short, I’ll throw in transition here – the segregated heel and forefoot solves any slappy feeling the Curry One had (and a few other UA shoes before it). The forefoot flex is helped by the traction pattern and the flex grooves running across the forefoot so coming out of down-screens and off ball picks for jumpers is smooth (it has to be; have you SEEN Curry this year?). The split heel ensures one side of the traction is on the ground at all times; you know the feeling, coming around screens and planting your heel as you turn into a catch and either drive or plant and elevate. The heel of the Curry Two is built to be stable at all times.
CUSHIONING – Oh, yeah, a little thing called Charged foam for cushioning. After trying the Speedform Gemini I had to ask if the Charged of the Gemini and the Curry One were the same material. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the One, but the bounce of Micro G was missing. Seemed like the Charged carrier killed the response. I never got the “Activated” feeling.
Right from jump the Two is more – more response, more bounce, and more “charged”. If you are looking for a bounce like unlocked Zoom or Boost, keep looking. If you need low-profile with a dash of spring, dead on. The forefoot was especially live – I could feel the Charged pushing back into my foot and getting ready for that next explosion as soon as I stepped down. It isn’t anything close to soft, so if you are looking for an all-day walking sneak look elsewhere — this is made for balling — thank you, Under Armour. The heel is the same – a little higher but still low and responsive. I didn’t feel any impact but honestly, I can’t remember landing on my heels. I will say the cushioning and traction make the transition smooth, making the shoe play fast, which makes sense for Curry.
BUT, and this is Khloe-sized… Micro G is better. Sorry, it is. I have told you I wear the shoes while writing this, so before I said this, I put on a Spawn and the Curry 2, one on each foot. Micro G just has a life to it – more bounce, more response, more play. Bosst is my standard at the moment and Micro G was a close second in feel. Charged, for now, in basketball, is still behind.
SUPPORT/STABILITY – As much as I doubted the foot-bra for support (oh, I see…) it wasn’t entirely broke. The fit and lacing keeps you in tight like and snuggly, wrapping the ankle almost like a neoprene sleeve. There is bend but no break, prevent-defense style. The stiffer toebox keeps your foot over the footbed in the front. There is a sizable outrigger from the pinky toe to the arch and though it isn’t wide it is stiff and holds you up. The heel clip is Stay-Puf soft but it ties into the TPU midfoot shank, like a SprintPlate in a Rose shoe but nowhere near as stiff. This makes the shoe play solid even if it isn’t. The sole is segmented but that only helps you stay up – if you land off on part of the foot you are still on in another area. And we all know Mr. Glass (ankles) needs solid support as much as anyone (except his Bulls counterpart).
OVERALL – Tough call here – improvements on half of the shoe but not on the other categories. Honestly, if I reach for the Curry One or Two, I am reacing for the Clutchfit Drive still. The bar was so high on that shoe it is tough to top. Put the one and Two together and we are talking. If you want low ride, killer traction, and an almost custom fit, the Two is you. If you want super-response in the midsole or need serious stability/support WITHOUT 6 ankle braces per foot, keep going. The shoe isn’t bad though – matter of fact, it is a top 5 for me this year so far. However, it could have been easily better. Anafoam needed a longer run. Speedform should have been used over more of the upper. Charged needs to get to the running model feel. DON’T TOUCH THE TRACTION. Really, Under Armour did what running shoe companies do – a gentle evolution from model to model so the consumer doesn’t get lost in “tech speak” every year. And honestly, if Curry is destroying with no regard for human life in the Two…