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Look, I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve sprained ankles, bruised bones, broken fingers, and spilled a gut-churning amount of blood across innumerable surfaces. No, I’m not a football player, but something equally crazy and a fraction as glorious – I’m a skateboarder. I’ve been skating for about 10 years. Or, in another sense, willingly subjecting my body to intense periodic abuse for almost a decade. My feet in particular have endured this assault for the longest. I’ve lived and skated through a myriad of footwear fads over this period of time – from puffy-tongued brick clogs to the flimsiest of shred slippers – all in pursuit of the perfect kickflip.
adidas Skateboarding has been in the game for almost as long as I have, and from its well-executed marketing to its quality shoe offerings, has earned my respect over the years. Even still, somehow I found myself skeptical of the Busenitz ADV, which is adidas’s follow-up to its hallmark Busenitz Pro. I was profoundly curious as to whether adidas could top one of the more successful pro models of recent memory, and may have briefly written this new release off as a means of boosting dwindling sales.
Despite all this, a pair of the Busenitz ADV ended up on my feet. Over the course of the past three weeks I’ve been able to walk, awkwardly stand at parties, and – most importantly – skate in the sneaker. To garnish this piece with context, I skated in a certain Swoosh-stitched vulcanized boat shoe in the months leading up to this review, which is a thinner option by all comparisons. The differences between that and the Busenitz ADV aren’t immediately striking, but over time, noticeable. After three weeks (skating approximately four days per week in three-hour intervals), my feet felt the healthiest in a long time, and as such, my skepticisms were hushed.
In many ways, the Busenitz ADV picks up where its predecessor left off. Where the Busenitz Pro takes obvious cues from classic soccer cleats in adidas’s extensive canon (i.e. the Copa Mundial, the Samba), it was also rather wide when compared to slimmer options on the market. Accordingly, the ADV has a slimmer profile thanks to reduced padding around the inner and outer arches, as well as at the tongue. The extended folding tongue of the original Busenitz was a polarizing feature among wearers, but some will be happy to know that the tongue of the ADV is considerably more normal.
Arguably, skate sneakers aren’t as performance-specific as other athletic shoes. I mean that to say: whereas a basketball or soccer sneaker might not be the most sartorially apt choice off of the court, skate sneakers are often designed to look and perform throughout all aspects of the skater’s life. On foot, the Busenitz ADV retains a sleek silhouette, which means slimmer-fitting jeans and chinos rest comfortably around the top without having a whole Zumi*z thing going on.
In my personal experience, adidas Skateboarding shoes have always run notably true-to-size, and the ADV is no different. As the shoe already fits snugly, it requires no sizing down, and quickly adjusts to its wearer. For skateboarding purposes, the sneaker fits adeptly, with rising support around the inner arch of the foot.
Further, GEOFIT is an adidas-specific design technology that the brand uses across many of its sneakers, including the ADV. It works to enhance a shoe’s fit with padding placed in areas where it is needed most. A frequent problem with vulcanized sneakers is that they lose their total rigidity as the shoe wears, leaving ankles and heels more susceptible to injury without reinforcement. GEOFIT resolves this nicely when applied in the ADV, as soft, protruding cushions lock the heel into place. As such, the foot feels secure and true to its movement when skating in the ADV.
The biggest question surrounding the modern cupsole is its board feel. Many question whether a cupsole shoe can give the same board intimacy as a vulcanized one. Truthfully, the ADV can’t offer what a Vans Era Pro or Nike SB Zoom Janoski might in regards to board feel. However, the sneaker leaves no room for guessing. I’ll put it like this: skating in the ADV feels like packing a snowball with a pair of leather gloves – it offers the right amount of protection without restricting tactility.
The shoe can thank two key attributes for its surprisingly responsive feel, predominantly occurring at the front of the shoe. The first is rooted in the shoe’s natural shape. As mentioned previously, both the ADV and Busenitz Pro draw inspiration from soccer cleats, which is most evident in the long, pointed toe box. On the ADV, this feature allows for a crisp, precise flick on flip tricks. While skating the ADV after a long stint with vulcanized shoes was an adjustment, within the first hour the outsole worked into a more natural point. This allowed me to move my flicking foot deeper into the concave of my board, and thus, skate with more control. This differs from more rounded toecaps as, for example, seen on Nike SB Dunk models.
More importantly though, the midsole and outsole work in conjunction to promote board feel and prevent floppiness. The bottom tread splits the sole into three distinct sections, with the toe area being the most pliable. Along the midsole, a small indentation can be noted around the outermost toe joint. This creates a precise line that separates the necessarily flexible area from the rest of the shoe, and also cleverly serves to keep the sole from separating at such a high-impact area.
“However, the sneaker leaves no room for guessing. I’ll put it like this: skating in the ADV feels like packing a snowball with a pair of leather gloves – it offers the right amount of protection without restricting tactility.”
Despite adidas’s innovations in running with the unveiling of BOOST and SpringBlade technologies, the skateboarding line hasn’t been exactly graced with the latest technologies. While this isn’t exactly surprising, the ADV does miss a more padded insole when your inner teenager tells you to ollie a staircase. As it stands, the ADV comes standard with a contoured EVA insole, without any absorbent gels or airbags. As the insole is a bit on the thin side, the sneaker absorbs impact chiefly through rigid “nano heel cushioning” within the midsole. Unlike some Phylon insoles that distribute impact throughout the whole of the foot, the nano heel cushioning seems to absorb impact directly at the point of collision: your heel. As a result, despite its supportive construction, the ADV doesn’t absorb impact as well as it could. Stair-counters might be interested in aftermarket products such as Footprint or Remind Insoles as a possible solution, but this combination may also require looser lacing given the sneaker’s fitted construction.
As mentioned previously, the Busenitz ADV may take a couple of hours of walking or skating around to break in completely. The return on this time investment is that after the introductory period, the shoe becomes supremely comfortable. The sneaker’s upper is essentially composed of one piece of suede wrapping around the forefoot. The three stripes at the midfoot of the sneaker double as an extra protective layer, and are imprinted into the suede rather than stitched on. This feature looks nice aesthetically, but also reduces the number of areas at which the sneaker can fall apart.
In the warmer seasons, a skate shoe will last me about two to three months. To me, a shoe is trash-bound when it feels noticeably floppy during wear; when the tread on the sole is worn down to the point of slippage; and/or when the sole begins to separate completely. I’ve worn the ADV continuously for about a month and, thankfully, the shoe is still completely intact. The gum tread on the sole is generously deep, and moves controllably on the board. Elsewhere, the small relief around the forefoot keeps the sole from separating in a commonly problematic area. Further, the concentration on rigidity throughout the middle and rear of the midsole ensures that the sneaker remains just that, instead of a glorified Havaiana.
Griptape is, in many ways, a sneaker’s worst enemy. Another nice feature on the Busenitz ADV is the inset lace hole system – again, another reference to adidas’ soccer heritage – which make the laces less likely to fray or break despite repeated abrasion. The laces themselves are flat, nicely woven, and a bit on the thicker side. Of course, the laces will inevitably begin to tear and adidas courteously includes a spare set of matching ones.
“The return on this time investment is that after the introductory period, the shoe becomes supremely comfortable.”
Overall, adidas Skateboarding should be proud of the product they have in the Busenitz ADV. It’s a handsome, functional shoe with smart boardfeel, yet is also supportive enough to satisfy the geriatric-of-feet. The price and the impact support are probably the largest drawbacks. Offered at a price of $90 USD (on adidas.com), the shoe is on the higher end of the skate shoe price spectrum, but considerably worth the price given its durability and comfort. That being said, the Busenitz ADV could do with more cushioning around the heel. Would it be presumptuous on my part to publicly entreat adidas for a BOOST-like development in its skate line?
For its admittedly few shortcomings though, the sneaker strikes that coveted balance between boardfeel and protection. If that was the goal set by adidas, then consider the Busenitz ADV a shot in the net.
Interested parties can pick up the Busenitz ADV at their local skate shop or on adidas’s web store.
“Overall, adidas Skateboarding should be proud of the product they have in the Busenitz ADV.”