Is it a problem to arrive late in the market? Not always. Think about that: Google is not the first search engine in history but has become so by popularity; sometimes coming in later is only an apparent problem: after all, you have more time to study what products the market offers, evaluate competitors’ missteps, and ultimately come up with a better solution. Or trying to.
By the own admission of Under Armour’s Global Product Director-Compete Run Footwear Doug Smiley, who unveiled the all-new Flow Velociti Elite in Faro, Portugal this week, Under Armour came after many other brands to develop a carbon plate shoe. It is also no mystery that several UA athletes left the brand because they could no longer compete with colleagues equipped with carbon plate shoes.
But after all, it matters how you react to problems, right? And Under Armour has done so by gathering a team of designers, engineers, and production managers that in 18 months (a very short time to develop a new shoe from scratch) have created the Flow Velociti Elite. Which, at this point, can be described by how it objectively is, how it makes you run and the differences it has from the competition. Because if you come later, you have not only disadvantages but also some advantages. You just have to know how to exploit it, and UA seems to have done that very well.
In short: the Flow Velociti Elite is one of a kind. Let’s find out why.
We often tell you that the carbon fiber plate is a technology that has different declinations: in short, it matters how it is used, what height it’s in the midsole at, what its shape looks like, etc.
In the case of the Flow Velociti Elite, it is located above the Supercritical Flow layer and below the dual-density PEBAX midsole.
Supercritical Flow is the special nitrogen-added compound that UA uses in some models that integrates the tread: in other words, the wear layer that normally relies on harder rubber inserts is integrated into the sole itself.
The fear is legitimate: won’t they wear out faster than other soles? No, and it is something miraculous. The durability of the Flow outsole (although technically it is a sole+a lower midsole part) is similar-though shorter-than that of a shoe with a tread with inserts. Such a solution has also another advantage: it weights less because it eliminates additional elements. Let us not forget that we are talking about a racing shoe for which the weight reduced to the essentials is crucial. It is also fair to mention that in spite of a tread with a lighter tread pattern than usual, these shoes have amazing grip.
Another detail that is immediately noticeable when wearing it is the generosity of the toebox (the space allocated to the forefoot): the toes can open and have breath. The designers’ desire-confirmed by Smiley-was to have as much surface area as possible to unload energy to the ground and to make the carbon plate work.
Above the plate, we said, there’s a midsole made of PEBAX, a foam with special qualities such as extreme lightness and the incredible energy return it provides. Unlike other foams, it also has a very extended operating temperature (that is, the range within which its mechanical and physical properties do not change).
The choice of this foam is almost obvious for products in this price and performance range: in fact, it is, without a doubt, the best solution available today. With consequences for price, but we’ll get to that.
Finally, the need to keep weight down is also evident in the upper, which is made from WARP 2.0 mesh: a thin, semi-transparent layer woven from nylon, in this case reinforced by a mesh of stronger fabric strips that do not affect breathability but increase durability. Because the desire of those who use such a high-performance (and not cheap) shoe is for it to last as long as possible, right?
How it makes you run
As far as we were able to try them out, and deferring you to a more in-depth review, the Flow Velociti Elite is a very fast and very fun shoe that has the virtue of making you comfortable right away, without the need for special instruction. The fit is also very comfortable thanks to the wide toe box, and the responsiveness is remarkable, especially when accelerating.
They also have the ability to be quiet at normal RPMs and unleash themselves as they increase speed, never pushing violently in reaction to the force unloaded to the ground but giving you obvious forward propulsion.
As their own designers tell it, UA’s desire was to make you forget you had it on your feet, to run with it carefree, to the best of your ability.
Successful experiment, indeed.
Differences from the competition
It was said: if you come later you are not necessarily at a disadvantage. Especially when you don’t do it by running to catch up with others but manage to do it in your own way. Thing that UA has expertly done, taking advantage of its strengths, such as the sole’s Supercritical Flow technology and a very durable upper.
You have to know how to put all these ingredients together, though, right? The result seems to prove UA right: the Flow Velociti Elite is very balanced at both low and high rpm (and the automobile comparison is intended, because we are really talking about speed) and that answers a legitimate question of runners: how long do they last? Thanks to their Flow tread and reinforced upper, they promise to do so for a long time. So as to make their price more addressable, in line with products in this range but still not painless: 250 euros list price and availability from mid-April.
And if you want to make it last longer you can use it for pure speed training and racing only. Where it will know how to give you the best: its, and yours.