Adidas has been on my radar recently with their fantastic updates with Boost. Additionally, I have always been fascinated with Japanese racing flats particularly from Asics, Adidas and Nike. I've known about the Takumi Sen for a bit, but finally after a difficult midterm I decided to pull the plug on a pair of the 2nd version. I am very glad I did. Although this is not the lightest racing flat I have used, it has become my favorite (yes, even beating the amazing Wave Universe 4). This is such a masterfully built shoe that thoroughly showcases the Japanese attention to detail and craftsmanship. It is clear that every aspect has been thoroughly looked into and addressed in terms of performance, fit, feel and more. I love this shoe. Here's why.
That's a beautiful shoe.
Sole: This might be my favorite part. The Takumi Sen 2 sole is the snappiest, most responsive one I have ever tried. That includes track spikes. This combined with just enough there to keep you going from the mile to the marathon makes for a near perfect shoe. I have raced events from the 5k to the half marathon easily in the shoe, done workouts from 8 mile tempo runs to very fast 200 meter reps and have always felt completely comfortable. There's just enough there for longer distances and not too much to slow you down during shorter events. The sole itself is snappy like I mentioned and fairly firm. Not a "the road is pounding stress fractures into my legs" firm but a "I want to run as fast as possible in this shoe because it feels good" firm. There is some mild flexibility in the forefoot thanks to some grooves and the true stiffness is in the midfoot. However, the shoe is still generally pretty stiff when I try to bend it by hand.
The outsole is made of a super grippy design Adidas calls Quickstrike that provides serious traction. It is made of specially placed and designed small lugs (that are surprisingly durable) in the forefoot (and some on the medial heel... not sure why). This shoe grips the road and the track VERY well. I have only slipped once going over a pile of decomposing wet leaves on a cold Portland day (while running very fast and taking a corner too tight. That was my fault). I have not taken these on dirt mostly because I want to keep them as nice as possible. Once I hit 150 miles that will go out the window and I'll hit the trails. Although I have not tried this, I am sure the outsole will provide decent grip on well groomed trails, so I would not hesitate to use this as a trail racing shoe as well.
As per usual, Adidas uses Continental rubber in the non-lugged part of the outsole. Which is only really on the posterior lateral heel (back outside part). Interestingly enough that is where I see most of the minimal wear that has presented itself at almost 100 miles. The mini lugs have even less wear.
The wider outsole of the forefoot does give the the shoe a more stable feel (especially combined with the heel counter. More on that in the next section), but I was apprehensive about the fairly narrow midfoot and heel design (see picture below). However I have not experienced any issues with this which I attribute to the upper keeping your foot so locked down to the sole.
Finally there is some toe spring in the forefoot. It has not bothered me and is not that noticeable. Normally I'm pretty picky about this, but it definitely helps with the transition of the stiff and propulsive midsole.
Upper/Fit: No expense was spare with this upper. Being a Japan based shoe, it is a little wider in the forefoot than most racing flats. Not super wide, but just right. I have had no issues with slippage or with tightness. The upper is made of Tirennina suede and Teijin Japenese Mesh. I have not tried running sockless in the shoe, but with socks the upper just disappears off your foot. The upper also has just the right amount of breathability, letting your feet breath but not get "winded" (yes pun intended). It looks and feels like a high quality shoe.
There is a fairly firm and rigid heel counter in the back of this shoe. Normally I have problems with that (sensitive heels) however with the Takumi Sen 2 I have had no issues. It does a great job of stabilizing your heel and foot during footstrike as well as keeping you locked into the shoe.
Additionally, the Adidas stripes also feel like they help lock the foot onto the shoe. Like I said earlier, I've never experienced any feelings of slippage. Even with the relatively narrow midfoot/heel outsole. That is the reason I have had very little success with the Nike Streak XC/LTs. I believe that thanks to the wide forefoot, amazing upper and the great heel counter of the Takumi Sen that that issue is taken care from the foot being locked down.
Responsiveness: Like I mentioned before, this is the most responsive shoe I have ever worn. In fact, the Takumi Sen 2 is probably the only shoe I've ever felt actually propel me forward with each step. The shoe is noticeably stiff when you try to bend it, but thanks to the sprint frame and torsion system in the midsole it translates to amazing energy return during terminal stance (or push-off for any East Coast trained biomechanically oriented people). Again the shoe does not feel stiff during running. It feels like it is propelling you forward. Another awesome part of this shoe and probably one of the main reasons to try it on.
Heel-Toe Drop/Ramp: The Takumi Sen 2 is listed as having a 4-6mm drop. It feels a little closer to 4mm drop in my opinion. There is just enough there to take a bit of stress of the calves, but little enough to feel fast. Again, this is another part of the shoe that has never bothered me or gotten in my way. Although my calves are a bit sore after doing a half marathon in them.
Durability: At 98 miles, the wear is very minimal. The mini lugs are showing next to no wear, and there is only slight wear on the posterior lateral heel (back outside). The upper is showing no signs of wear except for some dirt. I fully expect at least 250-300 miles out of these.
Weight: The Takumi Sen 2 is listed at 6.1 to 6.3 ounces depending on your source. They certainly don't feel as light as something like the Mizuno Wave Universe 5 (REVIEW) at 2.8 ounces, but I have never felt the shoes hold me back. They feel completely like an extension of my foot. Once you start running they disappear in a good way.
Thoughts as a DPT (Student): Oh... you meant other than drooling over them because the Takumi Sen 2s are a masterfully crafted pair of Japanese racing flats? Normally I would get on them for the toe spring, but it has never bothered me. In fact it probably helps with the forward roll considering how stiff the midsole is. My favorite part about this shoe as a DPT student is how stability is created without posting. Like I have mentioned many times previously, stiff heel counters generally bother me. This one however cups the heel very nicely. A stiff heel counter provides stability to the calcaneus (large bone at the bottom posterior part of your foot, ie where your heel is) which combined with a the Adidas logo keeps your foot not only locked to the plateform but also in line during footstrike. There are many different ways to provide support. Most people think that medial posting (or lateral depending on the weakness) is the only way to do that, but it can be done also be done by holding the heel in place with a heel counter (wedges can also be used, but are more often than not used for deformities rather than weaknesses). The problem is that most companies make the heel counters too large and too thick which is why I think many people with either sensitive heels, achilles tendinosis/itis (chronic/acute), calcaneal bursitis, Haglund's deformity, etc may have more problems than normal. Now I'm not suggesting that if people with those pathologies try this shoe and they won't have any issues. It's just that I have bilateral Haglund's and have not had any problems with this shoe (this is only a testimonial, not research). I'm not sure how Adidas Japan did this, but it just works. I'm impressed. If you do have serious issues with stiff heel counters (not mild like me) then use caution trying on this shoe. The last thing I want to to exacerbate someone's pain!
Breaking the course record at the Bryan Clay Fit4Fall 5k. Hilly course!
Final Thoughts: Normally I don't comment on looks, but this shoe is sexy. I mean first of all it's a Japanese racing flat (yes... I follow the Japan Running News Blog religiously and am a huge fan of Yuki Kawauchi). Second of all it just looks like this awesome, sleek and fast shoe. Now I realize these are expensive at $150, but I definitely understand why they are that expensive. The durability is great, it is clear only the finest materials were used, a ton of work went into designing these, they are super responsive and disappear off your feet. You definitely get what you pay for and that is a fantastic racing flat that can handle any distance or workout (although I probably wouldn't use them on a gnarly trail run/race. They are too nice for that). It is extremely rare that you find a shoe of this quality on the market and the price is no longer that abnormal. The Adios Boost 2 (REVIEW) is $140. The Brooks Transcend is $160, most Newtons are over $150 (although the Kismet (REVIEW) is my favorite of the Newton line and is cheaper than most), most premium trainers are in the $140-150 range, most normal trainers are in the $120-130 range and most racing flats are $110-130. So $150 isn't that much anymore, especially for what you are getting with the Takumi Sen 2. I'll say this, the Takumi Sen 2 is my favorite racing flat of all time. It beats the Wave Universe 4 out by a small margin for that position. Now I still hold the Universe 4 close to my heart, but the Sen is something special. It is so versatile, yet so fast. If you want to truly understand what I'm talking about, I suggest trying on a pair yourself. You won't regret. Even the experience is something special.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to Tack On!
These shoes were a personal purchase and I put at least 100 miles on every pair of shoes before I review them (except racing flats which I put on at least 50 miles). Currently I have 98 miles on my pair.
As always, my views are my own.
As always, my views are my own.
-Matt Klein, SPT
*Images obtained from the Adidas website and various races. I would say go down to your local running specialty store to check them out, but they are very hard to find in the US. I hate to say it but you may have to order them online. I promise they are worth it!