GO WITH THE FLOW
The insane innovation that's rolled out over the past 2 years means that when a new shoe hits the stores these days it's gotta be very special to compete.
The Under Armour brand is synonymous with
quality manufacturing and slick style. We didn't just take the word of superstar athletes Michael Phelps, Jordan Spieth & Chris Mc Cormack for granted, we've sweated bullets right here in the African sun for years, and their running apparel has kept us comfy and cool all the way. That said it wasn't until the Machina range came out 3 years ago with its built-in and reliable run technology that we took a serious second glance at their cool looking, but previously banished to the gym run shoe range.
So what's special about the UA FLOW that makes it worth spending your hard earned money on and much loved miles in?
The comfortable Machina range featured all the tech that the long established run shoe brands offered, but all combined the shoe weighed well over the 300 gram no-go zone.
Weight is pretty much everything in endurance sport. If something has to be moved over & over requiring human energy alone, it needs to be lighter to be faster, without sacrificing comfort which accelerates fatigue. The flow is a feathery 260 grams, yet carries much more cushioning than a lightweight race flat. Plus it features the no-phone-or-watch-required in-shoe tech - nuff said.
How? you ask. We did too, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Find a cushioning midsole foam compound that doesn't require an outer rubber layer for grip and durability. Their team of tech nerds in Portland Oregon, an area renowned for experts in this field, using research studies in basketball and athletics, managed to create a responsive, grippy, and supportive singular-foam compound that eliminates the rubber outsole. This is a huge, paradigm-shifting feat (pardon the pun) and we have to guess that in time all shoes will be made this way.
The Velocity Flow Wind promised a flow state - the feeling that you could keep running for miles. The feeling of light, effortless speed, like the wind is always at your back.
Did we feel that? The neutral plane 8mm heel drop on bouncy foam definitely provides a responsive energy return. The contoured sole provides excellent almost naturally sticky grip on a mix of road surfaces, and although it is still early days, little signs of wearing. You can run both fast tempo workouts and long mileage runs with confidence. So yes, we did.
What about the upper? The UA "Warp" is comfy and pretty sci-fi looking. The stringy appearance features supporting tapes that look like mini laces, but act like safety belts on the foot.
Biomechanists placed them where testers showed they'd be most helpful to runners. The tapes are designed to tension when you need them and relax when you don’t - eliminating buckling and pinch points of traditional one-piece uppers. These white ones we're wear testing, with subtle neon orange strands, may take more regular washing, but this tech makes sense, and it seems a natural progression to use recycled material for this type of technology.
So what downsides if any? The talk of town right now is carbon plates and no, the Flows don't feature that. If you're already hooked on that mega bouncy feel that's most suited to forefoot striking, faster runners this may only be your slightly less expensive trainer. If however you prefer a more natural feel and enjoy recording your training miles, cadence and foot strike angle stats, without carrying a phone or even a watch, give these ground-breakers a whirl.