PUMA evoSPEED 1
PUMA had stuck by their tried and tested V1 speed boot range for quite a while, but after being overshadowed by their competitors' speed boot offerings of late, have now scrapped it for the PUMA evoSPEED 1.
DESIGN - 3.5/5
PUMA have released plenty of flamboyant colorways to adorn the evoSpeed 1 such as the bright green Marley edition, but the launch colorway of the boots I tested was a little more conservative. The predominantly white upper with red and blue detailing provides that age-old problem associated with white boots: it is an almost impossible task to keep them clean and pristine. While it doesn't have any effect on performance and minimal effect on the design, scuffing does occur on these boots. The synthetic or 'plasticy' look might offend a few people and while I don't personally have any issue with that, the boots are certainly very shiny… almost radiant. The list of professionals wearing the PUMA evoSpeed 1 makes for impressive reading with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Mario Gomez among those sporting the boots week in and week out.
COMFORT - 3.5/5
I have had bad experiences in the past with breaking in synthetic boots, but have not yet encountered any really big issues with the PUMA evoSPEED 1. The heel counter cups the foot and locks it in place, preventing your foot from slipping around while playing, while another feature PUMA have implemented is the EverFitCage - not too dissimilar to technology used on the original adidas F50 adiZero - which is meant to provide increased stability and support. It helps the boot and the upper wrap itself more around the foot, thus providing for a far more snug experience. The outsole is very flexible when compared to many of the more rigid soleplate speed boots now employ and this makes for a comfortable ride.
While the boots are very comfortable, especially compared with other speed boots on the market, they definitely do not come close to offering that natural leather fit and feel, thus the reason PUMA also has the kangaroo leather version for sale. With that said, the touch is very good with these boots as there is not all that much material in between your foot and the ball, allowing you to get a great feel for the ball. In terms of the fit, despite past problems with PUMA's sizing, these do in fact fit true to size, so there is no need to order up or down a size to compensate.
PERFORMANCE - 4.5/5
Performance seems to be one of the main strengths of the new PUMA evoSPEED 1. While 6.5 ounces may not be the lightest weight on the market, the boot provides plenty of substance in a world that often focuses too much on the concept that less is more. In reality, the boot feels faster than many of its lighter competitors, something I believe is down to the new and improved outsole and consequently the better traction provided. The PUMA evoSPEED 1's predecessors had a peculiar stud pattern on the heels that tended to drag on many surfaces but the new soleplate is more flexible and has a more traditional stud pattern.
The upper provides a great surface to strike the ball, something I have not always said in the past with synthetic speed boots. The raised 'dimples' on the upper of the boot offer additional grip when shooting, and while it might not be the most noticeable feature on the boot, in the competitive world of sport we find ourselves in today, any advantage should be taken gladly. An extension of the dimpled upper is the phenomenal touch you get, with the thin upper aiding that, too. There are many similarities between the PUMA evoSPEED 1 and the first edition of the wildly popular adidas F50 adiZero; other than the different lacing placement (the F50 adiZero had asymmetrical lacing while the evoSpeed has centred lacing), many of the performance features are very alike.
VALUE - 4/5
The boots seem to be holding up extremely well, with no sign of wear other than some scuffing on the white upper. While I have been the victim of studs wearing off for both the PUMA V1.11 SL and PUMA V1.10 SL boots, previous soleplate problems appear to have been ironed out with the PUMA evoSPEED 1 thanks to the new and improved Duo-Flex soleplate. Many speed boots and boots from other silos often have the upper split from the soleplate which can seriously damage the boot if left unattended, or even attended for that matter - but so far I have encountered nothing of the sort with PUMA's new offering. The synthetic version of the boot probably has better value than the kangaroo leather as the durability is at least marginally better.
OVERALL - 4/5
PUMA have been making a strong resurgence into the boot market over the past year with the impressive releases of the PUMA King Finale SL and the PUMA Powercat C1.12. After being dominated for so long by the other two occupants of the 'Big Three' (Nike and adidas), the PUMA evoSPEED 1 might be the final missing piece for the German manufacturer. If you buy yourself a pair, not only are you are not going to be disappointed by the high-performing speed boot itself, you will be one of the relatively few that ply their trade in PUMA's latest offering – so if the promise of a great speed boot is not enough incentive to purchase the PUMA evoSPEED 1, the feeling of exclusivity that is so hard to replicate in a saturated market should be.
Ben Perkins is editor of Soccer Reviews - www.soccerreviews.com