Article by Jacob Brady and Sam Winebaum
adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 ($250)
Sam: adidas flagship marathon racer, the Adios Pro, sees changes for its 3d edition. Most notable are
Highly visible angular changes in the midsole geometry adding considerably more platform width: +7mm heel, 6mm mid foot,t +4mm forefoo while reducing drop to 6.5mm by adding forefoot cushion to now come in a 39.5mm heel, 33mm forefoot.
a completely new single piece Energy Rods 2.0 carbon array from heel to toe which also eliminates the directly underfoot and firm rear plate of the Pro 2,
a new outsole with a stabilizing film at the medial heel and Continental rubber upfront,
a new Celermesh 3.0 upper.
I personally found Pro 2 too aggressive and rigid for my run style for races beyond 10K with a firmer ride (especially at the heel from the carbon plate there right below the foot) than the Nike competitors and while a fast shoe not a particularly pleasant one to run. I wished for more of the flare and lively wild bounce of the Prime X with the flexibility and easier to find more flexible toe off of the Takumi Sen 8, ideally something right in the middle between the rolling Vaporfly and the front bouncing Alphafly from Nike. Would adidas deliver this in the Pro 3?
Plush, more forgiving ride: Jacob/Sam
Less top elite focused aggressive ride, yet one still setting records Sam/Jacob
Pleasing multi paces run experiences, much more so than v2. More can run it. Sam/Jacob
Pronounced easy to find non harsh, final toe off “drop in”: Sam
Less rigid, firm, and prescriptive than AP2: Sam/Jacob
Lightweight for the depth of cushion and protection: Jacob/Sam
Roomy forefoot: Jacob
Somewhat loose fit, notably less secure for me than v1 and v2: Jacob
Heel hold a bit unstructured/loose, especially on downhills: Sam/Jacob
Too much soft cushion for 10k and shorter races—lower versatility than its predecessor at a higher cost: Jacob
Approx. Weight: men’s 7.88 oz / 223g (US9) / women’s oz / g (US8)
Samples: men’s 7.63 oz / 216 g US8.5 (7.57 left, 7.69 right); (Adios Pro 2 7.97 oz / 226g, US8.5) 9.3 oz / 263 g US 12
Stack Height: 39.5 mm heel /: 33 mm forefoot, 6.5mm drop
AP 2 was 39 mm heel /31.5mm forefoot, 7.5mm drop)
First Impressions, Fit and Upper
Jacob: I first noticed the angular styling with two midsole cutouts exposing the carbon energy rods, both under the mid foot and on the forefoot lateral side, which is new from the predecessor. The Adios Pro 3 is a uniquely styled shoe with a geometric theme and bold green accents on a primarily black upper. The Adios Pro 3 both looks and feels like a maximal shoe, gaining stack height (1.5mm) in the forefoot from the Adios Pro 2 as well as more width.
On foot it is comfortable, locked in overall with well-placed reinforcements. It feels roomy for a racer. I feel like a lot of marathon racers are going for slightly roomier uppers which favor comfort over long distances and work better for a variety of foot widths while only sacrificing a bit of cornering confidence. The Adios Pro 2 had a nearly perfect fitting upper for me. The Pro 3 is a bit looser and harder to get an ideal heel hold in. When laced well though it is overall still an excellent fit, if a bit less secure for me than its predecessor.
Disregarding comparisons to the excellent Adios Pro 2, the upper design and fit are top notch—secure and comfortable—and the upper is lightweight and breathable, as expected from the Adios Pro line.
Underfoot it is soft and plush without any sense of mushiness. The energy rods, deep cushion, and foam density lead to a balanced feel. Bouncy, high-stack, fun, but not extreme or unnatural.
Sam: Jacob has described the fit well: an excellent overall hold which is a bit loose and unstructured at the heel where there is no plastic heel counter.
We just have fairly substantial but pliable overlays which save weight and quite firm if thin inner pads.
The lace up through the six eyelets (plus rear lace lock) surprisingly easy and once adjusted stays put as there is no stretch to the upper or very thin leatherette tongue. I found the upper highly breathable in warmer conditions.
The front lacing and hold features 2 cord loops tied into 2 over the toes overlays as well as a central webbing strap.
Inside, starting at where the over toes overlays start at the midfoot, are perforated underlays running forward on each side of the foot.
The toe bumper is quite firm, short and vertical. The combination of front elements provides noticeably secure front lockdown to the front of the platform and without any side or top pressures.There is plenty of foot splay room and width. I would call the fit true to size and would caution about sizing up for more room given the heel hold.
Overall the upper is very satisfactory in hold and comfort if a bit disjointed in its approach particularly at the heel where I wish for more heel counter stability. As an elite focused shoe, now a bit tuned down with a considerably wider base, more comfort in the upper and a slightly softer ride it seems to stay under the magic 8 oz / 226g US9 super shoe weight barrier it seems adi had to keep the upper weight down.
Sam: The Adios Pro 3 has a 39.5 mm heel / 33 mm forefoot total stack height with a 6.5mm drop. This is a change from Adios Pro 2 which had a 39 mm heel /31.5mm forefoot and a 7.5mm drop.
AP2: Heel 78mm, Midfoot 66mm, Forefoot 113mm
AP3: Heel 85mm, Midfoot 72mm, Forefoot 117mm
Heel +7mm, Midfoot +6mm, Forefoot +4mm
*comparative measurements from Nils Scharff’s US 10.5
As with most all other current marathon super shoes the Pro 3 has a 39.5 mm heel height, right at the limit to be competition “legal”.The new lower 6.5mm drop does put the Adios Pro 3 as a bit of an outlier in current marathon super shoes which all have 8mm drops: Nike’s Vaporfly and Alphafly 2 sit 8mm, both ASICS Metaspeed + at 8mm,, Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3 at 8mm and New Balance Fuel Cell Elite 2 also at 8mm.
The midsole remains Lightstrike Pro in 2 densities: slightly softer above the new Energy Rods 2.0 array and firmer below. The softer foam is thinner at the heel and deeper at the front. The rear thicker firm foam helps with landing stability while the front deeper foam allows the foot to drive forward and down towards the rods, and I found more easily so than AP2.
Key to the front is the aggressive toe spring angle. It is steep, but also to pressing, and for sure on the run, the front is also soft with no rigid plate felt upfront and with the bright green Continental rubber providing some contact stability.
This allows the shoe to not only take advantage of the vertical impulse further back but have a new found final roll that is more decisive than before, something I like in a rigid race shoe as I tend to roll more than have high knee lift. The final toe off impulse is not as harsh as say the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2 for me but also not as smooth as the Alphafly 2’s.
The new Energy Rods 2.0 array, aptly named, remain rod shaped but now are more than a front extra set of toe following rods.
Photo Credit with permission: @therunningshoesguru
It now extends as a single unit all the way to the rear of the shoe eliminating the AP2’s small carbon plate below the lasting board which intended to stabilize the landing but which for me delivered a firm feel followed by rigid midfoot that was hard to get past at all but my fastest paces, and even then. Now the heel is noticeably more forgiving given the array there and slightly softer foams with transitions easier and less rigid in feel.
To maybe compensate for its removal there is a medial side non rigid thin plastic plate or thick film just below the outsole. It is firmer than the foam above but not a hard plastic. My sense is, also felt on the run, is that adidas wanted to stabilize the soft foam above without the harsh feel and firmness of the prior much higher in the shoe carbon plate especially for more heel striking runners as I am.
Prominent in the midsole design are the 3 angular cutouts: medial rear heel, medial midfoot, and lateral forefoot.
All but the lateral forefoot one seem to have a clear purpose beyond reducing weight. The rear one provides some crash pad effect, the medial some late but not dramatic pronation to get the foot moving towards that side for toe off.
It works well with the rear of the shoe softer and more energetic in bounce feel. In fact the entire platform is softer and more energetic heel to toe and for sure more pleasant to run even at my pedestrian race paces. The AP2 was for sure not as pleasant an experience for me. This said the overall feel is still quite rigid, not a gradual plunging forward and down as the Vaporfly or high front rebounding as the Alphafly and Metaspeed Sky and still favors strong mid to forefoot strikers over heel strikers such as me.
What does this midsole feel like? It is somewhat bouncier but less springy than Zoom X, somewhat firmer than the oversoft for me FuelCell and Puma Nitro Elite foams and softer with more bouncy rebound than the ASICS Metaspeed Edge + Fight Foam Turbo and Saucony’s POWRRUN PB foam which are firmer and more sharply responsive.
Jacob: The Adios Pro 3 midsole is highly engineered, visually striking, and uses new technology, specifically a redesigned energy rods system. The newly designed energy rods unit extends further towards the heel, eliminating the need for a separate plate beneath the heel. I think this leads to a more cohesive feel underfoot with less hardness at the heel and a smoother transition while running.
The midsole foam is Adidas’ Lightstrike Pro, which is soft and bouncy but stable and balanced. It is in between the firmer, highly energetic foams like Saucony PWRRUN PB and Asics FlyteFoam Turbo and super soft, sink-in foams like New Balance FuelCell (RC Elite/Rebel variety). Its mid-range characteristics for a super foam lead to versatility and underfoot comfort. I think it’s likely to be enjoyed by a range of runner preferences.
It is a maximal shoe with a heel height at the legal limit and it feels like it. It has a feeling of endless cushion beneath the foot. It’s well-measured though, as it isn’t overly soft or mushy.
The styling of the midsole is notable with angular foam cutouts exposing the energy rods on the medial midfoot and lateral toe, for a combination of weight savings, flexibility characteristics, and visual design.
Jacob: The outsole is a nearly full coverage, thin, grippy rubber with extra material at the toe for durability and toe-off traction. It has cutouts for weight savings and additional traction.
It has an interesting non-ground-contact, thin, flexible, plastic sheet below the medial heel which provides a bit of resistance to prevent the soft foam from collapsing and thus adds stability. Traction is good and the thin, consistent rubber coverage contributes to a smooth, quiet ride. It’s a solid outsole for a racer.
Sam: Jacob describes the outsole well.
Jacob: The Adios Pro 3 ride is smooth, soft, bouncy, stable, and friendly. It is relaxed in some ways, being easy to run even at paces slower than marathon race pace and not particularly snappy. It feels notably more plush than its predecessors. The energy rods + superfoam propulsive effect comes alive at marathon to half marathon pace for me and the shoe moves my foot from landing to toe off quickly and effortlessly and then bounces off the toe with energy. It’s fun to run and easy on my legs.
It cruises very well, but doesn’t have the zippy racer-focused vibe like some of its competitors. This makes it more capable at slower paces—highly usable (though not cost effective) for training and likely more comfortable for runners of any speed. For the marathon and to work well for more runners, I think this is a positive thing. However, I think it’s less conductive to quick-moving, shorter distance speed than its predecessors and some competitors. Compared to other flagship distance racers, I find it feels relatively sluggish at faster than 10k pace (~5:45 min/mi for me). It falls in the category of the modern, friendly, forgiving, max cushion plated racer, such as the Nike Alphafly NEXT% 2 and New Balance RC Elite v2, rather than the lighter, snappier Asics Metaspeed Sky or Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2.
Sam: Jacob describes the ride well and I agree more a half to marathon ride than a 10K ride for which adidas has the lower stack, lighter Takumi Sen 8. I raced them at my local 4 miles on the 4th race and ended up smooth and steady at about my expected half pace of 7:40 per mile. I could have gone on “forever” that day at that pace but didn’t feel in the final stretch that it had another speedier gear. The new final toe angle was for sure appreciated getting me forward with more roll but not quite as much as I wanted or needed. Or maybe it was me and not the shoe that didn’t have the extra gear!
The ride was for sure softer, less rigid and more forgiving, especially at the heel than the AP2, that shoe pretty much a 10K max shoe for me whereas here I could for sure race further in them. As with the AP2 and Takumi Sen 8, the Pro 3 is unapologetically an “elite” focused shoe, less than before in terms of its new friendlier foam and rods feel, but still more aggressive and firmer than say the 2 Nikes or the NB Fuel Cell Elite 2. It has a feel and ride character closer to the ASICS Metaspeeds, even a bit softer, but now more pleasant than its predecessor or the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2. It now slots more closely with Endorphin Pro 3 which I have not tested yet personally (RTR Review) and the Alphafly 2 (RTR Initial Review) now, as with adidas also broader in base and softer and easier for more runners to enjoy than before.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Jacob: The Adios Pro 3 is an all around excellent modern running shoe that is comfortable and friendly but also fast. It has an accommodating upper, plush underfoot feel, protection for any distance, good stability, and a fun but not extreme bounce. Compared to its predecessors, it is softer and more forgiving to slower paces. However, it is a bit looser fitting, higher cost, heavier, and the propulsive effect diminishes around 10k paces (I felt like 5:45ish min/mi), so value is not the best for a super shoe. It feels more ponderous and overbuilt than the Adios Pro 1 and 2 at 10k pace and faster. For half and longer racing, it is a competitive choice for runners of any speed and worth a try if looking for something comfortable and on the less dramatic riding side (not overly soft, bouncy, energetic, or unstable) with an accommodating fit. For me, I have shoes that feel faster for every race distance, so its utility will be limited for long workouts, where it will be comfortable and fun, but not worth the purchase for that use alone. In summary, it’s a great shoe, but I felt like it has no standout components for me to choose it above any of its competitors.
Jacob’s Score 8.85 / 10
Ride: 9 (50%), Fit: 9 (30%), Value: 8 (15%), Style: 9 (5%)
Sam: The Adios Pro 3 is clearly more focused on a wider range of marathoner paces with a slightly softer foam, wider base and new Energy Rods array. It also doesn’t leave its elite focus to far behind just to be pleasing to the crowds of actual potential customers who may like a bit more comfort underfoot and and easier turnover ride than the pros. It does a better job than the Pro 2 in satisfying both audiences.
In addition to more forgiving foam, the geometry is more stable than before, the upper somewhat more supportive, the carbon elements now all of a piece and more effective and less harsh (especially at the heel).
The radical look (angled midsole and colorway) is cool! The ride, while dynamic and forgiving, still felt more disjointed and harder to shift gears up or down than others and particularly the Nike Vaporfly and even the new Alphafly 2. The Pro 3 still requires a more forward strike ahead of the narrowish heel landing and then a strong knee lift with the new final toe off roll helpful but a bit late in my stride’s progression. A longer, more gradual rocker would be my preference.
As covered in the Ride section, the Pro 3’s utility and thus value for my personal needs is a bit up in the air with its sweet spot “around”, if not just below the half for me (expecting just under 1:40). I want the zip of the lower profile lighter Takumi Sen 8 for a 10K then the plusher springier, stable more tired legs, form slipping easier flow of the Vaporfly or even, I am thinking in their new iterations, the very stable Alphafly 2 or the Endorphin Pro 3 for a half and above.
All of this said the Adios Pro 3 is a solid update which should see it on more feet on race day as it now moves slightly away from an all elite focus to a slightly more “mid pack” pace friendly ride and feel.
Sam”s Score: 9.21 /10
Ride: 9.3 Fit: 9.1 Value 9 Style 9.6
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Adizero Adios Pro 2 (RTR Review)
Sam: Covered in detail in the review but to summarize. The AP3 is slightly softer in feel, has a less rigid and firm arrangement of carbon, a more pronounced final toe off, and a slightly better tuned upper. It is an easier and more pleasant shoe to run while not losing much of its elite racer character.
Vaporfly Next % (RTR Review)
Jacob: The Vaporfly is notably much lighter and more streamlined. It feels firmer and lower stack—and is not nearly as plush underfoot as the Adios Pro 3. I ran both for a 5k in the past month and the difference was dramatic. The Vaporfly has a more dramatic spring effect and blasts off the ground on toe-off incredibly quickly especially at paces as fast as I can run, even track speed for me. The Adios Pro 3 feels comparatively sluggish at fast paces. More toward marathon pace and upper endurance training paces, the Adios Pro 3 feels smoother and more forgiving whereas the Vaporfly feels like it wants to go faster. For fit, I find both to be true to size but the Vaporfly has a glove-like, lower volume fit.
Sam: Agree 100% with Jacob.
Alphafly 2 (RTR Initial Review)
Jacob: A direct competitor—both are max cushion plated marathon racers on a later iteration that introduce changes making them more forgiving and accessible to a variety of paces. I ran each for the same 12 mile route on consecutive days in testing. For me, the Alphafly is the superior racer for all distances. It provides a more noticeable propulsive effect and is quicker to go from landing to toe off. The ZoomX midsole foam feels more energetic and combining the air pods and plate leads to such a fun, fast ride. The Adios Pro 3 ride is more natural, flexible, and stable, but less inspiring to run your fastest times.
Sam: Agreeing with most of what Jacob says above. I do think the Alphafly is far more stable given its wider yet platform and substantial heel counter and very stout rear hold and overall all of piece upper. In addition to its softer and springier ZoomX, although Lightstrike Pro gets closer in AP3, the combination of the air pods and a soft final roll leads to a more energetic, smoother if more mechanical less natural feeling ride. While maybe not my choice for a 10K over the somewhat more agile feeling AP3 for everything above I will lean Alphafly.
ASICS Metapeed Edge + (RTR Initial Video Review)
Sam: The Edge + is 0.8 oz lighter with about the same heel height but with an 8mm drop vs 6.5 mm drop for the Pro 3. It has a firmer, more stable and more consistent ride feel than the AP3 with no cut outs and more conventional carbon plate located low in the shoe. Overall, the heel platforms are similar in width with the forefoot of the AP3 wider but in the end the Edge+ is more stable and I would say more boring if ultra consistent and smooth. Its upper is utter simplicity comparatively speaking, just mesh stitched in support and has a solid heel counter. It is an excellent light long trainer and a great race choice for those seeking a more stable ride.
Puma FAST-R Nitro Elite (RTR Review)
Sam: An interesting comparison. The FAST R has a superior upper and more stable heel. It’s front platform of bouncy Nitro Elite foam is far more energetic than AP3 but unlike the AP3 its midfoot 3D plate is much harder to get past and rigid than AP 3’s rods except at fast paces. Its design is very much focused on mid to forefoot striking while the adidas is more forgiving of a heel strike if on a narrower less stable rear of the shoe.
Jacob is a runner and general endurance sports enthusiast. He runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He averages around 50 miles per week. Jacob races on road and trail at a variety of distances from 5k to 50k. He has a recent PR of 2:49 in the marathon. In addition to running, he does hiking, biking (mountain/gravel/road), and nordic skiing. He is 26 years old, 6 ft / 182 cm tall and 155 lbs / 70 kg. You can check out Jacob’s recent activities on Strava.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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