Article by Ryan Eiler
UA Flow Velociti Elite ($250)
Race flat feel semi flexible super shoe: best run fast off the stable but narrow heel Sam/Ryan
Fairly responsive and quick to rebound for 5-10k efforts Ryan
Foot hold is controlled very well by the strong upper Ryan
Competitive weight but..narrow rear platform and less than max limit heel limits race distance utility to less than a half for me. Others deliver more stack and platform width at the same or less weight Sam/Ryan
Rear of midsole needs to be wider and extend further back Ryan
Fits much longer than labeled size Ryan
Firm midsole lacks the rebound and leg-saving abilities of its competitors Ryan/Sam
Mid/forefoot feels underpowered and under-cushioned, relative to the rear Ryan/Sam
Outsole lacks the tenacity and durability of molded rubber Ryan
Approx. Weight: men’s oz 7.83 oz /222g (US9)
Samples: men’s 7.55 oz / 216g US8.5/EU42; M9.5 228g / 8.0oz
Stack Height: men’s 36 mm heel (measured) / 28 mm forefoot (spec 8mm drop)
Available globally Spring 2023. Unisex sizing. $250
Ryan: There have been a number of women who have been running seriously fast in the Flow Velociti Elite, albeit over much shorter distances than the marathon-specific one that this shoe is billed for. Under Armour has explicitly stated that the Velociti is intended to compete against the ‘top competitors’ in the market, and in doing so has set the bar perilously high for itself. The shoe features a dual-density midsole with a full length carbon plate, as well as a highly breathable ‘WARP 2.0’ upper and a TPE sockliner.
Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can. He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line. More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a new PR of 2:19 from the 2022 Maine Marathon and also ran a 1:09 half in 2021.
First Impressions, Fit and Upper
Ryan: It’s certainly not as flashy or head-turning as a ‘hyper orange’ Vaporfly, but the Velociti’s web-patterned, sewn on overlays still manage to give it a distinctive appearance, and its black/gray/white color gradient remains classy among a sea of class clown super shoes. The mesh is so ventilated that it was fairly easy to see the design of my socks underneath it.
Unfortunately, the shoe runs long by at least a half size, which delivered a suboptimal fit and strained forefoot tensioning throughout my testing.
Despite this, the strong but compliant material of the upper contains the foot exceptionally well, and hugs more like a 4-point harness than a standard seatbelt. Sizing aside, there wasn’t a single aspect of the upper that I could call out for a lack of comfort. Unlike some other gram-shavers, the heel is built solidly and confidently does its job – even when running effortful strides.
A very minimal but sufficient toe bumper lines the front and sculpts the toe box. The tongue is a fairly traditional, non-gusseted design with minimal padding protecting against the top few wraps of the flat laces.
A small cutout runs up the either side of the tongue and is bridged by an intricate network of black stitching. I couldn’t discern its exact purpose – maybe ventilation, maybe to prevent slippage, maybe aesthetics? It’s a minor but forgivable nuisance, as it does tend to make the outer edges of the tongue want to fold. All in all, this is a strong and effective upper worthy of a high performance shoe, which fit me a solid half size too long.
Full length carbon plate with some flex
Soft top layer of supercritical expanded pellets
Firmer supercritical Flow foam below non pellet in appearance
Ryan: In the midsole we have a full-length carbon plate sandwiched in between foams of very different personalities. The upper layer is a softer, livelier composition of expanded pellets, which looks and behaves a lot like Saucony’s ‘PWRRUN PB’ compound. Beneath the plate, a firmer and more stable slab of “Flow” foam focuses on both damping road impact as well as providing traction.
The dual-density composition soaks up the impact from footstrike in an impressive way, and its quickness to rebound encourages a fast turnover. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to return energy with quite the same magic as the other big brands’ flagship shoes, and it lacks the depth of cushion available elsewhere – especially in the forefoot. As far as carbon plates go, the full-length plate here is on the friendlier side, and flexes more easily than most.
The heel feels narrow, especially as it is rounded upward around its perimeter, further decreasing its contact area.
On a related note, the midsole doesn’t extend as far back behind the heel as I think it could. The foam ends immediately at the back edge of the heel, rather than reaching back a few more millimeters. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but there were times when this lack of a landing platform detracted from the shoe’s forward momentum. I’m not sure I’d appreciate this feeling late in a race on tired legs. We see the midsole extending rearward of the heel on most other top-shelf marathon shoes, and this is likely for reasons other than just aesthetics.
Ryan: The outsole is an interesting choice for what is touted as an elite marathoning shoe. Completely devoid of rubber, the lower segment of the midsole does double duty, providing traction where the rubber would typically meet the road.
Foam on asphalt usually produces a pleasant, friendly sensation during footstrike, and this design is no exception. It produces a definitively non-slappy feeling underfoot, for lack of a better adjective. However, I personally prefer rubber on racing shoes for its ability to provide maximal grip as well as its ability to support the midsole. I felt like I was losing a smidge of energy when pushing off of the foam underfoot, which is patterned like a checkerboard on LSD. To be fair, I certainly didn’t have any considerable issues with grip, and the outsole performed very well – even on wet asphalt. I just felt like the choice to use foam instead of rubber sacrificed a bit of tenacity.
After about 40 miles, I haven’t noticed any significant graining which bodes well for durability. However, my experience with foam vs rubber outsoles leads me to believe that over the next 100 miles or so, the foam is likely to wear relatively quickly.
Ryan: Although the Velociti is marketed as a marathon-specific shoe, the ride seemed to perform more like a shoe suited for 5k-20k distances. It lacks the deep, leg-saving cushion of the Adios Pro, Vaporfly, etc, but has a much quicker and peppier rebound for shorter efforts. The original Saucony Endorphin Pro immediately came to mind, for its similarly responsive, albeit stiffer and more aggressive, ride.
The relative softness and narrowness of the heel (as compared to the forefoot) encourages you to load the heel as opposed to the midfoot. This gives the front and rear of the shoe fairly disparate characteristics, resulting in a sort of division of labor: the heel aims to handle most of the energy transfer, while the front of the shoe primarily focuses on stabilizing the stride before toe off. But as I noted in the midsole critique, while the heel is quick to rebound and encourage turnover, its geometry prevents it from providing a truly confident feeling underfoot.
The shape of the midsole/outsole has a notably high arch, making the transition more of a discrete, two-step process than a smooth transition from heel to toe – not necessarily a good or a bad thing, just a matter of preference.
The plate sits fairly low up front, and is easily felt by pressing a finger into the ‘Flow’ midsole foam.
Packing the plate in here, immediately above the firmer outsole foam, probably contributes to a lot of the shoe’s forefoot stability.
Narrowness aside, the midsole is very well behaved for such a lively beast, rebounding in a directed and predictable way. The overall result is a ride which focuses on quick turnover through an energetic heel and a stiff, but not too-stiff, full length plate.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Ryan: Under Armour has me convinced that they’ve been studying hard and are on track toward building shoes worthy of praise. This Velociti Elite is an impressive improvement over many of their shoes of yesteryear. However, it still feels a bit unrefined and in need of some tweaking to get things just right.
As a $250 marathoning shoe it misses the mark, but it does make for a very capable and enjoyable ride for fast 5k-20k efforts. Its quick rebounding dual-compound midsole, its lightweight but strong upper, and its reasonably stiff plate tempt you to push the pace. On the other hand, the sizing is a bit off, the midsole geometry could be improved, and the Vaporfly-equivalent price point weakens the deal for me.
Ryan’s Score: 8.1/10
(Deductions for sizing, narrowness of the heel, front/rear ride balance, price, outsole material)
Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Adidas Takumi Sen 8 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): Although not billed as a marathon shoe, the Takumi makes for one of the closest comparisons to the Velociti within the past year. Both shoes are fast to rebound and turn over, with a bouncy but less than maximal stack height. The similarities continue when looking at their thin but strong mesh uppers, a narrow feeling at the heel, and low inertia. The sweet spot for both the Takumi and the Velociti is in covering distances of 5k-15k.
The Adidas feels like a more aggressive shoe, through its stiffer ‘energy rods’, its more propulsive nature, and its tenacious lockdown. It also happens to be about an ounce lighter, which I think is noticeable at faster paces.
However, the heel on the Takumi isn’t as stout as that of the UA – one place where the Takumi’s weight shaving shows. The Adidas also wins in my eyes on its outsole design, with Continental rubber at the toe offering superior toe-off grip.
Although the cutouts and nonconformist sculpting of its midsole take a little getting used to, the Takumi’s ride feels more balanced and evenly cushioned between the front and the rear. Maybe this has to do with a single type of ‘Lightstrike Pro’ foam being used by the Takumi, whereas the UA blends two differing compounds to deliver more impact damping, but less energy return. All this said, and as the Adidas is $70 cheaper, I’d definitely reach for the Takumi over the Velociti. The Adidas fit true to size, whereas the UA ran a half size too long.
Adidas Takumi Sen 7 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): Over an ounce lighter, and with a considerably lower stack (25/16 Adidas vs 36/28 UA), The Sen 7 rides much more like a modern day race flat than a half marathoner. Lockdown, foot containment, and grip in the Adidas are hard to beat, although the lower stack is far harsher on the legs.
Whereas the Velociti propels one off the heel, the Sen 7 is much less willing to help out, and prefers to be run on the forefoot where a section of ‘Boost’ foam helps with energy return and cushioning. The Adidas lacks the full-length plate of the UA, but it does have a ‘torsion plate’ in the midfoot to help transfer power.
As for the outsoles, these shoes could hardly be much different. The Velociti takes a much mellower approach through its ‘Flow’ foam, while the Sen 7 relies on very aggressive rubberized lugs which would be conducive to XC running. These are very different shoes with very different use cases. I’d use the Adidas as a racing flat for 5k or less, whereas the bouncier, more leg-friendly UA can hold its own up to half marathon distance.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 1 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): This is the shoe that immediately came to mind upon lacing up the Velociti. These two share nearly identical stack heights, are within 0.2oz of each other, and have full length plates with (at least partially for the Velociti) PEBA-based midsole foams.
While the plate on the Saucony makes it a more aggressive shoe overall, the shoes’ rebound characteristics are very similar. I felt that the stability of the Endorphin was better than that of the UA, largely attributed to its wider, more traditional and less sculpted shape underfoot. Comparing the uppers, the Saucony feels more fabric-like, whereas the UA is more plasticky but just as comfortable. The Velociti wins on foot containment and lockdown because of its superior strength. The Velociti is less assertive through its friendlier plate, and has more cushion in the heel.
The choice here mostly comes down to whether you prefer the Endorphin’s stiffer but more stable ride over the UA’s better lockdown and more heel-striker friendly heel. The UA is at least a half size longer than the Endorphin Pro 1.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): Both of these shoes are touted as marathon-specific racers, but the Saucony is clearly in the ‘super shoe’ category, whereas the UA is not. By comparing the specs alone, it’s apparent how different these two are: the Saucony is 0.5oz lighter despite nearly maxing out on legal stack height (39.5mm at the rear). The upper on the Saucony is more typical of a long distance shoe, with more room in the forefoot and a less aggressive mesh. While the UA’s midsole incorporates bouncy PEBA on the upper section of its midsole, the Endorphin uses an entirely PEBA midsole with a stiffer plate. The result is a considerably higher energy return and depth of cushion than the UA can provide.
However, the better behaved dual-density midsole of the Velociti is likely to be more appropriate for anything 10mi or less. I’ve also had considerable issues with the durability of the toe rubber and overlays on the Saucony, which aren’t likely to be an issue with the Under Armour. The Saucony fit me ½ size smaller than the UA.
Puma Deviate Nitro 2 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): The Nitro 2 has been one of my favorite trainers of recent memory, so this one’s a formidable opponent for the Velociti. The Puma is also a plated shoe, but its relatively flexible nature makes it perhaps the most versatile high performance trainer on the market. While the upper on the UA excels at foot containment, the Puma’s upper provides adequate lockdown but also feels more plush and appropriate for more “casual” running. Although the Puma uses a comparatively lively combination of Nitro midsole foams (2mm higher stack), its heel feels far more stable and friendly. All in all, the Puma is a far more versatile shoe with arguably the same level of snappy performance. At nearly $90 less I’ll choose the Deviate Nitro almost every time.
Asics Magicspeed 2 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): The Magicspeed’s ride differs considerably from that of the Velociti, despite their very similar weights and stack heights. The ASICS uses a consistent slab of plated FF Blast + foam to provide a confidence inspiring, very predictable ride with a smooth transition.
By contrast, the UA offers a livelier ride with a more deeply cushioned but much narrower heel, and a delineated transition between the heel and forefoot. Lockdown and containment is superior in the UA, especially in the forefoot. There’s certainly more ‘fun factor’ built into the Velociti, and I view it as a higher performing shoe, but I also don’t see these two as direct competitors.
The ASICS is meant to be a more budget-friendly high-performance trainer. It’s hard to justify spending an extra $100 for the Under Armour in my opinion. The ASICS fit true to size, while the Velociti was at least ½ size longer.
Adidas Adios Pro 3 (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): The Adios Pro has rightly earned its reputation as one of the very best marathoning shoes on the market. Although it feels slightly unnatural during the first run, the AP3’s ability to return energy and stave off leg fatigue is arguably rivaled by only the Vapor/Alphafly. At the same price point and weight as the Velociti, I’d pick the Adidas for just about any race longer than 10k. In comparing midsoles, the taller stack of Lightstrike Pro doesn’t respond as quickly or crisply as the midsole of the Velociti, and it isn’t as well behaved, but it does offer much more depth and propulsion in both the heel and the forefoot.
The UA would be preferable in cases where lockdown is of relative importance, or where a ~40mm stack might be unwieldy. The heel on the AP3 is far less structured and able than the sturdy cup on the UA, but I strongly prefer the tacky rubber on the Adios Pro. The UA fits a half size longer than the Adidas.
Nike ZoomX Streakfly (RTR Review)
Ryan (M9.5): Marketed as a 5/10k specialist, the Streakfly weighs in an astounding 2oz lighter than the Velociti, although its stack height is a couple mm lower at 32/26. While the Nike’s low inertia and exciting ZoomX midsole feel fantastically snappy on foot, overall it feels like a much less robust construction than that of the UA. While the UA uses a full-length plate, the Nike uses only a partial Pebax plate and a.
My biggest gripe about the Nike was that it felt underpowered because of the lack of stiffness in the forefoot. This is not the case in the UA, where the forefoot is the most stable part of the shoe.
Both of these shoes offer a fairly soft, narrow feeling in the heel, and are very quick to turn over. I felt that the geometry and composition of the Nike’s midsole made for a cleaner transition.
If you like a more supple shoe that feels weightless for 5k efforts, the Nike is certainly a fun ride. However, if you like more plate and don’t mind a slightly less refined ride, the UA is a noteworthy consideration. It’s also worth noting the $90 price difference here. The UA fits about ½ size longer.
UA Flow Velociti Elite will be available globally Spring 2023
Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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