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Road Running Shoes • June 21, 2024

Adidas Adizero SL 2 Review: The Sleeper Hit of the Year?

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What You Need To Know

Weight

8.4 oz. (238 g) for a US M9 / 7.3 oz. (206 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 36 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)

Women: 32 mm in heel, 23 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)

Best For

Do-it-all daily miles

Key Features

Monomesh upper, Lightstrike Pro midsole, 20% recycled materials

On The Run
The Lightstrike sandwich is oh, so sweet Not Continental? Not a problem Fits a little tight for high-volume feet
Price / Availability

Available now for $130

Introduction to the Adidas Adizero SL 2

THOMAS: If you see the word Adizero in a shoe name, you know we’re talking about Adidas’ premium performance line. We weren’t expecting the Adidas Adizero SL when it came out and were surprised to find an exciting entry-level daily trainer in the Adizero line. This year, the shoe gets some upgrades that bring it up a notch. One of the best touches is the full-length Lightstrike Pro insert packed into the Lightstrike 2.0 midsole. Together, they make for a pleasant sensation while running, but we’ll get into all of that soon. First, let’s hear what Robbe has to say.

ROBBE: The good news about the rise of the super shoe over the last half decade is that sooner or later, all that bouncy foam had to trickle down to everyday folks running everyday miles. Sometimes, it came in spurts (e.g., the first version of this shoe with a small puck of Lightstrike Pro); sometimes, it came in spades (e.g., Asics Superblast). The point is, we’ve been seeing more and more of it, which is a great thing.

Lightstrike Pro, the bouncy foam found in top-tier, record-breaking shoes like the Adizero Prime X Strung and Adizero Adios Pro 3, has always been a solid foam that shows up on race day. It deserves the praise it gets. Basic Lightstrike, on the other hand, has been a letdown since the beginning, providing a mostly dead and dense feeling underfoot. The chasm between the two foams with similar names was deep and wide.

But now we have Lightstrike 2.0, which has softened up around the edges. In the SL 2, it’s used as a carrier around a generous bed of Lightstrike Pro. Two roads converged in a shoe, and that has made all the difference.

What we like about the Adidas Adizero SL 2

THOMAS: The SL 2 looks sleek with a micromesh upper that wraps the foot and fits like it’s ready for race day. “Race day” is code for a snug-fitting upper, and with my narrow foot, I welcome it. A well-padded tongue and collar provide comfort and a solid lockdown.

The fit is true to size, and my US M10.5 weighs 9.1 oz. (257 g.) That’s over an ounce lighter than the Nike Pegasus 41, and the lighter weight is noticeable when you turn up the heat and push faster paces. With a stack height of 36/27 (9 mm drop), it sits similar to the Pegasus 41; however, where we complained about the Peg feeling thin under the forefoot, the SL 2 has plenty of protection under the fat pad. I’ll chalk it up to how the Lightstrike combo softens the blow of impact.

Also, where the previous version of the SL had a puck of Lightstrike Pro, the SL 2 has a full-length slab of Lightstrike Pro sandwiched in a softer, spongier bed of Lightstrike 2.0. Footfalls in the SL 2 are softer but not deadening, and the foams rebound nicely. While the outsole rubber isn’t Continental, traction and tackiness are more than adequate.

ROBBE: There’s something about the look of this shoe that I just love. Maybe it’s the Samba-esque vibes; maybe it’s just the bold three stripes on black and the pink highlights. Either way, if you’re seeing what I’m seeing, then you already know it’s clean.

The upper is snug and secure at all points. Heel pillows keep everything locked in around the ankle, while the heavily padded tongue and easy lacing system (seemingly a first in Adizero shoes) provide a form-fitting wrap. This is a narrow shoe, so beware those of you with wider widths or high-volume feet. Personally, I loved it.

Underfoot is where Adidas has finally unlocked the secret of its own foam, solving the mystery of how Lightstrike and Lightstrike Pro can actually work together. I won’t sugarcoat it: for its first few years, I thought Lightstrike was a pretty garbage midsole and a poor successor to the Boost throne. I’m not alone here; very few runners found it to be anything other than dense and dead, a phrase which will probably find its way onto my headstone when I’m gone.

Lightstrike 2.0 had definitely softened up a bit and it’s generally worked well in shoes like last year’s SL. In this shoe, however, it’s finally found its lane, that of a supporting actor ceding the limelight to the main star, Lightstrike Pro. Used as a carrier around a bed of Lightstrike Pro, the entire package comes together in what has to be one of the best Adidas midsole combos in recent memory, especially at this price point ($130).

The ride is smooth and snappy at the same time, steady for daily training but fast when it’s required. In a way, it ties together the feel of all the best of Adidas’ midsole technologies. You get the bounce and energy return of the Lightrike Pro, but it’s stabilized and reined in by the Lightstrike 2.0. It’s a performance feel, but just in a more muted form, which is kind of exactly what you want in a lightweight trainer that can still handle big mileage.

I took this shoe out for a few runs, including a 12-mile long run with mixed elevation on crushed gravel. I absolutely loved it from beginning to end and even dropped my pace for the last three miles to a tempo pace, much below half marathon. I had no issues with weight or picking it up; it moved seamlessly between pace ranges.

The outsole doesn’t use Continental rubber like the more premium Adizero models, but it doesn’t seem to matter much — it’s still very good and covers much of the underfoot area.

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What we don’t like about the Adidas Adizero SL 2

THOMAS: I mentioned it in the previous section, but the shoe has a narrow-fitting upper; people with wide feet may want to steer clear of the SL 2. It may be how the shoe creased on my left, but I got a hot spot near the base of my big toe on my left foot. The irritation didn’t occur on the right foot. The defect could be an anomaly.

Along with the wide-foot peeps, runners who need stability should avoid this one. It provides little to no support for pronators.

ROBBE: Thomas is right. Those with wide feet or high-volume feet should probably find another shoe. It’s just very snug and maybe even a bit too snug in the toe box. I felt like if I went up a half-size, it would’ve been too long, so whatever your standard Adidas sizing is, just stick with that.

The mono mesh upper is certainly durable and abrasion-resistant, but as Thomas noted, it’s also a little abrasive. I didn’t have any issues, but I can tell that some people will. With a thick tongue, it does get a little warm as well.

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Final thoughts on the Adidas Adizero SL 2

THOMAS: The Adizero SL 2 is one of my favorite daily trainers this year. I would put it in the same league with the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4 and the Hoka Mach 6. All of these fit into my quiver of light, stripped-down daily trainers that can go with you when you want to go fast. I would still mix it with an actual race-day shoe and an excellent, well-cushioned recovery-day trainer.

For example, if I were building an Adidas-only lineup, it would look like this: the SL 2 for days when I feel fresh and may push the tempo, the Adios Pro for workouts and racing, the Ultraboost or Prime X Strung 2 for recovery runs. At $130 at launch, the SL 2 won’t bust your piggy bank. If you are on a tight budget, grab the original SL on sale for under $50; it’s still that good.

ROBBE: It’s crazy that the most affordable running shoe (excluding sale shoes or big box store models) could go down as one of the best shoes of 2024, but it’s true. It’s also on sale in the U.S. for $90 already, which makes no sense, but you should probably jump on that if it’s still the case. Sure, if you’re flush with cash, then you could get this along with all the other shoes Thomas mentioned, but I also think you could just get this shoe and it’ll work for pretty much everything. This will definitely go down as one of the bigger surprises of the year for me, and I can definitely see myself going back to this shoe early and often.

You can pick up the Adidas Adizero SL 2 for $130 from Adidas by using the buttons below.

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Adidas Adizero SL 2 | Full Review

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Comments

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Jon M says:

    I am a fan of your site as you have the best reviews on line. One of the things I look at with any shoe is the drop as I think it is essential to understanding and preventing injury. Could you address in a podcast or article? I just recently injured my achilles, thus I have been forced to take the Summer off from running and as someone who rotates shoes I always question the best drop for my running style and to prevent injury. Thank you!

  2. bwise says:

    I agree fully with you guys. The SL 2 is amazing for the price point. I enjoy this shoe much more than some of the $180/$200 plus supertrainers. I think the SL2 can do almost all my runs ( except recovery), I even like it for 15-18 mile long runs. Lightstrike pro might be my favorite foam. I even think for races, this would work for someone who has never ran a 10k or half before and don’t want to splurge for a plated/carbon racer, id probably go with this. The faster your run in the sl2 the better it feels too. Adidas finally nailed a light weight daily trainer.

    Also, curious what you guys think of the supernova prima ? Brooks Ghost Max competitor ?

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Authors

Thomas Neuberger
Founder
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be. 

More from Thomas
Shoe Size

10.5

Fav. Distance

26.2

PRs
  • 10:28

    50 Mile
  • 5:43

    50K
  • 3:20

    26.2
  • 1:36

    Half Marathon
Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

More from Robbe
Shoe Size

7.5

Fav. Distance

13.1

PRs
  • 3:27

    Marathon
  • 1:30

    Half-Marathon
  • 40:36

    10k
  • 19:17

    5K
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