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Road Running Shoes • June 16, 2023

Adidas Adizero Boston 12 Review: The Boston is Back!

adidas boston 12 cover

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What You Need To Know


9.2 oz. (260 g) for a US M9,

7.5 oz (215 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

37 mm in heel, 30.5 mm in forefoot (6.5 mm drop)

Best For

Daily training, tempo, budget race day

Key Features

More Lightstrike Pro in forefoot, softer Lightstrike Pro 2.0 in heel, one piece mesh upper, new EnergyRod configuration

On The Run
Feels like the perfect counterpart to the Adios Pro 3 Softer heel provides a comfortable ride The tongue is so damn thin


The Intro

THOMAS: The truth is that we don’t always get it right when it comes to reviewing shoes. I can see the shocked look on your face, but it’s true. Sometimes we need help understanding the shoe’s purpose or the product team’s initial brief. Perhaps we ran in the shoe on tired legs, or we got early releases that received in-line changes before the actual launch. However, when it came to the Adidas Boston 10 and Boston 11, I was sure we nailed the review.

The shoe’s midsole and cushioning sucked. The Lightstrike midsole was dense and dead. We got feedback from fans of the shoe explaining that we needed at least 50 miles in the shoe before it broke in (who has time for that?). We heard from the designer. He told us that the Adidas pro athletes helped design and test the shoe with an underlying tone that went something like, “These shoes aren’t made for peasants; they are made for the best of the best; you are not the best. Pound sand with your middle-of-the-pack pace.”

I scratched my head, and in between testing other shoes, I kept trying to strap the Boston back on to see if I was missing something. I wasn’t. Nothing changed. With the arrival of the Adizero Boston 12, I knew we had gotten it right, and Adidas made the changes we wanted to see, which includes a softer version of Lighstrike 2.0 midsole foam, more Lightstrike Pro in the midfoot, and a new EnergyRods 2.0 configuration that matches the Adios Pro 3 (although, they’re made of fiberglass, not carbon fiber).

All of those changes come together to make the Boston 12 the ideal training partner for the Adizero Adios Pro 3. Finally. The brick-like midsole in the 10 and 11 was our biggest complaint, and Adidas softened both the Lightstrike Pro and the Lightstrike 2.0. The lower stack midsole feels more responsive and forgiving while retaining a snappy ride. A breathable, engineered mesh upper made with at least 50% recycled materials ties the whole package together.

Let’s see if the Boston is back.

Oh, heel yeah

MEAGHAN: I laced up the Boston 10 and 11 and then just as quickly put them back on the shelf. We get a lot of shoes to review, and I know pretty quickly when one isn’t going to work for me. Those versions of the Boston were firm and lacked a responsive quality. Thomas convinced me that the updates to version 12 were substantial, so I gave it a go. Thomas covered most of the updates, so let’s get on with how it performed out on the roads…

ROBBE: As Thomas already noted and I pointed out in our First Thoughts on the shoe, the Boston has a long legacy that was kind of wrecked by the last two versions. We saw what Adidas was trying to do: overhaul the Adizero performance line with a design ethos that blended seamlessly between race day (Adios Pro), tempo/short race (Takumi Sen), speed workout (Adios 8) and super trainer/do-it-all shoe (Boston).

The first two, they nailed. The second two were somewhat of a flop, especially the Boston. This was mostly thanks to the first iteration of the Lightstrike, which was one of the least enjoyable midsoles on the market. Now that the formula has been tweaked, the ship has righted itself, and the Boston has caught up to the level of the Takumi and the Adios Pro. It’s the perfect training partner for both and brings back what we always loved about the Boston— a straightforward shoe that can do it all.

Ridin’ on Continental Rubber

The Good

THOMAS: I don’t want to say that the Boston is back. Because this isn’t the Boston that led up to the 10 and 11. It’s a new shoe and a perfect companion to the race day Adios Pro 3. The feeling under your feet is similar to the Pro 3 but more stable under the heel with the firmer Lightstrike 2.0.

The wider forefoot compared to the 10 and 11 also adds to a more stable ride, while the extra helping of Lightstrike Pro under the palm of your foot adds to the springy toe-off. The Boston 12 is a running shoe that challenges you to push the pace. You won’t be worried about traction with the Continental Rubber outsole. The shoe corners well and rides smoothly over the pavement.

MEAGHAN: We’re calling fast training shoes “super trainers” here at Believe in the Run, and that’s exactly where the Boston 12 lands. It’s durable enough for daily training but features a bunch of performance tech to give you some of those race-day vibes. The layered midsole features Lightstrike Pro for a softer underfoot feeling and Lightstrike 2.0 for a more stable, durable ride. Between the two layers are the Energy Rods 2.0, which gives you a nice bounce. It’s definitely a firmer feeling ride, but I really enjoyed it. I found myself naturally picking up the pace, even on easy runs.

I also found the Boston 12 to be surprisingly lightweight. My US W7.5 came in at 7.6 oz.

Now that’s a breathable weave

ROBBE: I had low hopes for this shoe, namely because I heard a lot of PR talk that seemed like the same old song and dance — ”Oh, this foam is softer, this is more responsive, it feels lighter on the run, our athletes love this shoe, it’s the best one yet.” And on and on. Well, they weren’t lying this time. It really is all those things.

Full disclosure: I only had two runs in this shoe (more on that later), so consider this more of first thoughts, or whatever you will.

I can tell you that right out of the gate, the Boston 12 feels a whole lot different than the last two versions. The Lightstrike 2.0 actually is soft, but not in a sinking, mushy feeling. Rather, it feels soft in just the right way — your foot sinks enough to disperse the impact but immediately rebounds and transitions into the ever-amazing Lightstrike Pro in the forefoot, aided by those bendy EnergyRods 2.0.

On the run, you get a good ground feel without the harshness or brickiness found in the past two versions, and the Continental rubber outsole grips the pavement, digging you through the stride.

The Boston feels like the Adios Pro Lite. I mean, it feels remarkably similar. Which makes sense. Almost everything about the shoe gives off race-day vibes. The EnergyRods configuration is exactly the same, both have Continental rubber outsoles, both have Lightstrike Pro, and both have a single-piece, lightweight, breathable mesh upper. The weight isn’t that far off, and the fit is mostly the same.

All that to say, this could easily stand in as a budget racer for someone who doesn’t want to drop $250 on top-tier shoes. It looks great, too, though I kind of did like the unnecessary overlays on the Boston 10. The 50% recycled upper is very breathable and fits well if — like the Adios Pro — you can figure out how to get the lacing right.

Shop Adidas Boston 12 - Men Shop Adidas Boston 12 - Women

Them laces is still tricky

The Bad

THOMAS: Most of my issues with this shoe came from the upper. A tempo trainer should fit snugly, but the Boston 12’s upper is too generous. I had to tighten the laces to get a comfortable fit, yet the heel counter still had some play, even with the laces tightly wrapped. The laces on Adidas racers are always difficult to adjust, and the tongue is a thin, felt slab of bacon — and not the fatty kind.

MEAGHAN: I could not get a good, secure fit in this shoe. The lacing system makes it challenging to find that perfect lockdown without a lot of work. You have to cinch up each lace one at a time, and if you make them too tight, the EnergyRods feel like they’re digging into the bottom of your feet, and then you have to start all over again. Maybe I need a half-size down, or maybe I just need more patience to get the lacing right (probably both, TBH).

Midsoles are like onions — we like layers

ROBBE: Same as Thomas and Meaghan, the Adidas lacing systems are always endlessly frustrating. With an ultra-thin tongue and laces, it’s so damn hard to find the right fit. Every shoe in the lineup is like this, and it’s the only brand we have issues with. Now, if you get the right fit, you are locked in like Jordan vs. Jazz in the ‘97 finals. That’s a big “if,” though. Also, the tongue is just way too thin. At least have a stitched-in pillow or something.

And here’s why I only had two runs in the shoe. Leading up to Boston, I ran a 20-miler in the Adios Pro 3. Afterward, I felt a pain at the base of my second toe but just rested through it until race day. On race day, all was fine, but afterward — same pain. It didn’t go away after a month (even with limited running), so I eventually took off a full three weeks.

All was fine, and then the Boston 12 came in for testing. On my second run in the shoe, I could feel the same pain coming on in the exact same spot, which I hadn’t felt in any other shoes. I found it interesting that the Boston 12 has the same rod configuration as the Adios Pro 3, meaning it now has singular rods that curve up right under those piggies.

Again, purely speculative, but I’ve also heard the same thing from another runner recently, so maybe there’s something to it. That said, I’m sure the shoe works for plenty of others, and maybe don’t take it for a 20-mile and 26.2-mile run right out of the box.

Shop Adidas Boston 12 - Men Shop Adidas Boston 12 - Women

The Boston remains a good-lookin’ shoe

Adidas Adizero Boston 12 Conclusion

THOMAS: Despite the flaws mentioned in the above section, I enjoyed testing this shoe. The ride is close to a perfect mix of forgiving cushion with a responsive pop. While Adidas recommends the shoe for speed work and tempo runs, I like the Boston 12 as a daily trainer. This shoe falls into a new category: super trainer. The new class of super trainers is a mix of race day ingredients incorporated into a more durable, less aggressive package than the racing counterpart. Other shoes in this category include the Asics Superblast, Saucony Kinvara Pro, Hoka Mach X, and the New Balance SC Trainer v2.

MEAGHAN: The Adidas Adizero Boston 12 is a great update. The softer feeling midsole and propulsive EnergyRods provide a really fun, enjoyable ride. While I didn’t love the upper fit and lacing system, I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker. If you enjoy racing in the Adidas Adizero Pro 3, this would be the perfect training companion.

ROBBE: As Thomas and Meaghan already said, the Adios Pro finally broke out of its mold and can now be considered a viable training counterpart to the pretty incredible Adios Pro 3. If you can dial in the fit, you must not quit.

You can pick up the Adidas Adizero Boston 12 for $160 at Adidas using the buttons below.

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adidas boston 12 - shop men
Shop Adidas Boston 12 Men
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Shop Adidas Boston 12 Women

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Adidas Boston 12 |Boston is Back!


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Vinod Jacob says:

    I wish they had that blue colorway at RW otherwise I would be purchasing these today.
    Do you know when it is releasing – that is a sick colorway

    And is it correct based on what you said in another post that we should go a half size down in this shoe?

  2. Ash says:

    The blue colour way releases on the 1st of July, the initial 15th June launch was the just the black white / and fluro colour ways

  3. Phil Moorehead says:

    I’m the guy who (eventually) loved the Boston 10. I didn’t care for the upper on the 11, and all other things being equal, I got a another pair of 10s i.l.o. the 11 when the 11 came out.

    I almost bought a third/steeply-discounted pair of Boston 10s at a race expo about a month back, but an Adidas rep mentioned that the 12 was probably coming in August.

    So, with expectations set for a long wait; imagine my elation when I searched “Boston 12 release date” today, found the Adidas press release from a couple weeks back, and subsequently; this review… demonstrating that even you Boston 10 haters are fans of the 12!

    I cannot wait to go try on a pair of the 12s… here’s hoping they feel like a pair of 10s with 450 miles on them!

    (P.S. Love you guys)

  4. Cory says:

    I fully agree with the comments on this shoe. I was really hopeful when the Boston 10 came out, but it was a dud.

    The Boston 12 fixes nearly everything that was wrong with the 10 & 11. Lightstrike 2.0 is a game-changer for this shoe. When I first felt this shoe back in January, I was excited for how it would feel on my foot. After finally lacing it up this week, my first few steps were heavenly.

    The tongue / lacing is quite annoying but I managed to get it closer to perfect on run #2. The tongue reminds me of the Saucony Endorphon Pro Plus – it goes too far down the sides, so every time I’m lacing them up, I have to dig in there to make sure it’s not overlapping. Also, if you’re using the runner’s loop to get a better heel lock, the laces end up being just a little bit too short.

    As I have a slightly wide foot, I really appreciate the extra width of the forefoot. The medial side of the heel seems like it’s slightly raised compared to the lateral, which gave a feeling of support without being overbearing. It was a nice platform for landing when running downhill.

    Overall, this is the first good daily trainer by adidas in quite a few years – and it’s the first that can be used both for training and for race day for those that don’t want to spend a ton on super shoes. A great win for adidas.

    1. Robbe says:

      Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Robbe says:

      Thanks for the feedback! Pretty much feel the same.

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Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
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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.

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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. 

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Meaghan Murray
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Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.

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