Adidas Ultraboost PB Performance Review
THOMAS: I have a soft spot for the adidas Ultraboost line. You could call it a Boost spot. Although it’s always been on the chonkier column of running shoes, the ride is generally pleasing and the styling is always hype. The adidas Ultraboost PB is no different.
I reviewed the Ultraboost 20 in December, so I have a good handle on the similarities and differences between that shoe and the Ultraboost PB (hint: the differences are pretty much all in the upper).
Simply put, the Ultraboost PB is a stripped-down version of the Ultraboost 20, without sacrificing any of the cush. For comparison, the Ultraboost 20 weighs 12.9 oz. (366 g) while the Ultraboost PB comes in at 11.3 oz. (321 g) for a US M10.5. Not lightweight by any means, but clearly the PB has been sticking to its New Year’s resolutions on cutting the carbs. Two months on the treadmill and eggs every day for breakfast has this guy slimmed down by an ounce and a half. Impressive.
AUSTIN: So—this is the first Ultraboost I’ve run in. Upon opening the wicked cool all-black box, I steadied myself for the exciting feel of a Primeknit 360 upper. Instead, I discovered that the Ultraboost PB (short for Personal Best), takes its cues from the Ultraboost 20 but diverges in a few notable ways, including a new “Celermesh” upper.
Before unpacking the specs, I must acknowledge that I dreaded soiling the white and black colorway I received to review (which apparently isn’t available anywhere right now). Georgia has been awash with rain the past several weeks, so I knew that every run along the sidewalk and street was fraught with muddy puddles waiting to sully the upper (sigh). Such is the life of a southern belle. Still, I have been told that dirty running shoes are a good sign, which means that three stripes of dirt indicate a shoe is ready to be dissected.
THOMAS: After a trip to the county dump, the knit upper, extra padding, and sidewall cages previously found on the Ultraboost 20 are all gone. The Ultraboost PB is trim and slim, and the craftsmanship of the upper is flawless. Every detail is thought out and finished with precision.
The sheer translucent Celermesh upper (which sounds like the special of the day at the local hipster vegan restaurant) breathes like a dream and resolves my issues with the warm knit upper of the last two versions of the Ultraboost. A thin soft attached tongue stays put and has a perfectly placed pillow to protect the top of your foot, while two more pillows sit on both sides of your ankle providing the right amount of security to avoid heel lift. The upper looks and feels borderline thirst trap.
The midsole is the same 20% more BOOST midsole as the Ultraboost 20. I was a little worried that the lighter upper would give the PB a bottom-heavy feel, thankfully they cooperate for a balanced effect. The same Torsion Spring that was in the UB19 and 20 is used in the PB. It works well to give the BOOST structure. As well as the Torsion Spring, the Continental rubber stretch web outsole remains the same as the other two Ultraboost models.
The longest run I did in the Ultraboost PB was a 12-mile up-tempo run. Typically, I would pick a lighter and faster turnover shoe for a run like this one, but I wanted to get miles in the PB. On all my runs in the PB, the comfort was there; I was happy on the 12-miler that I was able to keep moving at a good pace even with a banged-up rib (a whole other story).
The 10mm drop PB rolls through the stride, and the BOOST foam does what it’s supposed to– it feels great on landing and bounces back energy into your stride. Lastly, the PB fits true to size.
AUSTIN: The Ultraboost PB retains the same midsole as the Ultraboost 20, so fans of that ride will appreciate the ample cushioning from heel to toe (the drop is 10 mm). I normally default to thicker socks in the maiden run of a new shoe, but the Ultraboost PB felt a little snug with this choice. I opted for thinner socks in subsequent runs and loved the toe box fit: accommodating but not sloppy. Unlike the Ultraboost 20, which utilizes Primeknit 360 to encase the feet and provide structure where needed, the Ultraboost PB employs Celermesh, a lighter, thinner mesh to reduce weight and emphasize performance. To put it another way, that midfoot cage is gone.
I thought the thin heel collar might feel uncomfortable as there’s minimal padding behind the Achilles, but I didn’t have any hot spots or blisters. Furthermore, the external heel frame kept my feet locked down in back from start to finish. Traction is solid in dry and soggy conditions thanks to the full-length Continental outsole.Shop Ultraboost PB – US Shop Ultraboost PB – EU
THOMAS: While lighter and more breathable, the PB is still on the heavier side of daily trainers currently available. I don’t really care about drop until it becomes noticeable. I can feel the drop in the PB, what I mean is, when running I can feel my stride being interrupted further back in the shoe than I normally like. I have run in many 10 mm drop shoes where the geometry still has me landing midfoot rather than feeling it further back towards the heel.
AUSTIN: Since personal best is a running expression that’s generally associated with speed, I’m surprised that Adidas kept the same midsole as the Ultraboost 20. Yes, a full-length Boost midsole feels fabulous for long runs, but if the aim of the Ultraboost PB is performance in any way, weight reduction should come from places besides the upper. Perhaps they could have integrated another foam to complement Boost.
The Celermesh upper is a little stiff, and I did notice some soreness (“digging in”) under my right ankle bone after one run. It didn’t happen in subsequent runs, but experiencing that irritation so soon out of the box is a bit off-putting. Also, the pull tab is there for show. Yep. Putting this one on will require a little more elbow grease. I would prefer a little more tongue padding to lessen the possibility of instep pain from the laces.Shop Ultraboost PB – US Shop Ultraboost PB – EU
THOMAS: This trainer’s upper breathes well, the Boost provides a well-cushioned ride with loads of energy return, and Continental rubber gives a smooth tacky ride. Overall, I really enjoyed getting miles in on the PB. I would recommend this shoe for the runner that wants style and comfort for their training. While not a light shoe, the PB can pick up the pace if absolutely necessary. Pair it with the Boston or Adios and you’d have a solid rotation for easy runs and speed days/racing.
AUSTIN: Though I haven’t run in the Ultraboost 20, I would be curious to see whether it feels better than the Personal Best, based on more heel padding and the Primeknit 360 upper. That said, I like this shoe, and will certainly reach for it for longer runs. The ride is super smooth and responsive in spite of the weight.
That said, personal best typically means race day, but this is not a shoe for racing. While I feel that the Ultraboost 20 still falls—at least to me—under the athleisure category (casual use and active use), I think that the Ultraboost PB is designed to function more like a typical running shoe.
You can pick up the adidas Ultraboost PB at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Ultraboost PB – US Shop Ultraboost PB – EU
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Hi Austin. Great review and I agree with most of your segment. One issue though,,,If you haven’t actually run in the UB20, how do you put it in the “athleisure” category? Heavy shoe, comparatively yes. But nothing beats ultraboost foam nor does anything outlive it. Give the UB20 a try and have a think. You might be surprised, I know I was. You might get some funny looks at mile 6, but at mile 26, well,,,you’ll figure it out. Marathon shoe that just doesn’t give up as well as a great high mile trainer. 60-80 mile weeks pain free? First shoe in years thats actually held up and worth its price. Ive heard it many times, “its too pretty to be an actual running shoe” well, give it a try. Thanks for all the input. You guys have a great site and really enjoy reading your stuff.