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Road Running Shoes • November 30, 2021

Diadora Equipe Atomo Review

diadora equipe atomo - feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 8.8 oz. (250 g) for a US M9 / 7.0 oz. (199 g) for a US W7.5
  • Entirely designed and manufactured in Italy
  • Features full-length DD Anima midsole (29 mm/24 mm stack, 5 mm drop)
  • Engineered mesh upper
  • Available now for $195

The Intro

THOMAS: It’s hard not to feel romantic about Italy. After all, it has been the seat of western art and culture before anyone ever conceived of running as a recreational exercise. Artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Master Splinter to composers Vivaldi and Puccini have influenced the world we see and hear. Iconic brands like Ferrari, Gucci, Fendi, and Armani have set the bar for beautiful couture design.

Close your eyes and you can imagine a small street with a cafe. Imagine you are sitting at a small metal table set out on the cobblestones with a couple well-traveled Vespas parked nearby. You gently sip the bitter espresso. Off to the side of you sits a half-eaten pastry while smoke gently swirls off a hand-rolled cigarette. Soft music and the chatter of conversation fill the air. Now, look at your feet.

No offense, but if you’re wearing a pair of Brooks Launch in this scenario you deserve to wake up with a horse head in your bed. Instead, you’re wearing a pair of Diadora Equipe Atomo – a beautiful running shoe that was both designed and handmade at Diadora HQ in the fashion breadbasket of Italy. You are ready for adventure in style, whether it is a day of sightseeing or a run through the villa. One thing to note about this scenario: I have never been to Italy so I may have just described Austria for all I know. That said, I know that some classic stuff comes from Italy and the Diadora Equipe Atomo is one of those things. But all good things come with a fee, so be prepared to pay a premium for the pedigree.

ROBBE: Ciao, runners.

Diadora, which has attempted to grab a handhold in the running world over the last few years with models such as the Mythos Volo and Equipe Corsa, is now making a go at the max cushion game. It’s a spot long-held by Hoka and recently replicated by pretty much everyone. I have to believe there was a time a couple years ago when every shoe company went over to their production facilities in Vietnam with a Hoka Clifton in hand, gave it to the facility manager, and said: “Hey, make this shit, but just different enough that we don’t get sued.” Except Skechers lifestyle, they just told him to copy everything from everyone.

That said, for the production of the Equipe Atomo, Diadora forewent Vietnam or Southeast Asia entirely, a move that may benefit them in a Covid economy riddled with production and logistic pitfalls. Case in point– every other shoe company is royally f*cked by production shutdowns in Vietnam (not to mention the container ship parade that’s been going on for months). Meanwhile, Diadora has a full stock of Equipe Atomo locked and loaded, as the shoe was manufactured entirely in the original Diadora factory in the Dolomites region of Italy. However, while their supply bin may be filled to the brim, slapping the “Made in Italy” stamp on a shoebox comes at a premium price tag ($195) that creates a substantial gap between its competitor’s pricing. It’ll be interesting to see if the general consumer finds it a short enough bridge for their wallets to cross.

Onto the basics of the shoe: At a glance, the Equipe Atomo has many of the same features as a typical max cushion shoe– a slab of DD Anima foam (Diadora’s proprietary EVA polymer blend) for the midsole, engineered mesh upper, exposed midsole and partial rubber outsole (nearly identical to a Hoka outsole). It’s surprisingly lightweight for how chunky it looks. First step-in was promising. And then we ran. Let’s get to the review.

With a 29 mm stack of proprietary DD Anima midsole and a luxe engineered mesh upper.

MEAGHAN: Thomas and Robbe covered all the basics and a whole lot more that you probably didn’t know you needed from a shoe review, so I’ll just let you get into the review.

diadora equipe atomo - women

Diadora Equipe Atomo – Women’s

The Good

THOMAS: I won’t dodge the obvious, the Equipe Atomo borrows a lot from Hoka. As one of the top shoe brands on the market, this isn’t a bad thing, but you can tell Diadora is copying Hoka’s homework. The mesh upper on the Atomo is open and modern with design cues from classic trainers. Toe down you can see a toe cap pattern that goes back to the 1970s arrow style overlay. The fit is narrow but true to size.

The gently padded tongue and heel counter keep the foot securely mounted over the DD Anima EVA foam. The upper is comfortable and breathable. The shoe’s platform is a solid high stack block of the new foam. With a 4 mm drop the shoe ride mimics a Hoka Clifton or Rincon if not a little firmer than both. Finally, The outsole rubber is placed strategically for traction and durability.

For my first run in the Atomo, I ran fifteen miles out of the box at an uptempo pace. I didn’t have any issues. I continued to put in more miles and by the time I sat down to write this review, I had piled up well over 50 miles in the Diadora.

My size 10.5 weighs 256 grams/ 9 oz. That is a very light daily trainer.

ROBBE: I’ll get straight to the point– this is the best running shoe yet from Diadora, though the bar wasn’t exactly set sky-high from earlier models. The first step-in is extremely comfortable. An engineered mesh upper provides a great deal of padding and comfort while maintaining fair breathability. The tongue is padded almost to the level of lifestyle shoe (I mean, this shoe is a great lifestyle shoe as well) while the rest of the foot is enveloped nicely. I should say it’s also a very beautiful shoe, especially the white women’s version, or the very limited-edition Gelindo Bordin version that released a couple weeks ago. The Mythos Volo was one of my favorite designs of 2021 and I wore the hell out of that shoe, I suspect I’ll be doing the same with this one.

I put in over 40 miles on the shoe, from a 15-mile long run to an 8-mile speed workout (I forgot my tempo shoes that day), and a bunch of everyday running in between. What I like about this shoe is that it’s certainly a reliable daily trainer. The 29 mm midsole with a 5 mm drop provides a fair amount of cushion as you would expect from looking at the shoe. On the run, it’s responsive though probably not as bouncy as I would have thought from the first step-in. Diadora was really hyped on the energy return of the midsole, but it’s not at the level of some other shoes out there. I believe this is due to the fact that Europe just prefers a firmer shoe in general, so it’s kind of hard to convince the production team that “No, for real, Americans like shoes this soft” because it just seems ridiculous. I mean, have you seen the way we get offended at Tweets over here? We’re softer than Italian ice at noon in the Naples (Florida) sun. 

The weight of this shoe is certainly on point. At 8.8 oz, it sits on the right side of the scale for daily trainers. On the run it feels equally lightweight, allowing for an easy turnover and transition. Overall, this shoe reminded me of exactly what a shoe would be if the Hoka Clifton and Rincon had an Italian baby, which would be weird since Hoka is French, but hey– anything goes in the shoe sex world. 

Ignoring the fact that the Duratech-5000 outsole rubber sounds like the go-to broom for the Gryffindor quidditch team, it provides decent traction with sections in the forefoot and heel. Weight savings come from leaving the midfoot of the midsole exposed, similar to the Hoka designs we’ve seen over the last year or two.

I absolutely love that this shoe was made in Italy in the original factory at the hands of longtime Diadora craftsmen/women. It’s something that elevates the shoe and makes it more of a culture piece instead of the cookie-cutter running shoe that you can just get off Amazon. And yes, that comes with a price. Everyone talks about how they wish more things were made domestically with fair wages, but nobody wants to actually spend the money to justify the manufacturing costs for the company. Instead, we just buy into bullshit fast fashion trends in a downward.spiral of competitive pricing derived from cheap Chinese labor until we expect a t-shirt to cost $10.

This is a decision you’ll have to make– do I spend the extra $55 to get that little rubber “Made In Italy” lace piece on my shoe? Or am I okay with a Hoka Clifton or Rincon made in southeast Asia with cheaper labor? I’m certainly not judging, as pretty much every piece of clothing I’m wearing at the moment was made in Vietnam or Southeast Asia, but it’s nice to have a piece on the feet that comes straight from the fashion capital of the world.

diadora equipe atomo - made in italy

MEAGHAN: In typical Diadora fashion, the aesthetics of Equipe Atomo are on point. The women’s colorway is white with a golden logo and a delicately painted Italian flag. The shoes feel great on step-in. The tongue, collar and heel are well padded and provide a nice, plush feeling. 

The upper is designed with an engineered mesh that breathes well. Outside of the blue and gold pull tab, and “Made in Italy” rubber tag on the front of the shoe, it’s a really simple, clean design. The flat, stretchy laces are pretty standard, and lock the foot down nicely. Overall, it’s a really comfortable shoe. 

Beneath the foot is a DD ANIMA compound, which is a light, fairly responsive foam. It’s got some good stack height (which I love) and reminds me a lot of the HOKA Rincon. There’s some decent rubber coverage beneath the forefoot and heel for added durability. The shoes are designed with a 5 mm drop and my W7.5 came in at 7.0oz, pretty light for all that shoe. 

Shop Equipe Atomo – Men Shop Equipe Atomo – Women

The Bad

THOMAS: The Diadora Atomos leans to the firmer side of the spectrum. With this much stack, there is no need for it to be this firm. The reason people have adopted Hoka as a brand so quickly is because of the comfort/cushion to weight ratio. While the Atomos is light enough, the cushioning felt a few degrees too firm.

Some will complain about the nearly $200 price tag, but I think it is a fair price considering that the shoe is made in Italy and not in an Asian factory where the price of labor is considerably less expensive.

ROBBE: As I mentioned earlier, you’re not going to get that same bouncy and soft feel you’ll get from, say, the Hoka Rincon 3. It just feels firmer on the run than its looks would suggest. I would say this is mostly in the forefoot, so you don’t really get much of a pop in transition. Despite the shoe being fairly lightweight, I had a hard time not feeling like I was running against gravity when trying to pick up the pace. Once you get up to a pace you can hold it there, but the process of doing so was not fun. There just isn’t much pop or excitement to the shoe; to be frank, it just doesn’t hang with the state of midsole foams right now. Even Hoka is finally moving away from EVA.

While the upper was comfortable, I don’t know that I got the lockdown I love. I just felt that when I picked up the pace, or really anytime, I’d get some movement. Very slight, and maybe it’s just my own perception, but I thought I should note it anyway.

I mean, I know I tried to justify it in the good section, but $195 is a lot of money for a daily trainer that may be inferior to other shoes in its class that are $50-$60 cheaper. You really do have to approach that price tag by keeping in mind that it was made in Italy and that it can also live out a second life as a kick around shoe.

MEAGHAN: I wanted a little more ‘give’ than this shoe provided. I found the DD Anima foam, paired with the rubber outsole, to be a little too firm. It’s nice for tempo days, but less appealing for recovery days or even everyday running.  

The other downside would be the price. You’ve got to shell out nearly $200 for this one. 

Shop Equipe Atomo – Men Shop Equipe Atomo – Women

Diadora Equipe Atomo Conclusion

THOMAS: I have to approach this trainer a little differently than a strictly performance running shoe. There is a lot to unpack. First, you have the made in Italy component. These trainers are crafted versus assembled. They are the passion project of a brand finding its way back into performance running. They are doing it cautiously and with intention. If I were to just look at the shoe as a performance tool, it would come out quite average with several competitors coming to market at a lower price point. This is a shoe that has to mean something to the wearer. The Atomos is not a shoe you will end up in by accident. The consumer will want the romance of Italy, the style, the heritage in a running shoe that can perform well. Personally, I would like the shoe a lot better if the foam were softer and bouncier.

ROBBE: I’m pretty happy to see Diadora put out its best running shoe yet. I’m equally happy that it looks damn good and runs pretty well, despite some improvements that need to be made going forward. So who should buy this shoe? Someone who’s looking for an elevated running shoe that separates them from the pack, who appreciates a running shoe that’s actually made in Italy. Someone who just needs a comfortable daily trainer they don’t have to think about, or just wants a really, really, comfortable kick around shoe for everyday wear. Will this win any “shoe of the year” awards? No, but it will get the job done if you need it to. 

By the way, if you haven’t seen any of the mini arthouse running films for this shoe (featuring Sydney Gidabuday and Gelindo Bordin), you should probably check them out because they’re lots of fun.

MEAGHAN: The Diadora Equipe Atomo is a quality daily trainer. Made in Italy with some of the best materials, you’ll certainly look good out there on the pavement. I love a shoe with a thick stack in a lightweight package, but the Equipe Atomo had me craving a touch more squish. 

You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Equipe Atomo – Men Shop Equipe Atomo – Women diadora equipe atomo - hanging out


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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Floriano says:

    I am in the lucky position to have received this shoe as a gift from my working collecues as a go away gift (thank you very much, Especially Manfred and Sonja for the idea, and all 8 of you for the, over here, 179 euros price).

    My version is the 43 men pure white, gold/Black trim and it is simply the most gorgeous actually functual shoe I have possessed within 5 years.

    Pros: near perfect upper lock down sole grip, so far durability (I am much heavier than avg size 43, with stocky 109kg, muchuacle but also much fatto, as I don’t only like Italian (and Austrian, which is where I live) wear, but also food.
    Within near 60 km so far the sole looks, aside from slight brownarkongs, simply new. No cringes, no profile markings, no change in responsiveness or other stuff.
    For heavier people the mix of VERY resilient, bouncy, VERY comfortable and very deep cushioning is simply near to perfection.
    The heel grip, IF you open 4 rows and don’t crimp up the heel part in its upper third (where it is soft) is excellent, the la es do not need a second rechonxh withing 12ish km (I ran 5 11 to 13km runs), and lastly whily well aired, the late February and early March are not too cold (2 to 12 degrees) for it, with avg thickness running socks.
    Really light for a non supwrloght superfoam near not even there upper shoe.

    Avg: bouncyness: it’s no Asics Novablast or Nike Zoomx, but not TOO far off.
    Grip on wet ground without structure is OK, not great. And lastly while wide, the forefoot is not an alter or topo.

    Bad: obviously, it’s neither water, wind nor frost proof. It’s sole has near zero ice grip, and lastly, if getting wet, they take hours to get dry again.

    In total I’d rate it somewhere like this:

    Design: 9+/10
    Build quality: 9+/10
    Overall grip 8/10 (summer, and or dry 10/10)

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