The Adapt BB sneaker is Nike's new self-lacing basketball shoe, representing the latest in Nike’s boundary-pushing E.A.R.L. (Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing) technology. Retailing for $350, the sneaker releases today, Sunday, February 17 in conjunction with the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ahead of its release, Highsnobiety had a chance to test its capabilities on the basketball court, where we concluded that the shoe is easily worth its $350 price tag.
While self-lacing “power laces” (as coined by Marty McFly) have only been truly realized in the past 2-3 years, the idea itself as far as pop culture is concerned, can be traced back to 1989’s Back to the Future 2. In the movie, McFly wears “power-lacing” high-tops conceived by none other than Nike's legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield.
Over 25 years later, that futuristic technology became reality, first with a 2011 release of 1,500 Nike Air Mags that were sold exclusively on eBay, followed by a 2016 release when the shoe was re-named the Nike MAG, and only 89 pairs were sold at auction. Then came the HyperAdapt, co-created by Tiffany Beers and Tinker Hatfield, which was another exciting advent, but lacked practicality, and was simply not affordable. The Adapt BB takes those learnings and continues to push the boundaries of auto-lacing tech.
How it works
Even without the accompanying mobile app, when slipping the shoe on for the first time, a motor and gear train sense adjust the fit accordingly by sensing tension.
Once you download the Nike Adapt BB app and sync it with the shoes via Bluetooth, the real fun begins. If the wearer requires a more personalized fit, the sneaker can be adjusted either by the Adapt BB app or by manual touch on the midsole’s two light-up buttons. With the swipe of a finger or press of a button, the Nike Adapt BB tightens and loosens to the wearer’s preference.
The idea is that athletes need different fits for different situations, whether it be in-game, during practice, or during a timeout. To reach peak performance, you might want to lock down your foot and make sure the Adapt BB fits snug. If you’re resting, either on the bench or not playing as hard during practice, you might want to loosen the shoe to maximize blood flow.
Nike notes that an athlete’s foot changes during a game. Eric Avar, Nike VP creative direction of innovation says, “During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”
The real game-changer, though, is that different tensions can be saved as pre-sets on the app, meaning that a simple tap of the finger is enough to go from bench-mode to beast-mode. One potential pitfall to that feature is that if your phone runs out of battery, you’ll have to adjust the fit via the buttons on the side and won’t have access to your pre-set fits.
In theory, the Nike Adapt BB gets rid of the need to lace and re-lace your shoes over and over again, and streamlines the process of locking down the perfect fit.
The bells, whistles, and future capabilities
The Nike Adapt BB app also controls the color of the light-up buttons on the midsole. With the simple touch of a button, you can choose between a myriad of colors, truly personalizing the experience. Each preset fit can also be associated with a specific color, allowing you to quickly identify which fit setting you’re currently wearing.
Each pair of Nike Adapt BB also come with a wireless charging pad. While the shoes run on a battery that needs to be recharged occasionally, Nike has confirmed that 5 percent should be enough to last up to two days. This means the charging pad doesn’t have to go everywhere the shoes do.
As time goes on, Nike envisions it will be able to provide new digital services through firmware updates. While nothing concrete has been confirmed just yet, these updates could come as data tracking features that save key metrics.
More colorways are set to be released in the future, with Nike planning on bringing the FitAdapt technology to other sports and lifestyle products.
$350 is more than a fair price for what you’re getting
While at first glance the $350 retail price seems an exorbitant price to spend on performance footwear (in comparison, Lebron’s signature sneaker retails for almost half that at $185), the price covers both the ground-breaking E.A.R.L. technology in the shoe, as well as the charging pad in addition to a Nike performance sneaker.
The fact that the Hyper Adapt cost $720 just two years ago, and that old-school tech like the Nike Foamposite makes a $230-sized dent in your wallet, means $350 isn’t that crazy all things considered. Plus it's not just a sneaker, it's electronic.
With the Nike Adapt BB, the Swoosh really let the technology speak for itself, opting for a streamlined and minimalist design that plays into the futuristic theme.
It’s an objectively sleek shoe, more importantly though, it's quite comfortable. When testing the shoe, the sneaker was easy to slip in and out of, and just as easy to adjust the fit. The Nike Adapt BB is also surprisingly light, considering the tech that is packed into the sneaker. Plus the app is simple enough to navigate and doesn’t seem overwhelming, even when using it for the first time.
While it can take a few minutes to settle on your ideal fit, being able to save the presets makes finding the right fit easy enough during subsequent wears. Note though, that the shoe fits tight and sizing up a half size might be a good idea if you like slipping in and out of your shoes without any problems.
One minor caveat is that the motor is quite loud. This shouldn’t be a problem in a noisy on-court environment, but if you’re wearing the Adapt BB on the street or adjusting the fit in public, be prepared that some people might look at you funny. But maybe that’s just all part of the flex.
The Nike Adapt BB releases today, Sunday February 17 at 10am EST. Find out more about the release here.