The leather boot for everyone.
In most parts of the world, ASICS is associated with their excellent running and track and field expertise.
Though, back in their hometown Japan, ASICS is better associated with their football expertise. Their DS Light series has been a mainstay on Japanese fields, with the X Fly series being the weapon of choice for many professionals plying their trade in the Japanese leagues.
While the silo has gone through several tweaks since its initial launch in 2012, the X Fly series has always been built on the concept of marrying comfort with a lightweight tooling.
We absolutely loved what the ASICS X Fly 4 brought to the table. Does the X Fly 5 continue the streak or does it mess too much with the formula?
Comfort is king for the ASICS X Fly 5
The X Fly Pro series has since become ASICS’ dedicated speed silo. The ASICS X Fly 5 has gradually moved away from “speed” and towards the modern leather boot role in the ASICS line up. This is evidenced by the various changes that ASICS have made to the bootbeginning with the most “controversial” change, the upper.
While the forefoot continues to use ASICS’ platinum kangaroo leather, it’s now further backed with a 4mm high density foam, instead of a 3mm low density foam on the X fly 4. The most obvious effect is that the boot is now more comfortable and padded, but not as barefoot as before.
Other comfort-based changes include a tweak to the heel cup on the external heel counter where it has a new shape as well as a lower height. This allows it to accommodate more heel types, while remaining stable and locked in thanks to the use of a thicker and more dense material.
Lastly, the tooling has also been upgraded with indented hashes to help promote flexibility around the ball of the foot, while the rest of the soleplate uses convex hashes to improve stability when making quick changes of direction.
Out of the box comfort
Complementing the heel cup change is a slightly lifted toebox. This means that for players were in between sizes in the X Fly 4 can now comfortably go for the smaller size. For me, I went half down to a US8.5 (26.5cm) for a snug fit out of the box, versus my usual US9.
I’ve long crowned the ASICS Ultrezza AI as the most comfortable boot I’ve ever worn out of the box, and I’m extremely happy to note that the ASICS X Fly 5 is now on the same mantle.
Perhaps due to the new 4mm high density foam, my entire foot feels cradled by a warm pillow when I put the boot on. The new heel also feels more accommodating than the X Fly 4, and I experienced zero hotspots when training in it.
All it took was a short 10-minute warm up session before my game for the boot to mould beautifully to my feet. Whisper it quietly, I have no doubts that the boot would have been up to the task even if I’d gone into the game in it out of the box.
The ASICS X FLY 5 provides a beautiful touch on the ball
During my first game in the boots, my first thought was that I had found the new People’s Speed Boot – a lightweight boot that was extremely comfortable and would fit just about anyone.
Yet after my fifth game in it, I began to feel that it was the other way round. The ASICS X Fly 5 is actually a control boot with a speedy soul.
I love the ever so slightly padded touch on the ball that I got when controlling pinged balls from teammates. Dribbling on the ball also feels extremely natural, where the upper seems to help refine the rough edges of your ball touches, making it easier to perform more delicate touches.
Shooting felt exactly like how you’d expect from a leather boot. Just the right amount of padding to take the sting off harder shots made, but never quite feeling dull on the ball when hitting those longer-range passes or performing those short sharp tiki-taka ones.
An even more stable base
One of my favourite parts of the X Fly series has been how the lightweight tooling has also felt extremely stable and balanced, despite being a speed boot. I was initially worried that the studs would be too long after ASICS increased the length by one mm. Thankfully, it somehow feels as stable, when making those quick cuts and changes of direction.
I didn’t feel like the “lift” in the forefoot did anything in terms of helping me to propel forward, but the boot felt extremely comfortable to run in as a midfielder. The tooling is truly one of the few rare FG/AG compatible toolings, where it just worked on both grounds perfectly during my testing of the boot.
A leatherless future?
Much has been made about brands like Puma and Nike moving away from leather in their boots. Interestingly, ASICS also released a special edition of the X Fly 5, which made the entire upper out of “Ex-Skin”, which makes up the mid foot of the regular X Fly 5.
Incredibly though, the special edition doesn’t feel that different on feet and out of the box, and I’d probably struggle to identify the true leather variant when put to a blind test, a testament to the great job that ASICS have done with Ex-Skin.
The only minor difference I felt was that the forefoot on the special edition was slightly roomier than the normal version out of the box. This is probably as ASICS expects the k-leather upper to stretch and mould more easily, therefore the tighter fit out of the box.
On feet performance though, the two versions had little to no difference which is extremely impressive, considering how soft and supple the normal version already is.
A perfectly balanced boot for everyone
The X Fly series has gone towards a more balanced and “control” boot feel. Don’t let the package fool you though, the ASICS X Fly 5 weighs an incredible 204g, which comfortably puts it in the speed boot category. Most players will feel that it’s light enough.
If I had to describe the ASICS X-Fly 5 as a player, it would have to be a box-to-box midfielder. A player that performs 7.5/10 in every category, without specialising in any particular category.
In a sense, it is a great description of ASICS, where the focus has always been on ensuring that the boot allows their athlete to perform at their all-round best.
The ASICS X Fly 5 is the perfect antidote to today’s world where boots are often enhanced by marketing jargon to justify a price-tag much higher than it should be.
At $249 SGD, the ASICS X Fly 5 is an absolute must try if you’re on the market for a high performing boot that more than justifies its price, while focusing on one of the most important elements of your game – enhancing your on-pitch performance.