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Anytime a popular shoe is updated, loyal wearers hold their collective breaths. Like many players, I was a big fan of the Asics Speed Solution 2—so quick and responsive with just enough cushioning and support for aggressive movements. It’s one of the premiere choices for players who like a lightweight, game day shoe.
To Asics credit, when they do update one of their well-liked models, such as the Speed Solution or GEL Resolution, the changes are generally incremental and subtle. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). The new Speed Solution 3 feels and performs very similarly to its predecessor. The only noticeable difference being a more expansive polyurethane wrap on the upper for greater support. Anyone who found the previous version to have too much give, particularly on lateral movement, will appreciate the added stability. And because it’s more rigid in the upper, the forefoot doesn’t feel quite as roomy, resulting in a secure, slightly narrow cut.
Of course, when something is added something can be lost. The extra support also means a little extra weight. The SS3 is still rather light, but my test shoe was nearly an ounce heavier than my SS2. For the speed freaks out there, some current models from K-Swiss (Hypercourt Express), Diadora (Speed Pro EVO II), Yonex (Power Cushion Durable II) and Wilson (Kaos) as well as upcoming releases from Babolat and Head are all lighter than the SS3. Still, the last word I’d use to describe the shoe is heavy. Or slow, for that matter. The combination of manageable weight, low-to-the-ground ride and streamlined profile make for very fast, assured movement.
If I had to pick between past and present, by a hair I’d probably opt for the less weight and airier upper of the Speed Solution 2. And it really is splitting hairs, because the SS3 is an excellent shoe. I’d have no hesitation using it regularly in competition, and most likely will do so in the future.
Frequent Pro Shop contributor, Kin Roseborough, was a faithful wearer and unabashed proponent of the Speed Solution 2. Here’s his take on whether its successor measures up:
Kin Roseborough: With racquets, I'm always willing to try the latest thing. Same goes for strings. But when it comes to my feet, I tend to be extremely loyal to "My Shoe." When I find something that works, I stick with it until the manufacturer (inevitably) changes the model. Then, reluctantly, I have to search for something new. About a year ago that something new was the Asics Solution Speed 2. I was stunned that a shoe so light could be comfortable, stable and supportive. Not surprisingly, the Solution Speed 2 has been My Shoe ever since.
For 2016, Asics has updated the Solution Speed. As always, when I hear that My Shoe has been changed, I'm filled with anticipation and trepidation. Are they better or are they… just not the same? Fortunately, for me, the Solution Speed 3 is a slight improvement over the previous version.
I needed no break-in time with the Solution Speed 3. Right out of the box, I was ready to hit the courts. I did notice that the fit was different than the SS2. In that model, I found myself in between a size 11.5 and 12. The 12 was fine with 2 pairs of socks, but still the upper puckered when I came up on my toes, and the forefoot flexpoint was a bit less than ideal for me. The 11.5 was glove-like snug, though not uncomfortable at all. My foot felt quite secure, in fact. I ultimately settled on the smaller size and had no jamming, even though my toes felt dangerously close to the end of the shoe.
With the Solution Speed 3, a size 12 proved to be perfect—about the same width as the 11.5 in the SS2, but a bit longer. And no more pucker in the slightly stiffer upper. My foot felt secure, supported and completely locked-in from heel to toe. Even on the most aggressive cuts, the shoe felt like one with my foot.
The comfort and stability are still top-notch. The Asics Solution Speed 3 is remarkably plush, especially for being so light. While not as padded as some shoes, I found the cushioning to be an ideal compromise between soft and responsive. The upper is a little more supportive than the SS2, without compromising the superb flexibility.
The only potential negatives I found were small. While the Solution Speed 3 plays just as fast for me as the SS2, the scale shows that it is slightly heavier. And the breathability, which I would give the SS2 a grade of B+, is only a B or B- in this one due to the extra material on the upper.
All-in-all though, this is a great update on an already terrific shoe.