Price: $150 (Buy)
Weight: 12.9 oz. (M 9.5); 10.2 oz. (W 7.5)
Warranty: None

When it comes to judging shoes, most players turn into Goldilocks. They want something that's sturdy and supportive, but not too rigid; durable and dependable, but not too heavy; responsive and low to the ground, but not at the expensive of plush cushioning. Invariably something has to give. Most shoes just can’t juggle all these opposing demands. While not always mentioned in the same breath as some of the more heralded brands, Diadora’s new B.Icon may straddle that line as well as any recent offering.

Although a fan of its Star K line, it had been some time since I sampled anything from Diadora. A recent trip to a favorite local tennis retailer introduced me to the B.Icon. The first generation shoe is designed to be the lightest and most responsive the brand has ever produced. With my size 11.5 checking in at 14.8 oz. it’s no flyweight, but it still had speed written all over it.

The fit of the shoe was fairly true to size. It could be a smidge long; if often between sizes depending on brand, it might be advisable to drop down to the smaller choice. However, if you’ve always been a solid number, it will probably hold true with the B.Icon as well.

The upper—constructed of D-Skin covering Air Mesh material—hugged the foot and flexed well during hard cuts. The mesh is layered and fairly plush, which also bolstered comfort. However, it did raise concerns about ventilation. I only tested the shoe indoors and in temperate outdoor weather, and there were no breathability issues. But it would be premature to give it a stamp of approval in toasty conditions.

Another nitpick was after several weeks of wear I did notice some peel away of the skin from the mesh underlay around the lateral part of the toe box in my right shoe. It had no noticeable effect on performance, but diminished the aesthetics.

One notable innovation on the upper was the external stabilizer hook located on the lateral side of the shoe. Incorporated into the lacing system, it was a clever way to increase stability around the ankle when executing side-to-side movement. And since it’s on the outside of the shoe rather than directly integrated in the upper, it didn't make the shoe feel stiff or rigid.

Like the Mizuno Exceed Tour 5, another recently released and reviewed speed shoe, the B. Icon also had a high heel counter. However, in this case the collar sat higher up on the ankle, so the appearance wasn’t so dramatic. And the high profile did an effective job of keeping the ankle and back of the foot more secure.


Diadora B.Icon

Diadora B.Icon

Another boon to the security and fit of the upper was the lacing system. The shoe has lots of eyelets—eight on each side. The last set of two are almost stacked on top of each other which really helped lock the foot in place. The downside was if you use all of them, the laces can get bunched up on the top of the foot. Combined with the external hook, it made lacing the shoe a little clunky at times. But once settled in place was not a problem.

The DD Anima midsole cushioning comes from the company’s running technology. It proved to be a soft and shock absorbent foam without being spongy. It perhaps didn’t have the rebound potential as some, but on the plus side promoted a low-to-the-court feel. So it could be forgiven for the added responsiveness. There’s also a broad plastic shank in the midfoot that provided a good amount of arch support.

The Duratech 5000 rubber outsole is a familiar one for Diadora shoes. For the B.Icon it has a split design, broken into opposing north-south and east-west herringbone tread patterns. There’s also a canal under the flexpoint that widens from the medial to the lateral side. This encourages more bending as you push off to move side to side, yet more stability when pivoting around the inside of your foot.

In action, it offered impressive grip and squeak on a hard court. Diadora is up front that it’s not designed for sliders, as it would limit the shoe’s durability. So that could be a consideration if sliding is a big part of your hard court movement. If clay is your primary surface, definitely look at the clay outsole model. Trying the all-court version on a somewhat dry, windy clay court resulted in a few stumbles.

Overall, the B.Icon delivered a great performance. I felt completely confident in all forms of movement—getting to top speed, quick cuts, hard stops—and comfortable while doing it. Like a racquet that plays bigger than its weight, the B.Icon was a shoe that felt and played sturdier and more dependably than most models in its class, yet still maintained a lightweight ride. If, like me, you haven’t played Diadora in a while, the B.Icon will be a welcoming reintroduction. And with supply issues still hampering the shoe market, readily available. Speedy, supportive, cushioned and reliable—it gets everything just about right.