When players list characteristics they seek in a shoe, they’ll usually point to traits like stability, cushioning, breathability and comfort. One aspect that generally gets overlooked is laces. They’re basically seen as a given. How else to keep the shoe cinched up on the foot? Well, the Adidas Stycon has other ideas.
With a radical look that’s a cross somewhere between a high-top basketball shoe and a snow boot, the Stycon provides high-performance features in a stylish, laceless package. The shoe visually appears to be somewhat wide and roomy, but the inner bootie and stabilization bands actually give the foot a tight, almost straightjacket squeeze. The knit ankle collar also provides a firm, sock-like grip to make sure there’s no foot jiggling or sliding inside the shoe during movement.
All these features created an adaptive, supportive fit. However, it came with the drawback of being a challenge to get it on the foot, especially if wearing thick socks. That’s the price for a locked-in feel without laces. Which is probably why the Stycon comes with its own shoehorn.
The upper has a plastic cage on the medial side which adds to the unique look, as well as offer additional toughness. There are also reinforcements around the toe box and outriggers on the medial side to defend these high wear areas against court slides and toe-dragging. I didn’t get a chance to truly test its durability, but the shoe felt like it could take a beating.
Inside the shoe there are unusually high sidewalls—which you can’t see—designed to encapsulate the foot and have sit low to the court. There’s also thick padding around the ankle area to stabilize the back of the foot. This is what helps keep things secure and prevent foot rolling during lateral movements without laces.
The security and stability for a shoe with no laces was pretty remarkable. After some initial hesitation, I discovered I go as hard as I wanted in and out of cuts without fear of stumbling or turning an ankle. However, that security did come with some costs.
For one thing, the inner straps are indeed tight and a little unforgiving when it comes to circulation. There’s the potential to heat up the foot—it did for me—making it a shoe you’ll want to take off as soon as you’re done playing. It’s also rather hefty. If you’re used to lightweight, speedy shoes, the Stycon will be an adjustment. Even though they’re low to the ground and somewhat responsive, I never felt particularly quick in them.
The EVA foam midsole with a Bounce 2.0 cushioning drop-in did a respectable job of absorbing court contact while keeping a responsive feel. It’s not super plush, but some of that could be attributed to keeping weight off and closer court contact. Still, I wouldn’t mind a bit more bounce and comfort.
I had no complaints where the Adiwear outsole was concern. The traction on the modified herringbone design was just slick enough that I could slide into shots on a hard court, yet not so much that I felt like I was ice skating. And the deep treads would translate favorably to softer surfaces. Those reinforced areas referenced earlier will certainly be appreciated by baseline grinders who age their shoes faster than most.
Overall, there’s much to be impressed about the Adidas Stycon. The laceless construction is no gimmick—it provides a more tailored, adaptive fit without the need of cinching laces, yet loses nothing in terms of stability and support. In fact, it’s first rate in both categories. The unique look isn’t for everyone—it was 50/50 amongst my playing partners—but it’s undeniably eye-catching. Given it’s the first attempt at such an innovative model, some of its shortcomings—bulkiness, difficult entry—can be expected and forgiven. Still, those who like a meaty shoe that effectively covers the court with a style all its own, the Stycon is a true original.