Whether tennis, or in life, all we can hope for is improvement. When I reviewed the previous version of the Asics Speed Solution FF, I felt that it brought many impressive characteristics to the court, but would be eager to see version 2.0. It’s true that the Speed Solution FF2 marks the fifth installment in the Speed Solution line, it’s still just the second with FlyteFoam cushioning. And this sequel shows real growth.
My biggest gripe with the previous version—noted by other reviewers as well—was the upper construction. It wasn’t overly wide, but it ballooned by the forefoot. I had to cinch the laces until the blood left my fingers to get a secure fit. This resulted in bubbling around the toe box that would “pop” during movement. It didn’t affect court coverage or cause irritation, but it was still bothersome to hear and feel. Plus, the shoe didn’t quite shape to the foot, hindering responsiveness.
Asics acknowledged this was a failing of the shoe and went about remedying with a reconfigured Flexion Fit upper that is more flexible and better contours to the foot. The operation was a success. Not only has the bunching been eliminated, but the introduction of Dynawrap—first introduced in the current GEL Resolution—gave the SS FF2 a more locked-in, centered and quicker feel during movement. It also appeared more ventilated than the previous model—breathability being another issue I had—but I haven’t been able to test it in warm conditions.
The shoe has a neutral, middle of the road cut. It worked just fine for my foot, which is a little on the narrow side. Ideally I wouldn’t mind a bit snugger fit with slightly more arch support, but that’s a minor quibble. Outside of the extremes—super skinny or wide foot profiles—it should suit a broad swath of players.
FlyteFoam obviously returns to provide the midsole with lightweight cushioning. The addition of FlyteFoam Propel—an elastomer compound—in the foam is designed to encourage speedier transitions. Along with the classic GEL padding in the heel it did a bang-up job of absorbing shock while still providing good court connection. There were a couple of instances when a particularly aggressive forward stop caused some forefoot tremors that a shoe with a little more substance may have prevented. But otherwise it was a rather smooth ride.
From a weight standpoint, the SS FF2 remained lean; my 11.5 checked in at 13.4 oz., which is negligently more than the previous model. Along with the pliable upper and plush padding, it offered impressive comfort for a shoe this light. It also went straight from the box to the court with zero break-in.
The high-abrasion rubber outsole has been updated with a multi-directional tread pattern. This was done to be more responsive with the grip and give in and out of cuts. The shoe performed admirably in this regard—lots confidence when taking long strides and plenty of squeak when using quick adjustment steps. The extended Twisstruss system also aided in this aspect, giving the shoe added backbone when aggressive movement tested its integrity. The only drawback is there is no outsole guarantee.
There’s also a clay court model with a tread pattern specifically designed to play on the dirt. In a happy accident, Asics mistakenly sent me a pair. I tried them multiple times on indoor clay courts notorious for putting players on roller skates and traction was never in doubt. I felt dug into the court and stable through slides and changes of direction. With the outdoor season in my area just around the corner, and clay play much more frequent, I will definitely be using these in competition.
As should any player who wants a lightweight, supportive and fast-feeling shoe. The Speed Solution FF2 builds upon the strengths of its predecessor and goes a long way to improve its weaknesses. When the biggest knock you can come up with is having to retie the laces too frequently, that’s a shoe you can work with. Asics has its work cut out improving upon this one.