Teva reinvents the shoe with it's radical new laboratory-developed Tevasphere...
We've been intrigued by the new for spring 2013 Teva Tevasphere range of shoes since we saw them at last year's OutDoor mega trade show in Germany. They're Teva's very distinctive attempt to re-invent the wheel, or more accurately, the shoe.
In a nutshell, the brand did extensive testing using a leading 'sports science and human performance laboratory' called P3 and the new Tevasphere concept is what they came up with.
Heels And Pods
The uppers look pretty conventional albeit with a whopping great ridged external heel-cup to optimise support around the heel, but it's underfoot where Tevasphere is dramatically different to conventional shoes.
The first obvious difference is the heel. Teva's research showed that a spherical - well, semi-spherical heel - lowers the users point of contact with the ground for a 'more natural point of impact' and a 'more efficient transition'.
In simple terms, there's less square-edged jarring and a more natural rolling transition into the next step, which makes sense. In a way it's producing and alternative solution to the one offered by 'barefoot' shoes.
Heel Strike Friendly
Teva accepts that most people land on their heels and instead of creating a shoe that's encouraging a forefoot strike instead, it's created one that works more efficiently than traditional shoes when you do heel strike.
“The majority of consumers continue to land on their heels whether running or walking,” said Chris Hillyer, Innovation Manager at Teva. “We felt compelled to create a technology that allows people to transition through their stride in a natural way without expecting the consumer to change.”
The second, very obvious, difference from the norm are the pod-arch supports that stick out either side of the arch area of the shoe. They're there to provide stability with minimal additional weight by simply widening the base of the shoe in a crucial area.
It's an interesting one - we've always noticed that shoes with pyramid-shaped heels are above average for stability, the pods do a similar thing, but further forward on the shoe.
Anyway, what you're probably wondering is whether all this odd-looking technology works and what the shoes are like in the flesh.
How Does It Feel?
Answering the second point first, other than the heel and the pod-arch supports they look pretty conventional. Normal lacing, mesh and synthetic leather uppers and an eVent waterproof and breathable liner. But the pod-arches really jump out at you visually, particularly when you look down at your feet and notice two bright green protrusions stuck out of the sides.The rounded heel is less obtrusive, but obvious if you look for it.
So how do they feel? OM's commercial manager Chis Goh rocked up to the initial launch on London's Hampstead Heath and reckoned the shoe 'felt light and comfortable' and felt confident running on both soft and harder surfaces. He also reckoned the pod-arch felt slightly obtrusive at first, but he soon adapted to it.
Smmoth Transitions, Lots Of Stability
Our initial take up here in the frozen north - ground still ice-encrusted - is that the shoe does feel to have a really smooth transition from heel-strike to push-off to the point that you don't really think about it, just very natural. It'll be interesting to see how that translates to a longer run.
But the real eye-opener is the stability from that pod-arch support. Our feet felt really planted and implacably stable both messing around at a standstill - stand on one foot, close your eyes and you can feel it - and on the move. Swapping back to a conventional shoe really brought that home. Apart from anything else, that might make the shoe an excellent choice for anyone with a tendency to turn ankles regularly.
Whether the increased width in the arch area is going to be an issue on broken ground remains to be seen, our hunch is not, but we're not ruling it out.
Other stuff? The shoes we have aren't breathtakingly light at 366g per shoe - a Scarpa Spark is almost 100g per foot less - and they use Teva's proven Spider 365 rubber underfoot. The uppers are pretty slick with a lot of welding/bonding going on.
Interesting stuff and as soon as the white stuff and ice stuff melts, we'll get them out on the trails and see how they feel on proper off-road surfaces.
More Teva information at www.teva.com.
The Tevasphere Trail will be available exclusively from Cotswold Outdoors from March 2013.