Reebok ThermalVibe 1.5

The Reebok ThermalVibe 1.5

Introduction

Once a household name in the basketball sneaker world, Reebok has been relegated to an outsider status in recent years.  This past season, the company has done very little in expanding and promoting Reebok basketball with all their hopes pinned on their face of the brand, John Wall.  Nonetheless, last summer saw the release of an exceptional performer in the Thermal Vibe.  Released with little promotion, hype, or fanfare, the ThermalVibe brought high grades in court feel and fluid movement on the court.  This Performance Review takes the follow up for a test run – the Reebok ThermalVibe 1.5.

Featuring the patented Vibe Technology, the ThermalVibe 1.5 continues in the spirt of the original, bringing responsiveness and comfort on the court.  The features include the following:

  • Light weight upper comprised of synthetic leather panels with mesh openings
  • VibeTech Technology at the heel for cushioning and energy return
  • IMEVA midsole
  • Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
  • Padded mesh tongue with oval laces

Aesthetics and Styling

The successor to the original ThermalVibe takes a more daring approach in terms of aesthetics and style.  This time, Reebok has pushed to lower the weight of the shoe, sticking with a primarily synthetic leather upper, while working mesh cut outs through the collar and throat line area.  For flavor, the stacked wavy midsole and use of patent leather on the heel and medial keep the shoe from a look that might be too outdated for these times.  Those looking for flash over performance might want to look elsewhere.  For performance, the Reebok VibeTech foam is used for energy return and a wave patterned sole for court feel and responsiveness.  The choice for our Performance Review is a black and white color scheme, with red laces and a ice blue translucent sole.

Reebok ThermalVibe 1.5

A wavy midsole characterizes the Vibe Technology within the shoe

An unassuming mid cut look serves as a visual from the side.  The Reebok vector logo stands prominently in patent leather, with the mesh panels and perforation holes keeping the lateral from looking clean.  A wavy Vibe midsole gives the shoe a signature look.  Below, a contoured translucent rubber outsole runs from toe to heel.  The design of the midsole makes for natural horizontal flex grooves to fit the rubber outsole, which run down the sole.  A herringbone pattern is molded into the rubber sections of the forefoot, with a nicely sized toe cap formed to protect the front of the shoe.  Moving to the mid foot, a roller-like section sees the midsole foam creeping through, outlined with the translucent rubber.  Slits in the foam reveal a stiff plate for stability.  The heel area is finished off by a herringbone section and “Reebok” logo molded in.  Again, horizontal slits are found, this time revealing the VibeTech foam at the heel.  Rounding out the foundation is the stacked wavy Vibe sole.  This sole simply extends the length of the shoe, contoured at the medial for added arch support.  Extra support comes in the form of a plastic plate that runs from forefoot to forefoot, through the heel.  Branding at the rear is seen with a small “VIBETECH” logo.

Comprised of mainly synthetic leather, the upper for the ThermalVibe 1.5 is on the thin side.  The stitched leather for the toe box is thin and very giving.  Perforations line the sides, with a mesh section at the throat line helping to add more flexibility and also marking a transition to the leather side panels.  On the medial, a synthetic leather panel sits above two mesh openings, while shiny black patent leather makes up the collar and back area.  Rows of circular perforations are punctured into this shiny section, close to the collar.  Conversely, the lateral side carries a larger leather panel, with patent leather coming through on the Reebok vector logo.  Mesh areas are located on the collar and side heel.

A stiff heel counter is covered by both patent and synthetic leather, on the medial and lateral sides respectively.  Patent leather runs through the center, with a stitched “Reebok” patch at the top of the back end.  The collar rises inline with the design of the shoe for a mid cut look.  Padding is sufficient and plush, with the lining coming in the form of a textured synthetic.

There are 8 eyelets which run straight up the shoe, punctured into the upper.  Standard oval laces cover a comfortably padded mesh tongue.  The mesh tongue is supported with a leather strip which extends down the center.  Two slits are cut in to the leather to hold the laces, with the “Reebok” branding printed in bright red.  The tongue is lined to match the collar.  For comfort, a very plush PU-like foam insole covers a very hard footbed.  The insole has a textured material to help keep the foot in place, with the final “Reebok” logo found on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

The foot slips comfortably in to the ThermalVibe 1.5 for a true to size fit.  Padding is found all around, through the tongue and collar, holding the foot in place with great comfort.  Lace pressure is mainly felt towards the top of the collar, around the front of the foot.  Up front, the toe box has a light and flexible feel.  Wiggle room is sufficient, and width wise, there is no real crowding.  Through the center, the leather panels grip the forefoot in place as the tongue provides a cushioned barrier.  Heel lockdown is good, and ankle support is padded but not cumbersome.  The highlight of the fit comes through with the cushioning set up.  Discomfort from a hard footbed is alleviated with the thick insole.  Although the contrast is great, there is no sense that the responsiveness of the sole is lost.  The player can still feel the sole through the insole without any discomfort.  Arch support is excellent, keep the foot from sitting flat, as the contoured midsole and grip of the medial leather panel offer support.  All in all, the ThermalVibe 1.5 brings a comfortable fit, with excellent padding and a responsive base.

Reebok ThermalVibe 1.5

A thin and flexibile upper is combines with good padding for a comfortable and light fit

Performance

Sitting naturally on the hard court, the forefoot and heel areas of the ThermalVibe 1.5 feel low with excellent feel.  The shoe has a flat feel up front, but when coming up to a sprint, the segments of the sole bring smooth heel to toe transitions.  Flexibility is superb, as the mesh area around the throat line bends soft and easily.  In terms of weight, the shoe plays on the light side, and although the padding is felt all around the foot, there is no loss of flexibility anywhere.  Active players will find the this version of the ThermalVibe favorable on the court.  The best performing aspect of the shoe is in general basketball movement.  Moving forward or laterally, the responsiveness of the foundation is a shining aspect.  The player can move fast and fluid on both sides of the ball, and can cut in different directions fluidly.  Simply put, the shoe is made for movement.  A stiff footbed is covered by an insole which does provide comfort for each step, but does not limit overall responsiveness.  For the jumper, the forefoot area provides an excellent platform to raise up for a shot or finish, as it is flat, yet flexes well.  The heel area is equipped with the VibeTech cushioning, which is stiff & responsive with a slight bounce to it.  Landings are on the solid side because of the difference in softness between the insole and midsole, but the midsole foam, low court feel, and outsole segments all work together in dispersing impact evenly, with some comfort.  Great for active players, performance is both comfortable and fluid on the court, with excellent court feel and responsiveness.

Stability is satisfactory for the 1.5.  In the spirit of comfort and light weight, the upper is soft from front to back.  The foot pushes through the padding and forces the upper to work, which works similarly with the lower half as pressing through the insole gives comfort over the stiff base.  Stability performance is best observed with the solid foundation.  The midsole is thick and solid, which not only brings responsiveness, but is effective in preventing roll overs when moving or stopping laterally.  Coming to an an abrupt stop when bending low on the medial or lateral side, the upper gives a bit, but the midsole holds the shoe up.  Players who have good foot work or play grounded will find extra benefit in this context.  Also helping is the fit of the shoe, which keeps the foot relatively in place, with little to no movement.  Holding true to the design, the ThermalVibe sole is the most stable aspect of the shoe.

A segmented rubber outsole with a fine herringbone pattern brings smooth traction on the hardwood.  The hard foundation and low court feel favor the heavy footed player, as a dusty court may cause lose of footing for those who are more fleet footed.  That established, the segments on the sole not only give the shoe good flex, but help make transitions flow.  The forefoot portion carries the area of most traction, and is great while moving forward and laterally.  Grip is smooth and brings more of a gliding feel on the court.  From the mid foot down to the heel, traction is great in an aggressive sense.  The roller like section at the mid foot works more to propel the player to the forefoot or heel, and those who put a taxing on the heel area spinning on the perimeter or with their back to the basket will be met with sufficient grip.  At the end of the day, traction for the ThermalVibe 1.5  is smooth, with a flowing sense.  Ventilation performance is very good.  There are no real problems with moisture build up, although long sessions may result in a hot foot for some.  Padding around the shoe feels somewhat cumbersome, but the mesh tongue does vent heat.

Conclusion

Reebok Basketball is at a point where it is stuck in mediocracy, to put it mildly.  With only one true marketable NBA star in their stable (John Wall) and a focus on reissues (Question, Answer, and Kamikaze models), their current line up is left to linger on the sidelines.  The second version of the ThermalVibe represents a very solid court performer.  Comfort in a light weight package is solidified with excellent court feel, applicable for the basketball player who plays everyday.  Alongside the Zig Technology, the VibeTech represents a solid platform for basketball that Reebok can build upon.  Unfortunately, the long term prognosis would be that this model will be produced with little promotion, almost as a filler for their basketball line up each year.  Nonetheless, the ThermalVibe 1.5 was released earlier this year and is available at the Official Reebok Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Reebok Question
Reebok ThermalVibe