The Reebok SubLite Pro Rise – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Reebok Basketball has been trying to find their identity since the career of Allen Iverson faded within these last 5 season. John Wall looked to be the savior of the brand, brought in when the Zig Technology burst on to the scene. Since then, the basketball sector has drifted into confusion. Retro releases have taken the spotlight and the beginning of the season injury to Wall has not helped with the exposure of the ZigEscape. Nonetheless, Reebok does have quiet a few representatives on the NBA Courts and one of the premiere shoes in the Fall line up challenges for the lightest basketball shoe ever made. An interesting performer hidden in the Reebok catalog, our latest Performance Review takes a swift look at the SubLite Pro Rise.
Perhaps the lightest basketball shoe ever made, the Reebok SubLite Pro Rise is a hidden gem in the Reebok Basketball catalog for the season. The features include the following:
- 3D Fuse Frame with brushed synthetic upper and nylon openings for extremely light weight performance
- Cushioning provided by a light weight SubLite midsole
- Sectionalized outsole with herringbone traction pattern on the rubber portions
- Mid foot stability plate for added support
- Light weight padded mesh tongue and plush foam insole
Aesthetics and Styling
Every company these days seems to be crafting their shoes with one aspect in common – light weight performance. The days of a fully leather upper, extreme padding, and high cuts have given way to more sleek, minimal designs. In the SubLite Pro Rise, Reebok basketball makes their first attempt to go down the minimal path. This mid cut shoe has the nylon openings for light weight performance and increased ventilation. Reebok seems focused on making flashy foundations, and the SubLite look fits right in with the Zig and Vibe technologies. As a team shoe for Reebok Basketball, the Pro Rise had an initial release of standard color schemes, and the choice for this Performance Review is the red/black/white.
Simple lines are observed from a side profile as this mid cut swoops to a thick looking toe box. The lateral side is almost left completely open, covered by a nylon panel. A large Reebok logo and bold line serve as the only distinguishing aesthetic marks. Starting with the underside, the SubLite design creates natural flex grooves for the sole. The flex grooves are deep throughout, but get deeper as the heel is reached. Up front a toe cap is formed, and on the lateral an outrigger flares discreetly. The heel does protrude on the back end and has a “SUBLITE” logo molded into the foam. Interestingly, the sole is made with the midsole foam with two rubber portions found in the middle of the forefoot and heel respectively. The wavy foam portions have a long horizontal herringbone pattern, while the rubber forefoot and heel have the same traction, but finer lines. Between the outsole segments at the mid foot, a white stiff stability plate can be seen. Finishing off the foundation, the top part of the midsole is painted smooth and is raised higher around the lateral heel and forefoot for better stability.
Deceiving from afar, the brushed synthetic upper adds a luxurious touch to the shoe. The toe box has perforation holes throughout and is reinforced with side panels laying on top. Stitched on, the side panels form a barrier around the toe cap and lateral side, leaving the medial forefoot some room for added flexibility. On the medial side, the synthetic material forms a sort of cage leaving three open areas (the forefoot and middle areas are completely open). A line runs from the forefoot to the top of the collar where the “3D FUSEFRAME” branding is printed. In contrast, the lateral side has a wide open look. The nylon panel dominates with the Reebok vector logo pasted on. The brushed synthetic outlines the nylon, and underneath the nylon, the under cage is observed. Again a line runs from toe box to collar, this time with the “SUBLITE PRO” text.
Some asymmetry is found at the heel. The foam midsole leans to the lateral side of the shoe, while the lateral synthetic panel creeps in from the sides to cover a stiff counter. Branding is found simply with the “Reebok” name in black. Up the Achilles, the silky smooth lining outlines the collar from the inside out. There is padding, but to keep the shoe light as possible, it is relegated only on the top of the Achilles.
Eight eyelets are punctured into the brushed synthetic for the standard oval laces. The collar contains three eyelets for those needing a tight fit around the ankles. Unlike the collar, the mesh tongue has thin, but comfortable padding. It is lined with the silky synthetic. A hang tab resides on top of the tongue with the Reebok SUBLITE logo and SubLite graphic on the back side. Finally, a very nice plush insole is included with the Reebok logo on the heel.
Comfort and Fit
The 3D FuseFrame and brushed synthetic upper are stiff and very thin. Being held, the shoe almost feels weightless. Slipping the shoe on and tightening the laces brings a tight, true to size fit. Most of the lace pressure is felt around the middle of the foot, as the FuseFrame has a rough feel. Up front, the toe box has good wiggle room and is accommodating for those with wide feet. Again, the material feels very thin when moving the toes around. Ankle support is good as the collar and tongue to provide an full, non-cumbersome wrap. Protection, however, is on the light side. For the heels and Achilles, lockdown is excellent. The padding can be felt around the Achilles and the stiff counter holds the heels in snug. Below, the SubLite foundation has a low to the ground, responsive feel. The mid foot stability plate and segments can be prominently felt. Overall, the foundation is very stiff, but the insole is the saving grace providing some soft comfort. The FuseFrame is thin around the foot, pressing up depending on how the foot is shaped. Arch support is good preventing a flat foot feel. In the end, the SubLite Pro Rise has a thin, light weight upper providing a tight fit, while the foundation is stiff, but low and responsive.
Stepping on the court in the Pro Rise, there are a number of aspects that step out. First off, the shoe is extremely light. If other shoes on the market claim to be light weight, then the Pro Rise can be defined as feather weight. It is almost as if the shoe is a sock, and if it were not for the fact that the upper is rough around the edges, the player would almost not feel it. Second, court profile is low with a responsive feel. Again, the minimalist feel is at play so if feels like the player is almost barefoot. That established, the speed and quickness jump out. Running gives a free and fast feel. The toe box has excellent flex, and the segmented sole brings natural heel to toe transitions. Because of the roughness, it might take a short period for the player to get comfortable with the upper. That is, the upper will flex according to the foot of the player. This does may create some discomfort and rubbing, of course depending on each player. The light weight construction leans towards players who value quickness and speed. Active players will find the shoe very favorable, as there are no aspects that bog down performance. Whether moving laterally, forward, or backpedaling, every movement feels fast. At times, is almost pushes the player faster than he/she can move. The low profile set up lends itself well for quick and explosive drives and bursts. Needless to say, you will not be playing catch up in these shoes. Jumps are performed fast and explosive. There is no response time lost pushing the foundation to rise up. When landing, the cushioning set up is not the most comfortable, but impact is dispersed well and is not clunky. Fleet and light weight, the SubLite Pro Rise also brings great court feel and responsiveness.
A minimal upper can not be expected to proved bullet proof stability. For obvious reason, the shoe was not designed for brunt work and taking a heavy pounding. There are some areas where stability might not be ideal. One is with the fit of the 3D Fuse Frame. The Frame is not conforming to the foot, so some may have issues with awkward bending of the upper. Arch support is good, but there is some sliding when playing at a very aggressive pace. Where the shoe does provide stability is with ankle support and heel lock down. Again, the design and construction of the shoe does not yield a very protective feel for the ankles, but the light weight wrap that the shoe does offer functions well. Those who favor some ankle support will find this sufficient. Helping with ankle support is superb heel lockdown. The counter holds the heels in place, as shifting problems are held to a minimum. Overall, stability is what would be expected for a 10 oz. performer.
Traction performance is one of the more interesting aspects of the shoe. The outsole is fitted with two rubber portions and the rest is made primarily of the SubLite foam. For the foot bed, the foam is on the stiff side but for the outsole it gives more of a bouncy feel. Couple this with the segmented sole and traction is based on motion and pressure. The rubber portions of the outsole do provide that stop in place grip whenever necessary, but the shoe tends to be more based on feel. Each segment has grooves which do provide the traction necessary. Putting more pressure brings better grip, as the grooves do not have a dig-in the court feel. In other words, traction is balanced for how the outsole is designed – providing grip when a segment of the sole is pressed to the court surface. In the area of ventilation, the shoe does a good job. There are plenty of openings around the upper to vent air, and the construction does not have any excess material that would trap heat.
With little hoopla and hype surrounding the SubLite Pro Rise, it certainly is an interesting yet straightforward performer. A pure featherweight feel for players wanting speed and quickness, the shoe is worth the price of admission. Just like the original Adidas adiZero™ Crazy Light brought an almost weightless feel, the Pro Rise does that equally well. Very light stability and a rough fit do show some chinks in the amour, and compared to the lightest shoes on the market (the Adidas adiZero™ Crazy Light 2 and Nike Kobe 8 System), it does show two things. One – that the extremely light weight performers we have seen in the past two years were concepts that brought the design full circle with performance. Two – that the designers at Reebok can take a page from others and possibly come back with an even better SubLite Pro Rise next season. The defection of John Wall to Adidas leaves Reebok Basketball without a face. Rumors of a focus on retro releases may see then end of pure performance models in the next coming season. Whatever happens, for a pure light weight experience, the Pro Rise does succeed. Released this past Summer/Fall the SubLite Pro Rise is available now at the Official Reebok Online Store.
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