The Reebok Q96 CrossExamine – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Reebok Basketball went into a tailspin, with rumors surfacing of their demise after John Wall left last season. It was an unprecedented move with the face of the basketball division, with his own signature shoe, bolting during the middle of the season (albeit for the company which has a stake in Reebok). There is not hiding the fact that Reebok Basketball is past their glory years. Reissues from former superstars help to keep the Basketball wing afloat and relevant. The defection of Wall left many to question the brand, but they did maintain that they would continue with their basketball performance models. As promised, the company started off the new season by signing highly touted rookie Nerlens Noel. Along with that, a few new models were announced based off reissues from the past. In this Performance Review, we evaluate the Question Mid inspired Reebok Q96 CrossExamine.
With inspiration from the Question Mid made (popular by Allen Iverson), Reebok looks to breathe life in their 2013-2014 line up with the Q96 CrossExamine. The features include the following:
- Leather and mesh upper with 3D FuseFrame construction
- Cushioning provided by DMXFoam midsole
- Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
- Inner sleeve for better fit and comfort
- Nubuck toe box to mimic the look of the original Question Mid
Aesthetics and Styling
One of the most iconic basketball shoes ever made was the Reebok Question Mid. Reissued almost every season, the Question has a special place in basketball shoe history for performance, style, and on court significance (the first Allen Iverson signature shoe). The Q96 takes the iconic design and updates it with the the light weight touch. Fans will instantly recognize the nubuck toe box and the Reebok branded lace hoops. To fit in with the light weight movement, the technological features have been changed from a full leather upper to a blend of synthetics backed by the 3D FuseFrame with open mesh windows. The Hexalite cushioning is replaced by a lighter weight DMXFoam midsole. In all, the style may not have the same impact as the Question, but it does not completely tarnish the original. For this Performance Review, one of the most popular Question color schemes is the choice – white with the red toe box and clear sole.
From a side profile the Q96 CrossExamine fits in with the modern style. The mesh opening dominates the quarter panel. Boldness comes through with the colored areas at the toe box and lace hoops. This evaluation begins with the simple contoured rubber outsole. The minimal, clear sole is marked with a deep wavy herringbone pattern from the toes to the heel. A toe cap is formed at the front which has the “Reebok” branding molded in. The lateral side has an outrigger while the medial side has a large pivot point in red. This simple outsole is finished off at the heel with the “Reebok” logo in red and up the back side where a 96 emblem is found. The stiff DMXFoam runs wavy above the clear sole. There is added thickness at the heel for support before it streams across towards to forefoot. “DMXFOAM” text is printed on the lateral heel.
The toe box is one of the aspects that made the Question Mid so special. For this version of the Q96, smooth red nubuck material is used. This smooth toe box is stitched on, extending to the medial mid foot, up to the throat line and ending right before the lateral forefoot to create a “W” shape. The toe box leads to the thin synthetic sides which have a scaly layer covering the 3D FuseFrame. Each quarter panel is cut with a mesh window revealing the lace hoops. The lateral side has an extra, small triangular mesh window. For style, a simple red line cuts around the lateral window with “3D FUSEFRAME” printed into the line.
Keeping in touch with the Question, a leather panel covers the heel counter. The panel offers support over the light weight build as extends all the way to the mid foot. A large red Question logo gives the shoe a signature look on the heel. More leather is found as the collar is reached. The leather protrudes with added padding on the outside. Inside, the padding is minimal, but the lining is a very comfortable and smooth synthetic.
Six lace hoops spell out “Reebok.” The lace hoops house standard oval laces and are stitched on the inside of the shoe. Clear plastic reinforces each lace hoop to ensure stability and hold. Underneath the laces is a very thin mesh tongue. The tongue creates a bootie from the mid foot to the forefoot. It is capped off with a flaring leather top which has another Question logo. Finally, a plush insole rests above the DMXFoam cushioning. It is contoured and has the final Question logo printed large on the heel.
Comfort and Fit
The minimal 3D FuseFrame makes it easy to slip right into the inner sleeve. Laced tight, fit is a half size big in terms of length. The upper fits around the foot very close, but comfortable as the materials are not stiff and have a very light weight feel. At the toe box, there is good room all around. Wiggle room is very comfortable and the shape is on the flat side. Moving to the back end, ankle support is comfortable. The collar has good coverage with ample padding. A restrictive feel is not felt as the ankles are covered, but have a sense of movement. Below the Achilles, heel lock down is very good. The counter does not have a stiff feel, but the heels fit into the cup nicely. Minimalism of the Q96 continues with the cushioning set up. The foot pushes right through the plush insole onto the DMX Foam. This is not a case where the midsole foam has the player sitting high. In this case, the low court profile of the shoe is very evident and the foot feels like it is right on the outsole. Arch support is sufficient because of the contoured shape. The upper is not the tightest, but the shape does keep the foot from sitting flat. With the thin and minimal upper bringing a close fit, the Q96 is highlighted by a very light weight feel.
On the hardwood, the Q96 has a very minimal feel from the upper to the foundation. The feel of the shoe is excellent with the profile on the low side. It gives the player a sense that they are right on the surface with the foot feeling like it is right on the rubber outsole. Breaking the 3D FuseFrame and leather construction is a given which helps to get the flex points accustomed to the players foot. Once broken in, heel to toe transitions are solid with excellent traction. Because of the design of the outsole, traction feels consistent. Running feels great off the outsole. The DMX midsole is somewhat stiff as plush insole provides most of the comfort. Flexibility of the outsole is good, but overall flexibility might need some time as the synthetic material may bend awkwardly at first. This is all wrapped up in a light weight package with the shoe feeling more free than bulky. Performance for the Q96 is fit for the active guard or swingman. With the minimal design and responsive base, the shoe might not be the most comfortable, but it definitely performs on the court. Players who value responsiveness and court feel can take full advantage of the low profile foundation. Off the forefoot, the shoe has a good sense of quickness and speed. Moving laterally on defense or cutting & changing directions are done right in the flow of action. Although the design does not scream for it, the shoe does have a sort of aggressiveness to it. The responsive base works with the light weight upper to give the shoe the light weight speed. It may not be the fastest shoe on the market, but the player will definitely feel fast and quick in this shoe. For jumps, the DMX based midsole is solid. This is not a set up where the player will have that bouncy foam feel. That said, jumps have more of a responsive feel. The player can use the court feel to get up quickly with the light weight upper helping. Landings are taken a bit harsh, but the outsole does keep the player ready to move. Excellent court feel and responsiveness highlight the fast & light weight play of the Q96 CrossExamine.
Synthetic leather and mesh is combined with the 3D FuseFrame to provide very good light weight stability. First off ankle support and protection is very good. The cut, synthetic leather, and padding do a very good job of providing support and comfort. Support and protection is fit more for the smaller player, as it is not restrictive and tight. With this, the basis of stability revolves around the synthetic leather areas at the toe box and heel. Around the quarter panels. the mesh and 3D FuseFrame have a sort of flimsy feel. The mesh provides light weight comfort around the foot, while the FuseFrame does a good job with the inner sleeve in holding the foot in place. Most of the stability, however, comes from the stitched toe box and heel panels which give the shoe body. This allows the player to be active and perform certain movements on the court. Harsh cuts, changes of directions, and pushing the shoe hard has the upper panels working to their maximum level. Those who are very harsh on their shoes may not find the Q96 sufficient, but in a light weight context, it does the job. It provides enough stability to handle quick and abrupt movements while staying in light weight category. Overall, stability performance is fit for those who prefer light weight support.
The clear rubber, herringbone based outsole provides excellent traction. This is an area where the Q96 performs highly, as traction is sticky and consistent. Because the court profile of the shoe is low and the feel gives the player good control, traction has a good mix of stick and balance. It seems like the outsole is always gripping the surface as traction can be felt just moving up and around the court. Needless to say, the shoe can stop on a dime especially at a quick and frantic pace. What separates traction performance from other herringbone based shoes is the fact that it feels consistent and balanced. Whether it is stopping on the forefoot or heel, the stickiness of the sole is made less jerky by the consistent traction pattern. Since the pattern is literally the same from toes to heel and the court feel is excellent, the grip of the shoe allows the player to be aggressive, quick, and fluid. All in all, the Q96 brings sticky traction with excellent feel and balance. Next, ventilation performance is great. The openings on the quarter panels and light weight construction help to keep the foot comfortable during play. Problems with heat will not be an issue in these shoes.
Aside from aesthetics and inspiration, the Question and Q96 share little similarities. In the Q96, the performance fits the modern light weight movement. It shines with excellent court feel, responsiveness, and traction, showing that Reebok Basketball still has something to offer. Guards and swingmen looking for just a solid performer that is fast and responsive might be surprised at what the Q96 has to offer. Although Reebok might not be among the most popular brands these days, they do know how to make a basketball performer. Questions on whether Reebok was going to continue in the basketball performance market were valid after John Wall left the company. It was very smart of the brain trust at Reebok to design a performer based on one of their most popular classic models. With their Classics line going strong, fans can only hope that this translates into more performance models and growth. Hopefully, the exceptional performance of the Q96 will lead to more athlete signings as well. Released earlier this month, the Q96 CrossExamine is available now at the Official Reebok Online Store.
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