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I’ve always been fascinated by how manufacturers label their footwear. Since SL stands for “super light,” the first model debuted in 2020 with the SL20.
Logic dictates that the latest version be renamed the SL21, but Adidas chose to name it the SL20.2 instead, perhaps due to the fact that it was already announced in 2020.
The SL20.2 is a fast, lightweight trainer that competes with the Beacon V3, Razor 3 Hyper, Kinvara 11, and Rincon 2.
I adore it when a designer significantly improves the midsole, outsole, and upper of a heel.
Oftentimes, marketers make small improvements, such as changing only the upper from iteration to iteration, in order to save costs or to avoid sacrificing customers who enjoyed the previous version.
Adidas decided to make major changes to the SL20.2 by going all-in. Currently, the heel midsole is 21.5mm thick, while the forefoot midsole is 12mm thick (9.5mm drop). The previous version had a 25mm forefoot depth and a 15mm heel depth.
Additionally, the SL20.2 is heavier than the SL20, weighing 248 grams (8.7 oz) as opposed to 227 grams (8 oz).
I purchased the original version, the SL20, earlier this year out of curiosity to learn more about Lightstrike, but I never understood why the shoe was so popular.
You know how much you get a new shoe and first despise it, but the more you run with it, the more comfortable it looks and the more you enjoy it?
That was never the case for the initial publication. No matter how many kilometers I put on them, I couldn’t get used to their firm, flat flight.
According to some runners, the midsole needed time to soften and become more enjoyable, but I saw no softening. To me, it felt like a difficult trip.
So, has Adidas altered the SL20.2 as a result of their extensive changes, and how does it stack up against other lightweight, tempo trainers?
The SL20.2 has matured into an outstanding speed trainer with which I enjoy practicing. It has a stronger upper and improved lockdown, and similar to the New Balance Beacon V3, the cushioning has been increased to make it more like a standard trainer.
Although the SL20.2 does not have the same propulsive energy return as other tempo trainers such as the Razor 3 or Hyperion Tempo, it does have an insanely tough, grippy outsole that blows away any other tempo trainer.
The SL20.2 performed admirably for me over intermediate distances at tempo paces, but if you want a firm, old-school EVA ride, the SL20.2 would make an outstanding daily trainer.
The SL20.2 is more compact than a standard trainer and more economical, since it is often highly discounted.
If I could change one thing about the SL20.2, it would be to add a gusseted tongue for a more comfortable fit and to switch from Lightstrike to Lightstrike Pro, which would significantly improve the ride and usability.
We purchased an Adidas SL20.2 from runningwarehouse with our own funds. This has no effect on the findings of this research, which were reported after they were worn for more than 50 miles.