It was exactly a month ago that Nike took the wraps off of Adapt BB, its latest pair of shoes with power laces, and now the company is finally ready to bring them to the masses. The Adapt BB will launch globally on February 17th, although some lucky people have already been able to get them through Nike's SNKRS app. Unlike the HyperAdapt 1.0 from 2017, which were more of a concept project, the Adapt BBs are intended to be performance shoes for basketball players. They're also smarter than the HyperAdapts, thanks to a mobile app that pairs with the shoes via Bluetooth and lets users adjust how the laces fit. You can also use the Adapt application, available for iOS and Android, to change the two LED colors on the shoes.
But, perhaps the craziest difference between Nike's two self-lacing models is the price: the HyperAdapt 1.0 cost $720 at launch, whereas the Adapt BB are priced for less than half that, at $350. That's still a lot of money for shoes, sure, but Nike hopes that all the tech inside them will be enough to appeal to many consumers -- not just sneakerheads. Dubbed FitAdapt, the BB's auto-lacing system consists of a custom motor that senses the tension needed by your feet and adjusts itself accordingly to keep each foot snug in the shoes. If you need to tweak the comfort levels, you can do so with the companion Adapt app or the two physical buttons on the BB's midsole.
Nike is calling FitAdapt its "most advanced fit solution to date," adding that it is designed to provide a "truly customized fit for every basketball player." As someone who has worn the Adapt BBs before, I can definitely say that they are more comfortable than I expected them to be. They feel like normal sneakers, which wasn't the case for the HyperAdapt 1.0. Those felt clunky and, in my case, I had to get a bigger size than I normally would in order to feel comfortable wearing them.
So what are you getting for your $350, you ask? Well, I had the chance to check out a retail version of the Adapt BBs at a Nike event in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the 2019 NBA All-Star game is taking place.
When I opened the package, it actually felt as if I was unboxing a smartphone, not a pair of shoes. That's namely because of the included QI wireless charging pad, the USB cable/wall charger combo and the starting guide that shows you how to use the Adapt BBs. It's just not something I'm used to when buying sneakers; if I'm lucky, I'll get an extra pair of shoelaces in the box, and that's usually as exciting as it gets.
But this is the thing about the Adapt BBs, that it has the potential to appeal to a lot of people because it combines performance and lifestyle gear with technology. And the same can be said about Puma's own auto-lacing Fi sneakers, though those won't arrive until 2020. As for the Adapt BBs, we'll see if they have sufficient appeal to make them as popular as some of Nike's analog shoes.