With the launch of Adidas’ latest football boots, the X and the Ace, the end has come for the legendary Predator.
In the early 90’s boot technology was stalled. They were heavy and designed to prevent injury, rather than to help one’s game. That’s when our very own Craig Johnston came along and changed the game forever with his radical new design.
Here, we pay homage to that design by taking a look at the Predator’s history; from the first model in 1994, to the last in 2015. Each year, Adidas made improvements to the design focusing on strengthening different facets of the individuals game. And with each design, managed to reinvent itself; backed by audacious marketing campaigns lead by none other than one of the man who inspired our logo, David Beckham.
Key Feature: Front Fins
The original Predator. This was the first boot to blur the lines between functionality, fashion & comfort. The front fins were designed to give the player more control as well as increasing the power and swerve of the kick.
Adidas Predator Rapier
Key Feature: Fold over tongue
The second installment of the Predator didn’t change too much from the first. A fold over tongue, more kangaroo leather and the first boot to be produced in a variety of colors.
Adidas Predator Touch
Key Feature: More surface coverage from fold over tongue
The Adidas Touch definitely managed to turn up the feel of the Predator line. The fold over tongue now stretched over the top of the laces with the lower half being completely covered by even smoother teeth. This was done in order to ensure a cleaner striking surface that still provided the same bite and resulting swerve on the football.
Adidas Predator Accelerator
Key Feature: Transparent outer sole
The 1998 World Cup in France brought with it a new, wavier version. Zinidine Zidane rocked these on the way to winning the Cup in his home nation. The laces of the boot were moved to an asymmetric loop allowing for a wider, more pure striking surface on top of the shoe. The three stripes were altered to curve more and play off the new transparent red outer sole that was added to the bottom lining of the boot. The fin system on top of the toe box also continued to be lowered, being reduced to a grid like system to provide for more control.
adidas Predator Precision
Key feature: Replaceable Traxion studs
Adidas released the Precision in conjunction with Euro 2000. Replaceable Traxion studs were added so players could adjust their boots to certain pitch conditions. The fold over tongue now included Velcro to ensure increased stability. The fins, which originally protruded vertically from Craig Johnston’s prototype, were now sectioned off into pinpointed groupings of thin lines. A cool design element of the three stripes thinning out towards the back of the heel was also incorporated.
adidas Predator Mania
Key Feature: Kangaroo leather and velcro
The Mania was released around the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea and designed with Far Eastern stylistic elements in mind. Gone was any sense of the teeth that the Predator was originally built around, replaced by straight up Kangaroo leather around the toe. The Velcro was also replaced by a string that would go around the sole of the shoe to keep the tongue positioned over the laces. A new structure was added for heel protection as well.
adidas Predator Pulse
Key Feature: Power Pulse System
The Pulse implemented adidas Power Pulse System, which is basically a PowerPulse sock liner that shifts the boot’s center of gravity closer to striking impact. Colored accents were added adjacent to the lace loop as well as a ribbed type of midsole that saw the adidas three stripes wrap under the boot.
adidas Predator Absolute
Key Feature: Changeable PowerPulse sockliners
The 2006 World Cup took place in Germany – the birthplace of adidas – and brought with it a new edition of the company’s most famous boot, the Predator Absolute. It came with changeable PowerPulse sockliners and infused ‘liquid elements’ into the design and structure of the boot for the first time. The gold and white version was created to celebrate the legendary career of one of adidas’ favored sons, Zinidine Zidane. Yes, that means these were the kicks that he was wearing when he head-butted that Italian dude and got tossed from the finals.
adidas Predator PowerSwerve
Key Feature: Smartfoam
This was the first edition of the Predator series to incorporate the use of Smartfoam. The idea behind it was that the foam material allows for longer and therefore improved striking contact with the ball. AKA more bend and power. Fun fact: Zidane was working them long nights in the lab to get a payday, swerve (Big Sean voice), helping to develop the boot with the Adidas innovation team. Free-kick specialists like Davey Becks and Stevie Gerrard put his work to good use. The PowerSwerve was released in a staggering 20 different colorways.
adidas Predator X
Key Feature: Powerspine technology
The X hit up the way back machine, incorporating the fundamental design elements from the first-ever Predator boot. Gone was the fold over tongue and back was the original styling of the three stripes along the side of the shoe. There was also the addition of Powerspine technology and a new upper made of Taurus leather. The rest of the boot was made up of a rubber silicon mix that further increased contact time on the ball.
adidas AdiPower Predator
Key Feature: adiPower system
This version saw a shift in adidas focus from previous elements to their vaunted adiPower system, which kept the Powerspine technology but also divided the boot into two power zones comprised of 3D fins and silicon rubber Predator elements that worked to increase power and swerve respectfully. adidas also incorporated the Sprint Frame outsole of their lighter F50 line to give players a little more zip when making those runs up the middle of the park.
adidas AdiPower Predator SL
Key Feature: SprintSkin
adidas went a little further with the speed element and released their lightest Predator ever; just 211gm. The upperskin of the boot shifted away from a reliance on leather and used the SprintSkin that can be seen on most speed range boots today.
adidas Predator LZ
Key Feature: Lethal Zones
The 2012 edition presents a stylistic and functional blend of the speed, power, and control elements situated at the heart of the Predator line throughout the years. The ‘LZ’ stands for Lethal Zone, which further expands on the zoning idea, breaking the boot up into five Lethal Zones related to ball control and striking. This is also the first Predator with a synthetic leather upper and incorporating the adidas miCoach system.
adidas Predator LZ TRX FG
Key Feature: HybridTouch Upper
The adidas Predator LZ TRX FG is equipped for players seeking a speedy, lightweight cleat with a design geared towards ball control. Predator technology is utilized in five zones for precise control, helping to ensure accuracy. The synthetic HybridTouch upper construction of the adidas Predator LZ TRX FG is soft and lightweight, providing a comfortable on-field fit. Cushioned by a pre-molded EVA-sockliner, the adidas Predator LZ TRX FG also features an anti-slip EVA insert on the heel, ensuring the foot stays in place during the quickest of movements. Rounding out the model, a supportive SprintFrame chassis keeps the foot close to the ground, while the adidas Predator LZ TRX FG’s Traxion 2.0 stud configuration provides grip on firm, natural surfaces.
adidas Predator Instinct
Key Feature: Lethal Zones
For 20 years, the Predator boot has evolved. For the Instinct, adidas has shifted the touch zones through insight from top level pros. Players were given white shoes and markers and asked to pinpoint the most crucial points of ball contact. What emerged is the “lethal zones” concept—5 zones on the upper including one for power, one for dribbling, one for passing, one for trapping (a welded gel pack), and one zone for passing and touch. The final addition is true extension of the concept: The push contact zones to the outsole of the cleat through Control frame, a soccer specific TPU that gives better control and traction off the cleats themselves around the forefoot.
If you are footballer, you have no doubt purchased one or more of the above. Which one is your favorite?
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