Reebok ATV 19+: The Most Ridiculous Shoe Ever?

A lot of times posts to the Runblogger Facebook wall will garner comments that are pretty benign – maybe an occasional debate about the merits of a particular shoe, but not much more than that. Yesterday I was alerted to a post on Gizmodo about a new shoe from Reebok called the ATV 19+, and I couldn’t resist sharing it on FB. The response was rather strong to say the least!

Behold the ATV 19+ in all of its glory!

Reebok Shoe

When I first saw the ATV 19+, my immediate thought was “Here they go again.” Reebok seems more interested in making crazy looking shoes rather than functional shoes, and to be honest this one looks ridiculous. The first comparison that came to mind for me was a tardigrade (also known as a water bear, they can survive years in formaldehyde and return to life!):

tardigrade-111202-02

Tardigrade photo via Our Amazing Planet

One of the commenters on Facebook said the shoe reminded him of the planet Koosbane:

I can’t wait to see the commercials for this shoe, hopefully they won’t be as creepy as the “76 Buddies” commercials that Reebok made for their Realflex shoes:

In an article on Fastcompany.com, author Chuck Salter reports that “”…Reebok bills (the ATV 19+) as the first all-terrain athletic shoe.” Salter writes that inspiration for the shoe came from one of those crazily bouncing Reaction Balls (apparently not the Tardigrade, much to the disappointment of invertebrate biologists everywhere), and says that:

While they were unable to mimic the ball’s random action, the team discovered that the shoe they’d designed actually gave athletes more stability, particularly on uneven ground. The 19 walnut-size nodes work like the large-tread tires of an ATV digging through mud to find traction. “The nodes down the center are the ones you run on,” says McInnis. “The ones on the side function like training wheels. When you land on different terrain, you’re protected.”

Personally, I’d like to see the evidence showing great stability, since quite frankly the design scares me a bit.

Is this ATV shoe aimed at the mud run crowd, trail runners, ultrarunners? I have no idea, and I don’t get a clear picture of who the target market is from the article. Perhaps the most telling line comes in the final paragraph of Salter’s article, where he quotes a Reebok rep as saying:

“If you make a crazy-looking shoe just to make a crazy-looking shoe, you deserve to be made fun of,” he says. “You have to have a story behind it. Because when you wear these shoes, someone is going to ask about them.”

So a crazy looking shoe with a good marketing story is what matters I suppose. I worry more about function if these are really intended to be serious running shoes.

If nothing else, Reebok has certainly gotten a bit of attention out of these shoes already, and in that sense they may already have achieved their intended purpose. Maybe these will be the next Hokas – a crazy looking shoe that works well for some people. However, I’m skeptical that runners will flock to the ATV 19+, and doubtful that these will assist Reebok in once again becoming a player in the serious running market (I wore my share of Reeboks back in the day, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been tempted to try one of their shoes).

How about you, what are your thoughts on the Tardigrade shoe???

Should you be interested in purchasing these crazy shoes, they are available now at Zapppos and Amazon.com.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Zedric Dimalanta says:

    The ATV shoe really does look like a rolled ankle just waiting to happen (loved the tardigrade reference, BTW).

    I will say, in (a mild) defense of Reebok’s RealFlex shoes, they are pretty flexible, durable, lightweight and fairly economically-priced (they’re almost always on clearance sale at the local athletic equipment shops)—I’d actually rate them as a better overall value than the Nike Frees if all you’re looking for is a lightweight, flexible, relatively cheap trainer (the heel-toe differential is in the 10 mm range, though). If nothing else, they served me quite well for a few months as a transition shoe before I started running in Merrell’s zero-drop offerings almost exclusively.

    The RealFlex TV ad is pretty ridiculous, though. It might look “grippy,” but the RealFlex outsole’s design isn’t ideal for trail use—I constantly had to pick out little pebbles getting caught between the pods the few times I tried using them on loose gravel trails.

  2. I’d try it. At least for a quick jog around the block.

  3. Melissa O says:

    Definitely not a shoe for a minimal runner!!! And reebok doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they say stability!!! The true art to running is getting your feet strong enough to run in a minimal shoe and learning the right form to run correctly, NOT wearing this silly space shoe!!

  4. I can understand the theory that these would help build traction in slicker conditions, but I am curious as to the logic of a shoe design based on “one of those crazily bouncing Reaction Balls” creating more stability. If your design is based on a product that is unpredictable, how can you expect any level of predictability? Sure the pods may give traction in the mud, but how does this shoe react when it encounters a rock or root within the mud? As someone who logs a good amount of mixed terrain miles a week, my ankles hurt just looking at these shoes.

  5. Jack Ryon says:

    +1 on reebok being irrelevant

  6. SapphoAndGrits says:

    I think Reebok should rename these the “DNF 19+.”

  7. +1 Reebok on being bold and innovative, at least they are trying. sometimes we need this kind of company

  8. Nancy Staley says:

    I think that I have some really bad ankles and have been told no high impact to pretty much no impact by doctors, yet I still really need and want to workout. My trainer told me to get some shoes that really cushion my heal and in turn help my ankles. I though these were weird, like you say, but.. when I tried them on.. they have the best cushioning on my heal I have felt in well, in forever to be honest. So.. I say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. I think you should try them before you knock them. Just sayin…

  9. disqus_Fp2oq1Qmqw says:

    scary. God please keep me far from this one. ;-)

  10. Kevin Schell says:

    I read somewhere that the traction improves greatly when the tentacles regenerate.

  11. I purchased a pair 3 months ago and they feel so good on my feet I don’t want to take them off. Seriously, the BEST shoe I have ever had on my feet. I wear them to work a couple of times a week. Not only do they provoke comments but they also give me an opportunity to tell everyone how much I think of my 19+ Reeboks. I seriously hope these shoes are around for some time to come.

    • I was a little skeptical at first, but after buying my first Pair I am hooked… I am an average runner and a friend who is an avid runner and has probably owned and tried the majority of good running shoes out there told me to check them out I listened, and all I can say is….what a great shoe,comfy and ruggid. I love them…I’ve red these posts in the pastand they’re normally spot on, but I don’t think anyone actually wore these reebok ATV’s… give them a shot I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised…

    • I have to say I was skeptical at first as well. But believe me when I say this IS the MOST COMFORTABLE shoe I have EVER owned. I have severe PF and trouble with bone spurs on the balls of my.feet and there is NO pressure at all when I wear these shoes! The balls make them a a little less practical for plyometrics but are great for running on the treadmill, elliptical, etc. I don’t know that I would wear them while running if the terrain was too uneven. Although, I haven’t tried them in that aspect to say for sure. As far as comfort, these are by far THE BEST!! I would definitely recommend to anyone
      looking for a comfortable shoe!

  12. Anything with a giant sole frightens me.

  13. I wrote an an essay to try and gain free entry to Dakota Jone’s T-Rad ultra in Telluride, and included a demand that they hook me up with Reebok for a trail running shoe sponsorship. This is not quite the “Reebok Pump Trail” that I wanted, but it could work!

  14. these look like hover shoes

  15. Tad Kardis says:

    If KISS ran a trail marathon in full makeup and costume, this would be their shoe.

  16. I just watched the commercial for these with “Rampage” Jackson. Despite the fact that these shoes are supposed to be “all terrain,” they only show him actually running on a pretty nicely groomed trail (no rocks/roots and pretty flat). Check it out.

    link to youtube.com

  17. Reebok hi-top pumps. Now that was a shoe.

  18. Rebecca Carman says:

    I actually just purchased 2 pairs of these. One for my 11 year old and 1 for my husband. My son plays football and my husband coaches. They actually said the traction was great during football conditioning, especially for running because the practice field has divits and such that normally cause issues when running in regular running shoes. I have mine on order because the local shoe store didn’t have my size in the color I wanted. I am hoping it will make my 2 hours walk/hike in the park every night to be a bit nicer on my ankles and knees in the uneven terrain.

  19. Any chance the ATV 19 is launched 4/1/13 as an April Fools promotion?

  20. Andrew Klein, DC says:

    Looks like an ankle breaker.

  21. Troy Daley says:

    I think the real science here is the science of marketing. These, just like those stupid ZigZag shoes, will sell well to middle schoolers.

  22. Jim Philips says:

    Does it really need that many nipples to feed its young?

  23. disqus_h40PI2bS8p says:

    I think the timing of the release of the ATV and Reebok’s collaboration with Spartan Race is meant to target the obstacle race crowd. I did a Spartan Beast in South Carolina this past year (13.2 miles) and there was several times where I was slipping on the trail, especially after going through mud or water. I would be interested in trying these but unless they drain really well, there probably isn’t a market for them. The ATVs look like they’d be uncomfortably heavy once they got a little water logged.

  24. Brian Vinson says:

    Reebok is irrelevant. I wore one pair of Reeboks back in the day and they hurt my feet and knees and I gave them away. There is no way I’d wear those shoes.

  25. Steve Tremblay says:

    I’ll buy one pair of these shoe and wait for next lawsuit to make $$$$$

  26. Christian Eriksson says:

    Although I will probably regret saying this, the pods do remind me a bit of what New Balance is trying out in the Minimus line – especially the 3090. The main difference is that these Rebook have fewer pods, and about 10 times the height! I who have been extremely sceptical to the likes of Hoka One One should say nothing about this design; people can run in what ever takes their fancy, and it might just work for someone.

    • Andrew Bentley says:

      I was reminded of the new balance thing also. Hard to say from an image but it does look like the heel – toe differential is pretty flat, having the pods could mean that it might be more flexible than some conventional or maximalist shoes……(a guilty) part of me would quite like to try em on just to see what they feel like in the same way that I feel about Hokas

      But ultimately this has to be just the gimmick of all running shoe gimmicks.

      • Christian Eriksson says:

        You have a point about actually wanting to try them, just for the fun of it, and to satisfy one’s curiosity I suppose. What can it feel like to run in, or should I write *on*, those… things? It would be rather interesting to let Pete give them an honest chance and see how they fared :)

  27. Kimberly Esker says:

    I just bought a pair of these and wore them for the first time to Bootcamp last night.

    When I first saw them, I was beyond skeptical. They look weird and I had serious concerns about balance and being able to run in them. I think they look like moon shoes.

    However, I took a leap of faith in what they shoe guy was telling me and tried them on. I was completely, and most pleasantly, surprised by what I found. These shoes offer solid support, a very comfortable, thick and cushy insole, and boast traction like you wouldn’t believe!

    I had a great first workout in Bootcamp with them, too. I felt like I had much better control of traction for moves like burbees, pikes, and tabata jacks. The impact absorption is also exceptionally good. We do a lot of plyo in class and today my knees and lower back do not ache in the least.

    I haven’t run in them yet, but based on my experience with them so far I am expecting another stellar performance. Reebok has really nailed it with this design, providing people can get past the intimidating look and actually try them out.

  28. Angie Glenn Holmes says:

    I have multiple sclerosis. I’m wobbly, to say the least. I saw these shoes, and thought maybe they would help me from falling over on flat surfaces. Has anyone tryed them on? I’d like to know how they feel.

  29. Providing nearly 0 proprioception, they should be called the “Reebok Injury”.

  30. The sole reminds me of a sea mine…

  31. I tried these on last week and fell in love. I’d like them for every day wear. It was like walking on a pillow! :)

  32. I must say that these shoes are the most comfortable pair I have owned in a long time. Hell I even wear them my home, so for those who feel that because they don’t don’t look normal they can’t be functions you are completely wrong, and this is the first pair of Reeboks I’ve owned since high school, and that was a while ago. The only way I can describe it is walking on comfy squishiness which is more I can say about any other shoe ice tried, so as long as they hold I will be completely happy.

  33. Had these shoes for a week now. 44 yrs old, bad ankles, but yet give awesome ankle/heel stability. I am empresses so far. Was skeptical at first but now a believer…

  34. Will pounder says:

    These shoes are brutal. After wearing them for long periods over an hour, the make your fee ache like you wearing cleats on a hard surface. I got these shoes as a gift, and I wear them because of that. As soon I I get to the gym I shed these poor shoes. After running 2 miles my feet fee like they are numb. Save you money and so not buy!

  35. Actually I recently purchased these shoes and they are really great shoes. I will admit I was sketchy at first but they are amazingly comfortable.

  36. I live in the city, walk/run on cement and suffer from frequent bouts of plantar fasciitis. I tried these shoes on and I have to say they are remarkably supportive and comfortable.

  37. joey gallardo says:

    I purchased these a few months ago. I tried them on and loved the support they gave me. I have now been wearing them for about 3 months. My heel was killing me at the time of purchase, now that pain is gone. My wife is training for a triathlon and has been running in hers for a month now. She loves them and recently ordered a custom pair for work.

  38. I inherited a pair of these from my trainer who bought them but never ran in them due to a hip injury. For everyday use, these are not the ones. They are unbelievably tall and klunky, which also makes them useless for your daily pavement runner. I was about to donate them myself but got a free entry into a mudrun so I decided to give them a try there. I usually compete in Merrells. It turned out to be a rainy day as well, so we’re talking extra muddy conditions. I was second guessing my decision up until the first hill climb. The ATVs were unstoppable. The high rise meant that the gaps in the sole absorbed most of the abnormalities in the ground without changing the plane of my feet unlike my minimalist shoes where every small dip, rock, or branch affects my foot strike. The ATVs surprisingly were quite sturdy handling flat wet surfaces with minimal slip. Coming out of the mud pits, they held on to very little excess mud while people around me were wearing mud pancakes on their feet. Most impressed with the fact that through the entire race, not one rock or pebble made inside. Not a single one. I’m highly impressed with this shoe’s performance in the mud and off road. Now if you’ll excuse me but I have to go buy my trainer a case of Modelos.

  39. Jolene Self says:

    I am a nurse and on my feet all day on concrete. I almost didn’t try them on but after about an hour in the store I tried them on because I wasn’t happy with anything else I was trying on. I ended up purchasing the only color they had, grey, pink and orange (gross, I know). They are great. I am going to order another pair in a slightly less “dramatic” color. My old knee injury doesn’t hurt or swell when I wear these shoes. At 56 I am in love with these hideously ugly shoes!

  40. I’ve run 250 miles in this shoe and it will be my next pair as well. I’m always on concrete, never mud or trails. Never rolled my ankle. This shoe is much better than the pricey new balance I bought from the running store. They absorb impact and my feet and knees feel much better after ditching the NB. They look heavy and silly but are light and comfortable.

  41. I love shoes says:

    WOW! The Reebok ATV is awesome! i had knee issues from running with my pumas and I wore these for a few weeks and i noticed my knee pain significantly reduce. I am female, early 30s. I love these shoes and i will definitely buy another pair. A lot of opinionated people above who haven’t tried the product…I’ve tried it and I will continuing buy it! you won’t be disappointed! My husband is convinced to buy a pair now too!

  42. In terms of comfort, THESE CANNOT BE BEAT!!!! Trust me!! I wish they made them in high tops so I could play basketball in them. Reebok kudos on the comfort and the look isn’t that bad. My kid loves his pair!!!

  43. Lift weights and run in them. They’re great for both. Going to wear them in my next Spartan Beast race. Great long distance walking shoe. Super comfortable.

  44. Great shoe . Haven’t owned a pair of Reebok since the pumps and these did not disappoint. Wow!!!!!!

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