Babolat Drive Men's Shoe Review
- No break-in
- Styling is uninspired
From the box to the court, the Drive shoe from Babolat offers instant comfort. Both of our testers found the shoe to feel instantly ready to go thanks to soft and supple uppers. To protect feet from tough landings, the Drive features a Vibrakill shock absorber, which offered ample protection and a plush ride. With comfort taken care of, our testers started to push the traction and durability limits of the shoe. The Drive offered excellent traction that impressed our testers. The shoes also held up well, with the Michelin outsoles proving durable even on our abrasive indoor court. The supple uppers also allowed this shoe to flex, making it feel fast on court with good heel-to-toe transition. However, the trade-off was the uppers stretched out, leaving room for our testers' feet to slide around inside the shoes toward the end of the month-long test. Overall, the Drive proved to offer a high level of performance and comfort to go with its relatively conservative styling. All things considered, the Drive is a fantastic value considering its sub $40 price point.
Comfort - Score: 4.5
One of the standout features of the Drive was its instant and sustained comfort. Jason was impressed with the high level of comfort. He said, "The level of comfort this shoe provides is not only impressive at the under-$40 mark, but it would be impressive at the $100 mark as well. I took note of the cushioning as soon as I put them on. As I started walking around in them and then took to the court with them, I could feel the plush uppers flex in all the right places. Needless to say, this shoe didn't require a break-in at all."
Enjoying the slipper-like feel was Spencer. He said, "These were extremely comfortable when I first laced them up. The supple upper and flexible midsole offered that slipper-like feel. The first time I put them on I noticed that the last set of eyelets didn't feel like they were high enough up toward my ankle. It seemed like I would experience some heel slippage because of that, but once I got on court that wasn't the case. My feet grooved into the shoe and I felt no discomfort or heel slippage whatsoever."
Ventilation - Score: 4.0
Though there weren't a lot of perforations or mesh in the uppers, both testers found sufficient ventilation. Spencer said, "It certainly isn't the most ventilated shoe on the shelf, but then again, I didn't have any problems with overheating, either. I usually prefer to have a little more mesh for ventilation, but I didn't notice a lack of breathability."
Jason agreed, saying, "There was enough ventilation that my feet never felt overheated. It's not one of the top ranking shoes as far as breathability goes, but I had no issues with it. There was just enough mesh and perforations that during and after each hit my feet didn't feel overwhelmingly hot."
Arch Support - Score: 4.5
The arch support was low of medium but worked just fine with our two-person crew. Feeling the arches broke in to his liking was Jason. He said, "I was already pleased to feel the slightly lower arch on the initial try-on. As the playtest continued the soft midsole flattened out even more and molded nicely to my non-existent arches."
Spencer felt the arches were a little low but provided enough support. "There was just enough arch support for me not to have to think about it. They supported my arches just fine."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.5
The support and stability steadily waned as the soft uppers began to stretch out. Spencer was happy with the support at the start. He said, "From the get-go, the support and stability were better than expected. As the play test wore on, though, the soft upper stretched out a bit, making the fit a bit wide, and the support waned. I thought the stability was decent for a shoe that is so soft and flexible."
Jason was worried about his ankles when changing direction. He said, "This is really the only knock on the shoe for me. At first, the support and stability weren't too bad. The uppers were still flexing more than I wanted, but I just cinched my laces up tight, and it wasn't a big deal. As the weeks went on the uppers started becoming softer and softer. I noticed more instances, especially on the change of direction plays, that I'd be on the brink of the shoe rolling over. Although, to its credit, I never did roll an ankle."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.4
For a non-durability guaranteed shoe, the durability was outstanding. As a matter of fact, it's outstanding for any tennis shoe, guaranteed or not. Jason was pleasantly surprised with the durability. He said, "Shockingly great! I wore this shoe for over 20 hours, and there is still a good amount of tread left. Sure, there is some balding, but I was still maintaining pretty good traction. This is the third Babolat shoe I've tested this year (Propulse 3 and V Pro All Court), and this shoe is right up there with the Propulse 3 as far as outsole durability goes."
Spencer was most impressed, saying, "This was one of the most impressive parts of this shoe. Not only did the outsole offer good traction, but it also held up well. It showed minimal signs of wear in the usual places. I would put this one up against any of the durability guaranteed models, even though this one doesn't carry that guarantee."
Traction - Score: 4.4
Traction on the hard courts was yet another standout feature of this shoe. Spencer felt the excellent traction helped his court efficiency. He said, "As mentioned in the previous category, the traction was phenomenal. I was able to rely on these shoes to stop when I needed to stop, as well as take hold of the court when needing to plant and spring off in a different direction. A light weight shoe with excellent traction that helped me feel fast and efficient on court."
Noting the consistent and lasting traction throughout the playtest was Jason. He said, "If the whole tire thing doesn't work out for Michelin, they definitely have a future in the tennis outsole business! Not only was the traction great, but it also remained that way, even in the later stages of the playtest when the tread started to wear down. There were a few slippage issues, but they were very slight. I felt very confident moving around in these shoes."
Weight - Score: 4.1
Babolat did a nice job of making a lightweight shoe while maintaining plenty of cushioning. Jason was happy with the distribution of weight. He said, "Once they were on my feet and I started playing, the weight was an afterthought. Could the shoe be lighter? Sure. But I think that'd take away from the excellent cushioning. I like the weight where it's at."
Spencer liked the speedy feel on court. He said, "The Drive had a light feel on court. Not quite as light or minimalistic as a super speedy shoe, but fast for sure. I enjoyed the good foot speed I was able to get."
Overall - Score: 4.2
Jason - "Very comfortable from the get-go thanks to the supple uppers, heel cushioning and low arch. Traction and durability were on par with shoes twice its price."
Spencer - "The instant comfort, traction and durability."
Jason - "The uppers felt a bit too soft for me. I thought I could've used some added support for lateral movements. The minimalist styling and color scheme are not my favorites."
Spencer - "Not a fan of the plain look, and the upper stretched out a bit too much."
Comparing the Babolat Drive to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Jason - "These reminded me very much of the Babolat V Pro All Court shoes in the comfort, fit, traction departments, but I'd give the edge to this shoe for durability."
Spencer - "The comfort and fast feel remind me a little of the Fila Torneo, though the Drive wins in traction and durability."
Playtester Foot Types:
Jason - Wide width / Low arch
Spencer - Medium width / Medium arch
Review date: February 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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