KSwiss Ultrascendor II Shoe Review
- Good fit for wider feet
- Too wide for narrow feet
KSwiss updates its very successful and popular Ultrascendor by trimming some weight from the already lightweight shoe and giving the Ultrascendor IIs a new sleek and modern look. They are offered in a few different sharp-looking colorways that are sure to catch the eye of any onlooker. As for performance, the new version didn't disappoint. The cushioning and out-of-the-box comfort were what we have come to expect from KSwiss. The Ultrascendor IIs have a wider, roomy fit, especially in the forefoot, making it perfect for players with wider feet. Our testers disagreed on the amount of stability they received from this shoe, but they agreed on the excellent traction and sole durability. These new Ultrascendor IIs definitely promise a plush and comfortable ride.
Comfort - Score: 4.6
Both playtesters loved the cushioning and found the Ultrascendor IIs to offer a wider, roomy fit. Chris used a set of aftermarket insoles that were a little thicker to improve the fit for his narrow feet. He said, "Right out of the box I found these shoes to offer a comfortable ride. The uppers were soft and supple, flexing well with my movement and providing a comfortable feel. The level of cushioning was very plush, and my feet were well protected from the pounding of hard court play. The fit was very roomy, and the shoes were too wide for my narrow feet. On the first couple of wears my feet were sliding around inside the shoes, which led to some discomfort, but I was able to remedy the fit by wearing two pairs of socks and installing a thicker aftermarket insole. From then on I found nothing but great comfort inside these shoes."
Andy also loved the out of the box comfort, saying, "I found them to be super comfortable from the first wear. They have a roomier fit in the forefoot, which is great for people with wider feet. There's lots of great cushioning all around the foot, including a very plush tongue. It fits a lot like a sneaker -- with a low-profile design and lots of room to move around in."
Ventilation - Score: 3.1
We found the ventilation to be fairly average in the Ultrascendor IIs. Andy's feet didn't seem to get too hot in them. He offered, "The ventilation was average in this shoe. The synthetic upper doesn't have much breathability, but at the same time I never felt my feet getting overheated. The tongue has a fair amount of mesh, which also helps with ventilation."
Chris did have some overheating issues in these shoes. He said, "These are not the most vented of shoes, and my feet ran a tad hot inside the Ultrascendor IIs. I think their saving grace was the fact that because the uppers were so roomy my feet always had some room to breathe. The mesh through the tongue helped slightly, but it was up in the toe box where my feet got the hottest. There is only a handful of perforations to the upper in the vamp, and they did little to help cool my feet. Also, wearing two pairs of socks to cure the wide fit surely didn't help."
Arch Support - Score: 3.9
Neither tester had any issues with the arch support in these shoes. The lower than normal arch support fit Andy's flat feet nicely. He said, "The arch support is lower than normal, but it fit my flat feet just fine. I never felt that I needed more arch support, and it definitely never provided too much arch support to where it hurt my foot."
Chris didn't have any issues, saying, "The arch support was just fine with the stock insoles. However, to improve fit I switched to an aftermarket insole we are testing. The insole switch improved the arch fit for me as my arches are on the high side, but either way, support was just fine. These shoes seem to have enough stiffness in the chassis to help protect my arches when I'm sprinting around, and I had absolutely no issues throughout the test."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.7
Stability was one area that our playtesters were in disagreement over. Chris enjoyed the level of stability, even with the wider toe box. He said, "Offering a pretty solid ride, these shoes proved trustworthy even when I was making aggressive lateral cuts and coming to a fast stop. I think the width of the shoe actually helped, as it put down a wide footprint and the shoes never felt like they wanted to encourage any roll over. Even though the uppers were soft and comfortable, they offered enough support to get the job done. My only issue was with the width of the shoe, and I was able to resolve that."
Andy, on the other hand, did not find the level of support he would need to take these shoes into battle. He said, "This is one area of the shoe that needed a bit of improvement for me. The support wasn't terrible, but I did not feel totally comfortable moving around aggressively in this shoe. The upper is a bit too flexible and gives too much when aggressively cutting side to side. In addition, my foot slid around a lot in the roomy toe box, and that didn't help the support."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.1
Both playtesters felt the Ultrascendor II was up to the test of the rigors of our testing period. Chris' pair held up well throughout the playtest. He said, "Finally, KSwiss is back to building shoes with decent durability. After being disappointed by both the Tubes Tennis 100 and the Monfils shoe, which both wore out very quickly, this shoe was back to what I expect from KSwiss. At the end of the test I had put 15 on-court hours on the shoes, and the outsoles are still looking great. I have some slight wear under the big toe area of the right shoe, but that's it."
"I'd give the sole durability a solid B+," said Andy. "It definitely lasted longer than I anticipated, but it's not going to hold up to the best, like the Ballistecs or Barricades. I had the most wear under my big toe, which is a standard wear pattern for me. After three weeks of play there was the standard amount of wear for me, and I could probably go for a week or two more before wearing through the outsole."
Toe Durability - Score: 3.0
Our resident toe dragger would have liked a little more last out of the toe. Chris didn't feel the toe durability held up to the durability of the outsole. He said, "The durability of the toes was OK. I drag my toes a lot, and it wasn't long before I started to see some wear in this area. Considering the impressive durability of the outsoles I expect the toes to wear out first. The top of my left shoe is already starting to show signs of weakness and is not looking like it will last as long as the outsoles."
Traction - Score: 4.3
Traction was never an issue for either tester. Andy was moving well in the shoes, saying, "The traction was good, with the right amount of grab on the court. It provides a little bit of give so that you don't get too caught up on the court, but you never slip and get off balance. With that perfect balance of slip and give you can slide and change direction with confidence, knowing that you won't roll or slide too much while doing it."
Chris thought KSwiss hit their mark when it came to outsole performance. He said, "The traction was very good in these shoes. I was able to start, stop and cut at full speed with no worries of sliding too much. I also found just enough give, so the outsoles never got hung up on the court surface. Considering the blend of traction, give and durability, I would say KSwiss got the blend of rubber just right on this one."
Weight - Score: 4.0
Both testers found the weight to be fairly normal in the Ultrascendor IIs. Andy found the right balance between a light feel and a supportive ride. He said, "The weight was nice, as it wasn't too heavy or too light. They were comfortable around the court and helped me feel nimble and fleet-footed. It's not a lightweight shoe, but they are not boat anchors on your feet, either. These were just right."
Chris agreed, saying, "Not the lightest shoes I've worn, but not really too heavy either. This shoe was pretty middle of the road for me. At first I didn't think I'd find these shoes to be very fast, as they felt somewhat clunky with their wide fit. However, I was sprinting around the court just fine in them. Considering the level of outsole durability, I'd say the weight was more than acceptable."
Overall - Score: 3.9
Chris - "I liked the plush cushioning, the durability and the traction the most."
Andy - "I liked the super comfortable and roomy fit, the sole durability, and the arch support that fit me just right."
Chris - "These shoes ran a tad too hot for me, and the fit was too wide to be ideal."
Andy - "It does not provide enough support and stability for my aggressive game style. The support and stability was not bad, just not where I needed them to be if I were going to compete in them."
Comparing the shoe to others they've tried, our testers said:
Chris - "While the shoe looks very modern, the fit and feel reminds me of the old Ultrascendors. They offered plenty of room, did all the right things when it came to helping me stop and go, and they felt comfortable throughout. I'd say a comparable shoe would be the Prince T22, which also offers a wider fit and good durability."
Andy - "These fit me perfectly and were super comfortable, like the New Balance CT 1004, which I loved wearing, but they don't provide the same amount of stability. They also have the roomy and cushioned fit of the Babolat SFX, but feel much lighter. These felt like super comfortable sneakers to me."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Review date: October 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2012 Tennis Warehouse.