By Troy Lara
LI-NING introduces the C523 as a low-profile speed shoe built to meet the demands of the most aggressive court movers. The C523 provides a snug glove-like fit with a soft and pliable upper that hugs the foot. Although lightweight, this shoe has better than average stability, which is enhanced by the ProBar LOC midfoot shank. After an initial issue with the ankle collar, I became more and more impressed with this shoe as the playtest progressed.
My first impression of this shoe was that the cosmetic was very sleek, and it reminded me of a pair of football cleats I once used in high school. The patent leather-like upper material stayed nice and shiny white; it didn't absorb the dirt and dust like a mesh upper material typically does. The snug, slender fit of this shoe contours to my narrow feet very well. The shoe's upper is composed of a very soft and pliable synthetic leather, which enhanced the shoe's comfort. Early in the playtest I struggled with the fit around the ankle collar. I began wearing an ankle wrap, which provided some added protection to my ankle, and once the shoe was broken-in this issue went away.
I found the ventilation to be below average for a lightweight shoe. The synthetic leather upper material was very pliable and comfortable, but not very breathable. My feet seemed to sweat more than they did in some other lightweight shoes, such as the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour. It wasn't necessarily something that bothered me much, but this may be a detriment for someone playing in a hot and humid climate.
Considering its light weight, the stability of this shoe was better than I would have predicted. The ProBar LOC shank in the midfoot provided good support in the arch area and prevented any unwanted flexing in the shoe. The C523s did not offer the same level of support as the Nike Air Courtballistec 4.3 or adidas Barricade 7, but we are talking about two different weight classes. I never experienced an ankle twist or roll, and overall my movement was really good. I trusted this shoe when tracking down balls all over the court.
Durability was also better than other lightweight shoes, such as the New Balance 996 and Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour. The only sub-15 ounce shoe that lasted longer for me was the Head Speed Pro Lite. I am pretty tough on my shoes, especially in the toe area. I would be an even bigger fan of this shoe if it came with a six-month outsole guarantee.
Overall, I was impressed with this shoe. The glove-like fit reminded me of the Nike Courtballistec 1.3 and the original adidas ClimaCool Feather. The lightweight speed feel of this shoe was similar to the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour and the original Asics Gel Resolution. The C523 wasn't as stable as some of my favorites, like the Asics Gel Resolution 5 and Nike Courtballistec 4.3, but I moved really well in these shoes, and that's what is most important to me.
If you are looking for a slim-fitting shoe that maximizes speed while providing just enough support, you're in for a treat with the LI-NING C523!