K-Swiss Men's Ultrascendor Shoe Review

K-Swiss has added another winner to its stable of thoroughbred performance shoes. The Ultrascendor's are light, comfortable, stable and durable. A winning combination that earned the Ultrascendor a Tennis Magazine "Editor's Choice" award and the respect of our playtesters.

The Ultrascendor is full of useful technology for serious tennis players. The Shock Spring system in the heel and forefoot cushions impact shock. The Cushion Board construction combines Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Thermal Plastic Urethane (TPU), wrapped with braided metal, to produce a lightweight, yet effective, mid-foot shank for support and stability. Weight is further reduced by removing rubber in the arch, exposing the EVA midsole. K-Swiss' Aosta 7.0 rubber, DragGuard toe piece and Helcor Toe Wrap provide durability for aggressive hard-court players and even chronic toe-draggers. K-Swiss' signature lacing system threads non-slip laces through five straps to enhance lateral and medial support, by allowing the player to draw the whole upper snug around the foot by tightening the laces. The Men's Ultrascendor shoes are available in two colors - White/Navy/Silver (shown at right) and White/Yellow/Black.

We playtested the Ultrascendors for almost 3 weeks and have these comments.

Comfort

All of our playtesters gave the Ultrascendor high marks in comfort, noting the Shock Spring cushioning technology and the fact that no break-in period was required. John offers, "these shoes were comfortable right out of the box. The fit was true and I experienced no pinching, poking or rubbing. Within minutes of putting on the shoes I felt as if I had a 'seasoned' pair of shoes and went directly on court. The Shock Spring system in the forefoot and heel seemed to be effective in providing cushioning and comfort." Mark adds, "the Ultrascendors were very comfortable. I was able to wear them on the court immediately. They don't have a lot of fancy features but they held my feet securely and comfortably." Danny reports, "the cushioning of these shoes was great! I thought they were some of the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn."

Don continues, "I liked these shoes from the moment I tried them on. They fit my wide feet well and didn't require any break-in period. Although the upper is firm, it's not stiff - sort of like putting on a freshly ironed shirt with a little starch. I liked this 'structure' and felt it enhanced the feeling of security and support. The Shock Spring system seems to really work - these shoes had good cushioning on hard courts." Dan comments, "these shoes had a comfortable, forgiving feel, I assume due to the Shock Spring cushioning system and Cushion Board construction. I liked the 5-strap lacing system. It held my foot securely, fastened evenly and held the padded tongue close to the top of my foot a nice comfort feature. My only complaint was that the vamp area (top of toe box) was too flexible for me. It felt like there was extra space between this piece and the top of my foot, allowing it to fold too easily when starting or stopping quickly."

Arch Support

The Ultrascendor has a fairly pronounced arch, favoring players with medium-high arches. Mark offers, "the arch support was just right for my feet. The height was good and it hit my foot in the right spot." Don adds, "the arch was ideal for my feet (wide, high arch)." Dan says, "the arch wasn't an issue for me. It's a medium-built arch that's stable, and it molded to my foot well." John comments, "although supportive, the arch support was a bit high for my foot. During play, however, I didn't experience any discomfort." Danny continues, "I have a narrow foot and didn't have good arch support with these shoes. I think they favor a wider foot."

Foot Support/Stability

The Ultrascendor's Cushion Board construction is designed to provide superior support and stability while still retaining maneuverability (can you say great taste/less filling?). Most playtesters felt K-Swiss succeeded in delivering a shoe that is stable and supportive. J ohn comments, "at just over 14 ounces the Ultrascendor is one of the most stable lighter weight shoes I've worn. The Cushion Board construction seems to work in reducing weight without sacrificing support. Whether going wide to reach a well place shot, running forward to pick up a drop shot or lunging for a volley and making a sudden stop, I always felt my feet were well supported. I didn't experience any sliding or slippage inside the shoe either." Don agreed, adding, "great support for a low-cut show. I always felt confident that my feet were stable and well supported. The combination of sufficent arch support, firm shank and effective lacing system all combine to make the Ultrascendor a serious player's shoe." Dan offers, "I never felt my ankles were in danger of rolling over and there was limited slippage during hard play. The 5-strap lacing system supplies good medial and lateral stability, making the shoe fit snug from the heel to the bottom lace. Compared to similar, competing models, the Ultrascendor scores well in stability and support. Again though, the extra room in the vamp area reduced support in this area." Mark continues, "the stability is better than any light weight shoe I can remember playtesting, but it's not quite as good as some of the heavier K-Swiss shoes." Danny offers, "the foot support and stability seems to work better for wider feet. My narrow feet had a tendency to slide around due to the wider design. My ankles were stable, though, and I never felt they would roll over."

Overall Sole Durability

K-Swiss' Aosta 7.0 rubber is very effective in resisting abrasion, and the Ultrascendors held up well during our playtest session. Danny proclaims, "these shoes lasted longer than I expected, and they're the most durable K-Swiss shoes I've ever worn." John comments, "there was no noticeable wear during the 3-week playtest period. This is one lightweight shoe that may last nearly as long as its heavier competitors." Dan says, "the sole held up well to hard court play, despite the partially exposed EVA midsole." Don adds, "the outsoles show hardly any wear and look like they'll last a long time."

Toe Durability

K-Swiss incorporates their DragGuard toe and Helcor Toe Wrap to help beef up durability for toe draggers. These features worked well in preventing wear during our playtesting. Dan offers, "the Ultrascendors survived my toe dragging habit and wear was pretty limited after a month of playtesting." John says, "although I'm not a toe dragger, those who are will appreciate the toe wrap that protects that area of the shoe. It's a nice feature in a lightweight shoe." Don comments, " I didn't make a dent in the toes, even though I do drag on serves. I was impressed with the durability here, and overall, for such a mobile shoe."

Traction

The Ultrascendors feature a wide herringbone-type pattern that is practical for hard and clay court use. The Aosta 7.0 rubber is durable but isn't so hard as to slide on a hard court. Dan explains, "these shoes gripped the court well. I encountered no problems with traction, whether making quick direction changes, stopping or starting." John offers, "I found the Ultrascendors gripped the court adequately, providing a stable base for quick starts and stops. They were relatively quiet on court, too." Danny comments, "traction was good when moving in any direction. No slipping or sliding was ever experienced and I was able to stop on a dime at any time." Don says, "I never slid out on a hard court and felt confident stopping and starting. My one outing on clay was successful too."

Weight

At 14+ ounces the Ultrascendors are light, but not ultra-light shoes. There seems to be a good balance of mobility and substance according to our playtesters. Mark says, "they're the best lightweight shoes I've worn in a long time. K-Swiss reduced the weight without sacrificing stability." Dan agrees, adding, "the Ultrascendor is light enough to be mobile, yet retains enough weight so that stability and performance aren't sacrificed." John offers, "K-Swiss has devised a formula that works for players seeking a lighter shoe that's also durable. During play I wasn't even cognizant of the shoes. I was able to start and stop with ease. After leaving the court my feet were in good shape - no blisters or redness from moving around the court." Danny comments, "these were some of the lightest shoes I've playtested, which improved my speed and mobility." Don adds, "these shoes strike an almost perfect balance of weight and support. I really enjoyed the mobility."

Summary

The Ultrascendors are proof that lightweight shoes can still provide impressive stability and durability. While these shoes seem to favor medium to wide feet, even our playtesters with narrower feet liked them. Aggressive, hard court players will find good value here and should enjoy the enhanced mobility of these performance shoes.

Here's what the playtesters had to say:
The "Likes" of the shoe.

Dan - "Overall comfort and stability, toe durability and the 5-strap lacing system (with slip-resistant laces)"

Danny - "The cushioning, comfort and traction were the qualities I liked most. I also really like the colors (white/black/yellow) and design."

Don - "I liked just about everything about these shoes - fit, mobility, arch support, stability and lacing system."

John - "I liked the fit and stability of these shoes. I also liked the slip-resistant laces. They're the best laces I've ever worn."

Mark - "I liked the fit and weight."

The "Dislikes" of the shoe.

Dan - "The vamp was too flexible for my foot. There wasn't enough support for the top of my toes."

Danny - "The only problem I had was the extra space inside the shoes."

Don - "I didn't care for the somewhat 'boaty' look of these shoes from the top. However, they look fine on other players... Otherwise, the shoes creak a little when walking, but it's not noticeable when playing."

John - "The arch support was a bit high for my foot. I also wasn't crazy about the reflective striping on the white/navy version. Finally, after some time, I noticed the leather starting to make a creaking noise when I walked."

Mark - None

K-Swiss Men's Ultrascendor Summary Sheet

The Up SideThe Down SidePlay Test Scores
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Good cushioning
  • No break-in period
  • Impressive stability and support
  • Good traction
  • Ideal for wider foot types
  • Substantial arch support for medium-high arches
  • Not well-suited to narrow feet
Comfort 4.2
Arch Support 3.8
Foot Support/Stability 3.8
Overall Sole Durability 4.1
Toe Durability 4.2
Traction 4.3
Weight 4.5
Overall 4.2
Scores (1-Horrible 2-Poor 3-Average 4-Good 5-Tremendous)

Playtesters' Foot Types: Dan - medium width/medium arch, Danny - narrow width/low arch, John - medium width/medium arch, Mark - medium width/low arch, Don - wide foot/high arch

Review date: May, 2002. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2002 Tennis Warehouse.

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