Finally a review where I can get a little racy! For too long I have been stuck reviewing the boring super safe products from Vertigo. Don’t get me wrong I love going over the clever engineering detail and practical features that make up the “Volvo” models in the range. But every now and again a boy likes to take out a sporty, good looking and sleek toy, even if it has a budget price tag. And that is just what I got to do with the new Flash.
So let’s go back a model or two and start with what most of us know about the Flash. They were pretty rubbish. Originally this was Mad Rock’s budget all rounder shoe. Version 1 was a respectable performer, a good work horse. But then it got complacent. The previous model was shocking. I took it out on a crag day, fell off everything and when I got home it went straight into the bolting bag. The shoe’s setup was all wrong! Too stiff to give you feeling but too soft to give you traction. Basically it got all out of shape when you needed it to stick solid.
Now we know that the design team at MR are all about performance and winning so they weren’t about to let the runt of last year’s stock skate by again. No, no, no, they pulled the Flash aside gave it a stern talking to and sent it off to shape up. And shape up it did! The Flash has come back with everything you want from an intensive, hard freaking core, no holds barred course of aerobics, pilates and yoga. It has sleeked up and there is a glow in its skin. Its midsection could be on the cover of Men’s Health. The yoga has kept it supple and flexible in all the right areas. The big change is that its rear end no longer looks like it belongs to an armadillo. In fact it is trim, toned and has the kind of curves you would like to see in spandex.
You can probably tell by now I like these shoes, like a lot. So here is the story of our relationship and how I got so smitten. I got the shoes at the end of last year. Immediately I liked the colour. I’m a ginger, it spoke to me. I was skeptical that they would be any good but it was going into competition season and I figured I would start in the gym and see how they go. They went fantastic. Sensation in the toe box was excellent. I could feel all the little bumps of the foot chips I stood on and when I smeared on nothing the rubber bit down and the shoe didn’t twist on my foot. I was very impressed so I took them out to the crag and tried them on my project, which needed one soft shoe, a scummy drop knee push and one hard shoe for a tiny chip that you tippy toe off of. They worked great. It was at this point that I made them my go-to shoes for the Boulder Leagues. So in the six months I have had the shoes they have held up against 8-10 hours training a week, 2 nights a week of Boulder League and at least 1 crag day a weekend. They are starting to look a little used now but have held up amazingly well.
Now I started thinking how did MR turn this shoe around so dramatically? The answer is a whole new chassis. The forefoot of the shoe has been updated to use MR’s 3D moulded sole technology. This is what gives stiffness and the cup shape to the more aggressive down turned shoes in their range. This is then tied into stiffening ribs in the mid sole of the shoe. Now The Flash is not a down turned shoe but what this new form of construction does is it provides support to the larger muscles in the foot while leaving the tips of the toes able to flex and grip the rock. The result is fantastic power transfer to the business end of the shoe, better feel and more rubber on the rock delivering unbelievable traction.
Gone are the continuous ribs of the armadillo bum. The Flash has been given a whole new rear end that looks like that of an aerobics instructor. Trim and sleek with the right bumps in the right places. For the traditional heel hook with the back of the heel there is a ridge that runs along the top of the heel bone. This is there to help you grip on to any little edges or ripples in the rock you might be hooking on to. My one criticism of the shoe comes in here. If you have an odd shaped heel like I do and you don’t fill the heel cup, then the soft rubber on the heel folds over and you lose traction.
Basically it is like cornering on flat tyres. I suppose this is really more of a fit problem than a design issue. But you have to have something to gripe about in a review and this is mine. Now having said that, the heel on the Flash was not a write off for me. Far from it. They have included these oval bumps on either side of the heel. These things have changed the way I use my heel. When pulling down on plastic you never get a straight forward heel hook, you are always scumming with the inside or outside of your heel. That is where these bumps come in. They increase the surface area of rubber on the spot you are hooking on. The raised profile of the side of the heel gives a mechanical advantage by letting you hook the bump behind the lip of holds. This feature came in very handy on the roofs of the Choss Father, heel hooking in the breaks at the base of the roofs. They also give added comfort in heel-toe cams.
For me the Flash is the complete package. MR have included loads of smart bits of technology they developed for their pro athletes on this shoe. The shoe is comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. The cut is comfortable enough for beginners but still delivers the performance dedicated climbers demand. Climbing grades from 18 to 31*, these shoes have served me well. It has lived up to its name both in performance and looks. They have been my shoe of choice for flashing problems at Boulder League and flashing or on-sighting routes on my KZN trips. The bright orange upper and rubber are an eye catcher in the gyms. The design finishes off nicely with funky trim on the Velcro closures. No matter how you look at it this is one HOT shoe. It has firmly entrenched itself in my quiver as a “don’t leave home without it” shoe.
* Greg’s ticklist includes:
- The Beast (31) – Waterval Boven
- Hyper Diamond (28) – Umgeni Valley
- Voodoo Guru (27) – second go – Boneyard in Kloof Gorge
- Betamaster (27) – Canyon (This and That wall) in Kloof Gorge
- Figaro (27) – Flash – Canyon (Eroica wall) in Kloof Gorge
- Half life (27) – Narrow Kloof
- La Traviata (26) – second go – Canyon (Spectre wall) in Kloof Gorge
- Dance Macabre (26) – Boneyard in Kloof Gorge
- Venom (26) 3rd go – Canyon (outer wall) in Kloof Gorge
- Eroica (26) – Canyon (Eroica wall) in Kloof Gorge
Get your pair of Flash 2.0s at leading outdoor retailers
Flash 2.0. Review