Inspiration can come from some unlikely sources. Some engineers at Puma found inspiration in a spider web and used that premise to produce the BioWeb Elite, a lightweight training shoe with an interesting look. This shoe is new for the Spring 2013 collection.
About a month ago, the folks at Puma contacted me about the shoe and sent me a pair to try out. I’ve previously tested shoes for them, including the excellent Faas 500, and been happy with their products, so I was anxious to see what they had up their sleeves this time.
The Faas 500 was a bright red and neon green shoe and Puma does have a tendency to like the bright colors, so I was a little apprehensive when I opened the box. I was relieved to see a very handsome looking shoe in a dark grey and bright blue color scheme. Don’t misunderstand here. Back in the day, when I was younger and faster, I’d have rocked the bright colors, but now I’m a little less interested in attracting attention. The dark grey has done a great job at not showing up dirt too.
Appearance: First thing you notice is the Webcage, the spider web inspired technology that wraps around the foot to offer support during exercise. As I said, the shoe was good looking; distinctive, yet something you could put on to wear to the mall without blinding people. I liked the contrast of the bright blue on it. It wasn’t overused and it accented the shoe just right. Another thing I noticed was that it didn’t seem to have as much reflective material as some other Puma products I’ve tested. That’s not a concern for me, but it could be for others.
Weight: Don’t let appearances fool you. The BioWeb Elite is a substantial looking shoe and I expected it to have some heft to it, but when I picked it up, I realized that this was a really lightweight shoe. Turns out that the Webcage technology allowed the engineers to keep the shoe light and stable with minimal materials. Puma also carved out negative space in the outsole, saving material and weight. The result is shoe that offers the support of a heavier shoe at a substantial weight savings.
Fit: Puma shoes tend to fit narrow for me so I was surprised when I laced up the BioWeb Elite. While they aren’t as roomy in the toe box as my Saucony’s, they are roomier than the Faas 500 was. I’d equate the fit to some of the recent Nike offerings. Since I still wear socks most of the time, I appreciated the extra space. The shoe felt supportive and comfortable right out of the box. The Webcage wrapped around the foot, giving a more supportive feel than I expected.
Cushion: This is where the BioWeb Elite really surprised me. I’m an old school guy that puts the shoe on and then hops on the heel to see how cushioned it feels. I don’t know why I do it, but I do. My first series of hops left me a little disappointed because I wasn’t feeling that squishy cushion feel I expected. Then I ran in the shoes and that made all the difference. I’m sure Puma can explain the technology to you, but I just know how it felt. Once the shoe was in action, the level of cushioning was very satisfying. In fact, I’d say the level of cushion exceeded my expectations once I put the shoe into action. The BioWeb gave a very stable feel on both pavement and grass.
Puma initially made some BioWeb Elites available at the Puma.com website. These sold out fast. The full release of the shoe is scheduled for March 2013 either on the shop.puma.com site or at selected Foot Locker locations, as well as at footlocker.com. The suggested retail price is $100.
Bottom line: The Puma BioWeb Elite is a good looking, lightweight trainer but it’s not just a pretty face. Once you put a pair on and put them into action, the innovative Webcage has a chance to show you what it can do and you’ll see the real value of the shoe. I’d recommend this shoe to triathletes or runners without hesitation.