My first impression of the new Riley Hawk pro model shoe from Lakai was that it looked very similar to the Lakai Owen, except it had an upper that included laces. The shape of the toe is almost exactly like the Owen. The Riley includes an added toe bumper that the Owen doesn’t have though. When you first put the shoe on you notice that it is a bit stiff. The reason behind that is because the back of the shoe around the heel is made of a tough canvas. Depending on how your feet fit in ther shoe this could cause discomfort for the first day or so. The LUX-LITE insole provides a decent bit of cushion and support. The shape of the toe is a bit wider than I’m used to, but I don’t think it will have a negative effect at all.
One Week Of Skating
After a week of skating in the Riley’s, the break in process was finally over. The bulked up sole and added toe bumper are great for making the shoe last longer, but the downfall is that it takes longer to break them in. The insoles are holding up strong and have yet to pack down from taking impact. The only major wear area is around the collar of the shoe. The stitching ripped in the first couple of days and the foam padding around the collar is now exposed. The laces that come with the shoe are thin, and the first one ripped pretty easily. Once these shoes are broken in they start to skate very well.
Three Weeks Of Skating
After another week there really isn’t a huge difference in wear. The most obvious area for concern is the collar and the lacing area. At this point I had ripped all the laces, and the collar began to fall apart more. An easy fix to all this would be to put a new lace in. These issues did not affect the way the shoe skated though. To be completely honest I was not a fan of this shoe at first, but the more I skated the shoe the more I began to like it. This is the kind of shoe that gets better with time. Pack a couple extra laces and these bad boys are good to go. It has been three weeks and the Riley’s have more life left in them. If I were to rate the shoe, I would give the Riley Hawk’s first pro model a 7 out of 10.
Skateboarders tend to be creatures of habit when it comes to purchasing shoes, boards, etc. Trying something new isn’t something we do very often. When you find something you like, why try something new, right? After skating the Cons CTS’ and Trapassos for years, it was time for me to reconsider what I had become accustomed to and look for a new shoe to skate in. I decided to try the New Balance Numeric Stratford 479s because I was looking for a cupsole shoe that I could get some support and additional padding for my traumatized feet without sacrificing board feel.
Right out of the box you can feel the support of the cupsole. Unlike some other cupsole shoes, the tread on the bottom of the Stratford is grippy from the get-go. Let’s just say you won’t be missing any flicks on the first day. The fit is narrow and hugs your heel nicely. The toe shape is similar to that of the first Nike SB Koston, not too round and not too slim. Although there is stitching around the toe, there isn’t any real purpose for it other than aesthetics. The insoles have a bit of cushion to them and are paired with an EVA foam midsole for maximum impact protection. Also, there are perforated side panels to keep the shoe ventilated and relatively odor free.
After a week of serious abuse, the Stratford 479s have held up really well. They have not lost their shape or become floppy. The one-piece toe cap kept the shoe intact and does a good job of preventing any ripping or blowouts. The cushion and padding around the heel have packed down a bit, but that’s pretty natural. I’m no Andrew Reynolds, but I’ve done my fair share of jumping down stairs in them and have yet to experience any kind of bruising or impact injuries. Hundreds of kickflips later, I am just barely getting through the first layer of suede with a layer of rubber underneath ready to go. The laces stay fairly protected, but when it comes to skating no lace is safe in the long run. I ripped a couple laces on the right shoe and ended up tossing another lace in there, but have only ripped one lace on the left shoe so far. The tread is still in really good condition. The sole around the toe has lost some of its grip, causing me to miss a couple of flicks here and there, and the perforated sides definitely didn’t keep my feet from sweating. These shoes are far from done and have plenty of life left.
I’m glad I stepped outside the box and picked up a pair of the NB# Stratford 479s. Skating vulcanized shoes and trying to emulate my favorite professional skateboarders for over a decade has done some damage to my feet. The Stratford 479s offer a great mix of padding and reinforcement accompanied with good board feel and grip. My feet are thanking me now. The shoe has some flaws, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. These shoes skate much better than I initially expected. I will be recommending them to anyone trying to protect their feet from further vulcanized harm. Kudos to New Balance Numeric for making a great skate shoe.
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