Fifteen years after Reebok’s Pump shoes opened eyes and wallets with its new technology,Reebok is launching a new line of Pump products. Only this time no pumping is required.
“We’ve taken that and built it into the heel of the shoe,” said Bill McInnis,Reebok’s managing director of advanced concepts. “You put the shoes on,you walk five to 10 steps,and the shoe automatically inflates and conforms to your foot.”
The original Pump sold 20 million pairs in four years. It was just like other athletic shoes,except athletes could pump a ball on the tongue to increase the pressure inside.
With the Pump 2.0,the shoes silently pump themselves.
A valve located at the shoe’s heel prevents it from pumping to more than 5 pounds per square inch,the optimal pressure,according to McInnis.
Pressure can be released by holding the valve down.
The pump differs from the original,not only in technology,but also in design. It has no shoelaces,and the air chamber is located on the outside of the shoe,so consumers can watch it inflate,McInnis said.
McInnis,who helped create the Pump 2.0,said he hopes it will make athletes think differently about their shoes.
“I hope first and foremost that people start thinking about fit as a performance attribute and not just a comfort attribute,” McInnis said.
Denise Dalsheim,a 42-year-old management consultant from suburban Washington D.C.,tested the shoes for Reebok this summer and said they offered comfort and stability,but didn’t necessarily improve or hinder her performance.
“My time was not altered in any way,” she said,adding that the shoes were convenient because she didn’t have to lace them.
She thinks the idea of a lace-less,self-pumping running shoe may take a while to catch on.
“People are always hesitant to change,” said Dalsheim,who runs more than 30 miles a week. “There are some runners who are very particular about the tightness (of their shoes). … You cannot control it in these shoes. But for most runners,you put the shoe on and you basically want your foot to stay in the shoe while you’re running and give you support and stability. The shoe does do that.”
Last week’s launch featured only the running shoe,but basketball and tennis versions will go on sale in the spring. Retro versions of the original tennis and basketball shoes will also be available on a limited basis at select stores.
Jerome Williams,31,a reserve forward for the New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association,recently received a pair and will be sporting them on the court soon.
“It’s a hot shoe,” he said. “It’s a back to the future,futuristic,shoe of the millennium.”
Although he hasn’t worn them on the court yet,he said he thinks the shoes will offer more stability.
He remembers his original Reebok pumps that he wore on the basketball court in high school. He said he often “pumped” them for intimidation and plans to do the same in the professional arena.
For now,the Pump 2.0 is available only at Finish Line sporting goods stores and specialty running stores in Atlanta,Boston,Chicago,Dallas,Houston,Indianapolis,Miami and New York. The shoes will hit remaining cities in the spring.