I was clueless when I first heard the brand name Ampla, but not for long: a pair of them showed up on my radar. I was expecting a sedate, serious kick.
Instead, a pair of tomato red shoes appeared, instantly reminding me of my favourite film as a kid: "The Wizard of Oz." I put them on and felt so much like Dorothy, ready to head down the yellow brick road wearing these ruby red shoes, I said aloud, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!"
After my first run, I realised that these shoes are no movie script; they're for real. Just call me Dorothy next time you see me whiz by in my tomato red flyers!
The Ampla Fly is the stuff of fantasy; a shoe that nearly wound up not being made because the company that owns the brand had a false introductory start in 2014 when financial problems shut down production just as the Fly was about to take flight.
As daunting as their shoe is innovative, the two guys responsible for bringing this 22nd Century engineering marvel to market didn’t give up, and the Fly went on to a late - 2015 introduction that has since sent runners and shoe competitors into a literal tailspin once wearers have the Ampla experience.
The word trailblazer is used frequently to describe a first-of-its-kind product and that’s exactly how I felt when I put these shoes on my feet. I had already read the technical dish on the shoes and understood most of it—even watched a video of how these shoes are engineered to channel the natural force a runner exerts during a foot strike to push forward.
But it’s the enigmatic sole that’s at the heart of this shoe’s performance: Like a multi-layered sandwich, seven sections are welded together to deliver an experience that’s crazy wonderful. I felt the power coming from the bottom layer, a carbon-fiber, spring-like flange that used my pressure to “launch” me forward.
Those magical layers
Exactly what goes into the Fly’s unique sandwich of sole components? The one closest to the foot is the speed last that powers the spring I experienced. The second is the ortholite sockliner, which has odour-resist properties that keep my feet from being stinky.
The third is an EVA sub-sockliner that provides a layer of foot comforting material to my stride — it’s welded to the fourth “feather-like” EVA lite top midsole. The next layer is composed of a “forcepower” plate made of 100-percent carbon fibre and the last two layers are composed of an EVA power midsole for smooth rides and the blown rubber outsole responsible for the shoe’s durability and traction.
Design and distribution
No worries about Ampla engineers giving design and styling short shrift. I was impressed by the seam-free, micro-suede upper and the fact that this shoe is so lightweight, despite that signature sole, I do feel like I'm flying. Though the shoe weighs in at just 9.8 ounces, it's comfortable, supports my foot nicely and it appears that consumers are discovering this shoe in numbers, which is why shoppers could find problems: one can’t walk into a store, try them on and head for a run.
Ampla operates a direct-to-runner enterprise that requires consumers to order online. That stated, there's a rainbow at the end of the road: shoppers pay less than they would have if a retailer was in the picture to add a bit of profit to the sale.
- There’s no denying the shoe’s star feature: that boost of speed triggered by the unique flange.
- Lightweight and comfortable to a fault, the Ampla Fly pampers the feet thanks to no irritating top seams.
- The price — between $120 and $180 — is a plus, given the keen engineering and limited manufacture runs.
- You get to be the first in your crowd to introduce this clever shoe since production limits are so low.
- The guys behind the shoe include a Harvard-trained doctor who lent his expertise to the design.
- Your posture could improve because the Fly guides the foot so it makes better contact with the ground.
- You may not be able to abide wearing a red shoe, no matter how much it improves your run.
- It’s possible to collect more than the usual amount of soil under the flap; a problem if you’re a trail runner.
- Adjusting to the buoyancy provided by the flap can take some getting used to.
- Don’t laugh, but driving a car while wearing these shoes is a difficult task.
- You’ll have to get used to weird sounds coming from the soles. Every time you wears them, the urge to sing “Walking on the Moon” by The Police may be irresistible.
- If you’re hard to fit and hate returning merchandise, availability could be deal breaker since you can’t go into a store, try them on and buy these—yet.
Let the red banner fly because I’m a fan. Can’t believe there are only two guys behind this success story, so for me, buying of pair of Amplas sends a message that just because big boys dominate the athletic shoe market, that doesn’t mean a feisty startup can’t insert itself into the picture and succeed.
Between the weight and that clever little flange that acts like a coach pushing me forward toward a new personal best, I recommend trying these shoes. If you wait, and they're all sold out in your size, you could be left standing in a pool of regret!
The Ampla Fly is available in black and red color for men and women at US$120.
Are you willing to buy gear which breaks out from conventional design? Why do you hesitate?