Prince T9 Roadster
When we reviewed the Prince Quiktrac GT shoes we compared them to GT cars. Here in the Prince T9 Roadster shoe review, one might expect us to compare the shoes to a classic drop top roadster, but that would be too predictable.
Instead, let's compare the T9 Roadster to a tennis ball. Three things should become immediately apparent when reading this review: One, the T9 Roadster will outlast any tennis ball you've ever used, two, the T9 Roadster isn't as round as a tennis ball, and lastly, while you might throw your old tennis balls to the family dog, you'll want to make sure no one gets near your prized T9 Roadsters.
As good (or bad) as our tennis ball comparison might be, T9 Roadsters do in fact take inspiration from the roadster car design. With the T9 Roadsters, Prince wanted to introduce a lightweight speed shoe to compliment its popular T10 model. And yes, that's pretty much the same thinking behind the original Roadster car concept.
Just looking at the specs will tell you that Prince succeeded in making a lighter shoe. The T9 Roadster weighs in at 14.9 ounces for a size 10.5, compared to a chunkier 16.8 ounces for the same size in a T10. However, read on and you'll find that the weight isn't the only difference between the two models.
We found the T9 Roadsters to be comfortable right out of the box. Our playtesters were immediately able to hit the courts and enjoy a comfortable ride. Finding the comfort of the T9 Roadsters to be especially noticeable was Paul. "The comfort level and cushioning were the most notable attributes of these shoes. The light weight was a very favorable characteristic, as well, and likely contributed to the overall comfort. The ShockEraser heel insert and SoftSpring polyurethane forefoot insert provided exceptional heel strike comfort while walking at work, and good protection against hard court pounding during grueling match play." Enjoying the overall fit and feel of the shoes was Danny. "I liked the material used for the uppers as it offered comfort without requiring any break-in. The soles were thick and very cushioned, and these were great shoes for comfort."
"The T9 Roadsters felt great from the moment I slipped them on," said Jon. "After a couple hours of play they broke in completely. The forefoot felt a lot more cushioned than most other shoes I have worn. Compared to the Diadora shoes I have been wearing, the forefoot cushioning was the first thing I noticed." Granville also found the T9 Roadsters ready for the courts from the first wear. "This is a comfortable shoe right out of the box and I immediately found a good fit. During the initial stages of testing it felt similar to the Barricade IIs. The T-9 does provide good cushioning, but not at the expense of performance as it does sit lower to the ground than many other shoes. Also, a good fit and good heel counter (or form) lock the foot into the shoe nicely." Josh found his T9 Roadsters to offer enough comfort and cushioning to handle repeated hard court play. "The T9 Roadsters were comfortable shoes. I was able to step on the court without any break-in period and the fit was great for my wider feet. I didn't experience any pinching or poking and the cushioning was good enough to protect my joints from the usual pounding of the hard courts. The cushioning didn't seem as plush compared to the Prince T10s, but the T9 Roadsters are built more for speed."
On the whole, our team found the arch support in the T9 Roadsters to fit fairly low. Needing more support and cushion for his feet was Paul. "The arch support was practically non existent. It flattened out after about a week and became much too low for my feet. The insoles were wafer thin and provided very little cushion or arch support." Also left looking for a higher arch support was Danny. "I thought the arch support was slightly low. It wasn't uncomfortable and I didn't really have any problems with it, but I'd prefer a higher arch." Jon found the arch support to be low, but not uncomfortable. "The T9 Roadsters felt like they had low-medium arch support. I needed a little more support but it wasn't causing pain or discomfort."
Granville found a better fit. "Just right - sits squarely in my arches and is not noticeable - a good fit." Finding enough support from the arch area of the shoes was Josh. "I didn't experience any fatigue in my arches, so the support seemed up to the task."
Our team found the T9 Roadsters to offer a stable ride on court. The shoes offer a fairly wide footprint in the forefoot area for a stable feel on push-off. Torsional rigidity is provided by an injected "wYshbone" TPU shank, which also helps push the flex point of the shoes nicely towards the toe region. Jon found enough stability to move aggressively in the T9 Roadsters. "The T9 Roadsters are stable despite being low-cut. Quick changes in direction and sprints to the net were no problem. The shoes did not feel unstable at all during play. I thought I would feel more roll on side to side movements with the amount of forefoot cushioning, but that wasn't the case." Also feeling secure in the T9 Roadsters was Paul. "Good support and stability. The forefoot lock down straps allowed these shoes to mold to the shape of my feet quite well. My feet were held in place, and at no time did I feel like I was going to roll an ankle."
Both Danny and Granville found some slipping inside the shoes due to the wide forefoot. Danny offered, "My feet felt stable during play. I found the toe box a bit too roomy, so there was a bit of slippage within the forefoot of the shoes. However, I was never worried about rolling an ankle. For the most part, my feet were well supported." Granville was in agreement, "I found that after the initial few hours of play the shoes did 'relax' a bit, offering a roomier fit. My feet slid around in the forefoot due to the roomier fit after break-in. Two pairs of socks solved the problem. That being said, the shoes did have a solid and stable construction. The midsole shank provided excellent stability and the shoes bend where they should."
Finding a more supportive fit was Josh. "The shoes seemed to wrap around my feet perfectly in the forefoot region. The tongue and lacing system worked well to keep my feet from sliding around. The cut of the T9 Roadsters felt a little lower than most shoes, so I was a little concerned about rolling my ankles. Fortunately, the outsole was solid and a bit wider at the forefoot, which compensated for the narrower heel counter."
Overall Sole Durability
Our entire team was impressed with the durability of the T9 Roadsters. Finding the shoes to offer impressive durability was Josh. "The outsole durability was incredible. The first signs of wear showed in the toe region, but nothing really noteworthy. The design, traction and durability match that of the Prince T10s, which were built to last. For shoes designed with performance in mind, Prince didn't go light on durability with the T9 Roadsters." Danny was also pleased with the durable response of the T9 Roadsters. "The durability was great. More than 20 hours of play and they're still kickin'. At the end of the test, there are no visible signs of wear in the forefoot or heel."
"These shoes look, feel and wear like durability shoes," said Granville. "The shoes are only showing a little wear at the end of the test and the wear is evenly distributed over the entire outsole." Paul thought the T9 Roadsters made a smart choice for the frequent player. "These shoes demonstrated better than average outsole durability. Similar wear to the New Balance CT802 and the Reebok Upset DMX shoes, but not nearly as bulky. The six-month durability guarantee makes these shoes a no brainer." Also finding the T9 Roadsters to be durable was Jon. "Overall sole durability was good. Most of the wear occurred in the forefoot which is typical for me. However, I noticed less than usual wear with the T9 Roadsters."
The toe area of the T9 Roadsters also impressed our testers with its durability. Finding the T9 Roadsters durable enough to meet his needs was Danny. "The front of the toe is thick and padded. Ideal for those who are toe draggers." Finding the T9 Roadsters to offer durability to match their performance was Josh. "Aside from a few minor scuff marks, the toes held up nicely. I like the fact that Prince and some of its competitors are blending the strengths of durability and performance to create shoes that help players move quickly on the court and last longer than a month."
Jon found the toes of the shoes to be we built. "The T9 Roadsters have extra material on the toe to keep toe draggers from eating through the shoes prematurely. For most players, I think the toes should hold up great."
The herringbone tread pattern on the outsoles of the T9 Roadsters offered great hard court traction for our team. Paul found the traction he needed when kicking it up a gear. "These shoes gripped the court quite well during lateral movement and 'foot plants'. They also demonstrated good brakes on sprints when I needed to stop quickly and change direction." Danny would have liked a more snug fit to take advantage of the T9 Roadsters' traction. "I liked the traction, but I didn't like the wider fit. This affected my foot speed." Josh found the shoes to offer some solid traction for the duration of the test. "The traction from these shoes was good. I had no problem changing direction along the baseline or rushing the net, and my landings were solid when I had to jump for an overhead. The tread held up nicely and the little wear I had was on the instep."
Granville was also impressed by the level of grip provided by the T9 Roadsters. "The shoes offered very good traction. I was able to pivot, cut and turn at will. The herringbone pattern is beefy, and durable." Jon found the T9 Roadsters to offer worry-free traction. "The shoe gripped the court well. I didn't find any weaknesses as far as traction was concerned. The rounded edges made lateral movements smooth and stable."
The light feel of the T9 Roadsters impressed our team on court. Danny found the T9 Roadsters to play lighter than he expected. "The shoes looked heavy, but played light. I thought the weight was evenly balanced and the shoes felt maneuverable. The weight did not slow me down at all." Granville found the shoes to be a "very good weight for a very durable shoe", while Josh thought the shoes could have been beefed up even more. "I thought the T9 Roadsters could have been a little heavier without affecting performance," said Josh. "The shoes didn't ride as low to the ground as Nike Breathe Frees or Adidas ClimaCool Feathers, so I thought some extra weight would have given them a similar, stable feel."
Enjoying the light feel of the shoes was Paul. "Immediately apparent was the lightness of these shoes. One of their strongest attributes, and the single most favorable, in my opinion. Probably the most durable, lightweight shoe I've tried in the last two years." Jon liked the solid feel of the shoes. "The T9 Roadsters are weighted nicely. They have enough material to give a solid feel, yet not heavy enough to slow me down."
Prince now offers a shoe to fit all foot types in its "T" shoe line-up with the introduction of the T9 Roadster. While the Prince T10, with its snug, glove-like fit will appeal to medium to narrow foot types; the T9 Roadster offers a much roomier fit, better suited to players with medium to wide feet. The fit might not be the same, but the T9 Roadsters impressed us with the same excellent traction and durability we found in the T10s. Offering a wide footprint in the forefoot, some solid rigidity in the midfoot and plenty of traction from the outsoles, the T9 Roadsters offer some great on-court handling. All in all, we feel these shoes more than live up to their sporty name.