In Japan, there is a big market for traditional racing flats. You can find a wide assortment of racing flats on the Japanese websites of big sports brands that you can’t find outside of Japan. This is because Japanese consumers are willing to pay top dollar for their specialist racing flats.
The name Takumi Sen means “An Artisan of the Highest Order” and the Adidas Takumi Sen is a specialist racing flat. In case you’re wondering what a racing flat is, it’s a racer with a flat ride.
Often only suitable for short distances (5km - 10km), racing flats are designed to be feather light and to contain the bare minimum to get you over the finish line in the fastest possible time.
The Takumi Sen was designed by the legendary master Japanese craftsman, Toshiaki Omori who has been designing Adizero shoes for Adidas since 1999. What makes him so special is that he uses molds of real feet (lasts), to create the perfect, most streamlined fit- he calls this a “microfit”.
Nowadays, most elite marathon athletes prefer to use super shoes with thick midsoles and stiff carbon plates but the fact that Mary Keitany won the 2018 NYC marathon which was just three years ago, wearing the Adidas Takumi Sen 3 is proof that racing flats still deserve a place in elite marathon racing.
The Takumi Sen 7 has been updated with a brand new upper which is lighter, more breathable and which is hydrophobic to repel water. It also has an updated midsole with more Boost in the forefoot but it maintains the same outsole configuration which worked well on the Takumi Sen 6.
- Price: $210
- Weight: 170g (men's US9)
- Drop: 9mm
- Surface: Road
- Pronation control: Neutral
The Takumi Sen 7 has a traditional Japanese racing flat fit: its forefoot is wide and roomy while its midfoot and rearfoot are narrow. It's not available in a wide version, so runners with wide feet need to try the Takumi Sen 7 on before purchasing it.
The upper is made from a highly translucent mesh which feels like a thick plastic material and slightly rough and waxy to the touch. It has an open cell structure which allows lots of air to pass through it.
This mesh is extremely breathable and it doesn't absorb any liquid so it won't make the shoe heavier during a race if it absorbs sweat or rain.
There are very thin underlays which look like lines or stripes on the midfoot and the forefoot which give the upper some structure and support. These underlays are welded onto the underside of the mesh and they are flat so they don’t irritate your foot.
The tongue of the Takumi Sen 7 is wide, flat and slightly padded so it protects the top of your feet from any unwanted lacing pressure. The tongue is made from a very soft, smooth material which exudes luxury. It's semi-gusseted and attached on both sides to wide midfoot straps which wrap around your foot so there is no tongue slide.
The heel and the collar are slightly padded and they do a fantastic job in keeping your heel locked in: there is no heel slippage. The counter lining and the inside of the collar are lined with smooth, soft material which don’t irritate the achilles ankle.
The overall fit of the Takumi Sen 7 is very comfortable and there are no hotspots which can potentially cause blisters. This is a tailored, streamlined upper and a classic example of Toshiaki Omori’s “microfit”.
The midsole of the Takumi Sen 7 is a dual foam setup of Lightstrike in the heel and midfoot, with Boost in the forefoot. Both foams are TPU based but have very different properties and each serve a very specific purpose in the Takumi Sen 7.
Lightstrike is firmer, denser and lighter in weight; Boost is softer, more cushioned and heavier. It makes sense to put the softer, more cushioned foam in the forefoot since that's where most runners will be striking during 5km and 10km races which is what the Takumi Sen is designed for.
The midsole measures only 25.5mm in the heel and 16.5mm in the forefoot so there isn't a lot of midsole between your foot and the ground. Ground feel is superb in the Takumi Sen 7.
Most amateur runners won't be able to run further than 10 kilometres in the Takumi Sen 7 because of how little cushioning there is but elite runners like Mary Keitany are able to run half marathons and even full marathons in it with no problems at all because of how strong their muscles and ligaments are and how good their form is.
One of the defining features of racing flats is that they have small spikes on their outsoles to bite onto surfaces and they provide excellent traction while not affecting the flexibility of the shoe.
Most of the Takumi Sen 7’s outsole is covered in these small, triangular rubber nubs which are attached to a film and glued onto the rearfoot and the forefoot. Adidas calls this technology Quickstrike.
There's a flat piece of Adiwear rubber on the heel to protect the midsole foam and Adidas’ most durable outsole rubber, Continental is on only the toe area.
You also get Adidas’ signature Torsion System on the midfoot of the outsole. This plastic shank is so important because it gives the Takumi Sen its snappy nature. The hidden ‘arms’ of the Torsion System extend into the forefoot and go underneath the film sheet that houses the rubber nubs.
Traction in the Takumi Sen 7 is first class and the rubber nubs are able to bite into any surface whether it's wet or dry to provide a slip-free ride. Each rubber nub works independently to grip the surface and this provides a “sticky” grip most noticeable on synthetic tracks. Even the Torsion System has small spikes on it to increase grip on the midfoot area.
The Takumi Sen 7 is a racing shoe and not designed for daily training but you should be able to get a good number of races or key training sessions like interval speed workouts done in it because of how tough and durable the Quickstrike rubber nubs are.
The Takumi Sen 7 has what you call a “speed friendly” ride and it makes it a pleasure to run fast in. When you open the throttle and you get down to tempo speeds of 4 minutes 30 per kilometre or faster, the shoe comes alive.
It has a firm toe-off with very little compression so the ride feels very swift and efficient, like no energy is being lost.
The most defining characteristic of the Takumi Sen 7 is how snappy its forefoot feels. The Torsion System on the midfoot of its outsole makes the forefoot snap quickly and violently back into place every time the forefoot bends which results in a faster turnover.
The Takumi Sen 7 has a flat ride without much cushioning so it has a firm forefoot and an even firmer rearfoot.
The rearfoot Lightstrike section of the midsole is firmer than the Boost in the forefoot so the shoe encourages you to forefoot strike so that the ball of your foot strikes the softer Boost instead of your heel striking the hard Lightstrike in the rear.
The Adidas Takumi Sen 7 is like a precise surgical tool with a very specific purpose and it serves that purpose with precision and excellency.
5 km races, 10 km races and speed interval sessions are where the Takumi Sen 7 shines due to its snappy nature and its raw speed.
As a racing flat, the Takumi Sen 7 nails it. The upper is breathable and moisture repellent with a spacious forefoot fit, foot lockdown is excellent and there is no foot irritation.
The Torsion System on the outsole makes the midfoot/forefoot more rigid which results in faster transitions while the aggressive Quickstrike spikes provide outstanding traction on any surface.
Its superlight weight also means that you're carrying very little weight during runs which is important when you're trying to break personal bests.
Reviewed by Brandon Law