Saturday, December 31, 2011
Emerica Hsu 2 Fusion Review
The Emerica Hsu 2 Fusion serves two significant purposes. Neither are in any particular order but the first one is that the shoe is an acting ambassador for the relatively new fusion technology from Sole Tech. Now that eS is gone, Emerica is going to have to stand on it's own and show why they're still a major competitor in todays large skate shoe market.
Secondly, the shoe has to be flawless. Why? Currently, the skate shoe market is taken over by low silhouettes with one piece toe caps, minimal padding and a better than standard insole. This formula leaves any kid drooling for Janoski's or any other shoe you can categorize that description with (about 90% of the current market). The Hsu 2 Fusion doesn't fit this mold whatsoever so for it to be a contender, it must have a feature lacking in the "perfect formula".
This review as always was done using our month long format and the shoe was skated for a total of 20 hours. Check below after each section to view the grading system. We base our ratings from 1 - 10. 10 being the absolute best and 1 being the worst. Enjoy.
Sizing & Style:
This section is becoming more and more obsolete but I'm waiting for the day where I can tell you a certain shoe isn't true to size. Today's not that day, the Emerica Hsu 2 Fusion is an all around great fit for any foot; large, wide or small. The mid-top style of this shoe is very helpful but straightforward overall. The best thing recreated in this model is the feeling of wearing a low profile shoe. We'll explain this in the next section, pinky promise. The sizing and style of this shoe gives a snug fit around the center top portion of your foot. This creates a better range of direction with all of the control in the most generalized area of your foot. This very well might have been an unintentional plus but it's a plus that's much appreciated and vital.
Sizing: True to Size, No pressure or abrasion around any area of the shoe and is a very comfortable fit that grows in appeal with each session.
Style: In the past I've graded style but it almost seems pointless with this model. It's a shoe that looks good with anything and most of all, it's cropped perfectly for your pants to fit around them.
Comfort, Cushion & Support:
One of the better parts of this shoe is how comfortable it is. We'd like to think of It as a huge relief considering most skate shoes nowadays have the fitting of a stiletto and it's getting pretty sketchy for the toes. You'd expect us to be as thorough as possible in this section but the shoe is that comfortable that their is really not much to talk about.
So as promised we'll explain how this mid-top manages to feel like a low profile model. This simulated feel was achieved by using a select amount of padding in the shoe. We know that this doesn't sound as ground breaking as it seems but everything makes a difference. Most of us can relate when speaking about mid-top shoes and agree that the higher on the ankle equals more padding. Because of this, people have been having to go a half size higher in mids & high shoes for ages now. In the Hsu 2 fusion, the padding was placed strategically to develop protection where needed and to take away any excess to bring a lighter feel to the shoe. Needless to say, you don't have to go higher than what you normally are in order to fit into this shoe. The padding is throughout the tongue and collar of the shoe. The tongues padding is thinner than the cushioning in the collar but is acceptable by all means.
Another contribution to feeling like a low profile shoe is the crop line of the Hsu 2. The very top of the shoe just meets the ball of your ankle to secure it from any unwanted injuries. While skating, I felt more secure when tying the shoe all the way to the very top loop hole with my flick foot. I didn't feel any discomfort from this and would highly recommend it. Normally this adjustment is sometimes overbearing and can throw off your skating but I didn't find that while skating the Hsu 2. In fact, I felt a little more willing to skate outside my comfort zone and tried tricks that've easily gone wrong in the past, such as frontside bigspins. If not done correctly, 9 times out of 10, your front foot will shoot past the nose and fall under your nose which will ultimately guarantee injury to your ankle when done at a good speed.
Continuing on with the support aspect of the shoe, the Emerica Hsu 2 Fusion has a standardized STI PU Foam Lite Level 3 footbed. It's a single density PU foam that feels like a gel but is firm for impact support. It's the most commonly used insole and at first you think, "oh there's nothing special about it" but then you realize what's in most skate shoes today and wake the fuck up. STI is making the best progression of stock insoles for skateboarders and I don't think that's going to change for a long time. The insole was comfortable and supportive for flat footed and arched skater's feet.
Comfort: 10, A generalized fit with a good insole will always beat any fancy or crazy technology.
Cushion: 7, It wasn't all around the shoe and that's probably a good thing. It's just where it needs to be.
Support: 7, The shoe never became flimsy, loose or annoying and this is a result of good support system.
Boardfeel & Grip:
It sounds crazy but one of the most enjoyable details of this review was just stepping into the shoes. When stepping on your board for the first time with the Hsu 2's you're going to feel right at home. Sure, you'll have those one or two hours where you're still adjusting to the shoes but the boardfeel reminds me of some of the older Emerica models. The boardfeel is a perfect balance of having what you need to be protected with the ability to control your board how you want.
While the boardfeel is great, the grip is good. It's not great…it's good. This is our 4th STI related shoe review and the grip on the Hsu 2 is similar to the grip on the eS First Bloods. The herringbone grip is a timed classic but it is rendered useless without deeper tread marks. Because the tread marks aren't as deep, this causes the outsole to burn out quicker for skater's who have a tendency of shimming their feet to set-up before doing tricks. On the other hand, while skating the shoe we did notice something considerably different. The rubber outsole feels much more firm compared to older models. The type of rubber doesn't shed as easily on the griptape and feels stronger. This makes up for the depth problem because it adds to the life of the outsole compared to past models. Thumbs up for STI!
Boardfeel: 8, Perfect balance of protection and feel.
Grip: 7, A ton of improvements have been made but I'd be great if the outsole lasted longer.
For the most part, the Hsu 2 Fusion passed our 20 hours of skating without a problem. The Fusion technology really works wonders but we were skeptical for a short period of time. Before the review, a bad batch had been released and practically fucked up it's potential to grow before even being fully tested by the public. We're here to clear the air and put those questionable thoughts to rest. The Fusion technology does make any model significantly sturdier, which gives you a better sense of balance to help prevent rolled ankles and any other injuries that could be cause by a flimsy sole. The rubber most definitely showed signs of improvement compared to past models and this could be seen through it's ability to outlast it's past durability standards. Aside from the sole & outsole improvements, the suede is also noticeably stronger than ever before. What makes this model stronger, specifically the suede, is the rubber-inserted toe cap. The toe cap on the Hsu 2 features a rubber insert to give the durability an immense boost. While testing, no feeling was taken away from it's thickness and was practically unnoticeable. The toe cap is triple stitched and to make matters even better, the stitching is completely hidden. This alteration was made by having all the stitching done inside the shoe in order to guarantee no blow outs. It worked perfectly for us and never showed signs of falling apart from malfunctions. Because of this feature, it makes the toe basically indestructible and even more enjoyable. The side panel stitching held together well and for the most part, didn't show any signs of falling apart. We knew that the fusion technology was going to make a difference but we didn't know it was going to be this drastic.
Sole Durability: 8, The rubber sole slowly sheds and doesn't break into pieces or gouge.
Outsole Durability: 7, Much stronger but would like the tread marks deeper.
Suede Durability: 10, Very thin suede that lasted as long as a very thick leather shoe.
Emerica is one of the few actual skateboarding footwear brands today that still stands a chance to contend with the likes of the big corporate giants in the skateboarding industry today. After reading this lengthy review and seeing all of the better points of why this shoe deserves your money, you'd be a fool not to continue to support a brand that started from the bottom and has rised to the top with the help of skateboarding -- for the better of skateboarding. The Emerica Hsu 2 Fusion has the most up to date technology from a brand that has dedicated their entire existence to the life we love. Regardless of these facts, the shoe is remarkably durable and has great quality for a reasonable price. Support your local skate shop or continue to support the brand you love and buy directly from Emerica.
Thanks to Fred, Jeff and the good people at Emerica for making this review possible. Thanks to you guys for checking it out and Happy New Year!