Tekela v1

New Balance Tekela

Welcome into the world of testing a boot that sits outside the upper echelon of the “big three.” A murderous wasteland filled with impressive releases (and some not so impressive ones) that are never truly given a proper look because they don’t have a large Swoosh, three stripes, or a leaping wildcat somewhere on the box. Across this desert lie several brands that are producing quality options, but alas finding only a small number of bold players willing to stumble into the oasis of unique creations. Beginning to throw their weight around and start to look like one of the brands most likely to steal air-time from the others, New Balance is trying to make sure that they have an amazing 1-2 punch on offer with the Tekela and Furon. It doesn’t hurt that the brand also has a classic leather offering waiting in the wings with their 442, but New Balance is in a world where it doesn’t matter what you once did, it’s all about what you’ve done for me lately.

With that in mind, and with a fresh Furon v5 review under our belts, it’s time to see what the Tekela 1.0 can give to anyone bold enough to try something new for their upcoming season. A first true shot at a collar, a one piece synthetic upper in an era where fully synthetic uppers are almost taboo, and a design that makes this boot look incredibly unique. We’re quite excited to see if New Balance has brought the heat with the Tekela after the Visaro seemed to have well and truly lost its way. Now, it’s time to lace up and see if the Tekela can give New Balance the type of footing that could see them leave the crumbs of the soccer marketplace behind and start clamoring for a seat at the table.

tekela v1 looks

THE LOOK

The New Balance Tekela is actually an extremely unique looking boot. With criss-cross lines across the upper, New Balance has certainly set this boot up to look about as futuristic as a boot can look. New Balance also has stuck with the look you get from synthetic uppers while nearly every other brand has embraced a style of upper that doesn’t have that bright sheen that a fully synthetic upper showcases. The emblazoned “N” on the side of the boot isn’t as bold and in your face as a Swoosh or the legendary three stripes, but it’s something that seems to be slowly gaining traction.

For a modern boot, there’s a surprising amount of stitching that sits right where the synthetic upper connects to the material New Balance has used for the collar. If you’ve ever spent a bit of time with a wet-suit, the collar will remind you of the neoprene and the stretch that you get from the material. The soleplate has a fairly standard set-up, but be aware that they do come with a warning that the colors used on the sole will chip away from use (ours are actually a really intriguing camo-esque look now that actually looks amazing). The boots do come with a boot bag, which is always a win for a top-tier boot.

new balance tekela back view

THE TOUCH

New Balance doesn’t have the roster size of the other players on the market, but that simply means that they can keep their focus a bit better than a brand juggling five boots at once. The Tekela is marketed as a boot that’s supposed to be for the control minded player, but New Balance has done a great job crafting a pair of boots that are great for any player on the field. While the Furon V5 felt suited for players that are hunting for something to aid them in rocking breakneck speed, we hoped that the Tekela is built to simply offer an enjoyable experience on the ball while keeping the comfort top notch. If the boot can deliver on those ideals, then New Balance could be making serious waves.

The boot isn’t quite as difficult to put on as we expected. The heel tab and tongue actually make it an easy collared boot to slip on and enjoy. Once you’ve slipped the boot on, we noticed that the boot didn’t quite squeeze our foot the way that we would have liked. It feels like everything that’s been crafted around the collar and with the Kinetic Stitch around the edge has a great squeeze on your foot, but the forefoot felt ever so slightly loose. Perhaps New Balance could have let the material used around the collar line the inside of the forefoot and allow that to keep your foot locked in, but I’m sure that the next Tekela will take this into account.

new balance tekela version 1

Dribbling and juggling with the Tekela is smooth given how thin the upper actually is, and the upper gives so easily that the slight bit of space between your foot and the upper doesn’t really show up when you’re dribbling (it shows up more in terms of fit than hurting your time on the ball). The texturing on the upper feels fairly extensive under your hands, but the boot feels fairly smooth when you’re dribbling with the ball at your feet. The boot does have some grip on the upper during your first few uses, but it never feels like the ball is getting stuck under your feet. I would have loved to have seen the upper that New Balance has used on the Tekela actually employed on the Furon and the fit of the Furon used to aid the fit on the Tekela. Both boots have some amazing aspects, but feel like they could be combined to make one absolute show-stopper.

As this boot is marketed as a control boot, we were anxious to start pinging the ball around. Much like our time dribbling the ball, passing felt great as the ball zips off the Tekela and every ball that was played in to us felt uniform. The area where the synthetic meets the upper feels great when you properly connect with a ball. The ball pings off the upper because of how relatively thin it all is, and it doesn’t surprise me that New Balance has angled to have this boot appeal to people searching for a boot built for elite passers.

upper of Tekela v1

The Tekela might be billed as a control boot and the collar might look fairly thick, but any defender’s attempt to end your time on the ball is going to be fully felt by you. The boot offers very little protection and this might be the only aspect of the boot in play that would cause me to caution certain types of player from avoiding the Tekela. I wouldn’t equate this as a defender’s boot.

The soleplate on the Tekela is fairly standard, with each of the studs being a diamond shape. The traction was consistent and allowed you to forget about what was happening underfoot and focus completely on the task at hand. The soleplate isn’t overly aggressive, and might be a decent option to test out on some AG surfaces, but might not be the best type of boot to choose if the ground is overly muddy.

Tekela outsole

THE FEEL

We will be the first to admit that we’ve had a rather high bar set for New Balance ever since the original Furon, and the past few boots we’ve gotten from NB have been impressive. After testing the Furon 5, we were expecting the Tekela to have a high level of comfort, but (much like the Furon) would take a few sessions before we broke through to the warm waters of comfort. However, the Tekela was able to retain the comfort without the long break-in period. Like most modern boots, there was comfort out of the box, a quality liner in the boot to keep it soft, and the boot does form to your foot as you use them.

However…several of us encountered one fairly large flaw in the Tekela in this realm: the fit! While a bit of internet research has many talking about difficulty in putting the boot on, several of us here at HQ have found that the boot (after you’ve slipped it on) fits loose around the forefoot. It wasn’t as if my foot was swimming, but in a world where you want a boot to sit as closely to your foot as possible, it definitely was a bit off-putting. It didn’t cause any rubbing or hot spots that you’d expect from something that sits a little bit loose, but it had us thinking throughout testing that we were always slightly off from a perfect fit. If New Balance could make this boot work a bit better (especially considering how limited the lacing system feels when trying to get the perfect fit), then they would have a boot that could easily make an appearance in our end of year boot awards.

The soleplate is a bit stiff out of the box, but it does loosen up a bit after you begin using the boot. It isn’t something that creates any hot spots underfoot, and it performs the function that we’re looking for with every single soleplate: you forget about it entirely.

tekela review picture

Bang for your buck

The Tekela 1.0 is right around the $200 price point and, in the boot world, that’s actually a bit below most boot models. There has been talk through the boot world that New Balance could really make an impact by bringing the boot price down a bit, but the quality of the Tekela and the current Furon is such that their price point is pretty much spot on.

FINAL VERDICT

The Tekela is so close to being a boot that not only takes a shot across the bow of the bigger brands, but a boot that actually beats them on their own turf. From old New Balance, to Warrior, to the reemergence of New Balance, it’s been incredible to watch this brand feel truly on the precipice of rubbing shoulders with the behemoths of the industry. The Tekela hits you with quality traction, a collar that belies how many times New Balance has attempted this type of look, a high level of durability, and an upper that makes every moment on the ball feel super smooth. However, we just couldn’t shake the feeling that the boot was loose from the moment we put it on until the last day of testing. If New Balance can get this boot to feeling like it has that flawless 1-to-1 fit to match with everything else that’s attached to this boot, then it’s going to be difficult to not have the Tekela be one of the first boots in our boot bag.

3.5 / 5 stars     
 

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