Executive Summary: I really wanted to give the Rare Metal a SF2 Perfect rating but the aspect I weigh most heavily, traction, let me down a little but it did break in…sort of (it’s complicated) Regardless, it’s an excellent all around shoe at a fairly wallet friendly price. This is the best iteration/imitation of the Kobe VI since Nike made these six models ago. 


Brandblack came down to earth this year and priced the Rare Metal at $110 which is considered “budget” price range. No JCrossover contract really helped bring the price down I guess. If you’re someone searching for a budget shoe, I can easily say that this is the one of the best budget shoes you’ll find. I actually copped the black white pair of Dick’s for $83 plus tax minus ebates. 

Pros: good traction on clean floors after break in, cushioning, fit, support and stability, containment, pretty

Cons: traction needs break in time to start biting properly but is still limited, traction pattern causes some inconsistency depending on your movement, some deadspace above forefoot, my pair smells like mothballs when new 

Sizing: these run long and wide, true to size for wide footers, half size down for regular and narrow feet. 

Best for: guards mostly 

Buying advice: Finishline and Dick’s allow coupons on it already. I feel $99 and below to be reasonable fair price. 

Weight: 


12.5 oz is light but not Kobe 6 light (9.5 oz) but it feels light on foot which is what counts.  It is still 3.5 oz lighter than the Crazylight Boost 2016 though. For reference the KD 9 and Curry 3 are 13.5 and 14 oz respectively. 

Traction 

I am going to ramble a lot here so skip ahead if you don’t want to read


I liked the JC2 wiper blade pattern and liked the JC3 even more, so my expectations were pretty high so and that’s why I was let down. 

BB added notches to the blades to help keep dirt from sticking in between the grooves.


The problem with making the notches is that BB had to use a firmer rubber compound than previous models to prevent the nodules from breaking off. Also, the surface area actually contacting the floor was also reduced.  In doing so, the tractions ability to bite was sacrificed. It took a good week and a half to break in the traction works pretty well on clean floors after but it still lacks a little bite. 

Compounding (see what I did there) the problem, BB made the lateral sections in the forefoot and heel firm but a little softer and stickier than the notched areas (yellow). These areas stick well when clean but when dust gets on them they get more slippery than the rest of the shoe since they can’t brush or flex. The red areas are actually FOAM so as infrequently as I use that area to stop, that foam contacts the floor on occasion and causes spin outs since foam has zero gripping power.  Using rubber or recessing that area would have helped. 

Most of the time, the traction worked fine especially when moving or stopping forward and backward.  Moving defensively was fine as well since I push off the inside of the forefoot.
The traction problem arises only when I use the lateral side to try and stop and push hard such as cross overs or when I need to stop and change direction to recover on defense. This would happen even on lightly dusty floors. 

As you can see, it is just inconsistent whenever dust is present. In the video I’m doing the same movement in mostly the same spots and I get different results each time. 
The good(ish) news is that the traction pretty much plays the same regardless of the amount of dust.  You’ll still have to wipe on dusty floors though although the more you wipe, the better you’ll be. 

Personally, I don’t like how the traction plays because I prefer more bite and consistency. I rate this below the Clutchfit Drive’s traction which is at the bottom of  traction performance in my rotation. 

I usually don’t use a numbering system but in this case I think it would help. I feel like the Rare Metal’s traction potential is limited to a 8.5-9 at best on clean floors, a 6 at worst but usually plays around a 7.5-8 which isn’t bad but it can go from good to terrible depending on the foot strike area. Most shoes are a 9.5-10 on clean floors and don’t have such a large gap which is why I keep talking and talking and talking. In the long term those notches will wear down and you’re left with a flat normal wiper blade pattern anyways. Keeping it simple would have been much better all around. 

Cushioning 

BB calls this Jetlon EVL or Plus and I really like it a lot. If you keep wishing UA would bring back Micro G on the regular, you’ll love these. 


I was not a big fan of Jetlon as it felt a lot like watery Adiprene but I did like Blackfoam and this feels like an nice compromise of the two. To me it feels a lot like the Micro G on the Clutchfit Drive 1 but a little firmer and denser  which is right in my wheel house. UA should really look into using this because if little olBB can do it, so can they.  Just a nice combo of court feel, bounce, and responsiveness. 

These sit lower to the ground than the JC3 and very slightly higher off the ground than the JC2 (I think, I sold my JC2/3)

Hey Adidas take a look at this, a nice quality thick insole is included. What a concept!


The insole is fantastic and lined with faux suede? I think that the mothball smell I’m getting is from the insole. Gladly that smell subsides after about three days. I’m nostalgic and all but I had enough of the mothball smell growing up. 

Well done Brandblack !

Fit

These run a long length wise and are wide so regular and narrow feet will want to go down half a size for a tighter fit. I prefer a finger width and I got a thumbs width just like I did with the Crazylight Boost 2016. 

I actually had a shallow deadspace bubble so if you’re feet are on the narrow side, you’re going to get an even bigger bubble if you go true to size. It doesn’t bother me but some guys are more anal than others with bubbles like these. 


The Rare Metal qualifies as a low although they call it a hybrid with a higher cut in the front and lower profile in the back, sort of like a reverse mullet.  Regardless of what it’s called, it works as I had no heel slip from the get go. 


I really wondered how I’d like the hybrid set up and frankly I love it. I was confused as to how it would pull the ankle back but it actually just keeps it from moving forward. If you want more freedom, just don’t lace the top eyelets because it doesn’t affect the heel fit. 

The fit in the midfoot is also fantastic and my wide feet filled the forefoot just fine. I’m always looking for a one to one fit and the balanced weight and fit gave me exactly that. 

Awesome and innovative job Brandblack!

Materials

Everyone and their moms are using the term jacquard nowadays. It’s probably because saying jacquard sounds a lot better than saying cloth or textile. 

Jacquard actually isn’t even a material, it’s a process for adding patterns, per Wikipedia. Only the sneaker world  would convolute a process into a material. 

The term “Jacquard” is not specific or limited to any particular loom, but rather refers to the added control mechanism that automates the patterning. The process can also be used for patterned knitwear and machine-knitted textiles, such as jerseys. 

Basically it’s a  simpler way to add pattern and texture to a fabric. I found out jacquard(ing)  is common on table clothes, drapes, curtains, napkins etc… the internet is amazing I tell you. 
Anyhoo, it works well but it isn’t as soft as other shoes that have featured jacquard because they used a little synthetic backing to strengthen the upper 


But they left it out where the foot flexes. 


This allows the forefoot to flex naturally without any break in time while retaining strength everywhere else. 

I personally don’t mind the slightly stiffer upper but I know lots of people want a sock like upper so if that’s your thing, you may not  like this upper. 

Smart design Brandblack! 

Support and stability 

Support comes from the excellent fit and the sturdy and firm heel counter. It is not flimsy at all like the KD 9 or HR 2016. 


Here can see a little midfoot shank.

I guess it works since I didn’t notice any midfoot flexing or plantar fascia pain. 

Stability is excellent thanks to a flat outsole, forefoot outrigger and a stable heel that easily passes my heel test. 


The JC2 was the best in this department so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. 

Well done Brandblack! 

Containment 


The weakest aspect by far of the JC2 and JC3 has been the containment. I could slide out of the shoe on hard cuts and changes of direction easily in both models. Brandblack addressed this by raising the midsole in the forefoot to give the shoe a physical barrier. Guess they read my post about mesh and wovens a few months back..

The raised portion isn’t the stiffest material since it is foam so I could feel some give. I could still feel my foot come out slightly at the midfoot since there was no barrier but at least  the synthetic backing was there to help. Overall containment is good, not great, but still a massive improvement over the JC 2/3 and more than acceptable. 

Thanks for listening and improving Brandblack! 

Conclusion 

Brandblack claims this is a shoe for every position and it could be.  In actuality, there is no shoe for any one position, there are only preferences. Look at Boogie Cousin, that guy is a monster but loves wearing lows and minimalist shoes.  One the other hand or foot, Under Armour made a tank of a low top for Brandon Jennings with the Bloodline. What’s he weigh 175 lbs soaking wet at 6’2″?

In actuality, the Rare Metal is a shoe that does nearly everything well and if you didn’t know by now, I’m looking for a shoe that does everything well.  Maybe that’s what Brandblack means by a shoe for any position, I’m not sure. The Rare Metal still plays more like a guard shoe in my opinion and actually plays a lot like the Kobe VI maybe even better. It even requires traction break in time like the Kobe VI  :/

If the traction was more consistent and more aggressive, I wouldn’t hesitate to put this into my rotation maybe even into my top 5. However, due to its traction inconsistency it will be relegated to pick up and shoot arounds or when I know a court is pristine. I don’t take plays off so neither should the shoe. Nonetheless, it’s still a great fun shoe, well worth the $83 I spent. 



63 Comment on “Brandblack Rare Metal Performance Review

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