What is the go-to material when you are looking for the best soccer cleats you can find? C'mon, it's carbon fiber of course! Who better to utilize carbon fiber into an unbelievable looking and performing cleat than Nike. That's where their Mercurial Vapor SL cleats come in, just take a look:
These $400 (retail) cleats are approved and worn by the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo (as well as Didier Drogba) and are made almost entirely from carbon fiber. As you can see, the entire upper portion is made from one piece of carbon fiber, and then the seven-layer outsole plate is made from a carbon composite interwoven with TPU and polyurethane. They call this Tepex, which you can read more about here. The studs at the bottom of the shoe are directly injected onto the chassis, giving maximum flexibility and speed.
The shoe is aimed towards increasing a players speed by utilizing the extremely lightweight and strong material in as many places as possible...hence the SL in the name, which stands for "Super Lite". In fact, it only weighs in at 190 grams. The development process for Nike took 3 years and spanned four different continents. When developing the cleat, Nike didn't care about money, time, or manufacturing considerations. They had one goal...build the best soccer cleat.
Only 2,508 pairs were made, each one of them numbered. From those, 2,008 were "firm ground" and 500 were "soft ground". It was released in August of 2008, and as far as I know, you can only find them used now. The last I saw, a pair went for about $1,000 on eBay.
Nike also recently released matching carbon fiber Mercurial Blade shin guards, which we've written about here.
Now here's some good videos, the first one being a great commercial that Nike did (We all know Nike makes awesome commercials) featuring Asafa Powell:
This next one is just some guys opening a box up with the shoes:
Big thanks to Chris for sending this one in, as well as sending some of the pictures in!