Franky Villani is the type of skater that can join any type of session, throw down a heavy bag of tricks mixed in with some improv. Over the course of these few years, Franky Villani has solidified his name among this generation of skaters as one of the most diverse and creative skaters out now, and his footage has also gotten him on some of the heavily stacked teams with incredible legends and pros, such as Black Label, Zero Skateboards, Primitive Skateboarding, as well as NB#. With this foundation, it’s no wonder that NB# has consistently put out numerous Franky Villani pro color ways atop some of the most iconic silhouettes in their skate product line. But with that said, a majority of these color ways have been among the “200” line for NB Numeric, and as we know from New Balance’s notable number system, indicates the level of technical design in the shoe. Fast forward today, Franky Villani is close to a five year pro partnership with NB#, and the brand is releasing an all new Franky Villani pro model, titled the Franky 417. Throughout earlier video parts such as Zero Skateboard’s “No Cash Value”, to his “One Big Mess” Thrasher part, it’s evident that Franky loves skating vulc shoes. Now with the release of the 417, we’re definitely expecting a shoe that seems “low-profile” but is equipped with some hidden gems of NB# technology that may just surprise everyone. We were lucky to get our hands on a pair to test out before the official release, so without further ado, we present the Franky 417 wear tested review.
The shoe fits slightly big so we recommend going a half size down.
To kick things off, we evaluate Franky’s 417 durability by taking a look at the sole and upper. The sole’s foxing tape is very thick in the forefoot area, which not only increases the flick but also proves to be extremely durable. The thickness of the sole in the side area also helps to protect the upper from wear and tear. This is especially true to the forefoot (kickflip) area, which was very durable during our 10-hour wear test. Looking at the upper as a whole, it featured several different material panel overlays that are all double stitched. However, the more overlays and the more stitched panels also pose a higher risk for griptape attack. With that, one of the most critical areas, the Ollie-area, did have a piece of the suede worn down. But since it was double layered, no hole developed which helped extend the lifespan of the shoe. Aside from some light visible wear on the canvas side panel, the durability of the upper is fair. All in all, the construction of the sole was the highlight in contributing the most to the durability of the shoe while the many overlays on the upper was more of a risk.
It’s difficult to create maximal boardfeel while upholding a high level of performance cushioning for vulcanized shoes. For the 417, the sole is quite thin, so the main cushioning element of the shoe is the insole, using NB# Abzorb tech. The insole has a very noticeable wedge shape, which helps enhance board feel in the forefoot, while improving the cushioning in the heel area. Overall, Franky’s shoe has a really nice step-in feeling and the actual cushioning performance is adequate for small to medium sized impacts.
The shape of the 417 is cut quite slim from the forefoot to the heel area. A huge plus of the shoe was the mid-top height, which sits above the ankle and was important to deter blisters from forming since the seams did not directly touch the ankle. When it came to the midfoot area, it goes almost parallel towards the toe area and ends up in a rather pointed end.
As with most vulcanized models, boardfeel and grip are the highlights of the shoe. This was definitely the case with Franky’s 417. The grip is well balanced and had the perfect “dose”, where it wasn’t overly grippy as some vulc models become. This helped immensely for readjusting your feet into position for tricks, especially when some shoes’ grip make this much harder. Also, the grip stayed stable throughout the 10 hour wear test and had plenty of life in them for future sessions. The key to boardfeel lays within the shoe construction and the sole thread pattern. Boardfeel of the shoe was great because the insole flattens out much more in the first third of the shoe and the outsole itself was fairly thin, which provided for a responsive boardfeel for the feet. In addition, the thread pattern increases flexibility which helps sink into the concave, creating close contact to the board and improving boardfeel and grip.
The NB# 417 offers solid comfort and great stability. Since the shoes have a slim silhouette, and also features locked-in tongue straps, the foot feels close to the upper and minimizes the space for the foot to slip around. The key to its great stability performance lies within the sole. The sole’s foxing tape was quite high, so the shoe helps the feet feel sunken in and well protected. Also, the risk of ankle rolls are decreased due to the mid-top construction and since the feet sit low in the pocket of the shoes. The overall weight was a bit heavier, but is also understandable as the shoe is a vulcanized mid top model with several material overlays on the upper.
Overall, the Franky Villani’s newest NB# shoe was a nice surprise in the constantly updated NB# product line. The shoe’s boardfeel was great, featured well balanced grip and exceptional stability with a secure sink-in foot feeling. However, the durability and the cushioning of the shoe could still use improvements.