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nikecourt zoom zero performance analysis and review

I didn’t mean for this to happen but the U.S. Open kicked off yesterday so what a perfect time to drop a tennis shoe review. I don’t review tennis shoes often because 1) I don’t play tennis often anymore 2) I already reviewed the GOAT 3) I have some Zoom Vapormax 9’s as back up.

But something about the design and look of the Zoom Zero said try me. I tried the Nike Ultra React tennis shoe a few years back as well as the Adidas Energy Boost but those two just didn’t work for me; The React was an overpriced Jordan 33 wannabe built to satisfy shoe tech geeks but guess what, nobody fell for it…Same with the Adidas Energy Boost. Have all the tech jargon you want, both shoes weren’t any better than their dumbed down counterparts.

So I bought the Zoom Zero on release day and I think I found a fantastic tennis shoe that doubles as perfect outdoor shoe as well as a great indoor Bball shoe. I guess Bo knows tennis now three decades later

*If you didn’t know I was a top junior in Texas back in the day and played a semester In college before dropping it for a life of hooping and lifting five hours a day with very occasional studying..very very occasional*

Weight

14 ounces so pretty average weight for a tennis shoe or hoops shoe.

Traction

So one of the old school benefits of Nike tennis was a 6 month outsole guarantee but the Zero doesn’t have that guarantee. Guess money is tight at Nikecourt.

The shoe features a pattern very similar to the Kd V but with smaller triangles and guess what it works ..everywhere and does what it’s supposed to do.

Tennis is a game of starting and stopping but sometimes you have to slide into shots and whatever it’s doing on court, it listened. Chase down a drop shot, split step for a volley, slide into a running forehand… it was just great.

Tennis uses similar if not the same movements as basketball so these work great outdoors as well. I took these indoors to hoop in after playing tennis the other day and they worked great although some wiping was needed on dirty floors. The point is they do what they’re supposed to.

Cushioning

Full length zoom is very rare in a tennis shoe so yes I admit this drew me in. Nike top loaded the heel and midfoot but then bottom loaded the forefoot for court feel.

Pic courtesy of Nike

I’d prefer top all the way through but it’s an interesting idea to say the least and it’s what gives the Zero such a weird looking midsole.

Heel to mid Zoom is great, nice and springy while the forefoot is pretty average with barely only some Zoom feel. I think Nike really parred down the foam to give the wearer a lower to the ground feel since it rides a little high in the heel.

The secret to the heel Zoom feel is the strobelNike used a thin foam board and cut out portions in the heel so you really get that Zoom feel.

Although I’d like more Zoom feel in the forefoot, I was very pleased with the Zoom set up overall. Quick and responsive in the forefoot with a nice bounce in the heel. I was talking to a young teaching pro and he asked me about these and said he wanted more heel cushioning to replace his Cage 2’s and I told him these would work great.

Fit

Nike likes to use a really slim and long last with their tennis shoes and these are no different. I went true to side and these fit me slightly long although it’s really the design of the toe box. I have about a thumbs width at the toe but if I went down half a size my toes would get crammed. I think most can go true to size but narrow footers may want to go down half a size. Zero heel slip out of the box which is probably due to its higher than normal cut.

It is a very Nikecourt design with an inner bootie and partial outer one piece design.

I wouldn’t say the fit is quite as good as the Vapors but it’s still a very good fit overall with no movement side to side or front to back (maybe that’s why it’s narrow at the toe, so you don’t jam our toes on stops).

Materials

Mostly mesh so nothing to write home about. For $130 it’s about what I’d expect from Nike or Adidas and it works just fine. Just can’t get cool textures with mesh.

Support and Stability

This is a tennis shoe but there the higher cut just gives it a little more support without restricting movement.

As to be expected stability is excellent thanks to a low to the ground forefoot, wide outsole and tiny outrigger. No tippiness anywhere heel to toe.

Containment

I thought these would be iffy on court but I was wrong.. No stretching on hard changes of direction or when chasing down balls sideline to sideline.

Part of the reason is the huge raised tooth coming off the midsole.

And the other is the use of synthetic and rubber around the toe.

But there is a hidden reason containment works..

There is a layer of stiff synthetic on the lateral side only to keep the mesh from stretching on hard cuts. Zero issues with containment. Well done Nikecourt, can you talk to Nike Basketball?

Durability

I usually don’t talk aboutdurability since I hoop indoors but as a chronic toe dragger when I play tennis , I wear holes in my shoes in a hurry. Nike smartly added rubber to the inside toe and medial side for durability. If you look at our shoes you rub your feet together a lot so Nike also added rubber to the medial toe area. After several hours outdoors in 100 degree heat, these are holding up nicely.

Ventilation

I usually don’t discuss this ether since I play bball indoors but playing in 100 degree weather on hard courts, my feet typically get really hot but these kept the heat at bay for me even during the middle of the day. Mesh is better than leather in this regard for sure. I’m sure there are better ventilated shoes out there but I’m not really in the market for tennis shoes like I am for bball. Still pleased with how these worked out.

Conclusion

I was looking at Asics for my next tennis shoe thanks to a lot of positive reviews from my friends and I liked how they looked but being a shoe nerd, I’m glad I gave these a shot. These are one of those shoes that you put on and forget about almost immediately. Short break in, balanced cushioning, good fit and traction..the list goes on and on with the Zoom Zero. I like my Zoom Vapors but it feels like I’m wearing a shoe on court while these just feel like an extension of my foot. I could have waited to buy these since all tennis shoes hit clearance but sometimes I’m impulsive…

A lot of readers ask about a good outdoor hoop shoe and I can’t answer that often since I don’t play outdoors but if you’re looking for a good outdoor head shoes don’t hesitate to try the Zoom Zero. It does everything a hoops shoe does well and it’s designed for the outdoors..heck, it even played great indoors. I’d actually take these over quite a few most hoops shoes.

Overall rating: first team

Well done Nike!

Air Jordan 33 performance review is here

After thirty three years of flight the Air Jordan 33 performance review is here.

The traction on the Air Jordan 33 reminded me a lot of the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360, and both patterns performed similarly. Despite being translucent rubber, the outsole of the Air Jordan 33 bit the floor nicely and, for those that care about the sound traction makes, they were loud as hell — screeching compared to everyone else in the gym. However, as we all know, sound/squeak does not equal traction.

Those that wait for a solid rubber colorway should receive slightly better grip solely based on the rubber compound, but as it stands, the Air Jordan 33 was solid. When compared to the Air Jordan 31 and 32 the 33 is the best of the bunch.

There is one area on the outsole where I’d slip semi often. It’s located at the ball of the foot and initially I thought it was just from the floor being dirty. It turns out I had the slip no matter which floor I played on so I think it’s due to the outsole’s shape in that specific spot. It’s right where the Zoom Air unit protrudes so its semi-rounded and then arches up a little.

To avoid slipping I had to change my footwork a little. Instead of putting pressure on the ball of my foot I had to make sure I was planting with most of my forefoot instead. This solved the problem and if you happen to run into the same issue it could help you out.

I would not recommend the AJ33 for anyone that plays primarily outdoors.

Cushion:Unlocked Zoom Air is back in the forefoot while the heel features a small Hex-Zoom unit, something we haven’t seen in an Air Jordan signature since the 22.

If you played in the Air Jordan 32 then you’ll receive much of the same in terms of mobility, court feel, and impact protection. The midsole is a bit stiff with the FlightSpeed plate so some breaking in is required. Once broken-in you’ll be able to maneuver across the court as you would normally with that added spring to your step. Until then, the Air Jordan 33 does feel a bit restrictive and bulky. If you can get past the initial break-in period then I think Zoom Air lovers will enjoy this shoe.

The Hex-Zoom unit at the heel went unnoticed for me. I rarely ride on my heel unless I’m trying to break/slow down. It’s there if you need it, but the primary cushion source is located up front — where I prefer it to be.

Materials: Mesh and synthetic overlays make up the upper of the Air Jordan 33 and they feel nice and light compared to the rest of the shoe. No, it isn’t premium, but it’s a very similar setup to the Jordan 32 and nobody seemed to complain about those being comprised of textile and synthetics. Why start now?

Unlike the 32, the textile here is much lighter, thinner, and more breathable. The synthetic overlays located in the forefoot gave me the feeling of wearing a regular shoe — one made the old fashioned way versus the knits and textile builds we see today. Again, it’s nothing premium but in terms of performance it all worked and worked well.

Lateral containment/support was taken care of with the panels in place as was rear coverage. Those that actually try the shoe on and wear them on-court should enjoy them the way they are.

Fit: The Air Jordan 33 fits true to size, but it’s snug width wise — something I enjoy but wide footers may not.

Lockdown is interesting. The shoe does not have laces, the standout feature on this years model, and it’s strange. I have found that I prefer laces overall; it’s easier for me to adjust each row to fit my foot the way I need rather than mess around with the pull system currently in place. However, on the flip side, untying the Air Jordan33 — if we can even call it that — is a breeze and I definitely enjoy that aspect of the new FastFit lacing system.

Does it work? Yes. It actually does. Is it perfect? No. You need to mess with things quite a bit before you find the fit that works for you. You can easily pull the shoe too tight as well — I went into detail about that in my performance teaser so check that— but I haven’t had a problem since figuring it out. Is it cool? Hell yes. It’s one of the coolest features we’ve had on an Air Jordan since being able to change the midsole cushion — plus, I get a big kick out of seeing tech.

How durable is the thin cable that is the lace? I haven’t had any issue with mine at all. I saw online that a Chinese wearer had his break on him and that may be inevitable (not every pair will be perfect). I just hope we don’t have an Air Jordan XX8 situation where many consumers like the shoe but they end up not being durable enough to last. I think we can all admit that the Air Jordan 28 is amazing, but that Zoom Air popping issue really took a toll on people.

Overall, I think the new FastFit lacing system is really neat but not necessary. I like the eject part of the system more so than the tightening portion. I’m curious to see if this system will be a one and done thing or if we’ll see it modified and enhanced next year. If the brand could improve on this current system then I think it will be onto something. If JB only uses this system on the Air Jordan 33 then I feel most will call it a gimmick that worked for some and not others.

Support: Despite being laceless, support in the Air Jordan 33 is quite nice. The overlays really help keep you on the footbed of the shoe and the FastFit system doesn’t give once taught. At the rear there is a strap system that works well and I’d love to see that on more shoes moving forward. It really emphasized how important heel lockdown is when we talk about support. It allows a closure system like this to work without being dangerous.

The midfoot torsion support is a bit too much, as mentioned earlier, because you really need to break in the FlightSpeed plate. Once it’s good then you’ll be fine, but the Air Jordan 33 is noticeably stiff compared to most other shoes currently on the market.

OverAll: The traction and cushion are both very solid in the Air Jordan 33. Materials work but the FastFit lacing system may throw some people off. There is room for improvement, but what we have is a very functional shoe that may go unappreciated…for now. In a few years I think we’ll look back and think “Man, the Air Jordan 33 was ahead of its time” — much like we do with most of the previous Air Jordans that have come before it.

People are either going to love or hate the Air Jordan 33, and such is the way of the internet. Apparently you can’t just like something anymore because if it isn’t a 10 its a 0.

I liked the Air Jordan 33 quite a bit. I’m not sure if the shoe makes it into my Top 5 of 2018, but it’ll be somewhere on my list come year’s end.

UA Curry 3Zero II 2 Performance Analysis and Review

Beauty is only skin deep..that’s a good thing to remember about this shoe but also life in general.

Pros: traction, excellent fit, low to the ground yet balanced cushioning, fantastic stability, containment, lightweight

Cons: no heel counter so support relies almost solely on fit and stability of shoe (which is excellent), unnecessarily ugly

Sizing Advice: true to size

Best for: guards who want full range of motion yet stable shoe

Buying advice: wait for a MyFitnessPal coupon or just wait and let me know when you see someone with these on. Guaranteed to hit discounts and outlets $60 is fair (what I paid) but should push $35-45 as bottom prices

Weight 12.5 ounces which is very lightweight for a mid and one ounce lighter than the HOVR Havoc Low (review coming for those as well trying to work through some issues with them mainly heel slip)

Traction

Yes

This traction pattern is great and works well on all surfaces. Not the strongest bite but the trade off is infrequent wiping (insert poo joke)

Call me a creature of habit but I still think the Curry 5 traction is a little better due to a better bite and even less frequent wiping. However these are no slouch at all and are definitely one of the better patterns this year.

Well done UA!

Cushioning

Charged in the heel and Micro G? Sounds like a good retro UA mix and it is pretty decent but it doesn’t feel anything like Clutchfit drive 1 or older Micro G. It feels mostly like a thinned out Curry 3 but with less feedback since it rides lower (less cushioning). It rides around 20-22 mm in the forefoot like the Curry 4. If you want low to the ground but more than adequate impact protection, you’ll really like these.

It is a very well balanced combo of court feel with a touch of bounce so I think a lot of players will enjoy the set up even if it isn’t Boosty or Zoom Air like. Could UA do better? Yep they have in the past but these do a good job overall. Just wish these had a little more fun factor but you get what you pay for. For what it’s worth I like this set up much better than the Havoc so far.

Fit

True to size so simple people!!

No dead space in the forefoot at all shoe just slips on and fits like a glove or sock or whatever you want to put on your feet.

It’s essentially a one piece upper with a slightly separated tongue but hugs the foot very nicely right out of the box. This is one of the best aspects of the 3Zero II

Well done UA!

Materials

Molded maxprene upper with zonal restriction engineered from within for maximum comfort & breathability -UA

Translation: Maxprene and mesh but mostly Maxprene. Maxprene feels like a stronger less stretchy version of neoprene and is very comfortable. If you could synthetic and neoprene had a baby together you’d probably get something like this.

No issues here

Support and stability

Support relies on the fit and the stability of the the shoe because there isn’t a heel counter at all. However, stability is OUTSTANDING for a number of reasons

First off the outsole is very wide and features a modified outriggerNo tippiness in the heel and it very wide heel to toe.

It’s one of those shoes that feels like it’s split right in half to keep the lateral side down and flat no matter what you do. Other shoes that felt this stable to me include the Air Jordan 1 and Curry 2. Despite no heel counter I just felt safe playing in these.

Whatever UA did, exceptional job making these feel so stable!

Containment

Nice raised mdisole

It is more flexible than I prefer but with the synthetic upper it does a good job on hard cuts

Conclusion

I had no intention of buying the 3Zero 2 mainly because I threw up on the screen when I saw it and couldn’t hit the add to cart button. However, after a few different colorways came out and another MyFitnessPal coupon popped into my email, I was like ok for $60 I’ll give it a shot and I’m glad I did. For $100 I wouldn’t buy it and neither would the rest of the world but for $60 . Life tip: retail price is what companies wants you to pay, it isn’t the price you should pay. #crazyrichasians

If you can’t get a MFP coupon don’t fret because I can guarantee you THESE WILL SIT and go to major discounts and discount outlets. No games by Steph in the 3Zero II, no major marketing and most of all they are fugly for no reason will allow everyone to cop a shoe that does almost everything exceptionally well with traction, fit and stability being the very high highlights.

If Basketball Shoes really wants to survive in the shoe business, it really needs to work on blending looks with performance. Only 10%-20% of buyers actually buy shoes for their intended purpose so to target just this small percentage of customers is not the right strategy especially when UA basketball lives and dies by one player. I wrote this years back and sure enough the 2016 3-1 lead disappeared and UA tanked (and is still recovering but getting better..UA you should really visit my blog more often). Seriously though a few tweaks here and there would have made the 3Zero 2 much better looking without sacrificing any of the performance aspects.

And knowing how my readers think, I’ll say this ahead of time, I’d take the 3Zero2 over the Havoc all day no questions asked, no refunds, thank you come again. It does EVERYTHING better than the Havoc except maybe support but the stability of the 3Zero2 makes up for it. HOVR might be the newer cushioning but I’m comfortable saying it doesn’t feel much better than Charged especially how it’s implemented in the Havoc and it certainly doesn’t give me any additional energy return. I’m trying to work through heel slip and breaking in the cushioning more before a final assessment of the Havoc.

In the meantime these get a first team rating

Under Armour HOVR Havoc Low Performance Review

Almost one year ago, Under Armour unleashed HOVR cushioning on the world and for a company that was desperately in need of a top-flight signature cushioning system HOVR was magical. It only took nine months to get HOVR in basketball, and here it is: the HOVR Havoc Low. Does the Havoc live up to the promise of the Phantom and Sonic runners? Let’s go…

One thing you can (almost) never say about Under Armour basketball shoes is that the traction sucks. The HOVR Havoc Low is no different.

There’s herringbone from heel to toe, at least where the shoe touches the court, with horizontal lines breaking up the pattern for flexibility in the forefoot. This is basically the same pattern as what the Drive 4 used and it works on any surface, even outdoors.

Dust is no issue because the grooves are wide and deep and push away any debris you may pick up. It isn’t the squeakiest, but we know that means nothing — you are stopping when you want. Don’t worry about the missing areas because if you need traction in those areas you are already lost.

It says HOVR, but it ain’t the same. First of all, part of the magic of the HOVR system is it can be tuned differently for specific uses. The KD 11 is soft, really soft, and is a more cushioned, relaxed ride for long running days or when you need a little more protection. The HOVR Sonic was tuned tighter and stiffer for fast, racing-style training and runs. The HOVR Havoc is more to the Sonic, but even tighter.

Honestly, there isn’t much HOVR feel at all — no cushy step-in, no bounce-back response. The reason? The HOVR is supremely caged by both a stiff foam midsole on the perimeter and underneath by an almost-full-length TPU shank plate. Honestly, this is good; I couldn’t imagine trying to play ball in a shoe as cushioned but unstable (for lateral movements) as the Phantom.

It’s not all bad though: there is a quickness to the midsole that only comes from a lack of compression. Your steps happen quickly, and your movements are not slowed down waiting for the midsole to respond. The HOVR is thin and doesn’t beef up the midsole at all so court feel is fantastic.

And if you absolutely, positively need to feel some sort of bounce give it time. Once that foam midsole starts breaking in a little, you will notice a more HOVR-y feel. Best of all, while you are playing, impact protection is no issue — which is especially surprising given the thin midsole. You may not be able to feel the bounce, but when you are done playing in the HOVR Havoc Low you won’t feel the pain either.

Mesh and fuse. Fuse and mesh. We’ve all heard the story before, so what else is new? Well, really, nothing — but it’s all about the usage of the fuse and mesh, and the HOVR Havoc Low uses the materials well.

With a full-mesh one-piece upper, fuse overlaid on the toebox and lateral forefoot, and backing by a super-comfortable foam liner, the curry 5 is a supremely comfy sneaker. While fuse does sometimes make a shoe stiff and inflexible, the toebox of the Havoc breaks in within minutes of wearing and flexes like a second, rubbery skin.

Soft padding is found along the heel, helping lock in and cut down on the heel slip, but honestly, that needed to be more like a memory foam or at least a little denser. The only other thing to mention is the TPU heel counter, and that is what it is. Simple, but effective.

Through the forefoot and midfoot, fit is really, really close to 1:1. Like, really close. There is a little bit of dead space over the top that you don’t find until you pull the laces up and the one-piece upper pulls in a little, but around the toebox and midfoot you are completely blanketed. I almost went up half a size but I wanted to see how well the shoe felt after a couple of wearings and the HOVR Havoc Low didn’t disappoint; it broke in perfectly and began flexing and moving right with me.

The forefoot laces run through the fuse/synthetic side panels and do a serious job of pulling the upper around your foot as well as pulling your foot down into the midsole. So many shoes just want no extra room instead of actually making the shoe a piece of the athlete, but not the HOVR Havoc Low.

The lacing system does sit back and high on the ankle area, which helps lock the heel into the heel counter, and it does a good job. However, for my desired level of cinch-down, I did get some lace pressure along the top set of laces. Nothing to cry about, but I did have to loosen them up every now and then to keep from chafing and blistering. When I did loosen up, there was a sensation of heel slip, but not real slip. What I’m saying is this: when the heel doesn’t feel locked in I couldn’t feel anything around my heel at all, but I didn’t have any serious slipping.

This is where the denser foam in the heel area would have helped. If the foam was a little stronger, the heel would feel secure. It isn’t a safety issue, but if you need that Aunt Mabel hug around your foot to feel safe and warm, you may want to look at the high version.

This HOVR Havoc is a low-lowtop, possibly the lowest I’ve worn since the Kobe 8, and it feels like it. That isn’t to say the shoe isn’t supportive or safe, because, as you loyal WearTesters readers and watchers know, it ain’t the height of the collar that helps. The HOVR Havoc Low has a super-wide fat-booty heel that rides flat on the floor. All those heel-strikers and big-man post moves are stable and supported perfectly — especially with the HOVR foam not being mushy.

The forefoot is more of the same, wide and balanced with a stable midsole. The foot doesn’t sit inside the midsole — no raised areas on either side — but the synthetic lace system works the same and keeps the foot snug over the footbed on lateral movements.

The midfoot is solid thanks to the huge TPU plate under the HOVR and above the outsole rubber. The plate runs completely across and from heel to nearly the toes so there is no twisting or turning underfoot while playing. This should make the HOVR Havoc Low stiff but the shoe just flows.

When I first tried on HOVR in November of 2017 I was immediately hit with the thought, “I wonder when this will hit basketball?” Since I was with Under Armour reps at the time, I was told not until August. Since that day, I have been anticipating this shoe like no other. HOVR in running is magical. In basketball, well, it needs a little tuning, but the concept and vision is there. No, it isn’t bouncy like Boost, or responsive like Zoom, but it does absorb and rebound on impact and is stable on any and all movements.

If you need that cushy cushioning you will have to drop some dollars on another brand. If you are looking for a seriously quick, responsive, biting-traction shoe, the HOVR Havoc Low will more than satisfy. Coming in an abundance of team colorways (can’t wait for all the Dallas Mavericks/Dennis Smith Jr. colors to pop), the  UA Curry is a shoe that works and works well in any environment. Now, let’s make sure HOVR doesn’t end up being Micro G’s new neighbor in Florida (#retired).

nike kyrie 3 vs 2 performance test and comparison

Executive Summary: plays almost exactly the same as the Kyrie 2. Similar firm cushioning and very good traction. Shoe starts stiff but breaks in. No real reason to buy the 3 when the 2 does nearly everything the same or better though.

Kyrie 2 Review

Pros: traction, court feel, fit, support and stability, containment, very durable

Cons: traction pods protrude and cause a little bit of inconsistent traction in the heel, needs periodic wiping on dusty floors on Non pod portions, cushioning needs break in and is very stiff and firm like the KD 11 , materials start stiff but break in, not the best value out there especially now that sale time is upon us.

Sizing: true to size, very wide footers will probably want to go up half a size

Best for: guards looking who value response and quickness; players who liked the Rose 4

Buying Advice: wait for sales, Nike made a lot. $90 is fair, $65 is near the bottom. Or just buy the Kyrie 2

Weight

14.5 oz which is pretty average

Kyrie 2 is the exact same weight

Traction

If there is one thing you can say about the Kyrie line, it’s that it’s traction patterns look aggressive.

The main attraction of the Kyrie 3 traction is the use of traction pods in the forefoot that ride up the sides.

The rubber is softer and raised a millimeter or two from the rest of the shoe.

The concept works and the pods do their job very well. The rest of the shoe is a blade pattern or modified herringbone and feels softer than the Clutchfit Drive herringbone but firmer than the Kyrie 2 rubber. I wish the entire outsole was made of the pods’ rubber or Nike put some of these pods throughout the entire outsole like the AJ XX because on a few occasions I’d spin out at the heel since the forefoot stuck better than the rest of the shoe. This occurred even on pristine floors. Nitpicky I know.

One concern with the traction pods is durability and efficiency once they wear down. I think they will still work fine once they wear evenly with the rest of the outsole but expect more wear in that area due to the softness of the rubber.

Overall traction is very good overall but I feel the Kyrie 2 provided better consistent traction overall especially on dirty floors since it is the same rubber, pattern, and depth throughout the outsole. Neither required too much wiping but the 3 needed a few more wipes per session. Not quite top tier stuff but still good overall.

Cushioning

Here is the tech highlight of the Kyrie 3. The rest of the shoe is Phylon just like last year’s.

If you did not like the cushioning on the Kyrie 2, you will not like the cushioning on the Kyrie 3. Say with me again, if you did not like the cushioning on the Kyrie 2, you will not like the cushioning on the Kyrie 3. One last time..

Cushioning is very firm on the Kyrie 3 just like the 2. It starts off very very stiff but softens a little with break in. I could feel the Zoom a tiny bit just like on the 2. It is serviceable and responsive as Randy noted but I just prefer a little more softness in the forefoot because I have Morton’s neuroma in each foot. The good news is that the neuromas didn’t flare up badly but I could feel some buzzing after an hour just like the 2’s. I prefer a more balanced cushioning feel overall and these are just a little too hard for my tastes. The set up feels almost exactly the same as the Rose 4 except the Rose 4 has a thicker PU insole. Very low to the ground and quick feeling.

*interstingly enough if you check out Fastpass see the Kyrie actually sits at nearly 18 mm which is higher off the ground than the Harden V1 or CLB. Of course that’s not accounting for the insole thickness which probably evens it out. Thanks reader Pflite*

Although this didn’t really affect cushioning much, these two changes make the cushioning on the 3 feel a smidge firmer:

Number 1

The Kyrie 2 featured Poron in the forefoot while this year’s does not. Hard to really tell a difference but to the touch Poron is softer.

Number 2

The Kyrie 2 had an ortholite insole while this year’s doesn’t have the ortholite markings so in guessing it’s not ortholite. Anyways, the name doesn’t matter but the Kyrie 3 insole is very thin and flimsy like a limp noodle (it can barely hold its shape when I took the pic) plus it feels slightly thinner towards the middle than the Kyrie 2 insole. It’s as if someone wore down the insole of the Kyrie 2 and put it into the Kyrie 3. That’s how thin it feels to me. On Adidas Boost models, the thin insole is fine since it has all that Boost below it but with this firm set up, Nike really should have given us a thicker insole.

If you’ve ever played in basketball ball in tennis shoes like the Adidas Barricade or even the Nike Zoom Vapor 9, that’s what the cushioning feels like. Actually the Zoom Vapor 9 has the exact same size Zoom and a similar if not thicker Phylon set up from heel to toe including the foam strobel.

However, the Zoom Vapor feels better because the insole is thicker. If you want to improve the comfort level of the Kyrie 3, get a bigger size and put in a thicker insole to add a couple of millimeters more of cushioning. Keep in mind that it might feel better underfoot but one or two millemeters isn’t going to fix any knee issues you might have.

Fit

I bought my true to size 11 and initially thought I should have gone up half a size. However, after playing in them a few weeks, true to size was the way to go. Even though I’m a wide footer, these stretched out enough for me. If you’re Fred Flintstone, you should at least try half a size up before deciding on the correct width though.

There is no movement in the forefoot, very little deadspace above the foot in the toe box and zero heel slip. Midfoot fit is still tight like the previous models but not deathly like the Kyrie 1.

After a few hours of break in time, you almost forget they are on your feet as the upper softens up. Almost

Even though the Kyrie 3 has a very good fit, the Kyrie 2 has an even better fit due to the strap that helped pull the ankle and heel back further.

Materials

In case you’re part of the Night’s Watch or need to defend Winterfell….

The materials start off stiff but soften up quickly. They don’t feel Flyknit soft or anything but they do soften up enough after a few hours of break in time. The spiked look doesn’t really convey a soft warm comfy feel does it?

The lateral side of the upper is a similar fuse as last year’s model

Not cracker crispy like the Kyrie 1 but not definitely not Snuggles soft.

The medial side and toe box is mesh with a nylon backing and feels a lot softer than the lateral side. The front of the toe box does have a hard rand for durability as well.

I’ve noticed this is a trend these days as shoe companies have added strength and stiffness to the lateral side for containment and support while leaving the medial side soft for flexibility. Hmmm, maybe I did make a difference .(I’m kidding I don’t have that kind of pull)

Of course we can’t forget the featured marketing portion which is the forefoot flex area.

Across the top of the foot, a long stretchy band flexes with your foot for support during quick cuts and sprints.

Nike used a thinner mesh and Flywire to allow extra flexibility at the forefoot. I don’t it feel stretches at all but that thinner mesh allows for a more natural flex area. Plus it’s hard to quantify if it really works since the rest of the upper is so much stiffer than this little area.

If you’re big on materials and have to have that pure Flyknit or Primeknit or mesh feel, you probably will want to steer clear of the Kyrie 3. I think the materials are fine and don’t affect playability but every person has different needs and wants.

Support and Stability

Support is good with the Kyrie 3 thanks to the fit, heel counter and stiffer fuse on the lateral side. Just plain and simple, solid support. As stiff as the upper starts off, it is plenty flexible like the Kyrie 2 and isn’t going to save any ankles

Nike continued with the curved outsole but didn’t choose to market it this time around.

It seems slightly less curved in the forefoot than the Kyrie 2. After not playing in the Kyrie 2 for a year you can feel a difference with the curved outsole but it doesn’t make a difference for me in terms of performance.

Also helping with the stability was the firm, low to the ground cushioning.

Overall just a solid supportive and stable shoe. Same as the Kyrie 2.

Containment

No surprises here as containment was excellent thanks to that stiffer lateral fuse upper as well as the raised midsole. Softer materials might be all the rage but there are benefits to using stiffer and stronger materials like Fuse.

Conclusion

Not the best value out there but a good performer overall. The Kyrie 3 has great traction, a good fit with solid support and stability and very firm cushioning. I had no issues with aches or pains but then again don’t have knee or back issues (knock on wood). The Kyrie 3 just feels like a quick high cut tennis shoe for players that value lateral quickness over everything else.

Cushioning will come down to personal preference and if you didn’t like the 2 cushioning you will not like the 3. I’ll even qualify that statement with this; If you don’t like UA Charged you will not like cushioning on the Kyrie 3. Charged foam is easily thicker bouncier and softer. If you want to improve the comfort of the Kyrie 3, size up and swap out the cheapo insole.

Is the Kyrie 3 an upgrade over the 2? No I don’t feel it did anything better than the Kyrie 2.

Is it worth paying $120? No probably not. There are plenty of shoes out that at the $120-$130 range that do everything just as well or better than the Kyrie 3. Curry 2, 2.5, 3 all come to mind. Plus it’s almost mid season so there are plenty of sales on earlier launches. Do not buy these if you want a softer cushioning set up or if you want a Charmin soft upper material.

I’m guessing Nike made a lot of these to capture the new Kyrie fans post championship. If Kyrie 2 sales are any indication, these should hit $90 under range soon and bottom out around $65. If you want a marginally better performing and cheaper shoe, stick to the Kyrie 2.

Nike Kobe AD Exodus 2018 Performance Test

Nope, Nike and Kobe aren’t done. There is another AD in town. So how does the Kobe AD Exodus perform? Let’s go…

What took so long for this review? Didn’t these get purchased on release day? Well, yes, but the traction held me up. On first wearing I was ready to sell the Kobe AD Exodus because I slipped and slid all over the court, falling twice on first steps from a standstill position while trying to drive.

Of course, it was a dirty, bad 24-Hour Fitness court, but when I changed into the Jordan 32 I was good to go. Two days later, same court, same results. Someone was about to get a deal on these. Third wearing, I went to a local college court and played — better floor, better results. I was sticking and moving like Ali so these could work! I went back to the original court for my last wear, and lo and behold, the floor was clean and the results were serious stickiness.

All that said, if you are playing on a fairly clean court, you will be good. I guarantee on dirty courts I wiped these every 4-5 trips down the floor and was still iffy. Once the floor was swept I no issues at all. The soles will suck up every particle of dust in a three mile area, so keep them clean. Outdoors? Next…

Once again, we get a Kobe model with a dispute about the cushioning. We know the heel is Zoom Air, and after seeing the Kobe AD Exodus deconstructed we know it’s a huge heel unit. But what’s in the forefoot? Yeah, it’s foam. It’s basic injected Phylon.

On a budget model (the under-$80 silhouettes) this might not be a bad thing. But on the Kobe AD it’s a little…underwhelming. The caged in forefoot, which uses the same outsole rubber, makes it stiff and dead-feeling. Not as dead as the Kyrie 3 but just a budget foam/forefoot feel. While playing, however, I had no complaints; the forefoot rode low and with very little compression of the midsole so the response was great. Once traction dialed in, change of direction was quick and landing on jumpers or drives was no issue. Not the best, but not a deal-breaker at all.

The heel unit, as mentioned, covers the whole area and is thick (14mm). The only issue I had at all with the heel was coming off screens/curls and planting. I heel plant and turn into my shot to square up and the edges of the Zoom unit would compress under pressure, causing my foot to lean slightly as I planted. I gradually got used to this issue and after a couple of wears it wasn’t an issue. I would gladly trade that feeling for full-length Zoom for impact protection on those back-leaning landings.

I’ve seen better, but the materials work. Yes, we get the felt/suede upper from the Kobe AD Mid, but luckily it isn’t the full upper, so that initial stiffness from the Mid is gone. It still doesn’t breathe, and after every run my shoes were soaked in that area. The tongue area is Nike Pro/Torch material, which is a padded mesh with holes strategically cut into the internal foam for ventilation. Doing this lets the tongue remove lace pressure with the foam but provides ventilation from the holes and mesh; it helps a little.

The forefoot is a combination of two materials: composite mesh and Nike Basketball mesh. The composite is the band you see over the first lace loops, and it provides no-stretch, no-give stability for lateral movements and hard steps. The rest of the toe moving forward is thin mesh, like the PG 1, and it is so light and thin it almost isn’t there. There is a fused area over the big toe — we know why — and that’s it.

Schnug. Not unbearable-in-true-to-size snug, but a really close, tight fit. The materials having little to no give laterally help with that, and honestly, it fits perfect for me. It feels too small until you play and realize the shoe just moves with you with no slow-down or issues.

The one issue I can see some having is around the arch; it’s narrower than any Kobe I can remember in that area and some will want to go a half-size up when buying. I wouldn’t unless you are a wide-footer and can’t stand it. The feeling goes away and the fit will be appreciated later.

The heel is completely locked in with a thick padding around the collar and Achilles. It is still amazing that a shoe with four lace holes can fit like this, but lockdown is complete and total.

As for length, true to size should give you about a quarter-inch of extra space on your big toe, just enough to expand a little on those long days.

For a lowtop that is meant to be light and fast, the Kobe AD Exodus is…light and fast. Support is okay, with a standard heel counter and a raised midsole in the heel and forefoot. There is no midfoot shank, but that isn’t always a deal breaker — the Kobe AD Exodus has a flat sole and serious internal arch structure so midfoot support is good. The forefoot is built without an outrigger, but the sole is rounded off and is slightly wider than the upper so there is no sense of rolling over while playing. Additionally, the composite mesh across the toebox does a fantastic job of holding your foot over the footbed with no give while the regular mesh is soft and feels free.

The rest of the stability and support comes from the simple lacing system and the fit. The Kobe AD Exodus fits almost perfect, as stated above, and when the foot isn’t allowed to slide inside of the shoe it is amazing how support improves.

Transition is another extremely strong point on the Kobe AD Exodus. Often, when a shoe has a flat bottom and different heel/forefoot cushioning, there can be a “slappy” feel when running, like you borrowed your big brother’s shoes or something. This Kobe is smooth in every motion, and that is credited to the fit and the materials being soft in the right places (toebox) and rigid in others (heel counter).

Nope, the Kobe AD Exodus isn’t the best Kobe ever. It isn’t even the best Kobe on shelves right now (still the Protro I). It is, however, a really solid effort from the Swoosh. It does almost everything well on-court (especially clean courts) and is smooth on-foot. Yes, Zoom in the forefoot would have possibly been better (we never know — it may have made the ride stiff and clunky), but the foam does create a quick, low-riding shoe suitable for small guards and wings.

If you are a quick, Kyrie-type, you will love the Kobe AD Exodus. If you are a Kobe-type bigger guard who can get up, you will love this Kobe. If you are a Spurs or Kings fan and still hold grudges about the last 10 years of Kobe’s career, you will probably still like the Kobe AD Exodus on-court. Just sweep it first, trust me.

Converse Weapon EVO Performance Review

In life, first impressions can often be dead wrong. I’ll be honest — I was 100% certain that the Converse Weapon EVO was going to absolutely suck the first time I saw it. It’s clunky as hell, right? I figured there was no way this heritage-based model could actually feel modern on a basketball court today. While the Weapon might have been worn by the league’s best over twenty years ago, there’s no way anyone was ever going to confuse it as a sleek and ahead-of-it’s-time silhouette. It debuted in 1986. And ever since, it’s felt exactly like a shoe….from 1986. But that’s what makes the Weapon EVO so great. Converse and Converse Basketball’s Design Director Mike Ditullo pulled a fast one on us. The intent was to create a shoe that emphasized the brand’s heritage, offer it at a nicely affordable price and debut the brand’s new visible technology. And they’ve done just that. After initially being very skeptical, it took all of about five minutes on the court to realize that the Weapon EVO is a damn good basketball sneaker. Not without its faults, but for everyday hoopability and for being accessibly priced, it gets the job done. As Ditullo (seen below) explains by phone, remastering the Weapon has been a task he’s been trying to get after for over two years now. “I had been toying with doing a Weapon-based shoe ever since I got to Converse,” he says. “The thing is, the Weapon is pretty hard to draw. It doesn’t really flow…and it doesn’t really have many organic parts. When we really decided to do a new Weapon…I just drew it. My [first] sketch actually looks just like the original.”

As he’d come to find, evolving the shoe into its more modern state over the course of the development process would be the right move, as he wanted the EVO to be equal parts heritage and yet a marker for the future of the brand, all at the same time. “I think because the Weapon had kicked my ass for two years, I was really determined to do it,” he laughs. “When you put this Weapon next to the original now, it really doesn’t look like it. That’s one of the things I’m most psyched about this shoe…when you work on these projects…you want to do something that pays tribute to the shoe but you don’t want it to be a slave to it.” As we’ve (with grinding teeth at times) come to find out in recent years with “tribute” shoes, there’s something to be said for a designer who takes simple inspiration from classic models of the past, like the Nike Refresh program, as compared to simply slapping together parts and pieces and calling it a shoe, as the Jordan approach of late has proven to a fault. The “design” feels it. Sometimes harshly. What that means in terms of a performance feel, in this case, is that the Weapon EVO is surprisingly smooth. Surprisingly, I say, because of the original’s slap-like and dated feel. While I normally tackle a review from an upper-midsole-tooling standpoint in bullet-point-like fashion, it’s probably better to start off with the tooling this time around. There’s BALLS Technology afterall, as Converse White has so boldly proclaimed it. While it might not look like something from 1986 or something from the future, and more likely somewhere in between, if you walk into any sporting goods store and try these on, you’ll notice that unlike Shox, which take a few break-in wears before softening up, the Balls platform feels nicely cushioned and yet supportive right from the start. “We wanted to make sure we made a shoe that was for every type of player, get the technology right, and get it right for the consumer and contain the technology in a understandable way,” outlines Ditullo. In my size 13, the TPU-encased cushioning unit is made of eleven, well, balls, that circle the perimeter of the heel, with more polyurethane balls filling in the inner chamber of the unit. The result is a low-to-the-ground, more bouncy than expected heel cushioning unit. “The more you compress the sphere, the more it wants to return to the shape of the sphere,” Ditullo explains. “Just getting the technology right was tough…it’s a combination of chemistry and geometry and you’re playing with chemicals and urethane compounds. …We wanted to make sure that that energy was constrained in a vertical XY axis.” When you immediately lace the EVO up and hit the court, there’s a nice softness in the heel that lies somewhere between a heel Air-Sole unit and the uber-responsive bar-setter that is Zoom Air. At just $80, the unit delivers great cushioning that we’re all used to seeing for $10-$20 more.

Above: A look at Ditullo’s sketch of how the Balls could react, and a look at the unit on a final production model. Note the sipes through the TPU encasement, which took inspiration from the headlights of a Porsche. Historically, the Balls Technology set-up isn’t the most ground-breaking advancement yet, and looks like a mysteriously similar re-working of the forgotten Sox Spotlight’s heel unit (which Nike Basketball has coincidentally stopped using).

The one thing that you’d expect the TPU window to provide is some firmness underfoot or maybe some pressure points in the heel because of the stiff plastic that it’s made of. Luckily that was never the case. “It had to have the visual clearness that we were looking for, but also it had to keep the support and rigidity,” Ditullo says. What I liked most about the Balls Technology is its reliability and longevity after several weeks of use. It won’t ever deflate or lose pressure like Air. It provides far more lateral support and stability than Shox. It won’t go from harshly rigid to only less firm like Formotion. There’s a consistency to the feel of Balls that never wavers from the first wearing on. It’s not the most responsive in the world, but it’s not particularly heavy or anchor-like either and is consistently cushioned. For the everyday baller looking for durable cushioning, that’s a huge positive.

For $80, you’re hard-pressed to find great forefoot cushioning outside of foam and insole padding from any company, and it’s no different with the EVO. During your first week of wearings, the forefoot is still nicely padded, and never over the course of my wearings did it feel firm or stiff. However, I wouldn’t be doing the “Cushioning” category justice if I ranked the shoe too highly, as the forefoot cushioning is nothing that’ll win anybody over. Despite the lack of forefoot responsiveness, one thing the EVO does do wonderfully well is excel in both transition and feel. You’ll notice “FEEL” scribed into the heel cushioning unit, but it’s at the forefoot where the shoe does a nice job of providing great court feel and smoothness. Along the outsole, there lies a sculpted forefoot flex groove, and it’s perfectly executed. When running on the break and out in transition, the shoe moves flowingly to the next step. The smoothness is a great, and greatly needed, improvement over the original Weapon. “The simple thing of removing rubber for a flex groove…it’s a simple groove but it moves with the foot all of a sudden,” confirms Ditullo. While other shoes that rely on larger rubber allowances can feel stiff for a few wearings, the broken up tooling, that also benefits from the large midfoot cutaway, feels natural and ready to go from the first wearing. It had Kirk Hinrich immediately upon his first wearing telling Off White x Converse reps, “This shoe feels like it was broken in before I put it on.” Or so the reps tell me. (Not that they’d have a personal interest in the matter, of course!!)

Above: The EVO boasts a sculpted outsole with nice flex grooves and a heel window glance at the shoe’s Balls Technology. While the shoe’s tooling and midsole offer a solid blend of cushioning at the heel and flexibility and transition during play, a bright spot of the EVO is its biting traction and great support. The leather upper of the shoe is a bit stiff to start, but after a game or two it breaks in nicely, and offers a firmly supportive feel on all cuts. Part of the great support is also the squeaky traction, which even on a dusty court does a great job. “The herringbone on the bottom is the original herringbone from the original 86,” says Ditullo. “By breaking that herringbone it actually helps you move a little better.” Unlike traditional herringbone patterns, the EVO’s configuration keeps with the original and is split by Chevron, adding some flexibility but also working great in terms of just raw traction. Another great factor in support is the shoe’s use of an outrigger, seen on the forefoot lateral side and ever-so-slightly on the medial side as well. There’s a nice balance to the shoe’s stance, and never during play will you worry about tipping over or losing your footing, as you might in other visible heel cushioning shoes. Along the upper, the support overlay that wraps the toe, seen here in red patent, coupled with the added foam above the outrigger, does a nice job of keeping the foot over the footbed on lateral moves. [Though, it’s worth mentioning, the toe rand does scuff quite easily.

THIS was on just my first wearing.] If you lace the EVO up securely, your ankle, heel and forefoot are all locked in accordingly. An absolute must design cue when remastering the Weapon is the original’s Y-Bar, which we’ve seen carried over to the EVO. The underside of the Y-Bar collar is stitched through as well, providing a nice notch to comfort your ankles. A three-way tie for best attribute can easily be handed to the support, traction and heel cushioning departments. While I’ve only seemingly covered the shoe’s bright spots up to now, surely the EVO isn’t without its faults. The forefoot cushioning wasn’t great by any means, but at $80, it’s hard to recommend an improvement. The shoe’s breathability was tremendously poor, as the full leather upper and multi-layered construction did its best to keep all airflow entirely trapped. My socks were soaked at the end of every night’s games. Perhaps the tongue doesn’t need to be entirely leather-based, but either way, if heat build-up is a category you’re not high on, that might be an issue. The other problem I noticed during several of my wearings was the lack of hold from the top two eyelets. The original punched holes work a ton better, while the EVO’s rounded shape didn’t secure the flat laces quite enough, and during play and after sudden movements, you might notice the laces can loosen up a bit. Double knot them for the most security.

The Weapon EVO isn’t a perfect shoe, but for $80, it offers a ton of positives and is also a great team option. It doesn’t feel position-specific, and has needed attributes of affordability, great traction, support and durability that make it a worthy contender for teams. Everyone from points looking for support to big men who enjoy a sturdy build should like the EVO. The shoe weighed in at a flat 19 ounces, which is a bit on the heavy side for most, but because of the forefoot flex groove and the shoe’s smooth transition, it actually plays lighter than you’d think. For Ditullo, accomplishing his goal of creating a shoe for today’s game inspired by a classic from two decades ago made it all worth it. “When Kobe was in between contracts and wore the Weapon ’86 on-court, he proved that a modern player could still wear the original shoe,” he says. “It was really important that we kept the shoe flexible enough that somebody now could wear it.” He and the team of developers, led by Alex Alpert, did just that, crafting a well made re-interpretation of the Weapon for today’s level of technology and styling. There’s cool details to be found throughout the shoe as well, like the Star pivot point along the outsole, and the shoe’s tech specs just under the lateral outrigger, which read “Patent Pending >>> Patent Number 6568102.” Only the truest of sneaker nerds like myself will take to those finer details, but when celebrating heritage, those are the small touches that count most. [See for yourself — the patent number is a real thing.] “That patent number was actually the idea of [Developer] Chris Edington,” reveals Ditullo. “That’s a pretty sweet design detail. When Apple says, ‘Designed in California,’ that’s a pretty cool thing that they celebrate that.” While proudly showing off the shoe’s technical merits, the EVO also serves as a great stepping point for the brand’s new Wade-less direction, touching back on the brand’s most iconic model. The Star Chevron logo is prominently displayed along the midfoot of the upper, and the heel Balls Technology offers a look at the future of Converse Basketball. It’s a technology I’m excited to see evolve, and maybe even make its way to the forefoot, despite the brand’s reluctance to hover much higher in retail price. Regardless, the first installment of Balls is well done, and the EVO’s great price, traction, support and durability earn it a commendable B+.

The Nike Air Foamposite One Is Still Ahead Of The Curve

In 1997, everything about the Nike Air Foamposite One screamed future. 20 years later, it’s still screaming.

Eric Avar, the mind behind the Foamposite and Kobe Bryant’s partner in crime at Nike a few year later, had an interesting inspiration for the shoe – a beetle. Or to be more specific, the skeleton of a beetle. Usually when you hear about stories behind the design, it’s man-made stuff like cars, planes, etc. Nope, the Foams were inspired by a beetle. The shoe was the result of Avar being ahead of the curve.

The actual making of the Foamposite forced Nike to look outside of the box. Because the material that was to be used on the shoe was unlike anything Nike had worked on before, it required a wholly different method than ever before, so they tapped car manufacturer Daewoo to help devise a method in making it a reality. You’ve no doubt heard the story of the $750,000 mold that was created just to build the Foams, but let that sink in for a second. Nike spent $750,000 – not including all the money burned on research and development – just to create something that was at the time yet to be proven to work. The process – which took two years to go from concept to reality – was not only out of this world, but it could have been out of reach if Nike hadn’t taken that gamble. To get to the future, you need to take some risks sometimes.

For such a revolutionary and highly experimental shoe, Nike needed an athlete who represented not where the game was but where it was going. So it made sense that they were going to have Scottie Pippen launch the Foams. That’s right, one of the great sneaker “what ifs” is who Foams should have gone to. According to legend, Avar wanted Pippen to wear the Foams but Penny wanted them for himself when he caught a peek of them in a design meeting. Penny had the foresight and Nike let him have it, breaking from his own signature shoe line to rock them.

Penny wasn’t the only the player of the future that would earn the distinction of debuting the Foams to the world. The 1997 Arizona Wildcats all received pairs of the Royal Blue Foams during their run to the National Championship, but Mike Bibby was the only star who actually put them to use on the court. At the time, many believed Bibby to be the next superstar point guard. So the shoe of the future was being worn by the point guard of the future. Makes sense, right?

The Shoe Game
It wasn’t always easy for the Foamposite, of course, as while it might have been futuristic, it was maybe too futuristic for many. With a premium price point and a look that nobody was feeling, there was a time when you could find them at Nike outlets in the middle of the 2000s. It would take a mix of nostalgia, Wale, hip-hop, and the DMV to bring the shoes back to the forefront. A new and futuristic colorway, the Eggplant, might have also helped matters too.

In 2012, the sneaker world was shaken up when graphics appeared on the Foamposite for the first time with the release of the Galaxy during NBA All-Star Weekend. It set the stage for the future of the Foams, as many more colorful takes on the shoe would follow. It was impossible to follow up the Galaxy, but Nike tried their damnedest to hope lightning would strike twice.

Now we see Foams of all kinds sit in stores once again, much like we did before it’s late 2000s revival. This time around, they’re sitting because sneakerheads have shifted in favor of sneakers with minimalist design and maximum comfort, whether it be adidas NMDs, Nike Lunarcharges or even New Balance 247s. But don’t count the Foams out as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Royal colorway this past weekend. Between the expected rollout of new Foams in 2017 and kids once again looking for what’s new and fresh, we could be at the cusp of the cycle starting once again for the shoe. And if not, then 20 years as the sneaker of the future is not a bad title to have, right?

20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite

When the Nike Foamposite One first dropped in 1997, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before but people wore it in some impressive performances. The sleek $180 shoe had no Nike branding on the upper, save a small Swoosh near the toe, and the synthetic upper and prominent carbon plate gave the shoe a decidedly futuristic look, one that many sneaker designers still strive to achieve.

With interest in Foams that never ceases to fade, here are 20 Things You Didn’t Know About the Nike Foamposite.

Nobody thought it was possible.
Like all great sneaker stories, the naysayers were a plenty. The Foamposite was one of the most unbelievable designs, so it’s probabaly not a huge surprise that everyone from designers at Nike, all the way to manufacturers in China, said that it couldn’t be done when the original idea was presented.

The Foamposite was not designed for Penny Hardaway.

 

Eric Avar didn’t design the Foamposite One Denim with Penny Hardaway in mind. If the apocryphal stories are true, it was originally intended for Scottie Pippen (no word on whether it then would have been called the “Foamposite 33″). But in a session with Penny, where he wasn’t moved by any of the other designs, he saw the Foamposite in Avar’s bag, and the rest was royal blue history.

It was inspired by a beetle.

Not the Volkswagen, but the little annoyances that wander around your garage, were actually part of the inspiration for the Foamposite’s aerodynamic features.

People thought it would ruin the footwear industry.

The design of the Foamposite was so absurd compared to the traditional usage of leather and rubber that many people actually thought Nike would ruin footwear with the design. Fast forward 15 years and now nearly everything is made out of plastic-based materials. It hasn’t seemed to keep anyone from buying sneakers yet, either.

Daewoo was the company that made it happen.

A number of companies were approached by Nike with the Foamposite concept. Many of them couldn’t come up with the correct formula to make it happen but Daewoo came through. Yep, the Korean company that makes TVs and cars were the ones behind your latest Foamposite purchase.

The upper of the Foamposite begins as liquid.

If the sleek, logoless shoe itself wasn’t enough to pry your $180 (plus tax) from your wallet, maybe the T-1000 backstory was. In order to create the Foamposite One’s seamless upper, the “foam” material started as a liquid, which was then poured into molds. How does that add up to $180? Well, the molds weren’t cheap. Read on.

The perfect temperature is between 130 and 175 degrees.

No, not to wear them. In case you were wondering, Foamposite material is created at a temperature range of 130-175 degrees Fahrenheit. If we see anyone melting down Foams on Youtube, though…

The average cost of the mold was $750,000.

$750,000 for the mold alone. Considering that doesn’t include the cost of labor, packaging, shipping or marketing, you can see why the price of the Foamposite was steep.

The midsole had to be 5 times stronger than a traditional sneaker’s.

When the Foamposite was created, the process was so different that traditional ways of manufacturing had to be revamped. In order for the molded upper to stay attached to the midsole, it had to be 5 times stronger than traditional glue and stitching. So, in a way, the development of the Foamposite helped with other future technologies just by pushing the limits.

The original price of the Foamposite One was $180.

So, this might be something you do know but there seems to be some serious confusion amongst the always knowledgable group of Internet sneaker blogs. We’re just going to clear the air, the Nike Air Foamposite One retailed for $180 when it first released and the Nike Air Foamposite Pro retailed for $170. Eastbay catalogs don’t lie, bruh.

Foamposites didn’t sell well at all.

$180 price tags may be commonplace now, but back in 1997 that was a real jump. And when you put that price tag on a brand-new technology that doesn’t even feature the usual visible cues of “high-dollar” — like a Max airbag or a Jumpman or a yeezy 350 Static — it’s gonna be a tough sell. Fortunately enough people stepped up to keep Foamposite in the line.

The NBA didn’t approve of the sneakers.

The NBA said that the colorway wasn’t fit for the court because it didn’t have enough black to coincide with Penny’s Orland Magic uniform. Penny did what any sneakerhead would do, and busted out the Sharpie to fix the problem.

Penny Hardaway didn’t debut the Foamposite One.

Mike Bibby first hit the court as an Arizona Wildcat wearing the Royal Foamposites on March 23 of 1997. That same day, Penny Hardaway laced up his Nike Air Penny IIs. It wouldn’t be until a few games later that Penny finally laced up the Foamposite One with his Orlando Magic uniform.

Penny Hardaway had white Foams 15 years before you.

Penny Hardaway may not have been the first to wear his own signature shoe in a game, and he may have never worn them in an All-Star Game or NBA Finals, but at least he was getting exclusives before anyone else. The best part is that it’s been damn near 20 years and you STILL don’t have these.

The phone number has been disconnected.

One of the shoes to be featured in Nike’s simple – and brilliant – print ad campaign that simply showed a shoe on a white background with a Swoosh and a 1-800 number, the Foamposite One never looked better. Tragically, the phone number has been disconnected. We were hoping to get Lil Penny on the line, seeing that he still owes us for the dry cleaning from his Super Bowl party.

Foamposites became the ultimate takedown model.

The Clogposite is one of the most unexpected sneakers ever created by Nike — who turns a $180 shoe into a slipper? But don’t try to front in your new camo Foams this weekend, the O.G.s been rockin’ digi camo Foams, son.

It was the first sneaker people were willing to trade their car for.

Crazy shit happens when the hype hits all time highs. This dude really tried to trade his car — with a full tank of gas, even — for Galaxy Foams. This can’t be life.

The Most Important Air Max in Years Is Here – Nike VaporMax 2018 Review

Do you remember the Nike Air Max 2016? Can you even conjure up an image of the Air Max 2017 in your head? We won’t blame you if the answer is no. While the Air Max line has been responsible for millions of dollars in sneaker sales since its inception in 1987, recent models have not been entirely memorable. The revolution described in the first ad campaign around the shoes feels significantly less rebellious now. Gone are the days of iconic designs like the Air Max 90 and Air Max 95, and the now yearly main offerings in the franchise have felt somewhat stale since the big bag of the Air Max 2009.

If there’s anything that can reverse the trend it’s the Nike Air VaporMax ($190), a highly-touted model first unveiled at Nike’s Innovation Summit event in 2016 that’s set to release on Sunday, exactly 30 years after the debut of the original Air Max. The shoe has an exaggerated bubble on bottom paired with a sleek Flyknit upper, a combo that Nike claims results in the “most flexible Air Max ever.” The cushioning system is especially notable for its lack of foam—the traditional midsole is gone and the Flyknit upper sits directly on top of the Air bag. In removing a layer separating the foot and the sole, Nike hopes to address a design issue that’s been there for years.

“What’s different here is that the properties of Air are still there—that protection, that durability, that resiliency—but what’s been always elusive to us is that sensation of air,” said Nike VP of Innovation Kathy Gomez at an event for the VaporMax. “Nike Air Max hasn’t really felt like you can imagine it should feel like, and that’s what we unlocked here.”

While Nike’s been very focused on the tech aspects of this shoe, it’s clear how much the brand cares about things from a visual standpoint. In this regard, perhaps the best outcome for Nike with the VaporMax is for it to operate in a space like Adidas’ celebrated Ultra Boost, its home in sport recognized, but its place in casual wear much more salient. It’s mostly touted as a runner, but remember that the first pair to hit retail before Sunday’s wide launch was a fashion collaboration with Comme des Garçons. Nike Sportswear Design Director Nate Jobe says it’s the first time the brand has debuted a shoe like this through this lens.

“It’s always been launching first as a performance-true product, and then later being adopted by culture,” Jobe told Sole Collector. “In this case, we worked directly with Rei [Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons,] in the beginning to have sport and style coming together in the beginning versus the end.”

All this is not to say that the VaporMax doesn’t have performance chops. Finite element analysis informs the patterns and tubes that shape the sole. The shoe’s been in development at Nike for seven years, with rigorous product testing throughout. Gomez speculates that it might be the most-tested Nike model ever, saying that around 350 athletes ran a total of 126,000 miles in them.

But even at a wear-test event for the shoe Nike reps aren’t shy about its casual appeal, mentioning that it falls somewhere between hardcore runner and lifestyle silhouette. While gushing about the VaporMax in 2016, Nike CEO Mark Parker referenced its spot between these lanes.

“It’s a great example of an innovation that stands at the intersection of high-tech, pure function, and aesthetic beauty,” Parker said.

How well does the VaporMax deliver on Nike’s promise of the “running on air” sensation from a functional standpoint? When wearing the shoe, it’s difficult to separate oneself from all the marketing dollars spent convincing the wearer the sensation is there. Do I actually feel that Air underfoot, or do I just want to after hearing Parker’s eulogizing and eagerly anticipating the shoe for so many months? At least some of it is the former—on a run the shoe delivers a very bouncy ride that’s more present in the back half of the sole. The feeling of Air is certainly there to a greater extent than on any Air Max I’ve worn before. To really test the bubble, the wearer can bounce up and down on the heel for a piece of tactile evidence. The tubular Air sections toward the front aren’t as apparent, although one gets the idea the shoe would be too bouncy were the forefoot’s cushioning shaped the same way the heel’s is. Note that this isn’t the firm energy return feel of Adidas Boost; what the wearer gets with the VaporMax is something more exaggerated.

The fit of the Flyknit upper is snug, but not tight. The Flyknit material has more stretch to it than that of models like the Flyknit Racer, which is welcome given the somewhat constricting shape of the midfoot. (Think the stretchy stuff used on 2016’s Nike LunarEpic.)

The VaporMax is a statement product from Nike, that much was clear when the shoe was debuted at the brand’s Innovation Summit last year. The statement translates to the wearer too; it’s a visually striking model that almost demands the attention of onlookers with its alien sole. There’s an auditory element to the sneaker as an announcement as well, although that one is not totally positive. It’s a bit loud, the VaporMax’s big bubble still squeaking after a few days of regular wear.

The jumbo bubble also evokes a sense of fragility. The first thing many ask when seeing the sneaker is whether it can withstand the rigors of everyday wear without popping. But that fear has been there since the beginning—when designer Tinker Hatfield first developed Air Max, the feedback from Nike was that the exposed cushioning looked like it would pop, which wouldn’t fly for consumers. Nike says it’s prepared for that fear on the VaporMax, where the bubble is more exposed to the elements than ever before, by testing it on the rugged trails of Colorado.

“We test a lot of things in Colorado,” Gomez explained. “There’s a great community of athletes and runners there, also lots of trails that can be really hard on the shoes, which we want to see. You can put a lot of miles on shoes in a short amount of time.”

Opposite efforts like the testing to prove the shoe’s worth while logging miles are moves like the color choices that highlight the shoe’s fashion aspirations. While Air Max designs of yesteryear leaned on bright accents to establish themselves, with colorways like the Air Max 1’s bold blue and red or the Air Max 90’s sharp infrared helping to change the look of running footwear, the VaporMax aims for something more subdued. Its debut colorway is a foggy mixture of flat platinum and grey with a metaphorical meaning

“We wanted to reinforce the idea of running on air,” said Andres Harlow, VP/Creative Director of footwear for Nike Running. The idea is channeled through Flyknit material made to look like an actual cloud with blended neutral colors that are more intricate than they appear on first glance. Again style points are mentioned, the shoe’s lack of popping colors being a play toward contemporary palette trends.

As much as the VaporMax is able to win from a style perspective, one suspects it won’t quite end up with the performance accolades of the Adidas Ultra Boost. The short history of Boost suggests it’s currently a more effective performance platform than Air, one with marathon wins to help back up all its claims. But maybe that doesn’t matter that much given that the majority of sportswear is not worn for its intended purpose.

Regardless of adoption by runners, the VaporMax is a win from Nike in this writer’s opinion in that it’s a reminder of what the brand can do to push the look of footwear forward. And beyond aesthetics, it feels how one imagines Air Max should. The win is especially big when one considers how much agreement there was about Adidas besting Nike with product in 2016. The shoe is a confirmation and realization of innovation, the brand’s favorite buzzword. And there’s more VaporMax to come—Parker has said that Nike is scaling the technology to bring it to a wider range of products. Through this, the brand will look to deliver on something else that Air Max has promised from the start: a revolution.