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Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity Performance Review

Can Jordan Brand once again produce a top performer following the praise of the CP3.12? Jalique Gabay is here to provide his perspective on the Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity.

BAM! That’s what looks like should’ve been slapped in the middle of this traction pattern. Actually, a “SNIKT!” might’ve been even more fitting, simply for the way the Zero Gravity cut through dust and anything else in the way.

It took a while to ever feel the need to wipe no matter the surface — only a handful of times I can remember across multiple surfaces in nearly a month of ownership. The rubber seems suitable for outdoor use, is sharply-patterned, and an overall joy to play over.

It should be noted that because of a heavily cored out midsole, there is a significant patch that doesn’t provide coverage. Regardless, traction didn’t suffer much because of the naturally forefoot-heavy activity basketball requires. Simply put, the traction works best where it is needed most.

A standard Zoom bag is top-loaded into the forefoot over a full-length Phylon midsole which isn’t great compared to contemporary iterations of the foam. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a complete brick, it just seems to bottom out quickly for something that isn’t all that spectacular to begin with. On the plus side, there is room for inward compression due to a carved-out area running through the midfoot – a great side effect to the shoe shaving weight to live up to the Zero Gravity name.

Luckily, like the traction, cushion is placed where it is needed most. In a heavier frame, I felt the forefoot Zoom bag underfoot from try on and it only became more prominent with break in — a good sign for even those who don’t put as much weight in the unit as I do. It feels like a standard top loaded forefoot unit, though it doesn’t feel like the thickest or highest amount of air Jordan could’ve placed in it. The bounce back is there, just not as snappy as something with a similar set up like the kyrie 5.

You should expect a standard cushioning set up from Nike/Jordan Brand that provides decent court feel, response, and a bit of protection for hard forefoot landings. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — especially when you can do it for $100.

Nope, sorry. No Flyknit for this pocket-friendly performer from Jordan Brand. Instead we are back to the basics of textiles and synthetics. I actually like the toe box area, which feels like a Nylon that moves smoothly with the foot and has done well to contain, while the synthetic nubuck and leather overlays are functional, but honestly laughable when you look at them.

Minimal break in is needed in my opinion, and though there is nothing premium going on with the Zero Gravity, materials check the boxes performance-wise. Many out there still don’t realize this is a performance model, so making these look even a tad more premium would’ve helped the lifestyle aesthetics, but on-court they did what they needed to do anyway.

So, I’ll just go ahead and recommend everyone try this sneaker on if they have the opportunity, and I’ll tell you why. When I purchased the Zoom Zero Gravity, my true size 11.5 was not available. I tried a half-size down and fell in love with the fit so much I didn’t even care to wait for my true size to become available. In an 11, I got a snug 1 to 1 fit throughout, perfectly good lockdown, and great Zoom placement under foot.

The shoe does break in a bit, but never really needed to in order to meet my preferences. I’m sure true to size would’ve have been decent, but I have not one regret about my decision. A half-size down may not work for everyone, but I believe those that find the best fit will be delighted.

The Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity sits on a narrow base, which is something I couldn’t help but watch out for initially, but one way or another I had no issues with staying on the footbed. The internal heel counter also isn’t the greatest, but it is also supported by a TPU overlay, eliminating any potential heel movement.

The plastic torsional support is nothing special but does its job to support underfoot where the midsole is cored out and you are also covered laterally by a synthetic nubuck and leather midfoot saddle tying directly into the lacing system. Had the base been wider or included an outrigger, support could’ve been better, but I really have no gripes with how things did in this category.

If you are looking to save a few dollars for a fast, lightweight low top that is for the most part all about business, look no further than the Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity. No, it isn’t as “premium” as another current $100 offering from the same brand, and yes, some may feel the shoe is a little too tippy to go all out it, but I’ll tell you this: A guy like me, who would prefer more cushion, slightly better materials, and a wider base for his on-court go-to still doesn’t mind playing all day in the Jordan Zoom Zero Gravity. And frankly, I wouldn’t mind owning multiple pairs if my time and money weren’t going elsewhere.

Jordan Brand once again gets it done on the more affordable end of the performance spectrum.

UA Clutchfit Drive 2 Performance Review and Comparison

If the Curry 2 is getting Charged only cushioning, then we should all get excited. Major upgrade over the Curry One cushioning set up.

Photo courtesy of Nice Kicks and Cassy Athena

It’s hard to break into my personal top 5 but the Clutchfit Drive shared the top spot with the Drose 5 as soon as it was introduced last year. I loved everything about it, including  its looks.  With Steph getting his own shoe and no longer rocking the Clutchfit Drive in sweet PE colorways, the cool factor has definitely dropped but has the performance?

Here is a link to the CFD 2 Low

Pros: fit, traction, Charged cushioning actually works and feels great, plush ankle collar

Cons: cushioning is firmer than original CFD softer than Curry 1s, skimpy use of Clutchfit, boring design, heavier than CFD 1

Best for: UA’s version of the Hyperdunk fits almost any position, fans of plush ankle collars, firmer cushioning

Weight: 15.5 oz

For reference: all measured on my baby scale

Clutchfit Drive 1: 14 oz

Curry One: 15 oz

UA Torch: 14.5 oz

UA Lightning: 13.5 oz

The Cut

First off you’ll notice that the high collar is gone and the CFD2 is more of a traditional mid. I actually like the high collar since it isn’t restrictive  but I have no problems with the lower cut of the CFD2.

Traction 

Good ol’ full length herringbone. No story telling: the only story I want to hear is how great the traction is.

I loved the traction on the CFD 1 and Curry and these are just as good thanks to the simplistic design. The rubber and the groove design/depth/width are the same just in a different pattern.

Cushioning 

The CFD 2 features Charged foam only, a first for UA basketball and what we should expect on the Curry 2.

I was not a big fan of the Charged cushioning in the Curry One. It was a layer of Charged sitting on top of Micro G and the result was a much firmer and much less lively ride than the pure Micro G in the Clutchfit Drive. With that experience, I figured Charged must be really firm if it produced a firmer feel on the Curry One versus the Clutchfit Drive set up.

Thankfully I was somewhat wrong; the CFD 2 cushioning set up isn’t as firm as the Curry One (2 levels firmer) but instead feels more like the Curry One Low (which I thought felt 1 level firmer than the CFD 1) but with an even softer feel and more responsiveness which is a good thing in my opinion. In terms of firmness it sits between the Curry Low and Clutchfit Drive 1

Insole is Otholite not Micro G like the CFD 1 or as the product description of the CFD 2 says on UA’s website

The insole is a hair thicker than the Curry One Low’s ( bottom one is CFD2)

Being the nerd I am, I put the Micro G insole into the CFD 2 to make sure I compared apples to apples and the Charged only setup still felt softer than the Curry One but not as soft as the Micro G in the CFD 1. It makes no sense to me as to how the Curry One feels firmer despite having less Charged than the CFD 2 unless they changed the formula of Charged foam.

What does Charged Foam feel like vs Micro G? Does it work?

Trying to accurately describe what Charged foam feels like is like trying to describe how a green grape tastes different from a red grape; it can be done in words but actually trying  them would be best but I’ll try.

To me, Charged feels denser, firmer and not quite as responsive and bouncy as Micro G  but I think that was the intent. The marketing of Charged Foam states that it is an adaptive foam that feels soft while stationary or moving slowly and firms up with quick movement. With the Curry One all I felt was a firmer cushioning set up with no noticeable difference in firmness between standing and moving. With the CFD2 Charged only set up I actually noticed a difference although I was really looking for that feel. It feels firm yet plush when walking but when you put hard pressure on it like cutting or landing, that plush feeling disappears.  It isn’t game changing by any means but it could be and the foam does what it says. I would really love to learn the physics behind it.
Above: cushioning goes up to the “C” in Charged and everything above that the works to keep foot in place. It is the same thickness as what is found on the CFD 1

Below: If you wondered what Charged foam felt like to the touch, you can actually touch it now

Overall I really really like the Charged Foam only set up although I still prefer the Pure Micro G of the original Clutchfit but Charged only is growing on me a lot. Here is how I rank the set ups of the Clutchfit 2 (pure Charged), Curry 1 (part Charged/Micro G), Curry 6 low, and Clutchfit Drive 1 (pure Micro G)

  1. Clutchfit Drive 1
  2. Clutchfit Drive 2
  3. Curry 1 low
  4. Curry 1

This also coincides and ranks exactly with how soft and responsive the set ups play. This Charged only set up has really ruined the Curry One for me because now I can see what could have been.

All that being said, if the Curry 2 has this same set up, we will all be very happy. Charged reaches a happy medium for everyone and is a pretty awesome achievement. A few tweaks and UA might reach cushioning nirvana soon.

Fit 

I went with my normal size 11 and had a little less (maybe a 1/8 to 1/4 size) than my normal finger width of space at the toe box and had zero deadspace at the toe box vertically or side to side.  Under Armour tightened up the entire toe box a little from the CFD 1 so if you’re really wide footed you may want to go half a size up but if not, go true to size. I had no issues and I’m a wide footer.

I loved the CFD 1 fit because it really gave me a second skin like fit; Clutchfit sat right on top of my skin from heel to toe and really made the shoe feel like an extension of my foot. The CFD 2 still has Clutchfit but only in the windows featured at the both sides of the ankle and midfoot . Also it isn’t laying directly on top of the skin since UA made the overall  silouette of the shoe “puffier” for lack of a better word. The Clutchfit is stuck in between the padding and fuse at the ankle while the Clutchfit at the midfoot does lay on the skin. There is a lot more padding in the heel collar and tongue which bloats the shoe’s looks but provides a great fit. I felt zero heel slip with minimal break in time.  UA could have gone without any Clutchfit and I probably couldn’t tell a difference since there is so little.

Below: Nice quality Fuse materials in toe box and throughout the shoe

Below: Clutchfit in the ankle collar and midfoot. It is not one piece but rather two cut outs.

I think there is more Clutchfit on the Prodigy

Or Lightning for that matter

You can see the difference in the collars and tongue

Sadly, the pics I showed you display all the Clutchfit material you get with the CFD 2. The rest of the shoe is Fuse which does provide a little extra rigidity but that’s about it. The Fuse did not pop or flex weirdly which is a positive though.
Overall the fit is great but I still prefer that second skin feel of the CFD 1.

Support and Stability

Nothing fancy, just a nice stable flat outsole, heel counter and forefoot outrigger. No tippiness so these passed my heel test. Thanks to a lockdown fit as well these get the job done just like on the original Clutchfit Drive. Between the original and CFD2 these feel more supportive due to the tighter fit and padding. The original allowed a lot more freedom due to the ultra flexible collar.

Above: outrigger

Below: heel counter

Containment 

Clutchfit is supposed to be flexible normally  and tighten up with pressure to keep the foot locked in and I had no issues with containment on the CFD 1. Same goes for the CFD 2 but instead of Clutchfit, most of the shoe is Fuse.

My foot stayed in place on hard cuts and I didn’t feel any sliding thanks to a tighter toe box and stiffer fuse. No complaints here.

Conclusion 

The Clutchfit Drive 2 is a great shoe. It provides the same traction, great cushioning, support and containment all for $125. But looks wise, these look like they came out of a the team shoe vending machine. A big part of buying shoes is emotional and these elicit zero emotion from me. I’ve been a big UA fan since day 1 and seen a lot of blah designs but some seriously sick designs too. Yea I’ve heard the ol ” I don’t care what they look like as long as they perform” but if you had to pick between two similar performing shoes and one looks better, the prettier or cooler one almost always wins.

To go from the sleek, beautiful and innovative Clutchfit Drive 1 to a very generic shoe with no real upgrades in performance is disappointing and loses that UA feel. Having interesting and unique looking shoes with serious performance is one of the reasons I love UA

Btw if anyone sees some Anatomix Spawns at Marshall’s or Ross please hit me up I’ll pay extra. Heard they’ve been popping up for $39.99 just not at my local stores

Now these lows look a lot better but very Run the One esque

I think a better and more appropriate name for these would be the UA Charged Drive since there isn’t much Clutchfit but plenty of Charged cushioning which is the true highlight of this shoe. If they would kept last year’s upper with new color blocking or colorways with this Charged only set up, UA could have knocked it out of the park. I expect these to hit below $90 soon

Update: Look what I found on Jordan debut for $90 today 9/9/15 seller “teamsports58”. Full size run

Under Armour Speed Form Amp 2.0 Performance Review

Under Armour has long been known for making great training apparel and footwear. Can the Speedform Amp 2.0 continue the roll? Read on…

That traction — it looks like a turf shoe but feels right at home in the weight room under a squat bar or hitting some jump ropes/box jumps. Anyone who has done any type of cross training knows when you are under the squat rack or leg press, you need the confidence to push with no fear of slipping, and the Amp 2.0 was solid.

Moving outside, the pattern was able to dig slightly in to grass or turf for running, but on quick lateral movements the “spikes” weren’t long enough to really grip deep grass, especially when a little moisture was present. As for court games, the Speedform Amp is not solid. The traction pattern is fine in a front-to-back movement, but laterally it needs a little help.

Durability? So far, so good. The points on the spikes have worn and slightly flattened, but there is more than enough pattern left to keep using these and feel comfortable working out. The red areas are the cushioning foam from the midsole, and it is softer than the white rubber, but those red points rarely make ground contact.
The midsole is a really thin layer of EVA, no Charged or Micro G, so it is built for explosive, quick movements. For lifting, the low ride of the midsole and the firm foam keep any ankle rolls or tipping to a minimum, which is extremely welcome when you have heavy weights up.

One thing that is important: the window under the midfoot does nothing for cushioning. It never even touches the ground in that area, so the red EVA foam found there is more to stabilize than cushion. That cutout does help with transition and flexibility, allowing the arch to move freely, while still being stiff enough to support the arch, but stability comes later.

To sum up, this cushioning is good for lifting and training but bad for running distances.
Tough call. Yes, the upper is woven, and the woven areas feel extremely nice and smooth (sometimes I rhyme slow), but most of the upper is covered in a synthetic, especially in the high-stress areas. This includes the strip over the big toe, the lateral forefoot, the midfoot saddle (there is woven under the synthetic saddle), and the lace holes. The tongue is also covered in red fuse.

It’s understandable to use fuse for strength and durability in some of these areas, but honestly, it defeats the purpose of the woven upper to cover it up. Ventilation suffers seriously because of the tongue and forefoot coverage, and the fit takes a good four to five wears to break in the fuse for it to start flexing with the foot.

The inside of the Amp 2.0 is classic SpeedForm with the insole and interior lining as all one piece. The heel padding is minimal but still enough to keep the area comfortable. Once the exterior is broken in, the interior fits like a glove and feels great on-foot.
Fit is generous, but not bad. Going back to the upper materials, the SpeedForm Amp 2.0 starts out roomy in the forefoot and feels long, but sizing down would put your toes right at the end of the shoe, and that’s a no-go.

One of the reasons, actually, the main reason, goes back to the tongue. Under Armour gave the SpeedForm Amp 2.0 a burrito wrap system which works great — once broken in. See the pattern here? Be patient. Until it does, be prepared for the shoe to not tighten and lockdown, which can lead to heel slip.
The super-wide base and solid cushioning make the SpeedForm Amp 2.0 a great choice for heavy Olympic-style lifts. The midsole under the forefoot sticks out about 3/4″ from the upper on the lateral side and the heel on both sides is about 1/2″ beyond the upper, meaning when those plates go up your shoes will keep you from wobbling. Your legs may give, but the Amp won’t.

The midfoot support piece is a little different in construction but works just as well. The midsole is cut out to provide transition and feel with dynamic movements, but inside that red foam is a serious shank plate that bends for nothing and no one. Even though that looks like the weak part of the shoe, it actually may be the strongest.

The midfoot saddle holds your foot over the shoe with no pinching or pain and works with the burrito tongue to eventually give you a locked-in fit, but again, be patient.
It’s crazy that I had never really given training shoes much thought until the last three years. Runners and lowtop basketball shoes always worked for me, and I wasn’t a novice in the gym or weight-room, but I just never saw the need. Now, with the advancement in workouts the equipment has followed bringing wider bases, stiffer cushioning, and all-terrain traction.

The Under Armour curry 6 fits perfectly into the category, providing excellent stability and support in a lightweight, well-built package. Give the upper time to form and you will be rewarded with a good fit as well. However, if you need a shoe for running and court work, there are better options out there.

For anyone needing an all-around shoe for the gym or training, the SpeedForm Amp 2.0 will fit your groove. Get carving!!!

LANE EIGHT Trainer AD 1 Performance Review

Every once in a while a company comes across our radar that just has it. You know, the design of the product is functional and clean, the technology fits the use, and the target audience just fits. These situations happen more when the owners and designers of said product care — about the shoes, about the consumer, and about themselves. So I put miles on the LANE EIGHT Trainer AD 1. Here we go…

The Trainer AD 1 uses what used to be a non-traditional traction pattern but one that is gaining popularity lately. The outsole is a solid piece of rubber covered in raised ovals from heel to toe of various shapes and sizes. The rubber itself isn’t very thick but with the added thickness of the ovals there is some depth to the pattern.

While the traction starts off solid it improves significantly once the surface of the ovals gets a little roughed up. It reminds me of the floor grips you put on the bottom of furniture — weird, I know, but it works the same way. So far, durability is no issue either; the rubber shows the roughing I just mentioned and is dirty but is still intact across the foot.

Unlike another brand using a similar pattern, LANE EIGHT’s Trainer AD 1 worked well in wet conditions. Going down a steep incline while running in the rain (almost six inches of rain in October in North Texas people) I had no worries of slips or falls. The weight room was the same thing; while not an ideal heavy squat and leg day trainer, the Trainer AD 1 worked well while under the leg press or doing calf raises.

If you haven’t guessed yet, Trainer AD 1 means “all day” and this starts at the midsole. LANE EIGHT is using a full-length E-TPU (expanded thermoplastic polyurethane) midsole and while the look is similar to adidas’ Boost and Puma’s NRGY the feel is way more like Bounce (you know, if I was comparing). The LANE EIGHT is using the same system of TPU pebbles heat-molded together into one piece, then encases them in a TPU midsole cage that covers the entire midsole.

When you take the insole out, you can see the internal pebbles and feel the cushioning compress and respond. This normally feels great, and it does in the Trainer AD 1, but the compression around the edges of the midsole is not very conducive to any sort of high-impact lifting. Underfoot you will get a semi-firm ride with a bit of bounce back.

While exercising, the cushioning does a fantastic job of bouncing back your steps and jumps without being overly fluffy. The caging keeps the outward expansion of the midsole in check so there is minimal lag time for response (think of air jordan). This is especially important coming down from jumps or when you have a squat bar on your shoulders — you do not want the Trainer AD 1 shifting sideways from compression with 400 lbs on you.

Also, the insole is made of the same pebbles set into a foam. You can feel the pebbles from the insole under your foot and it feels…weird. Good, but weird, although you get used to it after about five minutes of wear. Super-comfy and crazy functional, the Trainer AD 1 cushioning is serious.

The Trainer AD 1 runs a little narrow and long, which is a bit of a problem for me. I like about a thumbs-width space between the end of my big toe and the end of the shoe. In the U.S. size 11, I had about a thumb and a half. However, the width at the midfoot was perfect, so I don’t think I could size down and be okay.

The fit of the knit is so good there was no sliding at all once laced tight, so I could deal with a little extra length (cue Michael Scott). The lacing system looks like it would do nothing at all, with the knit upper being almost perfect in fit, but it actually does a great job of pulling the leather saddle up and around the heel and midfoot to cut off any movement in those areas.

Also, inside the heel, you won’t find a large heel cup, but one that only reaches about the height of the leather rand. The stretch-knit collar of the Trainer AD 1 and the padding inside the Achilles area lock in your foot and don’t allow for any up-and-down extra-curricular activity. Function over form, unless you can do both, and the Trainer AD 1 does.

A knit lowtop couldn’t possibly have good support…except the jordan debut does, in abundance. Starting with the midsole, we come back to the caging of the cushioning. The TPU cage is stiff, which leads to a slightly clunky feeling at first, but laterally it holds you in and stays stable. The perimeter of the midsole also rises above the edges of your feet and helps contain your foot as you move laterally.

Also found in the midsole/outsole is a forefoot outrigger, something rarely seen in a shoe of this type (trainer/runner). Coupled with the cage and the siderails, your feet aren’t going anywhere the shoe doesn’t go first. The lacing system works with the suede and heel to keep you locked in the midfoot, which keeps your foot upright.

Nike Zoom Freak 1 Performance Review

Buckle up folks because this is a fun, if not imperfect ride with the Zoom Freak 1.

So if you read my Price Is Right post, you’d know right off the bat that Nike’s cost more than other brands and by adding a freshly crowned MVP sig to a shoe you know that $120 is really about $110-100 shoe (think Run the one or Hyperchase or Hyperlive). Tuned out already? Well sometimes/usually a $100 shoe can outplay a more expensive shoe.

For $120 you get a very solid shoe that does everything well like its namesake…except shoot 3’s. You’ll get there Giannis….baby steps or in your case, giant baby steps? And I know it isn’t the shoes but damn I’ve been on a tear since I laced these up. #freakyindeed

Pros: traction on clean floors, decent after break in on dusty floors, smooth and low to the ground yet comfortable cushioning, decent Zoom in the heel, exceptional fit, very stable, containment

Cons: traction needs break in time still not quite top tier traction, cushioning is not ultra bouncy or exciting to play in, no midfoot shank

Buying advice: they will make a lot of these because budgety sig shoes outsell/ sell more than their pricier counterparts (Econ 101). And Nike likes that cheddar

Sizing : true to size

Best for: players who value court feel, definitely not for those wanting plush cushioning

Weight

13 ounces which is about average for non Adidas. . Most lows are around 13-14.5 while adidas averages 15-17 ounces.

Is it a low or a mid?

It’s pretty much the same height as the Kobe IV which is probably why it fits and feels so good for me. I took some comparison shots next to the Kobe IV and the PG 3(which it will get compared to most often due to the price). I consider these lows but a higher cut low which is the best of both worlds and helps with the fit in the heel.

I order mids typically but if the shoe fits well and I feel safe, I really don’t care what kind of cut it is. I rarely have any issues with Nike lows and these are no different thanks to the slightly higher height which puts the top eyelet in the right spot to pull my ankle and foot down and back.

Traction

I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out but I was pleased that they stuck pretty well after break in. The first few runs were on relatively clean floors so that let me break them in before taking on dustier floors and I had zero issues on clean or lightly dusty floors.

Moving vertically (downhill, straight), I had no issues partially because the solid portion of the outsole is on the medial side (inside) which is where the majority of your foot pressure when you’re moving forward and backward.

The solid parts of the outsole are soft and flexible which helps save the overall traction.

Lateral movements were fine as well after break in and if you really want to be anal, you can feel a slight slide sometimes on the translucent part until the solid portion catches. I don’t think the transluscent portion is overly sticky but the pattern itself is very firm and thick (that’s what she said) and doesn’t flex much (that’s what..). If you ID the Freak 1, and do a full solid outsole, I think the traction will improve a little but the firmness of the Rose area doesn’t really deflect or flex much.

Overall I think the traction is good overall, not the best ever, but I’m more than happy with it. It’s not a shoe I would be afraid to play with in dusty floors but I have other shoes that do a better job with dust if need be. Wiping is required on dustier to very dusty floors but I didn’t have major issues on less dusty or pristine floors at all.

Traction Comparison: PG3> Kobe IV > Freak

Cushioning

“Double stacked heel zoom in the heel”

Oooh that sounds so sexy and bouncy and fun like Kate Upton but in reality it just feels like a normal heel Zoom unit.

A teeny tiny bit of protrusion to force the Zoom unit to push up into the foot just a teeny tiny bit more

Thanks Fastpass

At 8mm thick, which is what you typically get in a full length Zoom unit, you get a decent Zoom feel but it’s so targeted and skinny relative to the entire heel that the the bounce isn’t overly pronounced even double stacked. Keep in mind, that a few millimeter of that 16.64mm is the Zoom housing so you’re pretty much at the same place as a regular Zoom unit. Most Zoom units, full length included, are wider so you can feel the Zoom on off center heel strikes. (A typical heel unit is 10-14mm and about 20-25% wider btw). Which would you rather have ? Twin beds stacked on top of each other or a fat California King? I like the bounce and feel of the Kobe IV heel which 14-15 mm as a single and the Pg 3 forefoot more.

The rest of the cushioning is just Phylon which is very similar to the Phylon on the HDX, PG and AD Exodus but sits lower than the others at around 20-22 mm based on my Frozen ruler estimations. I’d have to say of those three it feels most similar to the Exodus although I think the Exodus feels a touch thicker and springier overall and the heel feels springier as well. *Side note* I really wish that heel on the Exodus wasn’t so rounded for my tastes because I really liked playing in it but my luck and experience with rounded heels like that are no bueno.

You can see the non ortholite insole which Is just like the Kobe IV. I think the blue Ortholites are janky (thanks Steph) and too porous

Some people will be like ohh who plays on their heels ? They should have put Zoom in the forefoot for extra oomph. Truth be told it won’t add any oomph to your step or 2 inch vertical so don’t worry about it. Giannis wore the Kobe X a lot as well as the Exodus so I guess that’s just his preference and he does just fine in heel only set ups. It would have been more fun if they put Zoom in the heel and forefoot like the HD X but for a $120 MVP you gotta expect fewer bells and whistles.

Cushioning Plushness: PG3> Kobe IV> Freak

*This doesn’t mean any one is better it’s just a reference*

Fit

True to size, it’s so simple people

I bought true to size and half a size up and half a size up left me a full thumb nail lengthwise while TTS was a finger width which is what I expected. No issues width wise either true to size since the shoe isn’t ultra narrow and the upper isn’t constricting. If you got monsteroisly wide feet go up half a size up you still won’t get any heel slip you’ll just have a little extra length. Speaking of heel fit, the heel design just locks in your foot a lot like the Kobe IV which I love.

Overall I had the right amount of toe space, zero side to side movement and an awesome heel fit.

Well done Nike

Fit Comparison: Freak=Kobe IV> PG3

Materials

I don’t care about materials as I’ve noted many many times before and these are on par with a $100 Nike shoe or Kyrie. Nothing fancy just fuse mesh etc. These definitely have a Kyrie I vibe and look to them but they are not crispy cracker like.

Inside shot

It looks stiff but is very thin, pliable yet strong with no popping or weird hot spots.

This back design is nothing more than stitching and does nothing functionally #sigshoe101 detailing.

Not really sure what the logic is here. You either cover the toe with some fuse for protection or your don’t. Can’t put a condom on halfway..or can you ? New concept, Condom strips

If you’re a materials guy and want premium feeling or looking materials, this is not your shoe.

Support and stability

Although these are lows, the heel counter and fit are so good that they feel supportive. Zero issues with stability as well since they sit low and have a solid outrigger

There is no midfoot shank which is ok for some and a no no for others

I really doubt we’ll see Malcom Brogdon wearing these next season especially since he’s not on the Bucks anymore

The flexibility is something I noticed right away and as player who gets PF on occasion I was a bit wary but rather than complain about shoes and limit myself, I’ve been doing foot strengthening and calf/Achilles stretching to actually fix the root of the problem and not look or run around looking for a bandaid coverup. Given KD’s injury I suggest everyone to google Achilles and foot stretches and strengthening. Or just exercising in general.

Overall, no issues while playing although I think they could have firmed the shoe up a touch but hey I’m not Giannis.

Comparison: Kobe IV> PG3 > Freak

All are good overall but overly flexible midfoot puts the Freak at the bottom of support.

Containment

No issues here. Raised midsole and my own moniker “fly straps” help keep the foot in place. I wonder why Flywire was left off the Freak 1? Oh it doesn’t do anything that’s right.

Comparison: tie

Conclusion

I honestly wasn’t uber enthusiastic about lacing these up based on the cushioning when I was shooting around, but for the past two weeks, I’ve been playing lights out and moving like I was twenty one again. I know it isn’t the shoes but when you have games that bring back the fun or turn back the clock and the bucket looks like a swimming pool, you can’t help reaching for the shoes you were wearing those days. The mind is a powerful thing folks.

Personal anecdotes aside, the Freak 1 is a pretty good shoe (emphasis on pretty). I can feel and see a lot of similarities to Kobe’s throughout the design especially in the heel. And while there are aspects that feel the same, this feels more inline with a Mamba Instinct or Focus or Mamba #5. Aside from the fit and stability, The Freak 1 does nothing outstandingly well but that’s okay because it does everything well enough. Sneaker tech nerdists, you can have the most advanced tech in the world but it isn’t going to put the ball in the bucket or make your run faster or jump higher.

So who is the Freak 1 for?

If you want low to the ground cushioning with good traction, fit, stability and flexibility, this is your shoe. Even with its low to the ground cushioning, it’s one of those shoes you put on and forget about.

If you want more cushioning and plush feel, you’ll probably want to gravitate more toward the PG3. Great forefoot Zoom and traction really make it a great shoe…especially on sale.

If you want a little more midfoot support, the Kobe IV is the way to go. Similar set up to the Freak but a little stiffer overall with very similar properties and feel. Yea yea they said full length Zoom but then didn’t. Did it make you score fewer points ? Didn’t think so and it’s still my favorite this year. Discounts a plenty coming soon!

If you’re into only tech specs only don’t buy any of the above and buy Adidas instead because they are having some serious fire sales. Adidas is still the most bang for the buck in terms of tech to price ratio. I guess the Dame 5 at $115 would be a good comparison with similar budget materials, budgety but goodish feeling cushioning and good traction. But with Adidas discounts coming in hot every month, you can get two for the price of one.

At $120 isn’t the cheapest shoe out there at retail but it’s the cheapest retail priced MVP shoe you’ll find. $10 cheaper than the Curry VI and that sorry HOVR foam, $20 less than Harden V3, $30 less than KD 12 retail. I guess Nike is giving Giannis the summer slot since they moved KD wayyy back to April. I personally find the silhouette sexy as well. But like all general releases these will go on discounts just like every other shoe. $120–> $100-> $80->$60-50 range. Based on my wife knowledge test, Giannis is not a household name yet so don’t expect ball busting sales numbers quite yet especially for a team in Milwaukee. As I said above there are technically better options out the at $120 but I can’t say there are many better looking shoes out right now. Looks and an MVP co-sign will always sell more than any any tech shit sheet.The 2019-2020 season is going to be  sneakers included.

Overall, this is not the best shoe performance wise but results wise for me it has me giddy. However, I know results will vary so these get a second team rating due to so so cushioning and “could be better traction” on very dusty courts.

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 Performance Review

The Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 is now available. Last year, the 1st edition of the Pegasus Turbo won a ton of dedicated fans. Is the follow up worth your $180?

Super light shoes that can handle long distances are now a trend in the performance running category. Another example is the Reebok FloatRide Run Fast. These type of shoes are aimed at track/speed workouts and race days.

Last year, with the introduction of ZoomX in the Nike Zoom VaporFly 4%, Nike was able to shed a lot of weight and not compromise on cushion. The Nike Pegasus Turbo brought ZoomX, Nike’s lightest foam, to everyday training and the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 continues the tradition. We were able to test both the male and female models of the Pegasus Turbo 2. We ran a bunch of miles in them, relaced them, had conversations with other runners that use them, and even bled in them. So enjoy this one, cause we worked hard for it:
Jodi: This was my first experience with ZoomX foam and I gotta say, I like it. It makes for a fast and responsive shoe. When I go for a run, yes I have my watch tracking me because I enjoy collecting the data, but I don’t ever do speed training. I know my typical average pace, so I just pick a distance and head out. Time and time again, the air jordan 1 surprised me when I got back to my house. Each time, my brain exclaimed “yo girl that time was fast.” Some might call this a placebo effect, but in all honesty, I run because it’s a way of life for me. I love it and I do everything possible not to feel bogged down by it (which means I avoid speed work). So to see my times decrease naturally was really interesting. One note of caution though. The cushion gets very thin towards the toe area and any rogue rocks I encountered hurt like a mother.

Drew: The Pegasus Turbo 2 is so light that I didn’t expect the cushion to be this good. In hand, it doesn’t feel as substantial as everyday runners like the Salming Greyhound. But the cushion on the Turbo 2 works well. Several times, I ran 7+ miles in them and felt great the next day. While the cushion seems to scream “race day only,” the ZoomX is good enough for it to be used as an everyday runner. The only complaint I had was that the ZoomX doesn’t rebound as fast as other foams. The cushion needs a solid 48 hours recovery time before you can run in the shoes again. It’s generally recommended you use all foam cushioning systems every other day to assure the foam completely rebounds. With a lot of sneakers you can fudge a bit on that advice. With the Pegasus Turbo 2, I’d recommend that as a rule.

Jodi: For anyone who follows the WearTesters Instagram account, you already know, these are the shoes that made me bleed my own blood. I had plenty of people, including my own dad, make jokes about how grippy the traction must be. The traction IS solid, but it is in no way to blame for my inability to avoid a sandbag left in the middle of a sidewalk. Accidents happen right?

The traction is actually pretty interesting. Its a ton of mini pentagons all over the outsole, but only made out of rubber on the forefoot and heel. All the rest is left as foam, which cuts down on the weight. I ran on every surface I could find around my neighborhood and running trails, wet and dry, and never worried about slipping.

Drew: Who leaves a sandbag in the middle of a sidewalk? My conspiracy detector is beeping like crazy right now. Is another sneaker blog gunning for the WearTesters team? Hhmm. What was I doing? Oh, review. Where was I, yes, traction. Jodi pretty much said it all in regards to the traction’s performance. The only comment I have to add is about durability. I’m really grinding down the mini pentagons on the outsole and I don’t have confidence the outsole will make it to 300 miles on asphalt. Keep that in mind if the majority of your running is on roads or streets. I’ll probably keep these off to the side for races and rubber track speed workouts to preserve their lifespan.

Jodi: I feel the lockdown for this particular shoe is very interesting. It literally has double the amount of eyelets then any of my other current runners have. This is a shoe that does not want to give you up. Because of my foot shape, I didn’t utilize those extra eyelets and I noticed some heel slippage at the start of my runs, but it quickly became something I didn’t notice anymore. There is an internal heel counter and mini heel pillows built in to help out.

Drew: The lofted mesh upper features no flywire like last year’s model but the sidewalls are still surprisingly stiff. Maybe it was the double lace loop structure but I felt secure on top of the midsole. The TPU heel counter is hidden but super stiff. Your heel isn’t going anywhere. A shoe this light rarely if ever packs this much support. I really like what the design team did.

Jodi: The upper is made up of two very breathable layers of engineered mesh with a super stretchy tongue. And thanks to my lovely concrete swan dive I can tell you that it’s all super durable. The only part on my shoe that experienced any damage was the collar lining that ripped when I fell. There’s plastic underneath the eye stays to prevent ripping when tugging on the laces.

Drew: The collar feels a little cheap but the rest of the materials on the Pegasus Turbo 2 are what you’d expect on a runner that’s trying to be as light as possible. The thin, stretchy tongue is a premium touch. The lofted mesh and synthetic upper is light and airy but super strong. It’s minimal but your get materials commensurate with the type of shoe.

Jodi: Speaking of laces, I do not love them. For one, thanks to my wide, high arched feet, I needed to re-lace the shoes after my initial try on. They have double holes down both sides of the shoes, and when Nike sent them out all of the holes were being utilized. I decided to use only the inner holes so that I could have a little more wiggle room when it came to tying and then double knotting my laces. The lace holes are very sturdy and shaped in such a way that you can’t just rip the laces out. It’s a bit time consuming to lace them up. Once I finished the relace, I realized the laces do NOT stretch. So even if you double knot them, if they aren’t perfectly taught, there is a chance they’ll come loose. Even then, because they don’t stretch there can be some discomfort if you don’t tie them just right. Writing all that out has me sounding very much like Goldilocks (of Three Bears fame). My apologies. But if you’re a runner, you know. Anything that is mildly irritating at the beginning of a run becomes 10x more so as the run continues.

Drew: Jodi and I had different fit issues. For Jodi’s issue, Sneaker Debut follower Ben Johnson came to the same conclusion as her and relaced them while completely switching the laces to avoid having excess lace. The laces worked well enough for me in the initial configuration but the tongue kept sliding to the side (despite a mid-tongue lace stay). This is something that frustrates me and often causes me to kick shoes to the curb. Luckily, the Pegasus Turbo design team included a couple lace holes on the outside of the mid tongue that line up with the lace design. I undertook the painstaking relacing process and used one of those holes on the edge of the tongue. After that, no tongue slippage! It did cramp the stretchiness of the tongue a bit but it was worth it.

My biggest complaint in fit was the collar. Compared to the original Pegasus Turbo’s sculpted and padded collar, the Turbo 2 isn’t in the same league. While the collar features an elongated ankle pillow on each side of the foot (which were much appreciated), the overall collar was stiff and unforgiving. Wearing no shows with the Pegasus Turbo 2 is a no go. You’ll need running socks with a heel tab to avoid blisters.

Overall, I loved the forefoot and midfoot fit once the tongue slippage issue was fixed. It’s too bad the collar couldn’t quite complete the triple crown.

Jodi: Given my very rocky start with the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 I have to say I think it’s a fantastic runner. It’s an easy go to whether doing a mid week training run or my sacred Saturday long run. The only thing intimidating about it is the price.

Drew: The Pegasus Turbo 2 has small issues here and there but it won’t have trouble selling due to the legions of fans of the original. For me, I’m keeping the Pegasus Turbo 2 around as a speed and race day shoe. It’s also in the early lead for the shoe I’ll be wearing when I run a ½ marathon in December (this one, if you want to join me). It’s a hard sell at $180 but if you’ve got the budget for multiple targeted running shoes, you should certainly be trying on and considering the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2.

Salming Greyhound Performance Review

The Salming Greyhound is the flagship running shoe from a Swedish brand originally founded by an ice-hockey player. Salming focuses on floorball, handball, and running. I was told they make world class handball equipment so let’s see what they can do with running shoes.

We got introduced to the Salming brand recently when one of their employees reached out. He explained that he loved our reviews and wanted us to try Salming. Pretty soon we had the Salming Greyhound in hand. We tested them from the male and female perspective. Each of us ran 60+ miles in them and wore them in a variety of other circumstances such as weight lifting and every day casual wear.

Jodi: The real winner here is the cushion. Salming calls its midsole foam Recoil PLUS. According to their website, it’s the company’s most reactive cushioning compound and offers 20% more energy return. This being my first experience with the brand, I can’t tell you how it compares to the old stuff. I can tell you that the cushion is ridiculously comfortable without being overly mushy. I might even say I enjoyed it more than Jordan 13 Lakers. *gasp*

Drew: This was the biggest, most pleasant surprise of the year for me. A lot of companies say their running shoes are built for hard-surface running. Very few actually deliver a shoe that makes sidewalk and city running feel like running on a rubber track. Recoil PLUS easily stands alongside React and Boost as the best foam cushions on the market. The day after long runs my feet, ankles, knees, and back felt great. This is the #1 feature on the Greyhound. Recoil PLUS foam provides one of the best cushioned rides money can buy.
Jodi: At first glance, the traction looked questionable. It turned out to be solid. It’s almost completely flat with minimal cutouts located mostly where your foot flexes in the forefoot. I found that when I would run across wet pavement those cutouts became almost like suction cups. Super grippy and secure.

Drew: Salming’s use of a Vibram outsole paid big dividends. Jodi’s right, it doesn’t look like much, but it does its job well. The Vibram rubber compound is super grippy. It uses the cutouts (that on most shoes are only for foam expansion) as an integral part of the traction pattern. I ran in the rain, on sand, roads, trails, and slippery concrete without any issues. And the outsole barely looks used after 60+ miles. It’s built to last. I hope Nike and Adidas are taking notes.
Jodi: There’s an internal heel counter with plenty of padding that wraps nicely around your heel. Other then that, the rest of the support comes from the upper material.

Drew: The generous and stiff heel counter does a good job. Almost too good. It took a couple runs for the heel area on my right foot to get pliable enough to stop digging into my achilles. Nothing socks with a heel tab couldn’t fix, but they definitely erred on the side of keeping that heel area super stiff. I imagine this was done to balance out the extremely elastic cushion of the midsole. The upper kept my foot on top of the midsole and maintained its structure even as flexibility increased over time.
Jodi: The upper is built by turning 3 layers into one piece. This creates an interesting shell that doesn’t really stretch. I found this out the hard way on my first run. I wore socks that were too thick and that poor choice caused my wide feet to suffocate a bit as the swelling kicked in. Since then, I’ve used only my thinnest running socks and I’ve had zero complaints. Well almost. I received the white colorway. You can actually see where my sweat has discolored the shoe (mainly in the creases). Actually, I’m surprised by how much discoloration has occurred. The shoe is super ventilated with holes upon holes upon holes. Even the tongue and insole have been punctured. With all that free air conditioning I’m getting, why are my feet still so dang sweaty?

Drew: I have the same question as Jodi, how does foam sandwiched between two layers of mesh restrict airflow so much? I live in Florida and sweat is a way of life. The Greyhound though, took it to a whole new level. Anything longer than 4 miles meant my socks and even the insole were soaked.
There’s also an unnecessary fuse top cap. Toe caps like this appear often in basketball shoes for durability. On a running shoe…I have no idea why it’s there. There’s not an efficient runner alive that drags their toes while they run. My best guess is that it helps the toebox maintain its shape.

Listen, the Greyhound’s upper still does the job. If you’re in a more moderate climate you won’t even notice the lack of airflow. In a perfect world, I’d want a more flexible upper attached to the great midsole/outsole combo. Hopefully, Salming’s design team can make that happen next year with the follow up model.
Jodi: As far as fit goes, I kind of covered it when discussing materials. This shoe is built like a traditional runner. I couldn’t just jam my feet in there like a slip on. I should also note that I have a wide foot, high arch situation. So finding that perfect fit in a shoe isn’t always easy, hence the sock debacle in my initial test run. Once I figured out what socks I should wear to give me enough wiggle room, I was golden. The forefoot area had plenty of space for my feet to spread out, and I actually found there was some volume in the toe box above my foot.

Drew: The upper’s stiffness works really well for support but I think some runners will feel the Salming Greyhound is too stiff. For me, the Greyhound ended up getting some nice flex grooves on the upper that have made it much more comfortable over time. Think about how much flexibility you need from a shoe before you buy the Greyhound. If you only run in knits, the Greyhound may not be for you. The Greyhound’s upper is similar to the upper found on the Brooks Beast ‘18.

Apart from the stiff upper, the shoe feels very traditional with a nice wide toe box and a standard lacing system. It fits true to size and even has nice touches like pull tabs on the heel and tongue to help you slide into the shoe.
Jodi: Honestly I love this shoe. It’s definitely in my current top three. You do need to keep in mind that this shoe is tailor-made to be a road warrior. They put everything they have into making this a comfortable ride when pounding the streets. I wouldn’t pick it to go on a trail run. I’d be worried about the cushion being a little bit too plush and rolling an ankle. But, if you’re like me and you find yourself running primarily on asphalt and concrete, I’d recommend these in a heartbeat.

Drew: If you’re doing a lot of mileage on concrete or asphalt, the Salming Greyhound is a great shoe to have in your closet. The price tag is what you’d expect from a shoe of this type. The plush midsole with Recoil PLUS cushioning and the Vibram outsole make this a big winner in urban environments. It’s durable from top to bottom and will last 300-500 miles. For me, this was a great introduction to Salming and now I’m looking forward to checking out their entire running line.Salming Greyhound

adidas DON Issue 1 Performance Review

Does adidas and Donovan Mitchell stick the landing with the D.O.N. Issue 1?

Traction looked like it was going to do well, but my experience was one of the most disappointing I’ve had thus far in 2019.

One thing to note is that nearly everyone I’ve spoken to, or read comments from, that has been playing in the air jordan has loved the traction… except me. I’m not sure if the rubber on my pair is poor, the floors I play on are worse than I thought, or, perhaps something else entirely. However, in cases like this, I’d listen to the majority versus the minority. If there are 20 people giving their thoughts on the D.O.N. Issue 1 and 19 of them are saying the traction is good, then the traction is likely going to be good. In my case, I am just here telling you my experience, and that was that the traction is the one area of the shoe I didn’t care for.

Now, they’re not horrible in terms of coverage, but I just had too much slipping. Especially when I needed the traction the most. I’d be wiping the outsoles every chance I had and when I wouldn’t have an opportunity to wipe that’s when I’d end up sliding out.
If I were to blame anything for causing the issue it’d be the herringbone pattern being a bit too tightly spaced together. Anything on the floor found its way into the grooves on the sole and that’s what would cause me to wipe so frequently. It could also be the rubber compound as the shoe just lacked that tacky bite that a lot of shoes offer when they’re on a clean surface. These, even when on a clean surface, these just didn’t have the bite that I enjoy.

Again, this is my experience. I understand that it may be different than everyone else’s, but all I can do is express my experience and no-one else’s. I can’t get myself to lie just because the masses have experienced great traction. Even some of our other WearTesters members have been loving the traction. I wish I was able to say the same, but I cannot, unfortunately.
I know that Boost is life, but I really like Bounce. Like, I really like Bounce.

To my surprise, I found the D.O.N. Issue 1 to be one of the most comfortable iterations of Bounce I’ve experienced. It wasn’t too thick. Nor was it too thin. It felt like the perfect amount of “bounce” along with court feel and stability. Every time I wear them my first initial thought is always, “hot damn, these are comfortable.” Every. Single. Time.

If you like court feel and stability, but you don’t want to give up any of that plush feel under-foot then you may want to consider trying the D.O.N. Issue 1 out. They really are a well rounded shoe in terms of comfort & impact protection without sacrificing stability and court feel.
Textiles and mesh are the primary material options for most of the colorways, while some will feature synthetic leather. If you wanted a bit more support from the materials themselves then opting for a pair with the synthetic leather build will be your best option. Personally, I found the textile and mesh build to be perfectly fine.

This setup requires very little break-in time while still remaining snug and supportive once laced up. There is a layer of nylon and neoprene under the main build so the upper should be fairly durable and resilient against stretching.

The midsole shape and sculpting does most of the heavy lifting in terms of supporting and caging the foot upon movements so you shouldn’t be having any regretful feelings if you happen to go with one of the textile versions of the shoe instead of the synthetic leather versions. Obviously, it comes down to preferences, but I think most will enjoy these just the way they are.
I found the D.O.N. Issue 1 to fit true to size. I do have another pair that are 1/2 size smaller than my usual true size because I wasn’t sure what these would fit like when I bought them, but going with my true size was what offered me my ideal fit. Going down 1/2 size still offered just enough length in the toe for my liking (I tend to like a snug fit) but the midfoot was a bit too tight and cramped. Try them on in-store if possible, just to be safe, but going true to size is what worked best for me.

Lockdown is perfect. I know the ankle collar looks really low while the rest of the shoe looks bulky and exaggerated, but the fit/lockdown I found to be amazing. Astonishing. Spectacular. Thwip. Thwip. Quip. Quip.
Support, like a many of adidas’ current basketball line, is very good. The base of the shoe is flat and super wide/exaggerated, but almost has an old FYW feel to them. So they move well with the foot despite the bulkiness. The midsole sculpting, as mentioned above, really cups and cages your foot in place. Lateral coverage. Linear coverage. Torsional coverage. It’s all there and ready for action.

I actually loved the D.O.N. Issue 1 with the exception of the traction. Yes, I have thought about trying out the other pair I have to see if maybe the one pair I’ve been using is somehow defective, but I don’t think it’s that important. Again, if the masses are saying they’ve had good traction then your chances of having good traction are pretty high. Plus, I am keeping the extra pair to give away to one of our Gold Team members within our Discord community.

I will say that I enjoyed the shoe a lot outdoors. No slipping or anything, so I may end up using these as my outdoor hoop shoe. They’re fairly light, breathable, and have a lot of stability — a feature I’ve come to love in my basketball shoes.

Despite my traction issues, I think the rest of the shoe has a lot of great attributes along with a reasonable initial retail price. If you happen to try them our yourself and wind up having good to great traction then I think you’ll have found yourself a really awesome basketball shoe.

Nike Kyrie Low 2 Performance Reviews

Sparking his interest upon first look, Jalique Gabay weighs in on the Nike Kyrie Low 2.

I don’t want to make a habit of naming traction patterns but when it comes to naming these nubs, I’ll go with The Starry Night. The swirls emulate multiple pivot points which I personally didn’t find useful, but I can appreciate the coverage in all directions.

Performance is silent, but solid. No bark, but real bite. Though you won’t hear the rubber doing its job against the floor, it is doing what it’s supposed to. Wiping during games was no more frequent than the average sneaker for me and it only took a light wipe to keep me feeling secure for quite some time.

The nubs held up surprisingly well given the rubber is so soft, but I still wouldn’t recommen

Comfort in a sneaker is an all-around effort, but the first place I personally seek comfort is underfoot — that was probably my least favorite part of this low top. Don’t get me wrong, the cushion is tolerable – I lasted all day in some rigorous activities both on and off court and never was in a rush to take them off. The Phylon used isn’t as light or soft as some recent performers from Nike and Jordan but it is certainly more forgiving than past Kyrie models — in my opinion.

My real desire would be some consistency with the Zoom units in both the heel and forefoot. Up front, I broke my pair in enough to know there is something there but honestly, I find it underwhelming. The heel Zoom, on the other hand, has been great from start to finish but even then, I felt some discrepancy between my right and left foot.

I do have significant differences physically between each foot — and I have felt the effects of that in shoes before, but nothing like this. In my left heel, the Zoom unit is noticeable, but the right side is bouncy to the point it feels like an unlocked unit is there. I know that’s a weird thing to complain about, but it really messed with me mentally. Hopefully its just a one-off thing that doesn’t affect anyone else who wears the Kyrie Low 2. On the plus side, most considering this model are probably expecting responsiveness, and you definitely get plenty of that. Also, you do get some impact protection, even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.

The upper is comprised of a textile that balances just about everything you would like or expect in materials for a basketball sneaker. It is supportive, yet flexible and holds up well through the rigors we know hoop shoes can be put through. Did I mention that even with all the overlays, hardly any break-in is needed.

Though I’m still yet to decide on how necessary some of the TPU and other plastic overlays are, the truth is they only really added to the durability and support of the sneaker and didn’t really take anything important away, so I count it as another strong aspect of the shoe.

Man, I loved the fit of the Kyrie Low, especially after a minimal break-in. It does run snug but otherwise near one-to-one except for no wiggle room over the big-toe which I where have preferred a little bit. Otherwise, these Kyrie’s are near perfect for my feet. For those with wider feet, I say go ahead and see how a half size up feels – these are now on shelves in quite a few places in my area, which is not usually the case (I don’t even recall seeing the original Kyrie Low as often as I have seen this one already).

This is a darn stable low and I really don’t have any negatives to speak of. The TPU panels added security, the base is wide enough while still feeling minimal, and I had no significant issues with heel slip.

In my experience with Kyrie signatures, this has always been a strong point with the line despite the various rounded outsoles you’ll find in them. Granted, I play a very linear style (working on diversifying my game a bit), but still, the Kyrie Low 2 should bring you peace of mind.

Out of the Kyrie 2, 3, 4, and now the Low 2 I’ve played in, I’m willing to say the last is my favorite. It simply checks the most boxes for someone like me, even in the cushion department which is not the Kyrie Low 2’s strong point.

At a retail of $110 the nike freak 1 is on point and plenty should enjoy a lot about it, especially guards that may not seek a substantial amount of impact protection over quickness. Even though I love a good cushion, I still wouldn’t mind recommending the model to anyone with it on their radar.

adidas Harden B/E 3 Performance Review

Full disclosure, this adidas Harden B/E 3 pair didn’t make it as far other sneakers in testing, but far enough to come to a fair conclusion. So, what happened exactly?

Different variations of herringbone throughout is great, but the semi-translucent rubber of the colorway tested did no favors for traction. On clean floors, the positive results were consistent, however, if any dirt or dust is present expect to wipe frequently because it will accumulate quickly.

A solid rubber colorway may alleviate the issue, but from what I experienced, it just wasn’t great. From a durability perspective, the fraying process didn’t take long at all, so I’m not sold on it for outdoor use.

The Harden B/E 3 comes with a hefty slab of Bounce which wasn’t the greatest implementation of the foam, but at the same time it’s the shoe’s strongest feature — in my experience. It doesn’t provide a ton of rebound, but it also isn’t mushy so response doesn’t suffer. In transition, Bounce always seems to provide smooth transition for me and this FTW-esque tooling only made it better. For such a puffy looking base, mobility was not an issue at all.

It was hard to love the upper of the Harden B/E 3. On the back half, you have a huge panel for hook and loop on the lateral side along with some sort of screened textile on the medial panel. Up front is more of an open-cell-like mesh covered by a very stretchy textile shroud.

This all resulted in good heel containment, but hardly any from midfoot forward. I recall comments stating the B/E 3’s resemblance to house shoes (or Deebo slippers, as we called them growing up around my way) and that’s exactly how it felt up front. They’re hella soft and comfortable, but not really reasonable for the sport they were made for.

Oh yeah, these get hot as hell under the shroud, just like rocking Deebo slippers outside in the summer would.

Side note — Doesn’t the toe down of this colorway look like Venom just straight sat on Spider Man for no good reason? Okay, I’m sorry…

Because of the lack of structure up front, trying the B/E 3 true to size was a joke. I immediately asked for a half-size down, then even tried to check out a whole size down, but none were available at the time. I ended up going with the half down and still needed to stack a second set of insoles to get a better fit which did work a bit, but not enough unfortunately.

Getting good lockdown was a task with the lacing system. Not only do you have the shroud’s elastic band to combat and get under, once you lace up further you then have a strap to keep out of the way to finish up adjustments.

Overall fit was just bad from the get go, and the air jordan  gets in its own way towards making it any better.

Questionable material choice and bad fit/lockdown – you know where this is going. I will say the back half of the shoe was secure as far as keeping the heel in place (partially due to the strap system, but it was the opposite of what the front half provided. For a sport you should play on the forefoot near all the time, it sure wasn’t something I felt at ease doing with the lack of structure up front.

Strange enough, the midsole itself provides more stability on the medial side to me, and regardless you sit atop all of it without good caging or some kind of reinforcement. I still did my best to make it work but a few too many close calls coming off the footbed and things were never the same for me. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt and I’m not necessarily putting the “dangerous” stamp on this pair – but from that point the lack of security in the shoe became too limiting.

Again, I didn’t put the same amount of time into testing the nike freak 1 as I typically would, but the fact is the little good in the shoe wasn’t going to change drastically and the negatives were surely not going to get any better at the point of testing.

Aesthetically, these weren’t turning many heads in a positive way and, unfortunately, I wouldn’t suggest performance to be a saving grace for the adidas Harden B/E 3. Though $100 is more pocket-friendly than many, there are other pairs around the price point that just will perform better, including some options I’ve already moved on to…