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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…

Nike Free RN 5.0 Performance Review

This year’s Nike Free RN 5.0 is a significant departure from the Nike Free RN 2018. It’s still made for shorter runs but this year’s updates have made it a better all around tool for your shorter runs and gym workouts.

First, an upfront clarification. This is not an everyday runner. Anyone using it as an everyday runner will hate running and probably end up injured. However, it’s great shoe to have in your running arsenal. It’s built to deliver natural motion on low mileage, sprint heavy days. And if you’re using it on a rubber track, beach, artificial turf, or grass you’ll really like the Free RN 5.0’s flexibility and close-to-the-ground feel.

We had a chance to review the Nike Free RN 5.0 from both the female and male perspective and will include both opinions below. We each put 25+ miles in them and wore them in a variety of other circumstances such as weight lifting and every day casual wear. Heel to toe drop is 6mm (14mm forefoot, 20mm heel).

Jodi’s take: They aren’t a shoe I can do long distances in due to the fact there is zero cushion. 4 miles and under is their sweet spot. As someone who has been running for over 10 years now, I see the shoes in my rotation more as tools. I used the Free RN 5.0 as my shoe for those days where I wanted to make sure I didn’t over do it.

Drew’s take: The product description on Nike’s website says “Low foam density lets your foot feel connected to the ground.” I agree that 1) my foot felt connected to the ground and 2) there is foam. But…it doesn’t feel low density. The foam has very little give and feels denser than the 2017 and 2018 Free 5.0s. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means you’ll want to use these on softer surfaces. My beach runs in these were awesome, my runs on concrete not so much. You need a softer, more forgiving surface to balance out the lack of cushion. If you’ve got that, you’re good. If it’s only city pavement for your runs, I’d suggest a different shoe.
Jodi: The Free RN 5.0 has a strong water shoe vibe. The upper is almost suffocating when I pull them on each time. I thought it was weird that the 3.0 version doesn’t have any laces at all, but after wearing the 5.0 I can attest that the shoes really don’t need laces. I haven’t had to retie them once since the initial wear (something I always appreciate). Once I get going they feel like a second skin. The only thing I don’t like about the upper is the fuse line along the heel that serves as a sort of heel cup. It gives the back of my foot a weird pressure as I’m getting ready to head out the door. Luckily it disappears completely once I’m running but I would never want to wear them casually.

Drew: My foot is narrow so I don’t get the suffocating feeling the Jodi gets when wearing the Free RN 5.0. I’ve worn them multiple times casually and haven’t had any irritation. I didn’t like going sockless in them but the super low no shows (such as these from Strideline) work well and those are the socks I rock while lifting. Just like Jodi, I’ve been able to avoid messing with the laces ever since I tied them the first time. At this point, they’re extremely well-fitting slip-ons. Which, let’s be honest, is a cool side benefit. Having no heel counter makes the back of shoe look weird (as does the overextended heel of the sole) but it doesn’t make any functional difference. They do have achilles pillows, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a first for the Free line.

Jodi: While I don’t love the look, the way they have rounded everything under and around your foot so it really feels like you are running with no shoes is really neat. You can literally roll the shoe into a ball. Looking at the wear on the outsole, I can see that it helps me land further back in my stride. I still get that forefoot landing, but (maybe because of the non-existent cushioning) my body/feet are disbursing the load more.

Drew: There’s no legitimate support from the upper. The support is entirely handled by the exaggerated and rounded lines of the sole. It’s good for straight line running and provides a stable base for squats and deadlifts. If you take these trail running you’re begging for a fat, black and blue sprained ankle.
Jodi: Traction isn’t an issue. I’ve run thru a bunch of sprinklers trying to keep cool. Going from dry pavement to wet grass and back hasn’t been a problem.

Drew: Hold on. Give me a second to finish laughing about the mental image I have of people looking out their windows just to see Mrs. Wing charging through their sprinklers. If you’re in the greater Sacramento area, keep an eye on your front lawn when those sprinklers are going. You never know what you might see. Ok, I think I’m good. Back to the review. Per usual, Nike freak 1 foam sole grips just fine across various surfaces. There is a change in the flex grooves this year. For the most part they’re super tight and several don’t go very deep. I didn’t get any big rocks in them like in year’s past (smh remembering the Free Run 2). The little rubber pieces at the big toe and outside heel don’t do much of anything although they should theoretically improve durability. As with any foam-bottomed sneaker, you won’t be getting 300-500 miles out of them before they break down. But again, if you’re putting that much distance on them you’re asking for an injury so keep them for 150-200 miles worth of (short) runs and you’ll get your money’s worth.
Jodi: It’s mesh, cloth, fuse, and foam. The materials serve their purpose by disappearing while you run.

Drew: A stretchy mesh is the base of the entire upper. I’d like to see them use it on more runners because it’s got a nice feel to it. The shoe gets “support” from synthetic suede overlays that feel like felt. The synthetic suede overlays cap the end of the toe and are placed at all the high wear areas. There are various pieces of fuse which seem to be largely used to hold the pieces of the shoe together. Well, except for a superfluous piece covering the inside of the big toe. That one looks cool but it’s not doing anything functional.
Jodi: The Free line has come a long way since I first tried them 7 years ago. Or maybe my line of thinking about them has changed. Instead of purchasing a running shoe to be my one and only runner for the next 6 months, I now have a small rotation. I have my shoe for when I feel light and springy, a shoe that is great for long runs, and another that I know is Mr. Reliable. And now I have the Free that I use to help keep me in check. I use it for the days that I still want to get a run in, but want to make sure I don’t get carried away and rack up the miles.

Drew: The bottom line is that the Nike Free RN 5.0 is a perfect sprinting and weightlifting shoe. You’d mess them up doing some of the rugged CrossFit type exercises but they can handle anything else in the gym. You’d hate them for trail or long runs, but on the track, beach, or treadmill they’re exactly what you need. I like the hardly there feel and that you’re forced to use your stabilizer muscles. Also, since a lot of people don’t like the look (personally I don’t mind it), the Nike Free RN 5.0 is going to get discounted and be a great pickup for 25-50% off.

Nike Zoom Freak 1 Performance Review

It’s not the worst traction, but it’s also not the best. When I play in shoes like this the best term I can use to describe it is inconsistent.

Sometimes the traction was good. Like, very good. Other times I’d be spending more time wiping my outsoles than playing the game. What made them inconsistent is that these situations would happen on every court I played on. They’d work well on some dirty floors, then poorly on other dirty floors. Great on some clean floors, then poorly on other clean floors. It was a guessing game each night as to what type of coverage I would receive out of the shoe and for that I just feel the shoe could’ve, and should’ve done better.

In an age when we have performance reviews on 20 year old basketball shoes that out-perform modern day basketball shoes it leaves one scratching their head as to how they could have gotten things so right before and so… inconsistent — as time moves on.

Obviously, I’d recommend going with a pair of the Zoom Freak 1s that offer solid rubber throughout. Unfortunately, most of the cool colorways will be using the translucent/solid rubber combination.

The cushion setup is strange for a larger player as the Zoom Freak 1 setup offers no cushion in the forefoot while the heel is double-stacked Zoom Air — the rectangle style Zoom Air.

It would have made more sense to have placed one Zoom unit in the forefoot and one in the heel rather than stacking the two in the rear, but that is from a consumer perspective and not the player’s perspective. Giannis wears Kobe’s and seems to favor court feel over cushion. His signature Zoom Freak 1 is setup just like that. Court feel in front and a bit of cushion in the back.

They feel more like a guard shoe rather than a big man shoe, and that seems to prove my theory that there are no shoes made for positions (anymore). It’s mostly about player preference. Each player is different and their preferences might differ as well. A big man that moves like Shaq may want more cushion than court feel, while a big man like Giannis may be a bit thinner in terms of build thus prefers court feel.

Whatever the player’s reason is for having his/her own preferences on the court aren’t important. Its more about knowing what your preferences are that matters. You’re likely here because you want to know if this shoe will meet your needs on the court and not Giannis’ needs.

If you need/prefer court feel then this is a shoe that will give you that. If you want something that is a bit more balanced from heel to toe in terms of cushion and court feel then there are some better options out there that will provide that for you.

Despite someone’s preferences, I feel the price should really reflect what is in the shoe rather than who’s name is attached to the shoe. Giannis is a great player, and current NBA MVP, but $120 for this setup is just too much. $80-110 would have been a bit more reasonable for what you’re getting.

We’ve been seeing this same textile material used across multiple Nike Basketball models. From the Nike Kyrie Low 2 to the Nike LeBron 16 Low.

It’s been durable with each shoe it’s been used on and requires little-to-no break-in time. While it’s not premium in any way, it works well and gets the job done. It does so while being very lightweight, so if weight reduction in your footwear is important to you then you may want to look at the models I’ve mentioned that offer the material.

The Nike Zoom Freak 1 fits true to size, but very snug both length wise and width wise. I’d highly recommend trying these on in-store just to make sure they offer the wiggle room you prefer.

Personally, I like my shoes pretty tight as it is and these give me just that. They’re a bit tighter than I’d like to start but once they’re broken in they fit like a glove. In the video review I compared them a bit to the Nike Zoom Kobe 6. The more I wore those the better they ended up feeling, and that’s how I felt here. Although, I do feel the heel portion on the Zoom Freak 1 is a bit better overall in terms of containment and lockdown.

Support for the Zoom Freak 1 is solid. Not outstanding, but it is solid.

The midsole sculpt keeps your foot on the footbed — which is exactly where you want it. The fit aids in that as well and with them being as snug/secure as they are I had no issued at all. The base is nice and flat while they offer a small outrigger. This area didn’t promote quite as much stability as something like the adidas D.O.N. Issue 1 or Dame 5, but each of those have an much more exaggerated base, and some may find those models to be a bit on the clunky/chunky side in terms of stability. The Zoom Freak 1 was more like the KD12 where the shoe is shaped more like a foot, but has just enough width to add some stability into the mix.

There is a bit of drama regarding the lack of a shank plate, but setups like this that have a solid flat platform from heel to toe don’t always require one. We’ve seen setups like this many times from Nike, and other brands, and it rarely causes any issues. The one time where there was an issue was with the Air Jordan XX8 as the decoupled midsole setup had some heavier players arches begin to fall at the midfoot. That is where the tendril on the Air Jordan XX9 came into play as it prevented the arch from falling while still offering the wearer the mobility that a decoupled setup brings. When you have a shoe with flat tooling like this the weight of the wearer cannot collapse the midfoot since it already rests on the floor. This specific tooling setup also has a lot of rubber wrapping around the medial and lateral side preventing the foot from over-twisting — similar to the KD12.

The issue of the Zoom Freak 1 lacking a shank plate is really a non-issue. If the midfoot was sculpted in a way where there was an arch in the shoe then yes, they’d need a shank to prevent the midfoot from collapsing. In this case, however, most players should be fine.

The Nike Zoom Freak 1 is a good shoe, but I don’t find them to be a great shoe. One-to-one fit and court feel are its best attributes and if those are the two most important aspects of a basketball shoe for you then you may end up loving these.

Personally, I don’t mind the court feel and I loved the fit. But good traction is something I really want in a shoe. I feel great traction gives you a bit more confidence in your movements.

Nike has put themselves in a tight spot. They have so many models at varying prices. Some offering more for less. Consumers will begin, and have been, comparing each model, its tech specs and their prices to one another. Then they’ll get confused as to why Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Zer0.1 retailed at $120 and offered full-length Zoom Air while the Freak 1 barely has any cushion at all.

At this point it should come down to preference. Make sure you know what you want in a basketball shoe. Then apply the information provided within reviews to sift through the dozens of options available each year to ensure you’re choosing the right shoe for you. Or you can just try everything and see what you like.

I hope our Nike Zoom Freak 1 performance review helped you out and if you end up with a pair I’d love to know your thoughts based on your experiences in the comment section below.

Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 Performance Review

Nike improved a classic model by going next-level with the cushioning. Read on for our Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 Performance Review.

Someone at Nike must have sat down and thought, how do I pack as much cushioning as possible into one of our classic running shoes? There’s no other way to explain the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14. I’m glad this theoretical Nike employee ended up pairing React with a full-length Zoom Air unit because it results in a wonderful running experience for your feet, ankles, knees, and back.

For this review, I ran over 100 miles in the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14, including a 10k race through downtown Orlando. Let’s review how the Jordan shoes performed over all those miles…

As I mentioned above, the cushion setup is wonderful. Super soft landings every time. Bouncy React surrounding the pillow-like Zoom Air bag. Although my experience was great, I did experience some unevenness with the foam in my right forefoot on the initial few wears. This was echoed by Instagram DMs from readers who experienced the same with their pairs. Essentially, the React seemed to pile up right around the front end of the full-length Zoom bag. It felt like three or four small bumps under my middle toes. It was annoying, but it dissipated 2 miles into each run. The bumps returned for the first five or so runs in the shoes but always went away as the shoes heated up (as weird as that sounds). After those first five runs, the bumps went away completely. Not everyone I talked with experienced this issue, but if you’re trying it on in store, you’ll want to make sure your pair doesn’t have that issue. I’m fairly confident that even if your pair has the issue, it will go away, but it’s better not to have to deal with it.

It’s a fairly standard fit for Nike running shoes. True to size with sufficient room in the toe box for toe spreading, then narrowing through the midfoot and heel. The heel features two nicely sized achilles pillows. The rear collar of the shoe flairs out to (1) avoid any blistering due to seams along the collar and (2) look trendy because flaring out the rear shoe collar is super-in right now (not that I or anyone here at WearTesters minds when something that is performance oriented is fashionable — that’s actually the best-case scenario for us). The tongue is thin but cushioned enough that you shouldn’t feel any lace pressure. The laces are a rougher fabric that stays tied, but it makes tightening the laces a bit of a pain. They’re not the stretchy laces that have become more popular on running models. I would’ve preferred those laces on these shoes. The lacing system itself is Dynamic Fit. Your midfoot is secured from the connection of the lacing system to the midsole. It’s that hug that Dynamic Fit has provided since Nike first began using it 5–6 years ago. The mesh upper stretches a bit, so wide footers should feel confident in getting their normal size. Offset is on the high side, similar to most Nike runners, at 10mm. You’ll sit at 22mm in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot.

A standard internal heel counter is included, but the real source of the support is sitting slightly below the top of the React midsole carrier. The midsole wraps up in three places: the medial, lateral, and back sides of the heel. Basically, your heels sits inside a three-sided roll cage that keeps you upright on uneven ground. Combine that with a widened base on both the lateral and medial side of the forefoot and you get better support than most neutral-cushioned running shoes. I think they increased the support in case the React/Zoom Air cushioning combo was too soft for some runners. Whatever the reason, you get more support than usual.

The divided outsole features a repeating hexagon pattern below the inside of your foot and a parallel-line pattern along the lateral side. The two sides of the outsole are separated by a large flex groove that allows the React to expand on every footfall and gives the wearer a lot of flexibility that’s useful on trail runs and other uneven terrains like cobblestone. The rubber on the lateral side is fairly stiff. Even after almost 100 miles it’s not breaking down very much. It’s also reinforced near the heel to up the durability for all the heel strikers. The hexagonal pattern on the inside of the foot is made with a softer rubber, but each hexagon is fairly thick. I’ve worn about 1/3 of the way through with almost 100 miles of running and a bunch of walking on asphalt and concrete. The hexagons do really well gripping the pavement and multiple runs in driving rainstorms didn’t change that. Slippage was nonexistent and I had secure footing amid a lot of water.

Mesh everything. It’s the number one material in the running world and the Nike Zoom Freak 1 doesn’t stray from the formula. The mesh is much finer and not as open-celled as a lot of running shoes on the market. The finer mesh provides a cleaner, silkier upper while still offering a solid amount of breathability. The upper is seamless, which severely reduces the likelihood of hot spots. The materials are made for step-in comfort. If putting them on and immediately being able to run 5+ miles was the target, Nike nailed it.

At $140, the Vomero 14 brings the best cushioning in Nike’s running line and firmly competes with running classics like Mizuno Wave Inspire, Asics Gel Nimbus, and Brooks Glycerin. The Vomero 14 features an impressive cushioning setup. If your decision for your everyday running shoe places a high premium on cushioning, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 should be on your short list of candidates.

Jordan 2X3 Performance Review

Another surprise from Jordan Brand. The Jordan 2X3 performance review is up next.

The traction and midsole tooling was taken directly from the Jordan Jumpman Hustle, a model I enjoyed, but didn’t love. Not due to the tooling, it was more the upper that I wasn’t in love with performance wise — I loved how those look aesthetically. However, the traction on this pair of Jordan 2X3 features solid rubber, something that ended up making a pretty big difference compared to the translucent rubber outsole that was on my pair of the Jumpman Hustle.

While the Hustle’s didn’t have bad traction, it was actually very good, but the bite that I get out of this pair is just better. Seeing as how the outsole is the exact same on both models the only thing I can point at that is definitively different between the two is the rubber compound itself. This is just another case of solid rubber being more reliable than translucent.

Luckily, the outsole here is a no frills, no gimmicks and no storytelling herringbone pattern. So, if or when translucent rubber is used you won’t compromise the grip much. But if you wanted to steer clear of any potential issues, even small ones, then solid rubber is the way to go.

The outsole itself is ideal for outdoor use as well. Its herringbone is thick and aggressive. It should wear evenly and hold up longer than tiny nubs, circles or squiggly lines.

Like the outsole, the midsole and cushion setup are the exact same as the Jordan Jumpman Hustle.

I’m pretty sure the forefoot Zoom Air unit is what you’ll find in an Air Jordan 13 and 14 Retro — and like those shoes, the forefoot feels springy underfoot while maintaining a low profile height for court feel.

The Phylon used here should be touted as well. While it’s basic, it feels great. Like the Jumpman Hustle, while offering minimal cushion on paper, the Jordan 2×3 is so damn comfortable. The shoe might look thick and chunky but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

I love the large exaggerated rounded heel area as well. I always feel these aid in transition if you happen to heel strike, but after watching some footage I was also able to see that it aids in a smooth stop. Like most, I strike my heel when braking. The rounded edge of the heel allows me to break while transitioning into my forefoot so I have zero delay in getting my feet planted for a jumpshot. It’s a small little detail that many won’t care about or notice, but it’s something I always felt with setups like this but never actually looked to see if what I was feeling was true. Turns out it is.

Again, the tooling is thick and chunky looking. Like you’d get a bit of clunkiness out of the setup while in motion. But the design of the tooling actually proved to provide quite the opposite affect.

The materials are nothing to write home about. Just mesh and textiles. Some nylon lining the innards for structural support. Synthetic leather is used in some areas, but like the mesh, it’s nothing to write home about.

It is comfortable and requires very little break-in time, but is not premium in any way.

Something I’ve found interesting is that this textile has been pretty durable. Its shown very little wear other than being a little dirty. So, why Flyknit on the Jordan CP3.12 feels better on-foot, this has been holding up a little better. Kind of weird since Flyknit is marketed as a premium knit versus your average mesh.

The Jordan 2X3 fits true to size.

Unfortunately, they’re not available in the U.S. for some reason so I can’t recommend that wide footers try them on in-store this time around. However, they are available at select Euro and China retailers so if you happen to have a wide foot I’d recommend looking for a pair from a Chinese reseller that are labeled as “Jordan 2X3 PF” — PF indicates that the shoes were built on a wider last for wider footers. If you’re not a wide footer make sure you don’t buy a pair labeled PF — otherwise you’ll end up with a shoe that is too wide.

Lockdown was a nice surprise. The lacing structure is very simple and there aren’t a lot of eyelets. It initially had me worried about dead space, but when I was laced up I was locked in really well. No dead space. No volume above the toe. No issues at all.
All of the above helped play into the shoes support. The model looks pretty basic, and it kind of is, but they do everything really well which helps the shoe fit and feel as natural as possible while being one of the most unnatural things you can wear.

The base is flat and wide. It also extends a bit to act as an outrigger. There is an internal torsional bar while the rear section of the upper and midsole does a great job at keeping your foot on the footbed.

The Jordan 2×3 is the Jordan Brand team shoe that looks like it could have been a signature and they play like they are a signature.

Great traction. Solid cushioning. Decent materials. Fit was surprisingly good — and there are versions for wide footers overseas. There wasn’t much not to like. Other than being unavailable in the U.S.

2019 continues to be a great year for basketball shoes and we’re only halfway through the year. Can’t wait to see what else 2019 brings.

Nike Kyrie 3 vs 2 Performance Review 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.

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 Kyrie 2, 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 5 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 Air Jordan 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.

UA Curry 2 Performance Review and Comparison

If you’re thinking about getting the low, here is my review. Stick to the mid

**just wrote a comparison of the Curry Two, Rose 6, Lebron XIII if you’re deciding between the three*
King of the Court Or pretty damn close

I’ll admit it, I love Steph Curry and everything he’s about. From family to golf to hoops, he’s awesome. I loved watching him grow from the Davidson days to the MVP and NBA champion.

I also loved how the UA Curry 6 ooked, but didn’t love the cushioning set up as I’ve stuck to my Clutchfit Drives due to the more responsive and softer cushioning set up.  My Curry Ones do see daylight on occasion but they are mostly seeing the inside of their boxes. With the Curry Two, I have a new go to shoe that claims my top spot.
Pros: outstanding traction, cushioning, support and stability, containment, USA price of $130

Cons: better quality control ? Asia price of $195?

Best for: guards primarily. Bigs may enjoy the Charged only stable set up

Here is my original Curry One  ReviewWeight  

UA shaved an ounce off the weight from the Curry One and is only half an ounce heavier than the CF Lightning which is UA’s lightest current shoe.

Here are the other UA shoes’ weights for reference:

Clutchfit Drive 1: 14 oz

Curry One: 15 oz

UA Torch: 14.5 oz

UA Lightning: 13.5 oz

Traction 

Under Armour ditched the traditional herringbone set up and went with a multidirectional pattern that UA calls “organic herringbone”.  It is not a story telling pattern but not a plain Jane herringbone set up either.

The rubber is much softer than the Curry One set up, the edges of the grooves are thinner/sharper and the grooves are deeper. 

 

The end result is outstanding traction that I would put right up there with the Kobe IX and New Balance OMN1S.

 

I tested the Two directly against the Kobe IX and was amazed even after I did this

I stepped in all the dust I swept up with both the Kobe IX and the Curry Two and both just kept going without missing a beat. Amazing

The Twos just squeak and stop on any surface. The Curry One and Clutchfit Drive provided excellent traction but I did have to wipe to keep it that way while the Two takes it another notch without wiping. Just perfect.

Cushioning
For me the Achilles heel of the Curry One was the cushioning. A layer of Charged Foam over Micro G didn’t feel like anything special to me. No bounce or responsiveness at all left me no choice but to stick with the Clutchfit Drive. I’ve said it before, cushioning really gives a shoe its personality and that’s where I thought the One fell short. It isn’t always a performance deal breaker but it changes how much I enjoy wearing a certain shoe. So it was really disappointing that the Curry One didn’t have that fun responsive feel like the Clutchfit Drive.

The Curry Two uses a full length pure Charged set up just like the Clutchfit Drive 2.  I reviewed the Clutchfit Drive 2 and enjoyed the Charged only set up, especially versus the Curry One. I’m pleased to say that the Curry Two feels almost exactly the same as the Clutchfit Drive 2 but slightly softer and more responsive. The set up is not nearly as firm as the Curry One and almost as soft as the Clutchfit Drive 1. I’d say it plays one half to one level firmer than the Clutchfit Drive 1 while the Curry One plays two levels firmer. It feels more similar to the Curry One Low but even softer. I should also note the Curry Two rides the same height as the One.

Charged vs Micro G 
As I stated in my CFD2 review, pure Charged feels denser and firmer than Micro G. It feels plush when moving slow but firms up on sudden movements. I could feel the cushioning firming up on quicker movements and softening up on slow steps with the Curry Two while I couldn’t feel anything but a very firm set up on the Curry One.  If I had to choose between Micro G and the pure Charged on the Two, I’d have to wuss out and say it depends on the day. Sometimes I like the firmer feel of the Two and sometimes I like the softer feel of the Clutchfit Drive I.  As of today, I’m loving the Charged only set up of the Curry Two though.
**side note

There is not a removable insole in the Curry Two, it is sewn in. Can’t tell what it is but it definitely isn’t Ortholite . It is extremely minimal though to allow the wearer to get lower to the ground and to feel the Charged foam . I do not believe there is a last in the shoe so that really helps bring the Charged foam alive. Very similar to what Adidas does with Pure Boost. **

I should also mention that transition  from heel to toe is seamless despite having a pretty sizable shank plate. I was worried when I saw the pics because it reminded me of the XX8.

This iteration of Charged is what I expected out of UA the first time and I really like it a lot.

Fit and Materials

I bought my normal size 11 and these fit about 1/4 size short length wise which is ok for me since the width was perfect and didn’t suffocate my feet like the Curry One Low. If you’re a tweener who likes more space at the toe, I suggest going up half a size or wear thinner socks. If not stay true to size. You can see just by looking at the shoes side by side that the overall size of the Two is smaller.

Speedform replaces the Anafoam upper of the Curry One

I wasn’t sure how this would play out since I’ve tried the Speedform Apollo running shoes before and found it comfortable but somewhat lacking in warmth. Speedform was marketed a lot when the Apollo came out and in essence it is a seamless thin upper made in a bra factory (although there is a seam on these  where the synthetic starts ). Here is a good read about it on Gizmodo

You can see how much more padding there is in the ankle collar

I heard a slight tearing sound at the heel when I first put these on but I guess it’s just the fabric stretching because I didn’t see anything torn.

When I laced these up for the  first time, I had a little rubbing from the ankle collar but it went away quickly

 

Below: web straps at the forefoot for additional lockdown and containment
I still had that cold feeling due to the thinness of the upper but as I played, I forgot about that feeling and that I was wearing shoes at all.  No heel slippage or movement side to side at all. Fit nirvana achieved.

The toe box is synthetic and takes a few only a few minutes to break in. It does wrinkle quite a bit but does not peel and tear like the toe on the Curry One. There is very little if any deadspace in the toe box above the foot and zero side to side.

Here is a shot of the tongue and toe box

The rest of the Speedform upper just conforms to the foot after warming up.

 

Above:  you can see the cut is a little lower with the Two.

Breathability is just average. You might see lots of holes but that just leads to another layer. I could care less anyways.

Support and stability

Support comes from the excellent fit and heel counter

 

while the stability comes from the flat wide outsole. I found the Curry Two to be more stable that the One as it is not tippy at all.

 

Above: I really like the segmented heel similar to the Super.Fly 4. In the middle is Charged foam

Couple that with the firmer  Charged set up and larger shank and it is a very stable shoe. I found the stability to be outstanding  without being restrictive.

 

Excellent job by UA.

Containment 
Containment is also excellent on the Curry Two. No issues with my foot coming out at all from the footbed due to the synthetic in the toe box and footstay as well as a raised midsole (ala Rose 5)

Below: my foot sits at the crease

Midsole is raised all the way around the shoe

Seems like all the companies are raising the midsole up to keep the foot contained. I hope this trend continues.

As you can see the medial side is also raised but UA was doing that with the Spawn. In the Spawn you could feel it under the arch but you don’t really feel it under the arch with the Two since the Charged wall is more to the side and not directly underfoot which I actually prefer.

 

Just no movement side to side even on hard cuts.

Conclusion 

The Curry One didn’t sell that well initially. I mean they sold but they didn’t have crazy Jordanlike sell outs until Curry won the MVP and the Dubs captured the title. Then it was reseller mania, fakes from China, stats on Campless, people saying what an awesome shoe it was (same people prior said they’d never wear UA) …. Surprised the bandwagon didn’t break with all the people jumping on it.

The Curry Two didn’t radically change its looks as it it keeps a similar silouette to the One. However UA overhauled everything from the ground up by changing the cushioning, upper and traction and all for the better.  And personally I love almost every colorway of the Two. UA is going to make a lot off me. $130 times 6 or 7 must have colorways…times two for some . Yikes

I really liked the little details in this shoe as well. Each shoe has its nickname sewn in.

 

Look at all that stitching
The only downside to the shoe that I can think of is a little excess glue and the foam rails wrinkle a lot.

But after all is said and done, everything on the Curry Two is as good as or improved from the Curry One.  It looks great, performs even better and the price stayed relatively the same at $130 (except in Asia, sorry guys !). Did I mention the traction? I’m still giddy about how well it performed. As I said earlier the Curry Two is now at the top of my rotation beating out the Clutchfit Drive 1, Rose 5, and Soldier VI. It does every exceptionally well but thetraction really pushed it to the the top. The first colorway to drop in the US will be the “Iron sharpens Iron”colorway on October 24 and I’ll be waiting patiently for my two pairs.

Well done UA. SHORYUKEN!!

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review

It’s been a little while since I’ve hooped in a performance Jordan model (the Jordan XX9 and the CP3 8 were the last ones) and the Ultra.Fly had a number of things going for it. It’s the stripped-down cousin of the Super.Fly, a model that’s now four versions deep and is consistently one of the better performers on the market. It’s at an attractive price point ($125) and features an interesting TPU/mesh build for the upper.

Word today is that the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler will be debuting the shoe on-court, making it a faux-signature for an up-and-coming two-way star.

Besides that, I was able to scoop them at my local House of Hoops before most people had gotten a good look at them. On the shelf, it looked like it could be a gem in the Jordan line, perhaps an overlooked model than was great on court.

That perception, unfortunately, was pretty far off.

Fit
We’ll start with the good here: the fit was actually really nice. The base of the Ultra.Fly is thick mesh, and that’s covered from heel to toe in a Kurim webbing. Some have compared it to UA’s Anatomix line, but the upper is much thicker and the Kurim is much more pronounced – the Anatomix shoes were closer to SprintWeb or layers of Fuse than this is.

We first saw Kurim on the initial LeBron 16 Elite images, so it’s great to get a first impression of the new tech here. It’s a second skin-like structure designed to provide containment and support – basically a flexible cage. Planting and cutting or changing directions at high speed didn’t cause any slippage on the interior. It’s really a natural feel, flexible and the containment is excellent.

The lacing system is simple, laced straight up with no frills, notches, Flywire or straps. I usually prefer this, and simple is better when it comes to lacing. It would have been nice to get some flat or paracord laces instead of the round ones used here (they feel cheap and kind of outdated) but that’s an extremely minor gripe. The tongue is also excellent – thick and padded, and part of a snug inner sleeve. JB did not skimp here and it’s definitely appreciated.

 

There is no external heel counter and the interior one is pretty flimsy. It’s easily squeezed and manipulated. While I didn’t notice instability on-court, I’ve woken up the day after playing with a bit of a tweaked ankle each time – and I’m attributing that to the lack of a solid heel counter. I have generally very strong ankles, but occasionally I’ll get a shoe without a solid heel and I’ll get sore. It’s not terrible by any means, and I only mention it because it may not provide the ankle support you’re looking for if that’s an important part of your shoe choice.

Overall, I liked the lockdown and natural feel on-foot that this upper combo provided. The Kurim is unconventional for sure, but it functions really well and was definitely the best aspect of the shoe.

Heel-Toe Transition
While I wasn’t able to find a definitive answer, I believe it to be a Phylon midsole with an articulated Zoom bag in the forefoot; transition is really smooth. The outsole/midsole bears some resemblance to the Kyrie 2, and while it’s not quite effortless like that shoe, it’s still very good. There’s no break in time either – these are good to go from a transition standpoint right out of the box.

However, the overall cushioning and comfort of the shoe kind of hampers the transition. With a lack of midsole support and impact protection (which I’ll get into in the next section) I felt that simple straight-line running was pretty painful.

Cushioning
I’ll just say it: this is probably the worst cushioned shoe I’ve played in for a long time. As mentioned before, it’s a Phylon midsole – same compound used in the Kyrie 2 – but even as low profile as the Kyrie was, the Ultra.Fly has even less impact protection. I typically don’t mind a thinner, lower midsole (I was a fan of the Kyrie 2 and Crazyquick 1) but these just did not work for me.

There were a couple factors that I believe played into this. For one, it’s basically just a flat midsole with a slight heel-toe drop. No extra support, no shank, no special design that utilized its low profile build. The Kyrie 2 was designed for natural movement and was sculpted to promote that, and the Crazyquick was designed to be insanely flexible with flex grooves and traction pods perfectly placed. The Ultra.Fly is basically just a flat surface hitting the ground each time you take a step.

This leads me to my next point, concerning the articulated Zoom bag. Because there’s no additional support, I don’t feel like my foot hits the Zoom bag properly. While I can feel something in there at the forefoot, it’s mushy and I really can only feel it flex. I don’t notice any additional responsiveness or cushion from the bag, so the Zoom doesn’t really do its job. The bag protrudes slightly from the outsole and is bottom-loaded (embedded in the outsole and not on top) so the responsiveness is already muted there. A dual-density setup like Podulon probably would have worked better.

I mentioned it on an IG post, but if Zoom is too flexible and your foot doesn’t exert force on the bag, then you’re not going to get the responsiveness you expect. Zoom is basically fibers stretched tight and stitched to two plates in a pressurized bag. On an exposed Zoom bag, you can see the fibers stretched and attached to the top and bottom of the bag. When the bag receives force from your foot and it compresses, it naturally wants to push back out and respond to that force. This is where you get the super responsive Zoom feel from. By putting flex points in that bag, I feel like it just flexes when you walk instead of absorbing that force and bouncing back.

The court feel and stability are fine – the shoe rides real low to the floor – and I never felt unstable per se. But after the first couple wearings I my back and arches of my feet were very sore from the lack of support and cushioning. This lasted a couple of days and unless you’re a young buck that never gets hurt, I would be vary wary of these. I also felt that the ball of my foot was basically touching the gym floor due to those flex points in the bag.

The stock insole is embarassing, and I swapped it out with the thickest one I had from a pair of old James (this is my go-to insole when the one I’m testing is no good) and I did notice a significant improvement at least in comfort.

Still, you shouldn’t pay $125 and immediately have to swap insoles just to get passable comfort. This is one of the few things that will get me legit upset with a shoe.

Traction
The traction pattern is a full length wavebone setup, and it’s pretty good. It felt pretty sticky and slightly pliable to me. I could stop on a dime on a variety of surfaces including a tile-ish court, although a dirty floor will require the usual wiping. It’s a one-piece rubber outsole so the feel is pretty consistent and confidence-inspiring underfoot.

 

Materials/Durability
I think the Kurim upper will hold up pretty well and the TPU-like material already gives you some abrasion protection to begin with. The midsole is only going to break down more over time though, so I can’t imagine impact cushioning will get any better.

A use of different materials likely would have driven the price up, but it also would have probably prevented the shoe from ever being made – it pretty much needs to be set up like a Super.Fly 4.5 in order to be a good performer. A Flight Plate was badly needed, and I would have loved to see the tri-Zoom bag like the 4 instead of this articulated one.

Bottom line, I simply did not enjoy playing in these at all. I don’t feel it’s a reflection on all Jordan performance shoes, but the materials here certainly need an improvement. Giving it the tech it needs and selling it in the $140 range would have been more plausible to me from a performance perspective, but I get why they stripped it down.

Despite the great lockdown and fit (plus they look pretty sweet), these will be exiting the rotation ASAP. If you’re looking for extreme court feel or don’t need a ton of impact protection, the lockdown on the Ultra.Fly is great so they may be an option for you. April 2 is the official release date.

But in my opinion, there are plenty of better options out there for less money. Sorry…

Nike Lebron Solider 9 Performance Review

The spawn of the Air Raid, Zoom Vick and Lebron XII might be ugly but beauty, or ugliness in this case, is only skin deep.

Here is the ugly contest performance head to head

Hyperdunk 2015 vs Soldier IX Head to Head

If you’ve read my Top 5, you’d know that the Soldier 13 has been one of goto shoes for almost three years . I stocked up on them because they were that good (and still are). Excellent fit, cushioning, traction, support and containment, the Soldier VI excels at everything.

I didn’t like the Soldier VII bc it didn’t feel like it had the same Zoom as the VI plus they were super stiff and I didn’t like the VIII bc it felt like cushioning was made of only foam (I did love the fit though).

Which brings us to the Soldier IX

Traction

The Lebron Soldier line has typically been great in this department which is one of the reasons I love the VI. Although the pattern is very different from the VI the IX holds its own. The IX did a great job on all surfaces and was very consistent regardless of the amounts of dust even though I didn’t feel that bulldog bite I love from the very best traction setups.

I really like the pattern especially the vertical lines bc they really help stop you on hard cuts and defensive slides . The little nodules are similar to the Kobe X concept but aren’t nearly as small and flexible. But they really do a good job shooing dirt out of way like a toothbrush.

It just doesn’t get clogged up with dust so you’ll never slip but other shoes like the Rose 5, Clutchfit, Aj xx8 all bite harder but I have to wipe more often with those shoes. A better way to put it is the Soldier IX traction doesn’t grab quite as hard as the best setups but it doesn’t get affected by dust as much as the other setups either. In other words they are just plain consistent.

Cushioning

Finally a Zoom set up that can compete with the VI. The VI had very large Zoom units which is a rarity these days and the IX is no slouch. These feel firmer than the VI but they actually feel like Zoom Air but still not as responsive and bouncy as the VI. Takes only a little time to bring the Zoom to life.

Fit

I went true to size with my normal sz 11 and these fit perfect width and length wise. It’s funny, as I was lacing these up, I was looking for more lace holes and there are only 4 total since the soldier’s lacing” system is composed of straps;one strap goes around the ankle to lock in the heel and ankle

while the other strap connects to some flywire that goes under and over the forefoot while the strap goes over the midfoot.

The result of the straps is perfect lockdown particularly at the midfoot. I didn’t feel the strap across the forefoot do anything unless I really tugged at it hard and folded the upper

I tugged and pulled the straps as hard as I could and I didn’t feel any difference with the Flywire. All of the tension increase I felt was on the midfoot and where the strap meets the Flywire IMO it is too loose and high above the foot to do anything bc it doesn’t sit flat on top and across the foot so unless you have a very voluminous foot you won’t feel it. It does add some nice color though . A standard strap set up would have sufficed but regardless you’re locked in.

Heel lockdown is excellent thanks to a padded notched ankle and strap of course

Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland
Below: The ankle collar wraps around the ankle unlike the XII which stops much shorter than the Soldier or the Elite XII

Versus the VI the fit is a little better but nothing significant

Support and Stability

Support is excellent in the Soldier IX without being overbearing.

The wing is part of the entire “frame”‘for the shoe which I really like. Since the wing is made of foam , it flexes and creases with the foot unlike Hyperposite or TPU.

It provides a nice stable base to build the entire shoe around because everything is connected to the one piece base.

Above: heel counter that is connected to the wing that is connected to the midsole that is connected to the hip bone ..

I also liked the fact that the upper is one piece

Above: the only stitching on the upper.

Soldiers have always provided a nice balance of freedom and support and these do it just right. I feel like these provide a little more support than the VI especially at the midfoot.

Containment
Almost every marquee shoe I’ve tried performs well in the typical categories like traction, cushioning and support but very few do a good job at containing the foot since the lightweight minimal upper movement. The Soldier line has always done a good job with containment and these are no different.

Fuse and the wing provide strength and rigidity to the upper to keep the foot contained, not the Flywire, on hard cuts. . I said earlier, there is too much slack in the Flywire so the upper absorbs the the impact and provides containment before Flywire can do anything. Regardless, I loved the containment in these. Reminds me of how the VI performs in this category.

Conclusion

While the Lebron signature line focuses on the latest and greatest technology, the Soldier line just plain performs proving newer and fancier isn’t always better. This shoe does everything better than the XII without all the gimmicks at a much lower price. This colorway retailed at $140 and hit $109 on Nike.com only a few weeks after being released , probably because they are so ugly and busy. Soliders never sell out so if you want to be frugal just be patient and prices will hit the typical $99 to $69 range and will eventually hit outlets for even lower. I’ve always felt the Soldier line was perfect for tweeners like me: Bigger/heavier players that can still move quickly and need flexibility and support and stopping power and these are fantastic. I love shoes that do everything well and the IX really has no weakness, kind of like Lebron.

Overall these could eventually replace my Soldier VI once I run out. They do almost everything as well as the VI (support especially under the midfoot was better than the VI). For now I’ll stick to my VI. Glad I stocked up but good to know there is a worthy alternative .

Converse All Star Pro BB Performance Review

Converse Basketball is back, again, with the Converse All Star Pro BB and here is our performance review.

The traction on the Converse All Star Pro BB is the one area that I wish was better. I can’t say the traction was downright bad because at times, it was nothing short of awesome. Then, randomly and without warning, I’d lose all of that wonderful grip and wipe out. I can’t tell you why it happened, all I know is that it did and it would do it when I’d apply pressure heavily on the entire surface of the sole. If I was just staying on my toes, which is how I end up moving around screens and such anyway, then everything was perfectly fine.

Just like most of the current Nike Basketball shoes I’ve been testing as of late, the outsole has a film on it that needs to be worn away. If you take these for a spin, chances are that you may feel like the outsole is a little slick to start. Stick with it and it’ll get better over time.

The rubber is soft and will fray, especially outdoors, but it’s also squared so they should last longer than something like the Nike Kobe 1 Protro.

Full-length React cushioning is used in the form of a drop-in midsole, much like the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 — a shoe I feel is most comparable to the Converse All Star Pro BB.

While I did enjoy the ride of the Kobe AD NXT 360 a little more, it wasn’t drastic enough to blatantly say I prefer one over the other, unless we’re talking about the lining used on the footbed. That’s where I really had a problem with these guys.

The lining used is a canvas-like material, a nod to the classic Converse Chuck Taylor. However, it’s something the pads of my toes hated. The bottoms of my feet were getting chewed up like crazy, to the point where they looked like they were being rubbed raw. I tried every style of sock I own and nothing really helped — it’s just a bit too coarse for my feet, I suppose.

The cushion itself was smooth and offered a slight bounce when brand new. The bounciness of the React went away rather quickly, but my legs felt just fine after three hour hoop sessions. Great court feel with moderate impact protection for a low-profile style of play. If you enjoy feeling fast on your feet, then these will make you feel as if you’re as nimble as a deer. Almost to the point of feeling as if you’re barefoot on the hardwood. It’s an interesting feeling, but if you’ve played in Kobe’s with drop-in midsoles, then you likely already know what to expect.

The materials are a mix of mesh and canvas — with a a bit of Fuse keeping things together. While the shoe doesn’t feel premium, they didn’t feel as if they were made of nothing — which is how I felt with the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360. When fully laced, the shoe’s build wraps up and around your foot like a sock. It’s similar to the Chuck Taylor and its canvas build but it barely provides enough support for gameplay.

The entire shoe is very minimal and reminds me a lot of a Nike Free. If that is what runners consider to be a minimalist running shoe, then this is a minimalist basketball shoe.

The Converse All Star Pro BB fits true to size. However, they’re very snug. Like, reallysnug, especially at the toe. Something most of you already know I love — and I sure as hell did love it. I had a great one-to-one fit and feel while wearing these guys on-court. It’s exactly how I wish the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 fit me.

While tight, everything moves really nicely with your feet, which are the pros to using textiles, canvas and super thin TPU overlays. The cons? (no pun intended) is that they’re not very durable. My pair looks like I’ve been using them for much longer than I actually have been. I will say that I did wear the hell out of them though. I really liked how everything fit and felt overall — minus the insole lining and inconsistent traction.

Support doesn’t look like much; they’re missing almost everything the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 had from the TPU shank to the external heel counter. However, they do feature a smaller internal heel counter along with a fit that really promotes a natural feel. Again, very minimalist overall. It’s as if you’re not even wearing shoes. Some may love it, while others may hate it. As long as you know what type of shoe you like to play in, then you may end up really enjoying something like this, especially if the Nike Kobe AD NXT 360 was your thing.

Eric Avar did what Eric Avar does: he made a really good basketball shoe. It’s not perfect and I didn’t expect it to be. I would’ve liked to have had slightly better traction and an insole lining that didn’t want to chew my feet up when running around. Everything else in the shoe I really enjoyed, from the lightweight feel to the one-to-one fit.

The Converse All Star Pro BB is a far cry from anything Avar created with the late 90s/early 00s Nike Alpha Project Series, but they were much better than I had anticipated. Enough to say I actually liked them. Had the traction been better I’d probably keep these in my gym bag as a backup pair. For now, that’s still what my Air Jordan Alpha 1‘s are for.