Traction on the Kyrie 4 is comprised of multi-directional herringbone — a favorite of mine. I love when traction patterns are aggressive yet traditional; this one mixes a little bit of the old with a little bit of the new.
This type of coverage worked really well on a variety of courts and conditions. Although the outsoles started off a bit slick the first couple of nights — I think there’s some residue on the soles to start — they consistently got better with each wear. That made wiping the outsoles something that wasn’t required very often.
I still feel that the the past two Kyrie models offered a bit more bite than the Kyrie 4, but I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. This traction pattern worked really nicely without feeling like you could break your own ankles at a moment’s notice.
Cushion is the best it’s ever been in any Kyrie model with the Kyrie 4.
The heel still features a Zoom Air unit, that I felt was unnecessary for the most part as I tend to stay off my heels. However, if you happen to use your heel then coverage from the Zoom unit is there.
What I loved about the shoe is that the design team brought Cushlon back into the fold — something that I’ve been waiting on for a very long time. Not only is Cushlon used, but it makes up the entire midsole. Usually Cushlon is implemented with a Phylon carrier to the softer/bouncier foam mixture, but not this time around.
The midsole is still on the thin side (at the forefoot) so the bounce-back that Cushlon usually offers is minimized, but much like adidas’ Bounce, this setup proved to be a well balanced offering of cushioning and court feel.
If Cushlon is used on the Kyrie line from here on out then the line may go from being one of my least anticipated models of the year to one of my most anticipated models.
Like the outsole, the materials along the upper are a mix of the old and new. Engineered mesh is featured at the forefoot and that provides you with a lightweight material that requires hardly any break-in time. Nylon is glued to the underside which restricts all of the air flow, but in turn it strengthens the material.
Meanwhile, the heel panel is a suede material that, while not premium, doesn’t feel cheap at all. In fact, it only makes me scratch my head at the materials used on the Kobe AD Mid even more than I already had. For $120, the Kyrie 4 feels like it could’ve been priced at the Kobe AD Mid’s $150 (I’m glad it wasn’t though).
Prices on these shoes are still ridiculous even with basketball market sales dropping over the past couple of years. Having some of the best performers of the year being priced under $150 is great for consumers and a head scratching moment for brands because some of the $150 and up models are not as well rounded.
I suppose it can be compared a bit to the movie industry. Films with smaller budgets tend to have greater impact and story telling even though they have to stretch a limited budget. That forces creatives to be, well, creative. Nowadays, the films with massive budgets often are lackluster and filled with eye candy but not much payoff.
Durability of the rear panel has been great thus far and the durability of the mesh should be okay with the nylon glued to it. Without it I think it’d likely rip over time time as it had on the Kobe 8 after extensive use.
The shoe fits snug but true to size. Wide footers may want to consider going up 1/2 size. If you’ve worn any of the past Kyrie models, I’d highly recommend you stick with the same size you wore comfortably in those because they feel like they’re all built on the same last.
Lockdown was solid up and down. The lacing is traditional so there’s little room for error there. As stated above, the forefoot is snug, which is something I personally enjoy. I always felt secure in the shoe and never felt my foot sliding around at any time — much like my experiences in the Kyrie 1-3.
Support on the Kyrie 4 was something I had no issues with. The midsole doesn’t cradle you in the way that I personally prefer (like a Dame 4 or Curry 4) but the rubber outsole’s exaggerated “teeth” offer a similar feel. The teeth wrap up and around the forefoot to stabilize the Cushlon a bit while also slightly caging the forefoot.
You can’t see it, but the Kyrie 4 has an internal heel counter at the rear. It isn’t quite as strong as something like external TPU or carbon fiber, but it more than gets the job done and ensures your heel remains atop the footbed without sliding over.
There isn’t a traditional outrigger in place, but the midsole up front is wide and sits low. The way it’s sculpted also acts as like an outrigger, which is a huge bonus.
Overall, the Nike Kyrie 4 is Nike’s best performer this year. Its very well-rounded on all fronts in a way that makes the Kyrie 4 more like a nike lebron 15. There’s just enough cushion for most, solid traction, fantastic fit and adequate support — and all of comes at a “team” friendly price point of $120.
I’m not a huge fan of the Kyrie line overall but if this is the direction Nike plans on going with the line then may change. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved aspects of the past models, especially the traction, but the brick-like Phylon has been anything but forgiving. Even the Curry 4’s foam midsole is more forgiving than the Phylon used on past Kyries, so the return of Cushlon was a great choice to bring a bit more balance to the low profile tooling.
I don’t believe I’ve said this all year, because it hadn’t been deserved, but great job Nike Basketball. This is the kind of shoe that I’ve been waiting for all year.