The version number is a giveaway but unless you’re a shoe geek, you would be hardpressed to pick out the early 8 versions of the Elite. Such has been the transformation, both in appearance and ride. The Elites of yore resembles the Pegasus more than a typical performance oriented shoe that you see today. I won’t repost photos of the early versions because you can search them out online.
So let’s quickly talk about version 9 (ZE9). It’s low-stacked, lightweight offering with a fit that’s starts snug at the heel and midfoot before gradually widening at the forefoot. Now that last quality is why only selected Nike shoes agree with my feet – I need a roomy forefoot. The Flymesh upper provides great ventilation in all my runs. No issues in hot weather and it lets water out as easily as in, as I’ve discovered over the course of a recent uptempo 18K. It dried up just as quickly.
I was not always a fan of the Flywire cords found on many of Nike’s core line of shoes. I found them to be messing up the fit, rather than helping cinching down the midfoot. In my opinion, Flywire was best implemented during the very first Lunaracer+ when they were incorporated as part of the upper rather than separate strands. I’m glad to report that the ZE9’s were very much unobstrusive. No irritation, no pressure anywhere. Flat and non-stretchable laces that have a tendency to come undone (nothing triple lacing can’t remedy) complete the upper.
The 25/17mm stack height midsole is made up of a single density Cushlon, Nike’s softer material. Comparatively, the Saucony Freedom ISO’s stats are 23/19. With a 17mm forefoot, one will be inclined to think that the feet will take a beating, but quite the opposite is true actually. I found the mix to be well implemented. It has a nice responsive cushioning courtesy of a low profile Zoom Air bag in the forefoot while there’s enough heel protection for the distances I’ve covered so far. At this point, the ZE9 is definitely enough shoe for up to the Half Marathon and, I’ve no doubt the 30K, distance for me. I’m very keen to take it to the 32K mark in 2 months’ time.
Flip the shoe over and you’ll see the full contact outsole. Instead of the usual Pegasus-like waffles, you’ll get small pentagon-shaped rubber nubs which give assured traction in all the surfaces I’ve run except it did slip a little over fine sand mixed with gravel. There are areas of exposed foam with a cutout the tapered and pointed shape of the VaporFly heel. It does seem to suggest that Nike has been hinting on the said design concept even before photos of the VaporFly and ZoomFly were leaked. I’ve logged 133K in the ZE9 and so far, the wear and tear is minimal. I reckon 450K (600K if you’re more efficient than I am) should be a reasonable ask for the RM479 price tag.
My US10 ZE9 weighs in at 8.1oz which parks it right in the park where the Saucony Kinvara 8, Hoka Clayton 2, Nike Zoom Fly and adidas Boston Boost 6 play. While the Kinvara has been my marathon PR shoes the last 3 years, I’m glad to be able to rediscover the Elite. It has a more accommodating forefoot than the K8, gives a better fit in the midfoot area than the K8 and Clayton 2 and has the best fit around the heel. The problem here is not with the shoe but the uncertainty if Nike will continue this series and if so, without changing its DNA. Even today, the Elite can’t be found on the shelves of running stores and can only be purchased off the Nike online store.
The Nike Zoom Elite 9 wins my vote for the best performance oriented shoe for 2017.
RM280. Zoom Streak 6. US10 available. It’s hard to resist an unbelievable price tag for one of the most popular racing flats out there – made all the more a compelling purchase proposition since the spotting of racing flats on the shelves in this country is like spotting umm…. a 3-toed sloth in the middle of KL? An absurd analogy, I know.
Despite already having the Saucony Fastwitch 7 purchased from Japan, this was too great a deal to pass up. A good thing I snagged the Streak then, since the regular Streak are no longer available. The premium outlets do stock the Flyknit versions at a mouthwatering price though, but the Streak is not one shoe which sees regular use. Hence a pair is sufficient, even for this shoe geek.
Where does the Zoom Streak 6 sit in the range of Nike’s lightweight shoes? There’s the Zoom Streak LT3 at the lightest end, followed by the Zoom Streak 6 (ZS6), the Speed Rival 6 and the Zoom Elite 9 (reviewed above). This series of go-fast shoes share some similar traits cosmetic-wise but the wear experience is something harder to differentiate, and hence confusing to the casual runner. For the purpose of this post, I’ll try to focus on the ZS6 primarily and when a comparison is called for, against the ZE9.
While the LT3 are bare bones in nature and best suited to track and short distances on the road, efficient and biomechanically gifted ones – I’m not one of those – will be able to race the marathon in the ZS6. Thus, the shoe has seen rather limited action in the form of short tempos and intervals both on the track and road. But the 68K logged so far have been quality fast sessions.
The upper is Nike’s Flymesh with a very airy vamp. The mesh is so open that you can see right through to the insole, and if you’re foot’s in there, the color of your socks. The ZS6’s forefoot is narrower than the ZE9 but since it has such an open and stretchy upper, the whole narrow thing isn’t a factor. No feelings of tightness to be had on my true to size US10. A small but firm internal heel counter provides assured heel lockdown, while the minimal padding around the heel and thin tongue won’t cause any irritation.
There were a number of reports about the fragile upper tearing but mine’s holding just like it was new. The flat laces are not stretchy and go through the fabric loops which makes lacing up and undoing them post run a very simple affair. The entire upper provides an excellent lockdown without any discomfort as expected of a racer.
The ZS6’s midsole is single density Phylon, which offers a firmer and more responsive ride than Cushlon. Here, it’s appropriate to mention that the shoe’s stack height are 26/18mm for an 8mm drop. There’s a heel Zoom Air unit to provide a bit more protection for heel strikers. The forefoot cushioning is sufficient for what it’s designed for. It only has a very slight midsole flare so max protection or stability isn’t going to be what it’s about. With the ZS6, you’re going to be focused on propelling yourself forward from the mid to the forefoot quickly rather than letting the foot sink into the midsole and slowly transitioning to the forefoot.
The rubber to exposed foam coverage on the outsole is roughly 60-40 ratio from visual estimates. RunningWarehouse states that they’re blown rubber, but I doubt they’re so. They’re certainly very durable with hardly any wear and tear for the miles I’ve put in and the rubber on the crash zones in the heel definitely feels harder than blown rubber. The outsole’s rubber configuration looks a little like the complexion of The Thing, with various shaped geometry. You can also see the exposed midfoot shank embedded into the midsole, giving the Streak a snappy transition.
The Streak 6 weighs in at 7.05oz for my US10, which puts it alongside the territory of Hoka Tracer, Asics Hyperspeed 7 and Tarther Zeal. Both Asics are a smidge lighter, with the Zeal much firmer as well. However, lightweight means nothing if the ride is dull. Some shoes can be light on the scale but uninvolving to run in – there’s just no character, no pep, no vibes. The Streak isn’t one of those. It’s equal parts fun and exciting. My legs didn’t feel like they were steamrolled the day after speedwork which is always a good thing. If you’re curious about the Streak, check the Flyknit version out at the premium outlets. The knit will offer greater upper durability for sure.