Nike Zoom Span Review

One of the delights for a shoe geek is to walk into a local running shoe store, with absolutely no intention of buying anything, only to leave with a pair or two because the deal was simply too good to be true. The same could be said of my unplanned purchase of the Nike Zoom Span (ZS).

If that name sounds familiar to veterans out there, that’s because the Span name has been used before. The OG and Span 2 were neutral, plush and highly cushioned shoes in those days which morphed into stability models with the old Zoom Elite’s medial post! Some sneaker head sites have revealed that the Span 2 will be making a comeback in 2018 as a vintage model, just like the Huarache, Sock Racer, Air Mariah. If you’re not a runner in the ’80s, you be best take a peek on how they used to look like in the links below:

Span OG | Span 2Span 4Span 7

Back to my story.

So there I was walking around Sunway Pyramid after a meet up, passed by 2 sports shops (with large Sale stickers) and decided to pop in. Lo and behold, Sports Empire had the Zoom Span on 40%! I’ve had my eyes on the Span for some time as a cheaper alternative to the Pegasus, and have read many reviews proclaiming them being excellent value for money, what with so much of Nike’s core technologies included. The RRP of RM399 is at least RM60 cheaper than the Pegs and the Saucony Ride 10. With this discount, the price was further slashed down to RM240. And that was how I ended up with another pair of shoes.

As I’ve mentioned above, the ZS is anything but similar to the Spans of yore. The current version is a reboot and takes on the form of the Pegasus. With the low price, you still get the goodies such as an engineered mesh forefoot, Cushlon midsole, Zoom Air unit in the forefoot, and full contact outsole (Duralon, which is Nike’s blown rubber in the forefoot, and solid rubber in the heel). For a touch of stability, a tiny and indeed innocuous medial post works in tandem with a flared midsole.

Instead of a flashy upper, the ZS sports a 2-tone colorway – grey and black, with a saddle that looks like the Pegasus 31’s. The difference is that the Peg’s saddle is like breathable supportive webbing while the ZS’s version is simple a midfoot wrap with cosmetic design cues. Just like in the case of the automotive industry, the Volkswagen Group will deploy the latest tech and whizbang in the Audis, while Skoda will inherit their 2-year old tech, the ZS are like cheaper Pegs with slightly dated design cues.

Happily, the US10 fits true to size and at 9.7oz each side, they don’t weigh like bricks. Forefoot space is very decent despite the tapered appearance. You can see from the photo above there’s a considerable flare from the midsole. The midfoot lockdown is comfortable. The ZS’s ride leans towards the firmer end of the scale in the forefoot yet softer in the heel. The heel is notably softer than that of the Ride 10. The internal heel counter is stiff but doesn’t cause any discomfort other than a weight penalty.

The ride of the ZS is neutral and should be very agreeable to the masses out there. There’s a degree of stability with each footstrike which I think is more attributable to the midsole flare than the tiny medial post, and might I say there’s a little responsiveness to go with that too? Transition is smooth which is no doubt due to the many flex grooves zig-zagging across the outsole. To shave off some weight, the midsole is hollowed out length-wise from exactly the midfoot point to the center-heel. When I needed to pick up the pace, they respond too. That’s the benefit of having a firmer forefoot.

Admittedly, durability of the Cushlon and absence of carbon rubber outsole may not be on par with the costlier options but at the least, 500km isn’t an unreasonable ask from the Span. At 50km, there’s literally no wear.

Runners on a tight budget should rejoice. At this price, there’s really nothing to complain. Like the Zoom Elite, the Zoom Span has been redesigned from the ground up. There’s no resemblance to the Spans of old.  However, unlike the much more expensive and race-centric Zoom Elite, I don’t foresee the Span hanging around too long nor see an update if news of a vintage version due next year. So if your budget is a little tight for a pair of versatile shoes yet can’t afford a Pegasus or any other workhorse trainers, grab these! Especially if they’re so heavily discounted.

Nike LunarFly+

If there was an Oscar for the most underrated shoe award, the LunarFly+ wouldve taken it.
If there was an Oscar for the most underrated shoe award, the LunarFly+ would’ve taken it.

The Nike LunarFly+ is one of the most underrated and understated shoe in Nike’s Lunar range. Yet, it has turned out to be one of my favourites, one that I’m strongly considering wearing for the Mar 26th TUC. Oftentimes you don’t  need to load a product with all the bells and whistles to come out with a great offering. Keeping it simple while ensuring the basics are covered are what works.

The LunarFly’s upper design is a close replica of the discontinue Hayward, another lightweight retro looking model. It’s construction is minimal and has just enough trimmings to retain the integrity of the shoe. And like the Hayward there are two venting ports on the instep of the shoe. There are several colourways for the Fly but I decided on the Black/Green version because I wanted the reflective properties of the large swoosh strips – essential for early morning/night time running. This is one shoe with a completely retro look that’s highly visible on the streets. As with most Nike shoes these days, it comes Nike+ ready.

The midsole is constructed of Lunarlon and surprisingly sports the  Dynamic Support midsole, even though it’s not indicated anywhere on it. According to Nike’s product person in the US, the Dynamic Support found in the Fly is the mildest to be put in their stable of shoes. The outsole is made up of tiny waffles, unlike the chunky ones found on the Pegasus.

The outsole configuration.
The outsole configuration.
Closeup of the nibblet-size waffles.
Closeup of the nibblet-size waffles.

How does the LunarFly fit? I’d say pretty snug in the midfoot without being restrictive. The shoe’s forefoot width and height offer more than adequate room to the toes. As can be expected of a shoe this minimal, the lack of weight makes it a very appealing fast training and racing shoe. While not too soft, there’s a bounce to the footstrike but I’d welcome a slightly more responsive ride and a smaller heel to toe drop personally. The support is adequate for those with a neutral gait. I like the shoe’s flexibility which is totally unlike the more rigid LunarGlide+.

I’ve logged 163KM in the LunarFly including a 42KM training run and I’d say that they’re pretty darn good. There are some wear and tear to be sure which I fully expected in view of the outsole design. I reckon I’ll be able to clock a total of 350KM in them. There are no issues with heat build-up and if laced closely, the one incident of some renegade pebbles that I encountered would not have happened. The small waffles did present a tricky proposition when dealing with sand, as I consistently slipped a little on a patch when I covered 4 loops around Mutiara Homes. After slipping once on my first loop, I purposely ran over it the next 3 loops just to confirm that finding. I do have to mention that I had no problems on wet surfaces though.

The large swoosh is actually a very large piece of reflective tape.
The large swoosh is actually a very large piece of reflective tape.

That’s it for the LunarFly+. What you get is a simple shoe that serves me well and covers nearly all the most important bases. The sweetener on this package is the price which is just RM299. The LunarFly+ are not sold out of Nike boutiques but in retailers such as Al-Ikhsan and Stadium. I bought mine in Penang towards end of last year but then the LunarFly 2 is already out now, albeit with some tweaks to the upper. If you like a more minimalist shoe, opt for the first version.

Originally published: Mar 3, 2011

Nike Zoom Wildhorse

2 weeks ago I spotted a FB update from Runningwarehouse on the launch of 2 trail shoes from Nike. Not another Free or Flyknit road shoe but trail! Not one but two!! OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me clarify.

Firstly Nike’s take on the trail segment has always been more towards the ruggedizing the existing road models. Long gone were the bulky ACG (All Conditions Gear) hiking series, you’ll see Pegasus Trail, Fly Trail, Structure Trail… You get the idea. Therefore when photos began circulating in the Internet of the Zoom Wildhorse and Zoom Terra Kiger along with some of their specs, my toes were well and truly tickled. Not only are these 2 designed freshed (in a manner of speaking since I think various parts of the shoes were influenced from other models), they’re low drop (4mm), lightweight (9.3oz for US10.5) and have much more room up front than traditional Nikes.

One of my frustrations with Nike has always been the narrow toebox. This IMHO has prevented the Lunaracer from being a good to an excellent shoe. To illustrate the difference between the Wildhorse and the other shoes, I pulled out several (not all!) active ones out of my cabinet for comparison and you can see for yourselves.

From left: GOBionic Ride, Wildhorse, Fuji Racer 2.
From left: Kinvara 4, Montrail Rogue Racer, Wildhorse.
From left: Free 3.0 v5, Flyknit Lunar One, Wildhorse.

Wildhorse and Kiger are unusual names so I dug around and found out that both are names for locations in the Steens Mountain, Oregon (Nike’s home state) – Wildhorse Lake and Kiger Gorge (Kiger is also a name of mustang from that area). The Wildhorse shares several traits with the Kiger namely their lasts, absence of rockplate, weight, outsole design and drop. However there are subtle differences such as Kiger’s use of heel and forefoot airbags, smaller toebox room, sticky rubber, Dynamic Flywire, mesh than resembles the Free and LunarGlide and a USD15 higher price.

The Kiger isn’t brought into Malaysia (probably due to price factor), so this initial review is only on the Wildhorse. On to the shoe and firstly on the sizing and weight. Because of the intended purpose of this shoe (i.e. taken on runs long enough such that my feet will swell), I started my fitting with a US10. It turned out to be just enough with a thicker trail socks (I tried the shoes while wearing the Nike 2-layer sock but the Drymax Trail has roughly the same thickness). Upsized the shoes to a 10.5 and with a thumb and half space up front, the fit was just right. Without any walking around, the footbed felt firm but walking and hopping around in them, I fully appreciate the responsive cushioning the shoe offers.

Topside, the traditional laces were super easy and smooth to cinch up – you pull the top and the entire shoe upper wraps around your feet. A rounded and wide forefoot was so appreciated. There’s a small toe bumper that wraps around in front. The lightly padded tongue is gusseted (yet another plus point) and long enough unlike the Flyknit Lunar One’s. There’s really no need for too much padding since the laces are not of the thin wires or Kevlar types which could potentially put extra pressure on top of the feet. The gusset is sewn to an inner sleeve which acts to prevent the outer layer of the upper from rubbing the foot. The lime green layer sandwiched between the outer layer and inner sleeve is called Dynamic Fit – you adjust your laces and these will wrap  closer or looser depending on your adjustments. It gets better, the removable sockliner isn’t molded to the extreme in that the arch area, so there’s no chance of chafing there. Interestingly, “Nike Free” is inscribed on the underside of the sockliner.

At the back there’s an absence of a traditional and stiff heel counter. In its place, just a strap across the heel to secure it in place.

The dual density midsole has a 23mm and 19mm heel-forefoot stackheight, rounded at the sides of the heel which mimics the foot shape and should provide traction on the uneven trails. The outsole is a mix of slanted lugs. Towards the heel section, the lugs are directional while the perimeter has an aggresive thorny (much like durians’) take.

Now comes the interesting part – taking these bubble gummy colored shoes for a run. Note that I’ve only put in 2 very short runs in them around my neighborhood. A rocky hillock sits on one side of the children’s playground. The surface on this little patch of land are a mix of sharp rocks or various sizes, packed sand, clay and tricky granite faces.

I’ve been using this playground’s twisty paths and this rocky section to break up the monotonous linear movements of road running as well as to develop agility. It forces me to get on my forefoot most of the times and to keep the cadence up. On a bulky shoe, my experience on such a tricky course would be akin to taking the RR Phantom to the Top Gear circuit. But a performance trainer or lightweight trail shoe would feel right at home. The grip of the Wildhorse on the tarmac, bricked and tiled sections leading up to the park was fantastic despite not having the Kiger’s sticky rubber. It handled everything there were in the area and even without the rockplate, the lugs are deep enough to lend some protection in the forefoot area. I can’t wait to take them to the trails where they can be put to a good workout. Do they drain well? Will they slip on logs? How do they feel on the descents? Will my legs feel like they’re trashed just after 3 hours? Can debris enter the shoe at will? I’m not sure but when I find the answers to the questions, you’ll know too.

I’m very surprised at the direction the company has taken with the Flyknit Free and now these 2 trail shoes. Initial reviews of the Wildhorse have been very favorable in the forums and hopefully this will lead to more nice things to come. If you’re in Malaysia and are looking for a lightweight and low bulk trail shoe that has the cushioning and support to handle long distances, the Wildhorse warrants a serious look. It joins the asics Fuji Racer 2 (6mm), Montrail Rogue Racer and Salomon Mantra (6mm, but I was unable to get over the narrow forefoot and the way it flexes) but none of these have the room up front as the Wildhorse. And while the Skechers GOtrail (4mm) is a commendable shoe for short distances, I wasn’t able to go long in them.

The Nike Zoom Wildhorse is already in stores and retailing for RM409. No disclosure required as I was excited enough to purchase this pair for myself!

Originally published: Jul 31, 2013

Nike Vomero+ 5

The Vomeros aren’t new to me. My relationship with it began back in early 2008 with the yellow-silver Vomero 2. It was a handsome shoe (if shoes can be handsome) but more importantly it was mighty plush, the most cushy shoe I’ve ever worn. I rotated the 2 with Zoom Elite 3 and Triax 11, before the LunarTrainer and Racer came into the picture.

Sadly it returned me only 490K in total mileage when the midsole broke down. Having the softest midsole in the neutral shoe category does have its drawbacks. The Duralon outsole and Cushlon midsole are more susceptible to wear and tear. But to a runner seeking a soft ride, the Vomero was it. 2 generations later, we have version 5 on the shelves. I wanted to put in enough miles in them before I put in a review and to-date, I logged very close to 90K in them to form an opinion.

Just as the Nimbus is the top dog in asics’ cushioned shoe range, the Vomero+ 5 is Nike’s equivalent in the Bowerman Series. Since I wear both, I’m able to comment on the similarities and differences of both. Both offer cushioned ride for the neutral gait runners, have highly breathable upper and are excellent choices for the long runs. That’s where the similarities end. The Nimbus has a bulkier and thicker midsole while the Nike+ ready Vomero+ 5 is less beefy and sports a lower profile, keeping the toe to heel rise minimal. The Vomero has a wider forefoot, less midfoot shank and overlay, all of which I appreciate. As a result the Vomero’s weight of 11.6oz is easier on the scales.

Externally, the upper seems to resemble the Air Max Moto. The external heel cup are perforated presumably to reduce the weight and promote ventilation. Interestingly the stiff Flywire threads have now been replaced with stretchable bands of polymer (?).  This makes the upper softer and much more flexible.

I wore the Vomero out the very first time in the 43K Raya Run last week with no blisters (despite the wet run), no hotspots (well, it was a cool morning). Taking a new pair of shoes out for a run this long is certainly not advisable but I was prepared to face the backlash of such foolhardiness. Luckily there was none. My run was done on roads of varying surface condition. On several tiled sections in front of Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan, my footing were a little slippery due to the moss but other than that stretch there were no issues. I also managed to put in several mid-run spurts just to see how running fast felt in them. They passed. Try doing that in the Nimbus and you’ll feel like the shoe is absorbing all your strides, making quicker paced runs a tiring affair. In the area of responsiveness, the Vomero+ 5 outdid the Nimbus and even the Vomero 2.  I didn’t experience any change to the Vomero’s legacy of smooth heel to toe transition, although I need to mention that I land more on my midfoot these days.

The Vomero+ 5 is an easy recommendation for neutral gait runners and those with high arch requiring a flexible and cushioned ride. It’s breathable, feels light on your feet and takes the Nike+ sensor. It may not be as plush as the Vomeros of old definitely, so faster runners who seek a more responsive ride would be happy.

Disclosure: Nike provided me with the Vomero 5 for review

Originally published: Sep 29, 2010

Nike Zoom Victory+


The first reaction when I put on the black and white pair of Zoom Victory was “Whoa!” Then I asked Wong, “Are you sure this weighs 10 ounces?” I’d laced it up after returning to the car park following a 19K Saturday morning run and was eager to try on the hot looking shoes. It certainly felt lighter than 10 oz and several Internet searches later on the online shoe retailers site such as Holabird to RoadRunnerSports had the weight pegged from 9.3 to 10 oz. Personally it felt like 8 oz.

The next feeling that ran through my mind was the low profile ride. It’s almost like your soles are in direct contact with the ground. This immediately gives the shoes a go-fast feel. The next impression I had was that the shoe very nearly completely moulds itself to your feet. The strategically positioned strands of Flywire cinch the uppers together and wraps the entire shoe around your foot. Every part of its construction is aimed at giving you what the designers call “The Naked Ride”. They want you to forget the shoe and concentrate on the task at hand – running fast. 

For the rest of the review please hit this link

Originally published: Jul 20, 2008

Nike Zoom Elite 9 and Zoom Streak 6 Review

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.

Quick Take On The Nike Flyknit Lunar One

If you’re intrigued by the Flyknit upper of the Flyknit Racer but think that the Racer or Trainer is a little too minimal for you, there’s the 3rd option – the Lunar One.

Also made of the same Flyknit fabric as the Racer and Trainer, the Lunar One is a traditional shoe that’s along the lines of the Lunar Glide. Both the Glide and Lunar One have Dynamic Flywire, simple upper (though the Lunar One’s are of different approach) and relatively similar outsole configuration.

I reckon that the Lunar One rides lower to the ground – it certainly feels so – if only a little than the Glide’s (which has an 11mm drop). The other difference is the Lunar One dropped the Dynamic Support feature on the midsole, which makes the shoe less clunky. The Lunar One is an ounce lighter than the Lunar Glide, only 8.35oz for my US9.5 would you believe it. Yes, sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

The upper has a tighter weave than the Flyknit Racer as you can see from the closeup below but breathability is still good. Much of the design cues come from the Racer, such as the very flat laces (you still need to triple knot them) and how the Dynamic Flywire is used in creating a snug fit through the mid foot.

Tighter weave.
Design cues from the Flyknit Racer and Trainer
Come undone. Just like the Racer, the Lunar One’s laces easily come undone, even after double knotting

Dynamic Flywire (in green) also functions as lace loops

Because the flex grooves don’t cut across the lateral to the medial side, flexibility suffers. Nike could do well to redesign the Lunarlon midsole to have deeper grooves such as those found on the Vomero.

Not particularly bendy, if a little stiff as you can see from the photo below.

That’s the max it flexes.

How then does the whole package fare on the run? I’ve taken the Lunar One on several runs, nothing long, just maxing out at 7K. I found it to have a bouncy yet responsive ride. The most surprising thing was I had very little problem in maintaining a mid foot strike throughout my runs. However I wasn’t able to lift my heels as high as I would normally do while running around in a transitional shoe. The upper in the forefoot region has a little more stretch and give than the typical upper. The use of Flyknit essentially eliminates extraneous layers, indirectly taking up less space. As a result, my toes had more room to spread.

The Lunar One is a largely a nicely put together shoe for someone wearing traditional shoes. The Flyknit upper is definitely a winner and with a weight that’s under 9oz, this group of runners would be tempted to take the Lunar One as a race day shoe for the half and full marathon. Where it comes up a little short is the stiff midsole and finicky laces.

Striking

The Nike Flyknit Lunar One is now available in Nike stores in the country. The shoe is a review pair provided by Nike Sales Malaysia.

Previously reviewed on Apr 19, 2013.

Nike LunarTempo Review

How do you review a shoe which started out with the same name as one half of 2 trailblazing shoes but looks completely different from that classic, had that name changed in the middle of its product cycle resulting in 2 confusing labels in the market, *draws breath* and yet bears a striking resemblance to yet another updated model? By going back to 2008.

Back then, the Beaverton company released what I’d call a game-changing midsole, the Lunarlite. I covered the product launch in this post. Done reading that?

OK, the pair of shoes launched back then were the Lunaracer+ and LunarTrainer+. Of course, the “+” has been dropped some time ago since the company stopped integrating the NikePlus sensor into their core line of shoes. The gaining popularity of wearable tech such as GPS watches and smartphones saw to that demise. Coming back to the shoes, the Lunar midsole generated as much hype as adidas’ Boost did in recent years. Deservedly so, in my opinion, because both midsole technologies were 2 of the best I’ve worn to-date with the Lunar material holding an edge over the Boost in that it’s lighter. I ran the 2008 New York City Marathon in the Lunaracer, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Note: When I mention Lunar midsole, I’m actually generalising since Nike has several flavours of the midsole from Lunarlite in the case of the original Lunaracer+ and LunarTrainer+, to Lunarlon we see today.

The toe box looks shallow here but it fits well for me.

 

I’ve a love-hate relationship with the Lunaracer 2+ (a dreadful misfire) and subsequently Lunaracer 3 (which I didn’t review). The issue I had with them was primarily the toe box, which was extremely constricting to my feet. More often than not, I’d end up with blackened toenails after my marathons. Then along came the LunarTempo (LT) earlier this year. A completely new shoe, there’s more than a passing sense of familiarity with it since it bears a lot of resemblance to the Lunaracer.

CY’s olive green LunarTempo below, in comparison to the Lunaracer 3 on top.

When it was first launched, the label on the LT read Lunar Trainer, which was misleading. If you’re a Nike devotee, you’d think that this is a reboot of the original Lunar Trainer. Several months later, new colorways of the LT started emerging on the shelves bearing the new LunarTempo moniker. The pair used for this review still bears the old name though.

Flyweight.

So how does the LunarTempo feel like? Pretty amazing. Gone are the restrictive upper, the LT has a wider forefoot and fits truer to size. Even though I could wear the US10, I opted for a 10.5 just so that it’s more accommodating. Toe box height is a little more than the Lunaracer’s but it’s really about the updated engineered mesh which is now softer and forgiving as opposed to the stiffer and unyielding variety found in the racers of yore. I obviously love the fact that the 10.5 weighs only 7.15oz, thus keeping to its lightweight lineage. To put the weight into perspective, 7.15oz for US10.5 is even lighter than the US10 Free 3.0 v5. Yet for all its lightness, the LT still provides adequate support and cushioning for distances up to the marathon for me.

Along with the updated upper, the first eyelets have been moved further up, allowing for a more relaxed fit around the forefoot are. The padding on the tongue and heel collar are neither too thin nor too plush. There’s a certain balanced feel to the shoe. Everything feels just right.

The Flyknit strands, which have plenty of reflective accents, now peek from under the outer mesh in both the lateral and medial parts of the upper. There are also greater use of reflective materials, most notably in the heel counter. All in all, the upper now looks tidier compared to the Racer’s mess.

There’s no wayward stitching on the walls of the interior, no exposed seams and there’s a layer of thin mesh (the black portion in the photo above) which prevents the Flywire strands from rubbing on the feet. I also stuck my hands inside feeling around for any potential hotspot areas but couldn’t find any.

The midsole design retains a similar (but not exact, in particular the lateral heel section) look to the accordion folds of the Racer and thus offer the same lightweight smooth ride. The LT has a softer ride than the Adios Boost, Boston Boost 5, Hitogami, ST Racer, Breakthru and Zante but a touch firmer than the Kinvara 5.

Slighter greater coverage of rubber. They’re a little thicker too.

The outsole now sports more (and thicker) solid rubber plugs which should add greater durability. As mentioned, the ride is quick and smooth. Though there’s no overt flex grooves, the Lunarlon midsole is quite flexible – not as supremely bendy like a Nike Free or Skechers GObionic 2 but more than sufficient for a performance trainer.

The heel cushioning is more than adequate and while the toe-off is firm, it retains a tangible softness to it. Most fans of the LT will wear it for uptempo runs and as a marathon shoe but it will be quite at home at slower pace as well. For trackwork, however, I’d go with a firmer shoe.

I snagged the LunarTempo at a great price of RM230 (RRP RM379) at Sportland IOI Mall.  Gems such as the LunarTempo (and Lunar Launch) are not sold in Tier-1 Nike boutiques but rather Sportland and Stadium outlets, so when shopping for running gear, be sure to also look to the smaller retailers for great deals.

Previously reviewed Aug 25th, 2015.

Nike Lunaracer+ Review

Note: This is a repost from 2008 as I’m migrating some shoe reviews from another website.

My love affair with the Lunar series continue with the trialing of the Lunaracer+. Being one half of the 2 models released by Nike which feature the space age Lunarlite foam, the racer took my running experience to another level.

When Wong (EKIN with Nike Sales Malaysia) handed me the shoebox, I had to shake it to ensure that the shoes were inside and when I opened the package to reveal the shoes, my colleagues were astounded by its lightness. One remarked that if thrown at someone across the room, the shoes may not reach their destination and if used to smack someone, it may not cause any pain! While I won’t try out the latter theory, I certainly want to test them out as quickly as I can.

I made a visual inspection of the shoes and saw that the midsole construction looks that of the Trainer. The main difference is on the upper. Instead of the Trainer’s white mesh, the racers sport a grey white translucent paper- like material. No visible stitching are seen. In their place, certain stress points had additional strips of yellow suede “welded” or crimped to the upper. Threads of Flywire interlaced the upper material providing just enough structure to support the shoe shape and the wearer. The sockliner is a thin foam and under the left piece is the spot for the Nike+ sensor. The outsole difference is less apparent. What’s obvious are the more liberal application of the BRS1000 and solid rubber plugs for better durability.

I made the right call by opting for 1/2 a size larger for the racer. The shoe fits like a glove and here’s where the next difference lies – their lack of weight. At 5.5oz, they are nearly half the weight of the already lightweight Trainers. The racers are low profile (see Notes section) and you’ll feel your calves walking around in them. With a planned 21K the next day, I limited my first run to a 5K and try as hard as I might,I had a hard time slowing down! I didn’t know if it’s the build, weight or material I just automatically ran in a light and efficient manner. Tap and go, tap and go. More mid to forefoot landing than on the heel. I simply went faster and couldn’t wait for the tougher run the next morning.

21K later, I was astounded. My calves and shins were just a bit sore but that was the legs adjusting to the lower ride. Since the first 2 runs, I’ve put the pair to some really hardcore workouts which included back to back long runs at different pace.The racers defy logic – mad science at work. Consider the following facts:

  1. I’ve not worn any kind of shoes below 9oz. I’m just not biomechanically efficient enough. Yet I was happily running in these 5.5oz babies chewing up the miles.
  2. The legs didn’t feel trashed. I managed 166K mileage over 9 days which included 3 back to back long runs and several shorter workouts with only a day’s rest. The longest run completed so far in them was a 32K done at marathon pace.
  3. Durability is top-notch. After over 100Ks in them, even the “nipples” on the outsoles are still there.

Pulling on the racers give you a boost of confidence.You run lighter and faster. I saw my running form improved and ran faster in training than in race.They totally eclipse my hitherto favorite, the Lunar Trainer and that’s saying a lot, since the Trainers can certainly hold their own.

The Trainers are better ventilated. It felt warmer in the racer. I spoke to Wong and he confirmed that said that this could be due to the upper material used to support the utilization of the Flywire. The typical mesh won’t hold the fibers, so a stronger material was used.

In conclusion, all I can say is that I’m completely bowled over by the racers. Prior to them, there is no way on earth that I can wear shoes this light but they have everything a weekend warrior needs. I’m all the more efficient and faster runner because of it.

If you think the Trainers are good, wait till you try the racers. It dispels the notion that a shoe this minimum and light can’t be worn by non- elites. Both the Lunar Trainer and Lunaracer are now available at the Nike stores.

As you can see from the photos on the left and bottom, the shoe is really holding up with the mileage work. I’ve since logged over 170K in them and the outsole looks just a little worn, which is really good for a racing shoe.

Needless to say the shoe is Nike+ enabled, so you can wear it with a Nike+ Sportband.

The Lunaracer is definitely built like a racer.According to a shoe techie, the racer’s heel is 6mm higher than the forefoot. The racer’s forefoot is 16mm while the rear is 22mm.The forefoot-heel ratio of 6mm is half of a typical training shoe’s build.The Nike Free 3.0 is 19/23 (4), Free 4.0 is 17.5/23.5 (6), Vaporfly 21/33 (12).

For: Efficient, lightweight runner seeking an ultralight, responsive yet stable cushioned shoe for speedwork and racing.

Not for: Runners seeking more stability should look to Nike’s stability models such as Structure Triax and Equalon. A bit of pinching on the right shoe when toeing off. Some may encounter rubbing as well.

Bottomline: Wear socks that protect the heel and instep area, especially where the shoe flexes. Experiment with various lacing configuration. The Lunaracer+ is the shoe you’ll want to wear if you’re gunning for a personal best.

Disclaimer: The Nike Lunaracer+ is a media review pair provided by Nike Sales Malaysia.

Previously reviewed back in 2008.

Nike Speed Cage+ 3 Review

When it comes to running, Japanese runners are one of the most hardcore groups out there. No surprise then when major sports companies create Japan-specific shoes, mainly racing flats for the marathon mad country. Do a search in Rakuten and you’ll see what I mean. Runners from other parts of the world could only cast jealous glances at their Eastern counterparts and drool at the various iterations of Spiders and Tarthers. Nicekicks even have customized versions of the Lunarspider LT 2 on their website.

Fortunately, we’re slowly seeing an increasing number of rare models in our country. As it basically boils down to a demand and supply thing, that’s a good move by the sports companies to bring these in despite the low demand, and brave of the authorized distributors to stock them. I’ve been lucky to have sampled some of these models, some were purchased on huge discounts as part of the Isetan Sale, as in the case of the asics Skysensor Breeze and the Saromaracer, and some were part of wear-testing, like the pink Nike Speed Lite. I can now add the Nike Speed Cage+ 3 to that list. When you see the midsole construction of the Speed Cage+ you’d think that this is a retro shoe, what with the visible airbag in the heel. The last I saw this type of construction was on the Katana Cage.

Caged air

Let’s give the Speed Cage+ 3 a visual rundown shall we? Note that while I’m not familiar enough in this series to compare it to the earlier versions of the Cage, I’ll put the Cage next to the Speed Lite ST+ 3 and Lunaracer whenever it’s feasible. The US9.5 pair I was kindly handed by Nike is the black version with lime green accents. At 7.9oz it’s lightweight but definitely not featherweight. In my hands, out of the box, it feels lighter than the 7.9oz. The entire upper is constructed of Hyperfuse mesh, reminiscent of the LunarHaze+ [link]. The mesh may give you the impression that the upper is soft but it really isn’t. You definitely won’t want to go sockless in this shoe because there’s no underlying layer of fabric under the mesh.

Inscribe your PR here

With reflective trims all around, visibility should be fine despite the mostly black upper. If you can somehow get a firefly into the airbag, you’ll have added glow in your early morning/late night runs! Elsewhere, I’d prefer a slightly wider tongue as the one in the shoe takes a bit of adjusting when lacing up. The laces too are hard to undo and tighten, probably due to the tiny lacing eyelets. The most prominent feature of the midsole would be the aforesaid airbag in the heel section. But instead of the beefy pressurized pillows used in the Air Max, the Speed Cage+ sports a lower profile version. For newbies to the Air technology, because there are more Lunar-based midsoles used in Nike’s running line than Air these days, the air contained in the bag are inert. This means it won’t expand nor contract according to the temperature. But old timers in running would’ve heard of some horror stories of punctured airbags. Enter the “cage” housing the bag. Like claws, they secure the bag in place while offering a little more protection against accidental puncture, not that I’ve seen a puncture before in the Air Max. A prominent 2-pronged midfoot TPU shank extends all the way back under the airbag and that’s pretty much it.

Anti-odour insole
Drainage ports. The home renovation resulted in so much dust that the sole was coated in it.

The outsole is quite basic – blown rubber on the forefoot with a touch of harder wearing rubber near the toes, and a thin decoupled carbon rubber heel plug. The flex grooves that are cut into the midsole aren’t that deep, so even though the forefoot blown rubber are minimal in coverage, the shoe’s flexibility is just adequate, not spectacular. If only the cuts are deeper, that’ll be most interesting. Finally, it’s hard not to notice the 5 large drain ports in the outsole. Remove the OrthoLite FitSole2 insole and you’ll peep right through into the shoe. With the large mesh upper and conspicuous drain ports, you know you have a very breathable shoe. So while it’s easier to get water into the shoes, it’ll dry pretty fast too. Which makes it an excellent shoe for triathletes, or those living in the hot and humid tropics.

First thing I noticed when wearing the shoe was its firmness. The heel counter was pretty stiff too. As the upper is very  minimal with no soft fabrics, the feel of the stiff mesh needs some getting used to. I was surprised by the wider feel of the forefoot – Nike shoes nearly always run narrow on the front – where my feet certainly had much more space to move around that the Speed Lite and Lunaracer. This is certainly a welcome change because I usually have to upsize when getting into Nike racers. I struggled a bit with the lacing but when that was done, it was time to pay more attention to the feel of the shoe.

The Speed Cage compared to the Speed Lite

The Speed Cage+ doesn’t fall into the minimalist category by any chance but it isn’t your typical performance trainer like the Speed Lite. The Speed Cage+ rides much lower to the ground and feels nimbler and faster. I perceive the drop to be around 8mm there due to the presence of the airbag in the heel, otherwise, it could’ve very well been a 6mm shoe, like the Spider R2. Sidebar: This site has several nice photos of the Lunarspiders.

My first run was a 14+K mix-paced run (between 5:37/KM to 6:05/KM) and the shoe definitely felt better when upping the ante than when going easy. The forefoot is decidedly firm and responsive, and this may soften a little once they’re broken in. The route taken had plenty of pebbles and stones yet none got into the shoe. No pebbles were found jammed into the drain ports either. I had the Nike Blister-Free 2-Layered socks on and it never got uncomfortable despite the thicker mitts. I didn’t buy into the forefoot firmness after the run, but it was just the first. Nothing conclusive yet after this debut outing.

See-through upper

The second run was a short 5K night run at 5:30 pace. I wore very thin socks and found that I had too much space up front despite lacing tighter. I noticed that I was striking in the middle of the heel and sometimes midfoot, so the cushioning was much appreciated. The transition was not as silky smooth as the 100% foam-based GOrun Ride but it was quick. Then there was the absence of the arch support from the OrthoLite insole, which was great. No support means no rubbing. I did notice a slight pinching at the front of the laces at the upper flex point when walking back to the car.

My third run in the shoe was a long run. This time around, I experimented with medium bulk socks and the relaxed pacing allowed me to get a better feel of the shoe. The pinching on the upper was not as noticeable as when walking around in the shoe. Certain stretches of the road to Hartamas have construction debris, but no pebbles got into the shoe. Once again, there were no hot spots and my socks stayed dry throughout the entire run. The responsive ride was much appreciated when going fast, such is the nature of the Speed Cage. Unlike the old Zoom Elites (versions 2-4) where the midsole was significantly thicker, the Speed Cage would serve the wearer better for faster paced running.

After 3 runs of various distances totaling 40KM, I quite like the shoe. Sure, there are several areas which I thought could be better like having a lower heel, wider forefoot, kinder heel counter and wider tongue, but at the very least, it’s a good option for short to mid tempos. It will be in rotation with 4 other shoes in my training for Osaka. I’m unaware if the Speed Cage are available in other colors in this country but there are other colorways available as seen on this site.

I’ll be sure to revisit several of the shoes in a few months’ time once they’re past the 100K mark.

For:

  • Quick, responsive ride.
  • Firm toe-off.
  • Very well ventilated.
  • Hot weather running.
  • Wet weather running.
  • Plenty of large drain ports.
  • Fits true to size, due to removal of additional upper padding.
  • The forefoot is surprisingly not as restrictive as traditional Nike.
  • Triathletes wanting well ventilated shoes – replace stock laces with Locklaces for quicker lacing.

Not for:

  • Sockless running.
  • Walking around due to its stiffness
  • Those who prefer a softer and flexible ride.
  • Tricky tongue.
  • Those preferring wide forefoot.
  • Cold and windy running conditions.
  • The stock laces are not easy to secure and remove. They need to be double/tripled knotted.

Disclaimer: The pair of Speed Cage+ 3 was provided by Nike Sales Malaysia but the review was entirely my own take.

Previously reviewed Jul 29th, 2012

Note: I wish I’ve had a US10.5 of the Cage then. Forefoot fit has always been an issue with Nike for me and sizing up would’ve enhanced the wear experience tremendously. Plus, I’m now a stronger runner than 5 years ago and will be able to enjoy the firmer forefoot cushioning of the Cage.