Nike FlyKnit Racer General Information
The Nike Fly-Knit Racer made its big stage debut at last year’s London Olympic Games in the Marathon with virtually all Nike-sponsored athletes sporting the flat.
It provides adequate cushioning for the marathon distance for any runner with a specific time goal in mind, and makes a great trainer for those mechanically gifted enough to run in less shoe most of the time.
While the weight and materials might be defined as ‘minimal’, I think the heel-to-toe difference is a bit too much to fall into the minimalist category of footwear.
However, this shoe could be used as a transition shoe for those wanting move down in cushioning from a more traditional trainer. Otherwise, save the shoe for race day or speed sessions when you want to feel as fast as possible.
Nike FlyKnit Racer Impression
The Fly-Knit Racer’s color is a striking neon green (some might say yellow) with black trim. It is light weight, but one can notice the heel offset when holding it flush in the hand.
Surprisingly enough, the Nike Fly-Knit Trainer is actually lower to the ground in this respect.
It is unclear to me why Nike chose to have a shoe marketed as a “trainer” on a more level platform than their “racer”, but this is the case. Perhaps it was to place the runner in a slightly more “forward” position for running fast in the Racer, but this is purely speculation.
My first run in the shoe was an easy ten miler on a hilly course, and I was very pleased with the ride and responsive ground feel. The shoe needs little break-in time, like most other racing flats, so I wasn’t hesitant to test the waters in the Racers right out of the box.
The shoe offers a ton of protection from the pavement; maybe too much for some wearers accustomed to very minimal flats, but certainly enough for the marathon and faster long runs. It especially excels on down hills with its cushioned heel and quick heel-to-toe exchange, so take note if your goal race this spring has multiple descents.
The Fly-Knit Racer feels best when running at marathon pace or faster given the nature of the shoe.
One almost feels restricted at slower speeds, so I don’t recommend this shoe for recovery outings where you will need to buffer your pace.
Nike FlyKnit Racer Sole Unit
The outsole of the Nike Fly-Knit Racer is a new Waffle design on a flat, neutral platform. It is constructed of a rigid rubber/foam material that is moderately flexible when bent with the hand, but far less than most other flats on the market.
It is firm upon ground strike at every speed. This rigidity is good for fast running because it keeps the foot in the power position at toe-off and supports the muscles under fatigue late in a race.
The midsole has noticeable arch support in this shoe, and you can feel the heel height when running at slower speeds as noted above. Other than that, the shoe provides a versatile, efficient package for road racing, distance training, and track speed sessions.
I would think the longevity of this shoe would be higher than most flats given its durable, resilient outsole material, as well.
Nike Flyknit Racer Upper
The upper on the Fly-Knit Racer is the shoe’s name sake. The Fly-Knit material is Nike’s newest upper design trademark, and it performs as good as it feels when you first step into the shoe. It hugs the foot snugly, but is not restrictive.
The tongue is also fairly unique to this particular model. It is constructed in one single piece that is simply an extension of the upper, and is not noticeable when running.
In the Fly-Knit Racer, you can splash through a puddle with confidence or not worry about accidentally dropping a water cup on the shoe during a race because within seconds it will be dry (the upper, not necessarily your socks). For this reason, it makes a great rain shoe when conditions aren’t optimum.
Nike FlyKnit Racer Opinion
In conclusion, the Nike Fly-Knit Racer is one of the most well-rounded racing flats I have owned.
The combination of speed, power, and momentum it helps you achieve when running fast is remarkable, and it serves the runner equally well at a variety of speeds from 5K-Marathon pace.
It is hard to resist not reaching for the Racer on a daily basis, but if you save them for your fastest runs you will most likely enjoy them to the fullest and get the most out of your body while racing.
We thank the nice people at Nike for sending us a pair of Flyknit Racer to review. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them