If you were not able to get the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% shoes before Nike stopped selling them, or if you aren’t Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese who are only a handful of elite runners to own a pair of Zoom VaporFly Elites, this is the next best shoe you can get from Nike.
Since this is the first in the line of the “Zoom Fly” series from Nike, there are no predecessors to compare it to.
However, Nike frequently lists the Air Zoom Pegasus alongside the Zoom Fly shoes, so I would consider the Air Zoom Pegasus as a cousin with a cheaper price point of $110, higher weight at 10.1 ounces, and similar offset of 10mm.
The Zoom Fly is 8.75 ounces in men’s size 10, has a 10mm offset, and has a thick 33mm heel stack height.
Other lightweight shoes with a large heel stack height at a similar price point are the Altra Torin 3.0 NYC 2018 shoes with a 28mm stack height at 8.4 ounces, and the Hoka Clifton 4 shoes with a 29 mm heel stack at 9.3 ounces.
Nike Zoom Fly General Info
Few running shoes come with such a story. Nike announced a year ago (December 2016) that they were going to break 2 hours in the marathon. This was an absurd attempt by Nike that needed the best of running tech to support the best of runners.
Nike shocked many in the running community this May with a 2:00:25 near miss (although it will not be recorded as an official record due to several factors).
Nike pointed some of the success to their to their Zoom Vaporfly 4% Elite shoes that were created for this event.
Since the public cannot buy the elite versions, Nike had a short production run of the Zoom Vaporfly 4%, and focused the rest of production on the Zoom Fly and Air Zoom Pegasus 34 shoes.
So what we have here is best of the shoes you can by from Nike that came out of the Breaking2 project.
However, the adage, “It’s not the arrow, it’s the indian” comes up when discussing top tier running tech like this. The majority of your success will come from training, and you just need gear that’s good enough to make it the rest of the way.
You only seriously look at the arrow when you’re struggling to improve the last few percentage points.
I’m sure Nike would love EVERY runner to drop $150 on a pair of new running shoes, but this does not make sense for most people, so that’s why this shoe is best suited for those at the top of their running game.
I did qualify and run the Boston Marathon this year (although I ran in the Saucony Freedom ISOs and not the Zoom Flys), so I think I’m in Nike’s target market for this shoe.
That’s why I was excited to unbox the Zoom Flys and lace them up for a long fast workout.
The lacing system feels pretty standard for a top Nike shoe, utilizing minimalist Flywire and low-profile eyelets, and the insides of the upper felt pretty standard for top Nike shoe with a near seamless construction.
The sole of the shoe is where Nike went to another level. The foam of the outsole is fantastically light and responsive with a 33 mm heel and 23 mm in the forefoot with an intuitive upturned toe.
The shoe feels like it wants you to start moving forward.
That upturned toe on the sole reminds me of some of the Sketchers GoMeb shoes that were created for elite marathoners, and it really feels like it is best suited for fast long distance racing since your foot smoothly rolls from flat to 45 degrees in your stride without any deformation of the shoe.
I was treated to some of the most comfortable fast and long runs that I’ve experienced in a while when wearing the Zoom Fly shoes.
I liked it so much that I ran about 200 miles in these shoes before writing this review (which probably distressed our site founder a little since we normally just do 50 miles before a review, haha).
However, I think it was worth the wait, hope you learn if the shoes are right for you after reading my full review, and I hope you don’t mind that the photos of the shoe are a little dirty as they were taken after about 200 miles of running.
Nike Zoom Fly Sole Unit
I’m glad we’re starting with the sole. The majority of what makes this shoe a 10/10 is in the sole and everything about it seems right to me. Many shoe manufacturers right now are testing new types of foam and getting measurable improvements.
Currently, TPU type foam is leading the edge, where Adidas has Boost Foam and Saucony has Everun foam. But those TPU foams are a tad heavier than what Nike was looking for, so they stuck with their Lunarlon foam on this shoe.
Personally, I wished Nike used their new Zoomx, but that might have been prohibitive to do at this $150 price point.
Lunarlon is 30% lighter than standard phylon foam and the thick stack heights of this Lunarlon foam do an impressive job of reducing impact forces.
You can’t have an impressive running sole with just a blob of foam (bite me, Crocs).
A sandwich of materials ensures you have abrasion resistant materials on the outside, shock absorbing materials next to that, torsion and deformation resistant materials next to that, and softer materials near your foot.
Nike has a great abrasion resistant outsole, the large Lunarlon foam block for the majority of the insole, and then a full-length carbon-infused nylon plate to keep the shape of the sole and to “deliver a propulsive sensation”.
This “propulsive sensation” is the plate trying to bend back to the original shape when you bend it.
Many shoes have plates like this, so the magic is how well you can get the plate to blend into the shoe to the point where runners aren’t sure if the foam or the plate is providing the running sensation. Nike did a good job here.
Finishing the sole is the simple and sweet outsole design. Nike filled out the forefoot with a continuous patch of rippling pentagons that presumably came out of lots of modeling and design work since it shares the same design as the Zoom VaporFly Elites.
It’s nice to see such a full forefoot of rubber on a top-tier running shoe since most marathoning shoes seem to skimp on the rubber (like the Sketchers GoMeb series, or the Saucony Kinvara shoes).
This gives a little more traction and life to the shoe which is more of an important feature if you plan on using these shoes fore more than just race day.
The midfoot of the shoe is all foam, and the foam extends a bit int the heel. It’s not just plain foam though, Nike continued the pentagons throughout the outsole for improved flexibility and traction.
Only the last 4 pentagons on the heel get rubber which is a good compromise when trying to keep a shoe light and durable.
Even most of the Nike Free shoes feature a splash of rubber at the heel and a tad at the toe to add enough traction and abrasion resistance.
One last important feature of the sole is the odd looking foam tail that extends past the heel. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe this helps reduce air drag on the shoe which is something to consider when every second counts.
Overall, the sole feels amazing on the road or treadmill and has enough durability to be considered as a light-duty daily trainer.
Nike Zoom Fly Upper Info
Partnered with the great sole on the Zoom Fly shoes is a great upper. As mentioned earlier, Nike made the upper nearly seamless which reduces the chances of causing chafing on a runner’s feet.
This is incredibly important when making shoes for marathons. The Flymesh material is very breathable and features extra ventilation holes near the toebox.
I am hesitant that this light and breathable mesh will stand up to 500+ miles of running which is why you should not make these shoes your primary pick for daily training.
Sneaking through the sides of the Flymesh are Nike’s Flywire cables that provide a very snug fit. These Flywire cables loop directly into the laces that sit on top of a very minimal eyelet system.
This gives the upper a thin profile and reduces pressure points on the top of your foot.
There’s also minimal flexing to the lacing system (unlike the Saucony Freedom ISOs), so make sure you find the correct way to lace up these shoes since they are unforgiving if you accidentally tighten something too much.
Right beneath all the laces is tongue with a novel design. Nike kept the thin tongue as seen on other models, but did something new at the top.
They put a “v” notch near the inside edge of the tongue to let the tongue better wrap around your ankle’s front tendons. Pretty brilliant design choice that I’m surprised took this long for Nike to include in shoes.
It probably increases running efficiently by an incredibly small amount, but Nike is trying pretty much everything legal to squeeze out those seconds.
Lastly, the heel of the shoe wraps up the upper in a well designed package.
It’s the thickest part of the upper, and you can feel that the bottom of the heel has a stronger type of plastic/fabric to hold the shape of the shoe and keep your feet in the right place.
The materials used around the heel feel perfect for the shoe and I never noticed anything uncomfortable.
Nike Zoom Fly Conclusions
I’ve logged thousands of miles in Nike shoes in my lifetime, have had a few bad experiences with groundbreaking designs (namely the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Shield shoes), and have tested dozens and dozens of shoes.
So I’m genuine when I say that the Nike Zoom Fly shoes are the best marathoner shoes that I’ve tried, unless Nike wants to send me a pair of the VaporFly Elites.
However, the competition from other shoe manufactures is still very close by.
I would still recommend trying other top marathon shoes like the Adidas Ultra Boost 3.0 (or a shoe from the Adizero line), the Saucony Freedom ISOs, the ASICS Gel Hyper Speed 7s, or one of the many other elite level shoes before settling on the Nike Zoom Flys.
We purchased a pair of Nike Zoom Fly from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.