Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Review: Nike Lunar Tempo: Fabulous Racer Trainer with Very High Cushion to Weight Ratio.Comfortable Any Speed Ride

Nike Lunar Tempo

The Nike LunarTempo is versatile trainer and long race shoe which provides a tremendous amount of decently stable cushioning and upper at an impossibly light weight:  6.8 oz 192 grams Men 9, 5.9 oz Women 8. Retail Price $110.  It has a 8mm drop with a 26mm heel, 18mm forefoot stack. These are similar overall stacks to the Brooks Ghost and Launch, Mizuno Wave Rider, adidas Energy Boost but... at a weight 2-3.5 oz lighter!  Of course cushion to weight  ratio is not the only factor to consider, yet Nike has carefully crafted a lightweight blend that hits many checkmarks for me:

  • Very high cushion to weight ratio but also not mushy cushioning, particularly in the heel. It is the best such ratio (add heel and forefoot stack and divide by weight) of any shoe in my collection except the Hoka Clifton (review) whose heel I found too soft and angled. Lunar Tempo has enough cushion, as I generally like at least 18mm in the forefoot and 26mm in the heel in a training shoe or for marathon racing.
  • Very firm, responsive but not overly extensive outsole rubber over the soft cushion. I know outsole is there but can't "feel" a hardish landing I do in, for example, the Saucony ISO Zealot (review), ISO Triumph(review) and  New Balance Fresh Foam Zante (review) heel's or the somewhat stiff toe spring push off of these shoes and the Adios Boost (review).
  • A minimal and light upper yet one adequately supportive with Flywire cable support around light mesh "fabric". Part of the price to pay for such a light overall shoe. I'm OK with this tradeoff
  • Smooth running, not too stiff. I like toe spring for shorter races but find shoes such as the Adios Boost and Zante tire and sometimes cramp my forefoot after longer miles. No such issues during my 20 mile run in the Lunar Tempo.
I have run 40 miles to date in the LunarTempo. These runs included a 20 mile run with middle 9 miles at marathon pace (8:30/mile) on a flat route. I did not experience my usual hip weakness and lack of drive and the run left me with no soreness anywhere, unusual and this after several weeks of back and hip issues
Update: Lunar Tempo was my Boston Marathon shoe this year, replacing my trusty 10oz Energy Boost. I went with the true to size optic yellow pair below.  Absolutely perfect on a wet rainy day. No blisters. Plenty of cushion. Flexible upfront. Super light weight. 2 days after the Marathon I am having the quickest recovery from a marathon in many years. I did not run as fast as I planned but still put in a long hard cold effort.
Nike Lunar Tempo
Read on for details...

Fit and Upper
The only structure to the upper is provided by the Flywires, there are no overlays of any kind except the Swoosh. The light engineered mesh fabric and Flywire seems to be a big factor in the light weight of the shoe.

There was talk online about the very front of the engineered mesh at the toe being low. It is and is also somewhat firmer and denser weave. So, I sized up half a size. I shouldn't have as the rest of the forefoot is not so much very wide as quite unstructured due to the light single layer fabric-like mesh. Update: I have since purchased a pair true to size and am amazed at the difference in fit with only a half size difference. Foot now properly held especially the area near the last Flywire. Did I have a poorly assembled half size up as the mesh seems far baggier off the foot?.  I am fine at half size up to 9 in Fresh Foam Zante, perfect and am true to size 8.5 in Adios Boost 1 and Boston Boost as well as Hoka Clifton. 

A somewhat thicker trail weight sock solved some sloppiness, in comparison to the snug front fit of for example the Zante and Adios Boost. The low very front of the toe has not been an issue but could for sure a bit wider and higher as I had a bit of irritation on my big toe calluses after the 20 miler, often an issue on long runs. This said I also need to take care of the build up before Boston, my bad. 

The mid foot is well held by the Flywires but the Tempo does not have the snug well supported and a bit tight under the arch for me wrap of the Zante or the overall directed snug upper of the Adios Boost 1.
Nike Lunar Tempo (left) New Balance Zante (right) Note wider mid foot arch area upper of Tempo 

The Flywires, the visible yellow cords, run on top of the upper near the laces then below between the upper and the liner fabric. They are not noticed during the run and have caused me no irritation despite being easy to feel through the liner on the inside. 

Nike Lunar Tempo

The Lunar Tempo has a bit of a heel counter and cup but it really only be described as firmer fabric as opposed to any heavy plastic. This minimal counter also contributes to reducing weight. The heel hold is fine for me.  The very back lower center of the heel cup is usual heel counter firm for about an square inch, some kind of insert.

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is made using Nike's Lunarlon cushioning system which Nike describes as follows: "Lunarlon cushioning features a soft, yet resilient, foam core that is encased within a supportive foam carrier for lightweight, ultra-plush cushioning, springy response and support."  I was not able to get a very good durometer reading but believe the outer carrier is similar in firmness to the Zante midsole which is entirely made of one density of foam. Thus, the inner foam core is softer than Zante and when combined with the more minimal outsole coverage, the LunarTempo is softer for me than Zante. Yet, LunarTempo is stable at heel landing and forefoot push off, without being mushy, so Lunarlon is working as described by Nike, at least for me.
Nike Lunar Tempo



The outsole patches are firm BR1000 carbon rubber.  I measure these as comparable firmness to the NB Fresh Foam Zante and Boracay which have full coverage outsoles and thinner and less firm than the Saucony ISO Zealot and Triumph's more extensive patches particularly in the heel which for me has a rslightly over firm landing. 

In comparison the  ride of the Tempo is a bit less harsh overall than the New Balance and Saucony, more flexible, a bit less responsive on push off but with a very pleasant feeling of smooth light cushioning and flexibility. 
When compared to the Zante and I ran the Zante and Lunar Tempo side by side, one on each foot, the Lunar Tempo is definitely a bit softer due to its patch outsole design vs. the full firm rubber coverage of the Zante. When compared to Kinvara I find the firmer and more extensive outsole patches and especially at the forefoot of the Tempo, where they are square and not Kinvara's triangular provide a more stable front of the shoe ride for me, yet also with a more unstructured slightly less supportive upper than Kinvara.  But... Tempo has 4mm of additional heel cushion and weighs almost an ounce less than Kinvara... Think about this...

Ride and Recommendations
The Nike LunarTempo is a joy to run. Having such a light, flexible shoe with great cushioning at a super light weight is a most pleasant experience. It is clear lots of careful decisions went into this category defining shoe so as to achieve the right balance of very very light weight, cushioning, and adequate if more minimal upper support. Lunar Tempo is Nike's big shot across the bow of the Adios Boost and Boston, New Balance Zante and 1400, Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Launch, Mizuno Sayonara, Skechers GoRun and GoRun Ride,  as well Hoka Clifton among others in the light trainer racer category. Sort of an Apple approach, not the first but a more refined evolved version of the light weight trainer theme with category leading weight and plenty of cushioning the product targets. 

40 years ago I ran and tested many of the original Nikes but in recent years except for a few pairs of so-so Vomero 8 years ago and a race flat, I have not been wowed. I am impressed with what Nike has achieved here. While not "looking like" a Hoka Clifton, for some a good thing, it seems to me Nike is evolving the concept of lighter more highly cushioned shoes in new and very exciting ways. It is a bit sad Nike is not heavily promoting this shoe right now lost in a sea of very similar other Nike Lunar models.
When comparing the ride to Adios Boost, Zante, and Clifton I would call Lunar Tempo more "slipper-ish": soft comfortable, somewhat unstructured especially in the front upper, flexible and light. 

Certainly Lunar Tempo is a fast shoe and for me I think an ideal marathon shoe but also a shoe just as able and suitable to be a daily trainer for runners like me who prefer decent cushion day in day out. As with other shoes with patch outsoles rapid wear may be a concern but this said the rubber is decently firm, we'll see. Some with pronation issues may not find them supportive enough. Many runners will do everything in them: tempo, long, intervals, races. I will use them for daily training and marathons and will for now stick to the Adios Boost for shorter races but who knows...

Highly recommended and in the running for my Road Shoe of the Year.

The Lunar Tempos were a personal purchase at retail. The opinions herein are entirely my own.

The Nike Lunar Tempo is available at Running Warehouse, now:  Men's here Women's here  All your Running Warehouse purchases at these links support my blog. Thanks!

Deals for Nike Lunar Tempo

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi sam,

thanks for the reviews! have you run in the lunaracer 3? if so, how do they compare? not quite clear to me what their relationship is. is this replacing lunaracer?

also, how does one get to the list of your reviews now?

thanks again.

sam winebaum said...

Only Nike in years the LunarTempo. I believe the Lunar Racer is lighter at 0.50z lighter, might have non removable insole, has a bit less outsole rubber in the forefoot but a touch more stack in the forefoot and heel. The lunar tempo replaces the lunar trainer. In fact the tempo tongue says lunar trainer! Quite confusing Nike Lunar as models very very similar. Sorry shortcut to page with summary list of all reviews went missing. Will fix. Here is direct link. http://samwinebaum.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

Joel said...

Overall, I enjoy running in this shoe a lot, and agree with your general comments. However, after 3 long runs (40 miles total) I can already see that the foam on the medial side has significantly caved in. I'm wondering if I just got a defective pair, or if the foam is simply too light, at least for a runner like me. How is your pair looking?

sam winebaum said...

Joel, I am at 80 miles on my first pair and notice a very slight collapse, very slight to lateral side. When comparing my original half size up pair midsole to my newer Boston run plus a short run 30 mile pair) I can see that the overall midsole at the heel of the older pair is now slightly lower so they are packing down. Boost this is not and given how light and depending on how you run, plus the less than full outsole coverage some collapse should be expected. I could see it collapsing but you may also have a bum pair. Send a pic to compare?

Joel said...

Sam,

Thanks, I put a few photos up on the blog,here.

I could live with some collapsing at around 100 miles in, which is when I've tended to notice it with some other lightweight shoes, like the Clifton. But at only 40 miles? That and the fact its mostly just happening on the right side makes me suspect a bum pair. I'll likely try to return them, but I'm curious how this compares to what you're seeing.

P.S. Congrats on the marathon!

sam winebaum said...

Thanks for pics Joel. Mine show no such collapse. A touch of lean towards for me towards medial side on one shoe, heel rising of ground. One wouldn't notice unless looking very closely. Do you tend to pronate? I would say given soft foam, minimal upper and no stabilizing or even firmer outsold under midfoot that is is very much a neutral shoe. Also how did you size. My first pair I went half size up and upper just didn't fit quite right. To much play in front of foot. If you foot is not held it might transfer weight to medial side instead of more evenly. Second true to size perfect hold. All this said something doesn't seem right with your pair...

Joel said...

I do pronate more than typical, but the only time my legs have gotten hurt was when wearing support shoes, so neutral shoes for me. Size wise, I'm wearing a 13, the same as every other running shoe I own. The LunarTempo feels a bit tight in the toe when I put them on, but the feeling goes away when I start running. Anyway, thanks for taking a look! I'm going to see if I can't exchange them for another pair and see what happens.

sam winebaum said...

Joel, sounds like a bum pair but still concerned that as you pronate even a bit that this totally neutral soft foam shoe may not be quite right for you. I can't stand typical support shoes at all but don't have a problem with shoes with a bit of mid foot support shank, for example Adios Boost is great for me.

Anonymous said...

hi sam,

congratulations on boston, especially considering the weather!

any thoughts on running easier trails in the lunartempos? lunaracers have almost no traction, though tempos' outsole is a bit different.

thanks.

sam winebaum said...

Lunar Tempos on trails... smooth gravel hard pack with few rocks or off camber stuff should be OK. A bit of grip from the outsole but not much. Upper is pretty minimal and there is no heel counter. Some will run them on trails and be happy if they are nimble but a bit too light for me. I hear great things about the Nike Terra Kiger.

Brandon said...

Thank you so much for the detailed review. When I went to buy my Zante last week I tried these on and was shocked by how awesome they felt. I was immediately torn and on the fence. I ultimately went with the Zante because of concern over outsole durability and losing momentum in a shoe that squishy. I did my first 5 miles in the Zante yesterday. They seemed to warm up and get a little less stiff around mile 4 but still felt narrow through the heel and arch. I kept finding myself thinking back to that Lunarlon cushion. My absolute favorite shoe is the Adidas ultra boost. My only disappoint in the ultra boost is how rapidly the outsole wore. I am starting to think this Lunar Tempo might be a better companion to my Ultra Boost in my rotation.

sam winebaum said...

Brandon-Thanks for chiming in with your impressions. I agree Zante is snugger overall and firmer stiffer mostly I think because of that durable full coverage outsole. The Lunar Tempo likely will not be able to get as many miles on them as the Zante because of the softer lighter foam and less outsole coverage. Always tradeoffs. While I like the Ultra Boost a lot the weight is high and I find the forefoot too mushy for speed. Also the outsole wear is surprising given how incredibly well my Energy Boost and Adios wear. For me I find no loss of momentum in the Tempo but for sure not as snappy as Zante. Hard to tell if that feeling translates into differences in actual speed, kind of doubt it unless potentially you are maybe a pronounced constant forefoot striker. What paces do you race and train at?

Brandon said...

Sam, I am a pretty constant forefoot striker working on more of a mid foot. Wasn't too hard to make that transition. I train and race between 7:45 and 8:30 paces. The funny thing about the mileage you mention on the Nike is that when I bought the Zante the sales guy told me that I was going to get good mileage out of the Zante which I found odd because I have always gotten really high mileage out of my previous New Balance 890v4. I woke up with a little bit of calf strain this morning. I assume because of the difference in the 10mm drop of the Ultra Boost compared to the 6mm drop of the Zante. Another reason I was reconsidering the Lunar Tempo, the drop and cushion is similar. But, maybe that is what my rotation needs, a little shake up between drops throughout the week.

Anonymous said...

hi sam,
i'm considering the tempo, but also thinking about the newton energy nr (first model). i noticed on runblogger's review that you commented that you were getting a pair, and had liked the gravity (which surprised me since you say you are a heel striker). how did you feel about the energy? is it an easy adjustment back and forth with non-newtons? how was sizing for you? did you try it without the insole? did you find it particularly responsive, or very soft?
thanks.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous, What are you running in now? I have run the Energy nr but "missed the heel". I ran in the original gravity and loved them particularly at speed. Somehow but I am not sure that Newton has lowered their heel drop over time so for me to much to overcome as a heel striker, lugs up front plus lower heel. Tempo is smooth all over with no artificial gadgets. I hear very good things also about the Newton Aha, more normal shoe. I might try these next.

Joel said...

I'm happy to report that my replacement pair has been great, no repeat problems. I guess my first pair was just defective. Cheers!

Bill Nolan said...

Hi Sam,

The choice is down to three for my Twin Cities Marathon shoe: NB Zante, Newton Distance IV LE, Nike Lunar Tempo. Have done 20 in all three and am still torn. I'm slow (4:15 goal for this marathon). Any thoughts?

Bill

sam winebaum said...

Hi Bill, I have run in both the Zante and Lunar Tempo but not the Newton Distance IV. Go with what works and is comfortable for the long haul. For me there was no question I would and did pick Lunar Tempo over Zante for my 2015 Boston. Choice worked fine. My other choices were my trusty adidas Energy Boost or Adios Boost. The Adios I felt was too thin under the forefoot for a marathon although I had raced up to 20 miles in them on flatter courses. No blisters or issues with Tempo but could have used a bit more structure late in the race. I find the Zante quite firm underfoot both heel and forefoot and quite snug too. As far as Newton I would worry about staying on the lugs when tired at your pace or any pace. Thanks for reading! Have a great marathon

Anonymous said...

Hi
I recently tried a pair, but my big toe seems to be touching the top of the shoe (ceiling, not the end). Is this normal? It gets a bit annoying some times.

sam winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous, See the review. Yes you do feel the toe weave especially when standing and not running. At least for me I made the mistake hearing all the complaints of initially sizing up half a size and never could get the rest of the shoe to fit. At my true to size toe felt about the same standing and running and was absolutely not an issue for me anyways. 2 things will also occur. The insole will pack down a bit giving a touch more room and that denser mesh over the toe will get a bit softer. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,
I from India over here these are available only at online shopping site, I have ordered these in same grey colour I'm expecting them to arrive in a day or two,I I'm a bit worried as so many fakes are being sold online, so thanks for pics a comparison could be made for ensuring the authenticity of the shoe, also over here no half size options are available So I hope the shoe fits right I have a narrow feet of 7uk, thanks for the reviews

Border Patrol said...

hi ,
thanks for the sizing advice. i was also concerned with the ~0.25 size difference and the toe touching the mesh. but in half a size up my toe also touched the mesh as thats the way the shoe is built. since the mesh is soft its not an issue (unlike the altra one..) . so true to size is good for me. (half a size up didnt feel snug).