Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit: Perplexingly Efficient and Fast.


The Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit ($170), 10 oz/283 g in my US 8.5 size, is the most unusual and intriguing shoe I have run this year, and for that matter in a long time.  It is stiff with a hard to bend single flex point but one that has an extremely dynamic, snappy almost violent spring back. It is on the heavier side at approximately 10.4 oz at US size 9 for what is clearly a performance trainer.  It is quite firm but largely shock free with pace for perceived effort always faster than expected and heart rate lower, translating for me to good running economy. It is expensive at $170 and I suspect a concept shoe for more to come in this approachA low height version appears to be on the way.

The details according to Nike
BENEFITS



  • Flyknit upper construction fits like a second skin
  • Mid-cut collar provides a locked-down fit
  • 3/4-length, visible Zoom Air unit for the ultimate response
  • Asymmetrical Flywire cables integrate with the laces for dynamic midfoot support
  • Translucent Waffle rubber outsole offers durable, multi-surface traction
  • Segmented rubber crash rail gives you extra cushioning and flexibility

  • PRODUCT DETAILS



  • Cushlon foam forefoot delivers support and a springy, responsive ride
  • Flex grooves provide natural range of motion
  • Weight: 10.8 ounces (men’s size 10)
  • Offset: 8mm

  • Per Running Warehouse the stack is 31mm heel/21 mm forefoot

    Air Zoom Unit Midsole

    The Bottom Line to all the Benefits and Product Details is the 3/4 visible Zoom Air unit. It provides a consistent underfoot feel from heel to toe.  The ride is definitely on the firm side but strangely shock and vibration free. The stability is impeccable from heel to toe on the road. I am a heel striker. I personally would not take them on trails as the disconnect between soft relatively unstructured upper and firm stiff under carriage could lead to ankle and especially front of the foot twisting as the upper foot rotates with no give below.
    At first I thought no way a shoe this stiff will be possible to comfortably run. Out I went and no issues at all with the stiffness beyond a bit of toe soreness in the first miles. Then I discovered something...The All Out has a single flex point near the last lace hole. I only discovered it after flexing the shoe hard, very hard and low and behold there was a distinct spring like snap to the flex. I assume under load it is flexing and then returning energy at toe off but in a way that is not disconnected from an overall sense of a continuous smooth transition so it must happen fast very fast in the gait cycle. Over about 40 miles the flex has gotten easier so patience and some miles is advised.

    Looking more closely at the transparent Zoom unit one can see vertical supports. Within each vertical support are 2 through channels. When the shoe is compressed the vertical supports deflect and fold. The visual effect is that the supports become rounded and with the air or gas in the unit I suspect they not only deflect independently of each other but along each's length, cushioning, storing and then releasing energy in a very precise way. I think this is the reason the feel and stability is so consistent under foot and the energy return definitely present but not bouncy or with any noticeable shock on landing either.

    The Zoom Air unit is topped by the cushion foam under the entire foot then replacing the Air Zoom at  very front of the shoe, the blue layer. Contributing to the distinct flex point is a flex groove felt in the cushion foam under the sock liner.
    Outsole

    Most of the outsole, from heel to near the toe, is a translucent material reminding me of the Saucony Crystal rubber in the Freedom ISO but firmer. Up at the very front are some more conventional rubber lugs and the only exterior flex grooves into the midsole. To date about 40 miles durability has been excellent, no perceptible wear beyond my usual rear of the heel scuff area

    Upper


    The upper is Nike's Flyknit with Flywire cables integrated to the laces. They fit true to size with decent width but have relatively low volume over the toes requiring a lighter sock.  The "mid cut collar" is aesthetically interesting but I could do with out it.

    Nike has improved the joining of the 2 sides of the Flyknit at the heel, largely eliminating the sometimes irritation causing seam of the Lunar Epic by making the joining fabric overlay softer and thinner . It is still there, required to hold the 2 sides together particularly when slipping the foot in the narrow opening but now less noticeable.

    Unlike the the similar Lunar Epic's mid height upper, below the high collar is a relatively conventional heel collar padding ( the darker blue), more substantial heel overlays and counter but it still less structured than a normal heel counter construction although it has a better held more stable heel area than the updated minimally structured Epic.
    LEFT Nike Zoom All Out Flyknit  RIGHT: Nike Lunar Epic

    Getting rid of the high collar and using a conventional heel collar and achilles hold would improve the heel hold which, if adequate for me, is a bit to voluminous and wide towards the sock liner and a bit loose higher up where a normal heel collar would be. Rumor has it such a version is on the way soon as happened with the Lunar Epic.

    Ride

    The All Out is an unusual ride that is for sure.  There is plenty of firm road feel with minimal shock transmitted. Pace is always faster than expected and heart rate lower for the perceived effort. Part of this perception may come from the efficiency of the platform: its firm effective cushion and rapid snappy energy return and part from the fact the Zoom Air dampens vibration and shock so completely without creating a pillow effect. The All Out ride is a big contrast to the Lunar Epic Flyknit's soft pillowy feel and easier flex. The stiffness upfront with the exception of some occasional mild toe sorenessreally isn't noticeable at any pace and likely under load they do flex with a resounding if not sensed due to muting of the Zoom unit gas and structure with a "snap" of energy. I am curious to race them at some point despite the weight. Most of my runs in them having been moderate tempo or slow, both equally handled. I am always surprised as the pace feels slower than actual in the All Out.

    Conclusion and Recommendations
    I have been very pleasantly surprised by the All Out,very. Of all the incredible midsole tech innovations of the last few years, including Boost, the Zoom Air unit here is right up there, maybe the best in terms of actual run economy results for me despite its weight and stiffness.  They run faster than their weight and for me I believe with greater economy. A bit ponderous, a bit heavy, a bit stiff they none the less move right along very well indeed with fantastic unique energy return that is not of the flashy Boost kind but more the high pressure mountain bike piston shock kind, tuned to firm.  I just plow along, happy as can be when I glance at my pace and heart rate. So, they are an acquired taste you have to believe in, and I believe.
    Those requiring a stiff shoe due to toe and foot problems might find them a good solution. Durability should be excellent and should be for the price. I could take or leave the Flyknit upper preferring in general engineered mesh but for sure would keep the Flywire mid foot hold. It is effective and also importantly not noticeable as a mid foot saddle.
    I am using them as a daily trainer for all paces and despite the weight intend to race them, starting with a 10K or a half.  If only they were an ounce or two lighter, and a touch more flexible, they would be an incredible all around performance trainer and racer.

    Comparisons
    Lunar Epic Flyknit
    The Lunar EpicFlyknit is 2 ounces lighter and has soft easy ride. While they share a mid height upper, Flyknit and Flywire they couldn't be more different. I distinctly prefer the firm, more stable shock free high energy return All Out to the mighty fine pillowy light as can be Epic's, and this despite its big weight penalty.
    On Cloudsurfer
    Both share technologies that through the structure of the midsole beyond the usual solid foam provide cushion and some energy return. Both are stiff but the Cloudsurfer and its Speedboard is stiff and in the way for me. The All Out is stiff and gives me something back with every stride. Prefer the All Out.

    Score 9.65 to of 10
    -0.1 for stiffness
    -0.1 for weight
    -0.05 for  mid height upper not holding heel area as well as a normal heel counter could
    -0.05 for fairly shallow toe box
    -0.05 for price..

    The Zoom All Out Flyknit was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run by Nike and Running Warehouse. The opinions herein are entirely our own.

    The Nike Zoom All Out is available from Running Warehouse. 
    Men's here
    Women's here
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