Friday, September 14, 2018

Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit Initial Road Test Review: Zoom Fly 2.5%?

Article by Sam Winebaum

Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit ($160)

The Zoom Fly Flyknit, the second in the series, available now, arrives with big changes. The "new" Zoom Fly is a racer trainer suitable for uptempo training and longer racers. The original Zoom Fly (RTR review) "appeared" similar to Nike's ground breaking Vaporfly 4% (RTR review) but ran quite roughly and firmly, with less pace range and weighed considerably more than the Vaporfly .

The new Zoom Fly substitutes:
  • the mostly plastic propulsion plate of the original for a full carbon plate similar but not as wide as the VaporFly's, 
  • the original's Lunarlon midsole for Nike new React but not the Zoom X of the VaporFly, a
  • and the engineered mesh upper for a Flyknit upper with no overlays and no heel counter.  
While the weight for this 10m drop shoe creeps up about 0.2 oz to approximately 8.6 oz /244g (my sample US M 8.5 weighs 8.325 oz/236g)  the ride is almost completely changed and approaches that of the VaporFly in its dynamic spring yet well cushioned feel. The dynamism of this uptempo trainer racer far surpasses the Epic React (RTR review), a shoe I found somewhat better cushioned, particularly in forefoot but dull in its ride and performance.

Fit and Upper
The Zoom Fly fits me true to my usual size 8.5. The fit is more performance oriented and while far more pliable, stretchy and light on the foot reminds me most of the Pegasus 35 in the Nike line up. I am 8.5 in the Vaporfly but have to wear heavier socks, 8.5 in the Epic React but find them very snug at the lower mid foot and somewhat overly high and rigid in hold at the achilles and heel, was just fine in the original Zoom Fly at 8.5 but found them a bit awkward fitting as the FlyWire didn't really match the dense not very stretchy upper.  I found the Pegasus Turbo somewhat roomy and unstructured at 8.5 as there was no stretch and at the same time low over the toes. Here the fit is very close to perfection from heel to toe for me fi a bit more tapered way up front than I prefer, the front rounding of the original and Vaporfly were just about right. 
Update: after a few runs the upper has stretched somewhat and the tapered toe is no longer noticed. My last run I wore somewhat heavier Stance Fusion merino socks and fit was totally secure, removing some extra rear of the shoe volume with plenty of room upfront. Sock weight selection is probably a far better size tuning tool than sizing up or down in most cases.
I do note some very slight slip forward, a low but no pressure (as some had in Turbo due to the racing stripe) sense over the big toe, I think this due to the lightly padded heel hold with no plastic heel counter leading to some slip or maybe a touch to little mid foot support  I am not sure I would size up in this shoe but those with wide feet but not a narrow heel might consider it. 
The upper is thin somewhat stretchy Flyknit and has no overlays or heel counter plastic.
In contrast to the original's not particularly stretchy engineered mesh and Flywire mid foot here we have a single layer of stretchy, light knit with variable densities for support and breathability.
In contrast to the Epic React's Flyknit upper the mid foot is less dense but more 3D in structure with a painted overlay Swoosh instead of a thick laminated plastic one.  My first run was on a not particularly warm but extremely humid day. Breathablity and comfort was outstanding. 


The midsole combines Nike's React foam with a full carbon propulsion plate. While both the Vaporfly and Zoom Fly have similar midsole stack heights and geometry there are differences, 
Differences in midsole design between the Vaporfly and ZoomFly:  

  • Vaporfly uses lighter more silky softer feeling Zoom X PEBA foam while Zoom Fly uses the denser somewhat less lively React. 
  • By pressing the side walls of both shoes I can tell the Zoom Fly's carbon plate towards the rear of the shoe is narrower as I can't feel it. With the VaporFly one can easily feel the plate, not so with the Zoom Fly. In both the plate slopes down and under the forefoot and is similar to a spike plate sitting just above the outsole.
These differences for me so far have translated into a considerably more stable heel landing with the Zoom Fly, an issue for some runners and slower paces in the Vapor Fly. The soft Zoom X in the Vapor Fly with the carbon plate not far below the heel limited training uses of the Vapor for me. At slower paces I could really feel the plate. Not nearly as much in the Zoom Fly so far. The forefoot is not quite as soft as VaporFly with a denser cushion feel and a touch less dynamism and sense of fall forward and pop off and go.The Zoom Fly Flyknit differs from the original Zoom Fly midsole in having a carbon plate in place of plastic and substituting React foam for Lunarlon foam. The result is a far springier and easier on the legs run feel and one that is much easier to transition than the original but not quite the flowy, soft bounce of the VaporFly.

There is plenty of durable rubber here. Other than color it does not appear different than the fine outsole on the original.

This is clearly a performance training and racing ride: responsive and snappy due to the plate. The heel is stable and well and amply cushioned with the forefoot far more forgiving than the Zoom Fly 1 as the density of the React cushions well there, whereas the prior foam just bottomed out and was harsh quite frankly front and back. The carbon plate gives clear snap to the ride. My 8.5 mile progression run had splits ranging from 9:27 to 8:17 minute miles at the end. Zoom Fly was smoother and more decisive at paces below 9 minute miles but, unlike the Vapor Fly which seems to flounder much above 9:20, felt decent at the slower paces. At my finishing pace I struggled a bit more to transition than in the Vapor Fly with its softer forefoot cushion and somewhat more pronounced fall forward effect. My last marathon was in the Vaporfly where I averaged 8:25 per mile and was delighted by its performance and my fresh legs. I think the Zoom Fly would do just fine for me at half to marathon paces but I still have Vapor Fly !
Initial Conclusions
One run in, with more to come it feels like the Zoom Fly slots in between the lighter by almost 2 ounces Vapor Fly (racing) and the softer longer trainers Epic React and Peg Turbo as Nike's new uptempo racer trainer. It clearly improves on the first edition. It can replace the heavier, densely cushioned, quite responsive and firm but somewhat ponderous in comparison Pegasus 35 for faster workouts and the softer and fun but not particularly stable and responsive Pegasus Turbo. It is definitely a closer cousin to the $90 heavier and almost two ounces lighter Vapor Fly than the first version was and as such is a good alternative, if not quite but within "1.5%" or so of the other worldly Vaporfly experience with its lighter weight and softer more bouncy Zoom X. The mid foot and heel cup area could have a touch more support and I wonder what a touch softer React foam would feel like but overall for faster running with a distinctive propulsive effect it is a great choice.

Quick Non Nike Comparisons (more to come with full review)
Reebok Floatride Run Fast (RTR review)
The Run Fast is a touch easier to run slow and its combination of foam similar to Zoom X with EVA rim is another way to skin the light weight, relatively well cushioned cat. The Reebok at about 2 oz lighter is noticeably lighter.  Also a stiffer shoe but not totally stiff as the Zoom Fly  it lacks the carbon plate which gives the Zoom Fly its distinctive snap but has a wider range of paces for me, so far.
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon  (RTR review)
Beyond both having relatively unstructured uppers these two couldn't be more different in construction. The Beacon essentially is a single slab of foam with no plate and essentially no outsole. It is is easier going at all paces but gets a bit sloppy up top and underfoot as the pace picks up. The Zoom Fly is a better workout shoe and should be for me be a better race shoe, the Beacon a slightly better all-arounder and a 1.5 oz lighter one which likely won't last nearly as long but at $100 is fairly priced.
Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running and shoe geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017 he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half and as he turned 61 a 3:40 marathon to qualify one more time for Boston. Sam runs his roads and trails in coastal New Hampshire and Park City, Utah.
The product reviewed in this article were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Dennis Chui said...

Do u recommend it over NB fuel cell Impulse for speed workout?

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to run in these and try them for myself. How do you feel about walking around in them as a casual shoe?

tpd said...

Sam, when is this shoe available?

Sam Winebaum said...

Not great as a casual shoe. Upper very nice but stiffness walking not ideal for me. Sam Editor

Sam Winebaum said...

Sorry should have indicated directly in the review but it is available at Running Warehouse at the link at the bottom of the review as well as directly a Nike. A purchase at Running Warehouse through the link helps support RoadTrailRun's work.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Dennis,
Thanks for asking. I have not run the Fuel Cell Impulse but looking at stats it would seem Fuel Impulse might be better for very short speed work but you would get far more versatility for runs at faster paces, including speed and longer distances in the new Zoom Fly.
Sam, Editor

The Indy(pendent) said...

Thanks, this was a super informative review. I actually only heard about this shoe yesterday at a group run (from another company rep!), and looked to check it out. I alternate between Peg 35 and Turbo, both of which you referenced, so I'm excited to add this shoe to the rotation in the spring.

Phoenixz said...

Between Zoom Fly Flyknkt, Skechers Go Run Ride 7, and Pegasus 35, which one would you recommend for long distance and race day? I know that these shoes are not in the same categories but if you need to pick just one, which one you would pick?

demian said...

Wow this changes things a bit. The Nike Odyssey React is my new favorite long distance shoe. I was planning on getting the Reebok Sweet Road 2 as a daily and mid distance but now this shoe. Nike is doing a terrific job with React Foam - I know it's not very popular on this site but I've found it to be very consistent, stable and fun to run. SR2 or this new Nike offering? Hmmmm

Anonymous said...

How is the fit of the zoom fly flyknit compared to the original zoom fly in terms of width and so on. I could go true to size comfortably on the zoom fly even with my high volume midfoot, i wonder if the zoom fly flyknit would be the same

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Ben,
The ZF Flyknit is somewhat lower volume and snugger than the original ZF as there is no Flywire etc.. but unlike original there is some give/stretch to the upper which the original had none of despite its higher volume. .If you have a very high volume foot I might suggest a half size up or go with thin socks in true to size.
Sam, Editor

reagan said...

I just got the Vaporfly knit today. The heel seems to slip a bit and I'm worried that the knit might be too loose to race in. I have the first version of Zoom Flys and they fit me well. Maybe it's just the knit that doesn't feel locked in.I'm debating if I should send these back or try them out. $250 is kind of a lot to lose if the shoes don't work out.

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Reagan, Did you get true to size? I always say play with sock choices. The original VF were way to roomy at mid foot down low for me so I went to thicker socks and voila, perfect. I will say Flyknit heels are sometimes iffy as are all knit type uppers.
Sam, Editor

reagan said...

Yes. Went with my normal size. The Vapor fly knit are longer than my version one Zoom Flys. Is it possible I should be sizing down with the Vapor fly knit? I'm also wondering if the Zoom Fly Knit fit the same as the Vapor Fly knit

demian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
demian said...

Can't decide between these or the new Peg 35 to compliment my Nike Odyssey React (which I love). Hmmm. Need a shoe for more up tempo runs. I have the NB1400 but don't use them much since I'm not a very fast runner and 205 lbs.

reagan said...


If you had to choose between one of these shoes for a full marathon which would it be.

Nike Zoom Flyknit or
Reebok Floatride Runfast

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Reagan,
What do you train in and race in now? Goal pace? I might lean to the Zoom Fly FK but depending on your goal pace, say if 4 hours or faster the shoe to race and marathon in is the Vaporfly.
Sam, Editor

Bruno said...

Hi!! Zoom Fly Flyknit or Pegasus Turbo?! (To 42km)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bruno,
What do you train and race in now? What is your goal time for 42K? I personally would go with Zoom Fly FK as while not as softly cushioned as Turbo it is more stable. This said all my longer races are in Vaporfly. No question the superior choice for racing at even moderate mid pack paces.
Sam, Editor

reagan said...

Hi Sam,
I have a lot of shoes in my quiver. But I have been racing lately in the Zoom Fly version 1 and like the shoe a lot.I wish they kept the same upper and did all the other improvements and the shoe would be perfect for me.That might be true of the Vapor Fly version one as well. Unfortunately, I never got to try it.

My race pace is in 7:20-7:30 range now. I'm hoping to improve on that
in this weekends marathon. ( Baystate)

So now I actually do have both the Zoom FLyknit and the Vapor Flyknit and trying to determine which to wear. Only running on the treadmill with them the Zoom Flyknit seems to be pretty darn close in terms of pop. But, maybe I would notice a bigger difference as the miles add up. Comparing the shoes with just a half mile on each , I really can't tell much difference ther than the Zoom Flyknit seems more stable.

I'm an older runner ( 59) and relatively new to running( 6 years)I'm running on borrrowed time due to a seriously damaged big toe that doctors assured me would fail long ago.I'm chasing that perfect run as I guess we all are.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Reagan,
That is some fast pace for a young fella! I will be at Baystate too for the half and will for sure rock the VF FK. I hope for about 1:37 but we'll see, I am 61. Every race I have run in the original blue VF has been faster and often way faster than expected in the last year from 5K to marathon. The difference in pop is slighter for me between VF FK and ZF FK than it was for the original baby blue VF and the original ZF which I found firmer and limited in pace range. I ran a bit alternating one on each foot yesterday and the VF FK is slightly firmer than the original and maybe the ZF FK. As far as which shoe to run...If the upper of the VF FK will work and it clearly is lower volume way up front go with the lighter faster VF FK. If the toe box room is a big issue while very similar the ZF FK upper has a touch more height and volume upfront. This said I find it takes a few miles, 5-6 to break in sockliners and get some stretch to the Flyknit. Hope this helps. Will be watching for you. Best of Luck! Sam, Editor

demian said...

You guys are giving me hope being a 48 y.o. !!

It's so interesting. The ZF FK are snug in the upper but for some reason it works. The need doesn't feel uncomfortable at all. It's like wearing a sock. And given the height of shoe, it feels like there's some lateral stability. Not sure how it all works but it does! I'm able to run it being a pronator. YMMV.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi demian,
Good news! I find the ZF FK somewhat more stable and more supportive than the original VF, if not quite as roomy but more supportive. I think while heavier it is a touch softer than the newest VF FK but not as soft as the very first release VF. I still think despite having to wear thick socks the best riding.
Sam, Editor

reagan said...

Hi Sam.

I went with the old version 1 of the Zoom Fly at Baystate. The knit just doesn't work for me. I hope they offer the new Zoom or the Vapor with a non-knit upper. I could use the softer forefoot. Just doing a short run I can tell I could rock a full in them if they had that conventional upper.

At Baystate I went out too fast. Foolishly I tried to stay with some younger runners I know for the company. Went out the first half at a 3:11 pace and died. Final time was 3:17:41. I should have paced properly for a 3:12-3:13. Live and learn. Still good enough for a BQ for 2020.

I notice you are from Rye.I bet I've seen you running as I often do my long run on Sundays from Seabrook to Rye Harbor and back. 20.6 miles.

Congratulations on yoursecond place finish. You rocked it!

Unknown said...

Never saw a final review on this shoe,did you throw it to the side?
I found it to be bottom heavy

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Jeff,
I would not have much to add to the initial. I have seen comments about them being bottom heavy and have to really concentrate to feel that, if at all. I would say they are heavier feeling than Vaporfly but then again VF is way lighter overall. Those saying may be sensing the plate upfront which while it weighs next to nothing may give that feel.
Sam. Editor

Kevin said...

Thanks for the great review! I am thinking about trying these as my next marathon race shoe. I ran my first marathon in October at 3:10, and am looking to shave 10 minutes off my next attempt. I raced in the NB Beacon and have been considering trying the zoom fly flyknit. Which of the NB Beacon or zoom fly would you recommend as a better marathon race shoe?

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Unknown,
Great marathon time, well done! How did Beacon work out in that race? If it was fine then you might keep going with them but i would find then a bit thin. The Zoom Fly will be more protective, more dynamic but... heavier and weight does matter in the equation If you are shooting for a 10 minute improvement training of course on track for me the VaporFly as it is so light protective AND dynamic is the one to try to get. Even a slightly used pair of the original as I prefer its slightly softer bouncier ride and upper to the new Flyknit version
Sam, Editor

Kevin said...

Thanks Sam. I have been having a hard time locating the vapor fly... But those definitely sound like a great option. I found the NB Beacon to be comfortable for the full marathon and would definitely consider using them again. I just wanted to see what else was out there.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Kevin,
Others to consider the Reebok Floatride Run Fast and Saucony Kinvara 10, releasing soon. Both will be more stable for later miles of a marathon than Beacon and lighter than Zoom Fly. Reviews at the link below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Kevin said...

Hi Sam,
I found a pair of vaporflys. They kept coming up in your reviews... You convinced me! Now I'm wondering if I can still use my NB beacons for most of my training runs (especially long runs) or if I should be buying a pair of zoom flys for training. I currently do most of my speed work in NB 1400s.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Kevin,
Zoom Fly Flyknit would be a good pairing to Vaporfly. I personally would stay away from the original, even on deal. If you are able to safely do all your long runs in Beacon why not continue! The lower drop is a good change from higher drops of ZF and VF. I would do plenty of runs in the ZF FK to get used to the feel and higher drop. It is similar if a heavier shoe to VF.
Sam, Editor

Spiros said...

Hi sam in comparison with Pegasus turbo?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Spiros,
I see them as very different shoes and for me for different purposes. Turbo is very soft with no carbon plate as Zoom Flyknit has. Zoom X is a superior feeling and performing foam to React for me but... when not supported as in Zoom Fly we get a quite unstable very soft forefoot shoe, I see Turbo as an easy recovery shoe for me, maybe a daily miles shoe on flatter terrain while Zoom Fly is a performance trainer and racer. As far as uppers the same theme continues with Zoom Fly having a fairly snug upper while Turbo has no stretch is quite roomy but has that great looking but for many annoying over the toes stripe.
Sam, Editor

Spiros said...

Hi Sam
thank you so much for the immediate response!!I'm a happy owner of Nike zoom flyknit and i think is an awsome shoe!I will continue to use it either as a daily trainer and for racedays!!Thank you for the nice reviews you give to us

Anonymous said...

Nike Zoomfly Flyknit > all others. Well, except maybe the 4%, which I can't get in a 14.