Saturday, January 23, 2021

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Fk Multi Tester Review: All ZoomX, All the Time!

Article by Jeff Beck, Sally Reiley, Stephanie Beck and Sam Winebaum

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Fk ($180)   


Introduction

Sam:  The Invincible Run is the first Nike with an entirely ZoomX midsole. There is no React layer as in Peg Turbo 2 or Tempo Next% and no plates or air pods as in the Vaporfly,  Alphafly or Tempo Next%. 


The Invincible can be thought of as the faster runner's recovery easier days neutral complement to Nike’s other max cushion shoes: Alpha/Vaporfly racing, Tempo Next faster training, and React Infinity stability training. 


It can also be thought of as the max cushion soft and springy daily trainer in the max cushion Nike lineup for the rest of us.  While this group of reviewers has not tested the Vomero 15, but have the Pegasus 37, Invincible is clearly a modern, softer, more cushioned daily trainer than either of those and not quite the more uptempo focused all arounder the Pegasus 37 is.

With an official stack height of 36.6mm heel /  27.6mm forefoot, it clearly is a max cushioned shoe. At 9.8 oz / 278g in a US9 it also sneaks under the magic 10 oz barrier I prefer in daily trainers.  All ZoomX, no plate, a square heel geometry, and with some front toe off flex, it has the broadest on the ground platform of any Nike (to stabilize the soft foam) at approximately 97mm at the forefoot and 115mm at the heel, with only the Infinity React coming close at 92mm/115mm in my US8.5.  I was very intrigued to test. Would it be too soft to move along, not very stable or would it provide the same ZoomX efficient and pleasant magic as the Vaporfly and Alphafly?

Jeff: This is the shoe I’ve been looking forward to for more than three years. Once Nike unveiled ZoomX in the first iteration of the Vaporfly 4%, I started wondering “What if they loaded up a bunch of that into a trainer?” We sort of got a glimpse of that with the Pegasus Turbo, but that wasn’t all ZoomX and wasn’t that high of a stack. But now that it’s here - does the Invincible live up to the hype? Or is too much of a good thing just more?

Sally: I became a devoted Nike fan when I got my first Vaporfly 4% and crushed some races with what I thought were undeservedly fast times (for me).  Then came the Next %, even better for me for racing. I have been wishing that Nike would come out with a trainer that would use the amazing ZoomX midsole for some time. Lord knows we all miss racing, and that means we miss not only the thrill of the competition and the elation of the reward for a great effort, but we miss the opportunity to wear our beloved Nike Zoom X race shoes! I was thrilled to get the opportunity to test these beauties. Let’s see how they perform!



Pros:

Jeff/SallySam/Steph:  

Unparalleled bounce, soft but fast, stable with lots of width, and truly fun to run.

Great traction and durability. 

Best implementation of Flyknit thus far

Sam/Sally: 

Soft, highly cushioned, springy, fast, fun to run

Excellent very forward very easy to toe off flex point

A non plated, non agro, softer, max cushion training option missing from the Nike line up

Sally:Yep. Bouncy. Soft. Stable. Natural toe off. Peppy. Nimble. Fantastic fit. FUN!

  

Cons:

Jeff/Sally/Sam

Built up heel collar could aggravate some runners ankles.

Cost vs durability remains to be seen

Sam: Medial achilles collar outer fabric is thin and not durable. May abrade/tear if you kick it as I did

Steph: Wish there were more color options (but have to imagine there will be more in the future)


Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 9.8 o z / 278g (US9) :: women's 8.6 oz / 245g (US8)

      Samples: men’s 9.52 oz / 270g  (US8.5) men’s 10.8 oz / 307g (US10.5)

                      women’s 8.6 oz / 245g (US8), 282g / 9.94 oz W11

Stack Height: Forefoot 27.6mm, Heel 36.6mm, 9mm drop

Available now including at Running Warehouse here and Road Runner Sports here


Tester Profiles

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December 2019 he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 


Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.


Steph Beck is contributor Jeff Beck's better half, and is a former Fit For Mom/Run Club instructor. She splits her 20-30 weekly miles between the road and treadmill, and occasionally gets off road onto the trails around Denver. While Steph mostly runs for fun, she has run a handful of 5K, 10K, and half marathons, and her PRs are 23:03 5K, 49:28 10K, and 1:48:30 HM. She's run one Ragnar relay event, and swears it'll never happen again because of how much more she enjoys sleep than running at 3 a.m.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.


First Impressions and Fit

Sam: My all black and white version is frankly boring in appearance and especially its squared off heel makes the shoe look and even feel a bit clunky when it is not in "operation". The underfoot feel is very broad and stable at try on while also very soft. The Flyknit upper is not the stretchy compressive stuff of earlier Flyknit shoes, a material I did not care for as it compressed over my toes and was snug overall. The mesh here is a soft 3D knit of shiny fibers more like fishnet material than a wool sweater or typical run shoe knit. The upper is very pliable without much stretch so a modern engineered upper with a gusset tongue and solid (too solid and padded?) heel counter. 


The fit overall is easily and securely true to size and comfortable with no issues whatsoever reminding of the softer more pliable women’s Pegasus 37 upper than the denser thicker and relatively rigid men’s Peg 37 or the snug Tempo Next uppers. It is more pliable less dense and less compressive than the React Infinity 1 upper which was more “traditional” Flyknit.  I am true to size in most Nike but was half size up in the men’s Pegasus 37 and true to size (converted) in the softer mesh women’s Pegasus 37.

Jeff: I received the black/red/green variation, which at first was a little off putting, but the more I see them, the more I like them. But that’s all subjective and just style. 


The Invincible is all about the midsole, everything else is just window dressing. Luckily, the midsole is ridiculous. There’s so much cushion, so much bounce, and so much underfoot protection, it feels like a quantum leap forward to what running shoes are capable of. I really appreciate the weight coming in lighter than the listed weight (11 ounces for a size 10, my 10.5 came through .2 oz lighter), but there’s so much bounce the weight is negligible. We’ll get deeper into each component down below, but my initial response to the shoe was a resounding “Wow”, and forty miles later, the honeymoon still isn’t over. 


Fit is true-to-size, and likely the widest Nike they’ve put out in some time. I haven’t found it sloppy in any regard, but the midsole has a more defined platform than any other swoosh adorned shoe I’ve ever run in.


Sally: I personally am not a fan of pink, and was initially disappointed to open the orange Nike box and see… pink. But I have come to accept that many other women must like pink, and in this case the pink has grown on me. The women’s colorway is Black/Elemental Pink with a Cyber yellow swoosh. 


The fit is true to size, but more generous in the toe box than recent Nikes. The Flyknit does not compress the top of the toes as past Flyknits did (think Epic React 1 - ouch, had to size up after a serious blister!). 

The heel and ankle counter is a departure from the thin socklike collars and elf heels of some other uptempo Nikes, as it is thickly padded (perhaps a bit too much so? More on that later). But the soft sensation below the feet - wow. You can tell this shoe has a different midsole just walking around the house in them.

Steph: The spring and bounce of the forefoot are unlike anything I've ever felt. Just like the other three said, there's so much bounce here, it's really a different experience. That wow factor and then the fit of this shoe really set it apart. Other Nikes are too narrow in the midfoot, either I can't wear them at all, or best case scenario I can wear them for 3-4 miles and then issues arise from how narrow they are. The Invincible doesn't have any of those issues for me, and such a smooth, airy, and easy ride! This shoe is speaking my language.


Upper

Jeff: As Sam briefly outlined above, the upper is called out as Flyknit, but this upper is very different from most others that wear the FK name. No tightly wound knit, and not much stretch, this Flyknit has much more structure than the Epic React or Infinity React, and kept a discrete tongue and more typical lacing. The tongue is decently padded, without getting spongy, and the gussets keep it from moving very much in either direction. 

Around the heel you’ll find a substantial amount of padding, both on the inside and outside of the shoe; the result is a heel that has zero slip whatsoever (but Nike added extra eyelets in case you’ve got extremely narrow ankles and want to give a runner’s loop a shot). That same padding could be overkill, and at the start of each run I’ve felt pressure around my ankle. As the run got underway the pressure went away, but depending on a runner’s physiology, it wouldn’t shock me if some runners had problems. 


Lastly, the toebox has exceptional width. You won’t confuse it for a Topo or Altra, but you’d likely need full on Hobbit feet to find this toebox cramped. Plenty of height too, which is good, because the upper stretch is minimal.

Sam: Yes the upper is called out as Flyknit but in fact, and in feel, is more like most 2020-2021 “engineered” mesh and Flyknit knit uppers than we are used to from Nike. The upper is quite soft, non stretch, non compressive and less snugly structured than say the Tempo Next’s upper and has a real tongue.


Nike did not leave out support. There is plenty here but of the more gentle on the foot variety than vice like as Flyknit generally is.


Denser knit runs along the bottom of the upper on both sides in a sort of “rand” as often seen in trail shoes to lock the bottom of the foot.

There is a minimal stiffening of the toe bumper side walls.


The tongue is moderately well padded, yes there is a tongue, and not just an extension of Flyknit as we have seen in most Flyknit models if not maybe all? To keep things in place and support the midfoot we have a gusset tongue.


No elf or swept back collars here.  We have a relatively low, heavily and densely padded collar with prominent bolsters just behind the lace up and bulging to the exterior around the achilles. The lace up and hold is effective but a bit overdone in my view towards the far rear given we also have that wide heel and its clip. 

The bolsters are covered with a thin fabric. I see some abrasion and tearing on the medial side of my right shoe at 30 miles. I am assuming, given the super broad platform and that my right leg angles out a bit due to an old ski injury, that my right inner heel occasionally bumps the left shoe? Regardless I think the fabric covering the padding should be more substantial.  


Sally: The others have described the upper thoroughly and accurately.  Everything about it works really well for me, with the possible exception of the thickly padded ankle and heel collar with both internal and external padding (bolsters) which is I think is overdone. 

Two or three miles into my first run, the lateral side of the ankle collar began digging into the outside of my foot just below the ankle bone. I was afraid it was going to be a deal breaker. But perseverance pays off - the irritation did not continue on later runs (I have now run 40 miles in them). Simply a break-in thing with all that padding? The tongue stays well centered and eureka, the laces stay tied. Nike has gone back to thick and flat old-school laces. 


Steph: I agree 100% with the other reviewers, for me the toebox has had optimal space for my feet, including my bunions. I definitely love the fact that they added the extra eyelet because I do have thin ankles and always put a runner's loop in, but between that and the extra padding and definition around the heel, I haven't had any heel slip issues, which are a constant problem for me in many shoes.

Midsole

Jeff: If the Invincible were a radio station it’d keep blasting out the phrase “ALL ZOOMX ALL THE TIME!” because that’s really the heart of this shoe. Very high stack, and not mixed with any other type of foam, underfoot you’re going to find a ton of ZoomX. The result is one of, if not the most, cushioned shoe I’ve ever run in. I’ve worn a number of shoes that have a higher stack, but none of them have had the same level of squish. The heel and ball of the foot are both very wide, making an inherently stable platform, and while there is a small hell clip for stability (more toned down and far shorter than the one in the Infinity) it doesn’t seem to make its presence known. So ultimately all you are left with is the biggest chunk of marshmallow under the foot, without any kind of interior lining or Strobel board (just a ring of mesh). The insole is exceptionally thin as well, like Nike wanted to let the midsole speak for itself. And it speaks volumes.

Sam: The first all ZoomX midsole and it is special. No plates, no React layer, not even a real Strobel board below the sockliner  just a massive 27.6mm, Heel 36.6mm, 9mm drop stack of ZoomX!

The foam feel is very soft yet also very energetic with what I would call spring rather than bounce although the rebound highly noticed. Bounce for me is more like a rubber ball feel, a compression then a sort of “sloppy” rebound with a sensation energy is also going sideways as well as up. Spring as we have here is a sharper more distinct sense of rebound, more vertical, quicker and lighter feeling and almost airy in feel.


To pull this soft ride off and keep things from being sloppy and unstable, the geometry of the midsole plays a huge role. The geometry is massively broad with approximate measurements of 97mm wide at the heel and 115mm wide at the forefoot. 

Left to Right: Invincible, React Infinity 1, Alphafly, Tempo Next, Pegasus 37


The uptempo member of the family, Tempo Next % comes in at 87mm / 112mm. Only the React Infinity comes fairly close with 92mm at the heel and a similar 115mm forefoot per my measurements. Alphafly comes in at 91mm / 109mm with Pegasus 37 coming in at a mere 

79mm  / 105mm.

We have a wide squared off heel with an overhanging rear and a clip made of soft more outsole rubber like than hard plastic (such as Infinity React has) which extends up, but also out around the rear. The heel is very broad I assume to stabilize the landings and it works well and best at daily training (around 9:20 or faster for me) and faster paces than slow where it seems the overly broad heel is a bit in the way.  Unlike other such broad heels there is absolutely no sense the shoe is back weighted at any pace.

The midfoot especially on the medial side (above bottom) is deeply scalloped, and more deeply scalloped than the lateral side. 

Note the rubber wrapping up just ahead of the heel for a touch of stability. 


The overall underfoot in the midfoot is not particularly broad on the ground but broad enough with the heel and forefoot so wide that things are neutral shoe inherently stable. 

The design of two giant zones of contact separated by a relatively narrow waist reminds of recent Nike such as Next% Tempo Next% Infinity React but here the heel is broader yet.


My sense of the purpose of the deep scalloping is to allow the foot after landing on the giant stable broad heel to collapse enough medially to transition. This was also the secret of the original Vaporfly which used a relatively broad upper in that area to allow the foot to collapse from midfoot to toe off.  It is not the secret of the React Infinity which is less scalloped and which includes “stabilizing” plastic rails and on both sides, no less, leading to stifled transition for me.


Here it works as unlike shoes with a more consistently broad “straight” underfoot geometry or rails the Invincible has no issues transitioning easily and smoothly although it prefers to not stay too long at the heel so it feels best at daily training paces as opposed to recovery very slow, although that pace is certainly pleasant and doable.

Finally and maybe most importantly Nike made the very front of the shoe flexible  allowing for a quite agile toe off that is clearly noticed. I would not call it a snappy toe off as in a rigid profile shoe or the firmer Air Pod to soft front feel of the Alphafly or Tempo Next, or the distinct sharper front roll of Saucony’s Endorphin shoes. But it is not an overly soft flex either. The toe off does have some snap to it likely from the full overage outsole. 


Behind the front toe off, the shoe is torsionally and otherwise quite rigid for I assume stability with the scalloping at midfoot to allow the foot to collapse a bit towards toe off and a smooth flow forward, yet upfront it is flexible to get to that final toe off easily.


The overall midsole feel is one of great softness, good stability, dynamic springy return, and an easy to find final toe off. None of it feels sloppy in any way or lumbering or hard to turn over yet there is massive amounts of soft cushion, a tribute to the geometry's engineering here.  


Sally: ZOOMX rocks! Wow, this shoe is FUN to run in. The midsole of this shoe is uniquely soft and springy and can literally put a spring in your step and a resultant smile on your face. You might assume that so much ZOOMX will feel bottomless, but the wide and stable heel platform combined with the forward flex to the toe propels you forward in that springy yet controlled way. 

Steph: On top of everything Jeff, Sam, and Sally mentioned, as a pronator (possibly an overpronator) this shoe provides my foot with enough stability to keep me well balanced. 


It has a higher stack than I am used to, which was a little off putting at first since I tend to favor a more minimal shoe, but once it is on my foot I feel like I'm running on air and I don't want to stop. Sally is right, this shoe makes you smile. I'm a happier mom when I have the Invincible on my foot, meltdowns don't phase me a bit! 


Outsole

Jeff: You don’t see many shoes that have just one giant piece of rubber for an outsole, but that’s exactly what we’ve got. Fairly thick, and covered in hundreds of little knobs, this outsole is made to last and provide lots of grip. The knobs have a consistent quality to them, so much so they could almost act like a wear indicator similar to a car tire, though forty miles in there’s very little wear to be seen on my pair. The only break from the knobs is a small patch at the front and back of each shoe that bears the swoosh. I’m not sure how much the rubber slab contributes to the flex, or lack thereof, of the shoe, but together they make the platform very rigid. The rubber doesn’t completely cover the arch portion of the outsole, but personally I’ve seen very little wear in the exposed midsole at the arch.

Sam: The outsole is as Jeff says a single slab of rubber with waffle-like lozenge shapes of different sizes. 


Pressing anywhere on the outsole one feels it depressing into the midsole, again to bring out the spring of the ZoomX below. The coverage and the fact that any area is game for landing and the lozenges and overall midsole is dynamic with the midsole is such that any foot strike should be accommodated in terms of wear and landing zones. Nike rubber is hard wearing so we will have to update with more miles but do note that at about 25 miles the tiny nugs on some lozenges at the heel have worn off. Nothing unusual for me. Given the design of tightly spaced lozenges ShoeGoo down the road if need be should be very effective and easy here. 


Related to ride, the outsole features 2 gray, thin, smooth patches of a different rubber. 

One is at the heel and the other at the medial side at the big toe. It is unclear as of yet if these are either harder wearing rubber or not. 


I think the heel patch may serve to create a more continuous feeling crash pad to prevent lug “catching” there given the width of the heel.

The front gray patch is more interesting as it clearly allows a touch more flexibility and depression of the midsole on the medial side of toe off than the lateral. And this is felt on the run with a distinct drop in and final toe off. Mind you different the feel is different than a plated or rigid profile rocker toe but nonetheless there and effective and reminds me of both the Tempo Next's and Alphfly's soft toe off point.


Sally: Another benefit of those tiny waffle shaped nubs is the traction - this shoe held fast on slick wet (and icy) pavement when a snow squall blew through on one of my runs. The outsole reminds me of the New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite, which has even more pronounced nubs that contribute to the traction. 


Steph: Everyone's right, there is a ton of rubber on the bottom, and initially I thought they were going to be super clunky. Then you start running in them, and they just aren't. Having run in my husband's shoe that now has ~150 miles on it, and comparing it to a brand new pair, this sucker holds up well - his shoe still has tons of rubber on it.


Ride

Jeff: With a midsole made out of lots of bouncy clouds, how could the ride be anything close to bad? For all of the squish the shoe gives, the shoe rebounds fast enough that it never feels mushy, but I went through a phase where all of that bounce felt like it was taking a toll on my lower half. For the first week or so I felt a little more beat up, even after easy runs, but that went away almost as quickly as it showed up. The only time I found the shoe anything near unstable was during warm up or cooldown walks. That makes me think extreme heel strikers could see some problems, but as a midfoot striker, I had zero issues. I did notice that the more I got forward into the shoe, the more I liked it. Landing back from the ball of the foot felt pretty good, but landing just under the ball felt explosive - the result being I’ve started landing farther forward anytime I put this shoe on.


Most of my runs were at a very easy pace, but several times I decided to crank up the effort and see how things felt. Shockingly, this shoe is much more fun at a 6:30/mile pace than 11:00/mile. The bounce feels more pronounced, like the shoe is daring you to push harder. If it didn’t break the formula, I’d give this shoe an 11 for ride, it’s that much fun.

Sam: What a fun and distinctive ride! Springy and bouncy at the same time but never out of control, light in feel, incredibly well and very softly cushioned with plenty of get up and go. 


Taking plates and air pods out of the equation is an eye opener and really highlights the energetic feel of ZoomX a unique combination of energy “return” and leg friendly cushion and lots of both. 

This is a very different ride from Nike whose trainers are often more “structured” underfoot via Zoom Air pods, plates, and firmer less dynamic React foam. Its ride reminds me more of the Lunar Epic of several years ago than say the Epic React or Infinity React with the feel closer to Alphafly’s soft and springy feel than Next%'s firmer more responsive ride.


The ride is clearly suited for me for daily training at most paces, except intervals and faster than half pace (7:30 mile or so for me) where the softness may exceed the shoe’s geometry to stabilize, and be responsive enough. At very slow paces I also find the Invincible a bit too soft at the heel for my preferences. So a ride for the middle miles of training and a great one.

Sally: The ride is where it is at for this shoe with all that ZoomX. Just like Jeff, I was wary at first that so much soft cushion would feel uncontrolled, but the ZoomX rebounds beautifully before you have any sinking-into-a marshmallow-cloud sensation. Success! 


I am a lightweight at around 107 pounds dripping wet, so I can imagine the springy bouncy sensation is even more pronounced for a heavier runner. This shoe performs well at any pace I could throw at it, and responds best when you push the pace and increase your cadence. It also excels on the uphill climbs, encouraging you to lean forward and run more on your toes to capitalize on that springy toe-off. Downhill stretches are likewise fun due to the wide and stable yet soft landing pad of that square heel. I did find it easy to relax and enjoy the springy ride and slow my cadence -  but training runs are not a race.


Steph: I don't know what I can add, but I agree completely with the three above me. This shoe is a joy to run in, and when you kick it up a notch into some speed work, it becomes even more fun to run in. I feel like I could be the Flash!


Conclusions and Recommendations


Jeff: It took Nike a few years to put this shoe out, but they’ve knocked it out of the park. This is the most fun non-plated shoe I’ve ever put on my foot, and is more fun than most plated shoes I’ve run in. I was afraid this might be like the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups shaped like pumpkins or Christmas trees (maybe too much of a good thing?) in this case, it works. 


The big strike against this shoe, and it’s purely theoretical right now, is the cost to mileage equation. With 40 miles on the clock, I can’t say with certainty that they’ll last 300-400 miles, or if they’ll feel dead by 200 miles. And that’s a big question mark for a shoe that costs $180. Which is why I’ll be checking back in and updating this review when I hit big mileage milestones, because as a 200+ pound runner (with more + than I’d like, thanks for nothing Covid-19), I can put a pretty good hurt the midsole of a shoe, so looking at them with 100/150/200/250 miles will be helpful to see how they hold up. 


The best car comparison I can make is the first generation Subaru WRX STi. Incredible car that was an absolute hoot to drive, but it was all about the engine and drivetrain. The joke was “$35,000 car, and you’re paying $34,950 for the engine and transmission” because the interior was pretty lousy, but that engine was and AWD system was worth it. And this midsole might be worth it too. See you folks in a month or so to continue the conversation.

Jeff’s Score: 9.7 /10

Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)


Sam:  Nike puts some fast “fun” in their line up, liberating superb ZoomX from plates and air pods to show its stuff. To do that with such a soft springy material they clearly had to use a wide geometry, squared big heel. midfoot drop in by carving out the mid foot, full coverage outsole, and a forward flex point. All of it works very well and delivers an exciting energetic soft ride that is never punishing, is legs friendly, and can pick up the pace. And Flyknit here is finally not a compressive grip on the foot and we have a real tongue The super broad geometry comes at a cost in weight despite super light ZoomX as we come in at 9.8 o z / 278g (US9) which is even a bit of a surprise as I would like to see it check in closer to 9 oz.


At $180 pricing is up there and gives pause with durability to determined, priced above Infinity React and most all trainers but below Tempo Next and shoes such as New Balance’s TC. I say the sensational experience can make it well worthwhile.


The Invincible is clearly a wonderful new training ride distinctive, for Nike and more generally,  in its very soft, protective and energetic feel.  It is a Sam big smiles shoe!

Sam’s Score: 9.43 /10

Ride: 9.7 (50%) Fit: 9.6 (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style:8.5 (5%)

Sally: Nike has a winner here, not on the podium but as a FUN, soft, springy, energetic, peppy, and comfortable training shoe that has that motivating get-up-and-go quality that I for one look for in a training shoe. This is the shoe that I will reach for time and time again for my pandemic miles. The stress of 2020 that became 2021 gives us all reason to seek out positive reinforcement, and running in the Invincible gives me just that, and puts a much-needed smile on my (masked) face! Thumbs up from me!

Sally’s score: 9.6

Ride: 10 (50%)  Fit: 9.7 (30%) Value: 8(15%) Style: 10(5%)


Steph: I've put more than 40 miles on the Invincible (30+ on my husband's pair, and more than 10 miles on my own pair) and all I can think of is that I want to run more in this shoe. I want to test this baby during a half marathon, and even though tomorrow is a rest day (and rest days are important!) I want to run. This is the bit of spice I needed to reignite my running passion. 

As mentioned in my video review (see below), I'm a New Balance girl through and through, and I have always enjoyed my 1080s (and Beacons and Rebels), but with the Invincible's extra stack height, and so much bounce these have quickly become my go-to shoe for every run. I love that I can do easy miles, and very fast miles, and still feel fresh for the next day's run or workout. 

This is the first Nike shoe I've been able to run in comfortably, and it didn't matter if it was the D width men's or B width women's shoe, both fit great; we measured the difference between the two - at the widest point the D width is ~3mm wider at the forefoot and ~2mm wider at the heel. I plan on testing these to failure as well, so look out for big mileage updates in the future.
Score: 9.85 out of 10

Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Updates

Read & Watch Jeff Beck's 125 mile durability and update review of the Invincible Run HERE


Watch Steph Beck's A/B Test-130 mile Invincible vs New and Video Review


12 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Nike React Infinity 1  (RTR Review) React Infinity 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: This was the shoe I had hoped the Infinity React 1 would be. While the React midsole was pretty good, it doesn’t have nearly the dynamic ride that the Invincible has with ZoomX, and the Infinity support put way too much pressure on the arch. Heel slip was a problem, and the construction of the shoe didn’t let Nike add extra eyelets, but a leather punch and 30 seconds later I made my own. Both shoes have a nice wide forefoot, and very stable base. It’s a $20 difference, but might be the best $20 you’ll spend - upgrade to the Invincible.


Sam: Agree with Jeff. From upper (more conventional, effective, and comfortable) to midsole duller for sure React vs ZoomX and especially for me the in the way long firm side walls of the Infinity React (I believe is unchanged in v2) I much prefer the Invincible. This said if you have stability needs, especially for the knees, the Infinity React may be a safer choice. 


Sally: I was eager to try the Infinity React 1 last winter because I had really liked the Epic React 1, and the Infinity had so much pre-release hype. I succumbed to the marketing and dropped $160 on a pair, and was disappointed from the first 100 yards. That aforementioned pressure under the arches of the foot and the unsurmountable heel slip issue became deal breakers. The Invincible has it all over the Infinity with the better fit and much more lively ride, thanks to all that ZoomX.



Nike Zoom Tempo Next % (RTR Review)

Sam: My 2020 tempo shoe of the year, the Tempo is all decisive business vs, the Invincible’s springier softer more mellow vibe. The Tempo is a faster shoe, at least as well cushioned but firmer, more densely so and more responsive with its “experience” the distinct rebound of its air pod upfront backed by its plate. Not nearly as easy going, and with zero road feel in comparison, I see the Invincible as the daily to recovery trainer with Tempo Next as the speedier days trainer making a good pairing. 


Nike Zoom Vomero 14 (Vomero 14 RTR Review)

Jeff: One of the bigger disappointments of recent years, the 14th Vomero took Nike’s cushiest trainer and made it like a Pegasus Skunkworks project. The airbag underfoot was very noticeable, and ended in an awkward spot. With the exception of cost, the Invincible is a better shoe in every way with more cushioning, a more dynamic ride, a wider midfoot/heel/forefoot and especially toebox.


Sam: Sorry Jeff, the Vomero 14 was my 2018 shoe of the year. It had a stable heel and a flexible thinner forefoot and it was a superior faster paces long run shoe for me. Slower, it is a bit heel heavy and awkward so yes the Invincible ranges to slower paces better. This said time has moved on and I prefer the Invincible if for slightly different purposes, more oriented to daily moderate pace training with the Tempo Next the long hard run "tempo" option.

Neither of us have run the Vomero 15 but our contributor Derek Li has and his review is HERE


New Balance FuelCell TC  (RTR Review)

Sam: The TC combines a similarly soft and bouncy foam with a carbon plate. It handles faster paces better but is not quite as forgiving a daily training ride as Invincible. 


Sally: The TC was one of my favorite shoes of 2020, and will remain a top pick for me. The ride is similarly soft and bouncy, but more suited to faster paces only (I would consider racing in the TC). As Sam says, the Invincible is more forgiving and easier on the legs, and more suited to daily training (though I do not mean to insinuate that the Invincible is slow!)


Nike Zoom Pegasus 37  (RTR Review)

Jeff: I enjoyed the Peg 37 more than most, likely a result of my heavier frame working in concert with the high PSI forefoot air bag. While it is decently cushioned, it doesn’t have nearly the same level of protection as the Invincible, nor the stable base and excellent toebox.


Sam: I much preferred the softer, lower PSI women’s Pegasus 37 to the more awkward feeling men’s with its prominent higher PSI air pod and denser, heavier upper. For speed work intervals, fartlek, and fast tempo I would still choose the Pegasus for its more old school firmer fast ride but otherwise Invincible.


Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Peg Turbo is ~2 ounces lighter in a US9, much narrower in the forefoot and midfoot, with less room in the toebox. Invincible much more stable due to the extra width, but overall much softer. Invincible has much more bounce to it. Both feel good at fast paces, Invincible feels better for easy runs. 


Nike React Miler (RTR Review)

Sam: I had limited experience in the React Miler but enough to say it is duller ride for sure and is about 1 oz heavier and that is felt. It is somewhat more stable and $50 less at $130. While not as extremely long as Infinity React's its rear plastic clip is noticed in the mix. It is a fine very well cushioned daily trainer but doesn't compare to Invincible in terms spring or speed.


New Balance FuelCell Propel  v1 (RTR Review)

Sam: At $70 less and 0.8 oz lighter weight,the Propel v1 is another softer bouncy riding shoe.  It’s FuelCell is not as springy and its geometry narrower and less stable.


Brooks Glycerin 19  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Brooks made big strides this year by improving the midsole and giving a more comfortable upper, but the Invincible is softer and bouncier, creating a much more fun ride. Durability is the only question here, with Brooks DNA Loft being a known quantity, but the miles will be much more fun in the Nike.


Saucony Triumph 18  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Fantastic shoe that lines up well against the Invincible, until you start running. The extra squish of the ZoomX makes for a more enjoyable and protected run, and the Triumph struggles some when the pace picks up - and that’s where the Invincible gets better.


Sally: The Triumph is meant to be a well cushioned shoe, but regardless of actual weights , the Triumph runs so much heavier than the Invincible and is over an ounce heavier on top of that. I have a hard time pushing the pace in the Triumph. Plus the ZoomX bounce also makes the Invincible so much more fun!


Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

Jeff: Shift is much firmer, about 10g heavier, has slightly narrower toebox, and has two pulltabs (one tongue and one heel). Shift has a pretty wide forefoot platform, but the Invincible is ~6mm wider. Invincible upper feels softer, a little more premium. They have a very similar stack height, but they run very differently. The Shift is all about the firm platform and making the geometry do the work, it really feels like each step just rolls into the next. The Invincible has a bounce to every step that comes from the midsole. I was surprised by how good the Shift was, but the Invincible blows it away.

Sam: Mostly agree with Jeff. Shift is more stable more responsive and yes firmer. In terms of ride type it comes down to preference between a very deliberate consistent rocker and toe roll (Shift) vs. a springy bouncy forward flexing shoe (Invincible)


Skechers MaxRoad 4+  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Perhaps the only midsole out there to pack more punch than Nike’s ZoomX, I adored the ride of the Max Road 4, but it was very one sided. Every run in this shoe resulted in matching pinch blisters on the underside of each small toe - likely from the ultra dynamic midsole material combined with the podular design. I was collapsing part of the midsole with every step, creating astronomical levels of friction.


Sam: Lots of punch as Jeff says! Wind them up and the front Hyperburst podular pillars and the ride is yet more dynamic in its springy softness than Invincible. This said run them slow and the 5mm drop, soft Hyperburst, and podular design is not nearly as stable, smooth as Invincible’s ride. It is in the end it is not nearly as versatile a soft shoe.


Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Mach 4 has a bouncy feel approaching Invincible but not quite as much cushion or dynamic ZoomX feel. It is quite a bit lighter. Mach relies on a combination of rocker and longer flex while Invincible is all about a far forward flex point. Both have stable heels for such soft foam. While ZoomX is clearly the superior foam, Mach 4's manners are a bit more controlled, its upper more refined and its geometry more suited to faster paces for me. Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Ride sits closer to a traditional daily trainer with a great combination of firmer (than Invincible) cushion, snappy response, and front stability. It is a more versatile shoe able to handle just about anything. It was my daily trainer of the year for 2020 and in this match up would still nose out the Invincible although for sheer fun the Invincible tops it.


ASICS Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: While I prefer the Nimbus Lite 2 more polished and better looking upper and its quite soft and bouncy ride is decent but not great, Invincible is springier, more dynamic and yet more cushioned. Zoom X makes for more ride smiles !  Nimbus Lite 2 is a "safer" bet but not as much fun.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 (RTR Review)
Jeff: I had major issues with the heel of the v11, it felt like the heel cup had moved forward a few millimeters from the v10, resulting in pain the entire time I wore the shoe. Ignoring that, the 1080 is about 20 grams lighter, noticeably lower stack height, has about a 5mm narrower forefoot platform, has less bounce, with the toe bumper is much more noticeable. The upper has much more stretch to it, especially around the toebox. It is also more flexible. Even ignoring my heel issues (which means essentially the v10) there's no comparison for me. The bounce in the Invincible is much more fun.

ASICS Novablast  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar ride characteristics, with the Invincible having much more bounce to each step. The Novablast feels more at home pushing pace than easy runs, while the Invincible feels great at all speeds. Biggest difference for me is the inherent stability of the Nike, I found the ASICS had major issues providing a stable and reliable platform.


Sam: Agree 100% with Jeff nothing to add beyond the fine Nova requires well aligned form more than Invincible does and is $50 less.


Mizuno Wave Sky Neo (RTR Review)

Jeff: A similarly bouncy/big trainer using Mizuno’s Enerzy midsole material, the Invincible out punches my top shoe of 2020. The Nike comes in almost 2 ounces lighter, is much bouncier, and easier to obtain (once it launches - the Wave Sky Neo never came to the States).


Hoka Bondi 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Another big platform/wide base cruiser, the Bondi series has set the bar for tons of cushioning. That said, it has done it with a relatively firm midsole material that puts a lot of material underneath the foot, but not that much actual squish as you land and 1.5 oz more weight. It’s more of a known quantity, muting the ground feel as much as cushioning your feet and legs, while the Invincible goes in the other direction.


Watch our Comparison Video: Invincible Run, adidas Ultraboost 21, Saucony Triumph 18



Initial Video Reviews of Invincible Run HERE

Tested samples were provided at no charge for testing purposes. No other compensation was received. The opinions herein are entirely the authors.

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28 comments:

Jeff said...

Following

Kai said...

Finally, a review that I’ve been waiting for!!!!! Thank you for the review guys most of my question about Zoom X invincible are solved. One comparison I would like to know, is how is Zoom X invincible compared to Nimbus Lite 2?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Kai, a good comparison! While I prefer the Nimbus Lite 2 more polished and better looking upper and its quite soft and bouncy ride, Invincible is springier, more dynamic and yet more cushioned. Zoom X makes for more ride smiles ! Sam,Editor

1169 said...

How is Invincible comparisons vs NB1080v11 and Endorphin Shift

Kai said...

Thank you, Sam :) I appreciate your reply.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great review team. Im like Sally, was excited for the infinity but disappointed with the upper big time. I can’t even run in them anymore and they are now an expensive walking shoe for me. The Invincible sounds perfect! My Novablast is the most fun show i have ever run in but a little to unstable if i have tired legs so a more stable shoe with the same level of fun? Sold!

Unknown said...

Hey Jeff, have you posted a pic of your Infinity with the extra eyelet? I do like the react but i just cant cope with the non existent heel lock down. Would like to try your idea....

Jeff said...

Kai,

I would agree with Sam especially about the upper's looks, overall I much prefer the extra squish of the Invincible. Nimbus Lite 2 is a very good shoe, but it can't match the midsole performance of the Invincible.

1169,

Invincible vs Endorphin Shift - Shift is much firmer, about 10g heavier, slightly narrower toebox, and has two pulltabs (one tongue and one heel). Shift has a pretty wide forefoot platform, but the Invincible is ~6mm wider. Invincible upper feels softer, a little more premium. They have a very similar stack height, but they run very differently. The Shift is all about the firm platform and making the geometry do the work, it really feels like each step just rolls into the next. The Invincible has a bounce to every step that comes from the midsole. I was surprised by how good the Shift was, but the Invincible blows it away.

Invincible vs 1080v11 - I had major issues with the heel of the v11, it felt like the heel cap had moved forward a few MM from the v10, resulting in pain the entire time I wore the shoe. Ignoring that, the 1080 is about 20 grams lighter, noticeably lower stack height, about 5mm narrower forefoot platform, has less bounce, and the toe bumper is much more noticeable. The upper has much more stretch to it, especially around the toebox. It is also more flexible. Even ignoring my heel issues (which means essentially the v10) there's no comparison for me. The bounce in the Invincible is much more fun.

Unknown,

First, here's a closeup picture of the added eyelets https://imgur.com/a/B3Cg57r

You'll notice there's two extras (the circles are mine), and I had to add two on each side due to the construction of the upper. Only one extra would have the laces going through the upper and ending up on the under side.

Here's a shot showing it with the lace going through https://imgur.com/a/4th5LSE

Here's the punch I used (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VML8C2Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and for $15 it's hard to go wrong. I recently used them again to add eyelets to a pair of New Balance Rebels for my wife, after 150+ miles into this particular pair (it's her third or fourth) she started getting major heel slip issues. 20 seconds later, heel slip is done. They are very effective and easy to use.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am wondering how good the breathability of the upper would be. Would it be as breathable as the Nike epic react/Asics Novablast, or is the upper on the warmer side like the Skecher GRR8 (like a sweater in summer) and the peg 37 a little warm. Is it okay for slower recovery runs as well or is it to soft. Thanks. :)

Chris said...

Great review as always - sounds like a real contender. How would you compare it as a daily trainer to the Saucony Ride 13 and the Hoka Mach 4?

Anonymous said...

How do these compare to the Pegasus Turbo 2 and the React Miler 2?

azer89 said...

Thank for the great review.

I think ZoomX is an amazing material, I have a pair of Vaporflys that has 300+ miles in them. Still very cushioned. The durability depends on the rubber outsole, if it's worn off, then the ZoomX foam would be exposed and it will get destroyed in no time.

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Chris,
Thanks!
Mach 4 has a bouncy feel approaching Invincible abut plenty but not as much cushion or dynamic feel. It is quite a bit lighter Mach relies on a combination of rocker and longer flex while Invincible is all about a far forward flex point. Both have stable heels for such soft foam. While ZoomX is clearly the superior foam Mach 4's manners are a bit more controlled, its upper more refined and its geometry more suited to faster paces for me.

Ride 13 sits far closer than either to a traditional daily trainer with a great combination of firmer (than the other two) cushion) response, front stability and response. It is a more versatile shoe able to handle just about anything. It was my daily trainer of the year for 2020 and while Mach 4 gets close I had it as my recovery easy run shoe of the year,

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
So far as it is winter here where we tested hard to judge breathability. I found Epic React upper while thin kind of suffocating and Novablast's plasticky. This is as described a more pliable fishnet like fiber 3D knit. Not the thinnest but decently open in knit and far more so than Pegasus 37 which I found very dense if effective. Hope this helps.
Sam, Editor

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

I don't think breathability will be a problem. A couple of my runs were pretty windy, and I felt it in the feet when a big gust would hit. If they had GRR8 levels of breathability I doubt I would have felt anything.

Azer89,

I've had a similar thought. I've known a handful of runners who have put really big miles on some form of Vaporfly, provided their form worked to put the wear on the rubber. Exposed ZoomX seems to get chewed pretty quickly, but with this much rubber I could see this being a fairly high mileage shoe.

Anonymous,

I haven't run in the Miler, but I can compare the Invincible to the Peg Turbo 2. Peg Turbo is ~3 ounces lighter, much narrower in the forefoot and midfoot, with less room in the toebox. Invincible much more stable due to the extra width, but overall much softer. Invincible has much more bounce to it. Both feel good at fast paces, Invincible feels better for easy runs.

Chris said...

Thanks Sam - appreciate the response. Interesting options for sure!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
It sounds like the Nike invincible is very soft. I am hoping its not as soft as the propel 1 as after a few miles I feel like it bottoms out and use lose that responsiveness. Is it firmer than the propel and how does it compare with with Novablast for softness and responsiveness/ speed for faster paces, thanks :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. Does Zoomx invincible have a high arch like the Reach infinity flyknit 1, which doesn't work well with flat feet?

Jeff said...

Hi Unknown,

Thank you very much, and no. The arch is really low, and completely different from the Infinity. My wife has low arches/flat feet, and as a result hasn't been able to run in any Nike shoes in the decade I've known her. She stole my pair of Invincible the other day and put 6.5 issue free miles in them. Lots of runners will be exploring Nikes for the first time in a while, strictly due to arch height.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jeff. Appreciate the reply. Very helpful. I returned the react infinity flyknit 1 the moment I stepped into them due to high arches. Will give the invincible a try. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,
Is the Invincible softer than the Novablast or similar, which can you pick up the pace more. Thanks :)

Jeff said...

Unknown,

You are very welcome, and I had a similar reaction to the Infinity. Unfortunately, my pair of Infinity were the custom colorway, so I couldn't return them, but I put a lot of miles in them hoping that the arch issue would pass. It never did. After you try the Invincible, drop us a line and let us know what you think.

Anonymous,

I've got them on L/R right now, and they are very similar on the softness scale in the forefoot, Invincible might be slightly softer, but the Invincible is substantially softer in the heel. Also, the rebound bounce back is much more pronounced in the Invincible. I've been able to pick up the pace more confidently in the Nike, as much as I like the Novablast I've had major stability problems. Partly due to the midsole geometry, and party due to the upper just not locking the foot down well, every run in the Novablast has been kind of awkward. The massive width of the Nike helps solve that issue.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
How's the zoomx durability going as you put more miles on it? Thanks

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

Still holding up well. I broke 75 miles yesterday (I've got four other shoes I have/am reviewing, so I'm not yet in a place where I can put all of my mileage in the Invincible) and there's really no noticeable difference. There's a little more creasing around the forefoot on the lateral edge, and I'm surprised how fast I'm wearing down some of the outsole nubs, but as for ride quality they seem as bouncy as the day they showed up.

When I hit 100 miles in a couple weeks I'll do a new photo shoot and add a longer written update. But with 75 miles of my 200+ pound frame crushing them, so far so good.

Anonymous said...

Are the Invincible faster than Novablast?

Jeff said...

Anonymous,

For me it is, but I find the Novablast very unstable so I can't push pace in them. Very similar ride, but the Invincible is much wider and has an inherently more stable platform.

Unknown said...

Great review guys ! I went thru 2 pairs of Infinity React 1’s in 2020 ( about 450-500 miles on both)
I did my first run in the Invincible today ( easy 6 miler) and noticed a blister forming on my inner arch . Anyone reviewing have any similar reaction? Do you think it’s because the lack of stability compared to Infinity ? Any feedback would be mucho appreciated... as until 6th mike I was loving the ride ... I’d planned on 10 miles , but didn’t want to keep aggravating inner arch on right foot

Spiros said...

Goodday to you all at roadtrail run
I found the shoes very costictive and narrow at the midfoot and not so bouncy at forefoot. They provide a good foot lockdown and ankle stability.Definetely not good for heavy runners aw i am.
Thanks for the great reviews you provide us keep up with the excellent workouts.