Friday, April 23, 2021

Nike 2021 Road Trainers Comparison Review: Zoom Pegasus 38, ZoomX Invincible Run, and Zoom Tempo Next%

 Article by Sam Winebaum

With the launch of the Pegasus 38 April 29, Nike’s road trainer picture for the first part of 2021 is in sharper focus with distinctly different and complementary ride experiences from the long tempo focused and appropriately named Tempo Next %, to the workhorse more traditional daily trainer Pegasus 38, through the fun and bouncy max cushioned all ZoomX foam and nothing else Invincible Run. 

In the article, and ahead of our full multi tester review of  the Pegasus 38,  I will share my initial review of the Pegasus 38 and compare all three. All weights are for my US8.5 sample. All fit me true to size.

The Work Horse Trainer

Zoom Pegasus 38 ($120) (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Weight  9.67 oz  / 274g men’s US8.5, identical women’s 11 

Full Stack Height: 23mm (forefoot) 33 mm (heel), 10mm drop

Releases globally April 29.


  • Most traditional riding daily trainer of the group. 

  • Handles all run types well if not with the distinct sensations and personalities  of the others

  • Updated softer air mesh upper on a last closer to Peg 36 has noted additional toe box height and a bit more width than 37. Now more comfortable and truer to size for volume.

  • Not as aggressive and noticed front Zoom Air. Not called out by Nike, but I sense slightly softer React foam with potentially also a bit less pressure in the Zoom Air pod.

  • I measure the same React firmness in men’s and women’s  Peg 38 with women’s now a touch firmer than 37 where React was softer. 

  • At the upper end of weight for the amount of stack height but with a very durable outsole and expected very good overall longevity. 

  • Men’s and women’s now weigh the same at my equivalent sizes with men’s having an approximate 0.2 oz gain in weight over the men’s Peg 37 and a  big 0.8 oz gain for the women’s in my equivalent sizes of each. The women’s gain due I believe to the heavier upper in 38.

  • Tied for heaviest of the three with the lowest stack height. 

  • At $120 considerably less expensive than its $180 cousins, 

The Pegasus 38 gets a new air mesh upper replacing the prior rough feeling quite snug 37’s. We still have a very secure performance oriented fit but it is now somewhat softer and more accommodating with more toe box height and a touch more width. Wides are also available. Nike says the new last is closer to the Peg 36 fit. 

The collars are now more padded with the heel hold excellent. New colorful lace webbing straps extend all the way to the midsole provide a solid mid foot hold and good flex in motion. The tongue is now padded unlike the 37’s unpadded tongue. As far as I can tell the men's and women's upper construction is identical

My sense is the React foam in the men’s is now slightly softer. While the air unit is still felt as ridges under the sockliner by touch,  it is no longer as prominently felt as in the Peg 37 while standing and on the run. The result is a smoother less disjointed feel that with the softer feeling React maybe a touch more softly cushioned.

I ran the women’s 38’s in a D width (above) side by side with the women's’s 37 D. I felt and measured the 38 React as a touch firmer than the women's 37 where before it was clearly softer than the men's 37. The Zoom Air I think is the same in air pressure as the 37 and still has less PSI than the men’s. For me at 165 lbs,  the air unit now feels thinner and  the ride flow not quite as smooth in the women's 38.

The ride is well cushioned with a duller moderate response due to the air unit outsole combination. It  is dense upfront with a measured smooth air rebound that is not particularly snappy as say the plated over air arrangement of the Tempo Next delivers or the soft bouncy final flexible far to the front toe off of the Invincible with its all ZoomX midsole.

I appreciate what now feels like softer React foam at  the rear of the men's version as the 37 was a touch firmer than I liked there with the now I think slightly softer React upfront plays better with the Zoom Air with less of need to aggressively depress the air to get the rebound from it. The Peg 38 has a long fairly firm flex with a distinct flex point quite far back behind  the air unit. 

The Peg 38 is not the most exciting or modern ride of the three or for that matter generally. This said it is a smooth and very dependable ride for all paces and distances with expected longevity from a copious and even light trails worthy outsole which remains unchanged from the Peg 37. If you wanted a slightly more relaxed fit and a smoother and slightly softer ride in a Peg with a less pronounced air unit, the Peg 38 delivers with this relatively minor update which doesn’t change the essence of the model. 

The Fun, Soft, Lively, Max Cushion Trainer

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run $180 (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Weight: 9.6 oz / 273g US8.5

Full Stack Height 39mm heel /30mm forefoot, 9mm drop


  • Most fun to run
  • Soft and very bouncy with a distinct sensation of energy return from ZoomX midsole
  • 100% Zoom X with no React, no carbon, no plastic pieces or even lasting board
  • Broadest platform 
  • Least stable
  • Easiest flexing final toe off
  • Priced up there at $180

The Invincible Run is incredibly fun to run with a distinctly all ZoomX, soft and bouncy spring with nothing beyond that but the thinner full coverage outsole in the mix. There isn't even the usual lasting board underfoot. Our testing now approaching 200 miles indicates no noticeable change in the performance of the ZoomX midsole foam. To keep it all under some semblance of control the platform is very broad most notably at the heel and includes a rubber heel clip. To move it along the geometry combines a narrow waist especially on the medial side (hence potential stability issues along with overall softness for some) with a broad forefoot platform with a distinct easy far forward flex.

The upper is similar in fit to the Pegasus 38’s but lower over  he toes and a bit pointier. Its heel hold is not quite as solid as the Pegasus. Its fit contrasts with the Tempo Next’s in having more give and at the same time a bit less mid foot volume (likely to improve stability there) and less toe overhead room (I assume to keep the toes driving down to the soft front flex. )

The Bionic Riding, All Fast All Serious Business Option

Nike Zoom Tempo Next % $180 (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Weight :9 oz / 255g men’s US8.5

Full Stack Height: 45mm heel / 35 mm forefoot, 10mm drop


  • Well named: Ideal long tempo run shoe 
  • Fastest of the three, purposeful, no nonsense, and loud
  • Highly cushioned and stable but not soft
  • Biggest stack height 
  • Lightest by about 20 g / 0.67 oz
  • Powerful stable midsole, outole combination: React heel, Zoom X forward, nylon plate, Zoom Air pod, extensive and extended front rubber.
  • Superb non stretch zonally structured secure and comfortable but not plush upper.
  • While on the heavier side, can be a stable, stay out of trouble, moderate pace marathon shoe. 

The Tempo Next % is a polarizing shoe. It has a distinct purposeful personality that combines propulsive elements from the combination of ZoomX, a carbon plate, and the giant Air Zoom pod all piled onto a big stable stack height. Unlike the others, it is a rigid rocker type shoe with a touch of front softness from Zoom X ahead giant Zoom Air Pod for final toe off impulse.  

It is loud on the road with a distinct "clumping" sound, very, very consistent stride after stride and delivers a near race experience without having to think about what you are doing very much at all. In fact, in sharp contrast to the Invincible where everything is about road feel and bounce, here the road and even your legs are barely sensed as in the equation. The Pegasus 38 approaches that sensation but in a duller less propulsive way as it is lower stack height and all React with no plate or ZoomX.

The upper is far thinner than the other two and is essentially a highly zonal, 3D, non stretch single layer of knit with a mid foot array of underlays. There is no conventional tongue,  just a small stretch knit panel. It clearly has the best lock down of any of the three and the least collar padding but it all works well for me.

It can be a daily trainer and one of our reviewers has it as is his current favorite but its likely best use for most are for those days when you are going long and hard.

Bottom Line:

The three current 2021 make a complementary rotation with only a fast and light intervals and short tempo shoe such as the Pegasus Turbo missing from the line up.

Zoom Pegasus 38 (Review soon)

The safe bet: a steady, reliable, and a touch boring daily training partner. The Peg 38 is for daily training, bulk mileage, with the ability to handle just about any run. If the least exciting, it likely will prove the most reliable and versatile in a steady not always inspiring way.  Durable, stable, and protective with an improved upper and smoother slightly softer ride and with a less pronounced Air Zoom it gets the job done.

ZoomX Invincible Run  (RTR Multi Tester Review)

The super fun, soft, and energetic max cushon live wire

While some will have no problem daily training in them, the soft and bouncy all ZoomX ride is all about a big smiles fun experience with the most mellow easy on the legs ride of the three (at least while you are out there) but not one that is not as steady tracking and stable as the other two. Hang on to your hat with this one! It will be a blast to run. 

Zoom Tempo Next %(RTR Multi Tester Review)

The opinionated, fast, direct, and responsive option.

Fast, direct, and explosive in an almost mechanical way, the Tempo’s loud and clumping ride is in sharp contrast to the Invincible’s soft and friendly feel  and even the similar duller yet still Air Zoom equipped Pegasus. You may sense them as firm and maybe even harsh but I have found them surprisingly forgiving and reliable with a more abrupt, decisive and stable return of energy  from their combination of all three magic Nike ingredients of ZoomX, nylon plate, and Zoom Air than the other two.  Ignore the noise, bionic feel, and no road sensation and focus on your splits. They will be fast and faster than you expect.

The Vomero 15 is not compared as we have not as of yet tested.

YouTube Version of the Article

Pegasus 38 will be available globally April 29. 

Invincible Run and Tempo Next are available now including at our partner sites below

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Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,
It sounds like you prefer the woman's Peg 37 over the woman's Peg 38. Do you prefer the ride in the woman's Peg 37 over the Mens Peg 38. I am a similar weight to you, male , and heal/midfoot striker. Thanks :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Very early in testing and comparing. While women's 38 feels more cushioned at the forefoot denser, the contrast between foam and lower PSI air pod is more noticed if that makes sense. Women's 37 which weighs a big 0.8 oz /23g in my same sizes for each feels a bit thinner, softer foam and smoother flowing.
Sam, Editor

Thanks for reading Road Trail Run!