Friday, September 02, 2022

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Fk 2 Multi Tester Review: Unadulterated Zoom X!

Article by Derek Li , Zack Dunn, Sally Reiley, and Ryan Eiler

Nike Zoom X Invincible Run Fk 2 ($180)


Introduction

The Invincible Run is Nike's all ZoomX midsole foam neutral trainer. ZoomX is used in the brand's racers such as the Vaporfly, Alphafly, and Streakfly and is known for its smooth forgiving cushioning and high energy "return". Unlike the racers, there is no carbon or other plate in the Invincible to provide stability and propulsion beyond the foam. ZoomX stands alone with only the full coverage thin outsole and the geometry to provide stability to the soft foam . For version 2, reviewed here, we see a new more substantial Flyknit upper as the major change. Would the upper stabilize the shoe more, or not, and how does the fit change- all potentially affecting the ride as well were the key questions our testers sought to answer in their review.


Pros:

Unbeatable impact protection - Ryan/Zack/Sally

Stable but highly enjoyable ZoomX midsole platform - Ryan/Derek/Zack/Sally

Exceptional energy return for a high-mileage trainer - Ryan/Zack

Robust heel & upper construction creates a secure fit - Ryan/Derek/Zack/Sally

Smooth transition - Ryan/Zack/Sally


Cons:

Low responsiveness / lack of turnover - Ryan/Sally

Price - Ryan/Zack

Very warm upper - Derek/Zack/Sally/Ryan


Stats

Sample Weights: 

 men’s  9.63 oz  /  273g US8.5 (unchanged from v1), 10.5oz / 298g US9.5

 women’s: 8.6 oz / 243 g (US W8)

Stack Height: men’s 37 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot

Available now. $180


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Derek: I own the Nike Zoom Invincible v1 but admittedly don’t use it very much. The softness of the foam and to some extent maybe the construct of the upper creates hotspots for me under the ball of the big toe for any runs over 5-6 miles. This issue completely resolved for me with a stiffer orthotic sockliner but it also changed the ride to something firmer and just not quite the natural Invincible feel. Incidentally, I never use orthotics for any other shoe. With v2, since it’s an upper update, I was hoping for some better support at the forefoot so that I can get away with running it without the orthotic. So that’s why the  mindset going into the testing of this shoe. 

Step in feel is very luxurious. The upper material is very soft and comfortable but also pretty thick and warm. The stock sockliner is actually quite thin spongy material. I can’t quite recall what the v1 sockliner was as I’ve since ditched it for the orthotic, but I could have sworn they spec’ed a thicker sockliner there. Fit is still true to size as almost all Nike’s are for me, and the Zoom X squish is still very much alive. 


Looking at the upper itself, the knit is now a little less perforated but comes with the advantage of being a little stiffer. The stiffness difference is marginal but it does seem to improve foothold for me. 

The other big difference is the structure of the heel clip. In version 1, the clip sat more as a C shape around the heel, similar to the construct in the React Miler and the Epic React/Infinity React range. I think the general design premise of the clip is sound, but I am one of the few people who got irritation from the clips, often causing a dull ache in the foot especially if the clip extended too far forward in the shoe as in Infinity React or Epic React. 

With version 2 of the Invincible, the clip now extends upward to cup the foot a little more naturally, and I think this is a good step that would eliminate any foot irritation from the clip. Any lateral forces on the clip will now be spread over a larger surface area during the run. 


Another minor change is in the area of the internal toe bumper. 

Version 1 had a fairly traditional internal laminate lining the front of the shoe. It’s not very visible because the knit camouflages it quite well. I think the laminate was perhaps a little too soft in that shoe. In version 2, the internal laminate is broken up into high stress areas mainly targeting where the big toe and 5th toe might stress the upper. The material feels a little more rigid now. We don’t normally think of the toe bumper as a stabilizing element, but here I think that’s exactly what it does. The Zoom X is so soft without a carbon plate that you do need a little more forefoot stabilization here and the internal laminates seem to help do that. 


Apart from that, the rest of the upper is still pretty similar to version 1. 

Zack: Based on first impressions, I had a feeling this shoe would give off vibes that weren’t much different than the first version, which is okay with me, as I loved the original one. I used the first version for the bulk of my summer college training, running many 70+ mile weeks and putting 300+ miles in the shoe, so I was quite excited for this second one. 


In terms of the upper, in all honesty, there are things I like more than the original one, but also things I like significantly less. A major difference I noticed right away, was that the upper seemed significantly warmer and thicker in the forefoot area, with visibly fewer perforations. Being that it was the beginning of August, which in Indiana is one of hottest months, I was not fond of this. 

On the other hand, the overall stability and hold of the upper seems to be slightly improved when paid attention to, but for someone like me who had no issue with the first version's upper lockdown, these changes seemed meaningless to me when not giving thought to it. With that being said, those who experienced upper issues in the original one might really enjoy the changes in this second version. Another small change to the upper that I had caught, and one which Derek stated above, is the toe bumper change. I agree with him that it adds a more stable feel in comparison to the first version, and it could also add structural integrity to the upper which increases longevity. 





Sally: I was surprised to like the V1 of this shoe as much as I did, because I typically don’t get along with “bigger” shoes, such as the bulk of the Hokas. They seem like so much shoe for my petite (okay, birdlike) legs, and I once likened running in a Hoka Bondi to running in ski boots. The Invincible is a lot of shoe, especially at the wide heel, but the feel of the Zoom X foam underfoot and the soft ride had me sold. I was looking forward to seeing what Nike had done to change/improve this shoe. The others pointed out the noticeable changes in the heel cup, the upper, and the toe bumper. 


The shoe fits true to size (W8 for me) with ample room in the toe box for a wider foot than mine, and plenty of length at the toe, sometimes a problem for me in other (mostly race) Nike models. I again had a few issues with a hot spot on the medial edge under the ball of my foot, but it was not a deal breaker. I also found myself initially kicking the inside of my opposite calf when running - I am perhaps not accustomed to the wide base of this shoe. Again, I could quickly adapt. The fit and feel is super comfortable for all day wear.


Women’s V1 on left, V2 on right. Note heel clip changes 


V2 on left, V1 on right. Note change in upper and toe bumper.



Ryan: Everything about this build is big, burly, and bouncy. Its affable, not-too-serious personality shines through right away, with a massive loaf of ZoomX inducing feelings of giddiness right from the start. There's even a bead strung onto the laces at the forefoot, in case you were wondering whether this shoe was worried about shaving weight. The amount of ZoomX spilling out the sides of the midsole, especially at the heel, made my size M9.5 look more like a size 11 to the eye, but it fit true to size.

The upper feels robust without being excessively plush, and has an adequate amount of lockdown for a training shoe, but with plenty of room to spare in the toe box. It was smart to pair the plateless ZoomX with a stout upper, or things might have gotten sloppy. Derek mentions the toe bumper as an example of this, and I agree. As the others note, it certainly isn't one of the best breathing uppers, but for easier training runs I didn't have a problem with it. The heel counter and stabilizer pieces are very solid, and round out this robust workhorse of a shoe.


Midsole

Derek: The midsole feels exactly the same as in version 1. Very soft, energetic Zoom X foam in a single density layer that doesn’t bottom out even when you slam down hard on it on a downhill. Vibration dampening is excellent as expected. The platform is the same as version 1, so still using a large footprint to further enhance stability for this shoe. 


Zack: I definitely agree with Derek that there is no difference between the first version and this one, which is a very good thing in my opinion. The ZoomX midsole foam is very responsive, as well as extremely soft, which are two things that most would want in their daily training shoe. 


Sally: I totally agree that Nike “did not mess this up” and there is no difference in the feel of the midsole. This is the magic, or the special sauce, of this training shoe.


Women’s V1 on top, V2 on bottom. No difference in midsole.


Ryan: This midsole makes the Invincible the kind of shoe that's unquestionably fun to wear — I'll admit to having worn these to the grocery store more than once, although I did rack up about 150 miles running in them so far.


This is ZoomX in its unadulterated, maximalist state. No plate — only a highly efficient slab of foam to bounce you along on training runs. This shoe provides a fairly unique feeling underfoot of being almost entirely disconnected from the surface beneath you. If you've run in a ZoomX shoe before, you know how propulsive, yet how well-behaved this compound performs. I found it especially helpful for higher-mileage weeks, and will strongly attest to its fatigue reduction capabilities on recovery runs. I can’t think of another trainer out there right now that can rival this one when it comes to preventing impact-related injuries.


While it isn’t the most stable shoe in Nike’s arsenal, the width of the midsole delivers plenty of control and should accommodate almost any type of runner. If you want a shoe with the highest degree of softness and plentiful rebound, you’ve likely found it — this might be the closest thing to those kids’ ”moon shoes” that were popular back in the 90’s.



Outsole

Derek: The outsole is again unchanged from version 1. There is a lot of rubber here and it is very durable and grippy. Fully expect the rubber to outlast the midsole on this shoe. 


Zack: The outsole is exactly the same as the first version, which is fine with me, as the full-length rubber outsole performed well for me. It has great traction and seems to have pretty good durability. 


Sally: The outsole remains unchanged, and is again very grippy, very durable, and very quiet. As a bonus, there are no annoying grooves to attract gravel in.


Ryan: I concur with what the others have said above. The simplicity of its design works well here and inspires confidence underfoot. After about 150 miles, a few nubs where I strike and where I push off are mostly worn away, but I’ll bet this outsole will be good for another 250.


Ride


Derek: The ride is soft and bouncy and very cushioned. The hotspot issue I alluded to earlier is still there for me, but much less obvious. In version 1, every step would hurt when it came on; here it is vaguely noticeable but not something that would make me have to adjust my stride or stop running. So it’s definitely an improvement for me. I think the shoe is best used for recovery runs for me. With the geometry and the softness, transitions are a bit sluggish and I enjoy it for recovery runs where I’m more focused on listening to apodcast than the pace or distance. 


When I try to do anything closer to moderate paces, I find myself having to put in more effort than I’m used to. I would personally prefer a higher drop for a shoe of this softness, and maybe a little more rocker to the forefoot to help keep things rolling along. Bottom line: excellent recovery shoe. Maybe the best on the market in this regard. My main gripe with the shoe is the warmth of the upper. It is incredibly warm and while it would be great for winter easy miles, it is not going to be any fun for running in the summer for most people. 


Zack: I personally really enjoyed the ride of this shoe. It was really soft and bouncy underfoot, which is something I really strive for in a daily training shoe. I personally would use it for primarily 7-9 mile daily training / recovery runs, and some 14-15 mile long runs here and there, though that wouldn't be my top shoe for a long run just due to the weight. With that being said, I have taken this shoe on some tempo runs (5-7 miles @ 5:30-5:40 min/mile), and it got the job done, but it was just too soft and I wanted some more spring and responsiveness underfoot, so it worked but required a lot of extra work. So overall, I would recommend using this shoe for daily training runs primarily, some occasional long runs if need be, and tempo runs if you have no other shoe for that sort of run. 


Sally: This shoe has a very pleasing soft, bouncy ride that makes it a wonderful shoe for soft cushioned easy runs or recovery runs. I agree with Derek that the softness makes the transitions a bit sluggish, so this is not a shoe for those runs when you care about pace. It seems like work to push the tempo (at this point in my marathon cycle - London is in 4 weeks - perhaps I am also too accustomed to shoes that have a plate to return the energy better from these super foams). 


That being said, this is one of the best recovery shoes out there, and it also pampers your feet during an all-day-on-your-feet kind of day. I have put in numerous long dog walks in this shoe, and now my hairdresser (the guy who cuts my hair, but I can’t call him my barber?)  them to keep his feet comfortable as he stands all day.


Ryan: I'm in strong agreement with my colleagues here — the Invincible is purpose-built for easy, recovery runs. There's as much depth of cushion in the heel as you could ever reasonably want, and I'd say about the same for the forefoot. The shoe’s ride is fairly simple, with a chart-topping amount of bounce. The single slab of ZoomX lets you load the heel however you desire, and being as there aren't any fancy cutouts in the midsole or outsole, it's a seamless transition to compress the forefoot, and then let the ZoomX do what it does best: release its energy and spring you onto the other foot. There's a fair amount of flex both longitudinally and torsionally here, but not quite as much as you'd find in a New Balance Rebel, for example.


I say that this shoe has a low level of responsiveness — not in the sense that it's flat or dull, but more in the vein that it isn't nimble, and takes a relatively long time to transition. It’s definitely not a shoe for higher cadence running.



Conclusions and Recommendations


Zack: I definitely think this shoe is one of the best daily trainers to own. If the last version was a shoe you loved, or at least liked, I think this will be a great option. It is very cushioned with a soft and bouncy midsole, as well as an outsole that grips really well on most surfaces. 


In terms of the upper, there were some changes, but none of them were significant in terms of actual running, except the upper being slightly stiffer and less breathable, but having slightly more lockdown. With that being said, I could have personally done without an upper update, but ones who struggled with the previous iteration of the upper might genuinely enjoy it. 


Overall though, it is a very great shoe to own and run and surprisingly I think the $180 is worth it- not taking into account the previous version would be less now and in that case go for the first version. Withmost shoes I cannot say I would say that.


Zack’s Score:  9.43/10

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊


Derek: The Nike Zoom Invincible 2 for the most part is very very similar to version 1. I think people who loved v1 are going to enjoy this shoe. There is better structure around the heel, and a little better forefoot stability provided by minor tweaks to the upper. The new upper is a bit warmer than before but this should really only matter to people who run in warm conditions a lot. 


Overall, I think the shoe is headed in the right direction and as it is an excellent easy run and recovery shoe. I do struggle to go fast in the shoe. A better forefoot rocker profile and maybe a more aggressive heel to toe drop would, in my opinion, greatly improve the versatility of the shoe without changing the underfoot feel too much. Something for Nike to consider there. 

Derek’s Score 8.45/10

Ride 8 (50%) Fit 9 (30%) Value 8.5 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%)

Smiles Score 😊😊😊 (In a cold country, it would probably get the full 5 smiles but I live in one of the muggiest warmest climes in the world)



Sally: The newest (2) version of the Nike Zoom Invincible is very similar to the original version, so fans of V1 are going to be happy. The soft bouncy well cushioned ride is still there, and the lockdown perhaps is even better. The upper is a bit thicker with a revamped toe bumper, which will be a positive change once the weather cools off but was not welcome in the heat of a New England August. 


The Zoom X foam makes this a winner of a easy run or recovery run shoe, and belongs in your quiver if you can afford a tempo shoe to complement this one. I for one will lace this shoe up for my easy 7-15 mile runs!

Sally’s Score  8.85 /10

Ride 8.5 (50%) Fit 9.5 (30%) Value 8.5 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊


Ryan: The Invincible is a unique shoe with a very specific focus on recovery running. It's burly, built for high mileage, and offers unparalleled amounts of bounce thanks to a copious serving of unplated ZoomX foam. For my higher mileage weeks heading into marathon season, this has been among my favorite shoes for easier running, and I swear that my bones and joints are better off for wearing them. The upper is comfortable and strong but spacious, albeit lacking breathability. It's a highly enjoyable package that I plan on using for a couple hundred more miles.

Ryan’s Score:  9.5/10

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊


Watch RTR Editor Sam's Invincible Run 2 Fk Video Review



Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 1 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. The changes are subtle here, but v2 has a more supportive heel and a touch better forefoot stability for me. V2 also has a noticeably warmer upper for me. I think for people who had no issues with version 1, there is very little incentive to get version 2 if version 1 is available, usually for some discount. For people like me who had hotspot issues with version 1 under the big toe, version 2 is definitely worth a try.


Zack: I definitely agree with what Derek  said in that there is so little difference between the shoes that unless the second version is cheaper than the first, there is really no reason to pay extra for the small detailed differences. However if the upper of the first presented issues, then of course try the second one, as the upper changes could be quite significant. However, the second version does get quite hot, so watch out for that. Other than the upper though, the midsole and outsole are identical. 


Sally: (W8 in both) As the others have said, there is only a subtle difference between V1 and V2. I actually ran a few miles A/B and could not feel the difference. So unless there is a cool new colorway you really like in the new version, save your money and buy V1 at discount.


Skechers MaxRoad 5 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. The MaxRoad 5 has a denser spring to its foam and a somewhat more grounded underfoot feel, despite having higher measured stack heights. I find the denser foam of the MaxRoad 5 gives it a more versatile ride, though it is definitely no match for the Invincible in the cushioning department when it comes to vibration dampening. If you are looking for a max cushion, max comfort type of recovery shoe, the Invincible is the better option. If you want more of a daily trainer, then the MaxRoad 5 is the better shoe.


New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. The Invincible is the softer and more forgiving shoe, but the SC Trainer is the more efficient shoe with its deep and early stage rocker profile. I think most people will find the SC Trainer is the more fun shoe to run in, with a more versatile ride. Both shoes are special in their own way. The SC Trainer is not as soft and bouncy, but has a smooth rockered ride, while the Invincible has a pillowy, bouncy feel that veers toward the other extreme of making fast transitioning tedious for me. 


Sally: W8 in both. If the Invincible received 5 smiles from me, the NB SC Trainer would get 6 or 7 smiles. I really have enjoyed the soft smooth ride of the SC Trainer, and find it a faster paced training shoe due to its rockered geometry and high stack. The Invincible is a squishier, bouncier ride that many may love, but I lean toward the SC Trainer (plus I love the looks of the mint green and blue). 


Adidas Prime X (RTR Review)

Derek: I went a half size down to US9.0 in the Prime X. Despite what i consider to be a poorly executed upper, the midsole/outsole and ride of the Prime X remain one of the most enjoyable I have had in recent years. On non-technical routes, the smooth and springy ride make easy runs truly enjoyable and faster than they have any reason to be. The Invincible is softer, but the Prime X, with its combination of rods and blades, is the more energetic and springy ride. I prefer the overall package of the Prime X.


Unpause Atlas  (RTR Review)

Derek: I am fine with both TTS and a half size down in this model. For a more performance fit, i recommend a half size down. This is truly the dark horse of the bunch. Unpause hails from Thailand and sells their shoe exclusively through their Facebook store. With a PEBA midsole and midfoot stabilizing plate, this very affordable super trainer has garnered a lot of interest in a short period of time. At a measured stack of 36/26, it is near identical to the Nike Invincible, but instead of a knitted upper, they have gone with a super thin nylon mesh. If you have ever been to Bangkok, you would know why. I once did a 10 mile race there and it was 36degC at 5am! I find the Unpause Atlas to be a very fun and easy going shoe, with all of the bounce but in a no frills package. I prefer the Unpause Atlas here. Smooth, stable and quite durable at a price point that is really easy on the pocket. 


The Invincible Run is available now including from our partners below.


Tester Profiles


Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:39 marathon PR from the 2022 Zurich Marathon.


Zack Dunn: is a college sophmore/ runner at Lewis University: I’ve been running for 7 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 40-60 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 2:00 for 800m, 4:25 for 1600m, 9:50 for 3200m, 15:57 for 5K, and 34:10 for 10K. 


Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past eight Boston Marathons, one Chicago, and two NYC Marathons, with a Boston PR of 3:29 and a NYC PR of 3:26, good for 2nd place AG. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. She has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04), Half Marathon (1:37), 5 Mile, and 5K. She ran the NYC Marathon in 2019 to commemorate her 60th birthday and finished 2nd in her age group with a time of 3:28:39, a feat she repeated in 2021 when she ran NYC again with an all time PR of 3:26:54 (a few weeks after 5th at Boston in 3:32:24).  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.


Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K and in 2021 marathon had PR’s of 2:27 at the Maine Marathon and 1:09 for the half marathon.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes by Nike. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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