Our verdict

The Nike Rival Sprint stands out as a top choice for sprint spikes, excelling in breathability, durability, and price. We really liked how it serves both amateurs and newcomers to the track, making it an accessible option for many. In our lab tests, we found that while the Rival Sprint is also suitable for advanced athletes, the performance trade-offs—noticeable when chasing every last millisecond—might be a problem.

Pros

  • Pebax plate enhances toe-off
  • Highly breathable
  • Premium notched laces
  • Affordable price point
  • Roomy toecap area
  • Suitable for hurdles
  • Provides good stability
  • Slightly cushioned
  • Impressive durability

Cons

  • Noticeable weight
  • Possibly too flexible

Audience verdict

86
Great!

Who should buy

We think the Rival Sprint from Nike is an excellent choice for:

  • New track athletes seeking a durable, entry-level spike.
  • Runners looking for a balance between minimal and cushioned spikes.
  • Budget-conscious athletes needing an affordable option for 60-400m intervals on local tracks.

Nike Rival Sprint

Who should NOT buy

We think the Rival Sprint may not be the best choice for advanced runners due to its high weight. If this is a critical factor for you and budget allows, we recommend considering the Nike Air Zoom Maxfly for an incredibly light and propulsive experience. Alternatively, if you're watching your wallet, the Nike Ja Fly 4 is also a good option.

Additionally, we believe that runners planning to exceed 800 meters might find the Rival Sprint less suitable. For those distances, the Nike Zoom Rival D 10 offers an affordable solution, while the Nike ZoomX Dragonfly, though pricier, provides a premium running experience.

Nike Rival Sprint parts

Breathability

While breathability may not be essential for a sprint spike, it is certainly beneficial, particularly for runners who prefer to go sockless (yes!) and rely on good airflow.

We were thrilled to discover that the Rival Sprint offers exceptional breathability, earning a perfect 5/5 from us in this area.

With the use of a light, we observed that Nike incorporated some clever engineering, opting for thinner materials in areas requiring enhanced air flow, including strategically placed vents in the midfoot and an razor-thin, highly ventilated tongue.

Nike Rival Sprint mesh guard

Upon inspecting the mesh under a microscope, we identified a simple engineered mesh that is reinforced with a protective TPU overlay, which helps prevent premature tearing of the upper.

Nike Rival Sprint microscope

In our hands-on evaluation, the upper felt incredibly comfortable, perfectly suited for sockless use.

However, we were quite surprised by the substantial protection offered by the toe cap—almost akin to what you'd find in some trail running shoes!

Test results
Rival Sprint 5
Average 3.6
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

With such robust protection in the toe cap, we were optimistic about our toebox durability test. Eager to see the results, we quickly set up the Dremel here in the lab.

We were pleased to find that the TPU overlay effectively shielded the upper from damage, leading us to award the Rival Sprint an impressive 4/5.

Nike Rival Sprint Toebox durability
Test results
Rival Sprint 4
Average 2.9
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Buoyed by our positive results from the previous test, we proceeded to evaluate the heel counter, mindful that some shoes perform differently in these distinct challenges.

Yet, the Rival Sprint impressed us once again, scoring a perfect 5 out of 5. If you're in the market for a durable and cheap track spike, look no further—this is it.

Nike Rival Sprint Heel padding durability
Test results
Rival Sprint 5
Average 4
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole thickness

The Rival Sprint features a tough, 2.8-mm rubber outsole paired with a vibrant yellow Pebax plate in the forefoot that extends through the midfoot.

Nike Rival Sprint outsole

We found that this dual configuration provides durability in the heel and adds stiffness to the forefoot.

Nike Rival Sprint Outsole thickness
Test results
Rival Sprint 2.8 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1.6 mm
Outsole thickness
6.4 mm

Cushioning

Heel stack

Unlike other budget-friendly spikes, the Rival Sprint uniquely includes some foam, with a notably thicker layer in the heel (13.3 mm). Nonetheless, is well below the World Athletics' 20-mm limit.

The foam utilized by Nike is understandably not top-tier, given the modest $75 price tag. Instead, we identified Phylon—a commonly used EVA that offers good durability and satisfactory energy return.

Nike Rival Sprint Heel stack
Test results
Rival Sprint 13.3 mm
Average 13.9 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
10.4 mm
Heel stack
19.8 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot features only a very thin layer of foam, sandwiched between the Pebax plate and the insole, totaling just 10.0 mm—or 1 centimeter.

Nike Rival Sprint Forefoot stack
Test results
Rival Sprint 10.0 mm
Average 13.2 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
8.6 mm
Forefoot stack
17.8 mm

Drop

With a bit more foam in the heel than we expected, we discovered that this spike boasts a surprisingly high 3.3 mm drop.

Nike Rival Sprint profile

This is ideal for those whose calves and tendons need extra support beyond what is typical with sprint spikes.

Nike Rival Sprint Drop
Test results
Rival Sprint 3.3 mm
Average 0.7 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
-5.8 mm
Drop
4.1 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Phylon EVA foam definitely delivers a firm feel underfoot, which we appreciated because it isn't mushy by any means.

Using our Shore A durometer, we measured a 29.3 HA reading—typical for a spike, yet on the firmer side compared to a road running shoe.

Nike Rival Sprint Midsole softness
Test results
Rival Sprint 29.3 HA
Average 26.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 6 track spikes
Number of shoes
20.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
30.3 HA

Insole thickness

In line with what's typical for track spikes, the Rival Sprint maintains a lightweight approach with its 2.8 mm insole. 

Nike Rival Sprint Insole thickness
Test results
Rival Sprint 2.5 mm
Average 3.0 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Insole thickness
3.9 mm

Removable pins

The Rival Sprint features 6 removable pins. We also noted that it has fewer pins than the typical Nike sprint spikes, which usually feature 7 or even 8-pin setups.

Nike Rival Sprint Removable pins

Flexibility

Stiffness

We discovered that the Rival Sprint, despite featuring a Pebax plate in the forefoot and midfoot, is one of the most flexible sprint spikes we've tested—perfect for those looking to strengthen their feet during short intervals.

In our 90-degree bend test, it registered a low score of 17.5N.

Test results
Rival Sprint 17.5N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
10.9N
Stiffness
66.6N

Stability

Torsional rigidity

We also evaluated the Nike Rival Sprint torsional rigidity and assigned it an average score of 3/5, placing it squarely in the middle of the pack.

Test results
Rival Sprint 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

In another manual test, we evaluated the stiffness of the heel counter. We rated it a 2/5, noting that it's way more padded than lighter models, which may actually be more suitable for an amateur-focused on comfort.

Test results
Rival Sprint 2
Average 1.7
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Our manual assessments concluded, and we returned to our digital calipers to measure the midsole width. Starting with the forefoot, we recorded 89.3 mm.

Nike Rival Sprint Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Rival Sprint 89.3 mm
Average 92.8 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
87.6 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
99.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

In the heel, we measured 64.0 mm, which, although appearing ultra-narrow, is actually a bit wide for a sprint spike. This indicates that Nike is also targeting this shoe at rookies and weekend warriors.

Nike Rival Sprint Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Rival Sprint 64.0 mm
Average 59.7 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
54.0 mm
Midsole width in the heel
67.9 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Shifting focus to the upper of the Rival Sprint, the toebox's maximum width of 82.7 mm confirms its design is optimized for high-performance in sprints ranging from 60 to 400 meters. However, this narrow fit might not be the best match for athletes with broader feet.

We also advise against expecting much vertical room for the toes in this spike—after all, it's designed for propulsion and to fit tightly like a sock, and it certainly delivers on that promise.

Nike Rival Sprint Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Rival Sprint 82.7 mm
Average 87.9 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
81.9 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
96.4 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Although the Rival Sprint is designed for performance and a sock-like fit, the big toe area offers a surprisingly roomy width of 75.3 mm.

Nike Rival Sprint toebox

This is a less constrictive taper compared to most other sprint spikes in the market.

Nike Rival Sprint Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Rival Sprint 75.3 mm
Average 73.1 mm
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
68.3 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
77.1 mm

Comfort

Tongue padding

Being a spike designed for super-short efforts and 100-400 intervals, any reduction in weight is crucial. Therefore, the 1.2-mm thick tongue is a good choice despite lacking comfort.

Nike Rival Sprint tongue

We also discovered that the Rival Sprint includes the notched laces found on Nike's top-tier supershoes like the Vaporfly 3—a significant bonus for such an affordable spike.

Nike Rival Sprint Tongue padding
Test results
Rival Sprint 1.2 mm
Average 3.0 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
0.4 mm
Tongue padding
7.5 mm

Heel tab

We noticed the Rival Sprint lacks a heel tab, which makes sense since it closely mirrors the design of the Air Zoom Maxfly.

Nike Rival Sprint Heel tab
Test results
Rival Sprint None

Weight

At a noticeable 6.1 oz (174g), the Rival Sprint certainly isn't a featherweight spike.

Based on our extensive experience, miracles are scarce in the running shoe industry. The modest $75 price tag often indicates major compromises, and this is one of them.

Nike Rival Sprint Weight
Test results
Rival Sprint 6.14 oz (174g)
Average 5.57 oz (158g)
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
4.59 oz (130g)
Weight
6.46 oz (183g)