Our verdict

The fifth version of the Nike Zoom Fly series shifts its focus from fast to far. We found it to be reassuringly stable and now capable of easier runs far better than before. Although it's a miss on weight, we love that the grip and protection are supreme in the Zoom Fly 5 from Nike.

Pros

  • Planted strides when cornering
  • Protects foot from impact
  • Smooth, seamless ride
  • Upper oozes with comfort
  • Fit is A-OK!
  • Lockdown is awesome
  • Tongue stays in place
  • Clingy even on wet areas
  • Quite the bruiser

Cons

  • Chunky and clunky
  • Slower than other Zoom Flies
  • Stiff ride

Audience verdict

81
Good!
  • Top 9% most popular running shoes

Who should buy

We think that this Nike shoe is most suitable for steady efforts and medium to long-distance runs. This is all thanks to its smooth and rockered ride. 

nike-zoom-fly-5-on-foot.JPG

Who should NOT buy

The Zoom Fly 5 also has its downsides, and one thing that sticks out is its slightly heavier weight. On top of this, it's not the tempo trainer Nike says it is. This said you're better off with the newer Nike Streakfly.

If you want comfort and speed combined, the Nike Pegasus Turbo might suit you better than the Zoom Fly 5.

Breathability

It was very unfortunate to find out about the shoe’s lack of ventilation. In our breathability test, it scored only 2 out of 5 (5 is the most breathable). It is clearly not the airiest shoe. 

Nike Zoom Fly 5 (left): some smoke is coming out from the shoe; Adidas Runfalcon (right): its toe box is not breathable at all. 

To carry out this test, we use a smoke-pumping machine and cover up the shoe mouth entirely. This way, the smoke is only able to escape through the upper of the shoe.

As a further check on breathability, we also test how transparent the upper material is. As you can see in the video above, the Nike Fly 5's upper material lets light through, confirming that the shoe, while not the best, has some degree of breathability.

nike-zoom-fly-5-microscope.JPG

A close-up photo of the mesh on the Nike Zoom Fly 5

adidas-adizero-adios-7-microscope.JPG

A close-up photo of a more breathable shoe, the Adidas Adizero Adios 7

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 2
Average 3.8
Compared to 234 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Outsole hardness

We don't expect much from the outsoles on speed trainers. This category of running shoes tends to sacrifice outsole durability for lighter weight and softer ride. And the Nike Zoom Fly 5 is no expectation. 

nike-zoom-fly-5-outsole.JPG

Using a durometer to check the firmness of its rubber, we found that it is in fact 14% softer than the average. Unfortunately, softer outsoles tend to wear out quicker than hard ones.

But on the bright side, this Nike shoe chose to cover a wider surface of the bottom for added protection in the high-wear areas. That looks promising to us!

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 70.3 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 285 running shoes
Number of shoes
52.1 HC
Outsole hardness
93.0 HC

Outsole thickness

The thickness of the outsole is another parameter that can tell whether it's durable or not. And this is where the Zoom Fly 5 truly surprised us.

nike-zoom-fly-5-outsole-thickness.JPG

Our caliper showed 3.6 mm of rubber thickness! That's about 1-5-2 mm more than what's typical for a tempo shoe. From here on, we started to question whether this Nike shoe is really a speed trainer or is it a daily workhorse after all?

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 3.6 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

The weight of the Zoom Fly 5's weight is a downer—quite literally. For what is supposed to be a fast shoe, this trainer is very heavy.

The rubber-covered outsole plus the very padded upper are not helping to shave off the weight!

nike-zoom-fly-5-weight.JPG

Perhaps you may find the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 or the ASICS Novablast 3 better options for speedy runs. They come belong to the same type as the Zoom Fly but are much much lighter! 

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 9.84 oz (279g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Here is the main reason why we prefer the Zoom Fly 5 for relaxed and easy days - 37 mm of stack in the heel!

Not only is it 3.5 mm taller than average, but we also found it among the best vibration-dampening trainers on the market!

nike-zoom-fly-5-heel-stack-height.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 36.9 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
45.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The Zoom Fly 5 is a high-stacked shoe in every way! Even in the forefoot, our caliper showed 29.4 mm which is 5 mm taller than average.

nike-zoom-fly-5-forefoot-stack-height.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 29.4 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
36.9 mm

Drop

The difference in stack heights gives us a heel-to-toe drop of 7.5 mm. That's a middle-ground drop that will perfectly work for the majority of runners. 

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 7.5 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The shoe's insole has a thickness of 3 mm. It is actually thinner than most shoes we tested (4.5 mm on average) but we didn't have any problems with that.

nike-zoom-fly-5-insole.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 3.0 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 300 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

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

After years of having a Nike React foam in this tempo shoe series, Nike finally introduced its cutting-edge ZoomX foam in the Zoom Fly 5! However, it was rather disappointing because the ZoomX doesn't go full length. 

 

How does this translate on the run? Well, it doesn't feel very soft or spongy, and the ride is rather firm. That's a real bummer because the ZoomX portion of the midsole appears to be SO plush in our durometer measurement. At 11.0 HA, this foam is extremely soft (79% softer than average).

nike-zoom-fly-5-midsole-test.JPG

Most likely, this happens for three reasons:

  • firstly, as you can see in the picture below, in the forefoot the plate gets much closer to the outsole, changing the feel in this area;
  • secondly, the recycled ZoomX foam used in this shoe is firmer than the regular ZoomX;
  • lastly, there's also a thinner layer of EVA foam (SR-02 type) just above the outsole, which is much firmer than the ZoomX. 

nike-zoom-fly-5-plate-shape.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 11.0 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 232 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

What's more, even when the shoe is put into cold temperatures, its ZoomX foam retains its soft properties! We were shocked to see a durometer reading of 14.5 HA whereas most shoes firm up to 30 HA!

Even when frozen, the Nike Zoom Fly 5 is over 100% softer than most shoes!

nike-zoom-fly-5-freezer-test.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 31.8%
Average 25.5%
Compared to 231 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Ride

We have come to the conclusion that the Nike Zoom Fly line is no longer a tempo running shoe. With its maxed-out cushion, it feels pretty heavy and cruisy. And when it comes to energy return, the shoe is not giving much back! 

Even the rockered geometry doesn't do much to make the shoe more propulsive. That's a real shame for the Zoom Fly collection. 

Nike Zoom Fly 5 (top) vs. New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Trainer (bottom)

So where does it fit better? We believe that it now belongs to the daily trainers for long distances. 

nike-zoom-fly-5-outdoor-test.JPG

Stability

Lateral stability test

What's great about this Nike shoe is that it has enough stiffness to deliver a well-supported underfoot experience. Relatively supportive, of course, given its stack height and plate.

At least the shoe made us feel surefooted enough when cornering.

Torsional rigidity

We could feel how stiff the shoe was by merely twisting it in our hands. On a 1-5 scale where 5 is the stiffest, we gave its torsional rigidity a score of 4. 

Having this bit of stiffness helps to prevent the ankles from rolling over the sole edges too easily.

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 283 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter also plays an important part in making the shoe more supportive.

Testing its stiffness in the Nike Zoom Fly 5, we rated it as 3 out of 5 (5 being the stiffest). Stiffer heel counters are typically associated with a better foothold and a lower risk of ankle rolling. But on the downside, they can feel restricting to some runners. In that way, this Nike shoe hits a sweet spot.

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 267 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

With the help of a caliper, we measured the sole at the forefoot and found that it is 111.5 mm wide, very close to the average. It's also wider and more flared out than the previous version, which was 106.7 mm.

nike-zoom-fly-5-forefoot-width.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 111.5 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

At the heel, the shoe is almost 4 mm narrower than the average, yet it can still be considered mid-range.

nike-zoom-fly-5-midsole-width-heel.JPG

Given that the sole is not very wide in the Zoom Fly 5, we can assume that the stability is provided mainly by the torsional rigidity of its platform.

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 86.4 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Most plated running shoes are stiff, and the Zoom Fly 5 is no exception.

Measuring how much force it takes to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle (71.0N), we found that it is a whopping 60% stiffer than the average road running shoe!

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 71.0N
Average 29.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

The good news is that in cold temperatures it doesn't get much stiffer, only by 5.1%. On average, running shoes are 44% less flexible.

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 5.1%
Average 35.9%
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Grip / Traction

The outsole's rubber coverage is generous, which makes it grippy on wet, dry, and gravelly surfaces.

Nike Zoom Fly 5 outsole

Size and fit

The Fly 5 uses a no-nonsense upper that just works! A real workhorse type of upper. We found it to be very comfortable and form-fitting. Once we laced it up, a solid foothold was guaranteed.

Nike Zoom Fly 5 upper fit

Toebox width at the widest part

We measured the shoe at the widest part and the result was 95 mm, which is just a little bit narrower than the average.

What's more, the toebox narrows towards the toes more than other running shoes' toeboxes we measured. Overall, this is in line with Nike's trend to have narrower toe boxes in general.

nike-zoom-fly-5-max-width.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 95.0 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Also, as often happens with Nike, the shoe's toebox has a notably tapered shape.

Our calipers returned a really narrow width measurement around the big toe - only 71.1 mm.

Nike Zoom Fly 5 toebox width big toe

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 71.1 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 179 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue is not gusseted on the Nike Zoom Fly 5 but it wasn't an issue given its generous padding.

nike-zoom-fly-5-tongue.JPG

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

We immediately noticed the shoe's amazing step-in feel courtesy of the well-padded upper. Its tongue is also very generously padded, which helps to prevent lace pressure beautifully.

nike-zoom-fly-5-tongue-thickness.JPG

At 7.9 mm, the Nike Fly 5 has a noticeably thick tongue. For reference, the average of shoes that we tested is 5.6 mm.

Test results
Zoom Fly 5 7.9 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 302 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Nike Zoom Fly 5 vs. 4

  • It has a more flared-out heel and forefoot for better stability
  • It integrates a ZoomX foam for a mellower ride 
  • It's gone from clunkier to clunkiest! The Nike Zoom Fly 4 was 249 grams/8.8 ounces in US men's 9, which was already too much for some runners, while the Zoom Fly 5 now weighs in at 286g/10 ounces.

nike-zoom-fly-5-in-pieces.JPG