The Zoom Fly, great marketing but clearly overhyped

75 / 100 by Samuel Chua • Level 3 expert

The Nike Zoom Fly is marketed as a versatile race-trainer “designed to meet the demands of your toughest tempo runs, long runs and race day with a responsive construction that turns the pressure of each stride into energy return for the next.”

It has an offset of 10mm (33mm heel, 23mm forefoot) with a weight of 248grams (US Size 9).

 

 

Upper

The Zoom Fly uses an engineered mesh with a few cut-outs to allow for breathability. It features a thin and soft fabric layer attached to the mesh for a sock-like fit that conforms to the feet of the individual. I found that breathability was not an issue for me.

No rubbing or hot spots were found during the use of the shoe. The upper is certainly not the best (check out the under armour hovr) but performs decently.

The Dynamic Flywire technology is utilized to allow a more custom and snug fit.

This locked down my feet considerably well and provided minimal support, though I could feel the flywire ever so slightly when I wore thin or no socks. Fortunately, the flywire did not dig into my skin.

 

 

Ankle Collar/Heel Counter

The ankle collar is padded quite thickly. Frankly, the padding could be cut down to save weight while retaining comfort.

The heel counter is located internally to provided support and heel movement. This worked fairly well for me but adds weight to the shoe.

 

 

Tongue

The tongue is a very thin layer of an asymmetrical shape. I initially thought that the tongue would pose a problem and cause some rubbing due to the fact that it wraps the foot more than a traditional tongue.

I found that none of these problems occurred. The tongue pleasantly surprised me; It provided a more secure fit while being decently protective. However, I started to feel a bit of lacing pressure when I tightened my shoes.

 

 

Lacing

The Zoom Fly uses thin and flat laces that provide a better lockdown than rounded ones. The laces are not stretchy.

 

Fit

This depends on the distance and thickness of socks you wear.

If you run 10km and below/ your feet does not swell as much/wear thin socks, then go true to size. If you are running half to full marathons/ your feet swell quite a lot/wearing thick socks, then go up half a size.

 

Midsole Technology & Ride Quality

As the Zoom Fly is priced $100 lower than the Vaporfly 4%, the midsole uses Lunarlon instead of ZoomX.

Lunarlon has been a standard material used in many Nike shoes. Lunarlon does not last for very long. After a 10km run in the Zoom Fly, creases are starting to appear in the midsole.

 

 

In the Zoom Fly, Lunarlon just felt lackluster. Perhaps it could be due to the carbon-infused nylon plate that runs the entire length of the shoe.

This brings me to the point of the plate. Yes, the plate allows for a smooth transition from heel- to- toe. However, the stiffness of the plate makes it such that the effects will only be felt when landing on the midfoot or further back.

Landing on the forefoot creates a slappy and unpleasant sensation unless running at very high speeds. Take for example the pebax plate used in the Streak 6. The plate is too very responsive but allows for some flex to create a very snappy ride that feels like it returns energy back with every stride.

In the case of the Zoom Fly, the plate is completely unbendable that unless you are running fast, the plate makes it feel like the shoe is working against the user, which defeats the purpose of the shoe. At faster speeds of below 4:00min/km, the plate then allows a smooth gait cycle when landing on the forefoot.

This brings up another problem: weight. The shoes' weight is in the range of 240+ grams.

For a race shoe, that is just too heavy for me to use, especially in shorter races such as 5-10km. The Zoom fly is marketed to be a versatile shoe for any speeds but feels to me like it fails at all levels. All in all, the ride is smooth and cushioned when certain conditions are met.

 

 

Sockliner

The sock liner is thin with no support.

This is pretty much a standard piece with thin layers of foam to provide the initial comfort when wearing the shoe. This provides little to change the feel of the shoe.

 

 

Outsole & Durability

The Outsole consists of a carbon rubber patch that covers the entire forefoot and several areas of the heel.

The midfoot region is completely exposed. The outsole patterns provide an outstanding grip on both wet and dry surfaces.

I ran in this shoe on the track and roads after a thunderstorm and hardly slipped. The Carbon rubber patches look durable, roughly 100km in and there’s hardly any wear.

 

 

The exposed regions of the outsole, however, are showing signs of minor tearing, especially on the lateral edge of the heel.

I expect the outsole to hold up longer than the lunarlon midsole.

 

 

Types of Workouts

The Zoom Fly is best used for faster paced training such as tempo workouts or races up to full marathons.

 

Pros

  • Smooth transition when running a certain way
  • Decently cushioned
  • Grippy on wet and dry conditions

 

Cons

  • Lunarlon feels dead
  • Nylon plate does not feel snappy
  • Forefoot fatigue at slower paces
  • Heavy
  • Thin tongue
  • Overpriced

 

Recommended Runner's Profile for Optimum Usage

  • Heel-Midfoot Strikers
  • Pose method of running (Pulling instead of pushing)
  • Pace of 4:30min/km or faster

 

Potential Areas for Improvement

  • A slight increase in tongue padding
  • Slightly thinner materials around the ankle collar
  • Rubber covering the entire heel (akin to the forefoot rubber placement)
  • A small increase in flexibility of the nylon plate
  • A livelier midsole material (since this is the consumer version, ZoomX foam is out of the picture but something like ‘react’ foam should be used)
  • A decrease in weight

 

Comparisons

 

Zoom Fly vs Saucony Freedom ISO

This depends on your running style. Both are cushioned, with the freedom being bouncier and livelier.

The smoothness of transition from heel to toe really depends on your running style. If you land more towards your forefoot in the zoom fly, it can feel slappy to run in.

The freedom, on the other hand, has a smooth transition no matter how you land in it. The zoom fly’s 10mm drop is easier on the Achilles compared to 4mm of the freedom.

 

Zoom Fly vs Asics Dynaflyte 2

Both absorb shock quite effectively. The Zoom Fly is geared more towards faster running while the Dynaflyte is more versatile.

Anything slower than a 4:30min/km on the zoom fly and my forefoot starts to fatigue due to the toes trying to flex. The absence of the extremely stiff plate on the Dynaflyte allows for running at easier paces.

 

Zoom Fly vs New Balance Zante V3

The Zante is firmer yet more versatile. Again, this depends on your needs.

Both provide smooth transitions. Forefoot strikers would not enjoy the zoom fly as much and would be better off with the Zante.

 

Conclusion

The Nike Zoom Fly is a relatively lightweight race-trainer with decent cushioning and fast transitions (with the right running gait). However, it fails to live up to the hype.

The Zoom fly and the Vaporfly 4% are worlds apart. If the shoe came out on separate dates with the Vaporfly, the shoe may still be worth a shot.

Overall, the Zoom fly is an overly hyped and cleverly marketed shoe that disappoints.

Samuel Chua

Samuel Chua • Level 3 expert

I'm Samuel, a recreational runner, and a triathlete. I have taken part in over 30 races and 17 triathlons so far. I have an avid passion for running gear, especially running shoes. This obsession with running shoes has helped me obtain vast knowledge on each brand's technology, which led to me trying shoes from many different brands and giving unbiased opinions on the performance of each shoe.

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