Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 review

The Zoom Rival Fly 2 is less cushioned than the Pegasus 36, so I thought that I wouldn't enjoy it as much, but this shoe proved me wrong.


     Price     $100
     Surface     Road
     Drop     7.7mm
     Foot Type     Neutral
     Technology     Zoom Air, Cushion

Race-ready upper and fit

The upper of the Zoom Rival Fly 2 looks and feels like a racing upper. While thin and light, it is more accommodating in fit than other racing shoes.

The upper is true to size, and there is a lot of room in the forefoot for those with wider feet.

The material used is a new mesh, which is very breathable. It has these futuristic-looking rectangular pattern which is soft to the touch and doesn't feel as plastic as the Vaporweave used on the Zoom Fly 3 and the Vaporfly Next%.

The forefoot is split into two sections, which are fused with a thin tape. The execution is really good because you don't feel the seam at all on the inside of the shoe.

The lacing system takes inspiration from the elite record-breaking racing shoe - the Next%. It twists to the side, so the lacing sits more toward the outside of the foot.

While it looks fancy and isn't uncomfortable, I don't feel like it provides any functional benefits over a traditional lacing system down the centre of the shoe.

The tongue is gusseted, so it doesn't slide laterally, but it is too short, so you can feel the lacing pressure at the top of the shoe.

The heel is not as pointy and elf-like as the Pegasus 36, but the padding inside prevents your heel from slipping out. A much better execution than the Pegasus 36.

Engaging ride of the Rival Fly 2

The ride of the Zoom Rival Fly 2 is much more engaging than the Pegasus 36. It's closer to the ground, so it has a better ground feel.

It's not as cushioned as the Pegasus 36, so it's not as versatile, but the lighter weight and increased responsiveness make it better at short runs.

It has a forefoot Zoom Air unit that you can feel under the ball of your foot, unlike the full-length Zoom Air unit of the Pegasus 36.

The prominence of the forefoot Zoom Air unit makes you want to strike on your forefoot rather than your midfoot or heel.

Transitions are not as smooth as other racers due to the lump that you can feel in the forefoot. While it didn't bother me, runners new to Nike will find this lump a bit odd feeling.

In a world of high energy-returning Superfoams, the midsole of the Zoom Rival Fly 2 provides an old school ride from 5 years ago. It lacks the fancy wow factor that other modern racers provide.

Firm and steady platform

There is no arch support, so flat-footed runners might prefer the arch support of the Pegasus instead. The midsole is firm, so there is no lean bias.

Plenty of flex

The thin forefoot means that the Zoom Rival Fly 2 flexes easily just before the Zoom Air Unit.

Durable and grippy outsole

The outsole has a lot of hard rubber on the forefoot and heel and has exposed cushion foam under the midfoot.

The rubber reminds me of the Nike Regrind rubber that they used about 6 years ago on the Nike Odyssey.

This rubber is extremely durable and shows nearly no signs of wear. It grips very well on dry and wet surfaces.

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: 7.4oz
Drop: 8mm
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: 12mm
Heel height: 20mm
Collection: Nike Air Zoom

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Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.