85
Good!
3 users: 5 / 5
1 experts: 76 / 100
Terrain: Road / Treadmill
Weight: Men 7.4oz
Heel to toe drop: Men 8mm / Women 8mm
Arch support: Neutral

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76
/100 by Brandon Law, posted on .

Sleeker, lighter and lower to the ground, the Nike Zoom Rival 2 is the racer version of the Nike Pegasus 36. The Zoom Rival 2 is cut from the same cloth as the Pegasus, meaning it is also built using Zoom Air and Cushlon foam.

The Zoom Rival 2 shares the same midsole and outsole as the Zoom Rival 1, but it has an updated upper, which looks like the futuristic upcoming Nike Pegasus 37.

 

 

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.

 

Specifications

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

Upper & 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.

 

Midsole & ride

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.

Stability

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.

 

Flexibility

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

 

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.

 

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Durable outsole that grips well
  • Accommodating, roomy upper

Cons

  • Tongue is short, resulting in lacing pressure
  • No arch support
  • No energy return in the midsole

Verdict

For runners on a budget, the Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 is a great buy. It has no major weaknesses and is suitable for short tempo runs under 10km.

For the next version of the shoe, Nike needs to make the tongue longer and add padding so that there isn't top lacing pressure on the foot. They should also change the Cushlon foam used to React foam for more bounce and durability in the midsole.

Brandon Law | Level 4 expert Verified
Hi, I'm Brandon. I have a running shoe obsession and addiction. I spend hours a day on websites and on review sites reading about the latest tech and upcoming releases. I run +-50km per week, and one of my favourite past times is going into shoe stores and testing salesmen on their knowledge of running shoes.

The Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 is intended to supply abundant cushioning and target responsiveness without sacrificing weight. To achieve this, Nike introduced to the running shoe’s design some of its top-notch technical features. 

One of the prominent design elements of the road running shoe is its asymmetrical lacing pattern. This composition takes after the Vaporfly NEXT%. This closure system prevents pressure from the foot, optimizing comfort while pronouncing lockdown. 

Present in the forefoot of the running platform’s midsole is Nike’s famous Zoom Air technology. This comes in the form of an air pocket that is low-profile and pressurized. This pocket allows for a responsive ride and promotes the foot’s natural flex. 

A redesigned heel counter is also integrated into the shoe’s design. This revamped heel counter stabilizes the heel, eliminating possibilities of slippage. Moreover, this rearfoot component also exhibits a construction that removes pressure from the foot.

The Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 is designed using the standard width for both men and women. Purchasers can get a pair of these running shoes with their usual size choice. However, it is best to go through various user feedback or fitting the shoe first before ordering. This is to secure the proper fit and size. 

The fit of the Zoom Rival Fly 2 is affected by several of its technical elements. One of these is its utilization of its asymmetrical fastening system which locks the foot securely in place. The placement of a newly designed heel counter not only highlights comfort but also support. Surrounding the midfoot of the platform is an internal fit band. This furthers the security of the foot within the shoe, holding it in place during runs. Lastly, the engineered mesh upper of the shoe, just like that of Saucony Peregrine 8, adapts to the natural contours of the foot. This provides a secure-fitting running shoe, preventing premature removal.

The outsole of the Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 features a combination of rubber crash pads and flex grooves. These features are responsible for mitigating shock and amplifying pliability, respectively. 

To optimize the impact absorption, crash pads are installed on the heel. The features are essential in protecting the foot from any strain or injury. These are made of high-strength rubber, complementing the lightness and durability of the running shoe. 

On the other hand, flex grooves are presented on the forefoot of the shoe. This engineering allows for a more flexible ride, encouraging natural foot movements. This also boosts the comfort of the runner, especially during long runs.

As mentioned, the midsole of the Zoom Rival Fly 2 utilizes Nike’s innovation—Zoom Air. This midsole technology consists of a pressurized air pocket, flexing during ground contact. This ability allows for a more responsive running performance to the wearer. This also targets comfort by providing plush cushioning. 

Complementing the Zoom Air technology of the running shoe is its soft foam midsole. Aside from enhancing support, this material secures a lockdown fit without adding bulk. This midsole component also increases the comfort delivered to the runner while attenuating shock during impact.

Some of the highlighted refinements done on the Nike Zoom Rival Fly 2 are found on its upper composition. For one, this shoe sports a new lacing system that is patterned after the Vaporfly NEXT%. This new closure system features an asymmetrical construction that takes away pressure from the foot. Thus, it safeguards comfort when running. Although featuring an updated look, this lacing system does not veer away from its topmost function— implementing lockdown fit. 

Working with the lacing system of the shoe is its internal fit band. This technical feature wraps around the midfoot, optimizing support and security. 

Another important detail that’s existent on the running platform is its new and improved engineered mesh upper. This upper has a flexible quality that allows it to envelope around the contours of the foot. With such an attribute, the shoe is able to maximize a foot-conforming wrap that eliminates slippage and unwanted shoe removal. The mesh upper also promotes a healthy foot environment by acting as the airflow system of the foot chamber. With its perforations, air can circulate within the platform, leaving no room for foot odor and sweat. 

Situated at the rearfoot of the running shoe is its redesigned heel counter. It presents a construction that slightly curves away from the Achilles tendon. This aims to promote added comfort by relieving pressure from the foot.

Size and fit

Too small based on 11 user votes
Small (73%)
True to size (27%)
Large (0%)
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Forefoot fit
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Heel fit
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Toebox
Tight Roomy

How Zoom Rival Fly 2 compares

This shoe: 85
All shoes average: 86
58 99
This shoe: $136
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 7.4oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 16.2oz
Author
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.

jens@runrepeat.com