Our verdict

The Nike Air Zoom Maxfly is a top-of-the-line sprint spike built for elite performance in the 60m to 400m range. With the Zoom Air unit and carbon plate, we experienced explosive energy return and protection, complemented by ZoomX foam in the rear. While it takes some getting used to, we believe this spike is an exceptional choice for speed-hungry runners with a generous budget.

Pros

  • Extremely springy ride
  • Snug, performance-oriented fit
  • Propulsion from Flyplate and Zoom Air
  • Premium design and materials
  • Ideal for 100-400m sprints
  • Can be used for hurdles
  • Unmatched comfort and speed
  • Notched laces for secure lockdown

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires some adaptation
  • Can feel unstable for some

Audience verdict

76
Good!
  • Top 20% most popular tracking shoes

Who should buy

We think the Nike Air Zoom Maxfly is a must-have spike for those seeking:

  • Explosive power and protection from the Zoom Air unit.
  • Top-tier performance across sprints from 60m to 400m, with versatility extending all the way up to the 1500m for some.
  • A supremely aggressive, stiff ride balanced with a certain degree of comfort.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Zoom Air

Who should NOT buy

While we appreciate the responsive Zoom Air unit in the Maxfly's forefoot, we recognise it won't suit everyone's preferences. Those craving a traditional, grounded ride might find a better fit in the Adidas Prime SP2.

We also don't recommend the Maxfly for distances beyond 800m. Its focus is clearly on shorter sprints. Instead, check out the versatile and budget-friendly Nike Zoom Rival D 10—its comfortable design could be a smarter choice for longer races especially if it's your first spike.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly

Breathability

Though breathability may not top the priority list for track spikes designed for explosive sprints, some ventilation helps, especially during longer training sessions in summer. We were pleasantly surprised by the Maxfly's average-at-best performance in our smoke-pumping test.

This surprised us, as sprint spikes prioritize an exceptionally lightweight build, and super-light uppers typically score an easy 5/5 for breathability. The Maxfly landed a respectable 3/5, though.

Shedding more light on the situation (pun intended!), we discovered a dense Flyweave mesh. This feature improves support and stability.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly microscope

Our microscope offered the ultimate proof. There's not a single ventilation hole or gap in the tightly woven mesh.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly microscope

Finally, we took a detailed look at the upper and found surprisingly plush padding for such a sprint-focused spike, especially in the heel area.

Runners who are prone to discomfort in this region will deeply appreciate this design choice.

Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Now comes the moment of truth—testing upper durability with our Dremel. You might think wear and tear doesn't matter much with sprint spikes, but big toe nails have been known to rip open those flimsy uppers really quickly!

Thankfully, the Maxfly held its own during our Dremel test, earning a strong 3/5 score. This indicates enough toughness to withstand the rigors of its intended lifespan.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Toebox durability
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 3
Average 3.4
Compared to 5 running spikes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

In the heel area, the MaxFly truly shined, demonstrating impressive resistance to wear and tear.

We gave it a flawless 5-out-of-5 score! With durability like this, runners can trust that the heel will remain intact for years.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Heel padding durability
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 5
Average 4
Compared to 5 running spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole thickness

Our measurement revealed an outsole thickness of 1.9 mm.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly outsole

The Shockwave outsole boasts a unique design that prioritizes both grip and comfort.

Notably, its strategic placement allows for added traction and responsiveness in the forefoot while dipping below the foam in the heel, prioritizing greater cushioning and impact absorption.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Outsole thickness
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 1.9 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
1.6 mm
Outsole thickness
4.5 mm

Cushioning

Heel stack

We measured a 15.9 mm heel stack, meeting current World Athletics regulations.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly

These guidelines will tighten in late 2024, limiting stack height to under 20 mm (at the time of this review, the limit is 25 mm).

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Heel stack
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 15.9 mm
Average 13.2 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
10.4 mm
Heel stack
15.9 mm

Forefoot stack

We measured the forefoot at 16.8 mm, slightly higher than the heel. This strategic design maximizes forward propulsion by placing extra cushioning and responsiveness precisely where sprinters need it most, under the ball of the foot.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Forefoot stack
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 16.8 mm
Average 13.1 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
8.6 mm
Forefoot stack
16.8 mm

Drop

The heel-to-forefoot difference creates a negative drop of -0.9 mm. While this might seem unusual for a traditional road shoe, we think it's an ideal design for elite-level spikes. This aggressive configuration promotes explosive propulsion for peak performance.

However, in our view, runners who are new to the world of spikes should exercise caution when first stepping into a shoe like the Maxfly. Ease into doing drills in them gradually to give your calves and Achilles tendons time to adjust and prevent injury.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Drop
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly -0.9 mm
Average 0.1 mm
Compared to 6 running 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 Maxfly features Nike's top-tier ZoomX foam, identical to that found in their other top-performing racing shoes like the Alphafly 3.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly foam

Those familiar wrinkles appeared after just a few miles. It wouldn't be ZoomX without them!

This specialized formulation boasts incredible density with a remarkably firm yet responsive feel (29.0 HA on our durometer test)—everything a competitor craves for explosive track performance.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Midsole softness
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 29.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Flyplate

In top-tier track spikes, optimal speed demands one key feature, a carbon plate. The Maxfly delivers with Nike's renowned Flyplate technology, which is a full-length carbon plate positioned strategically above the foam and Zoom Air unit. With each step, this setup maximizes compression for explosive energy return.

Just be prepared—unlike simpler foam-based spikes, the Flyplate creates a noticeably stiff and aggressive ride no matter the distance.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Drop

Zoom Air

Besides its ZoomX foam and Flyplate, the star of the midsole is a big Zoom Air unit. Although it offers great metatarsal protection, we think that its unique ride might not suit runners who crave a classic ground feel.

This unit evokes us those found in Nike shoes like the Pegasus 40, yet it's dialed up in size and width for the ultimate in energy return and forefoot cushioning.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Zoom Air

Insole thickness

As is standard in track spikes, the Maxfly keeps things minimal with a thin 2.8 mm insole. This lean design ensures a close, direct connection to the midsole.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Insole thickness
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 2.8 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Insole thickness
3.9 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

From the moment we slipped on the Maxfly, we immediately noticed its stiff ride—undeniably due to the carbon-fiber plate embedded within. 

Yet, we're keen on backing our sensations with solid data. That led us to conduct our 90-degree bend test. The results were telling, as we encountered a formidable 54.2N of resistance against our arm, confirming the Maxfly's exceptionally stiff and responsive nature.

Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 54.2N
Average 32.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
10.9N
Stiffness
66.6N

Stability

Torsional rigidity

Despite that carbon plate, the Maxfly retains a surprising degree of flexibility, earning a respectable 4/5 on our rigidity test.

This welcome bend gives it a more forgiving feel compared to some ultra-rigid spikes.

Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 4
Average 2.5
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

To ensure a secure fit when accelerating into full-speed sprints, the Maxfly's heel counter boasts some structure. We found that this added support provides excellent heel lockdown—crucial for maximizing power with every stride.

Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 3
Average 1.8
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Now for midsole measurements! Given the Maxfly is engineered for blazing-fast 60m to 400m sprints (with even some 800m/mile runners opting for it), a streamlined design seemed inevitable in the forefoot. And with our digital caliper measuring a lean 93.9mm, our expectations were fully confirmed.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 93.9 mm
Average 93.4 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
88.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
99.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

As with the forefoot, the MaxFly boasts a remarkably narrow heel—just 59.2mm according to our digital calipers.

But remember, we're talking about a sprint-focused shoe here. This design keeps feet locked in for pure performance. This is more a Ferrari than an Audi A8!

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 59.2 mm
Average 59.9 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
55.0 mm
Midsole width in the heel
67.9 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

With minimal vertical space in the toebox, we discovered that the design prioritizes an ultra-snug, race-ready lockdown to efficiently channel power down into the track.

However, width-wise, things expand somewhat—our measurements showed 87.3 mm at the upper's widest point, which is decently roomy for this kind of spike.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 87.3 mm
Average 89.0 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
81.9 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
96.4 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

While the Maxfly prioritizes a performance-driven, streamlined fit, the big toe area boasts a surprisingly generous width. Thanks to this less aggressive taper than many track spikes.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 77.1 mm
Average 71.7 mm
Compared to 5 running spikes
Number of shoes
68.3 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
77.1 mm

Removable pins

The Maxfly boasts a 7-pin setup in the forefoot area, and you can effortlessly remove these pins whenever needed.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Removable pins

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue boasts impressive padding for a sprint track spike—we measured it at 3.9 mm, which is thicker than many road racing shoes.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly tongue

We just love notched laces. They provide such a far superior lockdown.

In fact, we believe Nike could slightly trim down the tongue in the next version to reduce weight.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Tongue padding
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 3.9 mm
Average 3.9 mm
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
0.4 mm
Tongue padding
7.5 mm

Heel tab

We didn't find a heel tab on the Maxfly, although we weren't expecting one either.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Heel tab
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly None

Weight

Weighing in at 6.0 oz (169g), the Maxfly falls short compared to other aspects of its design.

It's certainly not a heavy spike, but Nike has set the bar high, and this weight closely mirrors the Vaporfly 3, which has twice the stack height of the Maxfly.

Nike Air Zoom MaxFly Weight
Test results
Air Zoom Maxfly 5.96 oz (169g)
Average 5.64 oz (160g)
Compared to 6 running spikes
Number of shoes
4.59 oz (130g)
Weight
6.46 oz (183g)