Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 review
In an ever-changing world, the Pegasus is the only constant. The Nike Pegasus 36 is a dependable, consistent trainer. It has similar ride characters from year to year, is good value for money, and is good for most types of short runs.
If you have the Pegasus 35, I wouldn't recommend getting the Pegasus 36. It has a more comfortable, better upper but does weigh a bit more.
Why is Nike Pegasus so popular?
From the vast, open plains of South Africa to the dense concrete jungles of Singapore, you can bet your bottom dollar that on any run, any time of day, you will pass at least a handful of people wearing the Nike Pegasus.
The popularity of the Nike Pegasus stems from three main reasons:
- It is well-priced: at $120 the Pegasus is a bang for the buck. You get a shoe that will last a long time and is well below the average price of modern running shoes.
- It is consistent: you always know what kind of ride you will get with the Pegasus. If you were to blindfold me and make me run in any version of the Pegasus, I could tell you that I'm running in the Pegasus—the ride is that distinct.
- It is widely available. Most large malls have a Nike store, and every Nike store carries the Pegasus. The Pegasus is also available through an array of third-party resellers and online shops.
Every second year is a big update where the midsole, outsole, and upper all change. The Pegasus 36 is an in-between year where only the upper gets updated. Some might see this approach by Nike as an "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" strategy.
But, I think Nike should take more risks and change the upper, midsole, and outsole every year: it keeps things fresh and innovative. It's also not like Nike can't afford to buy new molds and machinery every year to manufacture a brand new shoe.
The highly anticipated Pegasus 37 is rumored to have a React midsole instead of a Cushlon. This should make the shoe softer and lighter.
I have run in every Pegasus since the Pegasus 30, and after every run in the Pegasus, no matter what version, I think to myself that this is the perfect goldilocks shoe.
It's firm but not too firm, stable but not motion controlling, heavy but not too heavy. Even the price is not too cheap or not too expensive. Everything about the shoe is "just right." Now some might see this as boring; others might see it as consistent.
Upper and comfort
The main difference between the Pegasus 35 and the 36 is the upper. The tongue loses its padding and becomes a race-type tongue. This change makes the Pegasus 36 slightly roomier than the Pegasus 35.
I prefer the 35's upper purely from a comfort point of view. I have narrow feet, so I prefer to have a snug fit. The tongue of the 36 is also too short, so it slips downwards on runs.
The Nike Vomero 14 had the same tongue as the Pegasus 36, but Nike brought out a second version of the Vomero 14 with a padded, longer tongue. This is proof that Nike realises that they made a mistake with the tongues of their latest shoes.
The synthetic mesh has perforations to enhance breathability. There are Flywire cables on the midfoot to provide support and a molded heel counter that flares away from the foot at the top.
I found my heel to slip slightly even when I tied the laces with a heel lock and very tightly. The heel slip wasn't as bad as the React Infinity Run Flyknit, but it was still present.
The most exciting thing about the upper is the floral print inspired by Tokyo. It resembles the two different sides of Tokyo: the new and the old.
The ride of Nike Pegasus 36
My favourite Pegasus was the 35 because it had a smoother ride than the previous versions due to the full-length Zoom Air pocket. Versions 33 and 34 had really lumpy forefoots where the forefoot Zoom Air bags were situated.
The Pegasus 36 has the same midsole as the 35, and while you can't really feel the Zoom Air unit because it's so thin, it's comforting to know that it's there.
The Pegasus 36 is one of the few Nike running shoes to still use their old Cushlon foam technology which feels a bit flat. It doesn't have the bounce or softness of their React and ZoomX foams. The Cushlon midsole makes the ride of the Pegasus 36 very 'old school.'
I went for a variety of different runs in my Pegasus 36, including recovery, tempo, and long runs. The Pegasus 36 could handle all of them but felt the best on tempo runs shorter than 15km, under 6 minutes per kilometer.
The longest run I took in the Pegasus 36 was a 25km easy run, and while my feet felt fine, my legs and whole body felt tired, and I couldn't wait to end my run.
Transitions are very smooth due to the full-length Zoom Air unit, the one-piece midsole and the full contact outsole.
My favourite part of the Pegasus 36 is hands down the outsole. It's made from a hard carbon rubber that can rival the most durable rubbers on the planet. It's the same outsole carried over from the Pegasus 35, so it still has a great grip on wet and dry surfaces.
The outer heel area is segmented into rails which bare the brunt of the impact if you're a heel striker.
It's a full-contact outsole, so I expect to get at least 1000km of running out of the Pegasus 36.
On the Pegasus 35, at the point at the back, the midsole separated from the outsole rubber. So far, I haven't had that happen on the Pegasus 36 but be on the lookout for it.
The shoe flexes in the forefoot and very quickly snaps back into place. This makes the Pegasus very good at tempo runs. The Zoom Air unit is full length so to make the shoe flexible, Nike reduced the thickness of the Zoom Air unit.
How stable is Pegasus 36
The firm, low-to-the-ground midsole ensures that the Pegasus is a very stable shoe. There is no lean bias, and there is some under arch support which is comforting for pronators. You can feel it while walking around, but you can't feel it when running.
Pegasus 36 vs Pegasus 35
Both shoes have the exact same midsole and outsole, but the Pegasus 35 has the more comfortable upper due to the padded tongue. The Pegasus 35 is also much cheaper than the 36, so I choose the Pegasus 35.
Pegasus 36 vs the Pegasus Turbo 2
The Pegasus Turbo 2 has the dual foam ZoomX and React midsole which gives it a more sophisticated ride character. It's softer, more responsive and lighter than the Pegasus 36 but it does cost a lot more at $180. I still prefer the Pegasus Turbo 2.
Pegasus 36 vs Vomero 14
I didn't enjoy the Vomero 14 at all. The React foam in the midsole just feels lifeless and dull to me. There is also a lack of cushioning in the forefoot. The Vomero 14 is more expensive than the Pegasus 36. I prefer the Pegasus 36.
If you like the old-school combination of Zoom Air and Cushlon foam, technologies that Nike has been using for over a decade, the Pegasus 36 is the shoe for you. I find it boring and prefer the new softer, more dynamic super foam shoes of today.
One thing the Pegasus 36 is not is fun. From the Asics GlideRide with its distinct rocker to the New Balance Propel with its cloud-like softness, to the Nike React Infinity Run with its thick spongy midsole, they are all fun rides.
The Pegasus 36, in comparison, feels firm and flat. The Pegasus feels like it doesn't have any character. It doesn't inspire or motivate me to want to run more.