I can’t recommend this shoe to anyone other than someone looking for a super soft, slow shoe to run in. While the Joyride will not be a hit, it certainly is not a miss because it does what it is advertised to do.
What I like about the Joyride is that Nike is trying something new and innovative.
While Puma first came up with the concept of beads in a midsole in their Jamming shoe, nobody took notice of it as a serious running shoe because the technology wasn’t implemented correctly. With the Joyride, you can actually feel the beads working as the midsole conforms to your foot.
It’s fun to run in but works better for me as a casual shoe.
great impact protection
stylish and futuristic
outsole holds up better than expected
poor energy return
Joyride Run will step up your style for sure
This is a great-looking running shoe. It looks as good on a run as it does with a casual outfit.
The two-tone balls can be seen in the cut-out windows of the outsole as well as in the heel section on the lateral side. It’s a really futuristic-looking running shoe.
The tiny TPU beads offer 14% more impact protection than Zoom Air and React, according to Nike.
The upper is Flyknit in the forefoot and soft, stretchy material in the midfoot and heel.
The Flyknit is softer and stretchier than the Epic React’s Flyknit. It’s extremely comfortable except for the top of the heel, which digs into your Achilles if you are not wearing long enough socks.
The inner section of the heel is not a fan of the Achilles.
It’s a really warm shoe and doesn’t let much air in. It may be the warmest shoe I have ever worn.
The midsole is made of a super soft material. It’s the softest midsole ever used in a Nike shoe and can be folded in half with one hand.
No sock liner means that your feet sit directly on the midsole.
You can feel the ball pockets in the forefoot underneath your foot as there is no sock liner. It feels like you have popped blisters underneath your feet. The balls are soft, so they don’t poke into your foot. I would estimate them to be the same density of Adidas Boost pellets.
Overall, it’s much more comfortable than the Epic React.
The thick upper materials are like a sweater for your feet.
Fit: Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is on the snug side
It’s a really snug fit, and I had to go up half a size. I wear thin socks with them because it is so snug. The combination of the thick upper and the bead pockets that push up from the bottom don’t leave much space in the forefoot.
Midsole: Can't have too many beads
There are over 10 000 beads packed into the midsole. The beads are split into four sections throughout the shoe. You can only see three sections when you look at the bottom of the shoe. There are more beads placed in the high-impact areas (the heel and ball of the foot).
The bead pocket in the midfoot is hidden from view.
The Joyride does what it is advertised to do. It provides great impact protection. With every foot strike, your feet sink down into the ball pit- like when you run in the sand.
I have run in many shoes in my lifetime, and the Joyride lords overall as the softest I have ever run in.
This is the only midsole that can truly be described as marshmallowy.
I cannot run longer than 5km in these shoes because it provides a negative energy return. The shoe is for impact protection and not efficiency. It is probably the least versatile Nike running shoe. It is only good for short, slow runs.
The Vomero 14 became firm this year, and I see the Joyride as being a replacement for the Vomero.
Something interesting that I noticed is that the shoe encourages me to strike on my forefoot rather than my regular heel strike. This is because you can feel the cushion pockets in the forefoot while you can’t feel it in the heel.
This is the same situation as the Pegasus 33 and 34, where you can feel the forefoot Zoom Air pocket.
The midsole conforms by tiny beads pushing up and around your toes and forefoot as you apply pressure.
Flexible like Nike Free
Flexibility is high. The soft midsole allows the shoe to flex easily without much effort. The flex point is in the forefoot where all good running shoes should flex.
The window cut-outs look like plastic but are actually thick rubber panels.
The outsole is actually more durable than I thought it would be. The soft transparent rubber has browned slightly, but it shows no signs of tearing or puncturing. Apart from getting dirty, the outsole has held up really well. The navy-blue rubber section shows some fraying.
Slippery when wet
Traction is not very good. The smooth outsole is slippery on any smooth surface even when it is not wet (concrete, pavement, etc.) There are no protruding lugs to provide “bite” for grip.
Final thoughts on the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit
Nike’s hyped-up new technologies have been hit and miss. The Epic React is a big hit while the VaporMax is a miss. It is hard, uncomfortable, and definitely not for the purpose of running.
The Joyride Run was one of the biggest releases of the year. It features the latest, most advanced technology Nike has to offer.
“Thousands of tiny beads working hard, so you don’t have to” is the slogan. It is marketed as a shoe with a conforming cushioning system for short, recovery runs.
Many shoe reviewers have refrained from reviewing the shoe because they don’t see it as a “proper” running shoe. I was too curious to sit this one out.
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.