For 2016, the Nike FREE running line-up is all new. Last year there were three Nike FREE models: FREE 3.0 Flyknit (MSRP $140), FREE 4.0 Flyknit (MSRP $120) and FREE 5.0 (MSRP $100). This year there are four models: FREE RN Motion (MSRP $150), FREE RN Flyknit (MSRP $130), FREE RN (MSRP $100) and FREE RN Distance (MSRP $120).
You may have noticed each 2016 FREE shoe has RN in the model name and it doesn’t mean registered nurse. RN is an abbreviation for run, and is used to distinguish the FREE running models from FREE fitness training models. In addition to RN being added to the model name, a major update to the FREE RN line is the inclusion of a Lunar core foam. The use of the Lunar core foam does not significantly change how the FREE RN models feel compared to their predecessors, but the new models are just a touch softer. The one exception is the FREE RN Distance, where the Lunar core foam delivers a noticeably softer ride than any other FREE models, past or present.
Another big change with the FREE RN line is how the sole of the shoe functions. The FREE RN Motion gets a stand alone design, and it is the most flexible and expansive platform of the FREE RN shoes. The foot lengthens and widens during ground contact and the FREE RN Motion platform is designed to work with this movement to the greatest degree. In this respect, the FREE RN Motion is the most “FREE” shoe in the line-up and is the closest to barefoot. Thus, it replaces the 3.0 Flyknit in an evolutionary manner. And like the 3.0 Flyknit, the FREE RN Motion has a 4mm heel-toe offset and a Flyknit upper.
The FREE RN Flyknit and FREE RN have a platform which is designed to have greater expansion than the 2015 FREE shoes but is not as expensive as the FREE RN Motion. The FREE RN Flyknit and FREE RN replace the FREE 4.0 Flynknit and FREE 5.0, respectively. However, the 4.0 had a 6mm offset and the 5.0 had an 8mm offset. Both the FREE RN Flyknit and FREE RN have 8mm offsets. In fact, they have the same platform. The difference between the two shoes is the upper. The Flyknit is more sock-like and allows for greater freedom of movement compared to the engineered mesh upper of the FREE RN. Additionally, the Flyknit upper results in greater toe spring, making the shoe feel more dynamic than the regular FREE RN.
The FREE RN Distance is a stand alone shoe within the FREE arena. It not only has a Lunar core foam, it also has an accordion-like midsole design similar to the LunaRacer and LunarTempo. This design contributes to the soft underfoot feel of the FREE RN Distance. Another distinction with the FREE RN Distance among the new FREE RN shoes is the flexibility cut pattern of the midsole/outsole. The pattern is similar to the FREE 5.0 pattern but is more filled in. So, in contrast to the other FREE RN shoes, which got more expensive, the FREE RN Distance is less expensive than previous free models. As such, the FREE RN Distance is a bit more similar to other Nike running shoes and is a little less “FREE-like”.
FREE RN Motion: Platform expands more than other FREE RN models and previous models. With a 4mm offset, this model replaces the FREE 3.0 Flyknit.
FREE RN Flyknit: Platform expands more than previous FREE models but not as much as the FREE RN Motion. Replaces the Free 4.0 Flyknit, but has an 8mm offset compared to the 6mm offset of the 4.0.
FREE RN: The same platform as the FREE RN Flyknit, but the upper is not as flexible. In fact, the upper is not as pliable as the FREE 5.0 that this model replaces. Both the 5.0 and the FREE RN have 8mm offsets.
FREE RN Distance: Fusion of Lunar and FREE to produce a daily running shoe. The ride is much softer feeling than the other FREE RN models.