As we’ve mentioned previously, Nike is all about their Lunar Technology going forward so much so that the bulk of their new running specialty product offerings from Fall ’10 (late Summer introductions) are Lunar based. The former Bowerman line, generally considered more traditional running footwear, is whittled down to color updates on the four primary models within the Bowerman line, the Vomero+5, the Equalon+4, the Structure Triax+ 13 and the Air Pegasus+ 27. The rest of the shoes earmarked for the running specialty industry are Lunar.
This is actually a smart business move in many respects if one looks at the production cost associated with making shoes. The Dynamic Support technology the Lunar product is based on provides varying levels of support allowing many different types of pronation control to be addressed by a single model. Theoretically then, you can cut down on the number of models you need to produce to accommodate different runners. Gone is the need for a neutral and a separate support line of shoes, all you have to produce is a single lineup. Additionally, the Lunar concept itself is based on 2 pieces of foam, a softer core inside a firmer shell which is much less expensive to produce versus the production costs associated with the more traditional construction technique of gluing a separate cushioning technology into the heel and forefoot within a midsole. If the Lunar shoes perform as well or better than traditional product, Nike’s shareholders will be smiling ear to ear.
The top of the food chain for Lunar product and the brand is called the Nike LunarEclipse+, a $130 model that offers the most amount of Dynamic Support currently available to accommodate under-pronators up through moderate over-pronators. The target Nike set for themselves with the LunarEclipse was to provide greater cushioning than the Asics Nimbus and greater support than the Asics Kayano. The first thing you notice about the shoe when you pick it up is how light it is. At 11.5 oz for a men’s 9.0, the shoe is just above weight threshold for lightweight trainers of 11.0 oz. I suspect it’s actually lighter than the listed 11.5 oz weight, we’ll check out the weight along with feedback on the cushioning and support claims once production shows up next summer.
Erik took a pair for a spin and was impressed by their support. Erik generally trains in lighter weight, moderate support models such as the adizero Tempo and he found the LunarEclipse to be more supportive than his normal trainers which he hasn’t found with any Lunar product to date. The LunarEclipse+ fit well, offers good support, is light and if production meets the sample we saw, Nike looks to have a winner on their hands.
The Nike LunarGlide+2 provides better fitting upper than the orginal LunarGlide brought to the table. The current version is a bit puffy in the forefoot and isn’t as snug as some would like. Nike tightened up the forefoot so fit is improved, the midsole/outsole tooling remains unchanged which should make many happy.
The LunarSwift+ looks to fill the spot the Air Pegasus fills in the Bowerman line, namely a $85 neutral cushioning shoe that entry level runners and high school athletes can use to train and race in. A seamless upper and 10.2 light weight should be a nice option for many.
The Nike LunarFly+ ($80 MSRP) takes the retro, Pre-inspired upper from the 2008 Zoom Hayward and places it on top of a Lunar platform to create an inexpensive, stylish and completely runnable shoe. Not sure how many will see a significant number of miles run in them, but I can certainly see a lot of runners sporting them as casual kicks you can use for a run if you forget your normal trainers at the house.
The other area that receives updates are the racing shoes, namely the cross country flats and spikes. The big news is that the Zoom Victory becomes a cross country spike named strangely enough the Zoom Victory XC. This model has the same Flywire upper and midsole as the track version, but adds a 3/4 carbon plate and a waffled outsole treatment. With the introduction of this new model, you can pretty much write the obit on the Zoom Forever. The Forever appears without changes in fall ’10, a sure sign it’s days are numbered. Bummer for me since I take credit for providing the story around which the shoe was named way back in the mid ’90’s. I think John Truax and Todd Lewis will back me up on that claim. Probably the subject of a different blog post down the road.
In keeping with other brands in the industry that are offering outstanding updates and values, the cross country shoes from Nike for fall ’10 are over the top. I honestly have never seen the shear number of absolutely super cross flats and spikes being brought out at the same time as they are the coming Fall from the top brands. Nike is right in there as always with super treatments and to the delight of many, lower prices. That’s right, similar minimal upper treatments as the Streak XC 2, one piece super breathable upper with welded overlays and not a stitch to be seen or felt, plus the price on the Zoom Waffle Racer VII, Jana Star Waffle IV, Zoom Waffle XC VIII and Jana Star XC IV, drop to $45 for the non-spiked and $55 for the spiked versions respectively. Nice job.
Nike is betting the house on Lunar. From the progress seen on the LunarEclipse+ from the initial offerings it appears the Swoosh can pull it off if they keep tweaking the formula to dial the ride qualities and support into what runners in each major category expect. This will be the challenge because the ride quality currently is very soft and springy, a foreign feeling for those of us used to running on traditional molded EVA all these years. The support currently is not quite where it needs to be. The LunarEclipse+ makes great strides to remedy these. If Nike can conquer the ride/support challenge in front of them with subsequent models as they seem to have with the Lunar Eclipse+, the lighter weight, seamless fit and looks that cause all the kids in the building to pull you aside and exclaim “That shoe looks awesome” will make this lineup a winner.