Nike is one of the few running brands that still offers four footwear introductions each year; Spring, Summer, Fall and Holiday. The biggest introductions are usually saved for Spring and Fall, with Holiday and Summer having a smaller number of updates.
For Summer 2010, Nike continues to experiment and expand models that make up two of the brand’s unique categories of shoes, the Free and Lunar family of products. Nike is known to consistently introduce new technologies to see if they find an audience and if they do find a following, the technology is expanded into its own silo of products. Air Max was one of the better examples of this. First was the Air Max, then a whole slew of Air Max products that followed. The Free concept remains popular, but the line is somewhat limited in its appeal. The Lunar product has proven wildly successful and as a result, new models are being introduced in the Lunar line while the Free line receives updates to existing models and even loses a style in the process.
For the Lunar franchise, possibly the coolest is the new LunarFly+. Take a symmetrical LunarLite midsole and throw the upper from the 2008 Hayward on top and you have one hot shoe. At $80, this is gonna prove popular.
The next interesting concept is Breathe. This is a super breathable upper that Nike is offering on a few models for 3 months next summer. The LunarSwift+ Breathe ($85 MSRP) will be the lone Lunar model to get this treatment. They kinda look like the shoes worn by the Judge Smalls in Caddy Shack, but they are pretty neat. If you want breathability in a shoe, these definitely deliver.
The LunarRacer 2 ($100 MSRP) is carried over, but the men’s and women’s now sport different color uppers making it easier to spot the difference
The Free product models updated for Spring 2010 appear to be geared directly at runners versus the general sporting goods population that several of the Free models from previous seasons look like they were intended for. Last season gave us the Free Everyday in addition to the 5.0 and 3.0. For Summer ’10 the Free 3.0 and 5.0 combine to become not the Free 4.0, but instead, the Free Run while the Free Everyday becomes the 7.0 V2.
Flexibility in the Nike Free Run ($85 MSRP) has been increased significantly over the Free 5.0 being more similar to the Free 3.0 in this respect hoping for a greater barefoot-like experience. The midsole is similar to the Free 5.0 in terms of the amount of midsole offered, but now sports a sculpted geometry that should increase cushioning and support. A new seamless upper has been incorporated making this the Nike Free that should find the widest running audience yet.
The Nike Free 7.0 V2 is still the medially “posted” model that the Free Everyday was, but with a slightly updated upper. The biggest change is the addition of deeper grooves cut into the outsole increasing flexibility.
The Bowerman line of specialty running shoes receives a completely new Vomero and Pegasus. The Nike Zoom Vomero+ 5 continue to be Nike’s top shelf, ultra plush, ultra comfy trainer. The Vomero has always been known for being extremely pillowy soft and this version seeks to enhance this feeling. A new extended crash pad in addition to the standard Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot, plus full length Cushlon should make this a marshmallow. The biggest change in the upper is the addition of No-Sew construction around the forefoot that should increase comfort.
The Nike Air Pegasus+ 27 seeks to be a modern interpretation of the original version, meaning a neutral, responsive, comfortable, no BS training shoe. There was a time not too long ago when the Pegasus was a pretty squishy shoe, not the type of shoe serious runners who liked to pound tend to prefer. The early versions of the Pegasus were exactly the kinds of shoe runners who hammered liked. It featured a PU heel, which tends to be firm, along with a forefoot without added cushioning features again to increase responsiveness. The Pegasus 27 has a new, responsive Cushlon (ST) lower profile, full length midsole with a single Zoom Air unit embedded in the heel. Flex groves in the forefoot have been deepened to increase flexibility while the upper sports No-Sew overlays to increase comfort. This newest Pegasus should find a home with those runners who like to pound the miles. At $90, this is looking like somewhat of a bargain compared to the $100 most of the competition comes in at.
The Breathe concept is being applied to the Nike Air Structure Triax+ 13 Breathe ($100 MSRP). The tooling is taken directly from the regular version, but the light weight, open mesh Breathe upper, honeycomb collar and perforated sock liner are in place, making this a nice option for people who run in hot, humid conditions and want a supportive trainer that has the maximum amount of breathability offered.
Overall, some really nice offerings from Kevin and the crew up in Beaverton for next Summer.