Performance Review: Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)


Before this year, the Venomenon line of the Kobe Bryant signature shoe collection was relatively unknown amongst American hoopers in the states. An Asia-only release since 2011 (much like LeBron’s Ambassador models), the Venomenon typically features a heavy-duty (sometimes XDR) outsole for outdoor use and a durable Fuse or synthetic upper. It’s the more industrial sibling compared to the Kobe signature line.

This year, the fourth Venomenon model finally saw a U.S. release, and I was excited to test out a shoe that’s typically only been available overseas or off eBay. I was also looking forward to hooping in a low top once again – my preferred type of peformance shoe – and I had high hopes for the shoe in general given the generally positive feedback I’d found online.

It turns out that my hopes for this shoe were realized, and I came out with a very well-rounded low top that will stay in the on-court rotation for the near future.

Venomenon_Lockdown copy copy

The upper is comprised of a synthetic Fuse material/Flywire combination and is coupled with a carbon fiber heel counter to make up the majority of the upper key upper technology. 6 eyelets take care of the lacing setup.


To me the fit was good on all fronts, yet not quite great. The shoe fits naturally in the toes with little to no pinching in the toe box. I went with my normal 11.5 and they fit nice and snug. The Fuse upper will take a little time to break in and become flexible in order to move and crease with the foot, and I noticed some interior slippage my first couple times wearing them. The slippage remained a slight issue for me, and I believe it’s because the upper just isn’t that flexible like a thinner, softer synthetic or leather would be (I felt the same way about the CP3.VI).


Also, the heel counter is fairly thin and not super rigid, which allows for a little bit of slippage in the heel. It’s not unnerving and I still felt comfortable with it, but I couldn’t quite get perfect lockdown on high speed moves (like pull-ups in transition).

Heel-Toe Transition
venomenon_Transition copy copy

Transition is very smooth, aided by Zoom forefoot cushioning and a TPU shank under the midfoot. The shank isn’t overly rigid if support is a main concern of yours, but it does give good flexibility. There’s no slap from heel to toe, and I have no real complaints.

Venomenon_Cushion copy copy

The tech specs include a Zoom Air bag up front that spans the width of the forefoot(slightly larger than the traditional Kobe met bag, I might add) encased in an injected Phylon midsole. The Zoom bag is high quality and plays low to the ground and responsive. The heel feels fairly firm (the whole midsole itself is pretty firm overall) but maintains court feel and stability.


venomenon_Court Feel copy copy

The Venomenon is excellent laterally thanks to the low-profile midsole. In terms of the outsole, the rubber compound is slighly more firm than a normal outsole (it is NOT XDR in the purple/volt colorway I tested though). This affects traction more than cushioning, but it’s worth a mention as the outsole will just feel slightly more firm when you try it out.

venomenon_Responsiveness copy copy

I mentioned the TPU shank earlier in the article, and it’s really not a rigid, supportive shank in my opinion. It has a few cutout areas underfoot and provides a nice fit – you can feel some support just by slipping it on – but my arches have been a little sore after the last few wearings and the shank may be the culprit.


All in all, I was a fan of the cushioning setup. It tends to feel like a firm tennis court shoe and left a little to be desired from a straight comfort standpoint, but it was still very good. The biggest improvement would simply have been a beefier midfoot shank.


Venomenon_Traction copy copy

Nike’s Blade traction pattern is geared for outdoor courts but it works perfectly well on indoor ones too. You’ll get that reassuring stop and squeak, and both linear and lateral traction are solid thanks to the deep-grooved, multi-directional pattern. The hardness of the rubber needs to be broken in a little at first though, so on the first wearing it might not quite feel perfect yet.


I had been interested to try the Blade pattern after seeing it on the H.A.M. Low this summer and I was pleasantly surpised with it.


Venomenon_Materials-Durability copy copy

For $120, you get Fuse, Flywire, a decent Zoom bag, a special traction pattern and a quality outsole/midsole combination. Some would say that the materials aren’t quite as “premium” as the main Kobe line, but I like this tech combination pretty well.


Overall, the Venomenon is good in terms of value and I have no concerns about the longterm durability here. I came away impressed with the build and quality from day 1.

For a model making its U.S. debut, I was pleased with how the Venomenon performed. If you’re looking for a low that won’t break the bank, the Venomenon is a great choice in a market that doesn’t currently feature many low tops. It’s a well-rounded shoe – good, not great on all fronts – but I think it’s a good, durable choice for a guard.

12 responses to “Performance Review: Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

  1. Thanks for the review!

    I thought the Venomenon series are outdoor specific shoes. Why didn’t this one come with an XDR outsole?

    Do you know why the outdoor shoes hardly have any ventilation when it’s aimed at the Asian market which more often than not sees a whole lot of the sun. If I were Nike, I would make sure these outdoor shoes have more vents on them.

    Have you ever tried the Jordan B’Mo? The traction pattern is the same. It also uses the Nike Blade system. I’m considering those but there are no reviews of them anywhere.

    • I’m not sure why they didn’t put XDR on every colorway – I believe the YOTH colorway has it but not sure about any others. To me, it’s unacceptable that they used it on one but not the other. I’m not an industry guy (yet) but I can’t imagine it’s too much more money to include XDR unless that foam compound is really a premium material.

      As far as ventilation, I think the main reason is most of the time a well-ventilated shoe has a lot of mesh. And mesh doesn’t hold up at all outdoors, mostly because of lateral support. You’ll get a lot of blowouts on the side with mesh outdoors. Hyperfuse, unless it’s mesh based, isn’t really ventilated well and these Venomenon have layered Fuse and no holes. A lot of times even if you do get a perforated shoe, it’s backed with cloth or the inner bootie and doesn’t really allow for much ventilation.

      I haven’t played in the B’Mo but I do know it’s supposed to have a more rugged outsole and a more solid compound.

      • Thank you very much for replying.

        mesh doesn’t hold up at all outdoors, mostly because of lateral support. You’ll get a lot of blowouts on the side with mesh outdoors.

        What do you mean by that? I don’t really understand it. My English is limited sorry. The material used on the upper shouldn’t be an issue for me as the outsole is the only part of the shoe that connects with the court. Besides the court, I don’t see any other difference between playing indoor and outdoor. Please advice

      • Playing outdoors just wears out shoes a lot faster than playing indoors – probably because of a worse playing surface and just length of time people usually play outdoors – so outdoor shoes will sometimes have a thicker, tougher upper than your “indoor” basketball shoes. Like the Kobe line for example, the Kobe 8 uses Engineered Mesh on the upper. But when you play outdoors and traction isn’t as good, you put a lot of stress on the upper when you change direction and that EM isn’t going to hold up as well as a thicker Fuse upper. That’s why you usually have some more layered Fuse uppers on outdoor shoes and give up some of the ventilation. While the upper doesn’t touch the court, it’s harder to stop and change direction outdoors (and playing outdoors is usually more dirty/physical/rugged) it does put more stress on the upper than playing inside in my opinion. Hope that helps.

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  4. I’m trying to find usable and long lasting basketball shoes for outdoors. Which of the these best fit what I’m looking for the most- jordan cp3 vi or vii, hyperdunks, Adidas streetballl 2.0, hyperfuse, d rose 4.5, or hyperdunks. Thanks

    • You can probably rule out Hyperdunks for sure, and probably the Rose 4.5 because of the thinner cushioning. Your knees will hate you if you play outdoors in those too much. Of the others, the Streetball 2.0 are the only ones technically built for outdoors, but you have a bunch of other durable models.

      Both CP3s have very thick, sturdy uppers and deep grooved outsoles, as well as some toe drag protection. CP3.VI does it with a Fuse upper, CP3.VII is synthetic leather with a tacky, durable finish.

      Hyperfuse are durable through the upper and have a substantial, supportive midsole – which is good for outdoors.

      Or, you have the Venomenons in the XDR version. Probably the best compromise between durability and overall comfort. Fit is secure too, something you especially need outdoors if the court is slick or worn. If you want a mid though, I’d lean towards the Hyperfuse. Just a slightly more modern shoe than the Streetball 2.0 – which I haven’t played in. Another one to look at would be the Zoom Crusader in the XDR version.

  5. Do these run true to size like if I bought a 12 in cp3 7 and that’s to big should I go with normal 11.5 in these.

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