Performance Review: Jordan Melo M10

Prose: Max Smith

Though it might be hard to believe, we’re already at Carmelo Anthony’s 10th signature shoe for Jordan Brand. His models have generally been good on-court options, especially the M8 and M9, even if they haven’t been as commercially successful as other athletes’ signature shoes.

The M10 borrows heavily from the Jordan XX8 SE, using the same tooling underfoot and Dynamic Fit lacing system. Where it differs, however, is in the materials used throughout the upper and that’s something that ultimately sets it apart from many shoes on the market right now.

Fit
The M10 has a slightly wider forefoot than the average shoe, but I didn’t feel any slipping or lack of containment, and the same can be said for the midfoot. The Dynamic Fit system combined with the carbon fiber shank underneath makes for a secure midfoot. Dynamic Fit, if you’ve read our prior review on the XX8 SE, is basically a combination of straps that tie directly to the midsole. When laced up, these straps wrap the foot and provide excellent lockdown.

Heel lockdown is a premium feature in this model as well. There are two Achilles’ notches in the interior of each shoe that really help your foot stay in place.

meloM10_4

A major difference between the M10 and XX8 SE (besides the slightly higher cut of the M10) is that the M10 uses heavy-duty synthetics for the upper. Despite this, the flexibility is definitely above average. Your foot really isn’t hindered at all and carbon fiber shank keeps excessive torque off your foot. However, this personally wasn’t adequate for me. I need a shoe with a little more rigidity, but overall I liked the flexibility.

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The overall fit is better and more secure than most. The synthetic leather is premium and feels excellent on foot. I’d recommend going a half size down as these run big for me, but try to try a pair on first because no two feet are exactly the same.

Heel-Toe Transition
Heel to toe transition is probably the best I’ve experienced in a sneaker. The optimal flexibility and decoupled heel and forefoot (the heel and forefoot are two independent pieces) make for a seamless ride.

Sometimes a decoupled midsole (like the KD V Elite for example) can make for a slappy and inconsistent gait, but the combination of the Flight Plate, Zoom bag setup, and softer outsole allow for near perfect transition.

Cushioning
Cushioning was absolutely great. The unlocked Zoom in the forefoot was pretty sweet and I loved hooping in them. Heel cushioning is also very good. As with the XX8 SE, this is probably the best cushioning setup on the market.

Court feel and stability are pretty good as well. I had zero issues with stability and the court feel was quite good also. Again, you’ll occasionally find a decoupled midsole to be a bit unstable, but the midsole is so well-engineered that you shouldn’t have any issues here. Arch support is definitely lacking in this shoe in that the midfoot of the shoe doesn’t necessarily hit your arch, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. The carbon fiber plate should give you enough rigidity and support.

The M10 is one of the best on the market in terms of responsiveness. After playing in a Flight Plate-based shoe with the unlocked Zoom bag, normal Zoom setups will not feel the same.

Bottom line, the cushioning setup featuring the large, cored out Zoom and Flight Plate is hands down one of the best on the market – whether it’s the XX8, XX8 SE, or M10.

Traction
Best traction I’ve used short of the Kobe 9 Elite (review coming soon). You shouldn’t have issues even on dusty courts. Lace ‘em up and you’re good to go.

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Materials/Durability
Like I said before, materials are premium. The M10 features some of the highest quality synthetics on the market, and Jordan Brand should be commended for packing quality materials into its athletes’ sigs. The CP3.VII and M10 both rate very highly in the materials department.

It’s simply a very comfortable sneaker too. I loved the synthetic leather and the neoprene inner booty. From the sole and up, I loved the comfort.

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The M10 doesn’t have any real signs of wear and tear, but be aware that synthetic leather will scuff so be prepared for some if you hoop in these regularly. Because of the quality of materials, this a good long term option. They should last a while and be a solid performer.

*Sidenote: Some people (including Sittler) have experienced the Zoom bag popping in this type of cushioning setup, but I personally did not. Nike has a great program for defective shoes so your purchase will be protected regardless of where you purchased them if your Zoom bag does blow out.

If you’re looking for premium materials, cushioning, and fit, look no further than the M10. It’s without a doubt one of the top shoes we’ve tested at TGRR this year.

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9/16/13: Today in Performance Kicks

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

First Look at the Nike Zoom Revis 2

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Thanks to some awesome folks at NikeTalk, we have a shot at Tampa Bay Buccaneers DB Darrelle Revis’ next signature shoe. The Zoom Revis 2 is another clean design, with what looks to be a patent leather toe rand and dual midfoot straps. I’d venture to say that the midsole will be Zoom-loaded (since the first one feature a full-length bag) as well. The original Zoom Revis was a great performer as an all-around trainer and everyday shoe, and happened to be one of my favorite purchases of the year. Expect big things from the second model.

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via NT/SC

KD Trey 5

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Each season, Nike typically trots out an Asia-exclusive Kobe Bryant signature shoe (check the Zoom Kobe 81, Venomenon or Dream Season), highlighted by extra durable construction and simpler materials that are geared towards outdoor play. Apparently, Kevin Durant’s signature is going to get a takedown model, dubbed the KD Trey 5. The shoe features a fairly simple  Hyperfuse upper atop Zoom cushioning and sturdy midsole. The outsole reveals a wide herringbone traction pattern for grip on outdoor courts. The shoe is expected to see an overseas release, and is at least worth a Google image search (even if these models typically get slept on in the U.S. market.)

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via hoopcity

Jordan Melo M10

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Believe it or not, we’re up to ten signature shoes for one Carmelo Anthony. The line has typically been a solid performer for guys at the wing spots, even if it has flown under the radar some. It’s featured some unique performance innovations along the way – remember the ankle sleeve on the M4 and exterior Flywire lockdown system on the M9? – and the M10 appears to incorporate some of the best tech Jordan Brand has to offer.

Featuring the brand’s Flight Plate midsole shank and Proplate Zoom cushioning, the M10 looks to be a performance monster (and a direct descendent of the XX8). From the outsole to the midsole, the M10 looks nearly identical to the XX8, but the etched heel counter and a Dynamic Fit upper give the M10 a few of its own details. Take a look at the four colorways previewed so far and stay tuned for further release info.

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via NikeBlog

TGRR Blog: State of the Industry, Part I: Jordan Brand

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

We’re fresh off of All-Star weekend, where superstars young and old had a spotlight shone upon them for a couple of fleeting days. The old guard – Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, among others – shared the attention with the new guard led by James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jrue Holiday. Beyond the weekend itself, even rookies like Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis have announced their arrival over the first half of the season.

Sneaker companies and their respective kicks played a role during All-Star weekend too. Nike went all out with the Area 72 theme and dropped a massive amount of models. Jordan Brand released the much-anticipated XX8, which garnered more attention than any other single model. Under Armour was well-represented on the booth scene, showing off all their PEs and adidas is the NBA’s official sponsor.

Those companies also took advantage of the increased attention and launched marketing campaigns and unveiled new technology in the days and weeks surrounding the All-Star festivities. Nike went with the aforementioned Area 72 campaign and Jordan Brand was represented with the XX8 Days of Flight countdown that culminated with the brand’s most technologically advanced shoe ever. Adidas recently unveiled new Boost cushioning and Blade midsole, while Under Armour continued to push its Spine technology. Reebok even got into it on the Classics side, announcing the return of Shaquille O’Neal and his Shaq Attaq and Shaqnosis signatures.

For all the marketing and technology, those brands still rely on the performance of those products while on the feet of their athletes – and vice versa. With some of those players nearing the end of their playing days and others such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant already entrenched as the new breed of superstar, it’s time to take a look at the future of those sneaker companies. They’ll need both superior products and the right athletes wearing those products in order to be successful in a hypercompetitive market.

We’ll do this in several different installments, brand by brand, and the first company we’ll take a look at is Jordan Brand.

Jordan Brand
Overview
JB is a little hard to break down because of the sheer amount of retro and lifestyle basketball models compared to the relatively few true performance hoops models. It’s also in the process of integrating signature athletes Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook – and possibly signature shoes – after parting ways with Dwyane Wade. The launch of the next Jordan signature shoe, the XX8, was a polarizing event thanks to its looks (an eight-inch high zip-up shroud) and price tag (a staggering $250).

Market Share (U.S. Basketball Shoe market): 58% – via @MattSOS

Latest Performance Models
Jordan XX8
Jordan Melo M9 (Carmelo Anthony signature)
Jordan CP3 VI (Chris Paul signature)
Jordan Super.Fly Mid and Low
Jordan Aero Mania

Technology
JB and Nike set the standard for performance technology, and Jordan Brand has all the money, research and development resources it needs at its disposal. The XX8 is the pinnacle of the sneaker world in terms of innovation and technology (and price) – no surprise coming from the mind of the Godfather, Tinker Hatfield. The shoe features a reinvented Zoom Air (cushioning system made up of tensile fibers in a pressurized bag that compress upon impact then expand back outward giving a responsive and bouncy ride) bag, dubbed ProPlate Zoom, that puts the cushioning unit directly in contact with the foot. JB also developed a carbon fiber Flight Plate, a super light and super strong chassis for the shoe that helps the Zoom bag make flush contact with the foot, resulting in increased responsiveness. The heel counter is also made of carbon fiber, while the stretch synthetic shroud is made using premium Swiss textiles. The inner bootie features a Dynamic Fit system, with the lacing directly attached to the midfoot for a snug fit. All of this leads to hefty price tag, but you get what you pay for: no other shoe on the market features this kind of technology.

Air-Jordan-XX8-Tech-Sheet

Other performance models haven’t shied away from using the technology at its disposal either. The Melo M9 is the lightest Melo shoe ever made and packs a ton of technology into the package. The most striking tech is the Flywire-based Dynamic Fit straps that wrap around the upper of the shoe and provide a tight fit. The M9 uses maximum volume Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot, and a full-length TPU cage for a stable fit. It’s a shoe perfectly tailored to a player like Melo.

Jordan-Melo-M9-Tech-Sheet

Chris Paul’s CP3 VI once again uses Podulon cushioning – a staple of the CP3 line – and a one-piece Hyperfuse upper stitched together at the heel. The shoe is 20% lighter than his last shoe, and the Fuse material provides better fit and durability. The Podulon material is highlighted on the outsole of the shoe, and is concentrated across the forefoot and along the medial (big toe) half of the foot for extra responsiveness when planting and pushing off.

The Super.Fly has been a popular model because it’s playable for a variety of different players and features a comfortable Lunarlon forefoot, Zoom unit in the heel and Phylon midsole. The Aero Mania is a recent release seen most often on the feet of Blake Griffin and features a Flywire-based upper and forefoot Zoom unit.

Top Athletes
Carmelo Anthony
Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
Blake Griffin
Ray Allen
Joe Johnson

Jordan Brand boasts two established superstars in Anthony and Paul and two up and coming faces of the brand in Westbrook and Griffin. It’s not hard to see where JB is going with this strategy, as Westbrook and Griffin are two of the most exciting and explosive players in the league. Both could warrant signature shoes in the future – especially Griffin – and the fashion-forward Westbrook has been leading the XX8 charge by becoming the athlete chosen to first rock the shoe on court. Allen has long been the recipient of some of the best Player Edition colorways, and Johnson is just another productive, big name in a big market.

Future Outlook
We’ve already talked about how the brand is positioned with two of the most exciting individual athletes in the league signed to JB contracts. Melo and Paul will carry the signature shoe line for several years, with Melo approaching his tenth signature model next year. The XX8 was a statement in terms of fashion and performance for the brand and it set the bar high in terms of expectations for that signature numbered line.

It will be important for Jordan Brand to continue to innovate, but it will be interesting to see if the numbered line becomes a top-of-the-line, technologically advanced product every year. In order for that to happen, the shoes may have to stay in the upper echelon of the market’s price range, attainable only for those elite athletes or simply hoopers with no regard for budget.

The Melo and CP3 line should occupy a price range just below the top, while perhaps the Super.Fly (the Super.Fly 2 was debuted by Griffin during All-Star weekend) and Aero- lines will be even slightly more affordable while providing exceptional technology.

The retro craze will always fuel the brand and there are so many models to be taken advantage of that I don’t foresee it slowing down anytime soon. But on the performance side of things, look for Jordan Brand to continue to be leader in innovation and technology thanks to some of the best minds in design, while pushing forward with Griffin and Westbrook joining Melo and Paul as the faces of the brand.