TGRR Year in Performance Reviews

Prose: Jake Sittler (@jtsittler)

With the end of 2013 quickly approaching, I thought we’d take a quick look back at every shoe we’ve reviewed here at TGRR. With Finch and I both wrapping up our college days and entering the real world, this site has been a great creative outlet and a way to keep both of us in the shoe game. It helped me get my first real job and kept me writing and editing.

Finch and I both also still play a lot of competitive ball (our latest league championship was won just two weeks ago) and we’re always looking for the best performance products. Focusing on how a shoe really performs – not just the colorways or hype that it gets – is something that gets lost in the sneaker community at times. At TGRR, we try to keep on-court performance at the forefront.

Hyperdunk 2012 Low
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Fit and lockdown; plays smooth and low to the ground; lightweight
Cons: Traction could be better; midsole/cushioning breaks down too quickly; not enough impact protection
Verdict: A nice alternative to the midcut Hyperdunk, the Hyperdunk Low gives you great fit and court feel. But the cushioning wore out much too quickly for my taste and I felt the lack of impact protection in my knees and hips after just a couple months of wearings.

Nike Zoom Hyperdisruptor
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Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Heel lockdown; lightweight; traction; plush Zoom cushioning
Cons:
Midsole is too flexible, creating various issues; outsole separated from shoe after a couple of weeks
Verdict
: A lightweight shoe that’s nice to play in initially, but the flimsy midsole hurts performance in a variety of ways. The Zoom bags aren’t as responsive as they should be, there’s not enough structure or rigidity through the heel-toe transition, and there’s simply a lack of support due to the soft midsole and no shank. Plenty of durability concerns. Also probably overpriced at $130.

Jordan CP3.VI
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Podulon cushioning has been refined and improved; traction is top-notch; smooth transition and low to the ground feel
Cons: Upper a little stiff, leading to fit being not quite snug; Achilles pad is comfortable but tough to get full heel lockdown
Verdict: The CP3.VI is an elite guard shoe. It featured some of the best traction and cushioning of any shoe I’ve tested and the whole shoe just played well. I wasn’t a fan of the fit – I couldn’t get a glove-like, snug fit with the Fuse upper being kind of stiff – but I do have a narrow foot and that may be more a reflection of my own needs than the shoe itself. If the shoe fit me better through the midfoot and heel, I really would have loved it. It’s an extremely comfortable shoe as far as cushioning goes, and it was immediately added to the off-court rotation.

Nike Flyknit Lunar1+
Reviewer: Kim

Nike Air Way Up
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Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Ankle, tongue and heel padding; supportive midsole
Cons: Poor transition; traction doesn’t meet modern standards; bulkier shoe than most of today’s models
Verdict: It’s probably better served as an off-court shoe, but it was still fun to see how a 90s retro compares today. The leather build and interior padding were great from a quality standpoint, but the shoe just doesn’t play like the current options out there.

adidas Crazyquick
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Flexible and low to the ground; excellent traction and lateral stability; fit is the best of any shoe I’ve ever had
Cons: Midsole doesn’t have a ton of support (it’s not built for that); runs very narrow – good for me, bad for a lot of folks
Verdict: The Crazyquick is shoe 1b for me this year. I absolutely loved it. I’ve never worn a shoe that played so low to the ground and allowed for such quick changes of direction. The shoe actually gave me confidence, in the sense that I knew I could play and move exactly like I needed to with it on my feet. The fit, with a Techfit upper and extended Sprintframe, was like a glove.

Nike KD V Elite
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Snug fit from heel to toe; quality materials used throughout
Cons: Stiff and rigid midsole; cushioning neither soft nor responsive; traction not as good as most I tested
Verdict: The KD V Elite was the one Elite model I was most excited to try out this year (because it differed so much from the base shoe) and I was wholly disappointed. While I loved the lockdown and support from the premium upper materials (including plenty of carbon fiber), the transition was poor thanks to a very stiff chassis. The cushioning was overly firm – from the outsole to the midsole, it just wasn’t an enjoyable setup underfoot.

Nike Hyperdunk 2013
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Excellent fit, flexible with great lockdown; overall comfort
Cons: Midsole support leaves some to be desired; Lunarlon cushioning
Verdict: The Hyperdunk 2013 will probably the shoe you see on court more than any other this year, and for good reason. It’s a great all-around performer that will fit a variety of player types. It’s good – but not great – in a lot of areas, with the most glaring being a lack of support in the midsole. A more substantial shank would have been a huge bonus. But the fit and lockdown are great, and it’s a shoe I’d recommend.

Nike Zoom Hyperquickness
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Reviewer: Finch
Pros: Zoom cushioning setup; traction is excellent; overall value at $105
Cons: Fuse upper is a little stiff, doesn’t hug the foot; Fuse isn’t quite as high quality as other models
Verdict: At $105, the Hyperquickness is a good value for budget-conscious hoopers. You’re not going to get an overly refined shoe from a fit standpoint, but the cushioning and traction are solid and the Hyperfuse upper is plenty durable.

Nike Free Flyknit
Reviewer: Kim

Under Armour Micro G Anatomix Spawn
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Midfoot support system is excellent; Micro G cushioning is responsive as ever; lockdown is perfect
Cons: Traction pattern is not deep enough and is poor on even slightly dirty courts
Verdict: Along with the Crazyquick, this is shoe 1a for me. The fit and lockdown are as good as any shoe on the market. Micro G cushioning doesn’t get enough respect, and it proves to be both responsive and stable in the Anatomix Spawn. The midfoot TPU frame is one of the coolest support systems I’ve seen and it actually works too. A great overall shoe that will probably be ignored by too many people.

adidas Adizero Crazy Light 3
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Extremely light; plays low to the ground
Cons: Cushioning is firm and a little slappy; lacing system and fit are sloppy; midsole is barely there
Verdict: The Crazy Light 3 is, in fact, light. But that’s just about all the benefit I could glean from the shoe. The cushioning is fairly responsive considering how thin it is, but it just doesn’t offer much impact protection or general comfort/support. I could never really get true lockdown thanks to a poorly designed lacing system (needs more eyelets) and the upper itself felt too thin and cheap.

Jordan CP3.VII
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Excellent use of materials; cushioning provides both impact protection and responsiveness; traction is very good
Cons: Couldn’t get perfect lockdown; shape of the footbed didn’t personally suit me
Verdict: The CP3.VII is undeniably a great on court option – but it didn’t fit me all that well. Each aspect of the shoe was very good, even excellent, except for the fit and that is too crucial for me to ignore. Make sure you try them on first before ordering, but you’ll get great cushioning, traction and quality from the CP3.VII.

Jordan XX8 SE
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Reviewer: Sittler
Pros: Midfoot support with Flight Plate chassis; heel fit and overall fit; Proplate Zoom setup is awesome
Cons: Lack of customization with 5 eyelets in the lacing system; Zoom bag blew out within 10 wearings
Verdict: I loved everything about the shoe until the Zoom bag blew out. Normally, it could be chalked up to a freak occurrence but I’ve seen a pair of regular XX8s – with same cushioning/midsole setup – have the same issue. Both shoes had a huge bulge develop along the vertical line in the forefoot Zoom bags. Other than that, the shoe was awesome. The Zoom setup was super responsive, carbon fiber was used strategically and effectively; it was simply a great performer on-court.

Moving forward, we have a couple of reviews on deck. Finch will be supplying us with a Jordan Super.Fly2 review in the near future, and is excited to cop the Nike Zoom Crusader for his next review. I’ll be copping Kyrie Irving’s Zoom HyperRev (as soon as my voucher comes back from Nike for my XX8 SEs that blew out) and reviewing them next. The HyperRev is certainly a unique silhouette, but I’m interested to see how much support will come from a Phylite midsole (with a full-length Zoom bag). We’re looking forward to a new year and a plethora of new shoes to review here at TGRR.

Performance Review: Nike Flyknit Lunar1+

Prose: Kim Nguyen (@317Kim)

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Weight: 5.5 oz
Test Size: Wmns 6
Colorway: Black/White/Light Charcoal

After accumulating over 600 miles on my Nike Lunarglide4+, I knew it would soon be time to pick up some new running shoes that incorporated the Lunarlon midsole (my favorite!). This was perfect timing because Nike had just launched the coveted Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ which is one beautiful sneaker. The clean silhouette is due to the combination of the precision-engineered and virtually seamless upper and an updated cushioning system to deliver the ideal blend of targeted support, breathability, and response. After two weeks of wear, I completely understand why Runner’s World® voted it “Editor’s Choice” in February 2013.

Fit
Whether I’m running, lifting or going to class, I need my shoes to fit like a second skin. This is exactly what the Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ felt like when I first put them on. Nike chose to use the ultra-lightweight knit upper to integrate areas of stretch, high breatheability, and support. I believe that this was done seamlessly and really gives the shoe a precise fit. After my first week of running, it even felt like a custom fit!

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The overall fit is just like Nike wanted it to be when the advertised it as having a sock-like fit. After lacing up my sneakers, I did some jumping around to test the lockdown abilities. It didn’t take long for me to notice that my heel stayed in place. The Flywire cables also ensure no slippage or sliding of the heel which would cause a runner’s nightmare: blisters.

Heel – Toe Transition
When running, the dorsiflexion motion (planting your heel down so that your toes point towards your body) feels great due to the comfort of the BRS 1000 carbon rubber and the flex grooves which slightly enhance articulation. The Flyknit Lunars stay completely in place and creates a smooth heel-to-toe transition from stride to stride. As mentioned in my primer, the cushioning is thicker in the middle and gets thinner on both sides that lead to the toe and the heel. This creates a footbed that enables every foot motion and foot strike to feel extremely natural.

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Cushion
I’m a runner that requires extreme responsiveness and support from the cushioning of my running shoes due to being an overpronator. Therefore, when I first experienced Lunarlon two years ago in the Nike Lunarglide3+ (thanks Finch!), I knew that I had graduated from Frees. Lunarlon is a very resilient foam carrier that provides plenty of support and plush cushioning. In addition to Lunarlon, there are blown rubber forefoot lugs for more cushioning and assist in creating a more efficient stride.

In my experience with Lunarlon (Nike Lunarglide3+. Nike Lunarglide4+), I have been able to run for several months accumulating well over 500 miles on each shoe and have the cushion still present. These have definitely proved to be durable runners which is why I have been a loyal consumer of shoes that incorporate Nike Lunarlon cushioning.

Traction
I mentioned the BRS 1000 Nike brand carbon rubber outsole earlier in the Heel – Toe Transition. I wanted to talk a little more about it though since it is such a crucial part of the performance. This durable outsole not only creates extra cushioning, but also provides excellent traction due its high carbon content. When walking or running in the Flyknit Lunar1+, it feels like the lugs on the outsole are working as fingers to grip the ground. The rubber is very effective for everyday runners because it provides more than sufficient traction and shouldn’t wear down very much over the coming months.

Materials/Durability
The Flyknit Lunar1+ utilizes a meticulous knitted construction process that minimizes weight and waste by using only what’s needed. The upper is entirely made of polyester yarn that’s fed into proprietary knitting machinery. This creates little to no waste, so the shoe is incredibly efficient to produce. I am all about being fit and going green so this was a bonus when purchasing the shoe.

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The laces were something that I had not experienced yet. They are flat, but not like the ordinary flat laces. They resemble the ribbons from the Nike Free Powerlines+, another great shoe in my collection. My run has only been interrupted by the laces once since I have had them, and that was probably a manual error. Swoop, loop, pull, and repeat! I really do like that they stay secure and add to the stability of the shoe while also being lightweight.

Although I do run every day, I have not questioned the durability of the shoe. I know that time and mileage will do some damage to the aesthetics of the shoe, but I don’t plan on investing in another shoe until the end of fall or the beginning of winter. I will say though, my worst fear is the upper ripping or getting snagged on equipment in the weight room. Since the upper is composed solely of yarn, I can’t help but to be cautious when I’m down there. Aside from that, I am not too concerned about having to replace these babies early.

Other minuscule details such as 3M stripes on the pull tab, the durable paint which makes up the Swoosh, and the speckle/glitter combination on the midsole gives you aesthetics and attention to detail to appreciate.

Overall, the Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ is a great addition to my collection. It performs great and looks great too! I love that Nike has lived up to their innovative reputation and created a “green” shoe. Unfortunately, efficient production doesn’t always mean cost effectiveness. Priced at $160, I would never have bought these if I were not a Nike running shoe connoisseur and collector. Regardless, I am a strong believer of getting what you pay for. The Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ doesn’t just keep you cool (literally and figuratively) it also keeps you in front of you competition.

Fit: 10
Cushioning: 10
Transition: 9
Traction: 9
Materials: 8

Overall Score: 46/50 x 100 = 92