Review of the Nike Zoom Fly 5
The Nike Zoom Fly started life as the most accessible version of the Nike Vaporfly and, although it never matched the performance of Nike’s best running shoe, it was a good value option. value for money and more durable. Early versions of the Zoom Fly were some of the best running shoes you could get.
Unfortunately, the last two iterations have seen the shoe get heavier and slower, and in addition to falling well short of the performance of the best carbon plate racing shoes, the Zoom Fly 4 has been easily overtaken by race shoes. fast workouts like the Saucony Endorphin Speed. .
Nike made some big changes to the Zoom Fly 5 and I had hoped this would make it a more compelling option, but while the shoe is a bit better than the Zoom Fly 4 it’s still hard to recommend given the quality available elsewhere.
Nike Zoom Fly 5: price and availability
The Nike Zoom Fly 5 is available now and costs $160 in the US and £144.95 in the UK. It’s much cheaper than Nike’s top carbon plate running shoes, the Vaporfly NEXT%2 at $225/£209.95 and the Nike Alphafly NEXT%2 at $275/£274.95.
Design and fit
The key update to the Zoom Fly 5 is in the midsole, which now contains the ZoomX foam used in the Vaporfly and Alphafly. ZoomX is lighter, more bouncy and just faster than the React foam used in previous versions of the Zoom Fly, but before you start celebrating, there’s a catch. Catch it, actually.
For one, the ZoomX foam used is the recycled version found in shoes like the Alphafly Nature. Any move towards durability is to be applauded, but this ZoomX is heavier than standard hardware. Additionally, the use of recycled materials results in weight variation between shoes: one shoe of the pair I tested is 11.4oz/324g in a UK 8.5, the other is 10.7oz/304g. I’ve never seen such a disparity before, and whichever shoe you’re using, it’s an increase over the Zoom Fly 4, which was 10.2oz/289g in a UK 9.
Even with ZoomX recycled, it’s much heavier than expected. The reason for the heavy weight is that the midsole isn’t just ZoomX. Surrounding the ZoomX core is an EVA foam called SR-02, which has nothing to do with ZoomX’s spring.
There’s also a full-length carbon plate running across the midsole, and the stack is high – Nike doesn’t give the official height but it appears to be around 40mm. The shoe has an 8mm drop from heel to toe.
The mesh upper provides a comfortable locked down fit and there is additional padding around the tongue and collar. It’s not an upper that aims to reduce weight as one would expect from a fast training shoe, perhaps suggesting the idea that Nike is positioning it as a daily trainer.
This idea is supported by the outsole, which has more extensive rubber coverage than on the Zoom Fly 4, with large forefoot and heel sections. It’s a good outsole that grips well on light trails, as well as on the road, and should increase the durability of the shoe.
I tested a UK 8.5 Zoom Fly 5, which is half a size down from my normal size. It fit me quite well, but was cramped in the toe box of my right foot, so the size would probably be the best choice.
How I tested this shoe
I ran 50km with the Zoom Fly 5, including a mix of easy and steady runs, as well as a track session. I have also run in all four previous models of the shoe.
The running performance
There’s a big Nike swoosh on the upper, a carbon plate in the midsole and it says ZoomX on the midsole, so you could be forgiven for thinking the Zoom Fly 5 is a speedster of a shoe. However, it’s not a fast shoe, and the least enjoyable runs I’ve done were those that involved trying to break the cruising pace.
I took it to the track to use for the first half of a session performing 20 reps of 60 seconds alternating with 60 seconds of rest, aiming to run a bit faster than my 5k pace . The Zoom Fly 5 felt huge and blocky on the foot, and the midsole didn’t feel like it provided any type of bounce or propulsion despite the foams and plate used.
On the other hand, I also used the New Balance SuperComp Trainer in the same session, switching after 10 reps, and the difference in feel was dramatic, with the New Balance feeling more bouncy and nicer. The SuperComp Trainer is a higher stacking shoe – it dominates almost everything at 47mm – but most importantly the foam used is all of New Balance’s FuelCell, which isn’t as impressive as the standard ZoomX but outperforms the ZoomX/SR02 combination recycled in the Zoom Fly 5.
So speed isn’t the Zoom Fly 5’s forte, but if you forget preconceptions about how it should perform, it’s a fun shoe to use for easy training runs. I’ve found it has an efficient ride that helps you register a faster than expected pace given your level of exertion or even your heart rate – and if you stay in the lower heart rate zones, it’s is a good option for ticking longer runs in particular.
If that sounds like low praise, that’s because it is. If you’re just looking for a nice shoe to use for easy and long runs, you can find better options that don’t have carbon plates and cost a lot less, like the Puma Velocity Nitro 2, which is also lighter and faster than the Zoom Fly 5.
Is the Nike Zoom Fly 5 worth it?
The Zoom Fly 5 isn’t a terrible shoe to run in and it has more rebound than the Zoom Fly 4, but to me it feels like an aimless shoe. It’s great to use for long, easy runs, but there are better cushioned shoes out there, such as the Brooks Glycerin 20, Puma Velocity Nitro 2, or Nike Invincible 2 if that’s all you want.
Then there’s the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, which is more impressive on all fronts, and the New Balance SuperComp Trainer, which is ridiculously expensive at $180/£210 but bouncy and more comfortable than the Zoom Fly 5. , while being lighter despite its huge stack.
I also consider the Hoka Mach 5 to be a best all-around training shoe. It’s much lighter and faster than the Zoom Fly 5 while also being cheaper and less bulky for relaxed runs. The only similar shoe surpassed by the Zoom Fly 5 is the Hoka Bondi X, another heavy plated training shoe.
Nike is also set to resurrect the Pegasus Turbo line this year with the Pegasus Turbo Nature. If it comes close to the performance of the Turbo 1 and 2, it will be another clear choice ahead of the Zoom Fly 5.