Nike Zoom Fly 4 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Responsive, excellent lightweight upper, cool colorways
Cons: Stiff, minimal ground feel, narrow
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Nike Zoom Fly 4
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|Pros||Responsive, excellent lightweight upper, cool colorways||Responsive cushioning, breathable upper, lightweight||Lightweight, great cushioning, comfortable upper||Responsive, fast, lightweight, affordable||Stable, supportive, comfortable upper|
|Cons||Stiff, minimal ground feel, narrow||Minimal support and stability||Less responsive, lacks rubber outsole||Minimal support, lacks outsole rubber||Stiff, heavier, less breathable|
|Bottom Line||This shoe has excellent responsiveness to propel you forward and is perfect for long-distance tempo runs and racing||Excellent cushioning that provides great energy transfer with an extremely comfortable, performance fit upper||These lightweight shoes have top landing comfort and maximum cushion with a great upper||This affordable ultralight model allows for maximum turnover which provides a snappy and quick feeling||If you're looking for a supportive and stable shoe with a comfortable upper, this is the model for you|
|Rating Categories||Nike Zoom Fly 4||Saucony Endorphin S...||Hoka One One Mach 4||Saucony Kinvara 13||Brooks Adrenaline G...|
|Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)|
|Upper Comfort (20%)|
|Lateral Stability and Support (15%)|
|Specs||Nike Zoom Fly 4||Saucony Endorphin S...||Hoka One One Mach 4||Saucony Kinvara 13||Brooks Adrenaline G...|
|Weight (per shoe, size 9.5)||10.0 oz||8.3 oz||8.1 oz||7.3 oz||10.4 oz|
|Heel to Toe Drop||8 mm||8 mm||5 mm||4 mm||12 mm|
|Midsole Material||React foam||PWRRUN||PROFLY||EVA||EVA|
|Sole Rubber||Rubber||XT-900||Rubberized EVA||Rubber||Rubber|
|Upper Material||Mesh, Flyknit||Engineered mesh||Engineered mesh||Engineered Mesh||Mesh|
|Width Options||Normal||Normal||Normal||Normal||Normal, Wide|
|Sizes Available||7 - 15||7 - 15||7 - 14||7 - 15||7 - 15|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike Zoom Fly 4 impressed us with its excellent responsiveness. No other model we tested comes close to the explosiveness we feel each time our feet leave the ground. Even easy running provides noticeable spring in your step. This is thanks largely due to the carbon plate and extensive foam cushioning.
In our opinion, this shoe is best for experienced runners that don't mind a bit of firmness in return for potential performance gains. This shoe wants you to be aggressive and awards such running. If you are less focused on performance, you may find other models have better landing comfort and are more supportive. This may be the fastest shoe in our lineup and it was a joy to run in.
Cushioning and Landing Comfort
The midsole foam and the carbon plate in this model are on the stiffer side and therefore the landing comfort suffers. Luckily, if you run with good form and maintain a more progressive footstrike pattern, the carbon plate and midsole foam can absorb most of the energy and return it when taking off. Less experienced users may find this shoe to be too hard, and therefore very uncomfortable, especially if you land flat-footed or on your heels. There is less of a rocker design and there isn't much natural roll if you heel strike.
Experienced users will appreciate this subtle cushioning and realize that the stiffness largely benefits their forward momentum and leads to great responsiveness. Our testers noticed an almost airlike cavity underneath the forefoot that seems to compress and spring forward. This compression is well appreciated but it doesn't seem to offer the same benefits if you land flat-footed. Nike makes no claims of this on the tech specs but it was a unique feeling compared to other more responsive models.
We love this shoe for its snappy and aggressive feeling. The carbon plate returns maximum energy and each landing and takeoff felt firm, precise, and fully maximized. Minimal energy is lost to foam compression, making this one of our favorite responsive models for long-distance running at a fast pace.
This shoe is not the lightest in our lineup. In our perfect world, we'd suggest the lightest weight shoe possible for shorter distance events and training, as this will generally allow for maximum unimpeded turnover and will keep your legs as fresh as possible. However, once the distance becomes longer, the shorter heel drop is more fatiguing in our experience, and we prefer the 8-millimeter drop found on the Zoom Fly 4 which is a great middle-ground for comfort and engagement.
This fully knit upper is among the most comfortable we tested. It securely holds your foot with ample compression to feel locked in and stable. There are no seams, reducing friction points and creating comfort even on extended runs. This is a platform many of the top runners in the world use even for distances above the marathon. The heel cup contains two foam pads that help keep the heel stable and offer comfort when cornering. This is the only padding found on the upper and while minimal, we find it very comfortable.
Some could find this model a bit narrow which is a common complaint about Nike products. Personally, it fits our feet extremely well. If you have above-average width or volume you may want to find a different model. While the long-term durability is debatable for these types of uppers given the minimal fabric, we didn't experience wear and tear that isn't normal for a running shoe.
Lateral Stability and Support
This platform is more narrow than other models we tested and it does have a larger stack height, leading to less stability, especially on uneven terrain. For those prioritizing stability and support, there are shoes in our lineup we tested that are far more stable and offer much more rigidity if that's something you desire.
Your muscles and running form will mostly have to do the work for you with this model. The carbon plate does offer a stable platform once you start to lose balance or get off-center, but there is little to help support you outside of your own body. While this shoe scores lower for its supportive features, we think this shoe is intended for more advanced runners prioritizing speed and responsiveness.
The Zoom Fly 4 comes around the middle mark in our lineup in regards to the weight. Like we said in the responsiveness section, we think for shorter distance events you may find a shoe that's lighter and offers more unimpeded turnover. We find this weight class is best for all-around usage and any heavier starts to become drastically more noticeable.
At 10.0 ounces in a men's size 9.5, this shoe reduces weight by having a thin upper with little structure. Also, zero outsole rubber helps cut down on weight but leaves a bit to be desired when running in wet or uneven conditions. While we had no durability issues in our testing, it's possible that these could not last as long as shoes with more outsole rubber. If you are looking for a lightweight trainer that is ready for race day, this could be the perfect weight class for you.
Should You Buy the Nike Zoom Fly 4?
If you seek maximum responsiveness, then this is the model for you. It's comfortable, lightweight, and extremely fast and responsive. This is for the experienced runner looking to maximize their performance. We found this model fits narrower feet the best and we loved the upper design. There are also tons of cool colorways to choose from which is always a positive. If you've been looking to add a fast trainer to your running shoe quiver, this could be for you.
What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?
For those seeking maximum support and stability, we suggest looking into the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22, which provides excellent support and balances it with great cushioning and all-around comfort. If you are looking for a super-light model that's better for shorter distance racing and speed work we'd suggest the Saucony Kinvara 13. The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 is our top award winner and we love it for its blend of cushioning and responsiveness. Other recommendations can be found in our main running shoes review article.
— Matthew Richardson
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