Running shoes review: The Nike Joyride Run Flyknit made for the non-runner comprises of innovative bead technology
Joy on the loose
I'm no runner. When push comes to shove (like testing out the latest fitness trends and repping wellness spiels as part of work), I much prefer punching out my frustrations on a sandbag, kissing the floor with 20 burpees or punishing my thighs by stretching them out with a resistance band. All that over a kilometre down Marina Bay.
But here I was in the acme of Seoul's summer, running down the same narrow lanes that I would typically visit for Korean barbecued meats (the smokey aroma wafting in the air was achingly intoxicating) — but my legs kept moving in an unbreakable cycle. They didn't do it alone though — I had the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit snugly strapped on. The first of the many in Southeast Asia to be broken into. And they were the reason to why I was running what would be a culmination of five kilometres. Last I checked, I didn't make it that far the last time I was in Barry's red room.
The glitzy city of Seoul couldn't be more of a perfect fit for Nike Joyride's Southeast Asia launch. Plastered with fun pops of colour (to mimick the effervescent spirit from the shoes), a guest appearance by cult-favourite Kakao and friends, alongside a nod to Korea's cultural lineage, we were led through an exciting adventure the moment we laced on our new running shoes.
As the name would imply, these kicks spearhead an all-new Nike family. In the recent years, we've seen innovation like React and Air rapture the masses who love to go Speedy Gonzales on their two legs; now, this particular invention was created for the ones who don't. Believe it or not, this was an idea that has been 100 years in the making, but only found its developmental footing in the last ten years.
I wouldn't go so far to say they found the cure to absolve that deep seeded hatred for running (that might take a few sessions in conversion therapy), but they've nailed this one pretty close. The folks at Nike identified the better occasions of running on your feet — mostly on soft, penetrable surfaces like the sand on the beach, a large patch of grass, or even the sensation of stepping on a bean bag, as compared to hard surfaces of the treadmill or concrete pavements. Their solution drums down to thousands of specially-made beads.
Dubbed as TPE — a copolymer of plastic and rubber — these colourful minuscule beads are strategically slotted into pods of the sole. Not by sheer coincidence, but after careful experimentation to be in sync within zonally-tuned pods, filling in the specific points in your stride. For instance, fifty percent of the beads in a shoe would cover the heel strike while five percent would be placed at the toe to offer cushioning. The pods are also designed in a way to allow the foam to expand in all directions — resulting in a footbed that's personalised to the way your foot lands when you're moving.
Nike certainly hit the jackpot with the main colourways — of white, orange, and turquoise. It's a pretty pair that you can easily don on the entire day, even if you're not working out for the most part. Even the beads within, play out its own aesthetic — like having coloured candy at the bottom of your shoes. Other key details also had its own function: A booty fit, which helps hold the tongue in place during the run, a pull loop by the heel, just so your feet can easily slip in.
First foot in, there's a weird, foreign sensation that ripples through your feet. You can instantly feel the beads located down below. Once you get off to a comfortable pace, the cushioning starts to kick in. As compared to the React, there's less of a springboard effect with the Joyride. The focus is on cushioning with this pair — Senior Product Manger of Nike Running, William Moroski adds, "We actually tested this in the lab and it's more cushioned, but equally responsive to React. So you actually are getting just as much energy return [despite not feeling it] as React." There's no clear winner from the two models, but in Moroski's words, "it depends on where your preference lies".
Don't forget, your gams are still putting in the work. Yes, I was still sweating buckets but the soft landing helped to ease the impact on my feet — and definitely made the route above street gravel less of an upheaval. It had rained earlier that day in Seoul, and the grip on these shoes proved itself while we maneuvered down steep, wet slopes alongside the residential area. The flyknit upper on the shoes also made it breathable and comfortable — so you don't feel like a furnace is building around your feet as you power through miles. Verdict: Do I still like running? Not really. Will the probability of running a few laps change for the better with the Nike Joyride? For sure.
With every new invention, heralds the next line of sneaker drops. In Joyride fashion, future silhouettes are set to be released, including Nike Joyride NSW, Nike Joyride NSW Setter, a women's-exclusive Nike Joyride NSW Optik, and the Nike Joyride Kids Nova. While these shoes are segued for lifestyle, the function of the beads don't change. The unique technology will still remain integral in maximising comfort and impact on the foot even with light activities in the mix.