Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review TL;DR: fast running shoes for tempo sessions and racing. Joggers need not apply.
Clop clop clop. The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is the next iteration of Nike's hoof-like running shoe design that started with the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% – maybe even the 4% – and evolved into the Tempo and the Alphafly, shoes that quite literally make you feel like a racehorse.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is among the best Nike running shoes and is incredibly well suited for fast runners who need a capable tempo shoe for training and even occasional racing. The Tempo NEXT% might look like a Frankenstein's monster at first, but once you start clocking up the miles in it, you will appreciate the performance enhancement features it has to offer.
For more running shoe goodness, check out T3's best running shoes, best women's running shoes and best trail running shoes guides. We pitted the Tempo NEXT% against the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0, read all about it here: Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% vs Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%: price and availability
The shoes are also available to buy via selected third party retailers such as SportsShoes.com.
I tested the White/Washed Coral/Pink Blast/Black colourway. There are at least eight different colourways available of the Tempo NEXT% at the time of writing.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is also available with FlyEase technology.
Nike recommends going half size up as the shoes fit small.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review: tech
With Nike performance running shoes, such as the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, form always follows function. This is why most of them end up looking peculiar yet smash all race records.
In the case of the Tempo NEXT%, the 'function' is to enable runners to switch tempo fast and provide traction when running in a straight line. To achieve this, Nike used a combination of three things: the ZoomX and React foam, plus the "high-tenacity" Flyknit upper. Nike also added a couple of Zoom Air units, just for good measure.
ZoomX is the magic foam that made the Vaporfly NEXT% and the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit special. It's a soft and responsive foam with a lot of bounce that still feels like it's under your control. ZoomX provides great energy returns in general, although in my humble opinion, it works best when coupled with a carbon plate, something the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% hasn't got.
The React technology is another big hitter from Nike. It's used in many of the best selling Nike running shoes – such as Nike React Infinity Run and the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 – and is renowned for its resilience and excellent running dynamics. In fact, the Pegasus series uses the same Air Zoom plus React combo found in the Tempo NEXT%, although the Tempo makes the whole setup even peppier.
The Flyknit upper is a lovely addition to the Tempo NEXT% and makes the shoes feel even faster. The synthetic materials expand just the right amount; it certainly accommodated my wider than usual feet well.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review: ergonomics
It's in the name: the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is a fast running shoe. I think it's best suited for tempo runs and maybe even racing, especially if you prefer not to boost your stride with a carbon plate.
The Tempo NEXT% has an excellent grip. In some cases, the shoes generated so much traction that it felt like I was wearing suction cups instead of running shoes. I haven't tried the shoes on wet surfaces, but on dry tarmac, it's perfect.
Despite the lack of carbon plate, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% will help you go fast. I found the shoes to be very agile when I ran in a straight line; the Air Zoom units are laid out in a fashion that helps you push forward quickly.
Things change slightly when you need to turn. The Air Zoom units don't bend, so when you want to turn your foot slightly to accommodate the trajectory of the turn, they will push back, putting more strain on the ankle. As long as you don't do sharp turns in the shoes, they should be fine, though.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% didn't enjoy my slower-paced sessions; you have to increase speed to make the most of the particular running dynamics it has to offer. I also found the lateral section of the midsole, just behind the Air Zoom units, to be a bit unstable when running slower.
As for the upper, I already mentioned that it feels comfortable in the toe box area. However, the rear of the shoes, especially the collar, might cause some chafing when worn without socks. I made this mistake when I tested the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit, and I can see a similar thing happening here if you aren't careful.
Just one more thing: due to the sock-like fit of the upper, stepping in the shoes is a bit of a challenge at the beginning. Once you stretch the opening a bit, it will become more accessible, though.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review: aesthetics
Needless to say, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% drew plenty of attention when I was running in it.
In general, Nike's design is a cut above the rest, as they say. Nike designers know how to pick colours, shapes, and materials that harmonise and look very Nike-like. The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% looks distinctively Nike – the big swoosh on the lateral side gives this away – but even without the branding, the shape of the shoes would make everyone instantly think these are Nikes.
The big wedge of foam under the heel with the signature Nike curve and the brightly coloured accents ensure that the shoes will always take centre stage when you wear them.
I noticed that the outsole section that runs under the Air Zoom units might eventually become prone to snapping. I assume Nike wanted to put the Air Zoom units on display, but this move also made some sections of the outsole wholly disconnected from other parts of the shoe.
I personally like the way the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% looks: it's sexy and weird and tickles my fancy the right way. However, I appreciate that my taste in running shoes isn't the same as yours, and the strange proportions of the Tempo NEXT% might not sit well with everybody.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review: verdict
The Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is yet another brilliant performance running shoe from Nike. It's by no means perfect, but the Tempo NEXT% will help you train faster if that's what you need.
It's not terribly expensive either; these shoes are certainly cheaper than the Vaporfly and the Alphafly and can be used for training too, unlike the other two that are for racing only.
A slight issue with the Tempo NEXT% is that I can name half a dozen great shoes for the same purpose and also slower training, including the Saucony Kinvara 12, Hoka One One Mach 4 and the On Cloudstratus. These shoes are cheaper, too, making it a bit more difficult to justify getting there Tempo NEXT%.
However, if you need a fast Nike running for training and occasional racing, you can't go wrong with the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% review: also consider
As well as the shoes mentioned above, I'd recommend checking out the Under Armour FLOW Velociti Wind as an alternative to the Tempo NEXT%. It's light, fast and gives you impressive traction on any type of surface, despite not having a separate outsole.