Nike was never famous for only following trends and not pushing running tech to its absolute limits. For example, it set out to break the 2-hour marathon barrier two years ago, because why not? The same tech it used for that project went into their commercially-available shoes later, like the Vaporfly NEXT% or the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 (opens in new tab).
And here we are again, Nike trying something different for the millionth time. Admittedly the most noticeable (and marketed) feature of the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is the midsole, or more like it being filled with beads that apparently distribute impact energy more evenly and provide sublime-cushioning for runners on all levels.
As the name suggest, the Joyride is trying to put the joy back into running, so it won't be the playground for hard-core athletes and elite sportsman only. Yay or nay for beads?
Nike Joyride Flyknit review: the Tech
The Nike Joyride is all about the sole. The insole and the outsole locks in 1000s of beads in the a midsole which are distributed into different pods to give you the best impact absorption Nike has to offer.
The beads are made out of TPU, a medium Nike settled on after testing 150 different materials to find the one that gives ample amount of support whilst also being soft. The little bubbles are distributed in a fashion so they can reduce impact more efficiently, therefore there are less pellets at the front and more in the heel area.
The upper sports the Flyknit fabric technology which is a knitted, breathable mesh that's also lightweight and moulds to your feet, giving it just the right amount of room, all the time.
Running shoes with knitted uppers are a real blessing for runners with wide feet, but they are also good for anyone else, really. Let's face it, there is no such thing as an average feet, so shoes that can adjust to your feet shape are never a bad idea.
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Nike Joyride Flyknit review: the Ergonomics
Before trying the Nike Joyride on, my biggest concern was how the beads would feel.
There were two possible scenarios in my head: either the beads will be too soft and therefore I'll slump way down when stopping or just pacing, losing energy left-right-centre, or they could be too firm so it'll feel like running on little tiny rocks. Either was appealing, if I'm honest.
In reality. the insole feels more like a massage pad. You can feel the humps of the pods but not the individual beads. The beads/pods were really designed well, making the Joyride a very comfortable running shoe.
The sole doesn't restrict your feet and the heel counter holds your heels firmly. The feet feel secure and locked in position, ready for a good running session.
The mesh upper expands around the toe-box as you place your weight at the front of the foot, it doesn't feel loose, nor restricting. The inside of the feet and the big toe area are reinforced with stronger synthetic materials, giving the Joyride a well-defined look.
The lacing holds the mid-foot well and even though it doesn't run all the way to the front, it doesn't suffocate the bridge of the foot at all.
The ankles are being supported by a dual-foam system; the soft, cushioned collar can be tightened with the laces (it is a very clever feature) and there is also an inner, neoprene-like layer with added extra cushioning around the heel.
Don't make the mistake I did and wear at least a mid sock for running. Wearing ankle socks or no socks at all can result in some chafing around the back of the ankle.
The Joyride is not specifically designed for the gym but can be worn there, too, especially if you do cardio a lot. It is not recommended for working with heavy weights, though. Especially when lifting weights overhead, the same technology that propels you forward on your runs can result in you tipping forward as you stand. You are better off with a flat-soled firm shoe for that purpose.
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Nike Joyride Flyknit review: the Aesthetics
Wearing white trainers in the UK is considered a bold move. Since it's always about to rain or the ground is still wet from yesterday's downpour, you are running the risk of staining your pristine kicks with mud water.
That being said, you will take the risk so you can wear the Joyride as often as possible. I personally loved the flamboyant colours and the bold branding around the sole. The beads come in two different colours too and are visible form the outside, making the shoes look even more funky.
The upper is constructed out of many different materials, giving the Joyride a Frankenstein's monster look, especially with the very sharp seam-line running under the laces.
The tongue sports a raised round Nike logo, reminiscent of the pump-up air Jordans from the 90s. Takes one back to the times of Space Jam.
The Nike Joyride is a bold shoe and given its brightness, it will draw a lot attention, whether you like it or not. But then again, why would you wear shoes like this if you don't like attention?
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Nike Joyride Flyknit review: the verdict
Running is the Nike Joyride Flyknit is a very pleasant experience.
The TPU-bead cushioning system is comfortable and provides excellent impact force distribution. There is plenty of extra cushioning going on around the heels, too.
The Flyknit upper gives ample amount of breathing space for even runners with a wider-than-usual feet, without feeling too spacious. The synthetic support materials around all the key areas gives you the upper hand during high-speed direction changes.
The exuberant look will turn heads on the street as you walk/run past people. The strong seam-line under the laces give the shoes an attractive Frankenstein's monster look.
The Nike Joyride is the ideal couch-to-5k running shoe. It doesn't provide enough energy return to be the fastest running shoe out there (if you want that, get the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% (opens in new tab)) but in the same time, it's not claiming to be one either.
The Joyride will make running a jolly experience and if you aren't into running, these shoes will make you change your mind about it. once you slipped into them, You will want to try how it feels to run in them, guaranteed and once you did, you won't be disappointed.