As one of the leading, if not the leading, sneaker brands across the globe, Nike has never been a company to shy away from pushing the limits, both in terms of aesthetics as well as performances through its continuous innovation through new technologies. Case in point, a few years back Nike Running set out to break the 2-hour marathon record, partnering with Eliud Kipchoge to reach that goal. And it achieved just that. While the technology in those particular Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% trainers are now under investigation by the IAAF, the point is that the technology is there. A few weeks ago, Nike introduced yet another new technology to its portfolio by dropping the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit, which features thousands of TPU beads, which is aimed at providing additional cushioning and energy return during a run. The beads aren’t the only standout within the Joyride’s design, but it’s what all the focus is on. But just how well does it hold up and aid your run and are these performances long term?
Design and Quality
Being classified as a ‘runner’, the Joyride does feature its design as something of primary importance during the design. Instead, the design elements are focused on putting together a package that is able to house the newly introduced beads, as well as all the other elements of cushioning and support systems. That said, the Nike Joyride isn’t an ugly shoe, featuring beautiful detailing, many of which double up as functional elements.
The Joyride is available in six standard colourways, with the two main variants being the Black and White, and White, Platinum Tint, Bright Mango and Racer Blue variants. The beads themselves are coloured based on the shoe’s colourway. Having received the Black and White version of the silhouette, I was happy with the minimalist colours, which stand out within their own right, contrasting between the two colours at different points of the design. The black and white beads are protected within a semi-translucent casing, which has slightly blueish tint, which isn’t in keeping with the rest of the design, but doesn’t seem amiss either
The upper is constructed from a mix of materials, but it’s the Flyknit material that makes up the majority of the mesh construction, making it elastic and snug-fitting. The tongue also forms part of the upper and not as a separate element, which makes it feel more natural, allowing it to flex and shrink when required without worrying about it shifting or creating pressure atop the foot when it’s not needed. The upper includes a useful heel loop, which makes for easier foot entry. That said, the strap does loop around the inner side, which would scratch against your heel if worn without socks.
Overall, the design and quality of the Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is quite impressive, even while focusing on performance over looks. The sweeping lines from the front to rear, the small design elements like the heel loop, as well as the additional aesthetics from the multicolour beads all add to the overall look.
Technology and Comfort
A lot of the technology added to the Nike Joyride has been geared towards the cushioning and comfort of the shoe, a majority of which lies in the sole. The midsole houses 1000s of beads, which is no small feat. Nike exhausted a list of more than 150 different materials before settling on the TPU beads found within the shoe. The beads are meant to absorb impact during each stride, moving to the different areas of the foot where it’s needed most. There are more beads added to the rear where most of the impact and cushioning would be required where it can be used more efficiently.
While the Flyknit adds quite a bit to the look of the Joyride, the technology in the fabric lends itself to a breathable mesh that is both supportive around the foot as well as being lightweight enough that it doesn’t weigh down the foot between each stride. Your foot is always supported, always breathing. The Flyknit mesh also adds another dimension to for runners with larger or wider feet, with the technology adding a level of comfort that allows the material to stretch to the size required without feeling the pressure.
The cushioning continues to the inside of the Joyride, with the insole having quite a fair amount of padding underfoot. When putting them on for the first time, they’ll feel more like a massage pad than a running shoe – all out comfort. The pads are positioned quite nicely at all the pressure points of the foot when under pressure during the push off movement in the stride. For everyday use, even just lounging around at home, the level of comfort is immense.
With the crazy amounts of cushioning from the beads and comfort from the inner padding, it’s easy to assume that the Nike Joyride is capable of handling everything thrown at it. That, however, isn’t the case. While I’m not a professional runner, having a few decades of weekly running under my belt, I can speak honestly about where the shoe does and does not provide the best performance.
I spent two to three weeks running with the Joyride. The first time I put them on, it felt like walking on water. With the points of impact having extra padding within the insole, I could feel the shoe working for me as I was about to take off. Speaking of the take-off, the beads in the forefoot provides quite a push off, while the padding on the insole at the same time reduces that impact on the foot during this movement. Issues, however, became noticeable after some period into my run, which I noted during each of the long-distance runs. With the inner padding on the insole continuously pushing up on the ball of the foot while running, it had an effect on my toes that would spread them wider than I would like during each stride. As a result, it caused my toes to curl up slightly putting pressure right at the tips of the toes. The added space in the toe-box area also meant there was room for my toes to push into this space, which wasn’t ideal. After a few weeks of running with the shoes, my foot eventually became used to this movement, which made it easier, but it’s not something I would pushing for long-term.
That said, the same pressure points made it easier for high-intensity activities that required those quick bursts of movement from the fore foot, such as sprinting and HIIT workouts. Pushing off and landing with the additional padding had less impact on my feet after each workout than most of my other trainers. The added benefit here is that there’s less stress on the ankles as well. The sockfit of the Flyknit adds security that the shoe won’t fall off, have parts move around and the likes, even under the more intense movements of a HIIT workout. It doesn’t matter how hard you push, the Joyride is able to match your movement and provide that comfort you need to feel confident in each stride.
The Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is quite a unique shoe. It may not be the first to deploy the technology, with the likes of PUMA and Reebok having already successfully experimenting with the technology, but it does an excellent job for the most part. While I was able to run with the Joyride, providing next level comfort, it wasn’t the complete package for seasoned runners. Where the shoe really stands out, however, is with short interval workouts and sprints, providing cushioning and support where it’s needed most.
The TPU beads create adequate cushioning and energy return where it’s required, which also reduces overall impact on the foot and ankles. The Joyride also has extra cushioning on the insole thanks to the padding, which feels great when in use. The breathable Flyknit material adds additional support and comfort. As such the shoe is more in line with providing the most comfortable experience for new runners than pushing the next level of performance for seasoned runners.
Nike Joyride Run Flyknit
The Nike Joyride Run Flyknit provides next-level support and cushioning when required. It may not be the most ideal long-distance runner, but it's great for HIIT workouts and the likes.
- Beads provide extra performance
- Additional padding adds to cushioning
- Breathable and stretchable Flyknit
- Some padding not ideal for long-distance running