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The Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit is a great running shoe with one major flaw – it’s not the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit. Of course, there’s no shame in being the little sibling of the best long-distance racing shoe in the world, especially seeing as the Zoom Fly Flyknit isn’t as eye-wateringly expensive, is far more durable and is widely available to buy, whereas the Vaporfly is frustratingly hard to get your hands on.
There are two main reasons why the Vaporfly 4% is so good: the light and bouncy ZoomX foam in the midsole and the carbon fibre plate that helps propel you forward. The previous version of the Zoom Fly had neither of these things, with Lunarlon foam and an ersatz carbon-infused nylon plate. The new version is a far closer approximation of the 4%, boasting its own carbon fibre plate and React foam in the midsole.
Paired with a carbon fibre plate the React foam feels even bouncier. It's not as joyously soft or as springy as the ZoomX in the Vaporfly 4%, but certainly feels cushioned enough for long runs while still excelling when you up the pace.
My first few runs in the Zoom Fly Flyknit were easy efforts, and things didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. It’s too firm to be ideal for easy running, which must be a result of the carbon plate because I enjoyed easy runs in the Epic React.
However, the shoe really shone over two days which involved a steady run and a tempo run around my marathon pace on the first day and then a track session the next. It felt great throughout with a rapid heel-to-toe transition that helped to hold a fast pace on the tempo run, and during the 400m and 800m track intervals, even while feeling fairly fatigued from all that running.
I also took the Zoom Fly Flyknit out for a steady half marathon and the ride just got better and better. It’s a shoe in which you feel like you can hold a fast pace for hours on end, making it well suited to half marathons and marathons, as well as being a great option for shorter races – though some runners might prefer something lighter for those (the Zoom Fly Flyknit is around 240g for a men’s UK size 8).
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The new Flyknit upper is a far less significant change than what’s going on in the sole of the shoe but it’s still a great addition – lightweight and snug. It felt a bit too snug at first, but stretched out a bit after I got some miles underfoot.
Having only recently managed to try the Vaporfly 4% for the first time I’m still getting over how good it is. And for all the positives of the Zoom Fly Flyknit, it can’t match the feel of the 4%, which is such a good running shoe that it seems almost unfair. However, most people won’t want to spend more than £200 on a shoe that’s only at its best for 250-300km. The Zoom Fly Flyknit is a very worthy alternative.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.