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Nike LeBron Ambassador 10 performance review

Le 31 mars à  12:10
Rubriques : Air Jordans

The Nike LeBron Ambassador 9 was a top performer last year that I liked more than the LeBron 14. But does this latest overseas alternate signature model, the LeBron Ambassador X, continue to take the reigns as a top performer? We’re here to find out.

The LeBron Ambassador X uses the same diamond grid traction pattern used on the Ambassador 9, and it has strategically placed herringbone waves that help you stop on a dime. When I tell you this traction pattern and the XDR rubber combo is amazing it’s because it’s freakin’ amazing! Why we don’t see the Swoosh use more XDR (Extra Durable Rubber) with a pattern like this on Stateside shoes nowadays still causes me to scratch my head.

The XDR rubber outsole and pattern combination is literally Goku morphing into his Ultra instinct form. Whether you hit the blacktop outdoors or play on the hardwood indoors, you’re in for not just a treat, but the whole nine-course meal.

Again, not once did I need to wipe the bottom of the shoe. Consistency is key and this pattern, material compound, and extended outrigger add up to the best of the best.

Like it’s predecessor, the LeBron Ambassador X features heel and forefoot Zoom Air unit. Needless to say, a shoe that bears LeBron’s name would need cushioning and ample support that a player of his stature needs. While the cushion combination works well, I was disappointed in finding out that there were some minor modifications towards the Zoom Air units utilized.

While the forefoot Zoom unit got thicker at 8.5mm thick, the width of the unit shrank. So for those that have heavy forefoot drop placements and have wider feet, you might feel the slight difference, but it’s minimal. The heel unit also increased in thickness to 11.16mm, which is perfect for those plant heavy on their heels.

The LeBron Ambassador X USA cushions well above average, but I still wish it used the heel unit from the Ambassador 8. That cushion worked so well, so why change it? However, getting heel and forefoot Zoom Air in a Nike Basketball shoe these days is a blessing — the only thing is you have to check overseas shops to find this model.

Mesh is used from midfoot to forefoot with TPU reinforcement at high wear areas, just like its predecessor. What has changed is the synthetic suede-like panel from midfoot to heel and the elastic band overlay right above the midfoot.

The interior of the shoe features a heavily padded bootie-like construction for support purposes. The shoe is finished with the wonderful XDR outsole while heel and forefoot Zoom units are implemented within the soft Phylon midsole.

The construction and materials bear resemblance to the recently released Nike PG 2 (both shoes were done by the same designer, shout out to TH), which isn’t a bad thing. For its price point, the Ambassador X can withstand the battles on court indoors and outdoors, with decent materials that make the shoe durable. It’s simple and well done.

The fit of the Ambassador X, for me, was decent at best. I experienced some heel slippage in the shoe, which was a surprise considering previous Ambassador models never had this problem. I also went true to size (I have a wide foot). The slippage isn’t a total deal breaker, but coming from the previous Ambassador models that worked very well, it threw me off. I even tried wearing thicker socks but moisture buildup became a problem.

The elastic band across the midfoot helps contain the foot and it’s a nice addition. However, I believe that the throat lacing structure and the extra padding layer between the inner bootie and the rounded external material at the heel didn’t allow the foot to be fully contained.

The support in the Ambassador X comes directly from the fit of the shoe, which includes the elastic band at the midfoot, the mesh upper, the forefoot and heel cushion, and the traction. The traction is top notch, the forefoot and heel cushion feel above average, and the elastic band on the midfoot provides ample lockdown. Again, the heel slip doesn’t deter from the rest of the shoe when it comes to proper support because everything else worked very well.

The LeBron Ambassador X had a lot of positive points but fell slightly short due to some minor issues. For a big man that plays like LeBron’s and Draymond’s positionless game, the shoe does everything well. If you can look past the minor heel slippage, then the shoe would be fantastic.

Like the 9, the Ambassador X offers everything you need for a basketball shoe. And I’ll say this again — how the Swoosh has decided not to bring the Ambassador line Stateside is still a shock. Perhaps its solely a business decision — if the Ambassador line came here it could wipe out the Soldier/Witness Line completely, and I truly believe it would.

If Nike makes some minor adjustments and takes cues from the previous Ambassador models to improve the next Ambassador sneaker, the Nike Lebron 15 could be next year’s top performer.

Salute to T. Hardman for creating another gem — we’re looking forward to the next one.



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Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro Performance Review

Le 29 mars à  05:49
Rubriques : Air Jordans

“Make the old new again” — that’s the mantra of retro product, right? Well, Nike and Kobe Bryant decided to take those words to the next level with the Zoom Kobe 1 Protro, which debuted for All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. The original Kobe 1 was an absolute killer on court, so does the “new and improved” build match up? Here we go…

If there was a ranking higher than Hall of Fame, the Kobe 1 Protro would get it. Using the exact same pattern as the original Kobe was a great thing because it sticks like glue to any floor. Plus, it’s thick and hard enough to hoop in outdoors. The herringbone is multi-directional and spaced wide enough that dust is no issue. During one wear at 24 Hour Fitness — a four-game session of full court — I made a point to count how many times I wiped…

Two times, that’s all. That is amazing. Since the first Kobe came out over 13 years ago, this traction has been one of my favorites, and it still is. Keep your storytelling — give me herringbone.

Full-length Zoom is rarely a bad thing, right? Right, especially when it is responsive and protects from impact. The Kobe 1 Protro is both.

The Zoom unit can be felt as soon as you step down on that first wear and it only gets better as the midsole foam begins breaking in. It isn’t a LeBron 15 Max Zoom feeling — this is fast and agile, because that’s what Zoom was meant to be before it became an impact-absorbing monster.

Don’t get me wrong – impact protection was there, as I never felt anything jarring while playing or excessive aching afterwards (well, no more than my age would allow). It’s just that when Zoom appeared, it was the low, fast, speedy, responsive cushioning while Air Max was the impact protection. Now it seems Zoom is marketed as impact protection. No difference here because the Kobe 1 Protro keeps doing it and doing it and doing it well.

One minor addition to the shoe that was found in the original but not in many other shoes is the Poron inserts on the bottom of the insole. Poron in a highly resilient, highly responsive urethane (usually blue) that can be placed in thin layers on the undersides of insoles — usually in the heel and forefoot — that adds a little initial impact protection without adding a ton of weight or height. The original had these as well, and for step-in comfort it can’t be beat.

This is it: leather, suede, and leather, and more suede. I won’t say this is premium leather, because it isn’t — if it was we would be paying $400 for these. This is the leather for leather-lovers that play ball, at least. It is thick and takes a couple of hard wears to break in and crease, but when it does, it forms to the foot and feels great. Durability is also a plus as the Kobe 1 Protro is built like a tank (yet hard to hit). I am still playing in my original Kobe 1 and the Kobe 1 Protro feels like it will still be playable in 13 years as well.

The medial side is made up of a nubuck that, again, feels like the best you can get at this price point for basketball. It is smooth and soft and should take a couple of wears to crease and feel right, but when it does…yeah. Carbon fiber — what appears to be real carbon fiber — comes back for the heel cup and midfoot shank, and it is so nice (more on that in Support).

The only real change on the Kobe 1 Protro as far as materials is the Pro Combat in the ankle collar and the missing leather circles that covered the ankle bones. Not a big change and neither one makes a difference in performance, so no harm, no foul.

The one area on the Kobe 1 Protro Reviews that takes some work is fit, and it all goes back to the previous category, the materials. As anyone who has played in a ton of leather shoes from the ’90s and early ’00s will tell you, most leather shoes take a couple of wears to crease and “learn” the foot. All those wrinkles mean the shoe is learning to flex and shape to your foot and activity.

The Kobe 1 Protro is no different. The leather upper is backed internally by a layer of foam that gives the shoe a bulky, disconnected feeling, at first. You can pull the laces as tight as you want but there is still a feeling of dead space in the forefoot. No worries! Just let the shoe break in and fit improves dramatically after the second or third day of playing.

Length-wise, stay true to size. Again, it may feel like you should have went a half-size down, but let the shoe break in before panicking. Heel slip is non-existent as long as you lace tight. The hole in the collar was seen as gimmicky when first released but does allow for ankle mobility while also locking the heel in and stopping movement. One note: lace behind the Shozoku logo on the tongue. It will make locking the laces down tight easier.

The Kobe 1 Protro offers serious support with tools in just about every category. Starting at the bottom, the base is wide and features a large outrigger on the lateral forefoot. Above that outrigger, we get foam teeth rising from the midsole over the side of the foot; they keep any lateral movements locked and caged so your foot doesn’t slide off the footbed on your Kobe-copying-Dirk one legged fadeaways.

In the midfoot, we get a carbon fiber shank that keeps the arch and midfoot rigid and supported. That shank ties into a carbon piece that circles around the heel cup, tying the midfoot to the back of the shoe. Let’s face it — even if your foot asks for permission, nicely, it ain’t getting out.

Moving up, the leather and nubuck upper may eventually stretch out and become a bit sloppy, but the lacing system allows the upper to be pulled tight in all directions, so even if the Kobe 1 Protro does lose a little shape over the years, just yank harder and you’re good to go.

It is only March, but the Kobe 1 Protro has the potential to be my Performer of the Year. It may be an opinion clouded in sentiment, as the Kobe I is my second favorite Kobe shoe ever (behind the VI), but there is no denying it: the Protro is a great, great, great performer.

If you can put up with a little extra weight (supposedly lighter materials were used, but these were within an ounce of the original Kobe I in my size 10.5) and a short break-in time, you will be blessed with a serious shoe. If you want light, thin, minimal, non-supportive uppers you may want to keep looking.

The Kobe 1 Protro should suit any player at any position, period, and if you wore the Kobe 1 the first time around and liked it, look no further. With more colorways soon to come, don’t miss the chance to wear the latest, greatest Nike performer — that first appeared 13 years ago.



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Nike Kyrie Flytrap Performance Reviews

Le 27 mars à  06:41
Rubriques : Air Jordans

If the Nike Kyrie Flytrap had a sound all you would hear are crickets chirping.

The outsole the Nike Kyrie Flytrap resembles a watered-down Kyrie 4 outsole. The herringbone doesn’t look as aggressive as the Kyrie 4’s, but that doesn’t matter, because the traction on the Kyrie Flytrap was excellent.

I broke this shoe out on a super dirty court and probably wiped a few times the entire session. Every session after that the traction was an absolute beast on everything it touched, and I play on hardwood, rubber, tile, plastic, etc. and the traction held up nicely. I wish Nike put this outsole on the Kyrie 4 — game changer, I’m telling you.

The Kyrie Flytrap uses a Phylon midsole with a small Zoom unit underneath the balls of your feet. Now, if you are expecting this cushion setup to be on marshmallow mode, then you might want to start looking at another shoe because this ain’t that.

However, this cushion setup wasn’t horrible; the Phylon is a little softer than what was used on the last Kyrie models (excluding the Kyrie 4 BHM and its Cushlon). At the same time, you still get some excellent court feel. Those that love that low-profile and minimal cushion setup may really like Kyrie Flytrap.

The shoe features a knit upper with a textile panel on the inside of the shoe. The knit feels like a light mesh and surprisingly it’s held up so far. I thoughts it would have torn up by now but I was wrong! The knit does support and contain my foot just fine, and the breathability was on point. However, there is a slight issue with the fit that makes me dislike the materials just a tad.

Everything about the fit for me was weird. The sizing is pretty much true to size for both narrow and wide footers, but narrow footers may feel the need to go down a half size because of dead space in the toebox. However, I don’t recommend you guys do that because your toes will bust out the front like a jack-in-the-box.

I don’t know if it was because of the asymmetrical lacing but all I know is that when I tie these shoes the dead space in the toebox folds over my foot like a damn burrito with extra beef and that ain’t what’s up. On top of that, the footbed feels like a banked turn on a NASCAR race track — it slopes inward a bit — which I never got used to.

Lockdown was OK, only because I had these bad boys tied tighter than a jelly jar. The elastic band over the forefoot wasn’t bad, I could feel it holding me down, so it served its purpose. I just wish the folded burrito-style material wasn’t an issue in the toebox; it would have significantly improved the lockdown.

The support was slightly below OK. You still have your usual support features like an internal heel counter, which cradles the heel, and a midsole that cups the foot to keep it atop the footbed. I didn’t have any issues with containment. However, the stability is where my problem lies.

Remember when I said the footbed feels like a turn on NASCAR race track because it slopes inward? Try running up and down the basketball Shoes court and feeling your ankles leaning in a bit every time you plant your foot. Yeah! That’s a real uneasy feeling, let me tell you. I don’t know if my pair was a defect or what but I don’t like it at all. If the footbed were a little flatter then this review would have been different.

The Nike Kyrie Flytrap is a nice shoe casually. Is it worth your $80 bucks? I don’t think so. I would much rather spend that $80 on a great sneaker from last season that’s on sale, like the PG 1.

If you want the Kyrie logo on your shoe and just absolutely need a Kyrie signature shoe, I say do some chores, sell some shoes or whatever you have that you don’t need, and save an extra $40 to buy the Kyrie 4, which isn’t an expensive shoe at $120.

However, if traction is all you care about then you will love the Kyrie Flytrap.



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Fist Look at KITH x Nike LeBron 15 ‘Long Live the King’ Released 2018 All-Star

Le 24 mars à  01:49
Rubriques : Air Jordans

Kith is opening up their Los Angeles flagship store during All-Star Weekend and to celebrate they are releasing the Kith x Nike LeBron 15 ‘Long Live the King’ Chapter 2 Collection.

Included in the collection is four different Nike LeBron 15 releases which two land in the performance line while the other two represents lifestyle. For performance we have King’s Cloak’ and ‘Suit of Armor’ while the lifestyle features the ‘King’s Crown’ and ‘City of Angels’. Each pair is constructed with Primeknit across the uppers with unique embroidered detailing, zippers and straps.

At the Kith x Nike LeBron 15 Long Live the King Black Gold This Nike LeBron 15 comes in predominate Black while the straps reads ‘Long Live The King’ done in Gold. In addition we have floral and unique designed embroidered throughout done in Gold and Red. Finishing the look is a Matte Black on the outsole.

at the KITH x Nike LeBron 15 ‘Rose Pink’ ,This first look comes from LeBron James’ friend Frankie Walker. Looking closer at this Nike LeBron 15 they feature Rose Pink across the uppers while Rose Gold is applied to the zipper. When its unzipped you can see the tongue comes in White while constructed with leather. Also displayed is ‘KITH x Nike LeBron 15’ and ‘Long Live The King’. Finishing the look is a translucent outsole.

at the KITH x Nike LeBron 15 Floral As you can see, this Nike LeBron 15 features White across the base however the highlight would be the Floral embroidery seen wrapping the uppers. Following we have Gold on the lace tips and White on the rubber outsole. The LeBron 15 is constructed with BattleKnit and BattleMax technology.

The Kith x Nike LeBron Long Live the King Chapter 2 Collection will first release this Friday, February 16th



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Nike Air Max 95: The Story Behind the Revolutionary Runner

Le 23 mars à  06:38
Rubriques : Air Jordans

It’s been 20 years since Nike first debuted the classic Air Max 95, which marked a big shift in the performance running sneaker market at the time. With its distinct rippled design across its upper, gradient gray color scheme, and bright neon yellow accents, the original model was a bold, provocative silhouette that had not been preceded by any sneaker before its time. Nike brought on board Nike ACG designer Sergio Lozano to spearhead the project, a trained industrial designer whose four-year experience with tennis and training shoes would bring a fresh perspective to the Air Max family.

The ’90s Sneaker Market

In the early ’90s Nike Basketball was dominating the sneaker market, with the popularity of basketball shoes gaining traction well ahead of runners. Lozano positioned the revolutionary Air Max 95 project as a means to recapture the public’s attention towards the performance running category.

New Color, New Swoosh

Lozano wanted to minimize the appearance of dirt, mud, and wear-and-tear that the shoe would achieve over time and use, so he prioritized the use of the gradient gray even when told that the colorway would not sell. The signature neon yellow shade too is a direct nod towards Nike’s race kit that continues to incorporate bright colors. This neon “Volt” colorway has since become a heritage-defining Nike color theme that is consistently reissued for other silhouettes.

The first 95 prototype didn’t have the Swoosh logo at all. Eventually it came to incorporate the minimal branding as a small accent, with an unconventional placement that could not distract attention from the undulating lines of the upper. Lozano told Sneaker Freaker, “from the design to the color to the little Swoosh, it all caused controversy. I had initially designed the shoe without a Swoosh because we believed the design was aesthetically strong… so we positioned it as a signature, a sign off on the shoe for jordans for all .”

 

Reception

The 95 was a brand new approach to runner cushioning by being the first-ever shoe to also feature the visible Air unit in the forefoot. It was also the first Air Max model to have a black midsole. Despite these innovations, the Air Max 95 was considered an outcast. Even the advertising was quite unconventional for Nike – check out this retro commercial advertising the bold atmos x Nike Air Max 95 2006 Supreme “Animal” silhouette that was made in collaboration with the Tokyo-based streetwear boutique.

With its unique colorway, Swoosh placement, and dual air-powered cushioning system, the unapologetically brash Air Max 95 quickly progressed into a youth culture icon. This was especially so throughout Europe and Australia. A smaller following in America includes much of the hip-hop community, with artists like Gucci Mane and Danny Brown having dropped bars about the sneaker. “I’ll kill you if you try me for my Air Max 95s,” rapped The Game in “Hate It Or Love It” (2005) as a direct reference to the Bloods adopting the Air Max 95 as their signature shoe, while the Crips had the Air Max 98s. Other fans of the beloved sneaker include 2 Chainz, Big Boi, Eminem, The Game, Busta Rhymes, DJ Khaled, Nelly, T.I., T-Pain, Wale, Spike Lee, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and J.R. Smith.

Notable Colorways and Collaborations

Though not the most often reiterated Nike model, the Air Max 95 has seen its share of vibrant colorways and modern collaborations, especially so throughout the 2000s. Colorways like the Air Max 95 “Black Grape” and the Air Max 95 Pure White/Black exhibit cleaner iterations of the sneaker, while special models like the NFL x Nike Air Max 95 “NFC East” Pack and the Air Max 95 “Country Camo” Japan exemplify the silhouette’s versatility in adopting bold themes.

The Air Max 95 Legacy

“The Air Max 95’s greatest strength, its individuality, was also its greatest hurdle,” Nike’s website states. As the first of its kind, the model considerably paved the way for other forthcoming silhouettes of similarly ostentatious designs, such as the Air Max Plus — known on the street and overseas as the Tuned 1 or TNs — that released in 1998. The subsequent Air Max 97 was also another iteration of the wavy-lined upper. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Nike will be releasing the original model in its original box along with two new Air Max 95s: the Air Max 95 White Red, designed by Air Max Ultra and Roshe One designer Dylan Raasch, and the Air Max 95 Ultra “Jacquard,” designed by Ben Yun. The Ultra “Jacquard” will be launched in the classic neon “Volt” as well as other colorways like Total Orange, Stealth Black, White/Grey and White/Blue. The new releases drop July 16.



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Better Off-White Air Jordan 1: “Chicago” Or “White”

Le 19 mars à  04:53
Rubriques : Air Jordans

It all started late 2017 when Virgil Abloh debuted his Off-White x Air Jordan 1 from the “The Ten” Collection.

The first release came dressed in the original “Chicago” Air Jordan 1 off-white colorway that featured details to coincide with the rest of the ten models like exposed foam, stitching on the Swooshes, and signature Red zip tie.This Air Jordan 1 uses a constructed build that pretty much mixes both the Air Jordan 1 High Ultra and Deconstructed tooling. The high-top sneaker comes dressed in familiar Red, White and Black Chicago Bulls-inspired color scheme. Its branded with OFF-WHITE for Nike tagging on the medial side, along with a unique Nike Swoosh logo and “AIR” branding on the midsole. Other notable details include branding on the laces and the year ’85 on the inner ankle flap. look for the OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1 to release in November.


Months later to kick off 2018, Virgil dropped his second Off-White x Air Jordan 1, but this time in a White colorway that was exclusive to Europe. Still no word on a stateside release.

"That shoe originally was all white," Abloh said, telling the story of the shoe's development. "I was in the airport—I was at Newark; I can remember it—and I was going through the security and I saw somebody in a white pair of Dunks and I couldn’t tell the difference. And I was like, “Emergency: The Jordan needs to be the Chicago colorway. That shoe would have just been a sort of anonymous white shoe. The Off-White x Air Jordan 1 "White" will be releasing on Feb. 27 exclusively in Europe in both men's and women's sizing.

Looking back at air jordan 1 both, which would you guys say was the better release? Cast your vote below and leave your thoughts in the comments section.



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Comparing 2009 vs. 2016 Air Jordan 11 "Space Jam"

Le 16 mars à  10:40
Rubriques : Air Jordans

The highly-anticipated 2016 Air Jordan 11 Space Jam is slightly different from previous retro iterations, as this latest gallery showcases its comparison to the 2009 counterpart.

The good folks at jordans for all have provided detailed pics to express just that. For starters, the 2016 pair is simply more shoe. The midsole, patent leather mudguard and model cut are all slightly taller than that of its predecessor. By our estimates, the height of the 2016 version rates closer to the OG while the sleekness of the 2009 pair is more inline with the 1995 edition. Shaping aside, concord branding is featured on the ’16 release (an original detail) as is #45 heel tagging (also indicitave of the OG). With the 2016 version essentially staying true to its OG build, in which MJ first wore during the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the sneaker’s notable differential elements consists of a higher cut black patent leather overlay.

Furthermor Last but not least, the sole on the 2016 pair features a much more pronounced blue tint than that of the ’09 release, with the original version also appearing more blue when worn on court by MJ.
the 2016 edition will be packaged in a Looney Tunes themed box with special cartoon graphics to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary.

Take a look at how the 2016 Space Jam 11s stack up against the 2009 retro in the gallery above, and set aside $110 if you're planning to cop a pair when they return on today.
 
 


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Air Jordan 28 SE Performance Review

Le 15 mars à  11:30
Rubriques : Air Jordans

When the Air Jordan XX8 was unveiled to the public for the first time in December of 2012, it was introduced along with the concept of “stealth.” During the design process, when the theme was taken to MJ, he pulled no punches when explaining what the concept meant to him. “Stealth is like Black Cat. It’s an ultimate aircraft. You never hear it coming, but it’s deadly as hell. You don’t ‘F’ with stealth. My game is like that. When you see it, it’s too ‘F-ing’ late.” The concept of stealth could even be tied in to the fact that the shoe was the first Air Jordan of the blog-era to not leak beforehand.

But while “stealth” may have defined the shoe’s design aesthetic, and even the unveiling, beneath it all, it was basically a shoe you’d seen before. A much better version than you’d seen before, but still a shoe who’s lasting impression came more from its refinements rather than breaking entirely new ground.

There are a handful of differences, which we’ll get into later, but if you are familiar with the Air Jordan XX8, then the easiest way of describing the SE is that it is the Air Jordan 1 , minus the stealth. The sky-high cut of the Air Jordan XX8 may have garnered most of the attention, but it was the shoe’s tooling that boasted the real breakthroughs. Zoom Air has been around since the mid-‘90s, and has been our benchmark for what’s possible in basketball cushioning. In over 20 years, nothing new that has come out since has topped it. That still hasn’t changed, but thanks to the introduction of Flight Plate, Zoom Air has gotten even better.

It’s still Zoom Air, but thanks to a holistic system, you are able to get more out of it than ever before. “The basic system is all around compression, deflection, and ultimately moderation,” explained the shoe’s developer, Josh Heard, when the XX8 launched.

“Zoom Air bags by themselves are extremely energy efficient," he continued. "The problem was the way we had used Zoom Air bags in the past. We would encapsulate them in foam and whatnot, and it would lock up all the energy. You couldn’t get anything out of it. So what we did was we unlocked the Zoom. We unleashed the Zoom. We’ve cored out foam all around the Zoom Air bags, so literally you are stepping directly on Zoom when you are getting that first, initial feel. The outsole also helps, as I said, piston that effect. And then we have a moderator plate on top, that eliminates any bumps or hot spots under the foot. So, it’s moderated all the way through, and you get that nice, comfortable smooth feel.”

The change may seem subtle, and compared to an entire new cushioning technology, it is. But the results are immediately noticeable, and make “regular” Zoom now seem lacking. It allows the wearer to feel “more” Zoom, without the use of “bigger” Zoom, such as the full-length Max Zoom bag found in the LeBron X.

That means more responsiveness, with better court feel, and a stance closer to the floor. Cushioning and court feel typically have an inverse relationship. As one increases, the other deceases. But thanks to this new system, protection and flexibility increased simultaneously. When combined with an outstanding midfoot shank, the Air Jordan XX8 and XX8 SE were simply some of the best playing experiences I’ve ever had.

The shoes flex where needed, offer up support where needed, provide responsive cushioning where needed, and have zero break-in time. I can’t think of a performance shoe that’s ever felt as good right out of the box as the two of these. With the only exception possibly coming from the traction improving over the first few wearings, the shoes felt as good on the first runs as the twentieth.

I haven’t mentioned any differences yet between the original and SE editions of the XX8, because when it comes to the shoes' toolings, there aren’t any differences. It’s the exact same shoe underfoot. And the uppers are similar enough to not effect the way the tooling plays.

The most obvious difference though is the XX8 SE’s lack of a shroud. But considering the shroud was largely a cosmetic feature, the shoe feels much more similar than you may expect. The plushness of the XX8's inner workings provided a level of comfort that isn’t quite matched by the SE, but at the same time, the synthetics used here are more supportive, and have proven to be more durable after long-term testing. And strangely enough, the cut of the XX8 SE actually feels slightly taller than the original. The lack of shroud also means better breathability, which was one of the few negatives of the original.

Unsurprisingly, since it was also the case with the original XX8, the SE runs a bit large. I’d recommend starting a half-size smaller than what you normally wear. Jordan Brand has stuck with the traditional, generally accommodating last, which they’ve used on all recent Game shoes. This means the shoe will fit more people than the sleeker and more narrow lasts used by Nike Basketball, but it won’t fit as well. After playing in my normal size 13 in the air jordan 1, and 12.5 in the SE, I found the ideal fit came by sizing down.

The XX8 was an excellent example of the law of diminishing returns. It was the best performing hoops shoe of 2013 at any price, but it wasn’t twice as good as shoes costing half as much. But with the XX8 SE, you are getting almost the exact same shoe, for $100 less. And with better breathability, more durability and slightly more support, you could almost argue it’s a better shoe.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d probably go with the original XX8, if price was no object. But then again, I could get 2 pairs of SEs for close to the same price. It’s hard to call a shoe costing $150 a deal, but with prices constantly rising, that’s practically at the team level in 2014. At this point in time though, you won’t find a better value, and probably not a better shoe period, at any price.

GRADE BREAKOUT

best for: most players other than larger forwards and centers who need abrasion protection in the post

colorway tested: Black/Dark Powder Blue/Team Orange/White

key tech: Flight Plate system, Carbon Fiber midfoot shank and heel counter, Dynamic Fit

pros: comfort; cushioning; transition; fit; zero break-in time

cons: sizing

improvements: Fit more true to size

buying advice: The SE edition of the Air Jordan XX8 offers almost all of the positives of the original, for $100 less. It’s slightly less comfortable, but slightly more breathable. And in my experience, the SE has been much more durable as well. Its cushioning is second to none, and I’ve never felt a more effective carbon fiber shank. Considering that the $250 Air Jordan 4 was an easy recommendation, at $150, the SE is one of the easiest recommendations I’ve ever made for a hoops shoe. Just be sure to try a pair on, or size down a half size, for proper fit.



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Air Jordan 28 SE Performance Review

Le 15 mars à  11:27
Rubriques : Air Jordans

When the Air Jordan XX8 was unveiled to the public for the first time in December of 2012, it was introduced along with the concept of “stealth.” During the design process, when the theme was taken to MJ, he pulled no punches when explaining what the concept meant to him. “Stealth is like Black Cat. It’s an ultimate aircraft. You never hear it coming, but it’s deadly as hell. You don’t ‘F’ with stealth. My game is like that. When you see it, it’s too ‘F-ing’ late.” The concept of stealth could even be tied in to the fact that the shoe was the first Air Jordan of the blog-era to not leak beforehand.

But while “stealth” may have defined the shoe’s design aesthetic, and even the unveiling, beneath it all, it was basically a shoe you’d seen before. A much better version than you’d seen before, but still a shoe who’s lasting impression came more from its refinements rather than breaking entirely new ground.

There are a handful of differences, which we’ll get into later, but if you are familiar with the Air Jordan XX8, then the easiest way of describing the SE is that it is the Air Jordan 1 , minus the stealth. The sky-high cut of the Air Jordan XX8 may have garnered most of the attention, but it was the shoe’s tooling that boasted the real breakthroughs. Zoom Air has been around since the mid-‘90s, and has been our benchmark for what’s possible in basketball cushioning. In over 20 years, nothing new that has come out since has topped it. That still hasn’t changed, but thanks to the introduction of Flight Plate, Zoom Air has gotten even better.

It’s still Zoom Air, but thanks to a holistic system, you are able to get more out of it than ever before. “The basic system is all around compression, deflection, and ultimately moderation,” explained the shoe’s developer, Josh Heard, when the XX8 launched.

“Zoom Air bags by themselves are extremely energy efficient," he continued. "The problem was the way we had used Zoom Air bags in the past. We would encapsulate them in foam and whatnot, and it would lock up all the energy. You couldn’t get anything out of it. So what we did was we unlocked the Zoom. We unleashed the Zoom. We’ve cored out foam all around the Zoom Air bags, so literally you are stepping directly on Zoom when you are getting that first, initial feel. The outsole also helps, as I said, piston that effect. And then we have a moderator plate on top, that eliminates any bumps or hot spots under the foot. So, it’s moderated all the way through, and you get that nice, comfortable smooth feel.”

The change may seem subtle, and compared to an entire new cushioning technology, it is. But the results are immediately noticeable, and make “regular” Zoom now seem lacking. It allows the wearer to feel “more” Zoom, without the use of “bigger” Zoom, such as the full-length Max Zoom bag found in the LeBron X.

That means more responsiveness, with better court feel, and a stance closer to the floor. Cushioning and court feel typically have an inverse relationship. As one increases, the other deceases. But thanks to this new system, protection and flexibility increased simultaneously. When combined with an outstanding midfoot shank, the Air Jordan XX8 and XX8 SE were simply some of the best playing experiences I’ve ever had.

The shoes flex where needed, offer up support where needed, provide responsive cushioning where needed, and have zero break-in time. I can’t think of a performance shoe that’s ever felt as good right out of the box as the two of these. With the only exception possibly coming from the traction improving over the first few wearings, the shoes felt as good on the first runs as the twentieth.

I haven’t mentioned any differences yet between the original and SE editions of the XX8, because when it comes to the shoes' toolings, there aren’t any differences. It’s the exact same shoe underfoot. And the uppers are similar enough to not effect the way the tooling plays.

The most obvious difference though is the XX8 SE’s lack of a shroud. But considering the shroud was largely a cosmetic feature, the shoe feels much more similar than you may expect. The plushness of the XX8's inner workings provided a level of comfort that isn’t quite matched by the SE, but at the same time, the synthetics used here are more supportive, and have proven to be more durable after long-term testing. And strangely enough, the cut of the XX8 SE actually feels slightly taller than the original. The lack of shroud also means better breathability, which was one of the few negatives of the original.

Unsurprisingly, since it was also the case with the original XX8, the SE runs a bit large. I’d recommend starting a half-size smaller than what you normally wear. Jordan Brand has stuck with the traditional, generally accommodating last, which they’ve used on all recent Game shoes. This means the shoe will fit more people than the sleeker and more narrow lasts used by Nike Basketball, but it won’t fit as well. After playing in my normal size 13 in the air jordan 1, and 12.5 in the SE, I found the ideal fit came by sizing down.

The XX8 was an excellent example of the law of diminishing returns. It was the best performing hoops shoe of 2013 at any price, but it wasn’t twice as good as shoes costing half as much. But with the XX8 SE, you are getting almost the exact same shoe, for $100 less. And with better breathability, more durability and slightly more support, you could almost argue it’s a better shoe.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d probably go with the original XX8, if price was no object. But then again, I could get 2 pairs of SEs for close to the same price. It’s hard to call a shoe costing $150 a deal, but with prices constantly rising, that’s practically at the team level in 2014. At this point in time though, you won’t find a better value, and probably not a better shoe period, at any price.

GRADE BREAKOUT

best for: most players other than larger forwards and centers who need abrasion protection in the post

colorway tested: Black/Dark Powder Blue/Team Orange/White

key tech: Flight Plate system, Carbon Fiber midfoot shank and heel counter, Dynamic Fit

pros: comfort; cushioning; transition; fit; zero break-in time

cons: sizing

improvements: Fit more true to size

buying advice: The SE edition of the Air Jordan XX8 offers almost all of the positives of the original, for $100 less. It’s slightly less comfortable, but slightly more breathable. And in my experience, the SE has been much more durable as well. Its cushioning is second to none, and I’ve never felt a more effective carbon fiber shank. Considering that the $250 Air Jordan 4 was an easy recommendation, at $150, the SE is one of the easiest recommendations I’ve ever made for a hoops shoe. Just be sure to try a pair on, or size down a half size, for proper fit.



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adidas Crazy BYW X Performance Review is here

Le 14 mars à  05:45
Rubriques : Air Jordans

You all asked and we delivered: the performance review on the $200 adidas Crazy BYW X is here.

Traction was amazing…to start. The very first day I played in the adidas Crazy BYW X was my best experience in the shoe overall.

Traction bit the floor, which had dust all over the damn place like nobody’s business. However, each time I wore the shoe after that initial day I became less and less impressed — it’s like the rubber decided to retire. For whatever reason its bite and tackiness wore out and I was left with a herringbone outsole that required me to wipe any chance I had nike air force 1 .

Even after taking the Crazy BYW X to cleaner courts I had to wipe every so often to maintain the level of grip that I’m comfortable with — which was a bit irritating. However, the traction never got to the point to where I thought it was downright bad, but it wasn’t that “Oh, hell yes!” type of grip I had on day one.

Then the rear section of the outsole blew out on me, literally. I remember the play when it happened. I rarely feel when traction peels, but this time I did as it was a few rows at once.

I was on a fast break and needed to slow down a bit so I could gather and lay the ball in. When I used my heel to slow myself down — the only time I really use my heels — I felt this weird jerk at the base of my heel. Luckily, my stride was already beginning to lead into the toe so I was able to continue the play and lay the ball in.

It wasn’t until I went to wipe my soles after the play was completed that I noticed the traction on my heel gave out and looked like strands of Play-Doh stuck in the spaghetti maker play-set. Thus, outdoor use is definitely not recommended.

While the Crazy BYW X doesn’t deserve the Benched badge, it doesn’t deserve the Starting 5 badge either. It’s good coverage that will take care of you, but you’ll need to maintain the outsole throughout your sessions.

The Feet You Wear concept implemented here isn’t like the original. While many applaud the original adidas harden vol 2 system, I was never a huge fan of it because sometimes it would aggravate my right foot. This version feels more neutral, like the original Pure Motion system, only with Boost in place instead of EVA and adiPrene.

Fluidity and transition were pretty smooth while court feel in the forefoot is abundant, without losing much impact protection. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Harden Vol 1. The main difference being the Boost is even more subdued in the forefoot of the Crazy BYW X than it was on the Harden Vol 1 since the Boost is completely encased.

The heel is really bouncy and at first and it was a bit of a distraction compared to the firmer forefoot. I felt like I was being propelled with a small spring under my heel until I got used to the setup. After, I began to adjust and feel more comfortable with the setup — that’s when the shoe really feels low, fast, responsive, and built for fluid mobility.

The only thing I can compare the feeling to is what I experienced with the Air Jordan XX8-30. That incredibly mobile and agile sensation that I felt makes this BYW setup a step up from the original FYW.

Materials featured are pretty average for a modern shoe; the Crazy BYW X uses textiles and a compression collar at the tongue and ankle areas.

For being a textile upper, it has been pretty durable thus far. There are no areas that pinch or hot spots along the main section of the build, but the heel’s rubber pull tab caused some chaffing at the back of my ankle — my quarter cut socks weren’t quite long enough to prevent this so that is an area to keep an eye on.

Interestingly, I had the same issue with the adidas Harden Vol 2 as well. I’d recommend that adidas stop stitching the rear pull tab into the main bootie section of the collar. Perhaps the brand could stitch it between the bootie and the outer material so it doesn’t rub on the heels of some wearers.

The shoe fits true to size, something rare for adidas. However, it’s that really snug and tight, nearly suffocating, type of fit that some — like myself — enjoy, but that others may not. Wide footers will want to go up 1/2 size, but that could cause some issues with the support as it relies on that one-to-one fit.

Lockdown as actually nice — like, really nice. I initially had my reservations with the lacing as the lateral side relies on those thin cables that are known to break. While those can and likely will break on someone, they did not break on me. The medial side has a much stronger nylon cable in place and both worked well to keep me sucked into the shoe and on the tooling.

All I can say is that if you try the shoe on, don’t be discouraged by the initial choke hold it will have on your feet. The materials will stretch around your foot once you break them in and you’ll end up with a form fitting shoe like nothing you’ve ever felt before.

Much like the lockdown, support was really surprising on the Crazy BYW X. The shoe is very minimalistic and doesn’t look like it’d support anyone.

However, the shoe uses all the standard support features, and they’re amplified to make up for the very minimal upper. It’s heel counter is strong and encompasses most of the rear while the chassis that the tooling sits on cradles your foot — much like the setup in the Air Jordan XX8-30.

The part that I felt really helped the Crazy BYW X was that you sit within the Boost midsole both in the heel and forefoot. You’re on a low-profile platform built to be anatomically correct and designed to really hug and hold onto your foot. If you’re a shoe nerd in addition to being a regular hooper then these will leave you wondering what else the future of performance footwear has to offer.

Will shoes get even more supportive with sock-like uppers? What will basketball shoes look like in 20 years? These are just a couple of questions this one shoe forces me to think about.

I think the Crazy BYW X is very good, but the traction definitely could be better. I think if adidas used a slightly stronger rubber compound and spaced the herringbone treads a little further apart then this would have been a shoe that I’d say you’d need to try.

As it is right now, sitting at that $200 price point, the Crazy BYW X is a shoe that you should try only if you have the means. If you don’t, don’t be discouraged because there are plenty of footwear options that offer great performance and won’t break the bank.

I am very curious to see where brands go from here because adidas really pushed the envelope with this one — adidas Originals no less. It’ll be very interesting to see what comes from the basketball shoes in the future.



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