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2018: The Year Nike 'Reacts' To Adidas' 'Boost'

Nike React

 

2018 is the year Adidas celebrates five years of BOOST.

It is also the year that Nike reveals the new 'Epic React' Flyknit. 

Coincidence? Or... perfect timing?

WHAT IS NIKE REACT? 

Nike React foam cushioning launched in June 2017 in basketball — a sport that requires players to shift direction and speed in seamless motion and to lift off at the blink of an eye.

The foam met those needs by providing a sensation that is as soft and springy as it is squishy and stable — a balance not previously seen in any other Nike basketball shoe.

Nike’s chemists and mechanical engineers came together to test ingredients to see which composition would yield the perfect outcome.

After more than 400 hundred combinations of chemistry and processing, and using scientific methods to figure out materials with certain amenable attributes, they created the Nike React foam.

The midsole was engineered to provide proper cushioning while allowing the shoe’s designers to remove unnecessary material for a lighter shoe. 

When tested in the Nike Sports Research Lab against other running foams, the data proved that Nike React foam reins superior in energy return.

“Nike React is more durable than any other foam we’ve tested in Nike running, meaning it will keep up with the needs of even the most dedicated distance runners,” says Ernest Kim, Director of Advanced Footwear, Nike Running

nike-react

How Is It Different From Lunarlon? 

The foam is said to increase energy return by 13% over Nike’s Lunarlon foam. However, there is so much more to Epic than just that figure. 

Brett Holts, VP of Nike Running Footwear:  

"We put that a firmer carrier to protect the Lunarlon core, so that added a little bit of weight ... The layer of glue takes way from the purity of the experience.

What React does is it removes any dual densities or any need to co-mold anything, so we really get all those characteristics of really lightweight, really soft cushioned, but also responsiveness in one pure component of foam."

epic-react-flyknit

NIKE UNVEILS THE EPIC REACT FLYKNIT

Lighter. Softer. Greater energy return.

All mixed with lightness and breathability throughout. 

Runners asked for one shoe that could do it all:

  • More cushion from the impact of each stride
  • More energy return to stay fresh late in a run
  • Fill light underfoot
  • Withstand wear and tear of impact 

Nike gave them the answer. The NIKE EPIC REACT FLYKNIT. 

Here are some features: 

  • Upper mimics the Nike Flyknit Racer through the one piece Flyknit bootie that is engineered for support, flexibility and breathability -- minimal yet supportive
  • Significantly softer than EVA-based foams of the past
  • Smooths bumps in the road more effectively
  • Additional traction at the toe and heel for added stability

The midsole had to be taller in order to avoid “bottoming-out” and wider to give runners a supportive base.

And this is where Nike innovators, chemists, engineers and designers delivered... 

They extended the midsole beyond the perimeter of its upper around the heel to provide both the needed cushioning and stability. 

 

drawings-nike-react-epic

Bret Schoolmeester, Nike's Senior Director for Global Running Footwear comments: 

This shoe rewrites the book on how we use foams at Nike and the results speak for itself – without sacrificing anything in terms of weight or softness from Lunar, we’ve added 13% better energy return and 20% increased durability.

epic-react2

But here's the amazing part...

The new sneakers are a direct result of three years of testing and over 400 attempted combinations. 

Using computational design (using mathematical formulas to create a fluid geometry), Nike created a shoe that showcases the use of athletic data for optimisation.

The data was visualised through pressure maps that showed exactly where athletes need support and enabled full optimization of cushioning and traction.

Designers used one piece of Nike React foam (no carrier, cement or glue) to create the midsole and outsole. 

algorithm-nike-react 

REACT VS. BOOST 

  • The Epic React has a wider forefoot base and weighs considerably less;
  • The Epic React is a little more forgiving to those with wide feet; and
  • The Boost soles tend to flatten, while the Epic React use pans out over miles of use with any flattening yet to be seen.

nike-epic-react

CONCLUSION 

We have waited patiently for Nike to finally respond to Adidas BOOST.

And after five years, it is finally here.

Some may say it is too late for Nike but it really is not.

For Adidas to say the sole they released in 2013 is still ‘the best you can get’ is like Apple telling you that the iPhone 5S is still a cutting-edge smartphone.

Sneaker Freaker provides us with a final thought:

As good as BOOST is for making shoe soles, it wasn’t actually designed for that specific purpose. BOOST was created in a lab at BASF, followed by a ‘what can we do with this?’ type of conversation.

Nike’s React foam, on the other hand, was created in collaboration with their athletes, meaning that throughout the process they were able to tweak the formula to optimise performance.

With that said, will this finally be Nike's comeback year?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.  





1 comment

  • This article reeks of editorialising, and with that said a lot of it seems to be copy and pasted from Nike’s own marketing literature and other blogs. It’s made to sound like it was some epic journey to find the holy grail ( and sure maybe on a level to those involved it was) but lets not kid ourselves here.

    Isn’t going through 400+ iterations of the product, getting athletes opinions & feed back, data analysis, computational design & data visualisations; The cornerstone of the industrial design process. So what amazing part am I missing here? Lets look at this sentence “When tested in the Nike Sports Research Lab against other running foams, the data proved that Nike React foam reins superior in energy return.” Wouldn’t this be more impressive if it read in the beginning like this “Independent sports research labs…” In other words if this was meant to impress the shareholders at Nike then sure it does sound impressive, and because most of what is mentioned above really only does read as shareholder literature it is just that for the time being. Without a product to test, without the “icon” status, without any real hype this really just remains ‘another shoe’.

    Undoubtedly when the iPhone5s came out a lot of other flagship phones were labelled ’ The iPhone killer’. With a quick glance through history and some google fu articles like these are everywhere and sadly the trend continues.

    Fran Drescher

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