Nike has announced its Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, the second iteration of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% running shoe.
For those unfamiliar, the original shoe helped legendary long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge run a marathon in under two hours, breaking a world record. It’s certainly one of the best running shoes ever made, said to improve running economy by around 4%, and the new iteration appears to be even faster.
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2, like its predecessor (opens in new tab), has a ZoomX foam midsole, a single curved carbon fiber plate and two Zoom Air pods, small air cavities designed to reduce the shoe’s weight while maintaining optimal shape for greater running economy. It is said to offer runners a ‘propulsive, light and supportive ride’, but there have been some changes since the last round.
The top of Next%2 features a revised Atomknit version of the original, dubbed Atomknit 2.0. This new upper is said to be designed for breathability in the toes, closer containment in the forefoot, and padding under the shoe’s tongue.
There’s a greater amount of ZoomX foam under the midsole’s Zoom Air bags, while the heel is wider for greater stability during heel-to-toe transitions.
What this means is that, in essence, the shoe will be more comfortable, supportive, and stable over marathon-level distances than the original, keeping your feet nice and stable as they are planted, as you rise. the amount of lift you get as your foot pushes off the floor again. You will be able to go further for longer.
The shoe is available in its ‘Prototype’ colorway in limited quantities worldwide, starting today at $275 in the US, £275 in the UK (opens in new tab), and the Australian price is TBC. More colorways are due to follow.
Analysis: A shoe for the few?
With a hefty price tag and limited stock, it feels like this shoe was built for record holders and record holders only. However, Nike is insisting that even if you don’t plan on breaking any world records, if you’re aiming your own PB at any great distance, you’re going to want this shoe.
During the announcement, Elliott Heath, Product Manager for Nike Running Shoes, said, “The Alphafly NEXT% 2 is designed for athletes looking to set their personal best in the marathon… The updates we made in the second iteration continue to equip elite athletes. competing on the world stage, but we are focused on improving the racing experience for all runners chasing their personal best.”
If you’re a dedicated long-distance runner, this is the shoe for you. If you run half marathons, 10K or 5K, and you don’t want to increase your distance, this shoe will simply be too expensive and over-engineered for you to get any discernible benefit from it. You’ll be better off with an attractive, cheaper mid-range shoe like the Saucony Ride 14.