I will do a comparative review to the Kobe ix as well throughout the review.
Related links :
Kobe X Elite
Kobe x vs Clutchfit drive low
Nike Hyperchase review
King of the Court Shootout
Although we won’t see Kobe wear these anytime soon I couldn’t wait to try these on. Zoom Air makes a return with flex grooved lunarlon in the forefoot and they feel great!
PROS: Traction, cushioning, fit
CONS: upper is stiff to start and makes a popping noise until broken in, weird placement of foot stay at small toe.
Nike added flex grooves to the forefoot cushioning and outsole to allow the shoe to be more flexible , thus having more surface area touching the ground. Not sure if this really enhances the traction in any discernible way but the pattern works great. It isn’t as “sticky” as the Kobe ix but it still works great. If I had to pick between the two Id give the edge to the Kobe IX
Below: my favorite part of the X is the X bar which acts like the Y bar that was on the Kobe IV, V, VI to help stabilize the heel
Here is a shot of the IX and X side by side for reference
Verdict: Kobe ix by a hair
Caged Zoom Air in the heel and flex grooved Lunarlon in the forefoot equals an awesome set up. This is the first Kobe since the IV that featured two different types of cushioning. The IV had Zoom in the heel and Lunar foam in the forefoot which was basically the first generation of Lunarlon and it bottomed out quickly. I’m very glad to say this set up is far superior to the IV and pretty much all the Kobes since the VI. This the the third basketball shoe I can think of that has Caged Zoom (the KD V Elite and the Lebron II). I loved the Lebron II and cushioning was one of its strength .Back then the Zoom was encased in Pebax which was stiff yet pliable and lended stability to the entire shoe . The X feels like a much softer plastic /rubber than Pebax and allows the wearer to feel more of the Zoom.
above: Lebron II caged Zoom
Below: Kobe x caged Zoom
The IX had a full length Lunarlon insert and was much firmer than the Kobe Viii insert . However it still lacked the bounce and springiness I love that is found in Micro G, Zoom, and Boost. Another great thing about this cushioning set up is that it is only Zoom and Lunarlon, not a bunch of fillers. Look at the pic and you can see Zoom in the heel and the Lunarlon the rest of the way. This helps lead to the smooth transition from heel to toe
VERDICT: Kobe X
The Kobe X used Hyperfuse mesh on the upper and feels much stiffer than the upper of the IX and Viii. When I put these on initially, it was making a popping noise from the inside of the toe box area since the upper wasn’t broken in and flexing weirdly. However, after a few games the popping stopped. Despite this slight annoyance, the X fit my foot perfectly . No heel slip at all thanks to a nicely padded heel collar, no side to side movement. No discomfort in the midfoot contrary to the Kyrie I or Run the One.
Above: where the popping noise comes from
The Kobe IX also had a fantastic fit with no heel slip or side to side movement.
The X support feels more beefy than all of the Kobes except the IX which I think is a good thing. Gone is that super stiff external heel counter and in it’s place is a more standard, more flexible heel counter
as well as a tiny footstay that does its job but is in the weirdest place. Typically a foot stay is about an inch or two back since that’s where your foot slides out but this one is almost in line perfectly with my pinky toe. I think the reason Nike moved it up was to allow the foot to flex more naturally and easily , which it does but I’d much preferred to have it in its normal spot but it worked well but took some time getting used to.
Above: see how it flexes more naturally since they moved the footstay.
VERDICT: My preference is the X but the IX is more supportive so, Kobe IX
The X did a great job holding my foot in the footbed even on hard cuts thanks to a stiffer upper material and the addition of the footstay. The IX did a good job of containing my foot as well as it has extended the toe bumper’s height all the way around the shoe .
VERDICT: Kobe X
As I’ve written before, I sprained my ankle badly in the IX despite the great support and that was due to the corner in the heel being contoured in just the wrong place . The X does not have that problem as it passed my heel step test and feels very stable on court. Also I noticed that the X is actually a few millimeters wider at the forefoot than the IX which obviously adds to the more stable feeling.
Above: I lined these up and as you can see the extra width.
VERDICT: Kobe X
I have never gotten along with drop in insoles mainly because my foot always slides in between the insole and the upper on hard cuts. Even though the Kobe IX improved their insert by raising the sidewalls I could still had the same problems as before. Maybe I’m the only one that is bothered by that feeling I’m not sure.
As usual Nike jacked up the price another $ 20 and for those of you who think it’s the tech pushing the price, it isn’t; it is just Nike using their brand and Kobe’s star power to raise prices but the X isn’t quite selling like the IX did since Kobe isn’t wearing them and the price hike so I’m guessing prices will drop soon.
Depending on what you look for in a shoe, you might prefer the IX to the X but this is the first Kobe that I have outright liked to play in since the IV. The most important elements for me are traction, fit, and cushioning and these excel at all of them. It isn’t leaps and bounds better than IX in any category but overall it works so much better for me.