As I was testing the Kobe XI, I thought to myself :
Are there any other Nike shoes outside of basketball that feature drop in insoles?
Why haven’t other companies copied the idea? Is there a patent? It can’t be difficult to do
And the answer is :
I looked at volleyball and tennis first since the movements are similar. I did find a remarketed Hyperdunk Low in volleyball. Zoom forefoot only though
Nike Zoom Volley Hyperspike
Nike finally applied Lunarlon to tennis a few years ago as Nadal’s quasi sig shoe. It feels like a stable Lunarglide.
Nike Ballistic 1.5
If you’ve ever watch Nadal you knows he’s seriously OCD so I’m surprised he even agreed to leave his trusty Air Max Cage. Super firm cushioning mind you to Lunarlon is like night and day.
A drop in wouldn’t work in tennis either because of all the changes in direction, just like in basketball but times 100. Tennis requires stability over cushioning
Then I looked at high impact sports such as football and soccer and found nothing (to be fair, these two sports are played on grass so that wouldn’t make any sense anyways)
Golf? Nope just Lunarlon midsoles
As an avid low handicap golfer, a drop in insole would not work because it would pinch on the downswing as you hit into your left side ( right handed golfer) as your feet roll.
Finally running and even walking which are very linear sports (no cutting or change of direction) . I thought this would be the most applicable to a drop in insole since you just run straight although different require different types of shoes.
Still a no though
So why is that ?
Is it because the technology is too new?
No, drop ins were featured on the Flighposite in ’99, Lebron IV about 10 years ago as well as the Kobe 7-9 over 5 years ago so that’s plenty of time to spread over to other sports. I’m sure I’m missing some others but this come to the top of my mind.
Is it too expensive to produce?
I can’t say for certain because I don’t work in a shoe factory or the Nike accounting department but my guess is no, it’s probably cheaper.
Let’s think about it
A standard shoe would require putting together an outsole, filling the midsole with Phylon, sewing on a last, then inserting an insole.
A drop in insole shoe would only require a shell of a shoe and you could print off a bunch of insoles with a big slab of Lunarlon thereby eliminating a step or two. I could be talking out of my ass but makes sense to me.
Is the retail price of a shoe with a drop in insole too high?
This is a possibility considering the cost of the Kobe XI is $200 but it has Flyknit so let’s dumb it down to an EM version of $180. Or how about the $140 price of the Kobe 8? Same tech essentially. The $100 Mamba Mentalities have them as well.
But here is a Flyknit running shoe priced higher than the Kobe XI
So pric isn’t an issue
Running shoes are a huge segment and have a similar if not faster purchase cycle then basketball so making drop ins for running shoes would make sense. Cushioning dead ? Put in a new insole! The only problem with drop ins for running shoe would be that running shoes are more specific to foot types (over pronators, neutral etc) so they’d have to provide support directly in the insole or on the outsole like the Kobe 8.
There are some pros to drop ins.
Drop ins give the athlete direct cushioning underfoot
True, it does and some people prefer that direct cushioning underfoot but that’s not the only way to do it. Look at the Rose 5 and 6 or pretty much any Boost shoe.
Adidas smartly allowed the athlete to feel Boost directly underfoot by just using a thin piece of cloth rather than a traditional strobel so you get none of the pinching between the upper and insole. Nike could do the same with Lunarlon and it would just as good as a drop in but without the pinching. I still think that’s why Lebron’s line ( the Nike technology display shoe) doesn’t feature drop ins and why he didn’t like the XI not his toe excuse.
Drop ins can be interchangeable
Sometimes they can be. I can fit the Lebron XI into the Kobe IX although it’s tight and I can fit the IX into the XI but I can’t put any of those into the Kobe 8. It would be nice if they were all interchangeable or one size fits all shoes.
On top of that Nike doesn’t sell the insoles separately which I think would be a great idea. They sold them separately for a short period so I’m not sure why they stopped ? Makes sense to me since Kobes cushioning could wear out more quickly than the outsole and they could sell difference cushioning set ups ala AJ 2012. Limiting the insole options to ID is just a way to get you to buy an ID pair. Gillette Razor model anyone ?
We are just dumb consumers
This is the most logical answer to me. Nike marketed the drop in as a performance benefit but if it’s so great why hasn’t it been spread to other sports? It isn’t difficult to implement and look at the how Flyknit, Free, and other techs have spread across almost all segments. I might be ultra picky but that doesn’t explain why it hasn’t made it to other segments if Nike is putting athletic performance first and foremost. I know 99% of consumers don’t care and maybe Mamba himself likes the drop in (maybe) I’m pretty sure most everyone reading this doesn’t care but the absence of drop ins across other segments makes me wonder why. Just my two cents.
On the money with the interchangeable aspect. Would be awesome (and probably a nice revenue generator) to have an extra 2-3 midsole options available for purchase besides the stock ones for a shoe like that.
There is a training shoe on finishline clearance with a drop in lunarlon insole i think on the website.
Yea I don know why they did away with that after the Kobe 8 . That actually made sense .lol lunarlon gives out get new insole simple as that .
Some Nike SB models had drop in zoom insoles
Cool thanks . Not sure about mechanics of skateboarding so can’t comment on how they would work in a skate shoe
Nike also ha some football trainers with drop in zoom – Jordan Mossafied, Jordan Superfreak, for example
Nike also has a minimalist runner with a lunar drop in called Hyperfeel
Just looked it up . Makes sense for a running shoe since there isn’t lots of cutting .
Didn’t know that. But are there any now ? Point being they are few and far between .
The SB’s and football trainers are all old models. The Hyperfeels are relatively new. That’s where the Kobe 11 got the free inspired drop in concept from.
All in all, I like messing around with swapping midsole to ‘customize’ the shoe and the direct cushioning feel they give but will always prefer a standard midsoled shoe on court (and probably casually too still). They’re all too soft in my opinion, though I’ve never tried the drop in polyurethane midsole on the Hyperchase
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Pu in the Hyperchase is too hard and inflexible but it breaks in. Yea I looked up the hyperfeel looks comfy
First, I LOVE your blog, Schwollo. Been reading it for over a year now, really fun stuff!
I think Nike doesn’t make the drop-in more widespread b/c it could potentially really alter their business model and hurt their profits. Nike is primarily a shoe company and the overwhelming majority think of shoes as just that, “a shoe.” So, when the shoes get old or cushioning breaks down the thought isn’t “I need new traction” or “I need a new midsole” it’s instead “I need a new shoe.” So they purchase the whole new thing.
But if it become more apparent to consumers that shoes could be compartmentalized and broken down; that, if your shoe “wore out” you didn’t need a new shoe, just a new mid-sole, then the demand for that sort of product increases. People will just start expecting that, “why should I pay $200 for a new shoe when I can just pay $20 for new mid-sole and they’ll feel brand new again?” And since (A) Nike is a shoe company, not an mid-sole company and (B) I’d imagine that the returns on shoes is greater than mid-soles, it’s not in there best interest to go that route.
In short, I think it’s just in Nike’s best interest that drop-ins continue to be thought of as “novel” or a “unique” and not the norm, y’know? Thoughts?
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Yep I thought about that as I was writing too. Better to sell a $200 pair of shoes than $70 insoles . I think novelty is what helps sell the whole insole idea as you said as well. Of course Kobe hawking the idea helps more then anything else.
Thanks for reading and for you insight !
Another idea that came to mind (as I was reading the Kobe XI review) is that these drop-ins maybe just don’t perform as well as integrated insoles (in-ins? haha). I experienced random pinching a lot in the Lebron 11. So it may also have to deal with “hey, these drop-ins just don’t weartest very positively. We see 2/10 weartesters mention discomfort with in-ins (haha), but usually 5/10 with drop-ins.”
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Took the words out of my mouth
You forgot Serena’s Court Flare, which has a drop-in midsole and looks a lot like the Hyperchase.
Check the video in which she explains how Nike convinced her to go for an unexpectedly light shoe,
instead of a solid design, considering her powerful physique and style of play.
Ha thanks I just watched it. 200 bucks for a PU drop in? Nike tennis has lost its mind. She could win in flip flops though she’s that far ahead of everyone else when she’s focused. I hate Serena btw
Like many other people who need orthotics or to replace the foot bed, we can’t use shoes with drop-in soles. And I think that’s a pretty large portion of the market. Most Pro’s have their own custom footbeds which again, don’t work with the factory drop-in. So, that may be a big reason. I personally find their quality and performance to be worse as they seem to wear out much faster.
Didn’t think about that. Thanks for the input
sorry for my ignorance as im just new to actually looking into this kinda stuff always though a shoe was a shoe but wouldn’t a drop in be more beneficial to someone that needs orthopedics as the in sole is not glues or swen in so it would be easier to take out and replace with orthodics
Yes but the original drop in insole has all the cushioning for the shoe so the orthotic insole they replaces it would have zero cushioning .
No dumb questions so don’t hesitate to ask
Hey Schwollo nice write up. I have some Lebron 11s have played maybe 40 hours in them on hardwood only. So far I find them pretty comfortable, I have a wide, flat foot and these are nice for me. Anyway those are my indoor shoes, I wanted to breath some new life into my worn 2011 Hyperdunks and turn them into outdoor shoes, but I can’t find a good insole anywhere! I’d love to buy a spare set of the Lebron 11 insoles, rip the inner out of the Hyperdunks and drop em in.. I get why Nike don’t sell them (they’d rather I buy a new pair of kicks) but surprised there aren’t good third party basketball insoles on the market. Has anybody seen any?
I’ll probably end up buying some Soldiers for outdoor, like the look and lockdown of them.
Any type of good cushioned insole will make the shoe too tight bc of thickness but sole sof makes some air cushioned insoles
Found this post while searching if you can buy the Kobe xi insoles separately.. I know it’s kind of old.. But Nike owns converse and the new line of chuck Taylor’s all have drop in lunarlon insoles.
Cool didn’t know that ! Thanks !
Bout time chucks get comfortable lol
I play tennis and have shifted from tennis shoes to basketball shoes (only), because my ageing knees really needed the protection. In fact, my favourite basketball/tennis shoe now is the Lebron 11, having tried the gamut of basketball shoes from Lebrons 10 to 13, KDs, Kobes, various jordans. My alternative shoes are the Mavin low and Kobe Mentalitys because I can put the drop in Lebron 11 insoles. So far, they’ve worked great.
Glad it worked out for you. I like the cushioning of the Lebron XI as well but that’s about it
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Rafa Nadal does not actually wear a Lunar Ballistec like the one you can get off the shelf. He wears a custom shoe that’s made to look like a Lunar Ballistec but it’s actually more similar to the Court Ballistec 4.3.
Didn’t know that but doesn’t surprise me at all given how OCD he is. Thanks for the tip!
The nike Metcon 1, 2, and 3 all have drop in midsoles. Not quite sure what it is. It is a pretty solid cushion because they are made for lifting
I’ve heard good things about them. Drop
ins kind of make sense for that sport since it isn’t a lot of start stop movements or side to side.
Lots of pairs are hitting the outlets for around $60. I would recommend getting a pair if you can.
If I did crossfit I prob would lol
As someone with leg length discrepancy, like millions of others, the idea of being able to “customize” a shoe with different thicknesses of drop in insoles would be amazing. It seems like such an elegant solution, and those of us with LLD would shell out the extra $$ in order to avoid just lifting the heel and placing the body off balance. I’ve been doing a quasi version of this with my metcons by taking out one insole entirely, but there’s no way I’m running in them since they’re hard as a rock.