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

  Lunar Control 4 

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

  Air max Flyknit 2016

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. 

39 Comment on “Food for thought: Why are drop in insoles only in Basketball shoes?

  1. Pingback: Nike Kobe XI 11 Performance Review |

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