The 2016 season is Kobe’s farewell tour. It’s been sad seeing Kobe only be a shell of his former self but as they say on Inside The NBA , Father Time is undefeated.
I’ve played in every Kobe from I to X and find it plays very most similarly to the IX so I will compare the two during this review.
I had to cut my time with the Kobe XI due to injury but I feel I got a good grasp of the XI regardless. Read Jake’s review at The GymRat Review as he and I have similar games and thoughts on the XI. Or read any of the hundreds of reviews on the Kobe XI.
Pros: traction on pristine courts( what doesn’t work?) fit, stability, Zoom in the heel
Cons: traction is not good on dusty floors, no midfoot support, midfoot containment,pricy
Sizing: true to size . There is a little extra length at the toe
Best for: guards
Surprisingly, the Kobe XI isn’t that lightweight. Heavier than the Curry Two and inline with most shoes out.
Excellent on clean courts, terrible with dust
The traction pattern is super tight so any dust clogs up the grooves so essentially the whole outsole turns into a dusty hover board. The flex groove in the middle stays relatively clean so it grabs on slightly but I try to stop with the outermost portion on lateral side so that flex groove doesn’t help a whole lot.
I am not a fan of drop in insoles as I’ve made it clear in every review. I understand the concept of why they do it but I don’t like how my foot always gets pinched between the upper and insole on cuts. I really don’t think drop ins are created for any other reason than marketing and cost cutting so feel to read my logic here:
Why are drop ins only in Bball shoes?
The higher portions of the insoles wall do a decent job but the lower portions had my fat feet dangling off the side.
Regardless, Nike moved away from the fixed insole of the X and went back to the drop in. This year, the insoles features full length Lunarlon with Zoom in the heel. Thankfully they lined the insole this time.
The Lunarlon itself isn’t as soft as the 8 but is softer then the 9. It’s s nice medium between the two. It also play a little lower to the ground than the 9 about as low as the 8. Overall this set up felt good but not mind blowing.
I sent true to size with my normal and they are slightly longer in the toe than previous Kobes. However, it seems to be the pointiness of the toe box that gives the extra length, so I suggest staying true to size. The width of the shoe is too narrow to go down in size unless you have really narrow feet.
Mine even had a little extra . I actually tugged on it and it isn’t fishing line at all. It is more of a very tight rubber band similar to the clear rubber bands that hold toys in their boxes. It snaps back into place when you pull on it and can be stretched a decent amount so it definitely isn’t fishing line.
Now I know it isn’t fishing line but it got me thinking what if it were? There is actual a fishing line that is braided that would be a perfect fit for this application because it is thin, limp, and does not stretch but has a very high tensile strength. It basically feels like thread so it would be a perfect complement to Flyknit.
The purpose of interweaving TPU is to give the upper strength without making it stiffer with glue backing like the previous Elite models. And it works well although I think my braided line idea would be even better. Imagine how Nike could say it was inspired by Kobe’s love for bass fishing during the summer .. Oh wait that Paul George’s hobby.
Still not sure why they didn’t use Flyweave like they used on the KD8. That would have been a nice change to the Kobe line while providing flexibility and strength. Probably cheaper too since the KD 8s are just sitting around.
Moving on from the materials, I loved the fit of the Kobe XI especially in the heel. It just felt like it sucked in my Achilles and ankle perfectly. I had no deadspace side to side so it was a nice one to one fit.
Well done Nike!
Support and stability
Support comes from the fit and heel counter while stability comes from the forefoot outrigger and flat heel.
Thankfully the XI fixed that issue and is very stable at the heel as there is an outrigger at the midfoot/heel as well as the forefoot.
There is no midfoot shank and pretty much no midfoot support since the show itself is a flexible shell and the insole is just foam. The raised medial side provides a little support if you overpronate but not much.
I personally don’t have any issue with it but it can become problematic since the foot can get stretched more then normal without support. Plantar fasciitis anyone ? I don’t think it’s the best set up for an aging superstar coming off an Achilles injury either but hey, it’s not my shoe.
Well done Nike!
This is tough to call because it is hard for me to tell how much of the insole pinching is due to the upper stretching and how much of it is due to the drop in insole.
Same video posted in traction section
If you look closely at the vid my forefoot stays in place but my midfoot slides out and that’s because there is nothing at the midfoot to hold the foot in place other than Flyknit. Not bad overall but still not the great. The TPU, due to its elastic natur, stretches too much but at least tries to snap back into place. I like my entire foot to stay put more than this. I felt the Kobe IX did a better job with containment than the XI.
Overall, I felt Nike pretty much mailed this one in from a design standpoint which is disappointing since this is the last shoe we will see him in. I personally like the X more than the 8/9 but If you loved the Kobe 8 and 9, you’ll love the XI as long as you’re on a clean floor. It plays like a lower to the ground, foot hugging 9 more than anything else. I loved the fit and how the shoe just hugged my foot but the traction is so hot or miss to be considered for us normal folk that play on dusty courts. Expect prices to fall since nobody wants to pay $200.