My poor 2005 Nike Zoom Trainer I. But look how big the Zoom in the heel is. Cut off about 1/3 to 1/2 of that and that’s what you get nowadays.
I’m not sure when Nike decided to give up its major competitive advantage but I’m guessing it was around 2011 or 2012 when an executive said “Let’s use Lunarlon instead of Zoom Air to boost profits”
And at that point Nike let every other company back into the game by letting them create foams that outperformed Lunarlon. (I expect an updated Lunarlon soon)
As a Nike consumer for thirty plus years, I’ve watched it transform into the behemoth it is today so I know what I’m looking for when it says Zoom Air. It really is like finding a needle in haystack nowadays.
Here is a list of the shoes I’ve tried in the past 16 years that make the cut. I tried to list them from newest to oldest for ease of accessibility but they aren’t all in order. I bolded the ones I thought stood out.
Hyperrev 2016: forefoot and heel, almost unlocked in my opinion
Hyperrev 2015: forefoot and heel. Not as robust as the HR16 but good nonetheless
Hyperrev 2014: Full length Zoom. Feels great underfoot. Too bad shoe is a unsupportive sock
Lebron Soldier IX: forefoot and heel, a little muted but it can be felt. Much better than previous two Soldiers
Lebron Soldier VI: forefoot and heel, best Zoom in the Soldier Line, huge forefoot Zoom
Lebron XIII: Hex Zoom in forefoot can be felt and heel Zoom is well done
Lebron XI: Lunarlon with full length Zoom drop in. Not the best feeling Zoom. Muted feel due to Lunarlon
Lebron X: Full length 360 Zoom. Feels awesome but stability issues
Lebron IX: 180 Max and forefoot Zoom. Doesn’t feel great but it’s there. 180 max provides nice impact protection and stability
Lebron VI: full length and double stacked heel. Comfy shoe not a great performer for me though.
Lebron V:full length and double stacked heel. One of the best out of the Lebron line that nobody bought. Nice balance of cushion and stability. Pity for those who didn’t try
Lebron IV: full length zoom drop in insole. Not my fav shoe but feels great underfoot
Lebron II, III: caged forefoot and heel: perfect blend of stability and big Zoom
Air Zoom Generation: forefoot and Max heel: a little muted but feels great.
Lebron VII PS: forefoot and heel. Cushioning feels fantastic but unstable in heel.
Lebron VIII PS: same as Lebron IX
KD 8: full length 360, Nike put some clips on the lateral side for stability and it takes some of the responsive away but still fantastic
KD 7: forefoot and 180 heel, great set up and not as unstable as the KD 6 Elite set up. Forefoot feels great as well.
KD 6 Elite: 360 Zoom: some similar set up to Lebron X. Feels great but not stable at all. Leo Chang even said KD didn’t like it and neither did I.
KD V: forefoot and Max Air in the heel: I didn’t give these enough break in time but not bad
Kobe XI: heel only: drop in insole but feels great in the heel
Kobe X: heel only: I enjoyed this set up and the caged Zoom takes away from the responsiveness but it is needed in the heel for stability
Kobe V/VI: met bag forefoot and heel, I’d like more in the forefoot but it works fine. Heel is great. Wish they’d go back to this
Kobe IV: heel only, just works great
Kobe III: forefoot and heel: forefoot feels nonexistent but heel thick and muted
Kobe I: forefoot and heel: muted but can be felt. Love these shoes
Huarache 2k5: forefoot and heel: just springy feels better than the 2k4 easily
Huarache 2k4: forefoot and heel. very muted feel
Hyperdunk 2011: forefoot and heel. Please go back to this set up
Hyperdunk 2010: forefoot and heel
Zoom BB I/II: full length, it’s a pity they don’t make these anymore. No break in time needed feels amazing . The 1.5 version only had forefoot Zoom:/
Shox BB4: forefoot Zoom, shox heel: oldie but a goodie.
10 11 12 13 14 18 19 20 21 22 28 29 30(didn’t try AJ 2009-2012)
AJ XII really embodies what I think full Zoom should feel like . Heel to toe response yet stable.
XIV OG: my gold standard for Zoom
XIX: feels great but I found double stack Zoom to be too much of a good thing in this case
XX8: unlocked heel and forefoot. Feels so good but a little tough to cut and high off the ground. But boy it feels good
Melo M8, M9: Big ass Zoom. Especially the M9
Melo M10: see AJ XX8
Melo M11: see AJ XX9
Superfly 2: see AJ XX8
Superfly 3: see AJ XX9
Superfly 4: forefoot only. Low profile feels like old school forefoot Zoom.
Im sure I missed a some but this is just off the top of my head. If you think of any feel free to comment.
Solid list. Question about your statement that “Nike let every other company back into the game by letting them create foams that outperformed Lunarlon” – what do you mean by “let”? I agree Nike has gotten lazy with Lunarlon, but how else were competitors going to compete if not with their own foam based cushioning?.
What I meant by “let” is that if Zoom stayed the way it used to be, I probably would not have bothered trying any other company’s foam. Granted Nike isn’t losing any big chunks of sales to anyone but losing bits here and there has to be annoying to them, esp UA
Just want to say great post. NIke’s fallen off…
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Very nice read, happy to say that all my recent pick ups were based on your reviews and articles. I am intrigued with nike hyperdunk 2011 and found one on ebay. Haven’t been balling for the past 3 weeks, can’t give you any feedback yet especially on the ambassador 8’s. Are there any containment issues on the hyperdunk’s?
No issues with hyperdunk Jeff
I had the Zoom BB IIs for a good year and a half, bulletproof shoe and the Zoom was as good as any I’ve had. I know its not the most popular shoe ever, but I had the Zoom Drive at one time and Nike used caged heel Zoom in those. Not as responsive but it was a good sized bag. Always liked those shoes and it’s one of the few caged Zoom hoops shoes (Melo M8 is the only other one that comes to mind)
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Ha I almost bought the drives but they were so narrow . Nash wore them back in the day. I love caged zoom . . Zoom bb was outstanding . The 1st ones fit better than the ii but the traction and cushioning was the same on both.
I don’t know if you ever played in the nike leBron 20-5-5’s but those had the most bounciest (not a word) zoom in any nike/jordan that I ever played in. It was a good shoe especially for outdoors but could be too unstable for some especially since it didn’t have an outrigger if I can remember correctly.
I never played in them but I’ve heard good things . Thanks for the input !
Missing those Hyperdunk 2011’s. Durable upper + decent cushion + fairly decent traction + decent support. Plus I got it for around $71.
It is on my list already you just didn’t scroll down enough
pretty much agreed with your list, for those that i have anw.
Didnt like the 2k5 as much as the 2k4, cos they felt alot less stable than the 2k4.
The HD 2011 is one of my top 5 all time. the elite version is even better, felt abit more stable.
guess the disappointment when i learnt the HD 15 is gonna hv zoom again, only to have them feel like rocks when i tried them on
Ha I know that feeling of disappointment with the hd15.. Thought it was going to be a game changer. Loved the hd11 as well. The elites were awesome looking
The foamposite pro. One of the best zoom setups ever period.
Yep a little too soft for me for some reason . Never got along with the foamposite pro
The Zoom Air on the Ambassador 8 is fantastic! Took it out last night for a sprint and some jumping drills and you can feel the zoom every landing on the asphalt. It’s almost like micro g and boost. Every stride I make brings smile to my face! A lot are missing out this fantastic shoes.
Ha if I didn’t have the soldier vi I’d try them .’good info to know though !
A bit older but the Zoom Turbine and Ultraflight had zoom with similar bounce to the Zoom BBs. However, the Turbines might have been too soft since there were issues with them bottoming out.
The Flightposites and Ultraposite had drop in Zoom inserts.
Of course, one of the first implementations of full length zoom in the Air Zoom Flight 95 and 96.
Gary Payton’s sigs featured Zoom as well.
I never bought those back in the day but I do remember them. Thanks for the input !
Great site and review but how about a bio about you and your game? Thanks.
This is from last year
For the m11 and superfly 3, I think you said see AJ xx9 but you didn’t actually talk about the xx9. You did for the xx8 tho
left it off on accident thanks !
Two older models come to my mind that I absolutely LOVED.
Garnett 3 – Zoom forefoot. Tuned Max heel.
Pippen 4 – Zoom forefoot. Max heel.
And YES OG AJXIV was the Shizzzzzzzz!
Pippen II and IV were awesome. I only played in the Garnett 3 a little so I don’t remember lol.
Schwollo, could you update this list soon…?
I’m guessing Hyperdunk 2016 FK, KD 9?
Yes and AJ xxx1. Lebron soldier X does not make the list
Currently have the Air Jordan 31s which have full length Air Zoom and it’s not too bad. I had the KD 9s and love the plush feel but the Zoom unit kept popping. Which model offers the most cushion among the Jordan line?
The AJ xix and xx8 but the xx8’is prone to popping as well.
Would love your review of the Air Jordan 2009. One of my favorite overlooked Jordans to hoop in – unorthodox platform, one of a kind zoom set up.
That’s one pair I never bought haha
Does the Zoom units on the Melo M10 tends to pop like the XX8? I really want to see how real Zoom suppose to feel like.
I haven’t heard that it pops like the xx8 but I passed on it so I can’t say for sure.
Would you suggest something else similar to this but the Zoom won’t tend to pop?
M8 and 9 have great zoom or the kd 9/10 lots of different lebrons including 14/15 .
Great read as always… One thing though; I believe the AJX and AJXI were Air-, and not Zoom-based? If I’m not wrong the AJ12 was the first Jordan to feature Zoom Air.
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You are correct. I should say where is the Air instead of Zoom specifically
Gotta get some foams in here, full length and thick, with another in the heel.😩
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