Just added a KD 9 vs Crazylight Boost 2016

KD 9 vs CLB16

*This is a long review so here is an executive summary: exceptional cushioning, great fit, good traction and stability, decent containment, minimal support for a fair price of $150. However, these are not making my top 5 rotation*

Cushioning is obviously the focal point of the shoe, but how does the rest of the shoe perform? 


Nike is a marketing machine and smart as hell so I think it is safe to assume that they didn’t care that the leaked images and June release date of the KD 9 came out around the same time as the KD 8 Elite releases. KD has always played second and third fiddle in Nikes hierarchy but now that Kobe has retired, Nike finally gave him the the keys to the Porsche.

Designed by Leo Chang, the low-cut shoe features a Flyknit upper engineered down to the pixel for maximum containment. Specifically, it features a pattern with a distinct honeycomb structure precisely knit for the multidimensional movement of basketball and Durant’s lateral quickness. Flyknit technology engineering locks down the forefoot while still allowing the foot to move naturally. Flyknit’s efficient material use also ensures the upper is lightweight, without compromising strength.


A visible, tapered Zoom Air unit runs from heel to toe, marking the evolved Air bag’s debut in basketball. Developed over three years of advanced wear testing, the new Zoom Air unit — filled with fibers that compress upon each step, then spring back for unmatched response — is 16 millimeters thick at the heel and progressively narrows to 10 millimeters at the forefoot. This architecture is tuned to provide maximum impact protection while amplifying the bouncy feel of the Zoom Air unit.

Here is the full press release:

KD 9

One other note, I do not think the KD 9 and Lillard 2 look alike at all other than the ankle collar. 


 

Pros: traction when clean, ADDICTIVE CUSHIONING, fit, good containment for knit upper, very, very comfortable 

Cons: traction needs wiping when dusty, Zoom could use a little more lateral stability, minimal support, above average containment overall 

Best for: creaky knees, any player seeking cushioning with minimal support needs

Sizing: narrow foot, go down half a size, wide foot true to size. If you like a tighter fit, you can go down half a size due to Flyknit’s flexibility and a little extra length in toe box

Weight


At 13.5 oz, the IX is once ounce heavier than the Kd8 Elite and 2 oz heavier than the KD 8

Traction

The KD 9 features a honeycomb pattern and it works great on clean floors or when wiped. 


The rubber is very soft and pliable and picks up a lot of dust so you do have to wipe to keep the dirt at bay. 


Couple that with the flatness of the grooves and you have to wipe frequently on dusty floors. I do not recommend these for outdoors due to the softness of the rubber as well as the Flyknit upper. 

Overall I put these in the second tier of traction and not in the AJ XX8, Curry Two, Kobe IX tier.  In terms of KD traction I’d rank the these behind the 7 but better than the 8 when clean. The 8 did better on dusty floors than the 9 though. 

Cushioning

Cushioning is fantastic and is truly the highlight of the shoe from a visual and performance standpoint. 


I wrote an article Where’s Zoom and I said I didn’t understand why Nike would give up such a distinct competitive advantage. Well Nike came back with that advantage with the KD 9.

One of the new parts of this set up is the geometry in the heel and the articulation in the forefoot. I griped about the instability of the Lebron X 360 Zoom and I guess I wasn’t crazy because Nike fixed it. Thanks for having my back KD #hookem

They did a decent job on the cushioning with the KD 8 but really enhanced the feel this time by:

Giving us more Zoom than the KD 8

Duh, just look at the difference in Zoom


Taking away some of the midsole so it rides lower and we get more Zoom feel



See how thin the midsole it is? That’s about how much midsole sits between the foot and Zoom. Usually it’s at least double that amount.

Fully articulating the forefoot 


The articulated forefoot is a seamless transition since the forefoot bag is nice and big unlike the KD 8. 
What does the Zoom feel like?

From the pictures, I thought Zoom would feel like the Lebron X but it doesn’t. It feels more  like the Boost on the Ultra Boost; just a smooth lower profile ride that has the right amount of spring to it.  I never complained about the flexibility of 360 Zoom or full length Zoom because frankly my my foot muscles are plenty strong to flex Zoom air but these do flex much easier.

The flexibility and softness comes from removing the “pillars” and adding more tensile fibers so it can compress and spring back more. It looks like Nike doubled or tripled the fibers. 



I had a lot of friends try on the 9 and everyone fell in love with the cushioning. Can’t blame them, it feels awesome. Compared to the KD 8, based on feel alone the KD9 blows the KD8 out of the water but on cuts and quicker movements, I give the edge to the KD8 due to the plastic clips on the lateral side. 


Those plastic clips take away from the feel of Zoom but functionally, they keep the Zoom from flexing so there isn’t any lag time.  

Adidas made the Rose 6 more stable by adding Stable frame as well


I would have like to see a little more lateral support. Having no structure on this set up you can compress the Zoom on the lateral side. The Lebron II used full width Zoom but had it caged in Pebax for similar reasons.  I feel the 8 plays “quicker” overall. Does it take away a lot of reaction time? Probably not anything measurable but the two shoes play very differently in this aspect so just want to set expectations. The general public will say “these are the most comfy shoes ever” which is true, but shoe nerds aren’t the general public and we are picky as hell when it comes to on court performance. However, I think the Zoom feels so good I’m willing to overlook this “problem”.

Well done Nike! 

Hope this set up continues !
Fit

I went true to size with my normal 11 and these fit me well length wise  and and perfectly width wise. The toe box is more square than the 8 so it can accommodate different foot shapes a better. They are a little longer than a true 11, maybe 1/8 to 1/4 a size but it is because there is plastic rand that sits at the toe cap.  The KD line has always run narrow and I’ve had to size up a few times (namely the IV and the VIII).


Above: my 11 vs 11.5 in the KD 8 

These are not nearly as narrow as previous KD’s so wide footers can rejoice. I think I could go down half a size and still be comfortable since the Flyknit has some give and extra length. 
For all the mesh and woven upper craze that people have been giving shoe companies the past few years, I stated why Knits and woven uppers don’t work for me. And it looks like Nike was giving everyone a half ass effort until the KD9.

The difference between the KD 9 upper and previous wovens/knits is that the upper is constructed with a honeycomb structure . The design really reminds me of a rope net, providing real strength so it doesn’t stretch  as much but also providing flexibility (we all remember how hard it was to climb these right?)

The upper really hugs the foot and gives a great one to one fit. 

Above: Lace loops are sewn in

Below: nylon lining 


The back of the Flyknit is lined with nylon which adds another layer of strength while being comfortable. 

I think this upper feels better than previous glue backed Flyknits by a mile. No stiffness at all, just a sock like feel .. But does it contain the foot ? Read down a paragraph or two. 

Regarding the heel fit, my initial  wearings had just a tiny bit of heel slip so i had to wait a few games before the heel locked in.  The design of the heel is very similar to the Hyperrev 2016. 


Although it works fine for me, I still prefer the thicker ankle collar design of the Kobe and KD 7/8; it just forms around the Achilles better and feels more secure overall .

Support and stability

Support isn’t anything special, in fact it is a little lackluster. Fit is excellent as I stated earlier but the heel counter is pretty flimsy.


If you have the Hyperrev 16, it is similar in flex The KD 8 heel counter is much firmer and sturdier. I expect that over time the heel counter will become too flimsy as I’ve worn down several heel counters on my Kobe I’s and Soldier VI’s

As you can see from the pics below, the 9 is a touch higher than a low.

And is very similar in height to the Lillard 2 (still think they look the same ?)


A lot of the design is similar to the HR16 just implemented slightly differently and with Flyknit. One piece upper with very similar heel counter and ankle collar.


Thankfully, the KD 9 is stable underfoot due to the redesigned outsole. 


It is not nearly as stable or supportive as the KD 8 but it works perfectly fine and is not tippy at all. The KD 9 is a natural, free flowing shoe but provides just enough support and stabilty. 

Also worth noting is that there is not much midfoot support since the Zoom is there and the midsole is thin and flexible.


Not a big deal to me but others might want more.

Containment 

I’m probably the only person that actually addresses this need and am always concerned with lateral containment with knit uppers (see JC2, JC3, M12, CLB15) . 

The KD 9 insole sits about 1-2 mm below the midsole but the midsole is so soft that the containment is only from the upper. The honeycomb knit did a very good job for Flyknit, much better than previous knit uppers but not as good as the KD 8. Still much much better than the aforementioned sh*t list I had above. 

As I stated in my article “why wovens don’t work” there should be a physical barrier otherwise the foot will always slide off the footbed. Most of the time it comes down to aesthetics so shoe companies make a cleaner and simpler looking shoe. Adidas appears to have gotten it right with the CLB16 though. Looks be damned, these are made to perform (see, my theory isn’t crazy) and I can’t wait to try them. 


Image via sneakernews

Overall, containment is above average and acceptable, especially for a knit, although I’d prefer a little more containment. I do think companies are moving in the right direction though. 
Conclusion 

The KD line started as a budget signature shoe but over the years, the price ballooned to Lebron levels.  At $150, the KD 9 came down from those stupidly high levels and provides a lot of Nike’s best tech for a much lower cost than previous years. Lot of people sh*t on the KD 8 but they forget KD needed a protective shoe since he was coming off Jone’s fracture surgery. Sure it wasn’t for everybody but if you wanted a low without worrying about spraining your ankle, the KD 8 was a great option but a very need specific shoe.

The KD 9 on the other hand is a shoe everyone will enjoy, mainly because the fit, comfort and cushioning is amazing right out of the box. I’ve stated before that cushioning gives a shoe personality. It’s often the first thing people look for and say “damn that’s comfy” in the store and buy it then and there; The general public doesn’t give a damn about the little things we shoe nerds obsess over. Thankfully, Nike did a great job overall with the KD 9. 

All that  being said, the KD 9 will not make my top 5 but I really enjoy playing in them just because they feel so good underfoot. I would easily take these over the Kobe 8,9, and 11 (the X has more support so it would be close). On cushioning alone, I would pick the 9 but for my needs, the 8 works better (more stable and supportive) I put the 9 into play during Chinese Nationals a few weeks back so I pushed them hard as hell in several games but went back to the Curry Two. I need/want a little more support, containment and traction during tournament play but I wouldn’t hesitate playing in these during pickup because it’s a great, fun shoe that will save some me from some wear and tear. 





142 Comment on “Nike KD 9 IX Performance Review

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