Executive Summary:  Responsive and low to the ground ride with a great fit is offset by so so traction on dusty floors and below average containment. Plays similar to the Zoom BB but worse in nearly every catagory (I love the BB so standards are high).

Introducing the Fair Jordan XXXI


The AJ XXX1 is definitely a polarizing shoe. Not because of the silouhette but more because of the use of a Swoosh AND a Jumpman on the same shoe. Next year I’ll expect some Ricky Bobby NASCAR inspired shoes with ten logos. Looking at the shoe, I thought these would perform well and they aren’t bad but they aren’t great either. 

If you didn’t tell me they were “inspired by the AJ I” I really wouldn’t have known. They seem more inspired by  another well known shoe the Zoom BB I and even share a similar silhouette. 


Pros: traction on clean floors, Zoom feels like Zoom and plays low to the ground, fit, support 

Cons: traction on dusty floors, protruding Zoom takes a little time to get used to, lateral containment is below average, price still higher than other top performers 

Sizing: runs a little short but true to size for wide footers. Narrow or regular width might want to size down due to width

Best for: guards

Buying advice: wait for sales as always (don’t fall for the fake sell outs)

Weight:


16 oz about average for today’s shoes

Traction: 

The first time I saw the pattern I immediately thought of the the AJ XX1 with its double helix pattern which was a great performer. 


On clean floors these worked great but what doesn’t as I always say. Slightly dusty floors require some wiping but on really dusty floors you’ll be skating like Kristy Yamaguchi. 

   I put these to the test against the Crazy Explosive and Rose 7  on the dreaded dusty Pergo floor and I had to wipe a lot to maintain any traction. The CE required far less wiping while the Rose 7 didn’t require any. 

   I think if the outsole were solid, these would have performed much better for dusty to very dusty floors. Probably the worst overall traction performance out of AJ XX8-XXX1. Overall not bad but the previous models just performed at a higher level on all surfaces. 

Cushioning 

Two shoes with full length Zoom released this year by Nike and JB? Must be my birthday. 

Full length Zoom, Flightplate and unlocked Zoom got me excited but the actual execution of it left me wanting more. 


Don’t get me wrong, it feels great but it doesn’t feel any better than full length Zoom from the past. One thing Zoom does better than other cushioning set ups is get you closer to the ground while providing a bouncy ride. Adidas’s Boost needs volume or height to provide a similar amount of impact protection. 


As I’ve said in previous reviews, the secret to that wonderous Unlocked Zoom feeling seems to come more from how much the Zoom protrudes from the outsole and The XXX1 doesn’t protrude in the forefoot nearly as much as the XX8 or XX9 so it doesn’t feel as lively. Also since typical full length Zoom bags are about 6 millimeters versus 7-8 for a forefoot bag, you’re not going to get quite the same level of lively feel. The heel sticks out quite a bit and produces a wobbly feel that takes some time to get used to. Very similar to the Lebron XII and XIII but this Zoom is more rounded and thus more wobbly feeling. 


By the way Jordan Brand, why did you go full length again? I thought we only needed Zoom in the forefoot and cored out foam in the heel for $225 ? Anyone who believed that line was a sucker. 

The Zoom feels great and feels like Zoom but that wobbly feeling isn’t necessary as there are plenty of ways to make it feel like true Zoom.

Fit

I really enjoyed the fit of the XXX1. I went true to size and these fit me a touch short length wise but perfectly width wise. 


Flyweave in the front two thirds of the shoe conform nicely to the foot while the heel transitions to a sturdier synthetic leather 

The heel stays locked in due to a very comfortable inner sleeve that runs the full length and a ton of ankle pillows. 


A bit of overkill if you ask me but my heel was locked in from the first lace up so I can’t complain. 

Lastly Flywire is used to hold the foot down 


Being a wide footer, I really enjoyed the fit. I had zero movement in the heel and no weird popping or deadspace anywhere in the forefoot. Narrow or regular footers will want to try these on because there may be too much movement inside the shoe. 

Well done JB!

Materials

This version of Flyweave is softer than the KD8 and feels great on foot as I stated above. No weird bubbles like the Rose 7 since the XXXI has an actual regular length tongue.  For comparison sake, the Flyweave is not as soft as the XX9 but it is softer than the XXX. 

The heel transitions to a synthetic leather which I like since it provides support in the heel. 

Quality of the synthetic is above average and feels almost premium. I didn’t have any Achilles rubbing but I’m sure that could be an issue for some especially those who wear low cut socks. 

Overall, materials are nice but I’m not really big on materials. But it works and it doesn’t feel cheaply made. 

Nicely done JB!

Support and stabilty 
Support comes from the fit and the synthetic heel and I’m pleased with the support. It isn’t just a flimsy sock like most shoes these days. 

My heel was locked in and stayed that way the entire time so the use of a stiffer synthetic upper did its job well.

Nicely done JB!

Stabilty on the the other hand..or foot,  is confusing. The shoe itself passes my heel test because it doesn’t turn over when I try to turn it over. However, when stationary that Zoom protrusion does cause the shoe to rock side to side but it catches itself so your ankle isn’t in any real danger. It’s just unnerving when you’re walking slowly and it feels tippy. I guess you could say the outer heel acts like an outrigger for the Zoom. During actual play I pretty much forgot about the wobble altogether since it was always compressed when I was moving. 

The forefoot is nice and stable though since the Zoom doesn’t poke out nearly as much and it has a nice forefoot outrigger

I’m not sure how to rate stability because it’s not tipping to the point where I feel in danger but that rocking feeling doesn’t have to be there if the design was made differently. Overall I think it is fine but just needs some games to get over it. 

Containment 

Hmmm, Flyweave in the mid and forefoot with no raised midsole. 


 I think you can guess how this went for the most part. 

I’ve felt much worse containment on shoes such as the M12, JC2 and 3 so the Flyweave does a good job relative to those shoes. But relative to top containment shoes such as the Hyperrev 2016, any d Rose  or Crazylight Boost  2016 and these don’t even compare. 

Conclusion 

People will never talk about the Jordan 19 to 30 (or 15- 18 that matter) with the same reverence as they do about the AJ I-XIV. We witnessed things we’d never seen done before in a style that we haven’t seen since then. I still remember my friend telling me about MJ’s free throw line dunk the next day at school and wanting those shoes (we didn’t have cable, Taiwanese parents don’t believe in that). 

    And therein lies the problem with Jordans; high expectations that can almost never be met again because  MJ is the ultimate shoe salesman

Russ is great and he has that maniacal drive and crazy athleticism but he isn’t Mike. You can make up a story of how a shoe was inspired but that’s all it is.. A story. 

So take away the story, the MJ name, and the price, you have a solid shoe that feels great underfoot with so so traction on dirty floors. The wobbly feeling will take some time to get used but I don’t think it is a deal or ankle breaker and I have a phobia of tippy shoes. Will it make my top 5 ? No, not with the poor dusty floor performance and poor containment but that’s just me. At $185 there are plenty of shoes that outperform the XXXl. It really comes down to how much you want to be like Mike or be your best self on court. 

65 Comment on “Air Jordan XXX1 31 Performance Review

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