Welcome to the 2017 Nike Technology Showcase! As always, Lebron is wearing the newest Lebron featuring all the latest and greatest Nike advancements to ensure that he’s playing at his best. Wait he switched to the Soldier XI that was on sale for $55 dollars last week? And the XIV? Frack is it 2013 or 2017? $&!&@

– Nike Executives

Pros:cushioning, fit, materials, stability

Cons: traction not very grippy, containment still only average, shoe rides very high compared to others and needs more stability or support features

Sizing: wide footers can go true to size or down half a size depending on preference. Regulat and narrow footers should go down half size

Best for:bigger guards to bigs

Buying Advice: wait as always. Not limited so no rush to buy them at retail. $130 -120 is fair, low around $80-95.

Weight:

16.5 ounces which is light for a lebron shoe. The 2-4 weighed 19 ounces on average. Exactly the same weight as the AJ 32.

Traction


I guess the Dame 4 and Lebron 15 designers had a pow wow one day in Oregon and had the idea of making traction less grippy for anyone not playing on NBA courts. They agreed to have a contest and see what works worse: one traction pattern is smooth with less texture while the other make the pattern look like their favorite dragon on Game of Thrones.

I’m kidding of course but someone in Oregon is smoking something if they think this traction is King worthy. I’ve said over and over that traction has never really been a strength of the Lebron sig line and these are really no different. I guess Lebron just likes it like this.

I compared these to the AJ XXXII the same day on a dusty 24 Hour court and the 15 just didn’t have that stickiness and bite like the XXXII. If the AJ 32 is a 9/10 in terms traction, then the 15 is a 6 or 7 out of 10. The good news about the pattern is that it doesn’t pick up dust thanks to the sharpness of the pattern so it stays consistently mediocre across all surfaces.

This pattern would be great on the football field or grass tennis courts

In my “expert” opinion, the spiked pattern is what causes the lack of bite since there isn’t really any surface area on the outsole to grab the floor; only one quarter to a third of the available surface area is actually contacting the floor with this spiked set up. I do believe that once the spikes wear down, traction will really improve since the spikes will become small blades (more surface area) like the micro traction patterns like you see on the Mamba Instinct, Kobe AD, PG1. I do wish they didn’t all run horizontally because lateral stops aren’t very good as is;it’s best to have pattern run perpendicular to the direction of movement not parallel.

Lebron XV Traction

Why don’t I wait to review the shoe once the traction improves ? It’s simple, I don’t feel very safe in the Lebron XV and I’d rather play in something lower to the ground. Add in some poor traction on dusty floors and I have near perfect conditions for an injury. That’s just me though, don’t take my word as gospel.

Cushioning

This is pretty damn close to cushioning perfection. The obvious comparison is the KD 9 or 10 but these sit higher and ride firmer than the KD. These play more like the “ancient” Lebron X but a little more fluid since they articulated the Zoom. However, they are still not as springy or bouncy feeling as the X due to the articulation. It might be connected technically but they really function as three separate air bags considering how thin that connection is. Try transferring a gallon of water through a straw and let me know how it goes.

Nike also added Max Air in the heel which I really enjoyed in the Lebron IX and 8 PS.

By adding Zoom and Max in the heel you get the stability in the heel (who would have thunk stability was important in the heel? This guy that’s who) and that Zoom feel.

Nice job Nike, let’s cut the height down the next go round.

Ride Height

This is the second straight pair of shoes that sat higher than I preferred. The heel sits about the same as the X but the forefoot feels like it sits higher. I tried doing some measurements so enjoy my purple ruler. These measurements are crude but you can see the XV sits higher by 3-5 mm across the board which is 10-15%. Please note the X measurement are to the creases which is approximately where the insole sits inside the shoe.

XV measures around 36mm, X 31 mm

XV measures around 29 mm, X 25 mm

For reference an average team shoe like the Lebron Soldier VI measures about 30 mmin the heel and 25 mm in the forefoot. The Curry 4 sits really low at 20 mm. Additional ride height isn’t going to kill anyone but it does raise your center of gravity just a little more. Higher center of gravity = easier to tip.

Fit

The XV runs a little long but fit fine true to size for my wide feet. I think regular and narrow footers will want to go down half a size though.

I had zero issues with heel slip and no movement side to side from the get go. Really just a tall sock. This fit is one of my favorite parts of the Lebron 15.

Materials

Battleknit, or in layman’s terms, Flyknit with more texture and a synthetic backing. Nothing mind blowing, just another way to strengthen the Flyknit while keeping flexibility and to make consumers spend more money for the latest “tech”. Nothing really innovative, just a cool name.

If you want or need to have pure knit, get the AJ XXXII. I’ve always said knit needs more strength, I guess I was just that far ahead of my time and everyone is playing catch up. That or companies wanted some wiggle room to make these so called improvements.

Support and Stability

Since the upper is pliable and soft, support comes from the fit and heel counter. I’m used to a firmer heel counter on Lebrons in general but this one is a little more flimsy and than previous models. It still works fine although it’s somewhat small.


Stability is good and given my prior tippy and painful experience with the Lebron X, this is welcome change. You can see how much wider the outsole at the heel (and Zoom) is than the X.

The outsole is flat around the heel while the Max part of the cushioning keeps everything stable on heel landings.

However, due to the height of the cushioning, I really think Nike should have added an outrigger like they added on the X. Look how much wider the outrigger makes the forefoot.

I think an outrigger and wider outsole combo really would have made the XV feel safer especially considering the sock like upper and taller ride.

Containment

Battleknit is here to save the day. Just kidding not really.
There is no raised midsole and the synthetic backing is pretty flexible so containment isn’t the greatest. The Soldier XI features a raised midsole and does a far better job. Stick in a stiffer synthetic like the Curry uses and this might have worked but they didn’t so whatever.

It’s sort of acceptable since the synthetic snaps back a little but it’s far better than the M12, JC3, Soldier X and is pretty much on par with the Lebron 14. In essence, Battleknit just flipped the synthetic from the outside to the inside.

Conclusion

Once again, Nike strives for greatness and comes up short with only pretty goodness. There are a lot of positives with the LBJ 15 especially the cushioning, the fit, and if you are into materials, the soft materials. Traction, which I weigh most heavily, isn’t horrible but it definitely isn’t King worthy and needs some serious break in and wear to improve.

The XV also rides much higher than most basketball shoes and it doesn’t feel like it has the proper support and stability given the height. Raising the ride height raises the center of gravity so that makes it easier to tip over even if it’s only 5 millimeters. Even the Lebron X feels more supportive and featured an outrigger despite being lower to the ground in the forefoot.

I appreciate new technologies as much as the next guy but to slap labels and tech on a shoe doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t if it doesn’t work overall on the court. Hell, my super cheap and old Lebron Soldier VI does almost everything better than the XV. We will see if the Soldier XI does as well in the coming weeks. Overall, the XV will be noted solely for its tech and comfort unless the Lebron and Company win a ring this year so just wait a month or two if you want to save a some bucks on the latest and greatest from Nike Technologies.

91 Comment on “Nike Lebron XV 15 Performance Review and Analysis 

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