Et Tu, Kyrie?

Celtics v Rockets 12/28/17 Kyrie wearing the 3 just a few days after the 4 debuted. Picture courtesy of the Boston Globe.

If you haven’t noticed, shoe companies are making more and more budget friendly signature shoes with budding superstars who will eventually turn into superstars. Overall a pretty smart idea by the companies to sign them on the cheap and build them up assuming it all pans out.

The Kyrie 4 continues its budget friendliness and made a few changes for the masses. Is it the best Kyrie to date? Well it wasn’t for me but it all depends on what you want or need the most, not me or Uncle Drew.

Pros: traction on clean floors, softer cushioning, low to the ground ride, fit, support and stability, containment

Cons: traction on dusty floors isn’t as good as others, narrowish midfoot, cushioning is more comfortable but at the expense of some responsiveness.

Sizing: true to size, wide flat footers should go up half a size for comfort

Best for: guards

Buyjng Advice: wait as always. Already coupon eligible after less than two weeks. $85 and under is fair, expect them to go as low as $65-55

Weight

Average weight for a mid at 15.5 ounces and one ounce heavier than the Kyrie 3. Probably due to all the extra padding.

Traction

Zig Zag pixels look cool but do they work?

Kyries have been pretty reliable when it comes to traction and these do start off a little sketchy but break in nicely. After break in there is still some slickness on dusty floors and these just don’t have the grab of the Kyrie 2 due to the the thickness of the pattern but thankfully the rubber compound helps even things out. The great thing about this rubber is that it doesn’t attract dust like a magnet so that flatness (of the Earth) doesn’t matter as much.

As far as the pods or segmentation of the outsole, that doesn’t do anything it’s just another marketing story . It might make the outsole a wee bit more flexible but you have all that midsole to contend with so it ends up a wash.I found the stopping power moving forward and back worked great but laterally I had some slipping, especially on defense and crossovers. Just a slight slip or slide just annoys me and just doesn’t evoke confidence. I wonder if Kyrie feels the same at hyper speed?

Overall, traction works well on clean floors and is serviceable on dusty floors but there are better options than the Kyrie 4 traction. I find them about the same, maybe slightly worse than the Clutchfit Drive (my lower limit for traction) but easily worse than the Kyrie 2 and other top tier traction patterns. Good enough for most but just not looking for more of the same.

Cushioning

Aside from the looks, this is the most noticeable change from the Kyrie 3 to 4. Cushlon has replaced the much maligned and firmer phylon and actually has some give to it. My indicator of firmness with the Kyrie line has been my neuroma (irritated nerve) in my right foot and these don’t make them buzz much at all. Part of the reason is this much fluffier Ortholite insole.

Top Kyrie 3, bottom Kyrie 4. Same thickness in the forefoot but a big difference in the heel and density. Step in comfort is better with the 4

However, the more you play in the Kyrie 4, that step in comfort goes away as the insole gets compressed . I actually liked the shoe more as that fluffiness went away because it just felt more responsive. At least those customers trying them on in store will really say “damn these are comfy!!” We all know better to trust in store try ones at this point right?

In addition to the use of Cushlon, the Zoom Unit was made bigger and feels Zoomish. Nike can go go bigger at this price (Hyperrev 2016 anyone?) but oh well.

What does Cushlon feel like?

Cushlon feels like Lunarlon’s very budget-y cousin. It does not feel as soft, springy, or light as fresh Lunarlon but it feels softer and more flexible than Phylon especially when trying them on in a store or walking around.

All that sounds great right? I don’t know about you but I actual run and jump a lot when I play. During actual play, I found the Cushlon felt a step behind my step meaning I could feel it compress but it never felt like it sprung back to its original form. It isn’t life or death and didn’t make a difference in my play but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Phylon might feel stiffer and lack that bounce but I’d rather have that responsiveness during a game that actually mattered. If we’re talking pick up or practice, then Cushlon would work fine. Of course if we’re talking “budget” cushioning , I’d take Bounce any day over both.

Overall, heel cushioning is great, Cushlon is more comfortable than Phylon and feels good walking around but performs only decently to me during play. I think we will see better cushioning (Zoom in the heel and forefoot?)as Kyrie’s stardom rises more and the Kyrie line moves from a budget sig shoe to KD level. I’d pay $10-15 more for Zoom in the forefoot but then again I’m not the average consumer.

Fit

True to size but wide footers will probably want to go up half a size due to the narrow midfoot. I had some arch soreness thanks to my flat wide feed the next day but nothing terrible.

As you can above this is the plushest interior out of the Kyrie line. You’ve already got an inner sock, lots of padding in the heel and in the tongue as well gives it a 90’s feel which I sort of like. Don’t get me wrong, it feels nice but I was perfectly fine with the interior padding of the Kobe, Kyrie, KD line without the bulk. A friend of mine asked me what size I was wearing because he said they made my feet look huge. I should have the Kyrie designer make me some underwear.. hellooo ladies

The main benefit of all that padding is that you don’t have to be perfect with your sizing like the Curry 4. There is actually some wiggle room so if you want to go up half a size you aren’t going to have heel slip or dead space because that padding fills up a lot of that extra space.

Overall, I had no movement side to side or any heel slip. Good enough for me.

Materials

Materials and build quality are about what you’d expect at the $120 retail price. Engineered mesh in the toe box and suede in the midfoot and back.

Although the mesh looks like soft ol’ mesh it isn’t, the majority of it is fused or glue backed in high pressure areas but remains just flexible enough to not pop or crackle.

The suede is decent and it looks fine. No complaints and it’s a nice way to break up the shoe aesthetically. Does suede make a difference in how it plays ? Nope, it’s just a value thing.

I’ll give Nike a par on this hole.

Split midsole

The split midsole is supposed to help Kyrie keep in contact with the floor at all times during his movements.Photo courtesy of Hardwood Houdini

I’m sure it kind of helps but I had a hard time getting it to bend outwardly like it’s supposed to (it was actually easy to make in flex inward) I’m sure it works to some ultra minuscule degree but all shoes flex when you’re wearing them so I’ll chalk this up as mostly marketing but no penalty since it might work. Even if it does, it makes .000000000000000001 of a difference.

Support and stabilityWow a mid that’s a actually feels like a mid. Just enough freedom for full range of motion. Oh how I’ve missed real mids.

Once again Nike went with the curved outsole and it doesn’t really do anything for me but then again I’m not Kyrie.

Stability is perfectly fine even without an outrigger since the outsole is nice and wide as you can see in the pic above. Width is about the same in the 3 and 4 and there is no tippiness in the heel either.

Overall I feel support and stability are very good and even better than the Kyrie 3. Nice job Nike!

Containment

As expected containment was great thanks to the extended midsole “teeth”. They are a bit Sharkalade or Barkley CB looking but I guess that flows with the 90’s theme. One thing I need to note: I’ve played in numerous shoes that have “teeth” like this (AJ XIV, Kobe I) so be prepared to reglue periodically. These have not begun to peel away but they will so keep some superglue on hand.

Conclusion

Who wants to be Robin when you know you can be Batman? I think Kyrie’s trade to Boston elevated his Boy Wonder status quite a bit especially since Boston had an ultra hot start without Gordon Hayward.

I’m not sure what to consider the Kyrie line in terms of price. At $120 it’s slightly cheaper than the Lebron Soldiers and Hyperdunks but more than Nike’s budget line like the Rev or Live line. Since you can’t go down in price when adding a signature to a shoe, I’ll go with the latter: The Kyrie 4 is a budget shoe with a signature player’s name attached to it.

All in all, the Kyrie 4 is a solid shoe that does everything fairly well, while doing nothing outstanding or really poorly. Cushioning has improved in terms of comfort but still isn’t anything to write home about on court. While the traction is decent overall, it doesn’t perform nearly as well as other shoes whenever dust is around and that’s a real killer for me. I really liked the comfort of the plush interior even if it feels a little bit overdone. Looks wise, it isn’t anything outrageous but it’s simple enough looking to almost look genric. This is one of those shoes that I’d put in the good enough category. Not overly pricey, it performs decently and even has a superstar’s name attached to it. Just good enough for the majority of consumers to feel good about their purchase of some Kyries.

Head to Heads

And since I have an idea of how most of our brains work. Here is my preference based on common comparisons of shoes this year

Dame 4

I’d take the Dame 4 over these. Almost the same traction on dusty floors but the Dame 4 cushioning feels better and does everything else as well or better. Plus it’s cheaper and on sale already.

Kobe AD Mid

I’d take the Kobe ADM. Far better traction and cushioning while doing everything else just as well. Materials might feel cheaper but they break in quickly and are a non factor during play. Plus they are on sale for around $100 now.

PG1

I’d take the PG1. Cushioning is fairly boring but still responsive while the fit and traction are great. Plus these are on clearance for ultra cheap.

Curry 4

I don’t love either of these shoes but I’d probably go for the Curry 4 since the traction is better. Actually I’d rather buy two Curry 2’s for that price.

Lastly, if you haven’t figured it out, the Kyrie 4 will not make my rotation. I’m looking for something better than what I currently have but with twenty years of shoes stored it, it’s not easy to crack the rotation especially when a shoe doesn’t outperform its peers from this season. This is a solid shoe but nothing I’d reach for even for only 2017 releases.

And with this write up, this concludes my 2017 reviews. Now I can finish up my final rankings, awards and review of 2017 which I’ll have out soon. Happy New Year everyone!

39 Comment on “Nike Kyrie 4 Performance Analysis and Review

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