Buckle up folks because this is a fun, if not imperfect ride with the Zoom Freak 1.

So if you read my Price Is Right post, you’d know right off the bat that Nike’s cost more than other brands and by adding a freshly crowned MVP sig to a shoe you know that $120 is really about $110-100 shoe (think Run the one or Hyperchase or Hyperlive). Tuned out already? Well sometimes/usually a $100 shoe can outplay a more expensive shoe.

For $120 you get a very solid shoe that does everything well like its namesake…except shoot 3’s. You’ll get there Giannis….baby steps or in your case, giant baby steps? And I know it isn’t the shoes but damn I’ve been on a tear since I laced these up. #freakyindeed

Pros: traction on clean floors, decent after break in on dusty floors, smooth and low to the ground yet comfortable cushioning, decent Zoom in the heel, exceptional fit, very stable, containment

Cons: traction needs break in time still not quite top tier traction, cushioning is not ultra bouncy or exciting to play in, no midfoot shank

Buying advice: they will make a lot of these because budgety sig shoes outsell/ sell more than their pricier counterparts (Econ 101). And Nike likes that cheddar

Sizing : true to size

Best for: players who value court feel, definitely not for those wanting plush cushioning

Weight

13 ounces which is about average for non Adidas. . Most lows are around 13-14.5 while adidas averages 15-17 ounces.

Is it a low or a mid?

It’s pretty much the same height as the Kobe IV which is probably why it fits and feels so good for me. I took some comparison shots next to the Kobe IV and the PG 3 (which it will get compared to most often due to the price). I consider these lows but a higher cut low which is the best of both worlds and helps with the fit in the heel.

Kobe IV is actually a shade taller

I order mids typically but if the shoe fits well and I feel safe, I really don’t care what kind of cut it is. I rarely have any issues with Nike lows and these are no different thanks to the slightly higher height which puts the top eyelet in the right spot to pull my ankle and foot down and back.

Traction

I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out but I was pleased that they stuck pretty well after break in. The first few runs were on relatively clean floors so that let me break them in before taking on dustier floors and I had zero issues on clean or lightly dusty floors.

Moving vertically (downhill, straight), I had no issues partially because the solid portion of the outsole is on the medial side (inside) which is where the majority of your foot pressure when you’re moving forward and backward.

The solid parts of the outsole are soft and flexible which helps save the overall traction.

Lateral movements were fine as well after break in and if you really want to be anal, you can feel a slight slide sometimes on the translucent part until the solid portion catches. I don’t think the transluscent portion is overly sticky but the pattern itself is very firm and thick (that’s what she said) and doesn’t flex much (that’s what..). If you ID the Freak 1, and do a full solid outsole, I think the traction will improve a little but the firmness of the Rose area doesn’t really deflect or flex much.

Overall I think the traction is good overall, not the best ever, but I’m more than happy with it. It’s not a shoe I would be afraid to play with in dusty floors but I have other shoes that do a better job with dust if need be. Wiping is required on dustier to very dusty floors but I didn’t have major issues on less dusty or pristine floors at all.

Traction Comparison: PG3> Kobe IV > Freak

Cushioning

“Double stacked heel zoom in the heel”

Oooh that sounds so sexy and bouncy and fun like Kate Upton but in reality it just feels like a normal heel Zoom unit.

A teeny tiny bit of protrusion to force the Zoom unit to push up into the foot just a teeny tiny bit more

Thanks Fastpass

At 8mm thick, which is what you typically get in a full length Zoom unit, you get a decent Zoom feel but it’s so targeted and skinny relative to the entire heel that the the bounce isn’t overly pronounced even double stacked. Keep in mind, that a few millimeter of that 16.64mm is the Zoom housing so you’re pretty much at the same place as a regular Zoom unit. Most Zoom units, full length included, are wider so you can feel the Zoom on off center heel strikes. (A typical heel unit is 10-14mm and about 20-25% wider btw). Which would you rather have ? Twin beds stacked on top of each other or a fat California King? I like the bounce and feel of the Kobe IV heel which 14-15 mm as a single and the Pg 3 forefoot more.

The rest of the cushioning is just Phylon which is very similar to the Phylon on the HDX, PG and AD Exodus but sits lower than the others at around 20-22 mm based on my Frozen ruler estimations. I’d have to say of those three it feels most similar to the Exodus although I think the Exodus feels a touch thicker and springier overall and the heel feels springier as well. *Side note* I really wish that heel on the Exodus wasn’t so rounded for my tastes because I really liked playing in it but my luck and experience with rounded heels like that are no bueno.

You can see the non ortholite insole which Is just like the Kobe IV. I think the blue Ortholites are janky (thanks Steph) and too porous

Some people will be like ohh who plays on their heels ? They should have put Zoom in the forefoot for extra oomph. Truth be told it won’t add any oomph to your step or 2 inch vertical so don’t worry about it. Giannis wore the Kobe X a lot as well as the Exodus so I guess that’s just his preference and he does just fine in heel only set ups. It would have been more fun if they put Zoom in the heel and forefoot like the HD X but for a $120 MVP you gotta expect fewer bells and whistles.

Cushioning Plushness: PG3> Kobe IV> Freak

*This doesn’t mean any one is better it’s just a reference*

Fit

True to size, it’s so simple people

I bought true to size and half a size up and half a size up left me a full thumb nail lengthwise while TTS was a finger width which is what I expected. No issues width wise either true to size since the shoe isn’t ultra narrow and the upper isn’t constricting. If you got monsteroisly wide feet go up half a size up you still won’t get any heel slip you’ll just have a little extra length. Speaking of heel fit, the heel design just locks in your foot a lot like the Kobe IV which I love.

Overall I had the right amount of toe space, zero side to side movement and an awesome heel fit.

Well done Nike

Fit Comparison: Freak=Kobe IV> PG3

Materials

I don’t care about materials as I’ve noted many many times before and these are on par with a $100 Nike shoe or Kyrie. Nothing fancy just fuse mesh etc. These definitely have a Kyrie I vibe and look to them but they are not crispy cracker like.

Inside shot

It looks stiff but is very thin, pliable yet strong with no popping or weird hot spots.

This back design is nothing more than stitching and does nothing functionally #sigshoe101 detailing.

Not really sure what the logic is here. You either cover the toe with some fuse for protection or your don’t. Can’t put a condom on halfway..or can you ? New concept, Condom strips 🤔

If you’re a materials guy and want premium feeling or looking materials, this is not your shoe.

Support and stability

Although these are lows, the heel counter and fit are so good that they feel supportive. Zero issues with stability as well since they sit low and have a solid outrigger

There is no midfoot shank which is ok for some and a no no for others

I really doubt we’ll see Malcom Brogdon wearing these next season especially since he’s not on the Bucks anymore

The flexibility is something I noticed right away and as player who gets PF on occasion I was a bit wary but rather than complain about shoes and limit myself, I’ve been doing foot strengthening and calf/Achilles stretching to actually fix the root of the problem and not look or run around looking for a bandaid coverup. Given KD’s injury I suggest everyone to google Achilles and foot stretches and strengthening. Or just exercising in general.

Overall, no issues while playing although I think they could have firmed the shoe up a touch but hey I’m not Giannis.

Comparison: Kobe IV> PG3 > Freak

All are good overall but overly flexible midfoot puts the Freak at the bottom of support.

Containment

No issues here. Raised midsole and my own moniker “fly straps” help keep the foot in place. I wonder why Flywire was left off the Freak 1? Oh it doesn’t do anything that’s right.

Comparison: tie

Conclusion

I honestly wasn’t uber enthusiastic about lacing these up based on the cushioning when I was shooting around, but for the past two weeks, I’ve been playing lights out and moving like I was twenty one again. I know it isn’t the shoes but when you have games that bring back the fun or turn back the clock and the bucket looks like a swimming pool, you can’t help reaching for the shoes you were wearing those days. The mind is a powerful thing folks.

Personal anecdotes aside, the Freak 1 is a pretty good shoe (emphasis on pretty). I can feel and see a lot of similarities to Kobe’s throughout the design especially in the heel. And while there are aspects that feel the same, this feels more inline with a Mamba Instinct or Focus or Mamba #5. Aside from the fit and stability, The Freak 1 does nothing outstandingly well but that’s okay because it does everything well enough. Sneaker tech nerdists, you can have the most advanced tech in the world but it isn’t going to put the ball in the bucket or make your run faster or jump higher.

So who is the Freak 1 for?

If you want low to the ground cushioning with good traction, fit, stability and flexibility, this is your shoe. Even with its low to the ground cushioning, it’s one of those shoes you put on and forget about.

If you want more cushioning and plush feel, you’ll probably want to gravitate more toward the PG3. Great forefoot Zoom and traction really make it a great shoe…especially on sale.

If you want a little more midfoot support, the Kobe IV is the way to go. Similar set up to the Freak but a little stiffer overall with very similar properties and feel. Yea yea they said full length Zoom but then didn’t. Did it make you score fewer points ? Didn’t think so and it’s still my favorite this year. Discounts a plenty coming soon!

If you’re into only tech specs only don’t buy any of the above and buy Adidas instead because they are having some serious fire sales. Adidas is still the most bang for the buck in terms of tech to price ratio. I guess the Dame 5 at $115 would be a good comparison with similar budget materials, budgety but goodish feeling cushioning and good traction. But with Adidas discounts coming in hot every month, you can get two for the price of one.

At $120 isn’t the cheapest shoe out there at retail but it’s the cheapest retail priced MVP shoe you’ll find. $10 cheaper than the Curry VI and that sorry HOVR foam, $20 less than Harden V3, $30 less than KD 12 retail. I guess Nike is giving Giannis the summer slot since they moved KD wayyy back to April. I personally find the silhouette sexy as well. But like all general releases these will go on discounts just like every other shoe. $120–> $100-> $80->$60-50 range. Based on my wife knowledge test, Giannis is not a household name yet so don’t expect ball busting sales numbers quite yet especially for a team in Milwaukee. As I said above there are technically better options out the at $120 but I can’t say there are many better looking shoes out right now. Looks and an MVP co-sign will always sell more than any any tech shit sheet.The 2019-2020 season is going to be 🔥 sneakers included.

Overall, this is not the best shoe performance wise but results wise for me it has me giddy. However, I know results will vary so these get a second team rating due to so so cushioning and “could be better traction” on very dusty courts.

45 Comment on “Nike Zoom Freak 1 Performance Analysis Review and Comparison

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