Other mid-priced neutral cushioning shoes
|Brand||Model name||Cushioning||Reviewed||Buy (US)|
|adidas||Glide 8 Boost||Firm-soft||Yes||Amazon|
|Asics||Gel Cumulus 17||Soft||Yes||Amazon|
|Mizuno||Wave Rider 19||Firm||Yes||Amazon|
|Under Armour||Speedform Gemini 2||Firm-soft||No||Amazon|
Color: Blue Lagoon/Bright Citrus/Total Orange-Black
Nike's marketing pitch: Everyday Fast
Surfaces tested on: Road, ambient temperature of 21° C/70° F
Upper: Single piece engineered mesh, partial inner sleeve design. Flywire cord based lacing support.
Midsole: Heel Zoom Air bag embedded within a firmer EVA casing. 10 mm heel to toe offset.
Outsole: Carbon rubber with some recycled content.
Weight: 307 gms/ 10.8 Oz for a half pair of US11/UK 10/EUR 45/CM 29
Widths available: Regular (reviewed), Wide, Extra wide.
If you’re on the fence, wondering if it is a better idea to get last year’s Pegasus 31 on markdown prices, rather than ‘upgrading’ to the newest version – which happens to be the Pegasus 32 – let us give you a gentle nudge to help tide over the classic dilemma.
So what’s it going to be? The Pegasus 31, or 32? The short answer is: get the Pegasus 31 instead.
To describe the Pegasus 32 better, we’ll invent a new term called ‘cruising update’. The 2014 Pegasus 31 was a remaking of Nike’s oldest running shoe franchise; the upper and midsole design underwent a complete overhaul . Hence the Pegasus 31 was based on a brand new template, quite different from the one which the Pegasus 29 and 30 were cut out of.
Regardless of the directional shift, the Pegasus 31 was validated by positive feedback from runners. Most (including us) appreciated its slightly faster and focused feel, though it no longer remained the ‘comfort’ shoe which was the hallmark of the Pegasus 30’s character.
Thus, for the better part of the past year, the Pegasus 31 cruised smoothly in its price segment and neutral running category. So what does one do with a shoe like that? The smart thing to do here would be to leave it unchanged in character, and apply a ‘cruising’ update. Which is exactly what the Pegasus 32 is.
That said, this sentiment won’t apply if the Pegasus stays the same next year, in which case our review will be peppered with words such as ‘stale’ and ‘fatigue’. But spring 2016 is a year away, and the Pegasus 32 is well within the established boundaries of the two year platform lifecycle – a design update cadence which Nike follows, along with brands such as Saucony and adidas.
The Pegasus 32 sticks to the basic tenets of the 2014 Pegasus, while applying a few updates within that framework. We’ll deep dive into the changes, but given their lower magnitude, it is far better value to get a pair of the Pegasus 31. We say that for a few reasons.
If you bought the Pegasus 31 for its ride quality, then there’s hardly any deviation. There is a minute amount of tinkering in the identically designed midsole, but that barely amounts to be noticeable.
The upper fit character has evolved on the Pegasus 32, yet whether that is a positive or negative will be purely personal depending on one’s shoe choices. We’ll play our part and get into the long and short of it, but for now, we’ll say that those updates are not significant in nature – after all, the Pegasus 32 is a ‘cruising update’.
A noteworthy aspect of this discussion is the Pegasus 32’s revised retail pricing. There is a $10 bump over the 2014’s $100 sticker, and this for a shoe which is basically the same as last year’s version. Even on Nike’s own website, the Pegasus 31’s pricing is now in its high 70’s, and we’re sure better deals lurk around in other places. So this means that by buying a Pegasus 31, you save anywhere between $30~50, depending on how good a deal you get. That’s not exactly pocket change.
If that’s all there is to it, what do you gain by staying and reading the full review?
To begin with, we’ll go over the finer details of the Pegasus 32 in microscopic detail, accompanied by dozens of images. This will help you understand the Pegasus 32 at a deeper level, and whether it is worth the pricing premium.
We also get a lot of questions asking how the Pegasus compares against other (similarly priced) neutrals within and outside of Nike. So we’ll preempt that by throwing in a brief comparison vs. the Saucony Ride 8, Brooks Ghost 8, Cumulus 17, Nike Vomero 10 and the Zoom Elite 8.
Tempted? We knew you would stay. Thank you.
Majority of the refreshes on the Pegasus 32 are packed on its engineered mesh upper, so let’s start poking around in those parts.
The 2015 model is built on the identical upper last (form) as the Pegasus 31, hence carrying over the familiar silhouette aesthetics and fit profile. That being a constant, the upper materials and patterns get an update.
The toe bumper and overall forefoot looks like a straight lift from the Pegasus 31. You’ve got the pointy looking tip of the shoe, the shallow toe bumper shaped by the internal stiffener, and the ceiling made of engineered mesh.
For those not familiar with the latter term, it just means that the mesh is open-knit in certain areas, and denser in other parts, with the goal of mixing ventilation/weight reduction and structural support together. This mesh construction along with the Flyknit variety has now become an industry standard, and hence a commonplace sighting on many other models.
This isn’t saying that the forefoot is without changes. The engineered mesh design is open and closed in the same places as the Pegasus 31, but with a slightly revised texture. The toe-puff which gives the bumper its prominent shape is lower than that of the Pegasus 32, with obvious implications involving upper fit – something which we’ll spend some time discussing.
The midfoot, though, is another tale. There are a number of material and feature revisions here, and their combined influence is responsible for the fit difference between the Pegasus 31 and 32.
On the Pegasus 31, synthetic leather overlays were used in abundance, beginning at the forefoot sides and ending just at the base of the molded heel counter. The entirety of the midfoot panel was made of this, with diamond shaped windows acting as means of ventilation.
This part is now swapped out with the engineered mesh, which extends far beyond the midfoot and wraps around the heel. This uniform approach leads to the Pegasus 32’s upper now ending up as a single piece design externally, with only an invisible seam joining either ends at the heel. Even the Swoosh logos are downsized, the familiar trademarks shrinking in dimension.
Logically, the effect of layering removal should be reduced weight, and that is indeed the case on the Pegasus 32. Compared to 323 gms/11.4 Oz of the Pegasus 31, the 2015 Peg 32 shaves off 16 grams, ending up at a respectable 307 gms/10.8 oz.
There used to be a time when 350 grams/ 12.3 oz was the median for this category, but now the new benchmark is set higher at around 300 gms/10.6 oz. Nike isn’t alone in this weight club; the 2015 Saucony Ride 8 actually has a leg up on it – a sub-300 gram shoe which belies its aesthetic bulk.
To make up for the lack of structural reinforcement provided by the synthetic layering, the eyelet area has been strengthened by use of filmic laminates. We recently saw a similar execution on the LunarTempo; parts of upper mesh overlaid with a transparent film.
If left alone, the mesh would be susceptible to fraying, a process which does not end well. The innards are backed with a separate layer of eyelet tape, a component you’ll see when you turn the eyelet panel over.
Flywire assisted lacing makes an appearance for the first time on the Pegasus 32. This was inevitable, if you take into account the gradual alignment of other Nike models (Vomero, Elite, Free) with the minimal, Flywire featuring standard.
The Flywire treatment has evolved over the last couple of years, and in a good way. From a single cord based design (Vomero 9, Zoom Elite 7), the strands are now double loops, resulting in a toned down (in terms of pressure) yet effective midfoot wrap.
Lacing gap over the tongue and spacing stays the same on the Pegasus 32. That being a common denominator, one of the eyelet holes closer to the heel has been removed. Not that it made any difference on the Pegasus 31; it was below and between the fifth and sixth (last) eyelet. Not the same as having a heel lock eyelet, which shoes such as the Vomero 10 include.
The Pegasus 31 introduced a partial inner sleeve, and that stays unchanged on the Pegasus 32. The inner lining is two piece – a single mesh covering the mid and forefoot, with the plusher collar mesh taking care of rearfoot.
The tongue is attached to the forward lining, and forms a midfoot sleeve wrapping around the foot. However, this isn’t the authentic bootie construction experience, so you have a portion of the tongue remaining which stays independent, but without any sliding behavior.
Around the heel area, the foam padding inside the collar walls feels thinner than the Pegasus 31. Yet, we believe that it does not have much of a connection to the foam volume, but rather due to the material switch on the outside heel.
The Pegasus 31 heel housing had an open mesh over a layer of synthetic, including a few reflective bits. This added more ‘chunk’ to the area, and likely the reason why the collar padding felt more substantial without actually being so.
None of that on the Pegasus 32; the densely knit engineered mesh forms the outer heel covering, replacing the multi-layered design.
This reduces the thicker feel around the upper heel, and in addition to all that, the Pegasus 31’s heel was marginally higher.
This design update comes with a downside. The reflective elements vanish, making the Pegasus 32 completely non-reflective at night. If this was a feature you valued on the Peg 31, then sorry, you need to stick to the older Pegasus.
The slew of changes yield a different quality of upper fit than the superseded Pegasus 31. There are two levels to this experience; we had a different opinion when we wore the Pegasus 32 for the first time, and that opinion slowly evolved over a week of running. Because the things you notice for the first time during an in-store wearing or even the first run doesn’t necessarily match up with your thoughts after a longer ownership period.
Straight out of the box, the forefoot feels narrower and the toe bumper shallower. Makes perfect sense, since the toe stiffener is indeed shallower, and there’s some Flywire spill over from the midfoot.
Tighten up the laces, and there’s a greater lockdown feel around the midfoot, but without the lacing top down pressure. The laces are span wide, and are spaced closely, and this kind of design always goes easy over the foot. The tongue has some amount of padding, so that dilutes the cinch too.
It is puzzling however, as to why Nike chose to lower the toe bumper on the Pegasus 32. If you look at the recent trend in their shoes – be it the Vomero 10, Zoom Elite 8 or even the Nike Flyknit Lunar – all of them now come with higher toe-boxes and increased forefoot room.
For obvious reasons, the shoe will be a disappointment for runners expecting an upper fit which harks back to the well rounded Pegasus 30 – or specifically speaking, a roomier forefoot. Conversely, it can be said of the Pegasus 31 that it is almost like a ‘comfort’ version of the Peg-32.
Put in around 30 miles on the Pegasus 32, and one will discover that the shallower toe-box and snugger forefoot isn’t an issue, at least relative to the Pegasus 31. The toe-box does not feel any better or worse than how it was last year, and the forefoot fit isn’t as narrow as you thought it was. The first row of Flywire loosens up as you put on some distance, but still maintains a fit difference vs. the Pegasus 31.
From a performance perspective, only two things stand out. The midfoot lockdown is definitely greater on the Pegasus 32, as the shoe goes from a relaxed feel (P-31) to a snugger interpretation of how it once felt. And then there’s the topic of the heel grip.
For reasons mentioned earlier in this review – chiefly the reduced material layering and the drop in upper heel height – the sense of wrap is a rung lower than the Pegasus. It isn’t blatant, but run alternatively rotating the Pegasus 31 and the 32, and one can tell the fit difference, though small it might be.
If you’ve noticed, Nike (at least in the US) has started offering multiple widths in the standard Pegasus. One has the option of regular/wide/extra wide , which wasn’t the case earlier. So theoretically speaking, you can choose another width if you find the forefoot tighter than how you’d want it to be.
The sole platform the Pegasus 32 is based on is exactly the same as the 31’s. Twin midsole design, and outsole to match. So it is the familiar Pegasus 31 landscape one will have no trouble identifying. A single piece EVA foam unit (Nike calls it Cushlon) separates the upper from the outsole, with different treatment of medial and lateral sidewalls.
Medially (inner side), the midsole wall is flat, save for the flare which runs under the arch. On the outer side, a deep ridge splits the upper and lower midsole in a 25:75 split.
This is meant to induce a minor degree of lateral bias by making compression easier, also translating into more gradual transitions.
A heel only Zoom Air is encapsulated inside the midsole, a pressurized chamber made of Urethane and internal fibers. This rebounds on impact or weight loading, with the fibers helping maintain the structure of the bag.
We’ve included a picture here, and though it might not seem like much, this is a sizeable unit. Precisely speaking, 80 mm long and 50 mm wide, with a thickness in the region of 2 mm. The forefoot is just EVA foam, and unlike the Vomero 10 or the Zoom Elite 8, it does not feature Zoom Air.
In recent years, Nike has started overlaying the heel Zoom Air with a piece of cardboard. While the exact reasons for doing so are unclear, we think it helps keep the Zoom Air unit from moving around, and also spread the weight wider instead of being localized.
We experienced this in the Zoom Streak 5, where a near direct contact with the Heel Zoom led to the sensation of a cushioning imbalance between the rear and forefoot.
On the Pegasus 32, you can see this cardboard through the small lasting hole. A sheet of EVA foam lasting goes over this, topped off with an open foam insole carried over from the Pegasus 31.
The midsole foam is marginally softer than that of the Pegasus 31, thus increasing forefoot flexibility by a midge. But here’s the interesting bit, none of these have any impact whatsoever on how the Pegasus 32 rides. The gains in flexibility – at least to the point when you can sense it – is lost during running, and the seemingly lower density EVA does not make the Pegasus 32 ride softer.
From a performance standpoint, the 31 and 32 ride identically. If you’re a forefoot striker who is extremely perceptive, then yes, maybe you might be to tell the infinitesimal bump up in midsole softness. But for rear-foot strikers, you won’t feel any performance difference. And here’s why.
As far as heel cushioning is concerned, the large Zoom Air insert is the dominant component. So basically your rear-foot strikes are being shouldered by the combination of Zoom Air, foam lasting and the insole, which was the case for the Pegasus 31 too.
Midsole’s role in this case is limited to being just a supportive structure, and much less of a cushioning influencer. Contrast this with the forefoot area, where the entirety of weight loading involves the EVA midsole.
This design results in the rearfoot area being substantially more cushioned and responsive than the forefoot, which is relatively minimal in feel. Yet, the Pegasus 32 manages to successfully pull-off a smooth transition, as did the Pegasus 31.
And this is why the whole cardboard-over-Zoom deal is slowly growing on us; it creates a more seamless heel to toe experience by equalizing the midsole density across. Zoom Air is noticeably softer than the EVA it comes packed in, and the cardboard helps fill the gap in density.
Transitions are quick and smooth, and the difference between heel and forefoot cushioning levels notwithstanding, there is no lag. The Pegasus 32’s ride is a satisfying meld of fast and cushioned, which also feels efficient and economical. Cushioning does not come at the cost of being mushy; the Pegasus 32 does a neat balancing trick here.
However, cushioning is one thing, responsiveness, other. Though the transition is smooth, the springback levels of the heel and forefoot differ vastly. The heel part is very responsive, a feat achieved by the Zoom Air bag packed tight with gas. The forefoot has nothing, hence it feels much flatter and not very responsive to speak of.
Now, if you’re a forefoot striker, this could mean one of the two things. You’ll probably find the forefoot cushioning levels sub-par, especially when the shoe is used for long runs. Or, you will like the forefoot’s higher ground feel, something which the heel muffles out. So if you are looking for a running shoe which behaves differently under the forefoot, it is worth reading up our comparison notes outlined below.
The outsole merits a mention because its contribution to the overall ride quality is significant. Take for example, the ‘crash rail’ design, which made its debut on the Pegasus 31.
It is that twin strip of outsole rubber which borders the lateral side. There are other factors like a full contact outsole and a beveled heel – both of which have notable weightage when it comes to polishing the quality of transition.
The outsole also happens to be very durable, based on our ownership of the Pegasus 31. By opting to use a 100% carbon rubber outsole instead of a blown+hard compound layout, the outsole life increases by much. The only other comparable shoe in this category is the adidas Glide 7 Boost, which makes use of a full coverage adiwear carbon rubber outsole.
There is a slight degree of lateral midsole lean under the rear-foot, given the split-ridge design. So when it comes to delivering a supportive ride, the Pegasus 32 does not fare badly, but certainly less than some of the other shoes. We did say that we’ll include multiple shoot-outs involving other models, a discussion we’ll arrive at in a few moments.
As a sum of parts, the Pegasus 32’s road manners are pleasant enough. There’s adequate cushioning coupled with the sensation of efficient weight transfers; it feels fast relative to its category and heel drop (10 mm), and lastly, it is light enough to go the distance.
The shoe is ideal as a daily trainer – both for short and long runs, slow and medium pace. What the heck, even for walking around town. That having said, we’d still prefer to get something quicker and lighter (like the LunarTempo) for race days and those high speed workouts/intervals.
And here’s the quick benchmark we promised:
Saucony Ride 8 ($120) vs. the Pegasus 32:
Owing to its heel-to-toe Powergrid foam insert, plus the crash pads under the heel, the Ride 8 is more cushioned/softer than the Pegasus 32. The Ride 8 is lighter, and has a more supportive midsole feel, mostly due to the prominent outwards flare – both under the heel and forefoot.
The Pegasus has one up over the Ride 8 when it comes to responsive heel cushioning; the Zoom Air unit trumps over Powergrid in that aspect. That, and the single density forefoot makes the Nike go faster than the Ride 8, with a sense of higher ground feel.
On the upper front, the Saucony Ride 8 has a snugger collar, and is laterally tighter in the forefoot. There is no tongue sleeve on the Ride 8, so there’s some slide as well. The Saucony Ride 8 also has more reflectivity, compared to nil on the Peg 32.
Vomero 10 ($150) vs. the Pegasus 32:
The Vomero has a more supportive heel because of uniformity in sidewall design, and the ride is more cushioned because of dual Zoom Air bags, Lunarlon foam and the Ortholite insole. Flip side? It doesn’t feel as fast as the Pegasus due to all that layered cushioning.
The toe-box and forefoot is much spacious on the Vomero compared to the tapered front-end of the Pegasus 32. Midfoot grip is higher on the Pegasus because of aggressive Flywire-ing – six columns vs. just four on the V-10.
Brooks Ghost 8 vs. the Pegasus 32:
The new Ghost 8’s upper looks drop dead gorgeous. However, there’s too much layering over the forefoot which tends to bend in, compared to the more liberal feel of the Nike Pegasus. At a material level, the Ghost 8 upper is plusher than the Peg 32.
It rides softer than the Pegasus; at the cost of lower responsiveness and reduced sense of speed. The G-8 midsole is more supportive than the Pegasus, but comes with a weight penalty – 10% heavier to be exact.
Zoom Elite 8 vs. the Pegasus 32:
Think of the Elite as a reverse Pegasus; Zoom Air is taken off the rear and transplanted up front. The midsole ride is firmer which makes the Elite feel much faster, and the new Flymesh upper opens up more room.
There’s less rubber on the outsole, and of a different kind. Blown rubber under the forefoot, and carbon type in the back. An easier way of classifying both these shoes would be through a footstrike lens – the Nike Pegasus being for rearfoot strikers, and the Elite being a better tool for forefoot runners.
Asics Gel Cumulus 17 vs. the Pegasus 32:
Ah, the Cumulus.
A different breed of neutral running shoe, which has a very soft heel cushioning and an unusually snug collar on the upper – especially around the Achilles area. The forefoot and midfoot happens to be narrower than the Pegasus – more layering and a different last which determines the fit quality.
The Cumulus 17 rides lazier than the Pegasus, mostly due to its soft midsole construction, and is heavier by over 10%.
Hope all that was helpful, putting the Pegasus 32 in a comparative context.
We began this review with a summary, and we’ll counter balance the conclusion with one. The Pegasus 32 scores over the 31 if changes like a slightly narrower forefoot and higher midfoot lockdown mean a lot to you.
As far as everything else is concerned, the Pegasus 32 happens to be just a close variant of the 2014 recipe. The midsole rides in a near-exact likeness of its former edition, and if that was all what mattered for you, then the sensible next step is to snag a few pairs of the Pegasus 31 – for real cheap.
You’re very welcome.
(Disclaimer: For this review, Solereview bought the shoe at full US retail price)
Looking to upgrade your older Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 to the latest version, but not sure how the 2015 model compares? We can help here. The following infographic is a ready-reckoner for what changes you might expect in the new model vs. old. To make this more fun, we’ve put in a system of percentage match, which calculates a weighted average for a set of attributes.
A higher or lower match percentage is neither good or bad. The % number just tells you how similar or distanced the new shoe is from the previous version. Total match % is a result of weighted averages.