Color: Black/White-Hyper Cobalt-Hyper Punch
Intended use: All run types except use on trail or unpaved surfaces.
Surfaces tested on: Road, synthetic track 21° C/70° F
Upper: Open mesh fused over synthetic leather lattice, fabric lining, Flywire cord lacing.
Midsole: Firm heel-to-midfoot EVA, soft Lunarlon foam in front and rear (embedded)
Outsole: Carbon rubber
Weight: 297 gms/10.47 Oz for a half pair of US 11
Footwear innovation can be a tricky thing. Particularly in the case of Nike Lunarglide, which has seen mammoth commercial success since its launch in 2009. The Lunarglide saw a huge update in 2012 in version 4 where Lunarlon foam came out of its midsole covering and instead formed an opposing midsole wedge. This new set-up was a hit, making the Lunarglide 4 and 5 extremely popular. Two years later, it was time for a brand new avatar of the Lunarglide.
So how do you take something which is doing so well, and make changes without breaking it? Trying to fix something which isn’t broken is always a huge risk, and the key to mitigate that is to find a bridge which links tried and tested familiarity with newness. A bridge which transitions loyalists from outgoing version to the brand new Lunarglide 6 without scaring them away.
Well, in this instance that bridge happens to be a humble can of midsole paint.
We’ll admit it, the shoe had us fooled till the time we went for a run in them. Have a look at the picture above. The Lunarglide 5 and 6 look the same when seen from the heel, right? Two different densities of foam stacked together, one soft, another firm? There is a visual difference though. This time it appeared that the two components were fused together by injection molding. We didn’t think much of it. After all, the Zoom Structure 17 has used that method of construction, and as long as the end result is same, why bother?
But after running the first 5 miles in Lunarglide 6, the difference in the ride character started becoming apparent. This year’s Lunarglide 6 had a much firmer rear-foot strike than the 5, and after we took a closer look , the reason became clear. The midsole foam unit which extends from mid to rear-foot on both sides is actually one unbroken piece. The diagonal blue colored ‘wedge’ is just painted over the originally green foam. And this singular piece of foam happens to be quite firm.
As a result, rear-foot or heel strikes on Lunarglide 6 are firmer than the outgoing Lunarglide 5 (and 4), which had two different densities of soft and hard foam stacked externally together. Which begs the question: if ’two’ is actually one, then how does Lunarglide 6 accomplish the ‘Dynamic support’ effect, which is supposed to slow down excessive foot-roll? To answer that, we need to shift focus to the forefoot area and its role in delivering Nike Lunarglide’s motion control promise.
The under-forefoot area of Lunarglide 6 is now a complete layer of Lunarlon foam which is softer than the one used in Lunarglide 4 and 5. The latter models also used Lunarlon foam in the forefoot, but it was overlaid on a firmer base. The LG6 eliminates the firmer midsole bed and makes the entire forefoot area Lunarlon. But here’s the catch; when you look at the pink Lunarlon area, it appears to be one wedge which starts from the toe bumper and ends at mid-foot. But no, the pink Lunarlon foam is one huge component, reaching into the inner recesses of under-heel area.
How do we know this? When you remove the footbed, you’ll see a circular hole in the heel strobel. And through that, you’ll see a flash of pink foam. This points out the fact that Lunarlon foam extends right from the forefoot to the heel, where it forms an internal wedge. This wedge does what Lunarglide does best; gradually help the foot roll inward after landings. The teardown picture above shows the Lunarlon foam layout inside the White/orange colorway of Lunarglide 6. In a way, it’s a throw back to earlier editions of the Lunarglide (#1-3), which had the Lunarlon foam wedged inside a firmer midsole covering. Nike was probably wary of how people would react to the new Lunarglide if they could not see the (external) angled wedges of foam. So they just painted the wedge line on the heel to keep up with the appearances. Clever move, that.
Update, August 17th, 2014: We’ve updated this review with pictures of the Lunarglide 6 teardown. The two pictures above show how the Lunarglide 6 is constructed. The Lunarlon foam (blue) extends from the forefoot to heel, and sits inside the firm midsole foam (pale orange). We also observed that the angle of Lunarlon foam, when seen from the heel, is nowhere as beveled as Lunarglide 5. So its behavior is much more ‘neutral’ than last year’s Lunarglide 5.
Since the forefoot is all Lunarlon, there is a slight change in ride behaviour. Forefoot strikers will notice this more, but nevertheless there is a feel of increased padding underneath the forefoot. Cushioning feel is pronounced at lower/walking speeds than during a run, when it is not that noticeable. The new outsole design also does its bit to cushion the forefoot, which we’ll come to in just a moment. There’s another thing we wanted to point out. The initial heel/rear-foot strike comes across as firm due to the midsole structure, but as weight transfers to the Lunarlon foam base during the gait cycle, the transition comes across as smooth and consistent. This behavior owes itself to a singular density of foam underfoot – spanning right from the heel to toe.
Due to this change, the weight of Lunarglide 6 sees a favorable change. Our weighing scale now shows the LG6 at 297 grams or 10.47 Oz for a half pair of US 11, a full 3% lower than the outgoing LG5.
The outsole has been revised to align with the new ‘pressure mapped’ design direction and you’d probably have seen this on the 2014 Flyknit Lunar 2 and Lunareclipse 4. Concentric loops of rubber attached to exposed midsole foam crowds the forefoot, and it delivers a slight piston-like effect while localizing the padding feel towards center. Compared to LG5, there’s more rubber coverage ahead of the mid-foot which covers the previously exposed flex-grooves. Flexiblity is affected but it is only relative to the LG5. It still bends easily in the forefoot, with a snapback sensation coming from Lunarlon foam.
In the rear, there are two pieces of rubber arranged in a horse-shoe shaped placement. There’s a prominent bevel to the outsole rubber (picture above) which is meant to ease gradual contact for heel strikers. Overall durability seems neither better or worse than Lunarglide 5. Though there’s more rubber used in front, the overall contact area is unchanged. We didn’t notice any difference in traction too. It was good (not great) in the LG 5 and we can say the same about Lunarglide 6.
The foot-bed is carried over from last year’s LG5 sans any update, except the printed text on top cloth. We talked about Nike’s name change for its sockliner in our Pegasus 31 review; we haven’t seen any structural change yet but that could possibly follow later. The Lunarglide 6 foot-bed now says ‘Stable Ride/Soft’ under a huge ‘Running’ banner instead of ‘Fitsole’. Rest of the insole is the same – molded EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam with foot-wrapping grooves running along the length of its underside. The Nike plus cavity is no longer a fixture on the Lunarglide, as has been the case with most 2014 shoes.
Arch support was average at best on the previous Lunarglide 5, and the situation sees marginal improvement in LG6. The molded plastic heel counter is bigger this time, and its inner end extends right up to the start of foot-arch flare. Could have been better though.
The Lunarglide 3 is not the only 2011 model where Lunarglide 6 seeks inspiration from. When we first saw pictures of the Lunarglide 6 this February, it instantly reminded us of the 2011 Nike Lunarhaze. Very similar looking upper and midsole wedge treatment, particularly in the forefoot. But aesthetics is all that Lunarhaze has in common with Lunarglide 6 – structurally both shoes are different as chalk and cheese.
Nike dumps the use of engineered mesh and moves on to a single layer, open mesh fused over a lattice-work of synthetic underlays. We’re seeing a lot of similar executions across Nike models, so this implies to be the brand’s material trend for next few seasons. This design leads to increased snugness in the upper, in subtle contrast to the comparatively easygoing LG5. Near entirety of the upper is made of this fused layer, and there are hardly any synthetic overlays except for the eye-stay area and side swooshes. The Lunarglide 6 fits true to size, and the upper runs warmer than LG5 – though well ventilated as a stand-alone shoe.
But use of new bonded mesh is not the only reason why the upper feels snug. The Flywire cord lacing system has undergone major tweaks over LG5, and all of them lead to improvements. We’ll begin by pointing out the change in lacing density. The LG5 featured six rows of Flywire cord lacing, but LG6 brings the count down to five, increasing the space between them. This means that there’s more gap between the cords when they’re wrapping the sides of the foot – and this helps spread the Flywire cord pressure evenly over a greater area.
Secondly, instead of double Flywire loops forming each eyelet, this time there’s a single cord extending upwards from the base. This, when combined with increased space between cords, ends up in a conforming fit which has none of the ‘dig’ associated with earlier iterations of Flywire cord lacing. Lastly, there’s a larger gap between two opposing eyelets. Lacing is now spread over near-total width of the padded tongue, and the outcome is an assuring fit which does not have any hot spots. Lace cinching is great too. The tongue is made of open mesh fused over fabric, and once the laces go over it (and through the loops), there’s zero slip.
We’ve been giving some tough love to Nike’s Flywire cord lacing system over the last few Lunarglide reviews, but this time they’ve got it to work perfectly. The cords are non-intrusive without any pressure Gremlins, and marry well with the new mesh construction to deliver an excellent fit package.
Things which worked well in the Lunarglide 5 are carried over, like the much adored inner sleeve with tongue attached to inner lining. Only this time, the fabric lining is a flat single layer, instead of the lightly sponged variety used in LG5. Tongue and collar lining are unchanged both in material and grip level, but the Lunarglide 6 has a shorter tongue with more foam sandwiched inside. The plastic heel clip is larger than that of LG5 and like the versions before it, the piece curves under the heel to provide rear-foot support.
Any flaws in the Lunarglide 6? Reflectivity is conspicuous by its absence. We mean, zero reflectivity. Contrast this to Lunarglide 5, which had lustrous bits on heel and the tongue. The LG6 heel reflectivity is replaced by a molded piece of fused foam and fabric, the aesthetics of which mirror the Accordion-like lines of the midsole wall. Looks very neat, but serves no purpose other than visual enhancement. More form than function, we say. The swoosh on the sides have a nice sheen to them, but aren’t reflective. We wish they were.
Sum everything up, and what do we have here? If you’re a first time buyer, the Lunarglide 6 is an excellent shoe, which oxymoronically combines cushioning and firmness, with great upper fit thrown in.
On the flip side, if you’re trying to step up from the Lunarglide 4 or 5, is it worthy an upgrade? Depends on what the changes are worth to you. At the same retail price and slightly lesser weight, the Lunarglide 6 feels slightly firmer and stable, and has a snugger fit with improved Flywire lacing. Downside is no reflectivity. We’ll leave you with that, and its your call, then.
It seems like we haven’t seen the last of Lunarglide 6 this year. Going by past history, there should be a water resistant, Lunarglide 6 ‘flash’ version for the Holiday season.
(Disclaimer: Two pairs were used for this review. The first one (Black/blue) was used for wear-testing (and continues to put on miles), and was received from Nike’s PR agency free of cost. The second pair of white Lunarglide 6 was paid for in full by solereview, and was harmed during the making of this review.)
Bonus material part I: Nike Lunarglide 6 vs. Nike Zoom Structure 17 comparison
Wear-test the Lunarglide 6 and Structure 17 back to back, and irony of the situation makes itself known fairly quickly. The Zoom Structure 17 has long been spoken in the same breath as the word ‘stability’, but you know what? The Lunarglide 6 is far more stabler than Structure 17 for a fiver less ($110 vs $115), and kicks butt in most areas. The Structure 17 is anything but stable, destabilizing the rear-foot during each foot strike. As called out in our Structure 17 review, the soft and firm foam wedges are stacked at an acute angle, causing the rear-foot to momentarily lean lopsided during each landing. This was meant to slow down the foot from rolling inwards, but the resulting ride experience leaves a lot to be desired.
The Lunarglide 6 does what the Structure 17 is meant to do – in a much smoother way, like the well rehearsed, fluid moves of a Cirque-de-Soleil performer. The landings are reassuring, and the huge plastic heel counter works to keep the rear-foot locked in center. No nervous falling-off-the-cliff sensation, typical of the Structure 17. Progression is also smooth, helped by the internal Lunarlon foam stretching from inner heel extremities to the toe area.
Ride is also more responsive on the LG6 than the Structure 17, an effect of using Lunarlon foam underfoot. Move forward, the flexibility of Structure 17 is trumped by that of Lunarglide. The latter does not have a Zoom Air bag, so the forefoot bends with more compliance. The upper is snugger on the Lunarglide 6. The fit and feel of the Structure 17 is a bit more relaxed, and the pressure on inner (medial) side comes across as more ‘gradual’ due to its use of wide internal straps.
We’ve made it clear that the Lunarglide 6 is a far superior shoe than the Structure 17. Is there any area which the Structure does better? That would be the outsole grip. There’s much more rubber on the Structure, and its placement of lugs results in great grip over surfaces. Grip on the glide is ok, but nowhere in the league of Zoom S-17.
That’s it, folks. The Zoom Structure 18 (due in October 2014) could be fun to pit against the Lunarglide 6, but that shoe isn’t here yet. So we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it.
Bonus material part II: Nike Lunarglide 6 vs. Asics GT 2000-2 comparison
There were a few comments on solereview asking how Lunarglide 6 stacks up against the GT 2000-2. While these are two very different shoes, comparisons are made because they loosely fall under the ‘motion control’ category, where the shoes are supposed to correct the roll of the foot. Frankly, we think both the shoes are as ’neutral’ as they can be. And whether these shoes suit you or not depends on how your foot anatomy and gait takes to them; we can only offer some perspective.
The Asics GT 2000-2 sits slightly lower than the LG, is more flexible in the front with an overall well articulated outsole. These factors result in improving the quality of feedback coming from the shoe. Whereas in Lunarglide’s case, its chunky midsole insulates the ground feel, while delivering a deeper level of cushioning. If you notice the teardown pictures in the detailed Lunarglide 6 review above, you’ll see that the Lunarlon foam sits right in the center, encased by firm EVA foam.
So the delivery of cushioning isn’t instant, it takes a few foot-strikes to coax it out. This is true for the forefoot too, where the cushioning is felt in lower levels of the midsole. The GT 2000 on the other hand, cushioning sits at a higher level, closer to the foot. The shoe uses a memory foam-esque footbed (compared to LG6’s plain molded EVA), and that is lined by a foam strobel, which lies atop rear and front Gel pads. This makes the GT 2000 feel more cushioned the moment you step into them, while the Lunarglide cushioning is effective more during runs. If you walk into a shoe store looking for a well cushioned shoe, and happen to try the GT and LG together, it is likely you’d buy Asics because of its in your face squishy-ness.
Stability is higher on the Lunarglide 6, helped by the firmer ‘casing’ of injection molded foam, with the large heel clip. Arch support comes close, though there’s a mite more support on the Nike’s.
Asics uses a material package which feel much more premium and plusher than the LG6, and it has a direct bearing on how the shoe feels. Almost everything on the Asics has a softer hand feel, and that is combined with a relaxed toe box with more vertical room. Consequently, the GT 2000 has a more easy going nature compared to the relatively Spartan Lunarglide upper. The GT also has more reflectivity, which is entirely missing in LG6. The Lunarglide 6 scores over the GT with its inner sleeve, making tongue slide non-existent. While tongue slide is not acute in the Asics, it moves slightly to the side after a few miles. Heel is narrower in the Lunarglide 6 owing to its use of the plastic heel clip, making rear-foot grip snugger.
There’s lot of rubber used on the GT, hence traction is decidedly better. Durability should logically be higher, but then we noticed that Nike rubber is more durable. A long term (200 mile+) wear-test should throw up accurate findings, but we don’t have much mileage on either shoes yet.
Side to side, the two shoes aren’t better nor worse, just have different characteristics. The Asics GT feels more comfortable, and a shoe which we’ll pick for shorter runs. If it comes to running longer, then it’s going to be the Lunarglide, with its deeper set cushioning and extra stability.
Bonus material part III: Nike Lunarglide 6 vs. Nike Lunareclipse 4 comparison
Ideally, the Lunarglide 6 should have been pitted against the 2015 Lunareclipse 5, because the Eclipse 4 is still aligned with the older Lunarglide (read 4 and 5) design. The Lunareclipse has always been positioned as a fully kitted version of Lunarglide, and when you compare it against the outgoing LG 5, that certainly happens to be the case. The LG4 and LG5 featured opposing stacks of soft and firm foam – soft being Nike Lunarlon and firm being EVA. The Lunareclipse 4, in that sense, is an extension of LG5, with the same foam stack.
This difference in construction leads to the Eclipse being much more cushioned than the Lunarglide 6, which moves back to an internal Lunarlon configuration. But this applies only to the heel area, where there’s a generous bulk of Lunarlon. Move to the forefoot, and the brand new Lunarglide 6 feels more cushioned owing to larger underfoot coverage with Lunarlon.
Other than that, the Eclipse feels plusher, as it uses a spongy spacer mesh for the inner sleeve. The room inside both the shoes are more or less the same, regardless of the Lunareclipse 4’s asymmetrical lacing system. We also thought that the much beefed up footbed of the LE4 would feel massively different from the Glide, but during runs we couldn’t tell them apart. The heel area felt the same, and not an unsurprising outcome; the collar materials are the same, and a plastic heel counter wraps around both shoes.
The Lunareclipse 4 has much more night time reflectivity as compared to the Glide. The tongue label is reflective, and so are the swooshes on inner and outer sides.
Given that these shoes ride very differently, who should be buying them? The Lunarglide 6 is stabler of the lot, and $30 cheaper, while offering good levels of cushioning. The Lunareclipse 4 is softer, and has a more comfortable upper. The latter is the shoe to buy if you liked the ride of the now defunct Lunarglide 4 and 5, while wishing the upper(and ride) was a mite more plusher.