Color: Hyper Cobalt/Black/Hyper Pink
Intended use: All runs except in bad weather. Best used for tempo runs, long distance road racing.
Surfaces tested on: Road, 21° C/73° F
Upper: Spacer mesh, synthetic leather, Flywire cord based lacing.
Midsole: Compression molded EVA midsole, plastic shank, heel Zoom Air bag.
Outsole: Heel carbon rubber, blown forefoot rubber (Duralon).
Weight: 205 gms/ 7.2 Oz for a half pair of UK10/US11, D Width
Widths available: D-standard (reviewed)
There’s a small amount of, and justified hype around what shoes Elite distance runners wear when they cross the finish line in marathons. With good reason too; Elites lend a stamp of authenticity to the gear they wear, never mind the fact that they would have delivered the same performance in any other shoe of their choosing. Nonetheless, within this realm of micro-hype, two shoe models shine bright. The first being the adidas adios Boost, a distance running shoe with a more-than-usual dose of cushioning, and second, the Nike Zoom Streak.
So does this mean that these models are the best distance racing shoes you can find in the market? No. Remember that Elite athlete shoe counts in marathons are mostly a direct consequence of brand endorsements, and athletes have no choice but to wear something from a shoe company which cuts them a cheque. One way to view the situation is that these models are perhaps the best out of what the brand in question could offer, and while not perfect, the shoes serve their purpose pretty well. Tell tale characteristics like light weight, snug fit, breathability and a low profile midsole make these shoe conducive to distance road racing.
And yet, the adios Boost and Zoom Streak 5 couldn’t be more different in character. The adios is super snug all through, has a rubber-on-fabric forefoot outsole and comes equipped with Boost infused cushioning. On the other hand, while the lighter (207 gm/7.3 Oz) Streak 5 comes with standard accompaniments such as a well ventilated upper, heel Zoom Air bag and overall minimalism in design, the fit is actually relaxed in the front. Of course, the word ‘relaxed’ is relative and is used in distance racing context, the Zoom Streak 5 feels much more relaxed compared to say, an adios Boost. It also has a rather thick, blown rubber outsole under the forefoot, which comes with its own positives and negatives – something which we’ll talk about in a while.
This is one of our reviews in which we hadn’t had a chance to test the prior version(s). Which means we’ll devote all our time focusing on the 2014 Zoom Streak 5, and comparisons, if any, will be made to the Adios Boost, given the preface we’ve laid out in earlier paragraphs.
The Nike Zoom Streak 5 is extremely lightweight. The pair tested was a US 11, and it came in just over 200 grams or 7 ounces, and we’re willing to bet that a size US 9 would be sub 200 grams or 7 ounces. To amount to that number requires a specific set of design elements, which the Zoom Streak adeptly blends together. To begin, the upper is extremely minimal, with a sandwich mesh forming majority of it, sans bulky overlays – except for the giant Swoosh logo. The material changes at the rear, and connection is made by a thin layer of welded synthetic, which helps the lightweight cause.
There are other examples of weight reduction measures throughout the shoe. The upper eye-stay reinforcement is a result of a transparent, filmic lamination over the mesh, backed by another layer of soft synthetic inside. Eyelet holes are punched into this toughened section, and thin laces pass through them and the Flywire loops. The cords extend upwards from the upper base, and over the upper. They’re guided into place by a pair of tacks, which also prevents the cords from sinking in case you choose to skip lacing through them.
Tongue is padded near the top which helps take off the lacing pressure around the top, and the edges are lined with a soft synthetic. This treatment extends alongside the entirety of edgeline, helping the tongue lay flat over the foot inside. This also prevents the curling of tongue edges inside the upper, a problem faced in the Adios Boost 2. The result is a flatter, flush over the foot fit, which feels great. There’s a slight amount of tongue slide, something which could have been lessened by an asymmetrically placed lace-loop seen in the Adios and Boston Boost. The lower section of tongue is a single layer, near-see thru mesh which is well ventilated too.
Collar is trademark Nike distance flat design, with low slung collar walls in relation to the high Achilles dip. The inside collar is constructed with soft synthetic with a chamois-like hand feel, and there’s foam padding inside. Most of that padding is concentrated in the upper reaches, and not spread over a large area. The rear foot upper mesh is a thin, see-through type, similar to what’s used on the tongue, only more thicker.
Midsole is compression molded EVA, its density bordering on firmness, yet with ample give. There’s a Zoom Air bag seated right under the heel, and beneath a thin, fabric strobel. The insole is contoured, but non-removable. Circular dots of adhesives makes the footbed stick to the fabric strobel and part of the mesh upper. At walking speeds, you can hear the adhesive dots repetitively sticking and peeling away, resulting in a sound akin to velcro tearing. This is no issue when you’re running, but walking around in the Nike Zoom Streak on smooth floors sounds like you’ve got a piece of duct tape stuck under your heel. We discovered another drawback of the glued-on insole, but we’ll cover that last.
Nike takes the weight savings coming out of the minimal upper and applies it to bulk up the outsole. By which we mean there’s a generous amount of blown forefoot rubber under the forefoot – a huge one piece component with a couple of grooves running down the center. Not only is the coverage area impressive, the level of thickness matches up with what’s usually seen on regular trainers. In the back, a three piece set-up of carbon rubber does duties – and going by our experience with Nike outsole rubber, long term durability should be pretty good on the Streak 5. A transparent, plastic shank links the rear and forefoot, adding an element of midsole stability.
Now the upper fit we were talking about – the mesh wraps around the forefoot without slack, but still manages to feel relaxed. For one, there are no external overlays squeezing the foot. Sure, there’s an invisible, internal toe bumper in the front and a mammoth ‘ meant-for-television’ Nike logo on lateral forefoot, but none of them box the foot in. The open, engineered mesh has some degree of stretch, which allows greater foot splay than say, a adios Boost or the much narrower Lunaracer 3. Secondly, also worth noting is that the Flywire cords only start doing their thing from second row of eyelets, skipping the first row. This is a good touch, as it eases off pressure on the side, contributing to the sensation of relaxed forefoot fit.
The Zoom Streak is built on a distance racing last, so the midfoot is form hugging, more by the virtue of last contours than use of Flywire. The cords actually have some slack in them; even with properly done lacing, they don’t go taut. Having said that, the Flywire cords aren’t mere placebos. If you undo the laces and then re-lace without using the Flywire loops, the decrease in level of midfoot pressure is instantly noticeable. So if you like your Streaks even more relaxed, you do could skip the cords entirely. Don’t worry, they won’t drop to the sides. There’s a pair of guide tacks on the top, so those keep the Flywire cords from going anywhere – they just go a bit droopy, that’s all.
Tongue feels smooth on top, which seems like a logical consequence of the choice of soft material used as lining. The same can be said about the mesh lining, which has a smooth surface. There’s no actual (2nd layer) lining used, it just so happens that the reverse of the sandwich mesh upper has a lining worthy texture. Collar is minimal but effective, snugness combined with pliable materials which gets the job done.
The ride is well padded for a low profile distance flat. Heel cushioning is very noticeable, as the Zoom Air bag lies almost directly below the insole. If you’re a rear-foot striker, the presence of Nike’s proprietary cushioning system will be felt with each foot-strike. Rest of the midsole is EVA, so there’s an obvious mismatch as far as compression levels are concerned. This creates a very in-your-face, contrasting pocket of responsive softness right under the heel, while rest of the midsole foam is relatively firmer. Ride consistency isn’t the Zoom Streak’s strongest suit, something which is bettered by shoes like the adidas Adios Boost 2 or Boston 5.
Being what it is, the Zoom Streak 5 has a narrow waist, causing the midfoot (and arch) to momentarily load over the thin midsole bridge during a gait cycle. Initially, we were a bit apprehensive that it would result in a midsole poke similar to what we felt on the adios Boost, but our fears were unfounded. The midsole foam is rather soft so it does not dig in, and it is padded over with the insole which overhangs and supports the under-arch area.
Forefoot uses a soft grade of rubber which Nike calls Duralon (also used on the Vomero). This makes the front come across as fairly padded, so landing forefoot first isn’t jarring at all. Grip isn’t stellar though; the surface is smooth and lug free and doesn’t do much to help traction. It’s not like that the Zoom Streak 5 will slip, but we wish the lockdown was better.
On the road, this is a great shoe to do long miles in. It’s got a relaxed upper feel, very breezy and cushioning is enough to be felt, but does not take away the ground feel. While we doubt this shoe will last as long as a Nike Pegasus 31, the Streak is versatile enough to be used in daily rotation – without worrying about shredding the precious forefoot lugs. And it isn’t very expensive too; at $100, it is $40 cheaper than the adios Boost and a twenty lower than the adizero Boston 5. There’s a lighter avatar available in form of the Nike Zoom Streak LT 2, but the Streak 5 is definitely the comfort version of it.
We also took the Zoom Streak 5 to a synthetic track for wear-testing, and that’s where it loses some points compared to more ‘focused’ shoes like the Adios Boost. Let’s say you’re doing intervals. During sprints, forefoot striking feels a bit disconnected. The forefoot upper fit is a bit relaxed, and the big slabs of forefoot rubber outsole lacks any real bite. It’s okay in straights, but around the bends, you’d wish the forefoot was more ‘locked-in’, in a manner of speaking. This is where shoes like the adios Boost wipes out the Streak, with its ultra grippy DSP Quickstrike outsole and super snug forefoot. Needless to say, the best use for the Nike Zoom Streak 5 is on the roads, and not for tracks. The Streak LT 2 might be a better alternative for that kind of usage.
The Zoom Streak 5 is a good, all round performer, but still manages to throw up a couple of shortcomings. Not big bad ones, but undesirables nevertheless. First of which is that it’s uncomfortable to run barefoot in them. It’s a pity, since the mesh and tongue lining is super smooth, and great ventilation was the cherry on top. There’s a seam right at the start of the lacing u-throat – just ahead of the first row of eyelets. This is irritates the skin every time you flex the forefoot. Too many materials are layered in one place, making that area pretty thick and poke-y.
Another minor issue we discovered was that irremovable insoles weren’t aligned properly across left and right shoes. The footbed overhang (picture just above) on the right shoe was greater than what’s on the left. This means that the entire right insole shifts a bit toward the medial (arch) side, leaving a smallish gap between it and the lateral upper.
If you’re wearing thin socks, you’ll sense the lateral edge of the right insole underfoot. This is not an issue during runs, but it surely is a sign of faulty assembly. We understand that pasting a soft insole inside a shoe is tricky (and sticky) business, but then Nike is a $30 Billion company with a reputation to guard.
Otherwise, a competent piece of running equipment with a lot going for it.
(Disclaimer: Solereview paid full US retail price for the shoe reviewed)
Note on ratings: Our numeric scoring of 8.4/10 is based on a total of weighted averages. The attributes namely transition, stability and fit contribute to 69% of total scoring weight, which we see as more important than material (7%), cushioning (7%), traction (12%) and weight (5%). Hence the scores will not add up when a method of simple average calculation is used.