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New technologies and shoes being launched by Nike

Nike's new cushioning technology - Lunar Foam

Nike's new cushioning technology - Lunar Foam

At shoeguide.co.uk we get shown the latest shoes from all the brands, large and small.
But when Nike invited us over to their world HQ to show us something we had wind that it was something a little bit different.
Unfortunately we had a problem. After being snowbound at Heathrow, having a pilot taken ill in Amsterdam, being diverted to Vancouver and then having technical problems with the plane we thought we would never get there.
But Sean McDowell stuck around to wait for us, although we were a day late landing. And once we'd arrived, minus baggage, and dosed up on cafeine he sat down to tell us what had been going on.
Sean told shoeguide.co.uk: "We have got this brand new stuff we’re calling Lunar Foam.
"Lunar Foam is a brand new technology for us, it actually started with NASA. We work with them; we get together and have a brainstorm session, they share with us some of their new stuff and we share with them some of our new stuff. They had a new foam that is super-lightweight. They obsess about weight in almost the same way as we obsess about weight. If we can reduce more weight off your body that gives you more energy at the end of a race."
He told shoeguide.co.uk Nike have taken the foam originally used in Space Shuttle seats and put it to work in running shoes.
"Lunar Foam is encapsulated on the inside of the midsole. It is 30% lighter than normal foam. It’s a really unique system. It took us three years to adapt that NASA compound to something we could use in footwear."
The process was not a simple one. The conditions in a spaceship are quite different to those in a running shoe midsole, and making a space ship is a different kettle of fish to mass producing running shoes.
Sean told shoeguide.co.uk: "It's very difficult to produce, we had to change all of the ways we work with foam in shoes in order to produce this and that’s one of the reasons why it took so long. It’s trapped on the inside, you can't expose it to rain or UV [sunlight] so it’s inside this Phylite carrier."
The foam has properties that makes it want to return to original shape rather than remaining compressed.
Sean said: "We found that encapsulating it enhances some of the characteristics. It puts it in tension and you get more bounce and more rebound from the shoe. You can see the distinct accordion features on the outside so it collapses and rebounds with you. And you will notice a little bit of medial posting [in the contouring rather than a second density].
"It’s a fairly wide net so while it is relatively stable it is for neutral runners, but with inherent stability built into it.
The sole has a vintage Nike look to it but there are features which tie in with the Lunar Foam.
"We’ve also built the sole geometry which is a throwback to the Waffle, but we have put a groove around each one of these [lugs] so that any one can 'piston' in on any kind of terrain. That leads directly to the Lunar Foam.
The training shoe is the Lunar Trainer.
Sean told shoeguide.co.uk: "It is extremely light weight. In a size 9 US it is 8.8 oz [approx 250g]. An average training shoe is more like 12 oz [340g] so it’s a good compromise here.
As well as the Lunar Trainer there is also a racing version.
"We’re expecting in the Lunaracer version for this to show up in the Olympic Marathon. At 5.5oz it is extremely lightweight [156g].
We didn't get to put the shoes on the trusty shoeguide.co.uk scales but if those weights are accurate the shoes are both coming in at very light weights.
Sean continued: "We have an arsenal of brand new shoes. Lunar way of cushioning. Lunar distributes the pressure you apply. When you’re landing you're hitting the ground with two to three times your body weight each time you’re stepping. Lunar Foam is able to disperse that pressure over the footbed."
Sean said that instead of the usual peak pressure points that show as reds and oranges on the footscan the Lunar Foam shoes have blues and greens indicating lower forces.

Flywire - changing the way uppers are made

Flywire - changing the way uppers are made

Weight reduction is also the driving force behind the second innovation Nike wanted to show shoeguide.co.uk.
Sean told us: "Flywire is a whole new way for us to build shoes.
"The [Victory] track spike is unbelievably light. Not many of our competitors are under 150g but this is just 92 grams. Michael Johnson’s spike, the gold spike, was one of the lightest shoes we’d produced. That was 112g so by coming in and being able to manufacture a shoe and mass produce a shoe at around 92g is pretty remarkable. The way we have been able to do this is by changing the way we’re building the shoes.
"A normal shoe takes pieces of leather and mesh and stitched them on to the shoe. We’re comparing that to building stone bridges and this is more like a suspension bridge. These cables here are made of Vectram thread. You could pull it and it would cut your finger before it snapped. It is very strong cable but in a light minimal way."
By having these strong 'cables' locking the forefoot and heel in place it is possible to give a very secure fit.
"Athletes describe it as being like a second skin. The upper is very, very thin. The upper is just to keep the debris off the foot, but we’re really working on these cables [in terms of fit]. We’re able to lock down the fit in the forefoot. We’re able to remove the heel counter because we’re getting tension in the heel cables locking the heel down.
Sean told shoeguide.co.uk the track spike Bernard Lagat wore at the Osaka World Championships was an early version of the shoe.
"We kind of cloaked it so no-one could see what it was and he won two gold medals in the 1500 and 5000m. He did extremely well, he came off the track and thanked us for the shoes, it made such an impact on him. It’s great when someone does that.
The technology will be included in different pieces in the Nike line.
Sean told shoeguide.co.uk: "We’re able to translate this into a commercial product. We’ve got the victory track spike. Then the Zoom Vicory+ training shoe. It is Nike Plus enabled. That is still incredibly lightweight at 9.2oz [260g]. It’s got Zoom Air cushioning and a Duralon outsole.
Then Nike are have also made a Flywire shoe for Asafa Powell.
"We’ve got a pretty different version called the Aerofly for the 100m. I can pretty confidently predict that Asafa Powell will wear that for the Olympic Games. You can never tell with certanity what an athlete is going to do as we are months before the Games, but he is currently wearing that shoe and really likes it. It has a great benefit from the Flywire.
"It is a great weight saving for him."
There is another benefit from Flywire. Sean told shoeguide.co.uk: "In an average shoe which has got standard materials we’re estimating your foot moves one to two millimetres within the shoe. So when your foot hits the track it flies back a millimetre or two, with this shoe we are finding that the foot is not moving that 1-2mm. So if just add that up alone if you have a 1m stride and are racing for 1000m you gain 1m at the finish. Who would not take 3ft at the end of each 1000m? We have done even more cable groupings in the sprint shoe and we have done an aerodynamic shield with the laces tucked behind that. It is extremely lightweight, it’s our lightest ever power spike."

The Nike Lunar Trainer

The Nike Lunar Trainer


The Nike Lunar Trainer pictured above.
We now have an early review of the shoe. Click here for more.




The Nike Lunaracer

The Nike Lunaracer


The Nike Lunaracer pictured above. We now have an early review on the Nike Lunaracer. For more details click here.




The Nike Zoom Victory

The Nike Zoom Victory


The Nike Zoom Victory pictured above




The Nike Zoom Victory

The Nike Zoom Victory

The Nike Zoom Victory Spike plate and sole is pictured above. It is based on the Zoom Miler plate but with the spike plate not extending so far back and the lateral spike moved 8mm towards the centre.
The Nike Zoom Victory+ Trainer

The Nike Zoom Victory+ Trainer


The Nike Zoom Victory+ Trainer pictured above. For more information on the Nike Zoom Victory+ trainer and an early test report click here.




More on Nike Olympic footwear

More on Nike Olympic footwear

To find out more about Nike's footwear that will be used in Beijing (including the Nike Zoom Victory, Nike Zoom Matumbo, Nike Zoom Ventulus 2, Nike Zoom Superfly R2, Nike Zoom Ja, Nike Zoom Maxcat 2, Nike Zoom Bigbrother, and more) see this article on Nike's Olympic footwear

For more about the best running shoes on the market take a look around shoeguide.co.uk's shoe reviews.

To see more information on Asafa Powell's Olympic spike, the Nike Zoom Aerofly, click here.

To find out more about adidas' Olympic footwear click here. The article includes details on the shoes for Tyson Gay, Yelena Isinbayeva, Allyson Felix and Jeremy Wariner. See also our special article on Jeremy Wariner's new adidas Lone Star spike

For more information on how to use www.shoeguide.co.uk to find the best running shoes click here or here.
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