It was only 8 months ago that I reviewed the Zoom Fly 4 so Nike is early with the Zoom Fly 5 this year which is a nice surprise considering how many other running shoes have had their launches delayed.
The Zoom Fly is designed to be the training companion of the Vaporfly Next%: a more durable, cheaper version which can be used for training runs- a fast trainer which can also be used to race in.
I loved the Zoom Fly 4. In the past 6 months, the Zoom Fly 4 has been my go-to speed trainer and the carbon plated trainer which I’ve used the most. I’ve put so many miles onto it that I’ve worn right through the outsole rubber on the lateral heel.
The Zoom Fly 4 worked so well for me because the midsole geometry and the firm React foam created a seamless ride. It made it really easy to tap into its speed. Uptempo runs didn’t feel jarring and its bootie construction upper was perfect.
The Zoom Fly 5 shares very little in common with the Zoom Fly 4. It has a brand new outsole, midsole and upper which have transformed it into a completely different beast. The Zoom Fly 5 desperately needed a big update since the Zoom Fly 4 had the same sole as the Zoom Fly 3 from 3 years ago.
This year’s Zoom Fly 5 gets a big upgrade in the midsole foam department. It now has full-length ZoomX in its midsole, Nike’s top tier super foam. Don’t get too excited though because it’s only a ZoomX core but it’s still a big upgrade on Nike’s middle-tier foam, React which was in the Zoom Fly 3 and 4.
The Zoom Fly 5 weighs 9.5 oz (270 g) for a men’s standard size which is a tad lighter than the Zoom Fly 4 which came in at 9.6 oz (272 g). Its price also stays $160 which is great news considering nearly every other running shoe has gone up by $10 this year.
Nike Zoom Fly 5 First Impressions
When I first saw images of the Zoom Fly 5, I was relieved to see that it looked so different from the Zoom Fly 4. The super-thick midsole made it look like it was going to be much softer and more cushioned. I hoped that it would have similar levels of bounce and energy rerun to the Vaporfly Next% 2.
When I finally received the shoes, the midsole felt really squishy and soft to the touch. The upper felt more cushioned and more comfortable than the Zoom Fly 4’s upper which came as a surprise because I thought the Zoom Fly 4 was already extremely comfortable.
My first 2 runs were 10 and 8 kilometers. I didn’t enjoy the Zoom Fly 5 at all during those first 2 runs. It felt completely different from the Zoom Fly 4: it was sluggish and difficult to pick up the pace. It also felt firmer than I expected it to feel; I couldn’t feel any bounce from the ZoomX.
On the upside, it felt a lot more stable than previous Zoom Flys and the upper comfort and lockdown were fantastic. The midsole cushioning felt deeper and more substantial so I suspected that it would fare better on long runs.
Nike Zoom Fly 5 Sole Unit
The Zoom Fly 5 has a dual density midsole with ZoomX in the core and an SR02 carrier foam surrounding it- it’s the same foam found in the Structure 24. This ZoomX is different to the standard one: it’s small bits that have been crushed and glued together, similar to the recycled midsole of the Alphafly Next Nature. This recycled version of ZoomX is firmer than the normal one.
If you were expecting Invincible Run or Vaporfly levels of bounce and energy return, then you’ll be sorely disappointed with the Zoom Fly 5. You can’t even tell that it has ZoomX in its midsole because it feels so flat and unresponsive.
I must admit that the Zoom Fly 5 feels much more protective padded so it makes long distances a breeze. I did a 25 km long weekend run in it and it performed superbly. Transitions were smooth and it still had that signature Zoom Fly forward-tipping sensation.
The forward tipping sensation is slightly muted in the Zoom Fly 5 because of the softer midsole so the geometry doesn’t feel as aggressive as the Zoom Fly 4. I didn’t enjoy the Zoom Fly 5 for any type of speed work or uptempo runs because it didn’t feel punchy at all.
There was a carbon plate in the Zoom Fly 2, 3 and 4 but now Nike just describes it as a “full-length articulated plate”. The Zoom Fly 5’s plate feels similar in rigidity to previous versions: it’s not overly stiff so transitions don’t feel jarring. The plate dips down at the forefoot like the Vaporfly so you get a hint of the springboard propulsion effect.
My favourite new feature is the wider midsole base which vastly improves stability. This is a theme this year with the Alphafly 2, Metaspeed Sky+, and Adios Pro 3, and both Endorphins also getting wider net bases and becoming more inherently stable. This is great news for overpronators like myself.
I like the new outsole of the Zoom Fly 5. It has more rubber coverage which means more durability. The outsole design is also flatter and the rubber is softer so landings feel more padded. Grip has been improved as well but it’s still slightly slippery in wet conditions.
There’s no rubber coverage on the midfoot and there’s also a window which allows you to see the ZoomX foam inside the midsole. I noticed that in wet conditions, this window becomes tacky and it sticks to the road. You can hear it during footstrikes.
The outsole rubber is softer than rubber you find on daily trainers such as the Pegasus and Structure so it wears down faster. There’s quite a bit of wear on the outer heel area on my pair where the small nubs have worn down but the rate of wear isn’t alarming.
Nike Zoom Fly 5 Upper Unit
The Zoom Fly 5 changes from a bootie construction to a more traditional feeling upper with a detached, gusseted tongue. I’m sad to see the bootie gone because it was one of the very few bootie executions which were done right.
The Zoom Fly 5’s upper is still a very good one. The comfort level is high and foot lockdown is excellent. It feels more like a daily trainer now than previous versions which felt like racing uppers.
The tongue is slightly padded and stays in place during runs while the collar and heel tab are also more padded to improve comfort so the Zoom Fly 5 runs warmer than previous versions.
The fit is true to size with a midfoot, forefoot and toe box which are on the narrow side. If the Zoom Fly 4 didn’t work for you because it was too narrow, the Zoom Fly 5 feels slightly wider so you should try it on before you buy it.
Nike Zoom Fly 5 Conclusion
The Zoom Fly has been transformed from a training shoe for fast workouts/tempo runs to a long-run shoe. It has a softer, more cushioned midsole which makes it more suited to easy paces and it’s difficult to pick up the pace in it.
The Zoom Fly 5 now falls into the same category as the Bondi X and the Supercomp Trainer, the max-cushioned plated category. They’re all stiff, stable and have gentle, rockered rides.
I don’t think the Zoom Fly 5 is a good training companion to the Vaporfly Next% 2 anymore. It isn’t aggressive enough and it feels flat. There’s no bounce or energy return from its midsole. The forward-tipping sensation is still present when running in the Zoom Fly 5 but it’s muted because of the softer forefoot.
If you’re looking for a long-run shoe, the Zoom Fly 5 is suitable but there are much better options out there that are softer and more energetic. The Supercomp Trainer is an example of a much better option even though it’s $20 more expensive. The GlideRide 3 is more flexible but it’s softer and plusher; it’s also a better long run shoe and $10 cheaper.
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Nike Zoom Fly 5 at Running Warehouse with our own money.