Nike Air Zoom Elite 9

9.3
9.3 score
[Editors rating (9.0) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (9.3)/10

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Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 3 user ratings
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Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 Review Facts
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It’s been said you can’t please all the people all the time but it appears that Nike has come pretty close with its Elite 9. With Nike’s long history of creating shoes that meet the needs and wants of its fans, it is not a surprise that the newest incarnation in the Air Zoom series garnered such positive feedback. While there were no major changes to this latest version of the Air Zoom Elite, most noticed that there wasn’t much left untouched. However, because the changes appear to feel small scale and basic, they seem to work together seamlessly for a truly improved revamp that doesn’t feel like something had radically changed. With upgrades to the midsole and outsole creating a softer, more efficient ride, and the upper’s wider forefoot, among other small changes, the Elite 9 is reincarnated as a top-notch racer and daily trainer. Cleanly combining a racing inspired upper and a more cushioned sole, the Elite 9 is a juxtaposition of speed and comfort. It seems Nike is a clear cut winner here knowing what to keep and what to improve to provide their customers with a solid running shoe that can keep them speeding, or zooming, along.

 

 

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • The 9th installment in a long-running series of well-received shoes
  • Known for its light weight, it is significantly lighter than previous versions
  • Surprisingly well-cushioned despite its low profile
  • The Zoom Air pod in the midsole creates exceptional responsiveness
  • The sticky durable rubber and lugs on the thin outsole create great traction
  • The seamless Flymesh upper is breathable and creates an adaptive fit
  • The sockliner snugly and comfortably holds feet in place
Cons
  • Trying on this shoe is imperative as there are conflicting reports on the fit
  • Lacking rearfoot cushioning, not ideal for heel strikers
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Nike Elite 9 benefits from a new thinner outsole that has improved responsiveness and an incredible non-bulky lightweight feel. Covering the outsole is a very thin layer of blown rubber, called Duralon, that provides added durability and traction. With grippy little pentagon shaped lugs covering the underside except for the midfoot, there are some that claim this shoe is tough enough for moderate trail use.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

With a midsole crafted of a variation of Cushlon EVA foam, the feel of the new Elite 9 is softer, lighter, and more responsive. The forefoot garners extra cushion from its use of the Zoom Air bag. The Zoom Air bag is a vessel of pressurized air and tightly stretched fibers that is inconspicuously nestled in the forefoot of the midsole and it acts to create an "explosive" responsiveness. The bounciness of this shoe is balanced by shock absorption and creates an efficient spring in the step that helps propel runners forward while reducing impact and stress injuries.


Upper
Upper

Upper

With a trend toward more minimalism, the Nike Elite 9 is introduced with a seamless Flymesh that is lighter than previous models. The upper is comprised of one piece of thin mesh fabric as an outer and an inner sleeve sockliner, complete with a flatter, fused in tongue, molding to the foot for a secure and comfortable feel. Binding the two is Nike's Flywire cording. Lending themselves to lightness, the heel counter is reduced from full to partial and the lacing system is now not covered in another layer. In this update, the laces are also flat creating a lower profile fit.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The thin mesh and low-fuss upper paired with the extra thin but efficient outsole lays the groundwork for a lightweight shoe that some consider to mimic a racing flat. Its even weight distribution makes the Nike Elite 9 feel even lighter than its already impressively low weight of 7.9 oz for the men's version and 6.7 oz for women. This represents a drastic reduction from the previous model and is exactly what makes this shoe a speedy option for those looking to get in some speedwork or toe the line for a fast finish.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The thin Flymesh fabric of the upper is light and breathable. Its perforations provide ventilation for cool, dry feet. This is essential in keeping the shoe lightweight for maximum performance. Most found the breathability to be more than adequate having worn the shoe in wet conditions.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Some suggest for comfort purposes, sizing up a half size is necessary, while some feel the shoe fits true to size. Available in only a D width, this newest version of the Air Zoom Elite seems to feel less narrow than previous models, especially in the forefoot. The upper's Flymesh fabric allows some give without losing security of fit and the sockliner holds the foot comfortably in place. The Flywire cording that tethers the upper's fabric with the sockliner was found to feel less constricting than in other shoes that employ it creating a more comfortable fit for most. The arch support which is deemed medium-high was well received and the sole unit provides just enough cushion without sacrificing weight or stability.


Style
Style

Style

To each his/her own but the overall conception is that this shoe is modern yet retains some classic feeling. Most love the styling that appears as a gradient of coordinating color blending with the midsole as well. Accentuated with the swoosh on the forefoot, the shoe is well received except for those that wish to see it available in more color choices. Currently, it is offered in hyper-orange/black-white-medium blue, black/white stealth, paramount blue/white-black for men and racer pink/black-white, hot punch/black-white, aluminum/black-white, and black-white/cool grey for women. Some commented on the lack of reflective detailing but most do not seem to be overly concerned with this.
Durability
Durability

Durability

While the outsole of the Elite 9 is very thin, it is comprised of Duralon, a thin layer of blown rubber, that improves durability of the shoe. It doesn't feel heavy and, with its small lugs covering the bottom, it even holds up to some technical terrain. The upper's fabric seems to have suffered no undue wear and most felt the shoe held up really well... some getting 500 miles out it. Some stated that the laces frayed and that there was significant toe wear in a short amount of time but, by and large, most were so happy with the shoe and had doubled up purchases of it.


Protection
Protection

Protection

Despite the fact that this is a road shoe, the pentagon lugs lining the thin outsole provide underfoot protection from even the sharpest rocks. The one-piece midsole and the Air Zoom pod integrated into the forefoot, create a level of protection as well without sacrificing groundfeel. The upper does not benefit from any overlays protecting against debris but the Flymesh upper keeps the foot cool and dry.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Lending itself to much of the Nike Elite 9's responsiveness is the Air Zoom pocket that is sandwiched in the forefoot of the midsole. This pod contains pressurized air with what Nike terms "tightly stretched tensile fibers" that allow for an undetectable but exceptionally responsive cushion. On each foot strike, the fibers are compressed but then quickly rebound for an explosive response. Most reviewers found this to be one of their favorite selling points of the shoe, along with its lightweight nature.

Support
Support

Support

The upper's adaptive fit and the glove-like sock liner help secure the foot in place and the effective use of low profile cushioning help prevent any issues with stability. But having removed the cellulose board in the sole, sporting a narrower midsole, and now with a partial heel cup, the Elite 9 does not offer the same amount of heel stability of its predecessor. There was a report of a runner sustaining achilles issues due to this lack of stability; however, many did not take issue with this finding the shoe to fit well and create a stable fit for an efficient ride.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Nike markets the Elite 9 as a road runner. It can nimbly handle paved surfaces and treadmill miles. It has been tested out on trails with significant climbs and found also to be able to tough it out there as well. Due to the sticky blown rubber outsole and its waffle like design of mini lugs, the grip has proven to be solid and quite protective even on sharp rocks.
Price
Price

Price

Entering the market with a pricetag comparable to similar styles and models of shoe, the Elite 9 definitely seems to have proven a wise investment for its fans. After in its initial debut, the cost has dropped making it a good buy for any runner wishing for a speedy daily trainer or even a racing shoe.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The new thin outsole features an all over waffle-type pattern of pentagon shaped lugs. The sticky rubber that covers the entire length of the bottom of the foot lends itself to impressive grip. On a variety of terrain, it has shown remarkable traction, in dry and wet conditions as well.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

Without the use of flex grooves, the Nike Elite 9 manages to create flexibility from the thin outsole. While the heel is thought to feel a bit stiff, the forefoot, which carries with it the Zoom Air pocket in the midsole, provides an ample amount of flexibility. The upper is thought to be extremely flexible with its Flymesh fabric. The way the foot is securely held in place helps runners achieve a natural feeling and fit for improved mobility.
Stability
Stability

Stability

This shoe is intended for those with neutral pronation. Aside from offering good arch support, there are no stability features. The sockliner in the upper creates a snug feel in an otherwise adaptively fitting upper while a partial heel counter wraps the rearfoot, and the lacing system helps keep it in place. Reviewers felt that this shoe was "easy to control."
Drop
Drop

Drop

With both the women's and men's versions featuring a measurement of 27mm from the heel to the ground and 19mm from the toe to the ground, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 sports a heel-toe drop of 8mm. With this moderate drop, it can be a good choice for many runners.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

Newest in line of long-running shoe
Lightweight and significantly lighter than the previous model
Responsive
Great for speed sessions
Low profile Air Zoom cushioning great for distances up to a marathon
Breathable Flymesh upper


Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

With some basic updates from previous installments of this shoe, the Elite 9 continues to deliver what runners are looking for. With all the cushion in the forefoot, this shoe might not be the best choice for heavy heel-strikers but, on the whole, if you like to train, run, or race distances up to a marathon, you should definitely check this shoe out. With simple styling and an adaptive fit, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 just continues to bring a top notch shoe to the running community. The soft but not pronounced cushion proved overwhelmingly sufficient and the responsive, lightweight, and efficient ride will keep you moving forward.