If you haven’t heard the hype about Nike’s most innovative shoe to date, where have you really been?
The new-tech Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is designed to make running feel easier – no joke. The shoe’s stand-out feature offers tiny foam beads underfoot to contour to your foot for cushioning – and that’s not all!
Having taken the kicks for a spin around the block – and after ticking all of our running shoe boxes – we sat down with Will Moroski, Nike Senior Product Line Manager for Nike Joyride, to learn everything about the shoes promising your comfiest run to date.
The new Nike Joyride technology is 10 years in the making and came from Nike wanting to create a system for better impact absorption and cushioning that was responsive and featured a better transition from heel to toe.
The new Nike Joyride innovation is game-changing as the thousands of TPE beads underfoot actually compress about 20% more than traditional foam. This extra compression happens when the air trapped between the Joyride beads escapes under compression, allowing for more protection than we’re able to get in a normal piece of foam. For the Joyride team, this was our ‘ah-ha’ moment as we realised that if we could put the beads inside the shoe the runner could experience more compression and we would be able to achieve this soft feeling inside the shoes that we never would be able to have with traditional constriction.
The game-changer is that the runner’s foot sits directly on top of the Joyride beads. This is important because we want the runner to be interacting with the beads so they get the sensation as well as the maximum compression available so they have that cushioning feeling.
The process took 10 years from concept to finished product, with the first seven years dedicated to creating the perfect TPE beads and the final three years transferring the technology into a shoe. During the shoe innovation process we were able to create cavities, or pods, for beads under the parts of the foot that matter most. This is how we took the idea of the technology and transferred it into an actual product. An original design included one giant cavity of beads but during testing, we found within the first mile the beads started to migrate to parts of the foot which wasn’t comfortable for the runner.
By using four pods we were able to distribute the beads in quantities in the area and size of the pods that mean the most to the runner. They are individually tuned to address the various points of a runner’s stride, from heel-strike to toe-off. It wasn’t just about putting beads into a shoe, it was about choosing the right material, the right shape and diameter of the bead to get that amazing one to one feel. Within the shoe, the heel pod features more beads to provide greater impact absorption while the remaining pods are tuned to facilitate a smooth transition and to provide stability, culminating with a pod designed to maximise energy return at toe-off.
At Nike, we have a whole team dedicated to innovation around cushioning and this was one of the things they saw a lot of promise in and wanted to harness and put inside a shoe. Joyride is the first of its kind but we are going to continue to innovate on Joyride and what that means to runners. After the team found this whole idea of personalised cushioning and the beads, they wanted to work on how to get that inside a shoe. Once we knew the opportunity of Joyride beads we knew we had the potential for a really great shoe.
We tested the Joyride beads against a regular piece of foam in our lab and found that the Joyride beads compress about 20% more. This matters because 20% more compression means 20% more cushioning or compression for runners. We used pressure maps which allowed us to create the cavities of beads under the parts of the foot that mattered the most.
When testing the final shoe, our team wanted to make sure the shoe was going to be durable and show the benefits not only on run one but on run 400. The shoe went through the normal Nike testing protocol which is essentially getting the shoe out to groups of runners that are putting it through its paces. We wanted to understand how the beads look after 450 miles and amazingly we found they don’t pack out at all which is the beauty of the material. The other piece that we wanted to wear test was that it resonated with new runners or reluctant runners. We split our wear testing group into those who are going to log up to 80miles a week and are very articulate with how their foot feels throughout their week of running, but we also those runners who don’t run all the time.
The new Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is designed to bring that soft path feeling into a shoe. We know that when choosing between a hard surface and a soft surface, runners will instinctively choose the softer surface. We wanted to take the idea of this super-soft path and put it into a shoe.
We also know runners don’t like to take a day off. The idea was how do we allow runners to continue to run but give their legs a break? Essentially, how do we make running easier for both runners and reluctant runners? The magic of the Joyride technology is in the beads. With thousands of beads underfoot – on average 16,000 for women and 22,000 for men per pair – the Joyride is a personalised cushioning platform like Nike has never delivered before.