Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 Review (2023): Is It Really Better?
Discover the latest model in the series: Nike Alphafly 3 review
Very good carbon plate super shoes with significant changes to make them more accessible.
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
The original version of the Alphafly Next% took the world by storm a few years ago due to the success of record-breaking runs in the shoes of Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei. It remains a favorite among elite marathoners but with some concerns surrounding comfort and stability.
Nike heard those concerns and attempted to improve with the updated Alphafly Next 2%. Most of the critical components that made the Alphafly great are still present, but there were major renovations.
The midsole still has the same technologies (e.g., ZoomX) but with more foam underneath the forefoot. Nike also widened the platform and increased the heel-to-toe drop from 4 mm to 8 mm. Next, the outsole has a new thinner material with slight grooves. Lastly, the upper has a new design, lacing system, and more padding.
The results are varied. This is still a speedy shoe with a high stack that performs at all distances, especially for the (half) marathon. The updates made the shoe more comfortable and stable—the upper received especially rave reviews. However, some fans of the first version believe that the modifications make this shoe too heavy and less explosive.
At the high price of $275, this remains a shoe for high-performance athletes.
For more information, please read our full review of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 2.
- Fast ride
- Wider platform
- More stable
- Comfortable fit
- Durable outsole
- Weight gain compared to prior models (8.4 oz (240g) US M 9.5; 7.1 oz (201g) US W 7.5)
- Very expensive
- Not ideal for flat feet
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 Complete Review Analysis
To put it mildly, runners have been anxiously anticipating the release of the Alphafly Next% 2. The original version, after all, is still the racing shoe that holds all the prestigious marathon records.
What’s the right course of action here? Indeed, you don’t do a complete teardown and redesign of a shoe as beloved as much as the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly. It’s also not in Nike’s nature to stand pat and not look to innovate at every turn.
The course Nike took with the Alphafly 2 is somewhere in between. They kept all the technology that appealed to the elite racers but made modifications to have greater appeal.
The Alphafly Next series will never be confused with average running shoes, but this version attempts to appeal to more runners, not just the super elite marathon champion seekers. Let’s get into it.
If you like a racing shoe with lots of bells and whistles, then the midsole of the Alphafly Next% 2 will make you happy (for $275, it probably should have all the latest technology).
The Alphafly Next% features a carbon fiber plate, the signature of modern super shoes. The midsole uses ZoomX foam and two Zoom Air Pods centered under the forefoot, a carryover from the first version Alphafly. The stack height remains exceptionally high at or near 40mm – the limit set by World Athletics.
So what’s changed? Nike added additional midsole foam under the Zoom Air units and upped the drop from 4 mm to 8 mm. How do these existing technologies combined with the updates perform?
The Flyplate full-length carbon plate combined with the Air Zoom units propel your body forward with every strike. The additional drop improved calf recovery. The extra ZoomX foam adds comfort and a smooth transition from heel to toe. One reviewer, in particular, described the cushioning as a diving board—meaning it’s firm but with considerable bounce. This differed from the original Alphafly cushioning that runners described as more like a trampoline.
The Alphafly Next 2 has powerful, firm, bouncy, and supportive cushioning regardless of which backyard object it’s compared to. This shoe aims for comfort and speed, especially on long runs.
One area where the new Nike Alphafly Next% 2 succeeds is in the revamped upper. Nike went with Atomknit 2 for the material. Testers immediately commented that it was similar to version one but with more structure. The Atomknit upper is exceptionally breathable, airy, and excellent at keeping the feet cool.
One thing Atomkint isn’t is stretchy. Even though it’s thin and appears to be multiple flexible, reviewers expressed difficulty in getting their foot in the shoe. Thankfully Nike provides pull tabs on the heel collar and tongue to help you out. Though it isn’t an easy shoe to put on, your foot is locked in tight once it is on.
Besides the material, this road racing shoe has a different knit padding design and a new lacing system that adds to the comfort and lockdown. There is ample padding over the top of the foot, collar, and heel. Athletes called out the wider heel and soft Achilles padding as especially nice.
The shoe is slightly wider across the board – heel, toe box, and midfoot under the arch. While the additional width is welcome, this carbon shoe still has a high arch and narrow midfoot. So if you have a narrow foot and a high arch, it feels like your foot is in a cradle. It can be uncomfortable if you have a wide foot and a flat arch. Multiple reviewers noted irritation and blisters forming at the ball of the foot. Overall the shoe fits true to size.
Also, we hope that the shoes will be available in the Nature version with recycled materials like the original model.
Traction and durability
The Nike Alphafly Next% 2 is heavier in other areas and then made up some ground with the outer rubber. The new thinner outsole is made of new material with a new texture and pattern. There is still exposed foam but less than in the previous version.
Some reviewers had concerns about the grip based on the shallowness of the grooves. They worried that the rubber would not hold up to wet pavement specifically. It turns out that the concerns were unfounded as the traction was optimal on wet or dry pavement. Testers also found these running shoes to be quite durable. There was little visible wear even after putting the Alphafly through the paces.
The ride with these running shoes rated positively with a few caveats. There is exceptional energy return and bounce, though different than the feeling in the original Alphafly. The wider base and firmer cushioning add ounces but make for a noticeably more stable ride. Runs with the Alphfly 2 are fast and powerful but lack the “magic bounce” of the Alphafly 1.
While the added stability makes this shoe closer to a shoe for the masses, it’s still mostly for fast elite warriors. Trying to stand, walk, or even run slowly in these shoes is awkward. They are for long-distance racing. In fact, they feel better and more explosive the faster and longer you go. The high stack height is ideal for a straighter course as tight corners may get iffy and unstable.
Reviewers approve the Alphafly Next% 2 for training, daily runs, and races as long as the pace is high. One racer that wasn’t as wild about the added weight of the shoe planned to train in the Alphafly 2 and continue racing in the original Alphafly. All generally agreed that the second version of the Nike Alphafly Next% still had a bouncy dependable ride.
We couldn’t review the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 without comparing it with the original Alphafly. The first Alphafly Next set the tone in the world of racing shoes. But let’s not let that completely cloud the reality of this new Nike entry.
The reality is that, just like its predecessor, the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 is the cream of the crop when it comes to racing shoes. There are some complaints that it is too heavy and too much shoe, but those gripes are small when you look at what else this shoe is capable of.
Casual runners with wide feet and budget concerns should consider other carbon shoes. If you are an avid runner, especially one with a narrow midfoot, with money to spend on an elite super shoe to run marathons, then the new Nike Alphafly is a homerun.
|227 g/8 oz
|211 g/7.4 oz
|Carbon-fiber plate, Rocker
|Brigid Kosgei, Eliud Kipchoge
|Rubber with Traction Pattern
|ZoomX, Dual Visible Zoom Air Units, Full-length Carbon-Fiber Plate
|AtomKnit 2.0, Integrated tongue
|Mid, 10K, Half marathon, Long, Marathon
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 1
The Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 and Zoom Alphafly Next% 1 have many things in common, including a carbon plate, soft foam, and knit upper. There are also some key differences: sturdiness, drop, weight, and fit.
Version 2 has improved lockdown, higher drop, and a bouncy yet firm ride. The downside to the updates is more bulk. Version 1 has a slightly less sturdy fit, lower drop, a lightning-fast bouncy ride, and low weight.
The decision on which version is right for you rests on what you value most. If you want the lightest shoe possible for breaking records, then version 1 is the super shoe for you. If you appreciate some more security and sturdiness and don’t mind the heavier designer for your marathon distance runs, then version 2 is your jam.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, it does! However, be careful if you have wider feet.
Absolutely! It’s what it was built for, and the two current marathon records (men’s and women’s) vouch for that. However, if it’s your first marathon, you may want to opt for a more traditional model, as this one is special with a unique ride. If you’re an experienced runner, it could be the perfect pick to finally crush that PB on your upcoming race.