Nike Zoom Fly 4 Review Analysis (2021)
Last update: July 2022
The Nike Zoom Fly 4 is a carbon-plate running shoe for daily training. It offers a convincing ride but may lack versatility.
Nike presents the Zoom Fly 4 as the ideal shoes for daily runs. It’s suitable for all distances and can stretch as a competition shoe if you need it to. However, it’s best to pair with another model, like the Vaporfly 2 or the Alphafly.
These running shoes share a carbon-fiber plate with a rocker for a responsive and comfortable ride. As a result, you will find a strong rockered motion on the Nike Zoom Fly 4: as soon as your foot passes the midfoot, there’s a sharp forward movement. It feels like you’re tipping over. That’s what makes it so effective to go fast and run more efficiently in general.
The Nike Zoom Fly 4 features React foam in the midsole, which translates into a firm, dense underfoot feel. According to the testers, the durable platform (nearly identical to the Nike Zoom Fly 3) isn’t the most comfortable on long-distance runs, though it can handle a marathon easily.
The new Flyknit upper is the main improvement in this 4th version. The engineered knit mesh is lightweight and breathable for a comfortable lockdown. However, it’s a bit narrow, which may not be ideal if you have wide feet.
Overall, the Nike Zoom Fly 4 is suitable for runners looking for a sharp trainer for their tempo runs. If you don’t want to invest in a Vaporfly-like shoe, it’s a good, more affordable alternative.
Please read our full review of the Nike Zoom Fly 4 for more information.
- Comfortable, snug knit upper provides a good lockdown
- Effective cushioning
- Good durability of the sole, even over long distances
- Nice design
- More affordable than other carbon shoes
- Lack of versatility (not ideal for slow paces)
- Narrow fit
Nike Zoom Fly 4 Complete Review Analysis
This new iteration of the Zoom Fly, created in 2017 to be the trainer companion of famous competition shoes like the Vaporfly, the Nike Zoom Fly 4, is not incredibly revolutionary. Indeed, even though it’s been in Nike’s pipeline for two years, it does not change much from the previous model, the Zoom Fly 3.
It keeps the same midsole foam and carbon fiber plate. The main change is the new Flyknit upper that makes the lockdown even more comfortable and secure.
Although it’s not a very lightweight shoe, it has some undeniable highlights for tempo sessions. Let’s look at the key points that make it a good shoe for daily training and an alternative to consider for racing.
The Zoom Fly 4’s cushion is very good and provides efficient shock absorption. The React foam midsole is the same as the previous model, the Zoom Fly 3. However, the feel is quite firm despite the high stack (39 mm heel height, 31 mm forefoot height). This may not be suitable for everyone, especially for long runs.
Also, the React foam is less bouncy than other Nike shoes that use it, but testers noted that it felt like a more durable foam.
Fortunately, the carbon plate and rocker configuration help make the ride more responsive. As a result, many runners report a “jumpy” feel. The innovative configuration allows the shoe to act as a springboard when running at fast paces. We can find similar configurations on other new-generation trainers like the Saucony Endorphin Speed.
However, some testers note that the shoe can feel unstable during midfoot to forefoot transitions. It’s especially the case at slower paces where the shoe requires extra caution to avoid losing balance.
Foot lockdown (upper)
This is the main upgrade of the Zoom Fly 4. It comes with an improved upper that transforms the shoe. The upper now has a bootie construction with a soft, lightweight Flyknit mesh. Runners find it much more comfortable than the Vaporweave of the previous model.
The two-layer upper is porous and breathable. It uses Nike’s flagship upper technology, Flyknit, a dense knit that reinforces high-friction areas like the heel. This upper is more comfortable than previously but runs tight, primarily because of the cramped toe box.
In addition, the Flywire cables, located in the midfoot, provide more support. A soft cushion is added at the heel to support the Achilles tendon and prevent heel slippage ideally.
For some testers, this upper is one of the best created by Nike. It easily compensates for the weight of this shoe, which is a bit higher than the Zoom Fly 3. With its 9.6 oz/272 g for the men’s model and 8.2 oz/232 g for the women’s version, it’s acceptable but by no means impressive.
Grip and durability
The outsole of the Nike Zoom Fly 4 features plenty of rubber. It covers the entire forefoot and the sides of the rearfoot with longitudinal patches.
Some of the high-density foam in the React outsole is exposed, but it’s pretty sturdy to withstand chips and scratches. Unfortunately, the rubber is not as durable and can wear out quite quickly, according to a few runners.
Also, the tread pattern is relatively flat and doesn’t have deep flex grooves. As a result, traction on wet surfaces is not good, and most testers even advise against using this shoe on dirt roads or rain-soaked pavement. According to them, it’s only suitable for dry roads.
The runners who tested the Zoom Fly 4 reported interesting running shoes for daily runs on the road. The React foam combined with the carbon plate and rockered design gives the feeling of being propelled forward and promotes a springy ride. It allows for a more efficient ride with good energy return, at least at fast paces; they felt the shoe was a bit unstable and less comfortable at slow speeds.
The cushioning is comfortable overall, even for long distances like the marathon. However, as mentioned earlier, the underfoot feel is relatively firm due to the high-density foam and the stiff plate, which may not be to the liking of everyone.
Heel-to-toe transitions are not always smooth. At low speeds, runners note that the plate is clunky and feels like the foot banging the pavement.
Therefore, these running shoes are mainly suitable for fast or tempo training. Not very versatile, they are not the right tool for leisurely rides like recovery sessions.
The Nike Zoom Fly 4 is a good shoe for daily training with a carbon plate. Like Saucony and its Endorphin series, Nike wants to offer a range of models for all situations.
In this case, the reviews revealed that the shoe suffers from a lack of versatility: its good (but firm) ride can be stunning, but you need to go fast to activate it. At slower speeds, transitions are sluggish or even unstable.
This new long-awaited version 4 of the Zoom Fly shines above all by its innovative upper that many found very comfortable.
The shoe can undoubtedly be suitable for different runners in their daily workouts at high speeds and over long distances. However, those with wider feet or who overpronate should avoid it, as it fits narrow and can be unstable at times. Also, this shoe is not among the lightest, and its firm platform can deter some athletes.
Its sleek design and good performance make it a solid competition shoe for the half or full marathon.
Last but not least, despite its relatively high price, it remains one of the most affordable carbon-plated running shoes of the moment.
|Heel stack height||39 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||31 mm|
|Weight (men)||272 g/9.6 oz|
|Weight (women)||232 g/8.2 oz|
|Features||Rocker, carbon-fiber plate|
|Softness (1-5)||2 – Firm|
|Bounce (1-5)||4 – Bouncy|
|Distance||Short, mid, long, 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon|
|Workout||Competition, daily runs|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It fits true to size. So it’s neither too big nor too small in length. However, its narrow design may not suit wide feet (try it in-store if it applies to you).
Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner’s Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He’s also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.