Let us just be very clear about one thing from the outset. I have had the pleasure of experiencing fairly ‘different’, if that is the correct term here, running shoes over the past year or so. There has been Under Armour’s UA Hovr Sonic2 which has a tracker embedded in it and pairs with your smartphone to give you the activity data as it should be. Then there was Reebok’s Sole Fury TS complete with the split cushioning system and outsole, that not only looked radical but also proved to be an incredibly fast and comfortable running shoe. Then there was the Asics Gel Quantum Infinity which has a full-length GEL cushioning midsole that does a great balancing act between cushioning and feedback. And as we close the year, perhaps this is the most radical running shoe for me to wear. The Nike Joyride Dual Run, which has landed on our shores for Rs 10,995 and genuinely attempts to do something completely unique with running shoes.
Take the Nike Joyride Dual out of their box and the visual treat that awaits you gently takes you down a path of discovery. But what really is the big deal about Joyride? At the very core of the Joyride experience is the integration of four pods under your foot. Each of these pods has a strategic placement, and run the length of the sole. What fills these pods are tiny plastic TPE (thermoplastic elastomer—a copolymer of plastic and rubber) beads that have been created specifically to absorb impact as you run along. The mission is to balance the requirements of comfort and responsiveness. These beads will help with the energy return, which helps a runner with the forward motion. As with any running shoe, the idea here also is simple—to reduce the vibrations from every foot strike running up your foot while also providing energy assistance, to reduce stress related injuries.
Two of these pods are translucent. The best part perhaps is, these beads packed inside these pods are colourful, which means you aren’t viewing a midsole that looks like someone has stuck thermocol or some such incredibly boring packaging material on your shoe!
The implementation in the Joyride Dual Run is slightly different from the first generation Nike Joyride. The predecessor had one large pod beneath the heel and another pod towards the front, with the third pod with rubber lining placed under the toe. In the Joyride Dual Run, it is more a case of two redesigned pods beneath the heel and midfoot, with the visible beads, and two rubber lined pods towards the front extending all the way forwards.
As I slipped my feet into this pair of Nike Joyride Dual Run, it is impossible to not notice the cushy feeling from the upper. This isn’t the Flyknit spec, but yet the foot never feels hemmed in and there is good amount of ventilation available as well. But I keep coming back to the well cushioned experience the foot has, all round. The mesh that Nike has deployed on the sides of the upper to enhance rigidity and keep the foot secure does do its job well enough. I did notice the tongue is now integrated with the upper, on either side—this means you don’t need to adjust it to the left or right, and only have to bother about how much you need to stretch it towards you. This is also well cushioned. At no point does it feel that the upper is being rough on the foot or the foot is getting squeezed.
You don’t need to worry about a size up or size down when ordering the Nike Joyride Dual Run. This runs a pretty conventional size, and the highlight for me has to be the generous real estate in the toe-box. There are no arches or inserts on the inside or outside to provide any additional support, and to be honest, I didn’t feel the need for any of those either as the foot remains pretty securely locked in and stable.
Even though the Nike Joyride Dual Run tips the scales at 290 grams, they feel much lighter. To be honest. With running shoes, the lighter being better is an underlying theme (unless anyone wants to argue the indefensible) and this is a good thing. The Joyride Dual Run does feel light, well balanced and the foot isn’t gasping for some cooling down airflow at any point.
This neatly brings us to the unique proposition. As they are probably supposed to, the beads compress a lot more than even the best running shoe mid-soles. By the best, I do mean the Nike React comes into the equation, and the Joyride implementation offers even more compression over the excellence that is React. I really don’t need data and numbers to tell me what my foot finds comfortable, and the Joyride does a very good job. The extra compression has two immediate advantages. First, it absorbs the shocks, impacts and vibrations if you are running on a hard surface. I tend to do an 8-floor apartment climb every day, which is obviously on granite and marble, and the Joyride does a very good job of absorbing the impact with every foot strike. On softer surfaces outdoors, the comfort levels are outstanding. Secondly, the energy assistance is also more, considering there is more compression that is released as the foot transitions. This helps just that little more with the forward movement, something that runners would appreciate over time.
If there is one criticism that I have, it is perhaps Nike have not really upped the game as far as the overall visual appeal of the upper is considered. For instance, the colourway called Black/Hot Punch/Glacier Ice/Metallic Summit White does look good for the most part—well, understated is perhaps the word—but the dollop of white that you see on the upper on the front doesn’t really know whether it is a straight line or a curve. Maybe completely removing it would have helped. But have to say, I love the hot punch inserts around the lacing eyelets. Maybe the Nike swoosh on the outside could have been given some colour, because the black swoosh, despite of the white border, does blend in with the upper a bit too easily. Let people wear the Nike logo with pride!
The Nike Joyride Dual Run is one of those unique running shoes which will work well for regular runners and also for those who want to start off with daily running as a routine. Who really would mind the comfort, the responsiveness and the lightweight build? Nike has clearly heard the feedback for the first generation Joyride, and hence the quick turnaround for this update. It is always good when a brands understands feedback and works on that to improve a product. In this case, quite a revolutionary running shoe. And the revolution continues.