Performance Review: Jordan Melo M8

words & images // Nick DePaula
Kicksology // Jordan Melo M8

Perfect If You’re Carmelo Anthony — Outstanding If You’re Not

Ever since the concept of a signature sneaker was born, the approach was pretty straightforward: Build a sneaker to the athlete’s exact specifications. Which is great. There’s been some classic cues born from that ethos, whether it was more recently a defining performance trait like Chris Paul’s brake-reliant medial rubber wrap, or Kobe Bryant’s insistence on midfoot lockdown and heel fit in a lower collar height.

For Carmelo Anthony, his line has bounced around a bit through the years between cushioning technologies, design inspiration and quite honestly, general interest, but this new upcoming season and his eighth signature model finally seem to be veering the series back on track. The best part is that they’re built to his exact specifications. If you’re not 6’8 and a silky smooth scoring pro forward, the good news is that the Melo M8 is an outstanding all-around and versatile performer.

The expectations through the years have elevated for every facet of the equation, with Melo gradually going from the $120 price point with his initial 1.5 model to now the $135 mark. Of course much more notably, he’ll also be gearing up for the first time as a New York Knick for opening day of an NBA season. With the NYC market a bit more daunting than Denver, the added pressures didn’t seem to weigh much on designer Justin Taylor. “This is the first time that we’ve been able to come right in and launch the Knicks colorway as the main launch, and we’re excited about that,” says Taylor. “Melo is really excited about that.”

While the Melo M6 and M7 that Taylor first worked on for Anthony featured slightly more complicated tongue and collar fit systems, the biggest shift this season is the much more traditional collar found on the M8. Melo himself is still extremely cautious of his ankles and the lockdown in his shoes, but I found that with some snug lacing up to the very top eyelet, the M8 offers great protection and a nice plush feel thanks to the partial fit sleeve. The fit isn’t quite as targeted as the past two seasons, but you won’t encounter any problems either, making the shoe’s entry point perhaps a bit more generally accommodating. Personally, I’ve never cared much for convoluted collar stories, prefer more range of motion and definitely never bothered with the optional fit sleeve included with the M4, so the modified throat to the M8 is a welcome change for me. The shoe should work better with ankle braces than past models, and synch up just fine if you like to lace and go otherwise.

Another big shift in the upper of the shoe is certainly the introduction of Flywire for the launch version of the model. Of course, we saw the lightweight containment panel first used on the M7 Advance last spring, but those were only made in limited colorways and didn’t quite have the volume of pairs that the M8 will see. As Taylor explains, the addition of Flywire to the mix for the 8 was a decision made later in the process. “Initially, we were trying to do a custom synthetic that was just going to be for Melo,” he begins. “But after the M7 Advance came out, and Flywire did really well on that shoe and he liked it, we decided that Flywire would probably be the best fit on this one.” To be completely honest, the panel didn’t really do anything for me performance wise. The cables are anchored to the eyestay and in theory anchor to each lace loop, but the version incorporated is more similar to the first generation panel that Nike Basketball used in 2009 on the Hyperize, and not nearly as evolved or well-fitting as more current iterations.

The shoe conforms fine, but as we’ve seen in the Hyperdunk 2011, a real benefit of Flywire can be when it’s used with a mesh base for added breathability and tremendous fit. Clocking in at 14.7 ounces, the Melo M8 isn’t necessarily all that lightweight — or “impossibly lightweight,” as the brand likes to call hitting the 13 ounce mark these days — and I’d like to see Flywire used in conjunction with a more holistic approach to lighten up the entire sneaker. If the Melo line continues to use Flywire, hopefully it’ll be with a more dynamic and targeted approach to really maximize the shoe’s ability to harness and hug the foot too. At $135, I get that in today’s retail ladscape there’s a thing called “visible value,” and maybe the addition of Flywire was more for marketing reasons in replacing a less compelling synthetic along the upper — all I’m saying is I wasn’t blown away by it in this application.

On the note of visible value, one thing I won’t be complaining about at all is the cushioning that you can so clearly see. It is damn good. With a heel Max Air unit for stable landings and solid impact protection, the true gem of the Melo M8 is its forefoot Max Zoom Air bag. It’s exposed — a first ever for Jordan Brand — and it’s also placed directly between the midsole and outsole with no filler, so you get a hugely responsive and full-feeling 10 mm Max Zoom unit up front. If you’re a small guard looking for the lightest weight shoe, compromising a few ounces for this much cushioning might be worth it. If you’re a bigger forward and interested in having your feet feel good, this is where you should start in the hunt for your next shoe. “It’s tried and true,” Taylor says of the setup. “Plus, Melo loves the Max Air. You’ve seen in the last few that we’re putting the larger Air bags in the heel.”

Along with great cushioning all throughout the shoe, another real nice feature is the shoe’s support and robust midfoot shank. The TPU shank extends all the way from the heel of the shoe to the forefoot, and actually also helps to cage the forefoot Max Zoom unit for some added durability. Forefoot exposed Zoom bags can often bottom out or become less responsive over time without enough pebax encasing or support, but the cushioning held up great throughout my time in the M8. While I previously mentioned the need for the shoe’s Flywire to be a bit more effective, the large rand that runs throughout the upper nicely holds the foot over the footbed, and the stability of the shoe is a nice bright spot. If you’re a versatile forward like Melo that enjoys battling in the post or stepping out for jumpers and drives, the M8 should nicely complement a versatile style of play.

Moving down to the very bottom of the shoe is something even more tried and true than its cushioning system — herringbone. And as nearly every time, it works perfectly. You’ll find less need for swiping than most other shoes, and you’ll also really enjoy the transition and hold that the shoe’s outsole offers. Traction can at times rank highest in terms of what I look for in a shoe, and the M8 is right there among the best. The combination of traditional herringbone with a radiating siped pattern surrounding the pivot point is a great tandem, and hopefully not much changes from it for next year’s model.

All in all, the M8 was a joy to play in, and is well built, strong and stable. I would definitely love it that much more if it was around the 12.5 to 13 ounce mark, but if you’re a larger forward, it’ll feel tailor made to your game. The shoe’s cushioning, support and traction are all outstanding. I’d still like to see a more modernized version of Flywire in the shoe, as it could fit a bit better and should probably be more on par with Nike Basketball’s evolved Flywire of today, as compared to the more plasticky versions of years past. But, the effort to elevate Melo’s line with the company’s most celebrated materials and construction methods is a start. If you’re looking for more exact midfoot fit and lighter weight, you might want to check out a few models on the BB-03 last that are more narrow through the body of the shoe, like the Zoom Kobe VII and KD IV. (The Melo M8 uses the more generally accommodating QF-8 last.) If you’re after maximum cushioning, great support and want an all-around versatile performer, the M8 is definitely worth a look.

Jordan Melo M8

A- (92 / 100)

Comfort & fit: 4.5 / 5

Cushioning: 5 / 5

Ankle support: 4.5 / 5

Breathability: 4 / 5

Heel-toe transition: 4.5 / 5

Traction: 5 / 5

Weight: 3.5 / 5 (14.7 oz)

Best for: forwards looking for more impact protection, cushioning and support at the expense of weight and court feel

Colorway tested: Black / Orange Flash / Blue

Key tech: heel Max Air unit, TPU midfoot shank, 10 mm forefoot Zoom Air unit, Flywire upper, herringbone traction pattern outsole

Pros: cushioning; step-in comfort and plush bootie; dependable traction and stability

Cons: slightly too heavy for current market, midsole feels a bit substantial

Improvements: There really isn’t too much to alter here. Perhaps a few ounces could’ve been shaved from the tooling, and the midfoot could be improved for a closer fit.

Buying advice: At the $135 level, there are definitely several other great competing signature products, but if you’re not concerned about playing in the lightest weight shoe on the market and it’s impact protection and maximum cushioning you’re after, the Melo M8 is an outstanding choice. If you’re after traction, support and cushioning in a plush build, check them out. Bigger forwards will love these.

Available now: Jordan Melo M8

This post was written by: - who has written 52 posts on Sole Collector.

28 Responses to “Performance Review: Jordan Melo M8”

  1. Days Of The Blue. says:

    I was wondering since I’m sorta new on sneakers and such atm.
    What are traction and heel-toe transition?

  2. Nick DePaula says:

    No problem and welcome!

    Traction is the grip on the court that you get from the shoes.

    Heel-toe transition is the ‘smoothness’ of the shoe during your stride. A 5 / 5 naturally rolls through stride once your heel lands, and propels you forward through toe-off.

    Feel free to ask anything else if you’re curious.

  3. JLking says:

    It seems like this is a perfect shoe and should have gotten a 100/100. it’s only because the weight isn’t up to today’s standards

  4. Gggggas says:

    Very interesting review Nick, good job. Sad to see the old flywire setup.. Was expecting something better.
    I got one question, what is the overall forefoot height and how does it affect the stability/sliding issues?

  5. OnlyFootball says:

    Good review Nick. You can tell how cheap the Flywire is just by looking at it; the material reeks of cheap synthetics. I’m surprised to hear how light it is though, I thought it would be a bit more heavy.

    On a side note, will you be reviewing the UA Bloodline anytime soon?

  6. dev in kurant says:

    great review. however, can somebody explain to me what the BB-03 and QF-8 stand for?

  7. Mikala Ackerman says:

    There Nice. they look sweet and the traction grade level is good. it has a just enough traction.

  8. OnlyFootball says:

    @dev in kurant: Those are the names of the “last” that the sneaker is built on. A last is traditionally wooden, though now they’re made of plastic polymers and such. They’re meant to imitate some sort of foot shape that the shoe will be built around. Some of them are more narrow (like the BB-03) and others are more wide (like the QF-8). The last is why you’ll find that certain brands fit you better than others; they each use different lasts, some of which more closely approximate your exact foot shape than others.

    If I’m wrong about any of this or just missed something, feel free to correct me (anyone).

  9. jordan junky says:

    to much talk to say that they are sweet n i hope i can cop a pair if the christmas cw

  10. dev in kurant says:

    @OnlyFootball: thanks a lot.

    also, can someone compare cushioning of these shoes to the lebron 8 PS court-feel wise? i used to own lebron soldier 4 and the shoe still felt close to the ground to me. the lebron 8 ps was different, i could feel i’m standing much higher, which i did not like. is the m8 simillar to the lebron 8ps in that aspect?

  11. td15 says:

    Im thinking of buying these shoes at around christmas. atm i have the crazy lights and for my game i like to be quick and explosive and rely on my hops. but im starting to get the pains in my knees. i know you said the shoe would be good for forwards but i am a SF and SG so would you feel this shoe is still good for me? i really want the cushioning since i already own th crazylights,. or is there any other shoe you can recommend.

    Great review by the way!!

  12. J.B. says:

    I’m sure there’s gonna be playoffs version which would be much lighter so juz have to wait a while for those! ^_^

  13. Weartesters says:

    @dev in kurant The cushioning height on the Melo’s will be very similar to the Soldier 4 and closer to the ground than the LeBron 8 PS. I’d recommend trying them on just to make sure the cushioning works for you.

  14. Ed says:

    Any other Nike’s with 10mm Zoom in forefoot?

  15. norwegian baller says:

    i just bought the shoes and they is already broken. After tow days of use

  16. S says:

    How do these compare to the M7 Adance in terms of cushioning and court feel?

  17. Alastor says:

    How do these hold up outdoors? Over the long-term?

  18. ko says:

    mine ripped right down the side playin ball in them the 2nd time. felt great before but thats ridiculous.

  19. LTH says:

    Nice,wanted to buy these shoe!

  20. curtis says:

    what year did these shoes come out

  21. pat says:

    i tried them on at a store and they felt very uncomfortable, i didnt even consider them

  22. LTH says:

    @curtis,This year

  23. jordan junky says:

    that sucks i would try to take them back or something there is no way that they should fall apart that quick. some one some where should do something. but you must really be ballin, lol

  24. LTH says:

    Like the all star cw of these!

  25. Drew says:

    Air cushions broke after one month of use. NEVER GET THESE SHOES. I later got a pair of Jordan CP too quick, Chris Paul over Carmelo anyway so its cool with me except that i wasted 130 dollars on a shoe that lasted one month

  26. Jason says:

    I’ve had lockdown problems with this shoe. I find myself having to tighten the laces every 20 minutes while playing. Anyone else run into this issue?

  27. Jason says:

    Air cushion broke on mine after 14 games playing on wooden court

  28. dan says:

    Jason, I agree on needing to tighten the laces often.

    Also, this shoe is decent for my wide feet, but I was wondering if anybody had come across anything recently the has a wide cut in the toe box area. Thanks!

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