Performance Review: Nike Zoom Flip’N

Performance Review: Nike Zoom Flip’N

words_Terence Tang
images_Zac Dubasik
A Sole Collector Performance Review

Nike Basketball’s ReFresh line has seen recent success with models such as the Zoom Flight Club (a Tony Parker favorite) and the Zoom Shark-a-laid (a Rudy Gay favorite). The concept of applying updated upper designs from the past with tried and true midsole/outsole tooling features has yielded a collection of basketball shoes that appeals to ballers of all levels. Great-looking, comfortable, high-performance basketball shoes with heel Zoom, all for under $100? Sounds like a good recipe to me.

One of the most recent models to hit the market is the Zoom Flip’N, inspired by the ever-so-popular Air Pippen 1. As Rashard Lewis’ weapon of choice during the ‘09-’10 regular season (he has switched to the more recent Air Max-A-Lot for the Playoffs), the Flip’N has otherwise had limited exposure. You likely also saw Caron Butler wearing the Zoom Flip’N down the stretch of the regular season since his trade to Dallas. Nevertheless, the Zoom Flip’N wasn’t heavily worn throughout the league. After several wear tests, it became apparent as to why these have been less than popular.

Above: A Deron Williams player exclusive colorway that was never actually worn by D-Will.

Out of the box, the Flip’Ns are quite stiff by Nike’s standards. My test pair possesses a full-grain leather upper which took quite a few wears to break in. Unfortunately, the other available colorways probably won’t be much better, as the non-full-grain leather colorways are comprised of patent leather. While the stiffness of these materials does aid in stability and support, the lack of breathability is an unfortunate side effect. The mesh tongue does nothing to provide relief, and my socks were drenched within a couple of games. I would’ve liked to see some colorways with mesh or synthetic uppers, which would not only improve breathability, but also would allow for more mobility for more active players. Going hand-in-hand with the stiffness is the mediocre interior comfort. I wouldn’t say they’re totally uncomfortable, as the roominess of the interior immediately ruled out any chance of experiencing pinky rubbing. However, a full-length inner bootie would cushion the somewhat harsh feel of the leather (but of course, now we’re talking about a more expensive shoe). By comparison, the Zoom Flight Club is comprised of mesh and contains no inner sleeve, and it’s loads more comfy than the Flip’Ns.

The lacing system also deserves mild complaint. While the inward cut of the leather at the midfoot straps the midfoot down very well, the sloppy lacing around the base of the ankle causes the heel to not lock down properly. Better placement of the eyelets would fix this problem; without re-tightening this area several times, I could feel my heels slipping with every step. This is especially hazardous since improper lockdown of this area of the foot could really exacerbate an ankle injury.

Moving on, the midsole and outsole tooling is identical to that of the Zoom Flight Club, seen above. There’s a Phylon midsole with a 14mm Zoom Air unit in the heel and good ol’ herringbone outsole pattern throughout. While this setup would normally benefit quicker guards and forwards, the stiffness of the upper (yes, we’re going back to that again) hinders the crispness of your movements. I also noticed less-than-great traction under the forefoot (the same results were noted with the Zoom Flight Clubs), where the thin treads are set wider apart from each other than in the rest of outsole.

I’m not sure why Nike would put less rubber in the most critical part of the outsole, but there’s definite room for improvement here. I also noted some slight instability in the lateral heel, as the bottom-loaded Zoom Air unit gives way to rolling outwards of the subtalar joint (for more on this, read the Hyperize review!). A slight heel outrigger would remedy this issue, and I’m becoming more convinced that they should be standard issue on basketball shoes. And finally, of course, I’m left craving the responsiveness of forefoot Zoom. The forefoot Phylon won’t do much for those of you looking for maximum cushioning.

With all of this said, I’m not trying to imply that these are awful basketball shoes. After the break-in period, the shoes perform decently, despite the lack of breathability (a non-issue for some) and other complaints that some would consider nit-picky. But the truth of the matter is, there are much better shoes available at around the same price point, like the stellar and inexpensive Nike KD II.

Who’s worn it? Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic), Caron Butler (Dallas Mavericks), Randy Foye (Washington Wizards), Brandon Bass (Orlando Magic), Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz), Tyrus Thomas (Charlotte Bobcats)

Rashard Lewis in action:

Caron Butler in action: