What’s the deal with Nike’s Vaporfly 4%?


Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly 4%, released last spring on the trail of the Breaking2 project is a shoe that has created a lot of interest and some controversy online.

Some of the main themes are:

  • the $250 price tag
  • the ridicolously limited availability, making the few pairs that appear online disappear immediately
  • the 4% performance improvement claim, which has recently been shown to be true by independent research

But there is now another thing that one of our readers noticed. Read the description of the Vaporfly 4% as appears today (December 7th) on Nike’s website:

Since the Vaporfly is out of stock, Nike suggests to check out the Zoom Fly, which has the same carbon-infused nylon plate.

Hmmm….. that’s not how the shoe was launched:

The shoe as it was launched, and as we tested earlier this year, has a full length carbon plate, which is a significantly more expensive material to produce and should have completely different characteristics and behaviour.

This picture, also courtesy of Nike, illustrates how the sole of the Vaporfly 4% should be:

Nike 4 Percent

No doubt there: a full-length super-stiff curved carbon plate – which is NOT like the one in the Zoom Fly.

We don’t know what the story is here: is it simply poor writing on Nike’s website? Maybe they mean that the Zoom Fly has a similar concept plate in its midsole even though they are made of different materials, or has the newer production version of the Vaporfly changed its plate and it’s now a nylon one instead of a full carbon one?

If you have more information, or if somebody from Nike wants to chime in and clarify we’ll be happy to share with you what the situation is.