I would guess Giannis probably isn’t completely pessimistic about this year as most of the world; winning a consecutive MVP trophy and getting his second signature sneaker. Sheesh… That’s a heck of a year.
But while the Greek Freak is putting the league on notice, let’s see if the new Nike Zoom Freak 2 can make some noise in the sneaker world too.
WEIGHT: 416 g. / 14.67 oz (size 11.5)
TECH: ZOOM AIR
FIT: TRUE TO SIZE
RETAIL PRICE: $120
BD RATING: 8/10
Materials haven’t changed vastly from the original model. But the quality did. In a positive way.
The mesh paneling that makes for the main body construction got rid of that plastic spiderweb-like overlay found on the predecessor. That means improved pliability, as well as more free-flowing sensation for the toe section. Yeah, but that also means less rigidity on the sides, right? Well, that would have been true if not replaced swoosh logo. Nike got rid of that reversed swoosh for the Freak 2 and went for a classic look that we all are familiar with. As result, the swoosh is covering pretty much the whole outer side panel. Therefore, not only creating quite a big real estate for sick designs but also quietly being a strong structure for sustainable lateral coverage.
Continuing with side paneling, the inner one is made from synthetic leather or nubuck to be more precise, rather than mesh on the Freak 1. Obviously, that doesn’t add any big value to the performance sheet, but it definitely does feel & look more premium.
A double-stacked Zoom Air unit in the heel without having one in the forefoot didn’t make sense to me. That was the only big issue I had with the Zoom Freak 1. Did Nike listen to us, consumers, on this one? Yes, they did. Sort of…
So the Zoom Air unit made its way in the forefoot section for the Freak 2. However, in exchange, the heel was left “airless”. That’s a trade that most of us can live with no problem since the heel area is not the one we strike from, or you definitely shouldn’t if you do so. It’s more of an impact absorber, and so Cushlon is a solid option for that nonetheless.
No doubt about it, you can’t compare foam with Zoom Air. It’s like throwing a rubber ball from those machines from your local grocery store, versus throwing a pillow to the ground. That rubber ball will bounce all over the place while the pillow mostly will absorb energy going up only an inch max. This is exactly how the cushion setup performs in the back of the Freak 2 – solid amount of impact protection, yet minimum bounce/energy return.
There’s simply no way around for the first signature models not to have storytelling stuff displayed/implemented into the outsole. That family tree (no offense) isn’t something that would improve performance, usually, it’s the opposite. You can say the first model was quite an exception to the rule, offering a solid performance until there wasn’t dust in the way.
This year, you will be still getting some Gianni’s family tree knowledge in the heel section, together with some sort of “kid’s doodle” like lines. Definitely doesn’t look promising, but I actually didn’t have any tangible issue with it. So I’ll give it a pass.
The forefoot, on the other hand, is where the elite stuff is sitting. There you do have one of the most trustworthy circular traction pattern, which smoothly transitions into nubs going towards the lateral side of the outsole.
It was that “put it & gun it” type of performance. No break-in time was needed. A full potential straight out of the box. Yet it rocks until you meet rocks. Yeah… How is my rhyme skills, huh? Probably most of you didn’t understand what I tried to say with that. Ultimately, the traction tooling did put out a solid bite with the floor before it clogs up with dust and debris. The successor suffers from the same disease, though, symptoms are less effective.
Only the nub portion of the pattern is tightly spaced. Therefore, while the lateral side slips, the rest of the forefoot tries to hold on. So you do have that slip & stop, instead of just slip.
You won’t find a one-piece botty construction. Half botty style isn’t available here too. They went for the old school build: a tongue only stitched to the toe piece, along with independent side pannels. That unlocks more adaptability for the upper to create the closest one-to-one, custom fit possible for this setup once laces are cranked.
When it comes to sizing, it’s more or less the same case as with the first-gen sneaker. They run snug. That being said, true to size for regular or narrow footers, unless you do prefer some extra space, then go half a size up. Same goes for wide footers, definitely recommend going half a size up.
Just by looking at that vastly sharp, heavy-duty looking midsole molding, you would think that this stuff is locked down for days. And that piece of mind actually comes to reality once you put them on for a ride.
Not sure why, but that midsole piece reminds me of Giannis’ face when he’s mean mugging. He does that in those “I own the game” situations. Same thing with the Freak 2’s – they rock in this segment, like whenever you need it, it delivers.
All of those wing/wave type of overlay parts in conjunction with the massive synthetic swoosh logo and aggressive heel mold make sure your foot is kept locked in at all times.
It’s safe to say, Nike didn’t fool around with the creation of Zoom Freak 2 as noticeable upgrades were felt across the whole performance board; improved overall fit with better weight distribution, added forefoot Zoom Air unit, a tad bit more aggressive traction (still not perfect), stronger lockdown and more premium materials. All of that comes at the same price point as the debut model from last year ($120). That’s something you can’t ignore or beat if you’re looking for an upgrade from the Freak 1.
The Nike Zoom Freak 2 is a solid performer which you should definitely consider against its rivals (Kyrie 7, PG4). But that absence of Zoom Air unit in the heel is what keeps them from being the best one out of three.