Apr 14, 2009

FlightPosite

Found this randomly on the net
The Flightposites


Future past, meet Future present. The Flightposite and Flightposite KG go Toe-to-Toe and you've got a ringside seat.

by Professor K.

The Nike Air Flightposite was released in 1999 and represented the state of the art in sneaker design, manufacturing, and materials (for more on the Flightposite see the full review). In late July of 2000 the successor to the Flightposite was released in the form of the Nike Air Flightposite KG (previously known as the Flightposite II). Is the sequel better than the original or is it a pretender to the throne. That's what we're here to find out in Toe-to-Toe.

The way this works is that we compare the two shoes in four different categories, namely: comfort & weight, cushioning, ankle support, and weight. The shoe that comes out on top after averaging the results from those four categories is the winner. Pretty simple.


The Flightposites

figure 1. What better way to start our Toe-to-Toe comparisons than with two of the most innovative sneakers manufactured today. The also just happen to be related.

Round 1: Comfort & Fit
The combination of form fitting Foamposite and a full-length dynamic fit innersleeve made the Flightposite the most comfortable shoe of its day. While the technology hasn't changed much in the Flightposite KG, the implementation has in some subtle, but beneficial ways.

The most visible change is the lack of any Foamposite material in the forefoot area of the Flightposite KG (see title picture at top). This is a plus for two reasons; first, the Foamposite material is heavier than fabric. Limiting it's use to only those areas that add support and comfort to the foot helps the KG shave off some weight while maintaining the fit benefits of Foamposite. Second, by removing Foamposite material from the part of the shoe that flexes the most, the forefoot, Nike is able to make the KG more flexible at the forefoot while reducing the occurance of creasing and blowouts in that part of the shoe.

One other visible difference is the addition of a large carbon fiber midfoot support plate in the Flightposite KG. Much more than just a design element, this provides the KG with a tremendous amount of torsional rigidity while definitely giving the KG a leg up in the foot support department. This combo makes the KG a more stable shoe and reduces the chances that you'll inadvertantly roll your foot leading to a nasty ankle sprain. This is a good thing.

So the results in Comfort & Fit are:
Flightposite:
Flightposite KG:


Round 2: Cushioning
In the area of cushioning you won't see any differences between the two shoes, but once you've laced them up and run and jumped a bit you'll feel a big difference. The Flightposite employs a low-profile Zoom Air unit in the forefoot and a Nike Air Sole unit in the heel. This is definitely a good combo, but the Flightposite KG one ups the Flightposite again by using a Zoom Air unit in the heel as well as the forefoot. Anyone who's worn Nike shoes using the latest generation of Zoom Air knows that they are the most responsive Air technology that Nike has, while also being the lowest profile. By responsive I mean that you can actively feel the cushioning effects of the Air Sole units. With other Nike Air technologies such as Tuned Air, Max Air, and standard Air Soles you need to apply a good deal of force before you feel the cushioning effects and because you're generally in movement at the time, you don't feel it happening. With Zoom Air you can feel the cushioning effects simply by shifting your weight back and forth. They also seem to almost provide you with an energy return by immediately popping back into place. In other words, they respond to the way that your body is moving in a way that you can actively feel. This combined with the fact that Zoom Air units are much thinner than other Air technologies, providing the wearer with much better court feel, makes Zoom Air a great choice in shoes meant for quick players such as Guards and Small Forwards.

The Flightposite KG's use of Zoom Air in the forefoot and heel definitely gives it a leg up in this department:
Flightposite:
Flightposite KG:


The Flightposites

figure 2. It's clear in this photo that the zipper on the Flightposite KG ends much lower than that on the Flightposite. This is one of the factors that contributes to it's poor ankle support.

Round 3: Ankle Support
This is one area where the new Flightposite KG definitely falls short, literally and figuratively. If the KG had one more row of laces it would have been perfect, but instead the zipper lace cover on the KG falls about an inch lower than on the Flightposite. Not only does this mean reduced ankle support, it also leads to the small, but annoying problem of the zipper on the KGs consistently slipping about a half inch down from the top. Because the top of the zipper falls at the widest part of the ankle, the base, as soon as the ankle is flexed, the zipper slips. The Flightposite definitely does a better job in this department. Not only does the zipper end higher, but the velcro zipper cover actually helps to keep it in place unlike the plastic cover on the KGs, which seems to be more about form than function.

So the net in Ankle Support is:
Flightposite:
Flightposite KG:


Round 4: Weight
This final round also goes to the original Flightposite, but only by a hair. Both shoes are heavier than most traditional leather/fabric based shoes because the Foamposite material itself is fairly heavy. You'd think that by removing Foamposite from the forefoot of the KG it would have reduced that shoe's overall weight, but it hasn't, the KG is a bit heavier than the Flightposite. I think that this may be due to what seems to be thicker Foamposite on the KG, particularly in the heel area, and the introduction of the carbon fiber midfoot support plate. Carbon fiber is extremely light for its strength, but it seems to have added some weight.

While the KG is a bit heavier, it's so close that I consider this a draw: Flightposite:
Flightposite KG:


The Flightposites

figure 3. The soles of the Flightposite and Flightposite KG are visually very different, but the principles are the same, forefoot flex grooves and visible midfoot support. The difference is that the KG does it a little bit better.

Overall Thoughts
One area not mentioned above where the KG also has an edge is in court grip. The new modified herringbone pattern with forefoot flex grooves on the outsole seems to provide the KG with more surface area than the Flightposite, providing more overall grip. Don't get me wrong, the original Flightposite was no slouch in this area, but the Flightposite KG does a bit better.

In terms of appearance, the KG is still cutting edge, but not nearly as "fashion forward" as the Flightposites were and still are. Personally, I found the organic form of the original Flightposite to be beautiful, and the use of iridescent materials very innovative. While the Flightposite KG will still turn heads, it's not nearly the eye magnet that the Flightposite is. There are several more colorways of the KG due later this year and into next, so the jury's still out in this area.

In short, Nike has done a great job making a shoe that was as good as it gets even better. If it came down to a choice between wearing the Flightposite or the Flightposite KG in a big game, I would definitely reach for the KGs without looking back.

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