Nike's Free range of trainers has kept muscular free-running combat trouser types backflipping off monuments for a good while now. The latest, the Free 5.0, promise to be more flexible and supportive than ever before, all the while looking good and incorporating all of Nike's current-generation trainer technology.
So how do they handle? Sadly we aren't able to jump across buildings to test them for you, but we can go for a good old-fashioned run. In short, they are amazing, read on to find out exactly why.
Unlike previous generations of the Nike Free, the 5.0s use Nike's Flywire lace technology. It works by reducing weight as much as possible while giving you plenty of support. Nike's says this results in a more natural feel to the shoe and, for the most part, it does. Flywire is based on the concept of a suspension bridge, with your foot being the road. As such, once laced up the Free 5.0s feel totally different. These are very comfortable running shoes, although we would love to see the extra cushioning that Nike's Lunarlon sole provides to some of its other trainers.
Tobie Hatfield, the man behind the design of the Nike Free 5.0s told Pocket-lint: "We are trying to free the foot." You certainly get the impression when running in these that this is the case. The point of the Free is to give you an illusion of barefoot running and as such, they are as lightweight and flexible as possible. This doesn't mean it feels like you're bashing your feet to pieces whenever you do a long distance run, more that the majority of the flexibility problems found in traditional running trainers are removed.
The sole of the shoe uses an 8mm offset for your foot inside, which makes for a very connected feel to whatever surface you are running on. The best way we could describe it is like driving a car with sporty suspension: it is a tougher ride, but the car moves and grips a lot better. The same can be said for the Free 5.0, which aren't as relaxed as other shoes in the Free range, but deliver a more stripped-back and natural running experience.
Build quality is very good. Nike has been doing an excellent job of late in turning out top-notch products. We have been using a set of Nike FreeRun+3 Shield trainers throughout the winter which are designed to keep your feet dry and have been amazed at how well they have lasted. They remain impervious to most puddles and make running in mud and wet weather a doddle. The same should apply to the Free 5.0s, which strike us as a great summer running shoe. While we are yet to put many miles on the trainers, they are clearly built to last.
As for colourways and looks, the whole fluorescent thing has been a longstanding tradition with Nike. Nearly every set of Free trainers shipped in multiple outlandish colours at launch, with more restrained options coming later. There is an all-black or grey and green option with the Free 5.0, but the bright blue and neon trainers we have pictured here look great in person. You can of course opt to build your own colourway on Nike's website, but the price will go from £85 up to £105 for a set of bespoke Free 5.0s.
If you are after a set of summer runners, Nike has done a great job with the Free 5.0. They look and feel great and even include a slot in the sole for Nike's own Bluetooth running sensor, which will pair up with your smartphone and allow you to track your runs. A worthy update to the Free range. You can pickup the Free 5.0 trainers on Nike's website for £85.