(Pocket-lint) - Nike's Free running shoe range has been around for some time now offering runners a more flexible, less padded experience to the company's Lunar Glide series.
For 2014 the shoe range has broken out into three models, as well as been given a major makeover to suit a range of runners from professional athletes to casual 5km exercise hounds.
We took the Nike Free 5.0 shoes out to see how they performed.
The Nike Free 5.0 come in a number of colours and can even be customised to suit your style via the NikeiD service on Nike.com.
Our test pair were bright, almost radioactive orange, and while that has nothing to do with the overall performance, we mention it because a) it is such a bright and cool colour, and b) we've seen people actively turn their heads to gawp in awe as we've run past and that has urged us to go faster.
The Nike Free 5.0 has received a facelift with changes to the upper and the outer sole. Complementing the 5.0 are two new shoes; the Free 3.0 Flyknit and Free 4.0 Flyknit.
Hexagonal flex grooves
The previous Nike Free shoes featured a linear flex groove system that give you plenty of flexibility but only in one direction - i.e. front to back. The new shoes now feature a hexagonal design - it reminds us of the Reebok hexagonal air pockets from the early 90s - and the idea is that the show can now flex in all directions to give you more support, or as Nike says "enable the runner’s foot to move more freely in all directions"
In practice and we have to say that we haven't noticed a huge amount of difference, but that the shoe does deliver a very comfortable ride.
Although more pronounced on the 3.0 and 4.0 shoes the Free 5.0 features a more rounded curved heel rather than the flatter square back we've seen before. That should give those still heel striking a more rounded experience and one that actually looks like your heal rather than a big clunky shoe. We're mid-foot runners here at Pocket-lint so didn't really notice much of a difference to be honest.
The Nike Free 5.0 don't come with the Flyknit upper than you'll find on the Nike Free 3.0 and Nike Free 4.0 models, however you do get a Flywire-reinforced knit mesh upper than provides good venation and a great fit.
There's no-sewn overlays at all on the upper which makes for a minimalist design and one that is itch free. Additionally the inclusion of a traditional tongue construction, which is soft, helps cushion lace pressure. The tongue is very thin so as not to restrict space within the shoe.
The material makes for a light shoe and one that is very comfortable both wearing about town, around the gym, or the shops.
While we didn't actively notice some of the changes Nike has made to the new shoe, we did enjoy a very comfortable and padded ride in our runs.
Like before, 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.
We've done a series of runs with the Nike Free 5.0 shoes and the overriding feeling we've had is that they deliver a very cushioned run that has some responsiveness to them, but no were near the hard and responsive as that delivered by the Adidas Boost range.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, we've found the Adidas Boost tight and hard in our previous runs and the Nike Free 5.0 delivers a much more comfortable experience. Our feet have feel relaxed after a 6km run rather than beaten and bashed.
Our previous running shoe of choice has been the Nike Freerun 3 and moving into the Nike Free 5.0 has been a good cross over experience. They are comfortable, light, and so far over the last 20km a great performer, oh and did we mention we love the bright orange colour, shallow we know.