Join the Joyride: The Story Behind Nike’s Latest Running Tech
With cushioning technology 10 years in the making, the Nike Joyride is a revelation for the Swoosh, each sneaker containing thousands of individual TPE beads that shift depending on your own unique running style.
Propelled by the idea of stepping into sand, the Joyride is one of the most innovative cushioning systems we’ve seen from Nike in recent memory and, like the React, Lunarlon, Free and Air that preceded it, will no doubt continue to adapt, evolve and transform over time.
Sneaker Freaker linked up with William Moroski, senior product manager at Nike, to talk all things Joyride ahead of the release.
Let's go back to the early days. How did the concept of the Joyride come about? Can you talk us through some of your earlier ideas?
The team literally iterated on hundreds of material compositions. We started with the idea of stepping into sand, or sitting in a beanbag chair. The concept wasn't new. The idea wasn't new. It was actually getting [the beads] into a shoe that was innovative. We were looking at different materials, different sizes, different shapes of the actual beads. Once we landed on that, my team then took that material and that bead, and put it into a shoe. It took 10 years for the whole development of the material properties. Then my team took the last three and a half years to actually put that inside the shoe.
What's involved in wear-testing such a new technology?
In terms of actually wear-testing the final shoe, our team wanted to make sure that it's going to show up and be durable, and provide those benefits – not just on run number one, but on run number 400. The Joyride went through the normal testing protocol of Nike Running. It's the same protocol that we test React and Pegasus on. It's about getting the shoe out to groups of runners that are going to basically tear the shoe to pieces in terms of logging tons and tons of miles. We had runners run in the shoe over 450 miles with no durability or packing out concern.
'It's about getting the shoe out to groups of runners that are going to basically tear the shoe to pieces in terms of logging tons and tons of miles.'
Do the beads change over time?
That was one of the things that we wanted to understand: 'How do the beads look after 400 miles of wear?' We found that they don't pack out at all, which is the beauty of the material. We basically wanted to make sure that this thing went under the appropriate mileage that we do with any of our Nike running shoes. In terms of actual beads, in women's size eight, there are approximately 8,000 beads. On the men's size 10, there are about 11,000 beads.
How does it compare in weight to Nike's other recent running technology?
The Joyride sits on the heavier end of our product scale. Men's size 10 is about 11.9 ounces. One of the things that we've experienced with runners, is that even though if you put them on the scale, yes, this is going to be towards the heavier end, but we have never heard one consumer call this shoe out as being heavy. For a lot of people, I think the shoe looks heavier than it feels.
'It took 10 years for the whole development of the material properties. Then my team took the last three and a half years to actually put that inside the shoe.'
Where do you see the future of the Joyride? Is there lifestyle potential for the runner?
The Joyride is being launched in a few sportswear sneaker stores, even this season. We see an opportunity for the Joyride that isn't specifically running. There are a couple of silhouettes coming out that contain Joyride beads. We realised that [lifestyle] connection, which is why we're wanting a family of shoes for different purposes, even within Joyride. One of the things that we're excited about is the fact that we've been able to tune the shoe in such a way that we've never been able to do before. It's just the beginning of what customisation is for Nike Running and the Joyride.
Within the shoe, for example, we've been able to determine the number of beads per cavity – we haven't been able to do that in shoes in the past. Normally, we're just changing the size of the shoe, or the plate thickness in fast shoes to control the experience. But now you're actually able to say: 'No, we want 50 per cent of the beads in the heel, because we need more cushioning in the heel.' We can adjust the number of beads for a better feel in terms of transitioning, as well as stability. So the fact that this is generation one, our team is excited about two, three, generation five, and what that means for customisation for our runners.
'The concept wasn't new. The idea wasn't new. It was actually getting [the beads] into a shoe that was innovative.'
Any advice for novice runners?
I would say that if people can find a way to enjoy it – whether it be a mental escape or whether you're super stressed at home – you just need to unplug and just get out and run. A lot of runners go out too hard, too fast. They're trying to train for something that's too monumental, and then it's this intimidating, painful experience. But if people can actually step back and start off small and just enjoy the process, I think that they're going to be able to repeat that in the future.
The Nike Joyride hits retailers on August 15.