The Nike Air Zoom Maxfly Is The Fastest Shoe In Tokyo
The results from the athletics 100 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have confirmed one thing: the Nike Air Zoom Maxfly is currently the fastest shoe in the world. Worn by gold medal winners Elaine Thompson-Herah and Lamont Marcell Jacobs in the women’s and men’s fields respectively, Nike have invested many years and many millions of dollars into helping sprinters run thousandths of a second faster. Here’s how they’ve done that with the Maxfly.
The Olympics have traditionally been the launchpad for sports brands to showcase their latest and greatest performance products across all disciplines. For Tokyo, the ‘Rawdacious’ white, ‘Volt’, crimson, and pink Nike Air Zoom Maxfly was optimised for short distance track events between 100 and 400 metres, though US middle-distance runner Clayton Murphy has also been spotted using them for the 800 metres.
Every single component of the Maxfly is the most advanced expression of Nike technology so far. The uppers are made from Flyweave, a computerised manufacturing method Nike have used since 2015 that is capable of tuning woven fabric for higher durability and/or breathability while using the least amount of material possible to keep weight down. And it may not be obvious on this white upper, but there is a small heat-welded overlay on the toe bumper and heel counter for extra durability, plus a small degree of water resistance – sometimes it gets wet on the track, after all.
The Maxfly’s soles are where a lot of development has gone. Built on a speed sandwich of a full-length carbon fibre plate, dual Zoom Air chambers, and seven spikes, these are the ingredients that go into the world’s speediest shoes. Carbon fibre has long been a proven material for fast objects like sports cars and airplanes. For running shoes, carbon is not used for aerodynamics but rather for propulsion. Here, the full-length plate peeks out at the forefoot, before hiding beneath the rear foam where it adds stability. Zoom Air is used at the forefoot for responsive impact protection, and is the most low-profile Air system Nike use – though the sheer size of the units on the Maxfly could qualify them as Max Air! As for the spikes, don’t forget Nike’s earliest success was on the track, even before the company was called Nike! Now, the track is again the locus of their latest achievement: the fastest shoes in the world. For now...
The Maxfly is far from the first time Nike’s most advanced running shoes have drawn the world’s attention. In recent times, the Vaporfly series has been nothing short of controversial, especially since Eliud Kipchoge and co. broke multiple records, and narrowly avoided banned status by World Athletics, the global governing body for athletes and their equipment.
In February 2020, Nike hyped up the homonymous Air Zoom Viperfly spike as a ‘new paradigm of performance on the track’, with its sole purpose smashing the 100 metres event. However, with the Viperfly’s conspicuous absence from World Athletics’ approved footwear list in the months leading up to the Games, Nike had to shelve their potential record breaker in favour of the Air Zoom Maxfly. It turned out to be a fortuitous move for the Swoosh, winning their first 100 metres men’s gold medal since Justin Gatlin at Athens 2004.
But how much faster could Thompson-Herah and Jacobs have ran in Tokyo wearing the Viperfly?
Since the medal ceremonies, it appears the Air Zoom Maxfly is completely sold out on Nike’s webstore. As Mars Blackmon proclaimed all those years ago, ‘Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!’ Given it’s a track spike, the Maxfly is unlikely to become a street classic, but its illustrious results sheet is glory enough.