You can never doubt Nike and their abilities when it comes to delivering the next big thing to hit the market. This time around it is a new version of the high profile Mercurial Superfly range that features a mix of technology found on the new Magista, and modified technology from the original Superfly. In terms of popularity, they don’t get much bigger than these with fans flocking to get their hands on a pair however they can. Being that they are priced above $250, that is not as easy as it sounds, but those that have managed to snag a pair are reportedly extremely pleased with their purchase.
But how do they really perform and why have players like Cristiano Ronaldo gone about modifying their pairs? Here is our take and what you need to know about the alternate speed boot.
It is very interesting to see what direction Nike has taken the Superfly in, considering it was a range that seemed to be part of the past. The introduction of a mid-cut collar and Flyknit material follows the release of the Magista, giving us some precedence for what to expect. Given my disappointment with previous models of the Superfly – notably because of Flywire on a rigid upper – I am interested to see how these feel to wear.
Are They Easy to get on?
Without having worn these, I’m sure there are many out there with concerns on how they actually slip on your feet. In similar fashion to the Magista, they are very easy to put on and it doesn’t take much time. The mid cut collar is stretchy enough to allow your foot quick entry. Pulling them off is actually the tough part, but even that only takes a few seconds.
Breaking In and Comfort
My experience with previous Superfly models was very negative when it came to comfort. This was primarily due to the restrictive nature of the microfiber upper coupled with Flywire technology. This time around, Nike has introduced a much more flexible material in Flyknit and it makes a world of difference. What you get is an upper that adjusts to your foot shape and provides a comfortable feel right through game. There is more fluidity to the material that allows them to accommodate a medium to wide fitting player without taking away from any natural movement. Adding Flywire keeps the material closer and slightly tighter to your foot, allowing for a completely new type of dynamism through play.
When you slip your feet into a pair, what should you expect to feel? They are easy to slip on, soft inside and definitely comfortable to wear. The addition of Flywire provides a snug feel but given the fact they are constructed with Flyknit material, you shouldn’t feel much discomfort. Wearing them for the first time, I felt some pressure along my right heel, where Nike has shored up the material for added strength without the use of a regular heel counter, but this literally subsided from the second wear – in other words, they were fully broken in after that first initial wear.
The “New” Superfly
The old and the new are completely different boots, but it is the development of the upper where these absolutely excel over the original. Rather than having a tough and rigid upper, these have a much more pliable feel thanks to Flyknit technology. It provides a much closer to skin feel on that ball that is natural and much more effective in play. Nike also removed the unproven front adaptive stud and decreased the amount of Flywire used through the upper. Hands down, the new version is a bazillion times better than the old version, so well done to Nike for making improved changes to the range.
Superfly vs Magista
Then there is a comparison with the Magista, since they are constructed using the same dynamic mid cut collar and Flyknit technology. Rather than pointing out too much here, check our YouTube Superfly vs Magista comparison that will fill in all the differences between both.
In Game Performance
There are a few areas that need to be covered considering the complex nature of this boots design. They are extremely futuristic and Nike has taken a considerable risk with some of the new features, included in that is the dynamic mid cut collar. Designed to create a better fit and a heightened sensation of the boot as an extension of the foot, this is a brand new look for the range. But through testing, I just wasn’t convinced that it was the right addition to a boot designed to be lightweight and focused toward speed. Yes, you do get a very connected feel that is actually super comfortable in play. The problem lies in how it causes a restrictive feel as you look to chop and turn, changing direction at high speed. Wearing a normal ankle cut siloutte, there is nothing that stops an immediate shift in direction. But, in order to shift in the mid cut collar you need to exert that little bit extra energy as the material holds firm across your joints. And as opposed to wearing an actual sock (I’m sire some of you will argue in this way) there is a soleplate joined that is intended to take traction with the surface you are playing on, so it drags. A soft sock in your boot moves totally in unison with your toes, foot and joints.
In saying all that, I see a purpose to this design for a certain type of player that is not relying on explosive speed or the ability to change direction at rapid pace. Its implementation on the Magista, a boot designed for crafty midfield players, is ideal and I also see it serving a purpose for midfielders that want to wear the Superfly.
Then there is Flyknit, and the first question that needs to be addressed here is will that ankle lining stretch to a loose fit? The answer from my experience is no. Flyknit is a strong material and the material is woven in such a way that it springs back very effectively. Through testing, it has the same snug and secure fit around the ankle as it had on first wear. We also haven’t heard anything negative from players wearing the boots, so as of now that myth can be squashed.
Next is Flywire, the scurge of my experience with all other versions of the Superfly. Rather than implementing a vast amount of cables across the midfoot, Nike has toned things done substantially and only has the bio cables surrounding each of the lace eyelets. The concept is simple; to provide additional strength across a lightweight material while supporting the structure of the boot. It works very well, and has the added bonus of providing an even more snug fit as you tighten the laces to your required liking. Personally, I am of the opinion that Nike got it right this time around, with a more less inclusive, but more efficient, design.
When it comes to the forefoot, we have to consider three important characteristics; touch, control and striking. I have been very impressed with the upper designs of the current Mercurial series. The Vapor X is an absolute dream boot to get on the ball with, as it has just the right amount of friction to keep you moving in a controlled fashion at high speed. These are very similar and again I have to admit that they are one of the top dribbling boots I have ever experienced. Creating that balance between a textured surface that allows for quick touches without being too smooth or too sticky is extremely delicate. Nike has got it right with this and that lightly dimpled design is perfect for first control in pacey situations. Also loving the feel for striking shots, something that you might not expect in a boot that features Flyknit. The overlay on the forefoot provides the ideal surface for striking shots while soaking in the impact of tough shots. Similar to the Vapor X, they make for a top option when it comes to really connecting with the ball when you need it most!
Traction – Where They Perform Best
Given that the sole features a bladed configuration, these are going to offer differing types of explosive speed on different surfaces. Ideally, they are the perfect option for FG surfaces, where I found them to be particularly effective with a little mud on the pitch. The blades provide a firm footing without grasping hold of mud like other conical studded boots do. On artificial surfaces, they should work pretty well but I would only consider them where the turf material is of a newer breed and offers a more realistic, natural feel.
How do they Fit?
A very clean, true to size fitting boot that should offer most players plenty of comfort. Where the Magista can easily accommodate wide fitting players thanks to its completely stretchy Flyknit forefoot, the Superfly is slightly more restrictive via the Flywire cables the enclose the foot. Thankfully, they don’t lock your foot in place like prior models of the Superfly ensuring there is room for maneuverability. If you decide to go for a pair and won’t get to try them on prior to purchase, stick to your natural size for the best fit.
First, the laces – they are super thin and I’ve actually had several occasions where they have knotted while taking them off. Maybe this is down to my clumsiness, but be warned that if they knot they are a tough boot to get off! The other critique has to do with the mid cut collar, as mentioned above it proves to be slightly restrictive when it comes to ankle movement in situations where you need to cut and turn at pace.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: An alternate type of lightweight speed boot that packs plenty of advanced technology such as a Flyknit upper and Flywire support cable.
Category: Speed, but not your acceleration packed version.
Would I Buy Them: Before testing, absolutely not. But having experienced them, I have lightened to the range and would add the to the must haves if the price was right (ie. much lower!)
Player Position: Not quiet the acceleration machine that the Vapor X is, but I’d still offer them as a top option to pacey players looking for something just a little different. The ideal player would be a playmaker who likes to burst forward looking to beat the back line with over the top runs.