The Nike Mercurial Vapor VI hit the markets a few weeks back through a huge Nike media campaign. It was Cristiano Ronaldo who was centerpiece in announcing the new range and the initial Violet color that the boot would be released in. Since that time, there has been much speculation about the performance and comfort level of the Vapor VI, with many wondering if it is in fact worth the huge sum that you have to fork out to get a pair. I actually received a pair before their release date, but have taken the past 3 weeks to completely test them out beyond just breaking them in. For testing, I wore a size 9US for several running only sessions, 3-4 training sessions and 3 games.
Straight off the bat, you are going to need a few sessions in these before they are ready for game time! I started off with a few simple jogging/fitness sessions without the ball to get them started. I followed this up by only wearing them in the first half of the initial game that I wore them in. But to be honest, they still needed some additional breaking in. I have heard reports of people blistering pretty easily from wearing the Nike Vapor VI straight out of the box and into a game. Be warned! Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any blistering from them at any stage. My main concern with how these break in is the glass fiber composite sole-plate as it seems to be stiffer than normal sole plates. This will loosen up over time.
Nike has chosen to keep a pretty similar design on the VI to its predecessor the V. There are also some new additions that need to be noted. First off is the lace cover that is now about a half inch lower, giving you a little more room to tighten your laces (although this is still a problem – see negatives.) You can now get down to around the 4th lace hole. Next up is the use of the Nike signature Swoosh, which on the VI is larger and runs right up around the front of the boot. Another difference is the addition of a see through sole-plate that allows you to clearly see the glass fiber composite underneath. The biggest difference is obviously the color.
Color = Violet
How Nike came about choosing the color has an interesting story behind it. When doing some research for the VI release, Nike spoke to Didier Drogba who stated that when he wore the bright colored version of the V series, other players seemed to pass him the ball more – he felt that his shoes played a role in this. So, Nike researched what colors were more visible on a green soccer pitch and came up with the current Violet design. They felt that Violet stood out more than any other color on a green pitch, giving it the added benefit of allowing other players to notice you more easily thanks to your cleats. Does it work? Unfortunately it does, this information comes from most of my teammates who said that you can’t help but see the cleats when they look up the field. This is especially true when playing games under lights. (I say unfortunately because this means we are in store for more crazy colors in the future. I am a fan of more subtle colors)
To make it clear, there is no Flywire technology used in the Vapor VI. This has caused huge debate across forums and blogs, and I have had many emails asking if there Flywire used. After the trouble encountered with the V series, and its delayed release, Nike chose to completely eliminate it from the new range. Instead they have gone with using a glass fiber composite chassis to decrease the cleats weight. They have also taken a pretty unique step with the blades, by cutting out a triangular center, again eliminating unnecessary weight. And the final difference is the addition of a special grip area at the forefront of the cleat. These groves are designed to give extra traction on take-off and increase your ability to be dynamic on the first step. It is difficult to tell if this actually helps, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have it there in case it does!
I have two specific negatives that I think Nike need to improve on. First is the sole-plate and how stiff it was to break in. I understand that the purpose of the new sole-plate is to eliminate weight, but I would rather the cleat be 1.0oz heavier and a lot more comfortable.It seems like Nike are trying to prove a point with turning weight into the number one priority, but if you ask most professional athletes, it is difficult to differentiate weight differences. the second thing is the lace cover, which again hinders your ability to get to the laces. In fact, it took me a while to actually get these boots on. The insole is designed with an added element of grip, so my sock got three quarters of the way in…and stopped moving! It took me a while to loosen up the laces and get my foot in. But then i had to try tighten the laces again. If the more expensive Superfly II is designed with no lace cover, why should the Vapor VI have a lace cover?
After all is said and done, I was decently happy with the performance of the Vapor VI. One thing that really impressed me is the fact that they offer a decent amount of protection for a cleat that weighs in at a decently light 8.0oz. And after breaking them in, they do have a pretty impressive comfort level. The color is pretty funky, but it serves its purpose on the field and grows on you, but there will be some slagging involved from your teammates! If you are considering buying a pair, you need to be ready to allow a few weeks for them to break in, time is everything with these boots!
(*boots supplied for review by soccer.com)