One of this summer’s blockbuster releases came in the form of the Nike Mercurial Superfly V. The fifth version of Nike’s total speed silo features some serious upgrades, with a textured Flyknit upper and an anatomical soleplate highlighting the tech specs. When you are the boot of choice for a player like Cristiano Ronaldo there is always going to be heavy expectations from fans, and as you’d expect Nike has taken the overall design and performance very seriously.
We’ve had these in testing for a few weeks, and here is how it all went down.
Find this release colorway available at soccer.com.
As releases go, this one has some serious tech specs and a complete make-up that is about as advanced as we have ever seen in a boot. I’m expecting the upper design with speed rib texture is going to provide different feel on the ball, and it is going to be interesting to see if the Flyknit material produces a different type of fit from what has been a tight-fitting boot since the silo’s first introduction to the market.
The Fastest Boot In Soccer
One of the key features of the Superfly V is how all of the materials interlock to produce the most efficient package possible. A dynamic mid-cut collar secures foot to ankle, while the upper is a textured Flyknit material, with horizontal style speed ribs running across the upper for extra definition on the ball. According to the Nike design team, the concept was simple; “merge science with design to build the fastest boot in soccer.”
Breaking In and Comfort
In typical fashion for a Mercurial boot, these are tight starting out. It takes a little work to squeeze your foot in and once you do, its snug right throughout. That creates a secure fit right from the ankle collar through the entire foot. The saving grace lies in how much stretch there is in the upper material. Flyknit is a genuinely friendly material that wants to work with your foot shape to define its true mold. This, in turn, makes them one of the most comfortable Superfly boots released to date.
But they come with what I deem to be a flaw. The shape of the heel (it is cut deeper to cradle the heel) leaves the internal heel counter more exposed to the heel and that produced a definite hot spot through the first few wears. I found that my heel was pushed right back up against the wall due to the tight feel through the forefoot. The good thing is that as I wore them more and they opened up, that subsided and it hasn’t been an issue since. As a result, I’d recommend wearing them in a few training sessions before taking them into a game. Allow the boot to loosen and flex so that they evolve to your natural foot shape.
One final note here, the soleplate features an unusual undulated design that I had some issues with, but I want to cover that more in its own individual section (read more below).
Textured Flyknit Upper
If there is anything I absolutely love about these boots it is the textured upper that cover the upper. For the first time, Nike leveraged data-informed texture mapping to create a Flyknit “speed rib” 3D texture. The raised surfaces provide friction between the upper and ball. These ribs range in thickness from 1 millimeter to 2.5 millimeters, giving you an idea of how much definition runs through the forefoot.
With a boot range like the retired T90 Laser, you got serious ping off the surface of the boot. With the Superfly V it is also a ping, but a softer more controlled ping. That might be slightly confusing to comprehend, but the thicker layer of ribs has a more solidified feel and that in turn creates a firmer region for connecting with the ball. On the T90 it was an immediate rebound, but since the material here is knit, you get a more uniform rebound that still provides a level of oomph. Where they really prove useful is when you are looking to place shots, as the texture allows you to bend the ball with that little bit of extra power.
In terms of general touch and feel, this is an exceptionally styled boot. Again, Flyknit is a great material to work with as it is thin enough to allow for natural touch yet it is thick enough to keep your foot protected through play. You don’t need any extra fancy gimmicks as the speed ribs increase the general surface area without impacting control as you get on the ball. Plus, it runs through the instep and that creates a zone similar to what you’d find on the CTR360 series; ideal for taking long passes out of the air.
Mercurial Anatomical Plate
If there is anything I didn’t enjoy about these boots, it is that dang soleplate. I’m not talking stud configuration here, instead I’m just going after the soleplate and the feel underfoot. When you slip your feet in the boots, this is no ordinary flat soleplate. The new Mercurial’s anatomical plate is aligned with the natural contours of the foot, “eliminating the gap that previously existed underfoot”, according to Nike. If you look at the images of the sole above, you can see how the sole has different dimensions. The areas where there are a series of vertical lines is where the inside of the boot dips down, or the areas where Nike has grooved out the material. The toes also deep down along the front line of the forefoot.
I get what Nike are trying to do here, and it does have its benefits as well as the fact that its 40% lighter than the carbon fiber plate it replaces, while being stronger and more responsive. But I’ve still got issues with it. First, it feels like you are placing your foot on top of a mini mountain range when you slip them on for the first time. I found that this caused some cramping underfoot as I adjusted to a non-flat surface. The design is completely different and every player out there will have that moment of “whats going on here?” My biggest problem lies in fact Nike are expecting players to adjust to a new plate, and by adjusting to that plate you are binding yourself with this particular Nike release. If you were to switch to another boot, then you need to adjust to a flat plate. And what if this is not a design placed on the next Superfly VI? I’m all about advancements, but in similar fashion to the Concave PT+, I’m not about modifications that players need to seriously focus on adjusting to.
The traction system of the Mercurial has also been revamped for speed. For the first time, Nike Football leveraged virtual Finite Element Analysis (FEA) testing, which provided scientific data to identify which traction pattern works best for the speed-focused player, inclusive of linear sprints. I’ve got to say that this testing has paid off as the actual traction provided is top-notch, providing the level of security you’d expect from a boot that CR7 wears. Both front Chevron blades, in particular, prove extremely useful through toe off, as you look to accelerate out of tight paces. Two thumbs up here.
Dynamic Mid Cut Collar
The collar on this one remains unchanged, and it 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. It’s purpose is to create a better fit and a heightened sensation of the boot as an extension of the foot. I get why it is included and there is a large section of fans that swear by the inclusion of a collar on their boots. Personally, I prefer a regular ankle cut! Through wear, I’ve found that my Achilles feels “tired” as the material tends to reduce the angle of stretch I get through accelerated movements. During play it isn’t a big issue, but after taking the boots off my Achilles region feels like it is slightly bruised. It is an issue I’ve reported to the folks at Nike on numerous occasions.
A common question we get 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.
How do they Fit?
Through this review we have talked a lot about the fit and the fact that they fall in line with previous Mercurial Superfly releases. They will more naturally fit players with a more narrow foot, but the inclusion of a Flyknit upper means they have some give and can accommodate a wider fit. Let me clarify some more here by stating that they don’t sit alongside the top wide fitting market options; they are simply the most accommodating Superfly release we have seen to date.
In terms of length, they are pretty much true to size. I mentioned the tight fit through the heel while initially wearing them, but I wouldn’t change the size I tested. After breaking them in, it was no longer an issue and the general fit was pretty ideal.
Vapor XI vs Superfly V
We covered this one in a post recently, but basically the visual design of both boots is very similar, but the materials used are very different. Superfly uses a Flyknit while Vapor uses a pliable microfiber material. The cut of the ankle is also very different, with a regular cut on the Vapor. They are similar in the fact that both uppers have speed ribs and definition through the upper, while the same soleplate is used on both. So, there are similarities between both, but in reality they are their own unique style of boots. Check out the latest Vapor XI colorways here.
The intro Superfly V features a standout dual 2-tone design, with plenty of color and a look that garners attention. Using Flyknit really allows Nike to define different colors in unique areas of the boot, allowing players to express themselves on-pitch. The second release in the series comes as part of the Pitch Dark Pack, with a black upper and Hyper Pink color through the signature swoosh.
The soleplate is my biggest issue with these, I just don’t like the undulation that exists across the footbed. Long term, I’m not sure it will provide enough benefits, and then there is the issue of what boots to switch to next if you ever need a change from Superfly.
In summary here, it is worth pointing out that this is a very advanced boot and as a result it won’t be ideal for all players. I sit in that category. But you can tell by the sheer number of pro players wearing them that they offer value and players can adjust to the level of performance they provide. It is a while away, but I’m already eagerly anticipating the next release in the Superfly series just to see where Nike head from here.
There are plenty of great colorways available in the Superfly V series – find the currently line-up available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: A speed focused boot that provides a quality touch and feel on the ball thanks to a speed rib Flyknit upper. The best fitting Superfly release to date.
Category: Speed and Agility.
Weight: 6.5oz, the lightest Superfly to date!
Would I Buy Them: They are the most competitive Superfly released to date, but they just don’t sit with my personal style and if I had $300 to burn I’d find other boots to spend the money on!
Player Position: It is all about attack. Whether you play out on the wing, are a creative attacking midfielder or like to sit up top scoring goals, these are a tailored boot for your position.