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What is Nike Up To?

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 | 14 Comments

It appears as though Nike is finally making a little noise in the minimalist market, starting with a “transition” version of the Free.  Rumor has it they’re going to be releasing a 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm drop shoe with the idea that people will be able to transition down from high-heeled shoes to minimal shoes.

It would seem my “Nike hypothesis” is coming to fruition.  According to another source within a major online running shoe retailer, online sales numbers for motion control shoes are plummeting.  Once the salesperson is removed from the equation, people abandon the built-up shoe paradigm.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Is the next step a zero-drop shoe using a Bowermann/Pre story?  Time will tell.





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  1. colin
    February 8, 2012

    the other thing is i run mainly trails and run the rods occasionally and our track for speedwork. i run in the trail gloves on most decent trails and for the track and road and the MT110 for the more rocky,muddy, and worse conditioned. i like the minimal feel of the trail gloves but for the races i like the MT110’s because you can run fast and hard. i dont know weather or not to stay with this or go all trail gloves and spend more time training my feet to run more minimal. what are your thoughts so i can still haul on the races? thanks for putting so mich time into minimalist running

  2. Colin
    February 8, 2012

    Nike needs to step it up because with their money and resources they should be able to make an OUTSTANDING minimalist shoe for both trail and road running. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I hope it’s out by next fall for my first year of XC but I doubt it:(

  3. Jesse
    February 5, 2012

    I just want a cool Pre mustache. Motion control shoes make mustaches look less cool, so I wear racing flats.

  4. Brian G
    February 5, 2012

    Earlier MGBG mentioned that running may be bad for you. Or to put it more precisely, because of running a heckuva lot with not enough recovery time, lack of attention to proper form and injury pains, and simple genetics, a lot of folks may be much more prone to injury than others no matter what they do.

    What if the broader population, including those folks described above, take these transition and barefoot shoes and go crazy with them, thinking they’re the cures to all their injury ills? And because of that the injury rate for running doesn’t go down — or worse, starts creeping up?

    I could see some podiatrists having a field day.

  5. deeago (Diego)
    February 4, 2012

    I suppose that ASICS 33 has set the trend. BFR will be an excuse to sell thousands of “transition” shoes which are not much different from present A2 shoes. The market will then increase marginally due to more articulation: yesterday 99% of people bought protection shoes (A3), today people will choose from a variety of models.
    Which is good.

  6. Rob Y.
    February 4, 2012

    I don’t see what the big deal is. If you want to BFR, BFR if you want to run in shoes, run in shoes. Why can’t we all just get along? 😉

    I too am interested in seeing if Nike comes on board with wider toe boxes; main reason I’ve moved away from wearing their brand.

    • Erik
      February 4, 2012

      Right Rob, why take sides? I just find these developments interesting–that it may have taken people running barefoot to get the majority of runners to rethink their shoes. I think there will continue to be people who take up BFR, but I’m wondering for how much longer it will be able to sustain itself as a ‘movement,’ now that minimalist shoes are coming on strong. There was a lot of barefooting in the 60s too, where it also served as something of an oppositional identity, and that never amounted to much. The parallel isn’t exact, but after 30 years of barefooting, more or less, I’ve noted how much people like their shoes, the world over.

  7. Linkscoach
    February 4, 2012

    What Nike is up to is selling more shoes. They find a way to do that with every niche market. They have just figured out a way to get everyone to buy four pairs of shoes instead of one. They are not trying to improve the running world they are trying to expand their marketing hold on it.

    When it comes to minimalist shoes Nike is the anti-Merrell.

  8. Brian G
    February 4, 2012

    I don’t know if there was a true, broad barefoot movement outside of the core running community as much as a “less shoe, dammit!” movement that found it’s most vocal supporters in true BFRs. Just a hunch. But I agree with Erik in that people, myself included, like shoes more than barefoot, at least outside of the house. So while the BFR movement *may* greatly diminish it will have thankfully spawned a move in the right direction.

    However with Nike entering this market I’m sure the terminology — barefoot, minimalist, transition, Nike Free-lesses — will just get more confusing and folks, again, won’t know what exactly they’re purchasing and why. Maybe we should just start saying “Less Shoe – More Concentration on Form” as a mantra.

    • Erik
      February 4, 2012

      That’s a nice way to put it Brian G. Only time will tell, but it seems the writing is on the wall. Or should we say the tread is on the track?

  9. Erik
    February 4, 2012

    We may be witnessing not only the demise of motion control/stability shoes, but perhaps also of barefoot running (as a trend/movement anyway), if minimalist shoes really are succeeding in capturing the running world’s imagination. Without an opposition, the motive for BFR for a lot of people will disappear, and their longstanding love of shoes will assert itself once again, now that running shod is justifiable in bio-mechanical terms. I will return to my former state as a barefooter who runs, while other barefoot runners go back to being simply runners. It was fun while it lasted. Say it ain’t so.

  10. Kate Kift
    February 4, 2012

    Yeah, I went to a minimalist vs. traditional shoe symposium the other week and this was the conversation I had with the Nike rep there.

    Did make me think of this trend at the time. Wasn’t just Nike. There were a few other traditional motion control companies spouting the same idea.

    Given that the whole symposium was over attended I am guessing the “barefoot running is not a factor” issue no longer applies.

    You remember that “tipping point” you talked about? I seriously think we have reached it.

  11. Vincent
    February 3, 2012

    I agreed with the “Nike hypothesis” and am glad to hear of bits of info hinting at this move. I’ve always been a fan of Nike and usually rocked their brand of gear in every sport I played. The original Frees way back when were my first foray into the more minimal style of running on a day-to-day basis

  12. briderdt (David)
    February 3, 2012

    But it does remain to be seen just how much forefoot room they’ll have.