The Nike Zoom Kobe VI "Helicopter"

Introduction

Over the first few months of this year, Nike has released a slew of renditions of the Zoom Kobe VI.  So far we have covered the special Christmas Spotlight Kobe VI, the general released White/Concord and Black/Red Kobe VI, as well as the All-Star Specials – the East LA, Hollywood 3D, Orange County Sunset, and the Western Conference All-Star.  The endless amount of Kobe VI variations continues with the multi-colored “Helicopter,” featuring Dark Grey, Vibrant Yellow, Glass Blue, and Orange throughout the shoe.  For our performance review, we evaluate the “Helicopter” to see how the third light weight, low cut Kobe signature model stacks up.

Comfort and Fit

A shoe that molds to your foot was is the mantra of the Kobe VI.  Sliding into the shoe, the statement holds some truth.  A true to size fit, the shoe is comfortably snug.  Around the midfoot through the forefoot, the upper presses close to the foot.  At the toe box, the toes fit in place perfectly with very little crowding.  Moving to the rear, the fit exhibits a slight change.  Around the collar, the top of the foot is held in place at the front.  This is where most of the pressure in the fit is observed.  The soft heel padding presses up against the Achilles and lower ankles, but because of the slight raise in the sock liner, the heel does not fit securely in place.  Nonetheless, the lack of lock down at the heel area does not affect the comfort provided by the footbed.  Equipped with Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel, the footbed is complimented with a contoured foam sock liner.  The contoured liner has raised edges around the heel and arch, providing comfort and support.  With a springy feel, the customary Zoom Air feel is felt at the forefoot, with the heel unit slightly lower.  In the end, the designers have come very close to creating a shoe that fits the contours of the foot.

With a thin flywire skin on the upper, the foot is held in place with comfort

Performance

In hand, the Kobe VI is one of the lightest basketball shoes on the market.  On the foot, most of the weight is distributed towards the lower half, as the thin upper hugs the foot with very little weight.  In motion, running is extremely fluid.  The shoe was made for heel to toe transitions, as the curvature of the forefoot outsole and flex grooves work like a cradle.  In fact transitions are smooth overall, with the light weight of the shoe coming to the forefront.  Along side the light weight advantage is excellent flexibility.  The nylon and flywire skin conform well to the foot, with little discomfort.  Bending around the toe box and sides of the shoe are done in the flow of action.  And because of all this, no break in period is necessary.  For offensive moves, the added features of the shoe come into play.  For example, jab steps and lateral movements are supported with the flaring forefoot outrigger.  When running hard, the curved and raised outsole keeps the “VENOMENON” toe cap from touching the ground, helping to negate any toe stubs.  Working as well as the upper, the cushioning system is comfortable and consistent.  With Zoom Air in the forefoot, landing and foot strikes are cushioned with comfort.  The impact is carried through the cushioning system evenly without little hiccups, allowing for the player to get out and run quickly.  In the heel, the Zoom Air unit sits much lower, providing the responsiveness needed for quick spin moves.

With past models using the flywire skin (namely the Zoom Kobe IV and V), stability was not an issue.  For the Kobe VI, stability is excellent.  The nylon and flywire skin combo, although thin and light, keep the foot from awkward placements.  From the top down, the upper holds up well under extreme pressure.  In a static position, the flywire skin melds to the foot.  In motion, the upper continues to hold the foot, as it bends to conform.  When coming to abrupt stops or planting the foot in place, the scaled upper of the Kobe VI stand true.  Support is superb on the medial and lateral sides, and after multiple uses, the molded corrugations around the upper are visible.  On the underside, stability is reinforced with the carbon fiber plate at the mid foot and the contoured sock liner.  With the upper holding the top of the foot, the mid foot and arch are stabilized from harmful bends.  For the back end, stability is more of an issue.  Two issues come into play which include heel lock down and the absence of any ankle protection.  For players who play in the post, the Kobe VI may not be the best option.  As mentioned with the fit, the heel area is not completely locked down.  This puts some pressure on the ankles, which have no ankle protection.  Although the shoe can take a pounding for all the dynamic offensive moves, the abuse of playing down low in a crowd may be asking too much.  Nevertheless, those who are comfortable playing in thin lower cut shoes have a lot to look forward to.

Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot provides ample impact cushioning

The raised scale patterned outsole brings us to a strong aspect of the shoe – the traction.  For the style of play the Kobe line was made for, traction is paramount.  When stopping for any movement, including jumping, the outsole sticks without fail.  The traction performance excels even for awkward steps, as the curvature and raised pattern have great functional surface coverage.  Next, ventilation for the Kobe VI is sufficient.  With no ventilation punctures around the body of the shoe, air passes in through the collar and mesh tongue.  Heat displacement is aided by the thin nylon and flywire skin, which help the foot from getting drenched.

Conclusion

Spurred by the original Hyperdunk, the Kobe line has taken a lot of credit for the low cut, light weight trend in the basketball shoe industry.  After three years of low cut models, the Kobe signature line is at an all time high in popularity.  With the Kobe VI, the style features and performance of the shoe can not be doubted.  The shoe is perfect for speedy players looking for great flexibility, comfort, and stability in a low top package.  As the designers come up with innovations for the next iteration of, many questions remain.  What will the theme be?  Will the low top trend continue?  How much more weight can they cut without sacrificing performance?  All these answers will have to wait until the release of the Kobe VII.  But for now, the Zoom Kobe VI can be purchased in different color schemes at the official Online Nike Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Adidas adiZero™ Rose
Jordan CP3 IV