Air Jordan 2012 Lite - Superman

The Air Jordan 2012 Lite

Introduction

This year Jordan Brand went all out to make the Air Jordan 2012 the most innovative basketball shoe produced.  Taking the 2011 over board, the 2012 featured interchangeable midsoles as well as a choice of sleeves/booties.  Our Performance Review of the Air Jordan 2012 Deluxe revealed an average performer, with the focus of the shoe seemingly meant to impress with the concept rather than on court performance.  For the summer season, Jordan Brand has released their line that will extend into the start of the 2012-2013 season.  Standing along side the model that started it all is a stripped down and revised version, entitled the Air Jordan 2012 Lite.  Following in the spirit of the 2012 Deluxe, the Lite can be viewed as a refined version of the 2012, with the midsole integrated into the construction, while the shape and look remaining untouched (for the most part).  Can this streamlined model of the Air Jordan 2012 surpass the more hyped Deluxe version?  Will this be another lackluster effort by the Brand?  Our Performance Review of the Air Jordan 2012 Lite looks to answer some of these questions.

A streamlined version of the 2012 Deluxe, the Air Jordan 2012 Lite shaves off more weight and now has the midsoles integrated into the construction.  The features include the following:

  • Hyperfuse upper with Flywire for light weight performance
  • Cushioning provided by injected foam midsole and Air-Sole unit at the heel
  • Segmented rubber outsole with flex grooves
  • Mid foot plate for added stability
  • Mesh tongue which forms an inner sleeve

Aesthetics and Styling

There is no mistaking the styling of the 2012 Lite, as it takes from the more luxurious big brother.  Panels of leather that made up the Deluxe have been replaced by a seamless synthetic upper, covered with a shiny, translucent layer of Fuse material.  Style wise, the shoe is very simple, leaving the details from the shiny upper, Flywire strands, slashes on the midsole, as well as the traction pattern, to work with the color schemes to make the shoe stand out.  Technological features for this shoe come through with an Air-Sole unit at the heel and an internal sleeve.  The initial run of color schemes for the 2012 Lite features a DC Comics theme, which we featured with the Joker version.  For this Performance Review, a red, blue, and yellow color scheme represents the Man of Steel – Superman.

Air Jordan 2012 Lite - Superman

A thin upper is equipped with Flywire and a shiny Fuse layer

From the side, the Flywire strands and midsole slashes are brought to life with the shiny Fuse layer covering the upper.  The deep red color is bold and perfectly displays the lines of the shoe.  Around the collar, the asymmetry is evident as the medial side stands higher than the sloping lateral.  Flipping the shoe over, the outsole is separated into two compact sections.  The rubber on the forefoot area is cut with flex grooves creating segments.  A square and X traction pattern in molded in and is deeper in the middle areas of this section.  The front toe cap has the “JumpTown” text etched in, while the sides are curved for more natural movement.  Moving along, the mid foot sees a very large and shiny stability plate.  This black plate is marked with a yellow jumpman logo in the center.  Completing the outsole is the heel area, where the square and X traction pattern is broken up by deep crossing flex grooves.  For comfort and support, the injected foam midsole runs wavy above the outsole and stability plate.  Slashes are added for style on the soft foam, which has some give.

A simple and seamless upper is used to keep the shoe light weight.  Although the leather panels are gone from the Deluxe version, they remain as placeholders in this design to hold a secondary color – red for this Superman special.  Thin yellow strands of Flywire run from each eyelet down & around, with a shiny layer of Fuse holding the strands in place.  Branding marks are found on the collars where a yellow jumpman logo is pasted on the lateral and the “FLYWIRE” text on the medial.

Riding up the back end of the shoe, a rubber-like strip is stitched over a stiff heel counter.  The collar exhibits asymmetry, and is very apparent from the rear.  Padding is light and soft, with the red lining coming in the form of a diamond textured synthetic.  Achilles support is added with a padded notch stitched on the back, with yellow hang tab.

Seven eyelets punctured into the thin upper hold the stock oval laces.  The laces are tipped with metal aglets which have the “2012” logo printed on them.  Separated into two sections, the eyestay is reinforced on the back end to allow for the laces to be pulled tight.  Underneath the laces, a inner bootie system is created by the mesh tongue.  The tongue is connected on the inside from the heel down to the forefoot, and is soft with the lining matching the collar.  Finishing off the tongue is a shiny patch on the top front where a yellow jumpman sits.  The last aspect of the Air Jordan 2012 Lite is a dense, and thick insole.  Not the softest, the insole sits tightly on the footbed with a white jumpman logo printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

Getting into the Air Jordan 2012 Lite is a breeze.  The upper is on the stiff side, and the inner sleeve feels very comfortable.  Laced tightly, the fit is true to size, and some may go half a size down for snug fit.  The toe box area has liberal room and does not crowd the toes.  Lace pressure is alleviated by the inner sleeve, as the shoe is comfortable around the foot.  Moving to the back, ankle support is light.  The stiff collar does not conform to the ankles tightly but does keep them from being completely exposed.  Luckily the tongue does sit close to bring some coverage to the top of the foot.  Heel lockdown is not very tight, and the Achilles notch can barely be felt in a static position, but this overall feel is not a major problem.  Below, cushioning is thick, making the shoe feel high above the ground.  The insole is smooth & stiff, and you can feel the foot slide a bit.  However, the foot presses through the insole and feels very comfortable.  Arch support is light but sufficient enough to keep the foot from lying completely flat.  The best aspect of the cushioning is that it feels consistent from the toes to heel, with no dramatic heights or dips.  Overall, the Air Jordan 2012 Lite is comfortable & light around the foot, with a dense & stable footbed.

Air Jordan 2012 Lite - Superman

The upper has a light weight feel, while the cushioning base is solid

Performance

Stepping on the hardwood, the relatively flat outsole grips the surface.  Because of the thick and dense insole, the height of the shoe feels a bit high.  Getting up to a sprint, the foot pushes through the insole with comfort, and is best if the player steps heavy.  The upper is a bit rigid, so there may be a small break in period to ease the plastic-like upper in.  Flexibility is good considering the material is not soft and does not flex naturally.  The flex points on the upper will be dependent on each player, but once broken in, heel to toe transitions are good and the shoe has a light weight feel despite the weigh disparity between the foundation and upper.  Overall, performance is fit for the combo guard, as well as players that like to get out on the floor and be active on both sides of the ball.  The responsiveness of the shoe is our first aspect evaluated.  The thick base begins with the insole, which is always felt during play.  To maximize responsiveness, the outsole rubber is on the thin side which keeps it from being too bulky.  Aggressive players will be able to push off the foundation to spring into play.  Getting off a first step is solid and when the player rises for a finish or a jump shot, the cushioning base is very comfortable and responsive.  Even though the shoe is on the light side, the responsiveness is best observed below the rim.  That is, explosive and dynamic jumps are not what the shoe does best.  On the perimeter, the cushioning is very comfortable, whether rocking on the heel Air-sole unit, running across the court, and playing one on one against an opponent.  For defense, lateral transitions may be a bit sluggish because of the feeling of thickness with the base of the shoe, but the light weight upper and low cut feel helps in terms of recovery.  And with the thick base, landings are taken with great comfort, as the midsole works to disperse impact evenly.  At the end of the day, the Air Jordan 2012 Lite brings solid performance for the perimeter player.

Stability performance for the 2012 Lite is good.  The thin Fuse based upper, with very little padding does not make for a shoe that can take the brunt of heavy post play, but stability is more suited for the active perimeter player.  As the shoe plays more like a low cut, ankle protection and support is vey light.  The Fuse and Flywire based upper around the foot however, do a good job with the inner sleeve of holding the foot in place.  Playing stop & start with harsh jab steps and constantly putting the foundation to work, the upper does a great job of limiting slippage as it holds stiff.  The shoe may not be ideal for the poundings in the post, but for active players, it is sufficient.  As for the foundation, the lower half is a bit more sturdy than the upper.  Below the foot is the dense insole.  This insole is thick enough to take a good amount of force, whether it be pushing off on a first step or a hard landing.  It is teamed with a softer foam midsole and a thin, but hard rubber outsole, giving the player a very sturdy and well rounded base.  The flow of the shoe may not be seamless, so stability in this context will be very dependent on what the player is comfortable with.

A standout in performance can be found with an evaluation of traction.  First, the rubber is hard and not thick at all, helping for a better feel of the court.  The shape of the sole, with the semi-pods created on the sides of the forefoot, helps make movement around the court more fluid.  This works well with the outsole, which provides very good grip while at the same time allowing for the player to break in and out of movements.  The shoe can stop on a dime well.  In the flow of action, changing directions, cutting, and pulling up, the foundation brings enough grip of get a good foothold, but at the same time not getting the player stuck in place.  In all, you could not ask for anything more, as far as traction is concerned, in a basketball performer.  Ventilation performance is very good despite the lack of perforations and the use of an inner sleeve.  Aided by the thin upper, the foot stays at a comfortable temperature during play, with no real overheating.

Conclusion

The Air Jordan 2012 Deluxe brought a concept based around cushioning and options.  What the 2012 Lite seems to be is the same shoe with refined performance.  One of the small problems with the 2012 was that the midsoles were not integrated into the shoe, making the shoe clunky at times.  The 2012 Lite fixes this aspect, and in turn makes for a more comfortable and aggressive shoe.  Performance is still fit for the active player who likes to do multiple things on the court.  In a market full of companies pushing the limits of performance, it is a bit disappointing to see Jordan Brand not at the top.  For sure, the company is at the top of the basketball sneaker world, but in terms of developing high performing shoes on the court, others may be passing them up.  Unique concepts do not always translate into exceptional performance, and the 2012 line is a small indication of this.  Nonetheless, the 2012 Lite does improve on aspects that the 2012 Deluxe left on the table.  Available now at the Official Nike Online Store, the Air Jordan 2012 Lite comes in multiple color schemes for the Summer and Fall season.

This shoe is comparable to:

Jordan Super.Fly
Air Jordan 2012 Deluxe