Nike Zoom Hyperfuse (2012) - Fireberry

The Nike Hyperfuse (2012)

Introduction

The summer season for Nike Basketball brings the introduction of the two flagship models to start the 2012-2013 season (excluding the signature player models).  A revamped Hyperdunk, prominently featured during the Olympic Games in London, has proved to be one of the best performers of the new season so far.  Standing alongside the shoe that started the light weight revolution is the Hyperfuse, looking to stand toe to toe with the Hypedunk to make for one of the best line ups in recent years.  After a very different approach, in terms of performance, from the original Hyperfuse to the Hyperfuse 2011, this newest version does have some room to grow.  The tried and true Hyperfuse construction keeps light weight performance at a maximum, and the forefoot Zoom unit is a mainstay.  Does the line take a step towards greatness, or will the Hyperfuse fade into mediocrity?  Our latest Performance Review puts the high profile Nike Hyperfuse through the paces on the hardwood.

The third iteration in the series, the 2012 version of the Hyperfuse stays true to the predecessors, with a futuristic and aggressive style.  The features include the following:

  • Light weight Hyperfuse construction
  • Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole and Zoom Air unit in the forefoot
  • Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
  • Internal mid foot shank plate for added stability
  • Third version of the Hyperfuse

Aesthetics and Styling

From the outset, the Hyperfuse has always been designed with a modern, futuristic look.  The synthetic layers of fuse material have a sleek, skin-like look.  Last year, the 2011 took the Hyperfuse in a more bold direction in terms of aesthetics, with sharp lines throughout.  Taking a step back, the latest version is more subdued and has fluid lines with an oval/swirl pattern as well as a midsole without any sharp pieces.  The fuse construction, as always, is visible in multiple layers, while cushioning technology remains unchanged with a Phylon/Zoom set up.  Just like the Hyperdunk, the initial run of color schemes represent the countries that played in the Olympic games, which range from the bold Volt and Gold color schemes to the red, white, and blue of of the USA.  For this Performance Review, a Wolf Grey color schemes is the choice – flash and style added by secondary colors, Dynamic Blue and the bright pink Fireberry.

Nike Zoom Hyperfuse (2012) - Fireberry

Futuristic and bold styling characterize the Hyperfuse series, but this time with a softer touch compared to the sharp lines of the 2011

An evolution of the 2011, the 2012 version of the Hyperfuse has a flowing, curvy look from the side.  Ovals and swirls run through the fuse upper as well as the mid and outsole.  The steep rising collar ensures that the Hyperfuse brings flash and style on the court.  A look below begins our review, with a rubber outsole that looks simple on the surface.  With a herringbone traction pattern molded in, the forefoot area rises up to form a toe cap.  The medial sidewall has the teeth of the traction extending up, while the lateral side has an outrigger with the “NIKE ZOOM” branding and oval shapes molded in.  Two diagonal flex grooves are present on the curved forefoot area molded into the herringbone in steps.  The midfoot sees a large indentation which extends to the heel area, where an X pattern is formed.  This splatter-like crevice is also molded in the step design, finished off with a Nike logo in the center.  A thick Phlyon midsole offers support and comfort, running straight from the forefoot around the base of the shoe.  The oval shapes run throughout the foam as it has a deep contour on the medial side.

Matching the swirling graphics throughout the shoe, the fuse layers are laid out appropriately.  At the toe box, maximum layers reinforce the toe cap.  The body of the toe box is left with two nylon openings supported by a smooth layer of fuse, where the mesh is peering through.  On the medial side, a small quarter panel has the chain mail like mesh with two vertical ovals providing some give in the material.  This panel is surrounded by the thicker fuse layers on the collar, which has the Fireberry Nike swoosh, and on the forefoot layer.  The lateral side is similarly done, as the nylon material slithers up the collar and the thick fuse layers on the collar done in the swirl outline.  Another large Fireberry swoosh dips through this side.

Covering the stiff heel counter is the mesh base layer, supported by layers of fuse from the sides.  The heel extends to a small Achilles tab before the steep rise for the collar.  Constructed in a more curving fashion than the 2011, this collar has the maximum layers of fuse from the top down, as it drops almost 90 degrees.  Padding around the collar is soft, but light to keep the weight down, and the lining comes in the form of a silky synthetic.

Flat standard laces begin to pass through seven eyelets at a pointy throat line.  Each eyelet is reinforced by thicker layers of fuse material, running straight up the shoe.  The tongue has a mesh material laid over thick cushioning.  A smooth patch at the top of the tongue has two side by side lace holders, while the back side of the tongue is lined with a smooth, felt-like synthetic.  “HYPERFUSE” is printed on the shiny grey patch in Dynamic Blue.  The final aspect of the Hyperfuse 2012 is a soft, thick insole.  Adding more comfort, the insole is made with a soft, but rough synthetic liner and has four special graphics printed (pointing out the major features of the shoe) from top to bottom.

Comfort and Fit

A bit of a struggle may be the case for many getting into the narrow and stiff opening that the Hyperfuse leaves, as the laces need to be generously loosened.  Fit is true to size and is snug & tight down the middle of the foot.  Even though the shoe can be classified as a bit narrow, the toe box area has comfortable wiggle room, not crowding or bunching up the toes.  The width is ample to make it more accessible for those with wide feet.  The Hyperfuse upper has a stiff feel out of the box, and may not be the most comfortable, but the nylon openings on the sides have a close & soft feel.  Unlike previous versions of the Hyperfuse, the tongue padding is thick which does give a different feel than the fuse layers on the sides, but coincides with the snug and aggressive fit.  Ankle support and protection is very good, despite the light padding.  The lining is smooth while the tongue creates a comfortable wrap.  Heel lock down is also very good, as there is no excessive movement.  What creates the tight secure fit for the ankles and back end is the placement of the third collar eyelet.  Instead of running straight down, the third eyelet on the collar dips inward.  This, in turn, locks down the top of the foot and ankles when the laces are tightened.  For cushioning, the footbed is soft and comfortable.  Because of the curve of the outsole at the forefoot and thickness of the Zoom unit, the heel area does sit a bit lower, having the weight of the player fall naturally to the heels.  The Phylon midsole is thick and has a springiness to it.  And with the deep contours on the medial side, as well as the upper conforming to the foot, arch and side support is excellent.  Overall, the Hyperfuse brings an aggressive and tight fit, with excellent arch and ankle support.

Nike Zoom Hyperfuse (2012) - Fireberry

Fitting very snug and tight, the Hyperfuse is ready to rip up the hardwood

Performance

Standing in a static position, the Hyperfuse 2012 feels ready to be pushed into action.  The most notable aspect, before even taking a step, is the tight construction of the shoe.  The collar down to the foundation (heel to toe) feels extremely secure and solid.  It feels as though the ankles, Achilles, and heel are locked in place and from the top down, the collar is held tightly to the sole.   What it feels like is that the shoe is made with just a sole and collar, because the middle of the foot, although tight and close, has the open areas where the foot can breathe compared to the collar.  The shoe naturally pushes to the medial from the top of the ankles down, as arch support is very tight.  All of this without a cumbersome feel.  Fitting and initial feel aside, striding into a sprint is very tight.  Heel to toe transitions are hard, as the fuse upper needs a short break in period.  Cushioning is very good, and the outsole, with flex grooves, deep divots, and curvature pushes forward for speed.  Few shoes on the market can give the player an distinct impression of what performance will favor with only a couple steps, but the Hyperfuse is very obvious – fast, light weight aggression.  For the most popular playing style these days, the fast, aggressive, and explosive player will instantly fall in love with the Hyperfuse.  Any movement that is very abrupt and taxing – jab steps, quick pull ups, crossovers, and jump stops – are performed naturally and in stride.  The fuse upper pushes the foot down hard onto the foot bed, which keeps the shoe responsive as possible.  Most shoes that carry the Zoom cushioning units may result in a slight delay when pushed off of hard, but in this context, the response time is helped by the tight fit.  Lateral movements are not hindered at all, and the collar support around the ankles is great for the defended minded player.  Pushing off the lateral outrigger or using the medial side to slide to a stop, the shoe takes everything in the flow of action.  Another factor that plays well with the aggressive and fast play is the light weight of the shoe.  The shoe naturally pushes for the player to play hard, making first steps a breeze and run outs on a break a second thought.  In terms of comfort, the insole and Phylon midsole do a great job.  Again responsiveness pushing off the sole for a jump shot or dynamic finish is just natural, and the light weight of the shoe just makes these movements more explosive.  Landings are handled with good comfort overall, with no real problems.  Versatil and fast, the 2012 version of the Hyperfuse is a very aggressive performer on the court.

The Hyperfuse 2012 provides excellent overall stability.  Bigger plodding players may not find the Hyperfuse as the most ideal choice, but for the post player, there are some distinct advantages.  First and foremost, the maximum layers of fuse used are placed perfectly around the shoe.  The collar and backend feel very secure.  Backing down a player or holding ground while defending, the shoe feels solid.  Although the nature of the fuse is light and thin, the collar does have some stiffness without being to rigid.  The balance of flexibility and security is just excellent.  Also, playing off the Phylon midsole is very comfortable.  The midsole has a bit of give, but it does not have an extremely spongy feel.  Backing down off the heel and spinning is very fast and can be performed as hard as the player feels.  The stability just holds up well.  For overall stability, again, the designers have done a great job of laying out the fuse layers to keep the shoe stable and comfortable.  Around the middle, the nylon section give flexibility for the foot to bend easier.  Moving forward, side to side, and back are not hindered, and when the player pushes the shoe, it seems as though the areas where the fuse material is a bit heavier are right there to support the foot.  There is little sliding during play and the reaching a failure point for the upper would be a tough task.  In the end, the designers have nailed light weight stability perfectly balancing a tight, non-cumbersome fit with flexibility.

Traction performance fits the aggressive style & play of the Hyperfuse as grip is sticky.  Taxing and abrupt stops, as well as stopping on a dime at any time are natural with the herringbone pattern doing an excellent job of gripping the court.  Players who tend to constantly search for grip on the court will find this version of the Hyperfuse will suit them well.  Helping to keep traction fluid is the outsole design, from the curvature of the forefoot to the flex grooves and divots cut into the mid foot & heel.  This keeps the outsole from sitting flush on the hardwood and allows the player to find traction where it is needed, despite the fact that the herringbone covers almost the entire sole.  Whether it is the heel area providing grip while playing in the post, or the medial sidewall gripping when charging down the lane, traction can always be found with the same feel.  In the end, the Hyperfuse 2012 provides excellent grip.  For ventilation, the shoe performs very well.  Although the upper has a stiff feel, it is light and has enough openings to vent and allow air to pass through.  The snug fit is also not a big issue, as the shoe is comfortable when ventilation is evaluated.

Conclusion

In a market where competitive performance is at an all time high with Adidas coming strong with the adiZero™ Rose & Crazy Light lines and companies such as Under Armour establishing exceptional performance from top to bottom, the battle for light weight performance is moving fast.  Nike started the revolution with the Hyperdunk, furthering the trend with the introduction of the Hyperfuse two years ago.  In recent years, the novelty of the Hyper series has held up well, but in terms of performance, other companies have introduced shoes which have surpassed both the Hyperdunk and Hyperfuse.  The latest Hyperdunk represents a return to form, and the same can be said about the Hyperfuse.  An aggressive performer providing excellent light weight stability with superb traction, the Hyperfuse 2012 brings back what made the original such a special shoe – versatility.  Be it the quick guard or the agile post up player, the shoe performs exceptionally well in all aspects.  Nike has answered the call with their two main models exhibiting some of the highest performance of the new year, not letting them drift into oblivion.  It will be interesting to see if this latest effort can hold up against all the light weight performers this year, as the race is heating up.  In any case, the Nike Hyperfuse (2012) is available in multiple color schemes at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike Lebron Zoom Soldier VI
Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2011
Nike Zoom Hyperfuse