The Nike KD V – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Last month we took a look at the 5th Nike signature shoe for Kevin Durant – the KD V. Because of the success of the IV, this latest KD model comes with great expectations, not only in terms of performance, but with the color schemes which the IV was known for. Introducing a Max Air unit and a foam heel counter, the V looks to be the best performing shoe of the line so far. Will the redesign signal a total re-haul of the line? Or will the shoe go back to being one of the solid performers in the Nike Basketball catalog? Our latest Performance Review of the Nike KD V will look to shed some light on these questions.
Comfort and Fit
Although the shoe has a fairly standard mid cut look, fitting has quiet a few quirks. First, the foam heel counter holds the Achilles high, stiff, and narrow, so wiggling through may take a bit off effort. Next, when tightening the laces, the first three lace hoops (from the throat line up) are kept in place because the tongue is stitched to prevent the sides from collapsing and bunching around the forefoot from lace pressure. Those who prefer the laces to be very tight around the forefoot may not be accommodated. Once tightened, the shoe has a true to size fit with most of the lace pressure felt around the last four lace hoops. The Hyperfuse construction has a form fitting feel and is not too restrictive, cumbersome, or stiff. Up front the toe box feels excellent. The shape is flat on top and rounded enough to give some width. Even with the lateral side flaring out, the cut, luckily does not dig into the small toe. Wiggle room is slight, but overall, the toe box fit is great. One of the upgraded features of the KD V over the IV is observed with back end protection and support. The foam heel counter solidly locks the heels in place. Moving up, the Achilles notch is the right height to add support and keep good flexibility, while the collar and tongue provide a protective, albeit light wrap. For cushioning, the Phylon midsole brings a responsive feel. Putting pressure on the footbed, the player can feel the Phylon cushioning, as it is neither too soft or hard. Most of the thickness can be felt around the mid foot as the Max Air unit and Zoom unit feel somewhat recessed in their respective areas. The footbed has a contoured feel to match the form fitting upper. Arch support is very good as the foot does not sit flat at all (the forefoot also curves upwards). A tight fit with excellent back end support and a responsive base, the KD V is ready to hit the courts hard and fast.
Standing in a static position, the court feel of the KD V is excellent. Thick cushioning is felt at the mid foot, and the rubber sole sits close to the court surface. Getting into play is a breeze, and heel to toe transitions flow well. The curvature for the forefoot gives a rolling feel when running lightly. At the forefoot, the Zoom unit is not thick and pronounced, while the Max Air unit is compact to make running fast and responsive. The grooves on the outsole help the rubber to bend easy, while flexing through the upper is aided by the fact that the lacing system is wide. A common occurrence with the Hyperfuse upper is the awkward flexing out of the box. Because the fuse layers are more on the soft side and the lacing system is wide, flexibility is great without any break in period. The hallmark of the KD line is versatile performance in a light weight package – which is what the V brings back. Great responsiveness is main aspect that shines in performance. The shoe has a low profile and light weight feel, which goes hand in hand with responsive play. Playing off the forefoot is quick and natural. The forefoot Zoom unit provides a slight bounce and is thin enough not to impede responsiveness. Combining with the Phylon midsole, movement is fast and fluid all around, from back to front, front to back, and laterally. Cutting a weaving side to side is responsive, but the shape of the midsole does limit the shoe from being really quick and agile because of the thickness. Nonetheless, the shoe is more fast and fluid than sluggish. The addition of the heel Max Air unit just makes the shoe more versatile. As Kevin Durant has a style that incorporates guard and forward play, the Max Air unit is an appropriate feature. The low profile unit is great for those perimeter post ups. Spinning off the unit is responsive and quick, and where the unit shines is for those landings and times when the heel crashes onto the court. A fast, light weight, and responsive performer, the KD V does the line true bringing back the expected versatility.
For stability, the KD V is well rounded. Going with the versatile performance, the shoe provides all the aspects necessary for every position. First the upper provides excellent hold in a light weight sense. The Hyperfuse upper does a great job of form fitting the foot, sitting close even around the toe box. Below, the footbed is contoured, keeping sliding to a minimum. The result is a shoe that can take the quick, abrupt movements in stride, and provide good support when pushed hard. Next, ankle and back end support are great. The collar does a good job of providing a supportive wrap, which can be felt during the course of a game session. Perhaps the best aspect of stability is the foam heel counter and Max Air unit. The heel counter just locks the heels in place, keeping everything stable for spins, harsh lateral movements, and back peddling. The low profile Max Air unit provides the cushioning and support needed. In the end, stability performance is great.
Traction has never been an area of concern for the KD line, and the V continues that trend. With a unique pattern molded in, traction has a natural stickiness. That is, the traction pattern is not necessary used to bring the player to a halt, but to provide segmented grip and allows for more fluid movement. The player can feel the rubber gripping the court because of the low profile and pentagonal segments providing some stick, acting as micro pods. Where the performance shines is with the fact that the pattern creates natural flex grooves all around. This helps to make movement more fluid for cutting and change directions when moving forward fast. All in all, very good court grip is met with the ability to move and be active on the court. If there was any weakness with the KD V, it would be in the area of ventilation. The openings around the upper are placed at the mid foot base, which are slight. There are times, depending on the player, where heat may be an issue after very long sessions. One aspect that does help is the fact that the upper is light weight and on the thin side, not suffocating and choking off all ventilation completely.
The Durant line had a turning point with the IV breaking through the mainstream. Popularity of the model clouded a drop in performance compared to the first three Durant models released. Now, one of the premier performers for Nike Basketball, the designers of the V have taken the shoe to the next level. Offering a new cushioning set up, a unique heel counter, and a shoe that brings an excellent fit, the V goes back to the essence of the KD line. Versatile performance is highlighted with a light weight feel, good stability, responsive cushioning, and solid traction. The KD V simply lives up to the hype. Kevin Durant rising to become a perennial MVP candidate means great things for the KD line as a whole. Performance has never been lacking, but now the expectations for the VI are sky high. Later this season, Nike plans to release an Elite version of the KD. With the performance of the V, it is certainly warranted. Available now at the Official Nike Online Store, the KD V is one of the best performers of the year.
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