The Jordan Aero Mania – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Jordan Brand has had arguably the strongest line up this year in terms of performance. Their signature line, as well as their star jewel (the Jordan XX8 – our full Performance Review is coming very soon!) have been stellar all around. One of the team models released during the Fall was the light weight Aero Flight. Blake Griffin, who signed with the Brand this season, was one of the prominent players to lace up a pair on the courts this year, favoring the Zoom based performer. For the Spring, a quick turnaround sees a revamped version for March Madness. Looking to make waves on the court is the subject of our latest Performance Review – the Jordan Aero Mania.
A light weight rendition of the Aero Flight, the Jordan Aero Mania is the team shoe for March Madness. The features include the following:
- Patent leather upper with Flyiwre cables for light weight performance
- Cushioning provided by Phylon midsole with a Nike Zoom unit in the forefoot
- Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
- Stiff mid foot stability plate
- Padded inner sleeve with lace hoop system for a tight and close fit
Aesthetics and Styling
From a design point of view, the Aero Mania takes, obviously, from the Aero Flight. But from the Aero Flight, the style derives from a blend of Jordan models from recent years, which includes the Fly Wade 2 and Air Jordan 2011. The shape of the shoe looks to be taken from the Fly Wade, while performance features (namely the inner sleeve and lace hoop system) look to be directly drawn from the 2011. As Jordan Brand has prided themselves on a quality build, the designers have chosen patent leather for the upper mixed with Flywire cables for support. This is a sight for sore eyes, as many of the Nike performers these days opt for softer, mesh based materials. For the initial releases of the Mania, bright color schemes (Orange, Red, Blue) fit the design well, and this Performance Review looks at the Gorge/Electric Green combination.
From a side profile the Aero Mania has a sleek and shiny look. The upper gleams and has the stripe design that looks like it is blazing across the court. Keeping the upper clean is the lack of eyelets, which not only hide the laces on the inside, but lets the upper do the talking. Beginning with the outsole, the rubber is contoured and shaped in an aggressive nature. At the forefoot, the curved middle area has a deep herringbone traction pattern with crossing flex grooves. The herringbone section is outlined on each side by rubber which is molded with slits for traction. A slight outrigger is placed on the lateral side while the medial forefoot has the “NIKE ZOOM” branding. At the mid foot, a white jumpman logo sits on the shiny black stability plate. The lateral side has some of the rubber sidewall, while the medial sees the sculpted plate. Completing the outsole is the heel which has three segments of herringbone separated but a deep Y-shaped groove. A curvy Phylon midsole adds comfort for the footbed. The heel area of the midsole rises up slightly for more lockdown and support.
Shiny patent leather panels are stitched on to the upper. The toe box has a stitched small strip forming a toe cap and serving as the first lace holder at the throat line. This strip sits on top of the base layer which extends to the side panels. A wavy line graphic pattern gives the shoe a look of motion. Small Flywire bands can be seen protruding through the leather which is stitched all around the eyetsay. “FLYWIRE” branding is printed on the medial side. Finishing off the sides is another layer of patent leather, stitched along the base. There is one layer on each side, meeting at the heel.
At the heel, the patent leather panels overlap to form a support barrier. The lateral side has the second white jumpman logo. Moving up, the collar begins with a textured synthetic material. Up the Achilles, the smooth synthetic lining comes out to form a soft base. The collar rises up slightly and has thin, but soft & dense padding. Comfort comes with the silky synthetic lining.
A lacing system that harkens back to the Air Jordan 2011 features hoops rather than eyelets. Oval laces run through the hoops which are hidden and stitched on the inside. The middle lace hoops are stitched on the inner bootie, while top lace hoop is stitched on the collar. For a tight and close fit, the mesh tongue forms an expansive inner bootie. A shiny patent leather strip runs along the center with a lace holder on top. The top of the tongue is thick and padded, made of the silky synthetic. A bright green jumpman logo sits in the center. Rounding out the Aero Mania is a thin foam insole. The lining is a felt-like material and the final white jumpman logo is printed on the heel.
Comfort and Fit
A padded inner sleeve greets the foot when sliding into the Mania. Because the lace hoops are stitched directly on the sides, the player can feel the upper and sleeve tightening around the foot when the laces are pulled in. Fitting is true to size as the upper grips very tight and most of the pressure is felt right in the middle. Up front, there is little room to move in the toe box. The feeling is not crowded or cumbersome, but is definitely not roomy. Around the ankles, support is excellent. The collar padding is dense and soft, while the outside of the collar has more comfortable flex than the leather sides. This combines with the soft top of the tongue to create not the most protective, but a very good wrap around the ankles. On the back side, the Achilles notch is very comfortable and heel lock down is tight. The counter and stitched patent leather bring a nice hold to the heel area. For cushioning, the Phylon midsole is a bit stiff. There is a slight give to the foundation, which is mainly felt through the insole which is the only aspect that gives any cushioning. However, the footbed is not uncomfortable and does have a low, cupping feel. For this set up, the forefoot Zoom is not prominently felt in a static position. Arch support is good. Again the tightness of the lace hoops and inner sleeve do a good job of gripping the sides close and keeping the foot from resting completely flat. Light weight, tight, and low profile, the Aero Mania feels like an explosive shoe.
With the Aero Mania locked in, the player can get right down to business. Running is a bit blocky in terms of the heel. As the curvature of the forefoot rolls naturally, the heel has a square and flat feel, mostly due to the mid foot stability plate which is every large. This makes heel to toe transitions a bit clunky at first, but the light weight gives the shoe a fast and quick feel. Court feel is excellent, especially off the forefoot. The foundation has a low court profile which is aided by the fact that the lacing system pushes the foot down hard on the foundation for a more responsive feel. And, the curved forefoot area just pushes the player to move forward. Performance is on the versatile side, fitting the fast player, with some aspects suited from the aggressive power player. Where performance shines is playing off the forefoot. Here the player will find a responsive set up. The performance of the Zoom unit in this context is more for quickness and speed over comfort. It is not overly bouncy and for the player to activate the unit as it takes a bit more pressure than usual. In a game setting, getting off a first step or any forward movement for that matter goes quick and easy. The shoe moves tight without any hinderances and just pushes the player forward fast. Bursting up off the Zoom for a finish is explosive as the light weight of the shoe comes into play. Aside from the responsiveness of the shoe, the leather upper is very comfortable. Flexibility is not an issue at all, and breaking in the upper does not take too much time. For jumps, the Zoom unit does not have the customary bounce. The shoe seems to be fitted for those who are natural jumpers, which can be explosive as mentioned earlier. Impacts are taken evenly with through the Phylon, but there are times where the player may find a harsh bump landing on the heel. Perhaps the best light weight Jordan Brand release this season, the Aero Mania is a versatile performer.
In the area of stability, the Aero Mania fares well. Starting with ankle and back end support, the shoe is very comfortable. The ankles are not tied and locked down, but do have great support. Those who pushes the ankles hard, especially laterally, may find the collar and sleeve support a bit lacking. However, combined with very good heel lock down, support is very good. Post up player will love the lock down and heel wrap as it makes backing down comfortable. Spinning or holding ground off the forefoot, the player will feel the support on the back end. For the face up player, most of the stability comes with the inner sleeve/lace hoop set up and mid foot plate. What this does is limit the sliding on the inside as the lacing system just grips the foot in place. And with such a large stability plate, the shoe feels like it has a pillar of support from the Achilles down to the mid foot. Yes this may make playing of the heel a bit clunky at times, but once the player gets in the groove, the stability felt is a positive. All in all, stability is a positive area for the shoe.
Traction performance is outstanding. Most of the traction observed is based around the herringbone portion at the forefoot. As mentioned in performance, the shoe does push forward a bit and the heel area has a square feel. Traction is best observed playing off the forefoot in any sense. First off, although it is herringbone, the shoe does not have the stop in your tracks feel when moving from high to low speeds abruptly. Because the forefoot is curved, traction is more pressure based, so the player can feel the shoe gripping the court depending on how much weight is put on the sole. With this, the player can feel the shoe gripping even while running. During a game session, traction works best off a fast first step and any movement going forward. Playing in the post also shows how good the forefoot is, as the player can bend and push off the forefoot while backing a defender down. This is perhaps one example where the traction of the shoe is excellent. In the end, players looking for a good combination of aggressive grip off the forefoot and fast movement will be pleased. For ventilation, there are no major concerns. The inner bootie is very comfortable from the padding to the lining. It does grip tight, so on a hot or crowded day on the court, heat may get trapped in.
The Aero Mania is another standout performer from Jordan Brand this year. Bringing the feel of the Air Jordan 2011 in a more integrated package, the shoe excels with light weight performance and excellent traction. However, what makes the shoe stand out is the fact that it does have versatility for all positions. Whether the player is a perimeter shooter or likes to play closer to the basket, the shoe has the feeling which makes it comfortable for both types of play. Later this month we will cap off our look at Jordan Brand this season with the pinnacle of all basketball shoes – the Air Jordan. After all we have seen this season, the XX8 is sure to be one of the best this year. Available now at the Official Nike Online Store, the Jordan Aero Mania was released last month.
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