Nike KD VI - Seat Pleasant

The Nike KD VI

Introduction

Shaking up the Summer season this year is the KD line.  For Nike Basketball, the transition between the end of the season and start of the new season has normally been reserved for the Hyperdunk and Hyperfuse.  To give the KD line a chance to shine without the glare of the Lebron and Kobe releases, the VI marks the first major release for the 2013-2014 season.  As the KD V Elite saw the series play with the idea of a low cut design, the VI makes the full commitment.  The sudden release of the shoe during the Summer may have surprised many just as much as the aesthetics.  A treat for sneaker fans this Summer is the subject of this Performance Review – the Nike KD VI.

Taking the KD line in the low cut direction (excluding the KD V Elite), the VI looks to be the most efficient shoe in the series so far.  The features include the following:

  • Upper constructed of thin, two-layer synthetic with Flywire technology for light weight performance
  • Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole with Max Air at the heel and Zoom in the forefoot
  • Asymmetrical tongue and lacing system
  • Rubber outsole with star traction pattern
  • Low cut design for the lightest KD shoe ever

Aesthetics and Styling

If you take a look throughout the history of the KD series, a linear path has not been followed like the Kobe and Lebron have done.  From leather uppers, to straps, to the inclusion of Max Air, the line has now transitioned into a full low cut.  From an initial shot, there is really nothing to go on as it blends in more with soccer shoes than it does with basketball performers.  Details such as the asymmetric lacing system and long shape seem as though the shoe is more suited for casual wear than the hardwood.  Nonetheless, this is a basketball performance shoe equipped with Flywire technology as well as Max Air & Zoom units for cushioning (just like the V).  Staying true to Kevin Durant, this shoe is packed full of small signature details.  And no signature shoe these days would be complete without themes and color schemes.  For this Performance Review, Sonic Yellow and Tropical Teal represent the Seat Pleasant gym that Durant spent his time at in his younger days.

Nike KD VI - Seat Pleasant

Low cut and sleek, the aesthetics are a big departure from the V

Showing off half of the design is the lateral side.  The theme of asymmetry runs throughout the design, from the upper panels to the tongue & lacing system.  A very low and slender shape accentuates length as well as the Flywire strands which stream across the side.  Contrasting the subdued upper is the star patterned, contoured rubber outsole.  Running from the toes down the heel, the intricate star pattern is very detailed.  There are multiple layers of stars all over and to top it off, the lighting bolt graphic cuts through the sole, separated visually by the two colors.  Up front, the toe cap shows off the first signature marking with “SEAT PLEASANT’S FINEST.”  The lateral side has an outrigger with the lightning bolt cuts to stand out.   Moving down the sole past the forefoot curve, the heel has a very slight dip, through the lightning bolt pattern.  At the heel, a plastic hexagon reveals a “kd” hologram logo.  The last signature aspect of the outsole is the “BIG CHUCKY” marking on the back heel.  Supporting the minimal rubber sole is a dual colored Phylon midsole.  The midsole encapsulates the teal Max Air unit at the heel and has the “NIKE ZOOM” branding at the forefoot.  Yellow dominates the lateral side, while the medial side is half teal.

An almost seamless synthetic upper features Flywire strands for support.  The material has a textured feel for the lateral panel and smooth for the medial.  At the toe box, the throat line creates an arrow head shape.  A large black Nike swoosh logo is painted on the lateral side which extends up almost to the collar.    On the medial side, the stitching from the throat lines passes through to the mid foot.  With an asymmetric theme, the medial side panel is green with a yellow swoosh towards the heel.

Down the middle of the heel lies a lightning bolt separation.  The lateral side has a large plastic “kd” logo for simple branding.  With a low cut design, the height of the Achilles is very important for lock down.  For the VI, the back end rises to a good height.  The collar has a slight drop to leave the ankles exposed as the lining and padding lie above the synthetic upper.  Lining is comprised of a silky, but textured synthetic, while padding is tight and minimal.

With a simple shape and silhouette, the most bold aspect of the VI comes with the asymmetrical lacing system.  Five Flywire based lace hoops sit tightly hidden along the sides, holding the stock oval laces. Under the laces is the very thin asymmetrical tongue.  The fixed tongue has a mesh base with a thin outline layer for support and is stitched on top of the upper sides.  On the top flap of the tongue is a new kd symbol, done in rubber.  The most interesting aspect of the tongue is an under flap on the lateral side.  This flap extends from the lateral side material for a closer, more supportive fit.  Finally, a light weight but soft insole covers the footbed.  Done in Midnight Navy, the insole simply has a Kevin Durant mock signature printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

The fixed tongue and flap leave a narrow opening for the foot to pass through.  Once inside, fitting is a tight true to size.  Since the tongue is fixed, the sides do not collapse around the foot like normal shoes – in this case, the tongue pushes down to solidify the fit.  Most of the lace pressure is felt on top of the foot and around the bottom of the ankles, right at the top of the collar.  What keeps the tight fit for his low cut shoe is the fact that the lace hoops are made of the Flywire strands.  The strands lock the laces in place, and the resulting pressure when the laces are tightened is prominent.  At the toe box, the shape is flat with the material right up on the toes.  There is some slight room width wise too keep the toes from being overly crowded.  At the rear, heel lock down is very good.  The heel cup holds the heels comfortably and the back end rises high enough to give some support to the Achilles.  Needless to say, the ankles are left completely exposed but the fact that the collar and tongue have a tight grip does give the sense of some support.  Below, the cushioning set up has a flat but comfortable feel.  The insole provides the soft touch while the Zoom unit can be felt when hard pressure is placed.  Conversely, the Max Air unit is a bit more solid but does have a low profile feel.  This cushioning set up is a great example of combining comfort and responsiveness.  On the sides, the Flywire based upper grips close but is not form fitting.  The contours of the sole keep from having an extremely flat feel, while the Flywire support grips tight.  A comfortable and tight fit, with surprisingly good ankle support, the KD VI may not look like a basketball shoe, but it definitely feels like one.

Nike KD VI - Seat Pleasant

Versatile performance makes the KD VI a must have

Performance

Excellent court feel is one of the most important aspects that keeps the KD line as one of the best performance shoes every year.  Even though the KD VI may not feel slammed to the court, the minimal rubber sole combined with the low profile cushioning makes it feel close to the court surface.  Once into a sprint, the shoe has solid glide.  The curvature of the sole at the forefoot brings a rolling feel while the Zoom unit has a combination of comfort and responsiveness.  At the heel, the Max Air unit brings a solid feel, but because it is a smaller unit, heel to toe transitions feel more tight.  The flexibility of the shoe is very good.  Flex down the tongue is made more comfortable because of the asymmetry.  There is pressure on the medial side of the ankles, but because the tongue flares to the lateral, it does not get in the way when the player flexes forward.  For weight, the shoe feel very light.  Initially stepping on the court, the shoe almost feels fit for running or training than basketball.  It does have that free sense because of the low cut, but when the player gets in motion, it feels just as good as any basketball shoe.  One aspect that should be noted is the stiffness of the upper.  Because the upper is on the stiff side, it might take the player a couple of runs to ease it in.  Luckily, it is thin so this alleviates some discomfort when flexing and bending the shoe out of the box.  Performance, like all KD shoes, is versatile for the guard or swingman.  The first aspect of performance that jumps out is playing off the forefoot.  The design favors this from top to bottom.  Playing off the curvature of the sole and the Zoom unit is both comfortable and responsive.  For first steps and pull ups, the shoe has a natural feel.  The player can step right into these motions without hesitation.  Lateral movements feel fast.  Both the Zoom and low cut of the shoe come into play as the player can move free side to side using the outrigger to push even harder.  And because of the low cut and free feel, the shoe is very nimble.  Combine this with the low profile Max Air unit and backing down an opponent on the perimeter can lead to a smooth fadeaway or spin to the hole.  For jumps, the Zoom unit is great.  Again it provides a good combination of comfort and responsiveness to help the player be explosive when needed.  Landings are also very comfortable, whether landing on the heel or forefoot.  The soft insole helps with bringing very good comfort.  Light weight, fast, responsive, and nimble, the KD VI is an outstanding performer with few weaknesses.

The Flywire based upper provides very good stability.  As a low cut shoe, ankle support concerns are the major aspect when evaluating stability.  For the KD VI, heel lock down and the grip just below the ankles are efficient.  The support is not fit for heavy and bruising play, but for a low cut shoe, it really could not be better.  In the heat of action, the shoe does hold up well when ankle support is concerned.  There is very little movement on the back end which allows the player to play hard and be nimble.  Moving on, the stability of the shoe lies with the tight and close fit.  First off, the tongue and flap design is fixed in place.  This keeps movement and excessive rubbing to a minimum, allowing the upper to do the job of holding the foot in place.  Next, the thin upper has a stiff and supportive feel.  With the Flywire, it grips the foot tight, but is not too cumbersome.  The result of all this is the definition of light weight stability.  As the shoe is made mainly for an offensive player, the foot seems always secure for fast and abrupt play.  Harsh stops, cuts, and quick changes of directions feel very well supported.  The foot rarely slides on the inside letting the player focus on just playing fast.  For the foundation, the Phylon and Zoom/Max Air set up is great.  It can take heavy impact and force all with comfort.  This is paramount because it keeps the shoe more fluid and nimble on the court.

Just like the KD V, traction for the VI is just solid.  The all-over star pattern gives excellent court grip and feel.  Fast and harsh stops are taken comfortably.  Traction shines on both the offensive and defensive end as cuts, back pedals, and change of directions feel more fluid than jerky.  This can be attributed to the discreet contours of the sole.  The forefoot area has a slight curvature which helps the foot roll (heel to toe) when moving, and not stay flat when getting ready to change directions.  Since there are no segments or deep flex grooves, traction performance relies heavily on the grip of the sole.  The best description is that it feels like a car on slick tires, very responsive with that sticky grip.  All in all, traction performance might be the best aspect of the shoe.  Next, ventilation is very good.  Even though the upper has no perforations, it is very thin.  The low cut design does not suffocate the foot at all, and in the end, heat and moisture build up are not a concern.

Conclusion

Nike has given the KD line a chance to shine during the Summer season.  The build up for the VI, now, does not try to fit in the crowded Fall release schedule which features the two most popular signature shoes on the market (Lebron and Kobe).  Fittingly, the KD VI brings a new low cut design that has a Summer feel and is perfect for play under the bright sun.  And even with a design that looks catered to the casual audience, the performance shines.  The KD line has always been about great court feel, versatility, and very good traction.  It is no surprise then that the VI follows in the predecessors footsteps with all the performance aspects you would expect in a KD shoe but in a very light weight and free flowing package.  Those skeptical about the lack of performance based on aesthetics need not worry as the designers look to have done their homework in creating a shoe that does not fit the conventional basketball mold, but is outstanding on the court.  Without a doubt, this is sure to be one of the top shoes for the 2013-2014 season.  The KD VI was released earlier this month and is available now at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike KD V Elite
Nike KD V