Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

The Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

Introduction

For all the superstars in the NBA there is only one that dominates in popularity for the Asia market – Kobe Bryant.  Bryant has made a concerted effort to visit the far East ever since his teenage years in the league.  And when he made the switch to Nike, his fan base grew exponentially, which is evident from the annual Summer tour spanning from China to the Philippines attracting swarms of loyal and maniacal fans.  Nike has rewarded the loyal fan base with a secondary Kobe signature shoe geared for outdoor play.  This season, Nike brings the normally Asia exclusive Kobe Venomenon line to North America with the 4 – the subject of our first Performance Review of 2014.

After a short hiatus from the North American market, Nike brings back a secondary Kobe Bryant shoe for 2014 in the form of the Venomenon 4.  The features include the following:

  • Upper constructed with a combination of materials including synthetic leather, Hyperfuse, and Flywire, for both light weight performance and stability
  • Cushioning provided by a Phylon midsole and a Nike Zoom unit in the forefoot
  • Rubber outsole with Nike Blade traction pattern
  • Mid foot stability plate
  • Secondary Kobe Bryant signature shoe

Aesthetics and Styling

Side by side with the Kobe 8 System, the Venomenon 4 is a beefier more full version of the engineered mesh based signature line.  The cut remains very low but the upper is now fully covered with the Hyperfuse material.  Apart from the upper, the other technological changes from the signature line include a light weight heel counter, the Nike Blade traction pattern, and the most important change of all – the Zoom unit cushioning in the forefoot, which is Kobe line fan favorite.  Aesthetically, the shoe is straightforward relying mainly on color schemes and the crossing pattern at the toe box.  For the first North America release, Nike has come out with a bold black/purple color scheme with a Glow-in-the-Dark rubber outsole.

Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

Previously an Asia exclusive, the Venomenon makes a debut in North America for the 2013-2014 season

From a side profile, the Venomenon 4 is very low – much like a runner/trainer than a performance basketball shoe.  The lines of the shoe are long and sharp, most prominent with the outsole.  Standing out at the toe box is the crossing design pattern which makes the color scheme pop.  To begin our look, Nike has outfitted the Venomenon 4 with a contoured rubber outsole molded with the Nike Blade Traction pattern.  The outsole forms a toe cap up front with a line of stitching.  A fine diamond shaped pattern is molded into the rubber along the sides, mimicking snakeskin.  The lateral side has a slight outrigger with the “NIKEZOOM” branding, while the medial side has the number “24” molded in.  Next, the main forefoot area is broken into two parts.  Triangles line the lateral side while horizontal grooves start at the toes.  In the middle, the traction pattern turns vertical all the way to the mid foot.  More triangles and diagonal flex grooves on each side finish off the forefoot.  At the mid foot lies the shiny stability plate.  The Kobe logo lies at the center and branding comes in the form of the “NIKE BLADE TRACTION” text molded into the rubber towards the medial side.  The heel area completes the sole with the X patterned flex grooves and the diagonal blade traction pattern.  Supporting the outsole is a thick and solid Phylon midsole.  This midsole has the Kobe dot code lining the heel.

Similar to the Kobe 8 System, the 4 has an almost seamless upper constructed mainly of the Hyperfuse material.  The toe box is marked with a crossing pattern in the contrasting color for pop.  Flywire strands run through the first two eyelets to add more support for the upper.  On the medial side,  the Hyperfuse material is split with a line of stitching in the middle.  It separates the Fuse material with the synthetic leather around the collar.  A small Nike swoosh logo is pasted on the synthetic leather.  More simple is the lateral side which is comprised of the Fuse material and a larger Nike swoosh logo.

A light weight, carbon fiber patterned heel counter covers the back end of the Venomenon.  The counter runs along each side, leaving the middle open, to help with heel lock down.  Fuse material covers the middle which has a Kobe logo glued on.  The Achilles notch protrudes at the top.  Padding is very slight with the lining made up of a silky synthetic.

Standard oval laces run through six eyelets that run straight up the shoe.  Each eyelet is reinforced with a plastic ring, the first two having the Flywire cables for more support.  For fit and support, the tongue forms a inner bootie.  There is a leather strip on the top of the tongue which serves as a lace holder for each eyelet.  On top, another leather strip flares to the sides with the final Kobe logo in the center.  Topping off the Venomenon 4 is a plush foam insole which is tightly glued onto the footbed.

Comfort and Fit

Slipping the foot through the low cut collar and into the inner sleeve is far from a tough task.  The shoe brings a stiff true to size fit with good width. Lace pressure is felt at the top eyelet, on top of the foot.  Comfortable wiggle room is felt around the toe box from top to bottom, side to side.  Like most Hyperfuse based shoes, the upper feels very stiff out of the box.  The sides are close to the foot but do not have the overt form fitting feel.  Arch support feels very good because the contours of the foundation are not too dramatic.  This is a plus for all players, whether flat footed or not.  Around the ankles, the low cut collar and heel counter do an ample job of locking the heels down.  Since it is a true low cut, the ankles are left completely exposed, without protection, so those who value a good wrap will have to resort to tape or a sleeve.  For cushioning, the initial feel is a bit stiff.  The Phylon feels very supportive, while the forefoot Zoom is low profile.  Adding comfort over the contoured foot bed is the insole, which needs to be broken in to get the most out of it.  An aggressive, stiff, and tight fit, the Venomenon 4 looks to push a bit harder than the signature line.

Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4

The stiff feel and low cut leads to fast, quick, and aggressive performance

Performance

The Venomenon 4 feels very rough and stiff initially on the hardwood.  From the Hyperfuse upper to the Phylon/Zoom cushioning, and down to the rubber outsole, the shoe has an aggressive nature and feels meant for all surfaces/playing conditions.  That said, a good break in period is needed to get the foot accustomed to and comfortable with the shoe.  Once the upper, cushioning, and outsole have some time on them, running is tight.  Heel to toe transitions feel fast because of the light weight and low cut of the shoe.  The profile is not the lowest, but it feels a lot closer to the court because of what the shoe pushes for.  And for performance it is fit for the guard who likes to play aggressive.  Besides the light weight of the shoe, which makes the shoe feel very fast and quick, the most notable aspect that stands out is the responsiveness of the shoe.  The Zoom unit is tucked into the forefoot, but is very thin.  This makes for better responsiveness all around.  Forward and lateral movements have feel tight and fast.  The shoe pushes the player to be very aggressive.  Spin moves, changes of directions, and jab steps are done in stride.  Active offensive players will have no problem in the Venomenon.  For jumps, the Phylon/Zoom set up is meant for explosiveness.  Pushing off the foundation is very responsive.  Players who finish at the rim or play off the dribble will find the set up ideal.  The light weight of the shoe only helps the shoe in being fast and quick.  A low cut, light weight, and aggressive performer, quicker players will find a lot of positives with the first US release of the Venomenon.

Stability performance is fit for the aggressive, slashing guard or swingman.  First off, ankle support and protection is meant for players on the move rather than physical play.  Heel lockdown is ample for cuts and changes of directions, but in the trenches where the player may be jumping up and down, pushing & turning, the support may not be the best.  With that, the focus of stability revolves around the upper and the foundation of the shoe.  For the upper, the stiff Hyperfuse material holds up great for abrupt, sharp movements.  Sprinting up the court and planting to change directions, the upper has great hold.  The inner sleeve and contoured base keeps the foot from moving, while the upper has a barrier like feel for protection.  Pushing and torquing the shoe side to side on offense or defense is supported well.  For the foundation, the Phylon midsole and stiff mid foot plate work well.  The Phylon has the thickness for impact protection while the stability plate (along with the Hyperfuse upper) keeps the shoe from feeling flimsy for those harsh bends.  All in all, the Venonmenon 4 brings stability adaptable for the slashing guard/swingman.

Traction performance fits the aggressive nature of the shoe.  Equipped with the Nike Blade Traction pattern, the shoe does not have the traditional herringbone stick of past Kobe models.  More so, traction is based on how aggressive the player is on the court.  The traction grooves are wide & thick, and going in all directions.  When the player pushes hard on the court the outsole can be felt gripping.  Traction is more sticky than smooth, which is important for the stability of the shoe.  For our evaluation, an outdoor surface was not tested, but the feel of the shoe, in terms of traction, seems more fit for a concrete surface than the smooth hardwood.  In the end, there are no big issues with traction.  Ventilation is very good, mainly due to the low cut of the shoe.  Even though there is an inner sleeve, heat and moisture are not an issue.  The upper is not suffocating which keeps the foot relatively comfortable during play.

Conclusion

Kobe Bryant has been the most popular player in the NBA, worldwide, for the last decade.  His star is most bright in Asia and it is only fitting that Nike satisfies the appetite for Kobe related material with the Venomenon line.  Not only does it give the fans another choice, but it also serves the market for an outdoor shoe, which is what the consumer market demands in the far East.  It may be past due for the line to reach North America, but in any case, the Venomenon will no doubt garner a lot of attention in the sneaker world.  Light weight, fast, and aggressive, the Venomenon 4 is fit for the any guard looking for that signature low cut Kobe performance in a more stable package.  In a about a week, Nike will release the much anticipated Kobe 9 Elite.  The Kobe line returns to a high cut after a couple of years dedicated strictly to low cut performance.  Fans of the low cut Kobe have none to worry about as there will surely be a Kobe 9 release that will suit their needs to go along with the Venomenon 4 this year.  Released late 2013, the Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 4 is available now at the Official Nike Online Store.

This shoe is comparable to:

Nike Kobe 8 System
Nike Zoom Kobe VI