There are a couple of obvious things to point out about this new shoe, with the first being the rather bold upper design.
It has a definite appeal, with its fluid lines and curved mesh sides, but you could also be forgiven for thinking that it still looks a little familiar. Well, give yourself a pat on the back because the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 was created by the distinctive hand of designer extraordinaire Mark Miner – the created the popular Nike Free 5.0 and the Zoom Vomero 9 shoes too.
The question is, does the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 manage to successfully compete with both its market rivals and the wide range of Nike running shoes currently available on the market? It is important to point out the fact that Nike has, essentially, been in competition with itself for many decades now, being as it is one of the most popular sportswear manufacturers on the planet.
The Pegasus Overhaul Which Puts Function First
At the centre of the Pegasus overhaul is the prominent lower profile midsole which is now positioned at a 10mm heel to toe offset – this is a little lower than on its older brother. There is a patented Nike Zoom Air Bag located beneath the heel, which is actually not a new addition, but fans of the shoe will be glad that it continues to make an appearance.
The deep side grooves which defined the feel and form of the Pegasus 30 have been completely eradicated and the Pegasus 31 is able to offer a much greater degree of support when it comes to compression and deformation. In other words, the shoe is now better at helping the foot to keep its shape whilst also providing cushioning and crash pad technology under arches, toes, and around and beneath the heel, where it is often needed the most.
It is worth mentioning that, as a result of the reduced heel height, the majority of the cushioning now comes directly from the Nike Zoom Air Bag feature rather than the foam interior and lower outer. The consequence of this is a noticeably more flexible running shoe with a quicker response time and a durability which could sometimes be missing from the Pegasus 30.
According to Nike, the Air Zoom Pegasus 31 sits somewhere in the middle of the ‘soft to firm’ scale and even a brief jog is enough to prove its maker right. This could have a lot to do with the exchange of the older Nike Air Bag feature for the flashier and shinier Nike Zoom Air Bag – a pressurized urethane compartment which provides superbly elastic qualities (the shape of the Pegasus 31 will not be easily lost) and a great deal of support due to a reduced amount of compressed padding.
Crash Rails, Toe Springs, and Increased Stability
As far the aesthetics of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 go, it is clear to see that the toe spring is a lot more prominent. Plus, innovative new ‘crash rails’ have been incorporated to add an extra level of durability and balance. The crash rail is a long piece of rubber which begins at either heel and stops at the toe. There are two crash rails to a shoe, but they are cut off from one another by a distinct groove which Nike claims is a way to offer enhanced weight management.
The bottom line is that, whilst these crash rails look cool and even have a function which sounds perfectly plausible, they have turned out to be one of these features which add very little, if any, noticeable worth to the shoe. You would certainly have to try hard to pick up on any significant weight or balance improvements between the Pegasus 30 and the Pegasus 31 anyway.
On the other hand, the upper on this running shoe is a bit of a revelation. The biggest benefit of the Pegasus overhaul is an innovative inner sleeve which curves around the mid-foot and does a great job of tackling pesky problems with tongue slide – this might not be a glamorous fix, but it is one which Nike fans will surely appreciate. The heel segments are covered with the same soft lining and material as they were with the Pegasus 30, so there is nothing new there, but it does mean a consistently comfortable fit on the interior.
A Running Shoe Which Goes the Extra Mile
As far as downsides go, it actually looks like Nike has pulled out all the stops with the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 running shoe – flaws are few and far between. The only issue which stands out, and it is more of a problem with the design rather than the structural capabilities or function of the product, is the fact that the Pegasus 31 features a reduced degree of night time visibility.
Whilst the Pegasus 30 came with pretty prominent reflective mid foot compartments, the new shoe has only a minor amount of reflective material placed just above the heel region. Yet, this is a minor gripe and it will only apply to the small amount of people who regularly run after dark – though it is worth considering how much this number will swell during the winter months.
On the whole, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 is a truly remarkable running shoe and a significant improvement on its older brother, the Nike Pegasus 30. The responsive and measured design is quite clearly the work of a talented team and whilst the shoe looks every bit as pretty as the previous iteration, it is not a product which should be bought for its looks alone. In fact, to do so would be to insult the insane level of precision design and engineering which has gone into the Pegasus 31.