Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 Review: High Speed Running

Last updated on February 16th, 2024

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 airpod
Nike Alphafly 2PriceReleaseStyleRetailer
Road Racing$285YesFQ8110-331Nike
ProsCons
Higher durability than the previous versionsNarrow midfoot which digs into your arch
Quieter ride than previous versionsHeavier than version 1
Efficient rocker geometryOverpriced
High level of stability

The Nike Alphafly Next 2, a high-performance shoe, caters to runners with narrow feet and high arches due to its slim midfoot design. It excels in short, high-speed training sessions rather than extended runs, as it offers a firm yet supportive ride with noticeable arch support. This latest iteration features enhancements such as an improved Atomknit 2 upper for a snug fit, a flatter and more durable outsole, and a wider midsole for increased stability.

If it weren't for Eliud Kipchoge's association with the Alphaflys, I wonder how many units Nike would have managed to sell. Nike has strategically utilized Kipchoge, their strongest marketing asset, to drive the sales of their priciest racing shoe from the very beginning, and the results have been undeniably impressive.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 heel stack

Throughout the previous year, Nike has employed a deliberate tactic of discreetly releasing glimpses of the Alphafly 2. Images of Eliud donning experimental versions of the shoe during his training sessions in Kenya have been widely shared across various social media platforms, intensifying the anticipation surrounding this highly awaited running shoe debut.

The initial version of the Alphafly Next 2 in its unique color scheme flew off the shelves in a matter of minutes in certain countries and wherever it was made available. I considered myself fortunate to secure a pair of this elusive colorway, but the morning leading up to the release on the Nike app was filled with anxiety.

The Prototype colour scheme mimics a preliminary model, featuring a restrained palette. Additionally, the midsole bears numerals resembling handwritten markings in permanent ink, serving as a means to identify the wear test iteration.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 toebox

Despite its popularity, the Alphafly falls short in comparison to the Vaporfly, another Nike super shoe that reigns supreme.

There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. It is more expensive (over $25).
  2. The midfoot possesses a slender shape that intrudes upon the arch.

For certain runners, particularly those with broad, low arches, the experience can be rather uncomfortable. Personally, I found that in the initial two iterations, the distinct arch was evident but still manageable.

The Alphafly Next 2 is the third installment in the Alphafly series. Last year, I had the chance to try out the second version, the eco-conscious Alphafly Next Nature. In comparison to the original, the Next Nature had a sturdier feel and a more laid-back upper. However, its exorbitant cost and bulky, trainer-like weight were difficult to justify.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 heelcap/outsole

The Alphafly Next 2 is heavier than the original version at 8 oz (227 g) for a men’s US 9. The original was 7.4 oz (210 g) and the Next Nature was 9.2 oz (261 g). It also has an 8 mm drop compared to the original and the Next Nature versions which had a 4 mm drop. It maintains the same price as the original version, $275.

When I laid eyes on the "leaked" pictures of the Alphafly 2 for the first time, I was filled with excitement. It was evident that this new iteration had been completely revamped, with updates to the outsole, midsole, and upper. The addition of an extra layer of foam beneath the air pods seemed promising, as it appeared to offer a more cushioned and comfortable running experience compared to its predecessors.

Upon slipping my feet into the shoes and taking my initial strides, an undeniable discomfort emanated from the pronounced arch that pressed against my midfoot. This distinctive feature is characteristic of the Alphafly, as its midfoot is notably slender. Typically, the sensation of the arch digging into my foot is inconsequential during my runs.

During my initial jog, I engaged in a rapid training session comprising of 500 meters intervals and subsequent 200 meters intervals. What struck me immediately was the noticeable decrease in noise compared to the previous two iterations. The Alphafly Next 2 no longer emits a sound reminiscent of a galloping horse. This transformation can be attributed to the addition of a supplementary layer of ZoomX foam positioned beneath the Zoom Air pods.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 upper and mudguard

The ride had an unexpectedly solid feel, surpassing the original version and slightly exceeding the Next Nature edition in firmness. The workout was incredibly satisfying, effortlessly allowing me to achieve impressive speeds of approximately 3 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometer (5 minutes and 38 seconds per mile).

The second time I tried out the Alphafly 2 didn't go as well as the first. I was running at a moderate pace, which caused me to land farther back in the shoe during transitions. As I continued my run, I noticed that the narrow midfoot area was causing discomfort by creating a hotspot on the arch of my left foot.

As I hurriedly made my way back, an urgent desire to rid myself of the shoes consumed me. Once safely back within the confines of my home, I promptly removed them, only to discover an unwelcome blister nestled on the arch of my foot, a result of the incessant rubbing. It was perplexing, as I had worn similar socks without issue in the previous iterations of this footwear.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 sole units

The Alphafly 2 lacks the same squishiness and bounce as its predecessor. I find it most suitable for speed training or tempo sessions, whereas the original version provided a greater level of comfort for slower paces.

I suspect that Nike may have modified the composition of ZoomX to enhance its firmness and durability, as there are no apparent alterations that would account for a firmer experience. In my opinion, the Alphafly 2 is not fully harnessing the capabilities of ZoomX with its current firm ride. Ideally, it should deliver a sensation of springiness, bounce, and liveliness.

The Alphafly 2 offers a more solid running experience compared to other high-performance shoes. While the Metaspeed Sky+, Vaporfly Next 2, and Adios Pro 3 provide a softer ride, I find myself yearning for the delightful cushioning of ZoomX that I experience in other elite Nike running shoes when I run in the Alphafly 2.

Mastering the art of running in the Alphafly 2 requires patience. The shoe's design prompts a forceful impact with the ground. As I lace up, I sense the dynamic Zoom Air units in the front of the shoe react and push me onward, a sensation absent during light-footed strides. Those with a heavier build won't require as much force, as the Zoom Air units compress naturally.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 on feet - arch/midfoot/forefoot parts

The Alphafly boasts the identical elevated toe-spring as its predecessors, resulting in a remarkably efficient and energy-conserving rocking motion while running for extended periods. This allows for effortlessly maintaining a consistent pace and covering considerable distances with minimal exertion.

If only Nike addressed the issue of the slender midfoot, the Alphafly 2 would cater to a significantly broader range of individuals. A mere adjustment of a few millimeters to the shoe's waist would suffice.

To safeguard my arch, I had to don exceptionally thick socks that shielded against blisters. However, the Alphafly shoes wouldn't be my go-to for lengthy marathons. Thankfully, my feet are narrow, but I can envision the agony flat-footed runners with wider feet may endure when running in the Alphafly 2 – akin to subjecting themselves to a tormenting contraption.

The Alphafly's midsole features a carbon plate that is rigid, but it does not curve downwards at the front of the foot like the Vaporfly's plate does. This is due to the presence of Air Zoom units, which obstruct the plate. As a result, the Alphafly 2's plate has a flatter profile and does not provide the same intense sensation. It lacks the impactful quality found in other high-performance shoes like the Vaporfly Next 2 and the original Metaspeed Sky.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 heel arch

The Alphafly 2 guarantees enhanced stability with its firmer ride and wider heel. This allows for effortless maneuvering around sharp corners and executing U-turns without any hassle.

The latest iteration boasts a superior outsole design when compared to its predecessors. The rubber strips that encompass the back portion now stretch towards the middle, resulting in a reduced amount of exposed midsole foam. Furthermore, the forefoot rubber has been made flat, as opposed to the ribbed forefoot rubber found in earlier models, ensuring a more even distribution of wear.

The presence of a V-shaped indentation reveals the carbon plate beneath the middle of the foot, offering a novel way to reduce weight that was previously absent.

Anticipating the Alphafly 2 to exhibit superior endurance in comparison to other high-performance footwear due to its minimal midsole foam contact with the ground during transitions. Throughout my testing phase, I noticed minimal signs of wear exclusively on the lips of the separate groove and the periphery of the diamond-shaped aperture in the forefoot.

The Alphafly 2 offers exceptional grip, despite not having a complete outsole that makes contact with the ground. I encountered no problems with traction even in wet weather.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 shoelace and vamp

Atomknit 2, the latest upper material, bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, Atomknit 1, found on the original Alphafly. However, when it comes to breathability, there is no significant improvement. Nevertheless, the upper remains exceptionally cool and allows ample airflow, while also exhibiting liquid-repellent properties.

I'm not particularly fond of racing shoes with bootie constructions because they don't offer optimal foot lockdown. The inability to use a runner's knot became apparent during my sprinting workouts, as the heel felt somewhat loose, although not to the extent of causing slippage.

The lack of fullness in the padding within the heel counter is evident, resulting in increased distance between my heel and the counter. This primary factor is responsible for the issue of a loose heel.

The lacing section on this iteration boasts enhanced thickness and additional padding, thereby providing increased protection to the upper part of your foot against the pressure exerted by the laces.

The Alphafly 2 offers a more streamlined fit in comparison to the first version, particularly around the midfoot and forefoot. As someone with narrow, low volume feet, I personally find both versions to be quite comfortable. However, if you fall between sizes or have high volume feet, I would suggest opting for a half size larger.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 on feet - yellow and green version

Nike has a strong aversion to runners who possess flat arches. Among the wide selection of running shoes available, the Infinity Run 3 and the Alphafly Next 2 stand out as the top neutral options that offer an unparalleled experience of arch stimulation.

If you happen to have wider feet or lower arches, I would advise against choosing the Alphafly 2 as it may result in significant discomfort during extended running sessions. Personally, I found the Alphafly Next% 2 to be unsuitable for my needs. The persistent sensation of the arch poking was something I could never adapt to, and I eagerly awaited the end of each run to remove the shoes.

The Alphafly Next 2 differs from the original Alphafly Next and the Next Nature edition in that it offers a firmer and more stable ride. However, this means that it sacrifices some of its bounce and energy return, resulting in less long-distance comfort. Additionally, the Alphafly Next 2 features a tighter and narrower upper, so it is advisable to consider sizing up for a better fit.

If I had to choose, I would opt for the original Alphafly Next% as I have a preference for a more cushioned and energetic experience. The revised version lacks that satisfying bounce upon landing and that impressive propulsion when pushing off. The only aspects of the update that I find appealing are the quieter ride, thanks to the added foam layer beneath the air pods, as well as its enhanced durability and stability.

The Alphafly Next 2, in my view, falls short as an upgrade. Nike missed the mark by neglecting to widen the midfoot, which was the only necessary change. With its hefty price tag of $285, it remains one of the priciest running shoes on the market. This is the official purchase link on Nike website, you can have a look if interested.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 2 on feet - pink version