Quick, lightweight, and responsive… an experience i’ve felt before, but does it hold up to my standards? Read on about as I sink my toes in the water with the Nike Crusader.
Like I said in my first impression, i’ve been itching to play in these Crusaders. Played outdoors a couple days ago to break in the outsoles grip. Quick tip here, when you play outdoors on a warm sunny day, the shoes rubber midsole and outsole becomes easier to break-in. The heat and friction of the outdoor surface softens up the rubber compound allowing the shoe to flex a lot easier. I usually try to wear shoes outdoors prior to testing them on court cutting down the break-in time. For the first wear outdoors, I was surprised how well the outsole worked and gripped the floor. Lateral movements were good, but not superb. It worked a lot better indoor as the traction had no debris like dust and rocks in the way. The court I typically play on is well maintained, but not perfect, yet the grip still managed to squeak and grip fairly well.
Cushioning on the Nike Zoom Crusaders is… remarkable. Now it isn’t super bouncy like the Jordan XX8, but for $110, it is more responsive than most of the sneakers that are available today. Once broken in, the Crusaders ride felt somewhat familiar… the Zoom Kobe 5. Yes, this was quite a surprise because the Kobe 5 are possibly one of the best performers ever in Nike Basketball. The Zoom bag in the Crusaders felt the same as the Kobe 5, except the forefoot, which has a Zoom bag shaped into a rectangle similar to the KD VI versus a met-head bag in the Kobe 5. The heel cushioning is a standard Zoom unit when normally it would just be a phylon foam cushion. The foam carrier in the Crusaders are less dense so the court feel and cushion is more abundant. Midsole foam density is crucial. If the foam of the shoe is dense, you may not be able to feel the Nike Zoom. If the foam is too soft, you begin to sink into the cushion rather than having immediate feedback. So it is all about balance. Balance, balance, and more balance.
Unfortunately, I had one main problem with the Nike Crusaders… ankle support. I know that ankle support is defined by how well your heel is secured to the rear end of the sneaker and overall lockdown, but it was hard for me to surpass the low-cut ankle collar. The neoprene sleeve doesn’t really spell out, “S-U-P-P-O-R-T” as there is a ton of give on it with no rigidity around the ankle except that outer synthetic fuse shell. During my game today, I was hesitant about going into the post and jumping for the boards to avoid peoples feet. Not only that, but I wasn’t very confident on lateral movements as well, but running forward and back was okay.
That’s all for now. I’ll probably strap up adidas Speedwraps to add some stability and support for my ankles the next time I play in them and see how that goes. The Crusaders are awesome. I love playing in them, yet hate it at the same time. Make sure you keep it locked in here on Kicksologists for the upcoming performance review.