Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 – Is it still epic?

I never got to try the first version of the Epic React, although they were on my wish list. There was quite a lot of hype surrounding them (but isn’t that always the case with Nike shoe releases?) and some even declared them the best running shoes of 2018. This was the first running shoe that contained the Nike React foam, which is speedy yet supportive. The Epic React also became a very popular casual shoe. So, I had to give the new Epic React 2 a go. 

They do look like something in between a casual sneaker and a running shoe. There are multiple colorways, but the main colorway is black with a splash of color around the midsole and on the outsole. Since the upper only consists of the flyknit and the outsole hardly uses any rubber, it is a very light shoe, which only weighs 196 grams. It has an 18 mm stack height in the forefoot and 28 mm in the heel, which gives it a 10 mm drop. 

Nike hasn’t made any huge changes to the Epic React 2, but why would you change a winning formula? The only real changes are the heel counter, which now dips down in the middle, and the lacing system which is now split into two parts. The Nike swoosh is also different, it is on both sides of the shoe and it is embroidered onto the flyknit. 

Midsole

The Nike Epic React 2 has a wider midsole than the Pegasus Turbo and thus provides a bit more stable ride. I liked the Pegasus Turbo with the ZoomX midsole, but it worked kind of like a sponge, it’s soft but it temporarily loses its shape when you put weight on it. This would result in quite a bit of ground feel with the Pegasus Turbo. Nike describes the React foam as being responsive and springy. Well, it definitely is springy, I’ll give them that. The React foam does keep its shape and therefore provides better impact protection than the Pegasus Turbo. It’s a nice and cushioned ride. 

Because of the Nike React foam midsole I do not really notice the drop that much, since it doesn’t really feel like you are being propelled forward. With the Pegasus Turbo I did have the feeling that I was being pushed forward slightly, something that I didn’t really experience with the Epic React. Instead, it feels more like you are being propelled upwards. Which isn’t a complete surprise if you consider the fact that the Nike React foam was first used in Nike’s basketball shoes. And for basketball, the upward motion would be more useful. In the beginning, the midsole reminded me more of a trampoline on which you want to jump up and down on. In the end I did get used to the midsole, but still didn’t really have the feeling that I was being propelled forward by the shoe itself.

Upper

The flyknit upper gives you a snug feeling, but it is flexible enough to avoid any hotspots. In this version, the eyelets are separated into two parts, a lower and an upper part. This should allow for more flexibility, but the flyknit upper is already really flexible, thus I’m not sure if this really makes a huge difference. But since the upper is made out of one piece of flyknit, the laces don’t have that much effect anyway. Normally laces tighten two separate pieces of the upper tighter together over the tongue of the shoe, but with the one piece upper that isn’t possible. You can tighten the laces a little bit, but if you tighten them too much the flyknit will fold in on itself, which isn’t very comfortable. There also isn’t really a way to tie the laces in any other way, since there are only a limited number of eyelets on this shoe. Which for some runners could be an inconvenience. 

Due to the flyknit the sizing label was stitched onto the sockliner, normally it’s tucked in underneath the sockliner and it doesn’t bother you, but sometimes it would come out from underneath the sockliner and I could feel it on the side of my foot. This would eventually become annoying and I would have to put it back underneath the sockliner. 

The outer heel counter on the Epic React 2 now dips down at the back and is therefore smaller than in the first version, but I’m not convinced it makes any difference, since there is another heel counter on the inside of the shoe which is a lot higher in the back and still gives you the support you need. 

Outsole

Part of the React foam is exposed, while part of the heel and part of the forefoot area of the outsole are covered with rubber. The rubber does provide enough traction on roads and easy trails. 

The exposed React foam did start to wear a little bit after about 50 miles in these shoes, but the rubber still looked good, so I don’t think it will be an issue while I put more miles in these shoes. 

Performance

It is not as much of a speedy ride as the Nike Pegasus Zoom Turbo. The Turbo is more of a fast 5 or 10k racing shoe, while I would classify the Epic React 2 more of a half marathon racing shoe. 

Fit

Although the flyknit is a bit snug, I had no issues with the sizing and wore my normal running shoe size. 

Nike Epic React 2

Conclusion

When running in the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2, does the word epic come to mind? Well, calling them epic is obviously quite the claim. I wouldn’t really go with epic, it didn’t completely blow my mind, but I would go with great. The Nike Epic React 2 is a great half marathon racing shoe. It’s comfortable and springy and adapts easily to different kinds of workouts. I’ll definitely keep these shoes in my rotation and I’m considering buying more Nike running shoes with the Epic React foam. 

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