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Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review

This is another new performance model for Jordan Brand that we were eager to wear-test. The Jordan Ultra.Fly was met with high hopes and expectations. Did they deliver? Only one way to find out.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Traction


Traction – Once again, we receive a traction pattern that looks as if it would perform on-court, but was met with poor rubber compound choices. While the Ultra.Fly doesn’t have horrible traction, by any means, it’s just not up to par with Jordan Brand’s past heavy hitters.

Dust, even in the smallest amounts that are typical for any basketball gym, stick to the sole like nobody’s business. Having to wipe every so often is no big deal. Most of us do it without even realizing it. But to have to do it before every play or before every trip down the floor? It’s just plain distracting. I know Jordan Brand models can have great traction. The Air Jordan XX8 is still among the very short list of shoes that you can play on any court and have insane grip.

Is it the translucent rubber that has been hurting all of these current performance models? It’s very possible. Translucent rubber isn’t always bad. It’s just been bad more than it’s been good. I’d love to have seen the Ultra.Fly release with solid rubber so we could truly test the pattern for what it is rather than harping on the rubber for what it’s not. But this is what we have to work with so this is what the review is based on.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Cushion

Cushion – Step-in comfort is there, but that’s not the same as actual comfort or cushion. The longer I played in the Ultra.Fly the sooner I wished my time on-court was done. If you’re playing in regulated games where there are breaks, time-outs, halftimes, and game clock that will eventually expire then I think the cushion is adequate enough. However, if you’re a pickup player that is at the gym for three plus hours at a time and only gets breaks if you lose you might want to look elsewhere.

The Ortholite insole is comfortable, but thin. So this is where that step-in comfort comes from and why it quickly goes away. A Phylon midsole is used, and I wish it was a tad less dense — not to the point to where it becomes unstable, but just to the point to where it’s a bit more forgiving. Why? The shoe’s cushion is articulated Zoom Air, and it’s bottom loaded.

Much like the Jordan CP3.IX, I just couldn’t feel the Zoom. It’s also a thin bag, so if Jordan Brand were to redesign it to be thicker I think this would alleviate the problem. Thicker Zoom and less dense Phylon…this is what the shoe needs to take them from being decent to be awesome.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Materials

Materials – Kurim and mesh combined make up the upper, and this is the part of the shoe that has the most promise. What Jordan Brand has done is add strength to the material while still retaining the aspects that I love with the softer materials. Performance Woven is great and all, but it’s not as durable as other materials, and some just really dislike the lack of structure that a woven or knit brings to the table. This combination pleases fans of the soft stuff and the more structured stuff. It’s also durable as hell and shows zero signs of wear. If you want flexible containment then this is one of those setups that will cater directly to your needs.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Fit

Fit – The Jordan Ultra.Fly fits true to size and as mentioned above in the materials, containment is key. You will need to re-adjust the laces a little when you first get them on-court as the Kurim, while soft, isn’t extremely pliable in the beginning. After you start playing you’ll feel the heat from your foot start to warm the material up, and that’s when you’ll need to adjust the laces a bit. Afterwards it’s smooth sailing. From forefoot, to midfoot, to heel, the fit and lockdown are solid and I can’t complain.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Support

Support – The Ultra.Fly’s support is on the basic side. There is the standard internal TPU torsional shank and the standard TPU internal heel counter. Other than that the support relies heavily on the way the materials wrap around your foot and the strength of the Kurim. In tandem, it all works together pretty nicely. Nothing spectacular, but it’ll take care of you. If you happen to wear an ankle brace, the materials will accommodate that easily.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Overall

Overall – The Jordan Ultra.Fly has some positive aspects to it, but it’s not a shoe I’d personally choose to play in again. Materials and fit are the shoe’s highlights. Traction is 50/50 — I’d personally wait for a colorway with solid rubber if you were interested in grabbing a pair. Cushion, however, is just not sufficient. Not for me, and might not be for most others as well. If you enjoy firm tooling then you’ll probably enjoy the setup, but some might want something a bit more forgiving.

I hope we see the Kurim and mesh combination again as I enjoyed the hell out of that upper. However, only time will tell.

Jordan Ultra.Fly Performance Review Score

  1. Damn ….. Appreciate the Review NW …. was looking forward to these looks like ill be waiting a couple months til they hit the Sale section.

  2. Glad you went back to the traditional “picture+body copy” format.

    Though I still miss the time when you would add in a bunch of details and thoughts into the text instead of repeating what you said in the video. However, that’d take a lot of extra time, so I totally understand why you stopped doing that.

    I think Nike really has to work on their cushion setup more. Every major player in this business has some great cushion material nowadays, such as adidas’ boost, UA’s Micro G, Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA, NB’s REVlite/N2, Hoka’s CMEVA/RMAT, etc. Nike is no exception, their Cushlon and Lunarlon are both great foams, and they should work on improving those and put them into every shoe.

    The whole concept of “air bag” seemed to be cool in the 80s, but consumers nowadays know better than that. The only air bag that actually has some performance benefits over good foams is the Zoom air, and Nike apparently knows that because they’ve been using it for over 20 years. Honestly, all other forms of air bags are just inferior compared to modern foam materials. They may have some performance values in the early 90s due to the stiffness of PU, but not anymore.

    Nike being Nike, they still don’t want to give up on these air bags, which is why we still see Air Max units in some cheaper models. The higher level performance shoes, on the other hand, mostly use either Lunarlon or Zoom instead.

    The problem is, Nike keeps using super firm/small Zoom units combined with shitty EVA in some of its higher-end models, such as this Ultra Fly, Kyrie series, and all other shoes with that small gum-shaped Zoom. Whenever I see these kinds of crap, I feel like Nike is saying “Fuck you” to all of its loyal consumers because Jordan 12/13/14, which released almost 20 years ago, felt much better than the crap Nike feeds us now.

    Seriously, ever since its creation, the only major improvement that Zoom air had was the Zoom Max that debuted in the Lebron 10. Only a few shoes utilized that, and for the most time we are still getting shitty Zoom that’s worse than what it was 20 years ago.

    KD 9 might be another game changer like Lebron 10, we’ll see how it goes. I sincerely hope Nike puts more effort in innovating new forms of cushion tech, instead of putting gum Zooms into every shoe.

    1. I say in the video what the write-up says because I want the information to be consistent. But there are still little tidbits in the write-up that aren’t in videos due to keeping the video under a certain time frame.

      I agree with you on the cushion. They can do it, so why don’t they? It’s mind boggling how the cushion can be so bad on a shoe that retails for over $100. You can literally buy any random Nike Basketball model now and get more cushion for less.

    2. as far as innovations in zoom go, though, i have to say that i really like the kd8, full-length zoom that flexes with your foot, is stable and responsive…of course the zoom isn’t the springy, ‘oh my god this is the best thing that ever happened to my feet’ zoom that we grew up with, but it isn’t totally removed from that either… for me it’s a really, really good shoe, and the kd9 looks to be a step above even that

    3. Well, I still think the original Air Maxs were pretty good. I had a pair of Charles Barkley’s signature model – the Nike Air Max 2 CB ’94 in 1994 and the Air Max 2 in that felt amazing. I still feel like it was one of the best cushioned shoes I’ve worn. I don’t know why the Air Max sucks ass in their retro models though.

      I actually still had those shoes and even when I tried them on 8 years later after I originally bought them, the cushioning still felt good, and surprisingly, the midsole didn’t crumble or fall apart (though there was some glue separation). It wasn’t even a case of me remembering them as being better than the actually were, I still thought that the cushion felt great.

      Anyway, just thought I’d mention that, because the Air Max 2 in the CB ’94s in OG form was pretty good IMO. I think it’s like Zoom Air, where for some reason the new versions suck compared to the OG versions.

  3. was really hyped for these. sucks that its just another mediocre shoe from JB. so many better options for the money. at this point I dont even consider JB to be a top performance basketball shoe brand. UA, adidas, BrandBlack and Nike all offer better performing shoes for your money

  4. Most reviews say it’s mediocre. I’d skip it, and just pick up a discounted Super.Fly 4 if you want a similar-ish look.

  5. Agreed with quality of Zoom use. Zoom is still the preferred choice of air cushion used for basketball. Still seems people have to get the higher retail signatures just for decent Zoom. At least there is Hyperrev and Ambassador 8 that NyJumpman23 review which has heel and forefoot Zoom. Yeah, the other brands are bringing it and hope they continue to do so since they are plenty of choices.

    1. Bro, trust me when I say that the zoom on the Ambassadors were nothing like the usual zoom which is confusing as hell to me. Why can’t they all just be like that? I have no idea. You literally feel it in the balls of your feet with each step.

  6. NW, I know you don’t like to compare models… but I have to ask. I really like how the Kyrie 2 feel in terms of traction and fit, but I would never use them for outdoors. For this Ultrafly, would you recommend them for outdoor play and is it comparable to Kyrie 2, because the overall shape looks similar to the Kyrie 2, IMO. Thanks.

    1. The best outdoor shoe is last year’s pair of indoor shoes! Even when the traction wears down after a month or two of regular play, you still get good grip because the court provides much more friction than an indoor court. Forces you to replace your indoor kicks too, which is a good idea to do yearly if you play with any consistency.

      Barely any shoes are good for strictly outdoor play anymore though, because rubber is soft, and patterns are shallow. Maybe look into the KD Trey 5 III, which isn’t too expensive and available at Dicks.

  7. I ALWAYS appreciate the honesty in these reviews. There is no sugar coating. I kind of liked the look but nah…I’ll pass. It sucks to hear that they weren’t better.

  8. Hi mr. Nightwing do you think its possible that jimmy butler’s ultra fly ahoe have different kind of set up compared on what we have in store? Because why would he downgrade on such performance shoe if he already using aj29 or aj30 which is far more better than this and it can affect his performance right? More power to you brother.

      1. In your opinion, what do you think is the difference techwise for the PE’s? By the way I’m really amazed how depth your knowledge on this kind of stuff that’s why i really trust on your reviews.

        1. Could be anything, really. They could have custom cushion, they almost always have a custom fit, and who knows what else. But 9 out of 10 endorsed athletes get a custom shoe and not the retail version.

          1. Thanks man appreciate the thoughts.. By the way we have an increasing ‘sneaker brand’ talk group in the Philippines and most of the members trust your review and visit and share this site as sneaker news update.

  9. NW, did you see the Jordan Brand Classic versions of the Ultra.Fly? That Black on Red colourway looks sick, plus they look like they have solid rubber rather than the translucent outsole, which should help the traction. Real shame as I was looking forward to grabbing a pair of these, but without adequate cushion there’s no way.

  10. These things seemed pretty good especially with that Kurim upper. I am very disappointing that nothing else turned out to be that great (Traction and cushion). Nike needs to get the whole zoom thing straightened out because in some models it is great, and some it is absolutely terrible. I liked it when you could go to a store with almost no knowledge on shoes and still end up with a decent pair, but now you really have to know what you are getting into or you are going to get something like this shoe. With the firm phylon and bad cushion, I would probably kill me feet from just stepping into them. Overall, Nike and JB need to figure their stuff out because other brands are coming for them.

  11. Damn shame. I like the idea of articulated zoom, and its been done successfully in the Lebron hex zooms and the recent Jordan unlocked zooms with the forefoot zoom splits. This setup might be good if the bag was bigger and a softer midsole was used.

    I don’t get why they bother putting zoom in there if they make it as thin as possible and cage it in hard foam. Nike does that in too many shoes. Funny thing is they seem to be making their midsoles harder and their outsoles softer so they’re less durable. Sometimes I think some designers of these shoes don’t even play basketball, or understand what is needed for good performance.

  12. Thank you very much for the review! Tell me please, in Jordan Super.Fly 4 cushioning is better? Thank you.

  13. Sad to hear the cushioning is too minimal(for me at least). Very little options for players that need serious-cushioning.

    1. It’s damn near Boost or nothing. Bounce is great to me too and trust me, my knees need the good stuff. Adidas is the brand for my knees at the moment. I still have a few models from other players like Brand Black and UA, but Adidas is killing it.

  14. Hey nw, don’t know where to ask you this – what’s a shoe on the market now that fits similar to the Penny V so I can know my size for the Penny V?

    1. I’m not NW but they are Narrow…very narrow up front. I had to sell mine because they fit “more snug” than most of my other shoes despite being the same size and Brand. I also don’t have a wide foot at all but I just didn’t like how much they “hugged” my foot and I use the term “hug” loosely. NW would probably say true to size but that’s very true to size…like no wiggle room at all true to size. At least that’s how they were for me.

  15. I got them they fit well, matherial around the foot is great, but the grip is very plastic and doesnt grip well even when you swipe them with your hand. the cushioning is also too thin and it hurts my foot and ankle to play in theese

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