The Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% is the daily training version of Nike’s elite marathon shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. You can find my full comparison of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% vs Alphafly Next% here. But with the Alphafly sold out everywhere, most of our audience wants to know the specifics on the Tempo. Can it handle speed workouts, long runs, and everything in between?
Well, buckle up. Let’s find out how Nike’s second most anticipated running shoe of 2020 performs.
The same 15mm forefoot Zoom Air pods found in the Alphafly return in the Tempo. These high volume beauties are super bouncy and I was happy to feel them underfoot again. The forefoot and midfoot also pack a bunch of Nike’s top of the line ZoomX foam. ZoomX is super light and super plush. It’s made with the super foam Pebax. Pebax saves your legs on long runs and is almost universally appreciated because of that. The ZoomX is then cut away at the heel where Nike placed a wedge of React foam. React is awesome, but not as light as ZoomX. Nike added it to the heel to ensure stability and comfort for the varied conditions found in daily running.
The Tempo basically replaces the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 and Nike Zoom Fly 3 in Nike’s running lineup. The Pegasus Turbo 2 used a similar, but thinner, ZoomX and React combo while the Zoom Fly 3 used only React. Add in the Zoom pods and Nike has created a cushioning system with the best of both worlds.
And instead of the carbon fiber plate found in the Zoom Fly 3 and Alphafly, Nike included a softer composite plate to make everyday runs feel easier on your feet (it takes more force from your foot to bend carbon fiber). Then, to top it off, Nike added a plush insole of recycled ZoomX. The cushioning on the Tempo is epic. It’s a lot of different pieces that come together to feel awesome under foot. Plush, but also responsive, bouncy, and stable. It’s one of the best cushioning setups of the year.
The wave traction pattern on the Tempo was originally found on the Alphafly. But where the Alphafly outsole was designed to reduce weight, the Tempo outsole is designed for durability. The Tempo gets the wavy pattern over the entire forefoot with a slight bit of midfoot coverage. Plus, it’s got two oblong pieces of the same rubber on the medial and lateral sides of the heel. The outsole grips well even in wet conditions.
The rubber compound itself is fairly hard. I don’t see much wear on my pair after weeks of testing. Nike says the Tempo’s traction will last as long as the outsole of the Nike Pegasus 37, which they estimate at 300+ miles.
The fit is the most polarizing part of the Tempo. The Tempo has been available overseas for a few months already and I’ve seen a lot of wide footers complain about how hard it is to get the shoe on their feet. I even busted a few stitches in the heel tab of my right shoe trying to pull it on without unlacing. PSA, unlace the Tempo before slipping it on. The collar of the Tempo is not as forgiving as the Alphafly’s very similar hard-to-put-on collar.
Get past the initial obstacle of the collar and you get a nice fit. An internal midfoot cage locks down the midfoot (a feature many thought the Alphafly missed). The entire upper including the midfoot is light and airy. And thanks to the tight collar and a wraparound achilles pad, I didn’t experience any heel slip.
The upper’s combo of Atomknit in the forefoot and midfoot with Flyknit in the heel works great. The breathability of the Atomknit is top notch and summer running is…wait for it…a breeze. There’s a light fuse overlay at the toe to provide structure. That overlay is unobtrusive and adds some durability to the toe so I didn’t mind it. The one part of the materials I didn’t like? The laces. Nike used the laces from the Nike Vaporfly Next%. The laces are light, but not wide enough and too thin. They’re kind of annoying if you have bigger fingers. I wish Nike had used the Alphafly’s laces on these bad boys instead.
The Tempo’s racing-centric sibling, the Alphafly, gets most of its criticism in the support department. But it’s meant for road racing where turns and uneven pavement aren’t a huge concern. The Tempo, on the other hand, is built to handle turns, uneven pavement, and the occasional foray into grass, dirt, or gravel.
A few things really make the difference. 1) The 27mm forefoot stack height doesn’t feel too high off the ground and the Zoom Air pods act sort of like outriggers. 2) A midfoot cage supporting the Atomknit in the midfoot and reinforcing the laces provides ample security. I never felt in danger of sliding off the footbed in the Tempo. The midfoot hugging sensation made me feel thoroughly attached to the shoe. 3) Placing React in the heel instead of a less stable foam like ZoomX makes a huge difference. The heel is prone to less side-to-side motion and feels secure when jumping from curb to street or vice versa.
With that said, the support’s not perfect. You don’t sit inside the midsole at all and the forefoot Zoom pods can overcompress. Some landings on the outside of the foot cause the wearer to tip too far towards the lateral forefoot. That’s true of most shoes with two huge Zoom pods in the forefoot. The trade off in bounce and cushion is worth it.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% is billed as Nike’s top of the line everyday running shoe and lives up to hype. It’s got the best cushioning of any Nike running shoe outside of the Alphafly and Vaporfly. It also sports a durable, grippy outsole. The Tempo does have some fit issues, but if those don’t affect you, you’ll get solid materials and generous breathability. $200 is the most expensive daily trainer you’ll find, but it’s a fun ride for anyone that’s putting in high mileage.
Where to buy the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
Thanks to Nike for sending a pair to test. Nike received no editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.