Nike Kobe 1 Protro Deconstructed: The Makings of Performance Retro

Beyond what we have been told, what exactly separates the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro from its original make-up? Well, the team at FastPass chopped up the shoe to find out.

While our WearTesters are here to give their most honest and educated opinions on performance models given the resources they have (i.e. a fully constructed pair of sneakers, and the dedication to an activity required to develop said opinions), the folks over at FastPass do a great job of confirming any suspicions reviewers and consumers have of a sneaker — positive or negative — by showing us exactly what we are buying. Today, we have a detailed look at the tech that makes the first model of Nike’s Kobe signature line a “performance retro.”

Starting off with a profile view of the Kobe 1 Protro, all seems in line with what we would expect, with the exception of one area. The half-bootie and Pro Combat compression around the rear and ankle combine to make a nicely-padded unitary construction. Poron inserts are found within the insole (at the heel and forefoot) for additional comfort and impact protection, and yes, there is a thinner layer of foam in the midsole. Of course, the reason for reduced foam was to make room for a top-loaded, full-length Zoom unit that you honestly may have missed at first glance — more on that to follow.

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A cross cut and further dismantling of the Kobe 1 Protro reveals layers that include the upper’s external materials along with the forefoot encapsulation by way of the half-bootie. Other pieces include the insole, fabric layering, Zoom, a carbon fiber plate support at the arch and heel, and the outsole.

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Touching back on the Zoom in the Kobe 1 Protro, we do see a full-length unit implemented this time around, making Nike’s promise of improved cushion legit when we compare it to the isolated forefoot and heel units of the original Kobe 1. While the deflation of the Kobe 1 Protro Zoom unit in the profile section does not do it justice, some may feel the Zoom unit is still thinner than expected when intact.

To put the thickness of the unit in perspective, FastPass compared this full-length Zoom unit to the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 — a shoe that retails for $50 less than the Nike Kobe 1 Protro (and is much easier to buy). Not only does the Protro integrate a thinner unit at 6.77mm thick compared to Westbrook’s $125 signature, it also covers a slightly narrower base, which honestly isn’t too big of a deal considering the narrow cut is most noticeable around the arch of the foot where Zoom may not have as much of an effect.

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Zoom Units of the Nike Kobe 1 Protro (left) compared to the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 (right).

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While we are comparing, lets take a look at the versus everyone really came here to see: original Kobe 1 (white/grey) vs Kobe 1 Protro (black/Varsity Maize). Not much has changed with the upper as Nike wanted the retro model to be as close to the original as possible.

Getting to the base of the sneakers, the original Kobe 1 forefoot Zoom unit comes in nearly a millimeter thicker at 7.75mm while the heel unit more than doubles that of the Protro’s full-length unit, coming in at 14.36mm. The trade-off here is obviously more coverage on the Kobe 1 Protro.

Noticeable differences also include the toned-down Free foam set up in the Protro and a carbon fiber plate nearly half the size of the original. Neither is necessarily a downgrade.

Overall, the Nike Kobe 1 Protro deconstruction may bring some mixed opinions about the shoe. Some may feel that there is just not enough that has been “new and improved” to justify choosing this over more budget-friendly options while others may feel this approach Nike has taken to retro basketball sneakers is long overdue.

You can learn even more about this sneaker by checking out Duke4005’s Nike Kobe 1 Protro Performance Review — it’s an awesome read.

What are your thoughts on the Nike Kobe 1 Protro deconstructed? Could Nike have done more with this historically significant basketball sneaker or did it further refine what was already a great model? Share your thoughts down in the comments.

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Source: FastPass

17 Comments

  1. I love zoom. It’s my favorite cushioning system to date. When it’s done right. I’m not paying more for less. Not sorry.

    1. Is that in reference to the Why Nots carrying a thicker layer of Zoom or just a general statement? I feel you either way.

      1. General statement. I actually don’t like the why nots. I did pick up the jordan tenacity black cement 88 yesterday. They’re honestly that most comfortable show I’ve ever worn. The zoom is huge and bouncy, the phylon is light and airy, the uppers are nice and soft. But go up half a size. They’re not overly narrow or wanting, but they feel a tiny bit snug length wise.

        1. I almost bought the Why Nots 0.1 and was glad that the shipping on my stores’ location was delayed. only reason I considered them because I felt they were comfortable due to the better implementation of bottom loaded zoom and because of the Bred Colorway. I skipped on them once they become available since I hate the sloppy glue workmanship on them and having to wore my UltraFly 2’s again, they felt as if the majority of the materials and aesthetic were somewhat similar, other than the full length bottom loaded zoom unit, mesh and strap, they were somehow similar in a sense except the shoe design of course were based on different Jordans. that rubber mold caging that is used on the rear part of the Why Not 0.1 is similar to the rubber molding that is used in the UltraFly 2 and the synthetic elastic fuse upper as well. I felt that knit upper of the UltraFly 2’s felt more comfortable, better and give that sense of premium quality compared to the Why Not 0.1. personally I feel that I didn’t give my pair enough time of day due to me saving them for rainy days and almost forgot about them and almost got into the WestBrook hoopla. I think it would have been a waste of money for me as I would imagine the WestBrook’s would sit in my storage as long as my KD V’s been and only started to use those as my beaters for work. The UF 2’s were lucky enough to atleast get out from time to time.

  2. Zoom directly beneath the foot and not buried under foam? What is this, the 2000s? The best feeling Zoom that I’ve ever played in was the Zoom BB because it had that same setup. Bottom loaded Zoom makes as much sense as putting your pillow under your mattress.

    1. No doubt! Also the BBs had a cloth strobel board underfoot vs. the hard stuff they use now which really helped you feel the zoom. The BB1s are still in my rotation for serious games when I want to get fancy and bust out leather shoes without sacrificing performance, hah!

    2. I remember getting enamored by the Zoom BBs way back when Steve Nash was balling. I find the shoes sick aesthetically and quite curious about it’s cushioning setup (cushioning wasn’t really a factor for me back then considering I was only 143 lbs ) but for some reason, the shoe didn’t get much love as the rest of the world were into the earlier Brons, Soldiers, Kobe’s, Huarache’s. I wasn’t able to afford them back then since I was being paid bare minimum but I would have loved to own ones. hopefully, Nike would retro them again without dumb-downing the tech or atleast offer an OG and some other new iteration of the shoe.

      1. That’s too bad brother! I’m sorry to tell you this but a ton of them even it made it to the bargain bins at Marshall’s and Nordstroms Rack for $40. I was able to get a few in my size with my last unused pair still sitting in my closet at my parent’s place, hah!

  3. Nike needs to stop with the “cheapening” of the tech in their shoes. Seriously. It’s bad business and looks shady. I’m glad sites like this expose the inner workings of the shoes so we know what we are or are not getting.

    1. Not so sure you can call this “cheapening” as much as a refining. By top-loading the Zoom you feel it directly under your foot with no foam dampening the response like the original. You have a thinner bag but the feel is the same because the Zoom doesn’t have to fight the foam to be felt. On first glance, yes, it does appear cheap because it is smaller, But overall the affect is still the same.

      1. I would say it would have been better if they made them atleast 10mm thick or consistently 8mm. I felt that the zoom are the cheaper kind rather than the usual 8mm zoom units that we usually have. not saying it’s bad but for the premium that we are paying, it doesn’t look good.

      2. They should have cored out more foam and put a bigger bag in. Those skinny bags compress way too quickly to be worth the money.

  4. On paper it sounds bad, and that you paid for lesser material, but how many people have actually tried out the Protro and/or Original to know what the true translation is? The Protro is generally a pretty good setup in my experience. As a design it can hold its worth (on top of being limited).

  5. Stack a second zoom unit in the heel, underneath the full-length one, to equal the thickness of the heel zoom in the OG Kobe 1. The forefoot is close enough to the original, and full-length, that I could overlook it. But Nike, if you make quality, durable products, people will buy them. I promise you that. No one wants to buy a shoe that burns out in 3 months.

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