To splurge, or not to splurge… that is the question…
Traction – Nothing has changed between the Kobe X & their Elite counterpart in terms of traction. Same pattern is used, and we don’t recommend them for outdoor players. They performed great, just as they had in the previous Kobe X Performance Review, on any court or court condition. Some have said that they slip in the shoe, not sure if that is true or not… but figured I’d throw it out there. Based on my experience alone, I’ve never encountered a problem with the Kobe X’s traction at all.
Cushion – Much like the traction, the cushion hasn’t changed at all from the regular Kobe X. I like the cushion quite a bit, but I won’t say its amazing. The TPU cage, as I’ve mentioned in the Kobe X Performance Review, restricts the compression a bit. Not enough to make things uncomfortable, because these are really comfortable, but enough to where you can’t feel certain things – like the heel Zoom – as well as you could if it weren’t as restricted.
Materials – Now this is where things get switched up from the original Kobe X. Nike removed that Fuse that I dislike, and replaced it with Flyknit. I was really hoping that they’d have figured out how to use Flyknit in more of a raw sense, but they still glued the hell out it… at least most of it. There are some small sections on the midfoot that are pure knit, but its not enough to compare it to something like the XX9 or J Crossover 2. Now, I do like this setup way more than the Fuse setup… but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, with all the glue they used, to really say there is a true performance benefit between one setup over the other.
Fit – They fit true to size, but they are on the snug side at the forefoot. I find it weird that I’ve had a slightly different fit in the forefoot with every pair of Kobe X’s I’ve worn… these actually give me the most blisters due to the little TPU ridges that pop up right at the toe area. The All-Star edition I wore never gave me any problems, then the 5 a.m. Flight needed some break-in time… and these just f*ck my feet up every time I play in them for more than 2 hours at a time. Other than those issues, they do a good job of locking the foot into the shoe… much better than the Kobe 9 Elite too.
The collar on the Kobe X Elite is thinner and fits the foot with the shoe as one whole piece. So when you’re moving around everything is connected. Whereas the Kobe 9 Elite had two parts to the shoe… there was the shoe itself, and then there was the collar. They moved separately and some people found them to feel a little clunky while I just found the extra collar to be more of an annoyance.
Support – Same thing as the regular Kobe X. The fit & lockdown do most of the work while the base of the shoe provides more support that what we’ve gotten from some of the past Kobe’s without limiting movement due to all the flex grooves.
Overall – They play almost the same as the regular Kobe X’s. Yes, I like the material on these more than the Fuse, but I don’t feel that it’s worth the additional money. Much like I didn’t find the regular Kobe X compared to the Kobe 9 to be worthy of the price hike. There are still plenty of Kobe 9’s out there – and they’re starting to go on-sale – so I’d recommend grabbing a pair of those if you wanted great performance without spending ‘too much’ – I say too much very loosely. But if you absolutely ‘need’ the ‘latest thing’ out then feel free to drop $225 as you’ll still be getting a great performer. So if money isn’t an issue, then go for it. If money is an issue, you won’t be doing yourself any disservice by grabbing last years model at a discounted rate.