Improved upon since the last model, which is always a good thing.
Traction – These have excellent traction. Surprising too since the pattern is pretty random. The Venomenon series is an outdoor specific shoe overseas, but I’m not sure if that’s the case with the U.S. version. There was nothing stating that these feature XDR outsoles, and Nike will always let you know when they use a certain type of material as it’ll usually be labeled somewhere on the product or come with a hang tag with the material labeled. So while the traction was pretty awesome – indoors & outdoors – the rubber is softer than you’d expect with an outdoor shoe so I wouldn’t recommend them to someone that plays on a rough outdoor surface, but if you play on a court with a smooth blacktop finish like a tennis court then you’ll be good.
Cushion – Bottom loaded Zoom Air located in the heel and forefoot… not my favorite setup. It works well for what it is, but you don’t really feel anything since there is a midsole between your foot and the cushion. The good news is that it absorbs impact upon impact, and you’ll have a slightly more ‘responsive’ ride in terms of reaction speed, but the downside is that a bottom loaded setup is best when utilized full length in order to absorb as much impact as possible. Even when using tiny Hex-Zoom units like in the LeBron 12, they’re placed from heel to toe so you have a decent amount of protection. Same when it comes to something like the Air Jordan 2010 which opted for the full length option. So while they get the job done, the cushion is nothing to gawk at. It would have been awesome if the Zoom was bottom loaded and the midsole was Lunar, but I didn’t make the shoe so that obviously didn’t happen. I will say that this is definitely an improvement over the Venomenon 4, so in that sense… its a plus.
Materials – I absolutely love the materials. Mesh and wovens are the new thing, and they’re something I thoroughly enjoy when utilized properly. If you you’ve played in the HyperRev 2015 and enjoyed their upper then you’ll likely enjoy these as well. They’re soft, flexible, require no break-in time, breathable and contain the foot well enough. It is a mesh though, so durability won’t be their strongest attribute. But if you prioritize the attributes I just mentioned above durability then you’ll be happy with them.
Fit – They fit true to size, and wide footers will want to try them on. They have that ‘perfect’ fit for my foot, so you might think they’re too snug if you have a wider foot. Forefoot and midfoot lockdown was really solid. Dynamic Flywire is located at the forefoot for some additional coverage so you don’t put too much strain on the mesh material, and the external heel counter offers great heel lockdown. Transition is a bit clunky due to the heel counter, but if you stay on your toes for the most part then you might not notice it too much. If you heel strike then you’ll feel the chunkiness that I’m talking about.
Support – They remind me of the Kobe 8 and Kobe 9 EM in terms of support. There is just enough to where you’re not as risk of injury, but not too much to where you’ll feel restricted. The heel counter is the only area that I’d change due to the clunky transition it causes. I’d have used a heel clip like what the Kobe 8 used, I think that would’ve allowed the heel to compress a bit more upon heel strikes. Other than that they’re solid. Internal shank, solid TPU heel counter and a forefoot lateral outrigger. Everything you’ve come to expect in one of Kobe’s main signature models, but in a more affordable package.
Overall – I actually like these a little more than the Kobe X’s. I enjoyed the materials much more, and the traction, while not quite Kobe X level, are capable of being used indoors and outdoors – even without the use of XDR. Cushion was much better in the X’s, but for $120 the Venomenon’s do just fine. Once again, I ended up enjoying the take down model a little more than the signature model… there are some things I’d change here and there, but overall they’re a great option for their price. Especially if you wanted a Kobe model for indoor and outdoor use.