Reebok may have left the performance basketball world behind, but they’ve never stopped creating performance footwear. Recent examples of Reebok’s performance prowess include the Nano X and Floatride Forever Energy 2. In addition to those two, JJ Watt’s cross trainer line consistently produces some of the best performers. And now, whew, Reebok is taking it to a new level with the JJ IV.
Bryan: While the outsole color will differ depending on the colorway, the radial traction pattern in the forefoot is a mainstay. Where have we seen this look before? Hmmm, let me see, radial pattern, best traction ever…the Air Jordan 1? And just like the AJ 1, the JJ IV has amazing traction. I’m not saying it’s the exact same pattern, but the idea is the same. Provide coverage in all directions and grip from any angle.
The JJ IV never let me down on box jumps, leg presses, squats, seated toe raises (this one is a traction killer), sled work, or even a little 3-on-3 basketball. While the JJ line previously featured a turf-inspired nub or blade pattern, the JJ IV gets more of a court-friendly style. For this basketball player at heart, it works. Plus, if you still need the nubs, there’s some on the heel. And is it durable? Yes. So far I’ve haven’t had any issues with the pattern wearing off, and I use these for EVERYTHING.
Drew: Bryan covered the traction well. It’s thick, durable, and doesn’t slip. Even the circle at the middle of the radial pattern is ribbed to prevent slippage. The design team really thought through all the movements a cross trainer makes and created an outsole pattern that covers all of them.
Bryan: This was the biggest surprise. I really liked the LiquidFoam in the JJ 2, but the insole and midsole of the JJ IV is box jumps and broad leaps better. You know why? It’s that magical foam that Reebok puts in its running line. Everyone who tries it, loves it. Even Mrs. Wing and Drew rave about it (along with myself the last two years). You guessed right, it’s Floatride. Without telling anyone, Reebok designers snuck Floatride into the heel. And it’s AWESOME. The Floatride is caged, so the shoe doesn’t bounce and spring like the running line, but this setup works better for heavy lifting. It stabilizes the heel while still compressing under foot for running, cardio, and basketball.
The forefoot is EVA but also has nice compression. Even with just EVA under the forefoot, I didn’t have any issues with impact pain in my knees or back from landing on concrete or gym floors.
If you haven’t tried Floatride, it’s the lighter, just as bouncy cousin to Boost. I haven’t had a bad experience with it yet. And I have 5 Floatride running shoes and now these. If Reebok decides to “protro” the Question, Answer, Shaq, or Kamikaze lines with Floatride, I may never wear anything else.
Drew: The Floatride puck in the heel combined with the softer EVA is fantastic for both casual wear and any time you spend on concrete. The JJ IV joins the UA Project Rock 3 as the most cushioned cross trainers of 2020.
Bryan: The JJ IV utilizes Flexweave in the upper. Flexweave appeared on the scene about two years ago and Reebok really knows how to use it. This isn’t a soft woven like Flyknit or Primeknit. Flexweave is nylon-coated threads woven together. It uses tighter patterns in all the areas that need more support (lateral forefoot, heel, and ankle). The Flexweave is looser in areas that benefit from more flex (like the toebox). The best thing about it? Durability. The Flexweave upper shows very little signs of wear after four weeks of heavy use. It hasn’t stretched at all. This means the JJ IV fits and feels as supportive now as it did on day one.
The shoe does have some fuse areas like around the toebox (where the colors change) and around the laces, but overall it’s a “weave”. The tongue is a GREAT open cell mesh and takes most of the lace pressure away. I felt a little pressure from the last lace hole if I pulled it super tight (but that’s not necessary for a good fit). The heel counter is my favorite part (in addition to the Floatride, of course). Watch the JJ IV first impressions video from Chris on our YouTube channel to see how Reebok placed the Vector logo into the lines. So simple but so clean.
Drew: Flexweave is now Reebok’s standard for gym performance with both this year’s Nano and JJ models utilizing it. It’s a little stiffer here than in the Nano X but not annoyingly so. The Flexweave breaks in nicely and keeps the shoe looking amazing even after ample time spent doing garage and grass workouts.
Bryan: Lengthwise, at true to size, the toebox feels a little long. However, the midfoot and heel are locked in. The semi one piece construction of the upper won’t let me size down. Traditionally, I go a half size down from my normal 10.5 on every Reebok performance shoe. I went down in the JJ 2, but in the JJ 3 and JJ IV I went true to size. The JJ 4 feels and fits very similar to the JJ 3.
The extra length doesn’t affect performance. Normally any extra room up front could make a shoe feel like a Ronald McDonald signature shoe, but the rest of the JJ IV fits perfect. The midfoot is completely locked in through the panels and lacing system. And the heel is nicely padded and locked in as well with the last lace strap pulling the shoe in and around the foot. I mentioned “semi one piece” construction because the padded tongue is connected. A large elastic area on each side lets it stretch to allow easy entry, but it’s still one piece with the upper. It’s really nice that it kept the sock-like feel with some extra stretch for comfort.
Drew: I really sunk into the plush foam at the heel and collar. That helped me feel locked in despite the fact that the tongue pops out a bit from the shoe on the front side. It’s nice to have that extra stretch in the sides of the tongue as it keeps you secure. But the tongue’s unique construction did allow a hotspot to develop. The top lace loop is plastic fuse. It cuts into your ankle on both sides if you wear no show socks. As you can see in the picture, I used slightly higher cut socks to avoid this issue.
The JJ IV fit me true to size with maybe a touch of extra room lengthwise. Not enough to bother me at all. I’d recommend everyone go true to size. I don’t think wide footers will have a problem with this shoe due to the upper’s accommodating fit, comfortable tongue, and plush heel.
Bryan: The previous JJ Watt shoes are built more like a runner than a trainer. For being such a huge man, he must really enjoy a low ride with a sleek upper. All four models follow that pattern. The JJ IV is no different. Perhaps even more so than previous models.
Where a shoe like the UA HOVR Apex 2 features built-on support straps and a superwide, solid base, the JJ IV slims down the upper with no extra structure. And it does that while keeping a wide-ish base without feeling clunky or slow. The caged heel and the lacing system lock the foot into the shoe and stop any slips or slides. The shoe overall just doesn’t feel…well, supportive. It’s not a bad thing at all, as this makes for easier transitions to running and jumping. If you need a supportive, braced-in feel, keep looking. If you want a shoe that feels slightly more structured than a Nano or Metcon, here you go.
Drew: The JJ IV is sort of the convertible sports car of cross training shoes. It’s low and fast. As Bryan mentioned, it’s not as supportive as many of its training peers. The heel counter is very pliable. But the rubber from its outsole extends higher at both the heel and forefoot on the lateral side thus acting like outriggers. The rubber also extends up the medial heel just a smidge.
So is it much support? No. Is it enough? Yes. What the designers included works well and I didn’t ever feel tipsy, even while playing basketball. Sometimes a wide base, a good fit, and some well-placed support elements can go a long way.
Bryan: For years, the Jordan Flyknit Trainer 2 was my standard for a true “do-it-all” shoe, from the weight room to the track to the basketball court. Folks, we have a new standard. The JJ IV crosses into any activity you might do at the gym and does it all well. If you’re looking for a pair that can be thrown in the bag and keep you ready for anything, the JJ IV is the shoe for you. If you need a heavy lifting wedge shoe or are mostly a runner, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Overall, the JJ IV will keep you happy.
It still amazes me that Reebok flies so far under the radar for performance shoes. From the Floatride series of runners to the Nano and JJ Watt line, Reebok is making some killer shoes for destroying your body in the gym. There is more to the Vector than Iverson retros (although I like those too). The JJ IV proves Reebok didn’t go anywhere.
Drew: The JJ IV is a well-rounded, comfortable, and well-cushioned cross trainer. If you like cross trainers without the bulk, this is the shoe for you. For everything the JJ IV offers, the $100 price tag feels like a bargain.
Where to Buy the Reebok JJ IV
Thanks to Reebok for sending test pairs. Reebok didn’t receive any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for HIIT, Metcon, weightlifting workouts, running, casual wear, and more.