And here’s why: with a minimal upper and a pricey slab of ZoomX foam underfoot, it’s an ideal shoe for going long and fast.
Ever wondered which shoe most of our Runner’s World readers are buying? It’s our best update 2019 – the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2.
The RW Takeaway: Lightweight but well-cushioned, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 blurs the line between racing flat and daily training shoe.
- ZoomX midsole foam provides high-rebound cushioning, and a layer of React foam adds durability
- The upper is minimally padded for lightness, although the fit feels less than secure
- A thin rubber, grid-shaped outsole provides solid on-road traction
Weight: 212 g (M) 167 g (W)
When it launched last year, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo delivered something we never knew we wanted until we felt it: ZoomX cushioning (the kind found in the Vaporfly 4%) and lightness in an everyday trainer. Now there’s an update, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2, which retains the original shoe’s go-fast midsole but gets a stripped-down upper that lightens the shoe by half an ounce. It’s made of a thin, synthetic mesh, and it lacks the Flywire midfoot cables seen on the previous shoe. The thin upper is only padded with two pods on both sides of the collar, the heel counter is upturned to avoid irritating your Achilles, and the tongue is ultra-thin.
As an everyday trainer, the Peg Turbo 2 could’ve done without these weight-saving measures. Nearly every tester complained that the minimalist tongue required constant adjustment to lay flat and many said the laces dug into their ankles. The exposed stitching on the collar drew blood from one tester’s Achilles. And without the Flywire support, your foot tends to roll within the shoe while you run around corners or atop off-camber surfaces.
- ZoomX midsole is plush and springy
- Extremely lightweight for a daily trainer
- Minimalist upper makes secure fit difficult to achieve
The good news is that the ZoomX and React foam midsole is still superb: The ZoomX beneath your foot takes up impact like a sponge but regains its shape to rebound you onto the next stride, and there’s enough React below it to stabilize the soft ZoomX foam and extend the shoe’s lifespan. The upper isn’t as bothersome if you keep the laces loose—if you can tolerate a sloppy fit, you’ll love the plush cushioning and sprightly ride.
The Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2’s midsole is unchanged for the update; that’s a good thing, because Nike got it right in the original Turbo. Despite the “ZoomX” writing near the heel, the midsole is actually two different foams. The top layer is ZoomX, the blown Pebax material that Nike uses in the Vaporfly shoes because it returns more energy than any other Nike material. But the soft and lightweight ZoomX material isn’t very stable, so Nike added a bottom layer of (denser) React foam to the bottom of the midsole to stabilize the ZoomX and improve the shoe’s durability. There’s a visible seam where glue joins the two foams; on multiple test shoes, the layers began to separate at the tip of the upturned heel, although the delamination was minor and didn’t affect the ride.
The midsole feels like a detuned Vaporfly, in that you sink into the ZoomX before it pushes you back up again with a rebound sensation similar to, but less aggressive than, the $250 racing shoe. “I love the bounce that these shoes provide,” said one tester. “I felt that I was able to run faster with them but didn’t have to run harder to achieve a quicker pace.” There’s a 10mm offset between the heel and forefoot but no added arch support, so don’t expect additional stability from the Pegasus Turbo 2—thick, soft, and dynamic are better descriptors.
Translucent Mesh Upper
Whereas the old Pegasus Turbo had a lightly padded mesh upper, the new one is ultra-thin. The synthetic mesh material is designed to breathe well, but the tightly woven fibres ran hot during the summer months. The mesh isn’t stretchy but the toe box is wider than you’ll find on a regular Pegasus (or most Nike trainers, for that matter). The only padding on the entire upper is on both sides of the collar, where two small pods hold your heel against the stiff, flared-out heel counter.
The tongue is the upper’s downfall. It connects only at the forefoot and it’s barely long enough to run the length of the laces, so it’s prone to bunching and folding. As such, lacing up the shoe means manually flattening out the tongue every time, which is annoying. Nike did punch two holes in the outer edges of the tongue and running the laces through them does help keep the tongue in place, but it still barely reaches the top of the laces.
With minimal collar padding to keep your heel from lifting off the sole, you’ve got to keep the laces tight for a secure fit, but tight laces quickly irritate the front of your ankle. “When I tied my shoelaces tight, I could feel the laces digging into my skin if they weren’t laying flat because the tongue is so thin,” one tester noted. “This rubbed me while I was running and I had to stop a few times to adjust how the laces were situated.” Your other option is to run a looser fit, but without Flywire or another midfoot-stabilizing feature, your foot slides and rolls within the shoe. I accepted that my Turbo 2’s weren’t going to fit snug and moved on, but it means I won’t run in them if I’m worried about poor footing on my route.
(As a reference point, I put on the Vaporfly Next%, which has a similarly minimal upper. Offset laces and a longer tongue make the Vaporfly comfortable while snug; hopefully Nike will follow the racing shoe’s design for the next update.)
Thin Rubber Outsole
Rubber adds weight, so the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2’s outsole rubber comes in a thin, pentagonal pattern with a strip of additional rubber rimming the sole’s perimeter. There’s also some exposed React foam between the heel and forefoot rubber patches. On wet roads and fine gravel, the outsole gripped well, fielding no complaints from our testers.
I thoroughly dislike the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2’s upper, but the shoe is still one of my current favourites—the midsole is just that good. It’s my pick when I’m gearing up to run with a fast training partner or when I’m just in the mood to run recklessly; it feels light and racey without punishing my legs any more than a traditional trainer would. The shoe is soft and forgiving at a jog; at speed, it still feels soft, but there’s a responsive edge that beckons you to push the pace. I’ve taken to running a loose fit and not worrying that my foot slides around within the shoe, although that might cause irritation for those who run longer than my typical 6-miler.
At $250, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 is probably overkill as a day-to-day shoe; the “train heavy, race light” mantra comes to mind. But a few of our testers with upcoming marathons said they’d pick it on race day, thanks to its low weight and energetic ride. Either way, I’d try one on before you buy to make sure the upper works for you.