Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jordan XX2

Air Superiority

After 22 different versions of the Air Jordan series,you would figure that the designers over at Jordan Brand would run out of ways to express MJ's dominance in the game of basketball.Inspired by the brand spanking new F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter jet,the Jordan XX2 captures the essence of what the designers of the F-22 Raptor were trying to create..utter dominance in each product's application in real world situations.The Jordan XX2 sports a brand new application of titanium coated midfoot shank as well the continued evolution of IPS cushioning.Lets see if the shoe will be Top Gun or crash and burn.

note the similar lines in the F-22 Raptor and Jordan XX2 that was inspired by the jet.

Compared to the previous Jordan XXI,the designers went for more sleeker and stealthier look mostly due to the inspiration from the fighter jet.Another key difference is the designers made an effort to address some of the moisture and heat management issues the XXI had.Also rather than carbon fiber,we are treated to a Titanium coated tpu shank.While the amount and thickness of titanium coating used in the shank is minimal,it was a nice touch to add and something I have grown accustomed to from a Jordan signature shoe.Exotic materials or process' that set it apart from all others.While I cant say whether or not the Titanium actually affects performance,again it was a nice touch.IPS has evolved once again.Originally introduced in the XX,the XXI took the concept further and allowed the wearer to customize the heel cushioning.The XX2 takes yet another step by adding encapsulated air above the IPS pods in the forefoot for additional cushioning.The interchangeable Zoom air IPS pod is a double stacked zoom air unit while the max air unit is a standard encapsulated max air unit.

Note the TPU wrap as well as over sized heel counter.Also note the gap under the heel counter as that will create problems further explained throughout the review.

When you first put on the XX2 you will notice how comfortable the shoe feels on your foot.No seams,nice quilted padding for the ankle,additional padding for the Achilles.Basically all of the top of the line materials and design to make the shoe one of the most comfortable on the market at that particular time.The shoe did start off a bit stiff but nothing overly uncomfortable.With the TPU wrap coupled with the heel counter the shoe had plenty of ankle support.While the shoe did sacrifice a bit of the ankle support that the XXI had with that shoe's height,I didn't mind the lower profile XX2.The XX2 also features a lace lock which was troublesome at times.I also found that during extended use,the lace lock tended to loosen up a bit.While I liked the concept of the lace lock and the initial lock down fit given by the lock,when it loosened up after the extended use,it kind of defeated the whole purpose of the lace lock.

Titanium coated midfoot shank

note the sergeant shaped pattern on the IPS pods

Much of the hype surrounding the shoe was around the use of titanium in the shoe.While most of the use of the material was within the midfoot shank,as I said above the actual application of the metal was microscopic.While the metal has excellent strength to weight ratio and all that other great stuff,titanium's rebounding properties aren't all that great.Meaning once it flexes,it doesn't really flex back to it's original shape.Overall support on the shoe was good except for the very minor issue with the lace locks I stated above.Overall heat and moisture management was a major upgrade from the previous XXI with vents that run down the ankle and most importantly a breathable tongue.The outsole is made up of a combination of herringbone rubber on the clear rubber compound as well as modified sergeant stripes type of pattern on the pods keeping with the military theme.Traction was excellent.The rubber compound used on the pods is very soft and worked well on both normal hardwood floor as well as the dirty concrete tile.Traction on the hardwood floor was excellent and had me stumbling a couple of times from the traction being so good.The midsole is made up of lightweight phylon and for those who care become noticeably creased upon use.One of my major gripes with this shoe is it's overall lack of durability.The translucent rubber compound wears away quickly and tears easily.The heel area is another problem area.While it is cool to see what kind of air unit the wearer is using,having an open space in an area which receives alot of impact will cause some durability issues as well as some other problems which will be illustrated as the review progresses.

pictured with the removable double stacked zoom air IPS pods

Cushioning on the XX2 was surprisingly good as well as surprisingly disappointing.The good is that they added encapsulated air on top of the forefoot IPS pods.In previous applications of IPS,it felt firm but unresponsive.With the additional forefoot encapsulated air units above the IPS,it makes the cushioning feel a bit more responsive as well as a more cushioned landing.That was the good...unfortunately there is a bad to what potentially would have been excellent...The removable IPS unit in the heel..In the XXI,the zoom air unit had a tendency to stick up a bit creating a bit of a bump under the heel.With the XX2,the double stacked zoom air unit now sticks up even more.Also thanks to the design calling for the ability to see what air unit is being used in the shoe through the window in the heel,the actual unit was moved back a bit so the cushioning now isn't directly under the heel,the center of the pod now sits slightly towards the back part of my heel.While this didn't hinder the performance,it created a bothersome sensation on the back part of my heel when using the double stacked zoom air unit.I ended up using the encapsulated air pod because it didn't create the bump that the zoom air pod created.


Overall the XX2 is worthy of taking into the battles on the hardwood.Just like with most weapons used on the battlefield,no one weapon is perfect however the XX2 overall is a pretty good shoe and would have been great except for a couple of missteps.For a shoe carrying the $175.00 price tag it isnt very durable with a major design flaw in the heel area that effects both the durability of the shoe as well as the overall feel of the shoe with a protruding bump under the back part of my heel because the designers wanted the IPS pod to be visible through the heel.

Comfort and Fit-3.5/5
Ankle Support-3.5/5

I really wanted to love this shoe.I liked the design and the inspiration.I absolutely loved the traction.Forefoot cushioning was excellent.What held the shoe back the most was the placement of the IPS pod in the heel.It seemed like the designers were trying to correct the flaws of the XXI in the XX2.However one issue that carried over and even got compounded significantly effecting the overall feel of the shoe.