Nike is and will always be a running shoe company. The company was built on the legend of Bowerman’s Men of Oregon and that has never changed. Over the last 30 years something interesting happened. The running community shifted away from Nike. The casual runner and walker will buy Nike, but runners are moving more towards indie brands like Newton and HokaOneOne and brands like Inov8. While the market share is very small, Nike prides itself as being the go to shoe for runners. Nike is adjusting because to be honest, the best shoe that Nike has made in recent years has been its classic Pegasus line of runners, and the Flyknit. The reason for this is because those shoes fit with the current trend of either cushioned stability rides or neutral running shoes.
The Air Max and it’s Visible Air technology was actually becoming less of an option because the Air Max by design inhibits the foot from performing naturally. Notice the picture below:
The shoe has a midsole that is attached to the upper and then the Air cushion is below with a full length rubber outsole. While it’s hard to notice this shoe creates a heel height and this actually creates toe pressure due to the narrow design, which doesn’t allow toe splay and can lead to shin splints and knee problems. The Vapor Max design removed the midsole and places the air unit directly under foot with minimal use of rubber outsoles.
Now look at the Vapor Max below and notice that the Vapor has almost a zero drop on a cushioned ride. Nike has always known this was the way to go, but tradition, history and perception keeps people buying the Air Max although you will always find people resorting to other shoes after they pay 180-200 bucks for a pair of the Air Max line.
This is undoubtedly a better design for a runner, but Nike will probably continue to make the Air Max. I have to imagine new runners and old runners will take a long look at the Vapor Max and consider it for their routines. Why is Nike touting Vapor Max? It is officially the best of Nike’s tech in a cushioned ride.