The Nike Pegasus Turbo Performance Review
Thomas: The look of the Nike Pegasus Turbo screams fast! It looks like an experimental rocket you would see on the Salt Flats in Bonneville. Past the looks of the Peg Turbo, the shoe employs two midsole foams that are used separately in two of my all-time favorite shoes, the ZoomX in the VaporFly 4% and the React in the Epic React. The upper of the Turbo fits very similar to the Peg 35, if not a little stiffer. I had no issues with the comfort of the upper and the stipe down the middle did not irritate my foot the way it did for Meaghan (the stripe rubbed against her big toe until it bled. DO NOT GO A HALF SIZE DOWN AS SOME HAVE RECOMMENDED. My regular running shoe size had a thumbnail distance between the tip of my toe and the end of the shoe, during runs I needed all of that space. I tried both thin and thick socks. My size 10.5 weighs 8.45 ounces / 240 grams and has a 10mm drop.
Matthew: Like any good shoe nerd, I sat glued to my Nike+ app on release day for the Pegasus Turbo. To be honest, I’ve never really been a big fan of the Pegasus–I always found they transitioned a bit poorly for me and felt heavy–but after a successful marathon season using the Vaporfly, I’m sold on ZoomX foam. I find it to be the lightest, most resilient midsole compound I’ve run in, and I recover faster from hard runs or big blocks of mileage when I’m using my Vaporfly’s than when using shoes with other midsole compounds. Call me a fanboy if you must–this shit works.
Given the cost and scarcity of Vaporfly’s, I’m obviously not going to run a ton of miles in them: enter the Pegasus Turbo. This shoe is almost exactly what I hoped it would be: a lightweight daily trainer that feels on point whether I’m enjoying some easy miles, grinding out a longer tempo workout, or pushing through fast fartleks. I own a variety of shoes that may handle any one run flawlessly; however, I own very few that I genuinely want to wear for a range of intensities. The Pegasus Turbo is that shoe for me.
This shoe transitions beautifully. It’s not the “falling forward” sensation of the Vaprofly at faster paces, but it rolls forward effortlessly at almost any pace, which isn’t something I can say for the Vaporfly, which can feel a bit disjointed at slower intensities. The beveled heel and what feels to me like accentuated toe spring combine for a stable rocker effect that propels me forward. I’ve always been a fan of rockered shoes, so it’s no surprise I like these.
At 8.4 oz in a men’s 10, it’s a full oz. lighter than either the Peg 35 or Skechers GoRun Ride 7 in a 9 (both shoes that you could compare to the Turbo). Considering the ample, resilient ZoomX cushioning and the amount of outsole rubber, that’s pretty light. I think what actually makes the Turbo feel so light is that the core components are very well balanced in weight. Sometimes shoes can feel light in your hand, but when you run in it, you realize that the midsole feels noticeably heavier, in comparison to other parts of the shoe (creating an annoying pendulum effect). The Turbo feels perfectly balanced, with no one part drawing unwanted attention to itself.
The upper hugs my foot perfectly, keeping it snugly atop the ZoomX platform without making it feel constricted (hard to do, as I have a high volume foot). The shoe measures true to size for me (size 12) and my toes have plenty of room to wiggle (which mean’s it may be a tad long for those of you who don’t have full volume forefeet as I do). The lacing system is simple and effective (Nike’s got flywire perfected by now), and I get perfect mid foothold without having to fiddle with the laces, and I feel zero unwanted pressure on the top of my foot, thanks to the padded upper.
The outsole is solid, with durable rubber in the forefoot and heal, and exposed React foam in the midsole. I’ve got about 50 miles on my pair, and I see no wear. I did a mixed interval session in the pouring rain last week, and the outsole gripped perfectly on a combination of road and dirt. Shit, if I get picked for the Western States 100 lottery next year, I’ll probably rock this.
Visually, I dig what’s going on here. It’s hard for any shoe to make my lump, size 12 feet look fast, but these sure do.. The Hawaiian Punch pink reminds me of the accents of Bo Jackson’s from my youth, and the Barely Grey color has a hint of Khaki in it that makes it a bit harder to place–a bit mysterious. I didn’t think I’d like them, but I oddly love the looks; that being said, the women’s green/pink version is hot fire!Shop Nike Pegasus Turbo
Thomas: You can put shoes on fancy equipment and measure energy return, Runner’s World did.
“…at the Runner’s World Shoe Lab, we typically see “energy return” (the percentage of energy input that is recovered; the rest is generally lost as heat) in the 40 to 60 percent range, with Adidas’s Boost topping the charts near 70 percent. The Peg Turbo measured 69 percent energy return in our lab.”
However, for me, the lab results did not seem to translate into the real world. I found the shoes bouncy at the beginning of my runs, but during my later miles in a 12-mile run, the midsole just felt like it was sucking the energy into a soft mess. The Turbo is too soft to feel fast. There is almost zero toe spring pop. Maybe it was just the 12-mile run in the rain that was, hilly, hot, and humid. I continued to take the Turbo out for runs ranging 6-miles and up with striders (5 x 100-meter sprints) at the end of most runs. Even during the sprints, the shoes didn’t “feel” fast. The softness of the midsole was the overwhelming feeling, not the energy return promised for a rocket-like ride the ads promoted.
The biggest problem with the Turbo is that it isn’t similar to the VaporFly 4% at all. There is no pop like you get from the plate in the VP4%. The scarcity of the VaporFly 4% will no doubt drive runners to grab this shoe in hopes they can have access to the near-legendary reputation of the record-breaking shoe. For those of you that have run in the VaporFly 4%, the Turbo will be a letdown.
Matthew: There’s honestly not a lot I don’t like about these shoes. The toe box is a bit shallow so that I can feel the upper on the tops of my toes; however, it’s such a comfortable upper that I don’t mind it. The upper is encased in a thin translucent coating, which makes it look great, but makes it run a bit warm, and doesn’t help it drain any faster when wet. I’m noticing that even when stuffing them with newspaper, they’re taking longer to dry out than my other shoes.
The real question is, how long with the ZoomX last for? The outsole seems like it’ll handle lots of miles, and the ZoomX feels as fresh today as it did when I unboxed the shoes, but given that we’ve been told not to expect crazy mileage out of the Vaporfly, I don’t know what to expect for longevity with the Turbos.Shop Nike Pegasus Turbo
The Nike Pegasus Turbo Conclusion
Thomas: I was so excited for this shoe. With a lot of things in life, the higher the anticipation, the greater the chance for disappointment. I put in 36 miles on the Turbo at the time of this review trying to find the good. With the Pegasus 35 Turbo I went through the 5-Stages of Grief:
- Denial – This shoe is excellent, I need to get more miles in it, maybe I am just having a bad day, it isn’t that bad. Runner’s World tested the shoe it has insane 80% energy return, it cant feel dead under my feet. How can React and Zoom X not make for the most amazing running shoe in the history of running shoes?
- Anger – This got pointed towards Meaghan’s experience. How can she not like this shoe, she ran an 18-mile training run in them, and it made her toes bleed, so what?
- Bargaining – Maybe I haven’t found the right use for this shoe. It can be great for something. I just haven’t figured it out. I’ll figure it out. Lords of running help me make this shoe great.
- Depression – Nike you hyped me up and let me down. Sadness. All I wanted was another shoe like the VaporFly 4%.
- Acceptance – The Pegasus Turbo with Zoom X, isn’t a fantastic running shoe. At first, I thought it was an excellent shoe that just doesn’t live up to the hype, the more miles I put in; I realized it just isn’t an exceptional running shoe, and at $180 it should be. It feels very average at best.
During my spiral from lofty expectations to the realization that the Turbo is an example of magnificent marketing, I tried to clear my mind and figure out where this trainer could fit into a runner’s arsenal. I thought maybe this would be a good daily trainer for easy days, after all, it is soft and bouncy. However, I prefer the regular Pegasus 35 over the Turbo for that. The Turbo is lighter than the Peg 35, but the Epic React is a superior shoe at the same weight. I even feel faster in the Epic React.
Trust me I wanted this shoe to be the best shoe ever, a VaporFly 4% for daily runs. Not only is it far from that, but it also isn’t as good as the regular Pegasus 35 or Epic React, yet it costs $40 more than the Peg and $30 more than the Epic React. The upper of the Pegasus 35 is more comfortable on foot, and the Epic React weighs the same amount with a better upper and midsole.
I can’t believe I am saying this about the most anticipated shoe this year, but it is a pass on the Nike Pegasus 35 Turbo. I would send it back to Nike, but the shoe has a significant place in running shoe development.
My initial thoughts on the Pegasus 35 Turbo were very positive. If you watched the first impression video I did, you would get the impression that the Turbo is something special. My first reactions were honest, but this is exactly why we like to get at least 20 miles in a running shoe before we review it. After a few runs, my opinion about the shoe was more informed.
Matthew: I bought this shoe with my own hard earned cash, like most shoes I review. I have zero attachments to Nike or any other brands. If you read any of my reviews on Believe in the Run, I hope what comes across is that I’m not trying to please advertisers, stores, or brands. I’m not looking to make friends; I’m looking to help other nerds find their holy grail shoe. So when I gush about this shoe like a 6th grader with a crush, I hope you appreciate that it’s for a good reason. Some may tell you that this shoe is all Nike marketing hype and that there are better shoes out there. They’re wrong….I kid, I kid. Yeah, it runs a bit hot, and the Hawaiian Punch accents aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but those are hardly deal breakers for what is otherwise a supremely fun and lithe daily trainer.
There are lots of good shoes out there, but I haven’t found one so well balanced, versatile, resilient, and comfortable lo these many years. If you expect it to be the Vaporfly, then you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not a racing shoe. If you judge it by its purpose–a lightweight daily trainer that can handle a variety of intensities–then you will be very happy. Unless you’re not, in which case, seek therapy (or try the GoRun Ride 7 which is also awesome, but not as awesome).
Bonus Thoughts from Faster Bastard and Nike Connoisseur Gavin Tabb
Over the span of three days, I’ve gone from borderline hating the Turbos to almost convincing myself to keep them. The temptation fades, however, when I look at my shoe collection and realize that, other than to satiate my lust for Nike running shoes, they serve no real purpose in my training arsenal. Even the LunarEpic 2s, the last Nike shoe I was disappointed in, have a place in my collection as they serve as an easy day/lifestyle shoe.
The Turbos, though, are too fast to be an easy day shoe and they are too flashy to be a lifestyle shoe. Personally, the shoes feel most comfortable when I’m running at medium-hard pace – probably because the massive energy return tricks my legs into thinking I’m running slower than I am. Here’s the thing: I try to stay away from running at medium-hard pace for too long.
Back to that massive energy return. Given a choice between a fast shoe and a cushion-centric shoe, I’m going with the fast shoe. Every time. The Turbos are bouncy to the point of detriment: the energy return detracts some crucial speed. These are absolutely not race day shoes nor would I prefer them for longer tempo runs because of the upper. I think Nike will cede some Turbo sales to the Epic Reacts, which have already done well this year. The Reacts, in my opinion, strike a better balance between comfort and speed. The shoe feels more cohesive with both a light, refined Flyknit upper and the React midsole.
In contrast, the Turbo begins to feel like two separate shoes during double-digit runs: the midsole continues to do its magic, but the upper is still a Pegasus; in other words, it begins to feel heavy. Let me reiterate: I gravitate towards fast shoes. These shoes may very well appeal to many runners. The energy return, if too much for my liking, is tangible. They corner well. They perform exceptionally well going up and down hills. The outsole offers great traction (reminiscent of the Elite 9/10), and I think it will last longer than I first thought.
Ultimately, whether the Pegasus Turbo works for you depends on what you expect to get from it. I haven’t liked a Pegasus since the 32. I didn’t even try the 34s, and though I thought the 35s looked great upon release, I still had doubts about performance for my purposes. Along came the Pegasus Turbo with its storied pedigree and its new technologies, all wrapped up in a menacing, speedy silhouette. I knew I had to have a pair. I got everything I wanted but not what I needed.Shop Nike Pegasus Turbo