Nike Nyjah: a living review

Updated 01 July 2020

About a year ago the Nike Nyjah came out. As the regular price is around 100 Euros, and because for some reason or other I've always preferred buying skate shoes from skate shoe companies, I never bought a pair. But I recently saw them for a really good price ... so here's the review.

Before buying them, I had once worn the Nike Nyjahs for a few minutes when I talked to a friendly BMXer and he let me try them on and skate them. If I remember right the soles were quite grippy.
But having now worn and skated my pair of Nike Nyjahs for a good week there have been some problems:

- Ripped laced: Now in skating laces rip. It's OK. Nike didn't come up with a solution for this problem (unlike Servant, or éS on occasion). Ripping laces can be related to different kinds of tricks. So, I'm not sure the laces on these shoes are particularly rip-prone. I "rubberized" the laces now with All Star Gum.

- Slipping insoles: This is weird. The insoles are very thin and bendy, and are not glued to the inside of the soles. So, you can easily take them out - which is good. But my insoles slip a little bit to the front on shoe, below my feet, leaving a small gap at the heel, and bending around my toes with the tip of the insoles ending up on top of my toe nails.

- Heel slippage: I'm not sure what the reason for this is but this is one of the worst problems with this shoe. The Nike Nyjah has a sock shoe inside, and maybe it is cut too flat (it doesn't seem to be). In any case, my heels slip out for example when pushing, but also when doing tricks like 360 ollies. The solution is - obviously - to tie the shoe laces really tightly. But this leads us to the next problem which is the worst problem of the shoe for me.

- Very narrow shoe (footbed): My feet are very wide. My hypothesis is that a lot of skateboarders have wide feet, but I might be wrong. This shoe has an extremely narrow footbed, AND the footbed is "bordered" by unrelenting edges on each side of the foot. It feels like as if there were some kind of foot support wedges on each side but there aren't. What this means is that the shoe presses hard into the arch of the foot causing pain (which I could stand) but also into the outer side of the midfoot (opposite the arch) - which I really can barely tolerate. Loosening the laces helps a tiny bit but not much because the soles of the shoe are just too narrow (see the photo of the outsole). Combine this with the above problem of heel slippage - the laces need to be tight. All this results in my feet screaming in pain not just from the pressure on each side of the foot coming from the "relentless edges" but also from - what feels like - not getting enough blood circulation and therefore oxygen. I really hope that the shoes will soften up more, and soon please. One small solution is that I took the insoles out. This helps a tiny bit with the pain, making the shoe a tiny bit wider, but it surprisingly helps a lot with the heel slippage. It feels a bit like standing one some kind of basket webby thing, but that's OK, and the soles are not too thin, in fact they may be too thick - which is the next problem. [Note: This might only be a problem if you have wide feet. Several people have told me that they do NOT think this shoe is too narrow.]

- Soles are quite thick: The soles are quite thick, and so far, they are not very grippy (I have a brand new board). This means that for each trick you need to apply a lot more pressure from your feet onto the griptape. Before these shoes I had the Etnies Jameson HT Ryan Lay, and the worn in Ryan Lays (wore in fast) vs. these new Nike Nyjahs is like night and day. However, the Ryan Lays being one of the best skate shoes I've ever skated have soles that wore out really quickly for me. So that's the well-known potential downside of grippy soles. Servant however seem to have solved this problem quite well. Their soles are thick but wear in quickly, you have good board control and the soles last a long time - but Servant Footwear are on indefinite hiatus at the moment ... In any case, so far, the soles seem quite thick and not too grippy which really decreases board control. Worse than the non-grippiness and the thickness of the soles are, however, the already mentioned "unforgiving edges".

- Unforgiving edges: The edges out the outsoles are rectangular and hard. That means I cannot "roll" my foot slightly, which I usually do, to apply more pressure on the outside edge of the midfoot. It's simply impossible to put the foot in that position. The foot is 100% flat on the board. If you were to "roll" the foot, you'd really roll it, with a snap, and exactly 90 degrees. And this does happen. Fortunately, my ankles from decades of rolling them do not roll anymore. But this kind of "snap rolling" of your ankle is really messed up. I don't see a solution to this problem. I can only hope the outer edges with soften up and get more round with time. The "unforgiving edges" being quite hard and not very rubbery are not very grippy. That means that standing on the edge of your board with pressure on the outer edge of your foot (like for a varial heelflip for example) will make everything really slippery and uncomfortable.

- Squeaky soles: Not the bottom of the soles so much (squeaking against the floor) as the material of the entire shoe (especially the side/inside of the soles) is quite squeaky. I wore them for work in an attempt to soften up the soles, and walking down the corridor they were unusually squeaky. I don't really mind the squeakiness at all, but it seems unnecessary that an experienced (to put it mildly) shoe manufacturer makes soles like that.

- Crocs look: The Nike Nyjahs do not really look like Crocs, but they might remind you of Crocs. I've gotten this commentary from one skater who has and skates the Nike Nyjahs himself and from one skater seeing my shoes. The shape of the shoe is a classical Nike dunk shape (I have never in my life had a pair of Nikes before so really, I don't know what I'm talking about regarding what a "dunk" shape is). I would prefer the shape to be a tiny bit less "dunky" and a tiny bit pointier and a bit flatter. Then again there is nothing wrong with this shape for a skate shoe.

What's NOT a problem with this shoe, aka good stuff:

- Strong upper: I bought these shoes because of the upper. Being a vegan and being really interested in "new inventions" regarding leather-free or even "better than suede" uppers I was and am really intrigued. The upper is holding up really well and it does not seem to weirdly affect the flick when doing kickflips etc. In other words: The upper seems to be great!

- Durable soles: Not having had the shoes for very long I cannot speak from experience but from what two "skate shop guys" have told me the Nike soles in general seem to be quite durable and the Nike Nyjahs have the reputation of being "indestructible". If this is true and if this is no reason to buy them then what is?

- Flexible soles: Now, the edges of the soles are "unforgiving", stiff and plasticky (not soft and rubbery) but flexibility of the patterned area of the soles and front back flexibility of the edges is NOT a problem with this shoe.

- Good air circulation: Despite being made from a rubbery material, including all of the upper, there are plenty of ventilation holes, and these shoes are not sweaty at all. Really well made in this respect.

My conclusion so far: I really hope the edges of the soles will get more flexible and rounded off, and that the soles will become more grippy, and that the width of the shoe at the sole level with loosen up a bit. The thing is that this is not an issue of the upper material stretching. The upper is fine. It's the width of the sole that's too narrow. Maybe if you have very narrow feet this shoe is the best ever. I hope it will be for me too, and soon.

Look at the patterned part of the sole in the midfoot section. This is the width of the shoe. It's about a good two fingers wide. Super narrow. The non-patterned rim of the outsole is quite hard and unforgiving, and also unforgivingly rectangular.

The upper is great. But it has a rubbery look and if you skate them it will look scuffed (not something I personally mind at all). Note that the vegan suede used by Servant or by Etnies will never look scuffed.

The inside of the soles with the insoles taken out. You can see that there are no hard edges on the sides that one could cut out - I'd be tempted to. The footbed is really narrow. 

The insoles (left), flexible and thin. The rectangular edge of the outsole (right).

Scuffed upper, ripping laces

Tough upper that can't be fazed by 360 flips.

Update 05 May 2019:
I skated the shoes today without the insoles.
- This solves the problem of heel slippage.
- This seems to improve board control because the sole in total is a little thinner, and you don't have the slippery insole in between.
The relentlessly hard egdes of the shoe soles seem to soften up - which is great! 
The soles also seem to get grippier slowly.  

The "scuffed" look I mentioned yesterday seems to be just dust/dirt accumulating on the surface. If you're a sneaker aficionado and care about clean looking shoes after skating, just wipe the upper with a moist designer handkerchief of your choice (that you probably have). If you're an average skate rat you probably don't care (like me). The right shoe looked really (what I thought was) "scuffed", but after wiping it off it does not look scuffed anymore.
The "rubberized" laces (using All Star Gum) seem to work well in protecting the laces.

Preliminary conclusion: Maybe the idea is to wear this shoe for a month without skating it to break it in - which seems perfectly acceptable if it works in softening up the shoe soles. The upper and soles of this shoe are rumoured to be very long lasting (I will see) - if this is true, this might be a good shoe after all, especially for people with slender feet.

Update 11 May 2019:
I hadn't skated again until today because the past few days have been been quite rainy. Yesterday I wore the shoes cycling to work and then at work. When cycling (i.e. exercising) they really still felt uncomfortable and too tight (too little oxygen to the foot? ... Maybe it's me.). At work they were fine.
Today I wore them for skating (also cycling to the skate park). Again I wore them without insoles. The heel slippage is not really a problem anymore. The narrowness of the shoes can still be felt (clearly), but it isn't a big problem anymore. The shoes seem to soften up slowly. As you can see in the pictures the shoes are losing substance. The wear-out-points in skate shoes for me are ollie holes, kickflip holes (outer tip) and the area of the soles where the big toe is. I also find that the soles are getting grippier very slowly (I hope so). The question is will ideal grippiness be reached when the soles or upper is worn through?

You can see wear in the big toe area (right shoe = front foot).
You can see wear in the "kickflip spot" (right shoe = front foot)
Having said that the upper is holding up very well. It's a weird kind of upper because of the way it folds, rubbery-ly. But it's perfectly fine. 

Update 12 May 2019:
I skated them today. The shoes are definitely getting more comfortable and - I think - more grippy.

Update 13 May 2019:
The shoes are getting grippier and more comfortable. Just because I like experiments I put the insoles back in today. To my surprise the heel slippage thing was not happening anymore, but it made the whole shoe slightly tighter - which I don't want - so I took them out again. 
The shoes show some mild wear. 

Update 15 May 2019:
Well certainly me just having a good day is one factor but the shoes seem to have reached the point of no complaints (a compliment). They're grippy, flexible but not floppy, comfortable and they stay on my feet. The "wedge" like feeling on the outer side of my feet is still there but it's completely bearable, as in not a problem at all. The rubberized laces (I used clear All Star Gum) also seem to work really well, and the pre-All Star Gum damage to the laces has not progressed in the slightest. Also, side note: These shoes are super easy to clean obviously. Easy to wipe the dust off. I also really appreciate that the all black upper makes the Nike swoosh kind of almost invisible. Also, the all black upper and the gum sole is probably my favourite colourway. 

Conclusion: At this stage I would really like them to last forever. But I think I will soon start using All Star Gum - before there'll be a kickflip hole. (I really don't like doing that. I usually wait until there are holes before I start using All Star Gum.)

Update 17 May 2019:
As you can see the inevitable destruction ensues ... I only skated for about an hour today. You can see the fabric peaking out in the kickflip spot.

Update 18 May 2019:
They are nice and grippy now, and comfortable enough. Cycling to the skate park especially my left foot still feels a little "painful" from the "wedge" feeling on the outer side of the foot. However, that might just be me. Not everyone has feet like mine. As you can see I'm still not using the insoles. I really have nothing to complain about regarding the shoes right now (which is saying something) ... except that now, on the peak of performance the decent into destruction is already oh so visible. Rumours of this shoe being indestructible (read: really long lasting) don't seem to be accurate. I will apply All Star Gum now which will extend life in the kickflip spot. I'm only hoping the soles will last because once the soles are gone (read: toe holes) the shoe is fucked (read: FUCKED). Side note: It's not like I'm doing kickflips or 360 flips all day long. It is a rare moment when I do a few kickflips (nothing wrong with kickflips - I like them). And I don't do a lot of 360 flips either, more than kickflips surely, but not a lot. Another thing: I'm used to getting ollie holes in my shoes too. As you can see there is no trace of ollie damage on these shoes yet.
After ending up in a roller blade parade yesterday night and getting physically tackled by one of the parade's "blade wardens" (There's something seriously wrong with the people here) ... today was a perfect roller skating jam named Saturdays ...  

Update 20 May 2019:
Yesterday I was just going to go skate when it started raining. So I didn't skate yesterday. As the kids say (?): A day without skating is a day wasted. Last night I put some All Star Gum (clear) on the kickflip spot. The All Star Gum is a bit like toothpaste (rubber toothpaste) - you can spread it with your fingers. It's not sticky like glue. At first it looks greyish white and a little clear but it becomes clear (see-through) as it dries. See below:

As you can see the All Star Gum is holding up quite well. I didn't skate that much today (maybe an hour or an hour and a half). Usually I apply new All Star Gum every day or every other (skate) day.

I just noticed that one of the inner sock shoe high tech inner lace thingies ripped because of one of the ventilation slots in the upper - without any loss in fucntionality I think. But this kind of mistake in shoe design should be avoided in the future. 

Again, at this stage the shoes are great. Still a little too narrow for me, but I only notice it at the beginning of the skate session.


Update 22 May 2019:
The shoes are holding up well.

As you can see the soles are getting thinner especially in the big toe spot.

Update 24 May 2019:
I didn't skate yesterday because I was working late. Here's today's damage. I am really almost amazed at how well the All Star Gum is holding up on this shoe. It seems like the All Star Gum sticks much better to this shoe's rubber upper compared to other vegan skate shoe's synthetic suede upper (I haven't tested the clear - and new version - All Star Gum on canvas shoes. So I can't tell you.) Anyway, back to the topic:

Update 25 May 2019:
This shoe doesn't seem to do ollie holes, but the soles are getting thinner. The soles are really flexible now (good) ...

Update 26 May 2019:
If you can see what I see you might be crying gangster tears.

Update 29 May 2019:
I didn't skate the last two days (lazy/rain). The soles are wearing through in the big toe spot. The foamy looking black material beneath the rubber coloured soles seems to be tougher than expected, and it at least doesn't seem to desintegrate within the first few hours of (skate) exposure. I fear however, that this spot will not make it long. 

Update 31 May 2019:
The black foamy stuff underneath the rubber sole is a lot more durable than it looks. As you can see the rubber soles are in their death throes. Again, the upper - the reason I bought these shoes - is amazing, and amazingly durable. There is no weird flick effect or anything. Contrary to my first impression there is also hardly any scuffing, and you can very easily brush them clean if you are the type of person who would do such a thing. As you can see in the picture below, the shoe laces are still tied - this shoe was made for taking off your shoes with your feet without untying the the shoes. Regarding the stiff rectangular edge of the sole: What was a bit of a problem at the beginning is an advantage now, as the shoe soles keep a better shape after the soles have been worn down a bit, better than most skate shoes. However, this might not be too useful if the soles will be completely destroyed (toe holes) any time very soon. As you can see there is not even a hint of ollie holes - and I do get ollie holes usually. So, again the upper is great. These shoes are much too narrow for me. When I cycle to the skate park and for the first 15 minutes or so of skating my feet hurt - after that that problem completely disappears. However, this problem (at the beginning) cannot be solved, meaning I will NOT be buying these shoes again. Now, narrow-footed fellows might be very happy with these. I haven't asked anyone else about their experience, as I hardly ever see skaters wearing them. Maybe one day in the future there will be a way to have your skate shoes resoled. It will/would be quite weird to throw away skate shoes with the upper almost completely intact - actually the upper still is completely intact. It's only the side of the sole (kickflip spot) and the bottoms of the soles (toe spots) that wear out.

Update 1 June 2019:
As you can see the is a tear (where the finger is) in the upper. The tear did not go all the way through. I covered that with All Star Gum. You can also see the left shoe's kickflip spot (back foot).

Update 2 June 2019:
The soles are holding up well given that the foamy part has already been showing for several days. As you can see a tiny piece of the sole (right foot = front foot) - I don't know why it broke off, but it's also pretty irrelevant. (I don't like big pieces breaking off the sole.)

Update 5 June 2019:
I didn't skate for the last two days because of work. I had applied a bit more All Star Gum, but the soles are progressively getting thinner. The All Star Gum cannot really protect the soles - it wears off almost instantly. 

Update 9 June 2019:
No skating on 6, 7, 8 June (work, rain) ... The soles are getting uncomfortably thin in the toe spots, but they are still holding up.

Update 10 June 2019:
I only put in the insoles after skating, while waiting under a roof at the skate park when it had started to rain. So I can't comment on the insoles, other than cycling home in the rain they didn't cause any problems. As you can see there is some ollie damage but it's pretty mild. As you can see, from the top these shoes still look quite good. Regarding the soles, the black foamy stuff is really magical in how hard is is to destroy but it is wearing thinner. That's why I threw the insoles into my backpack today. I have really come to like these shoes in a way - kind of like all skate shoes that you spend a lot of time skating in, it's an intimate friendship (shoe-human-relations) - but as you can tell from the pictures for this relationship, the sands of time for me are running low.  

Update 11 June 2019:
I took the insoles out again, just feels more comfortable that way. Still kind of unbelievable how slowly the soles with the foamy black stuff exposed desintegrate. The shoes actually feel quite comfortable now, without insoles, well worn-in, but the toe spots are a little thin obviously. It's a shame there is no way to make the soles last for longer.

Update 12 June 2019:
You cannot see it in the picture but there is a tiny (TINY) hole in the black foam (toe spot) of the right shoe (front foot). The toe spots are now paper thin. What's amazing though is how well the gum-coloured soles stick to the black foamy part of the soles that's beneath. The actual sole (gum coloured) does not peel off. Well worth copying by other skate shoe company (or shoe companies in general - I have some Salomon running shoes and there are bits of the soles that are peeling off ... qui est une honte putain.)  

Update 14 June 2019:
No skating yesterday as it was raining. As you can see the toe hole of the right shoe (front foot) has worn through now, and the front of the shoes is really thin and floppy now, and the toe spots are just to thin (apart from the small new hole). It's a shame that soles can't be fixed. 

This is the end, beautiful friend.

Update 14 September 2019:
I saw a skater at the skate park with the Nike Nyjah shoes and asked him if they weren't too narrow for him - which he declined. He said they were perfect.

Update 1 July 2020:
Another skater at the skate park told me that these shoe are not too tarrow for him and that he thinks they're quite good.