Tuesday, April 14, 2009

# Sneak Peek: Nike Lunarglide+

New model called LunarGlide seems to be more forgiving and supportive than the current Lunar Tainer. Here is a post by Ernst from Nike USA. Enjoy!

"First, my apologies for taking so long to chime in on this thread. There's never a dull moment out here in Beavertron, but this week has been particularly interesting.
I'll start by saying that, as runners ourselves, we absolutely understand the frustration voiced by 50convert and others in this thread. We know how disappointing it is when a shoe that works perfectly for you is "improved" and just doesn't feel right any more. It sucks and it makes you mad because running is a super important part of your life and anything that gets in the way of your runs is a big-time PITA.
But we also know when a shoe can be better--we know this based on the collective knowledge and experience of the incredibly talented people I get to work with on a daily basis, from the feedback we receive from the hundreds of wear testers who spend countless hours in prototypes, and from the millions of runners who log countless miles in our production shoes year after year.
What does better mean in the context of the Nike LunarGlide+, which will effectively replace the Nike LunarTrainer+ come July globally and August in the U.S.?
First and foremost is fit and, based on the feedback we've received, the Nike LunarGlide+ provides dramatic improvements in this critical area. The toebox remains generous (though it better conforms to the shape of the foot), but there is more vertical volume in the tip to provide a "truer" fit for length. At the heel, the Achilles abrasion that some runners experienced is holistically addressed. And through the midfoot, a Flywire saddle (as per the Nike LunaRacer+) provides improved support without adding tightness across the middle of the foot.
On the women's side, the women's Nike LunarGlide+ is built on a women's-specific last (the Nike LunarTrainer+ was built on a unisex last) to provide a snug heel fit, while still accommodating the high variability in heel volume exhibited in women's feet. In addition, the medial midfoot of the women's shoe features our popular Arch Fit strap, while the medial forefoot features our very popular Dynamic Fit construction (meaning there's a panel of stretchy material alongside the base of the big toe to allow for dynamic width accommodation). The sockliner also features women's-specific geometry to more deeply cradle the heel for added support and to allow the fat pad built into the heel to more effectively engage on contact.
In terms of cushioning, the Nike LunarGlide+ features the LunarLite cushioning system that was introduced last July in the LunarTrainer+ and LunaRacer+. The LunarLite system basically boils down to a soft, yet resilient core foam encased within a firmer foam carrier. By manipulating the properties of those foams and the geometries in which they're molded, we can modulate cushioning, support, response and weight. As some have noted, the Nike LunarGlide+ features a different core foam from the foam used in the LunarTrainer+. Why would we change? Because, believe it or not, runners told us they preferred the core foam used in the LunarGlide+.
We know this because we conducted a test pitting the production LunarTrainer+ against a prototype in which the only difference was the core foam. At the conclusion of the test, a majority of both neutral and overpronating runners selected the version with the new core foam as their preferred condition. A majority of all testers also ranked the new core version with a higher "liking" score (all testers ranked both conditions on a liking scale from 0 to 9, with zero being not liked at all and 9 being extremely liked).
Maybe I'm crazy, but it strikes me as a good decision to use the foam that runners prefer. If we had known this before we created the LunarTrainer+ we would have used this new foam from the outset, but we didn't because a shoe called the LunarTrainer+ didn't exist yet and, as such, we had nothing to compare against. This is what innovation and progress is all about--you create something, learn from it, experiment, learn from that, apply those learnings, rinse and repeat.
If we lived by the recommendations put forth by some in this thread--meaning we limited ourselves to small, incremental changes to our shoes from version to version--we would probably frustrate runners a lot less often. But that world would be devoid of shoes like the LunarTrainer+, LunaRacer+ and LunarGlide+--shoes that represent radical departures from convention and show us that the old ways aren't necessarily the best ways--because shoes like these are not born of incremental thinking. Maybe that's a world with less frustration, but it's also a much less interesting world where the few people who are running are doing it on sponge rubber midsoles and nylon uppers.
I can also assure you that the introduction of the Nike LunarGlide+ this July/August has nothing to do with sales of the LunarTrainer+, as the latter actually sold better than anyone expected (the shipping delays late last year occurred because the inventory created for fall and holiday sold out very quickly). Neither does it have to do with the difficulty of manufacturing the LunarTrainer+ (the LunarGlide+ is more challenging to engineer and manufacture) or any of the other speculation. We just knew we could make a better running shoe, so we did.
All I can ask is that, before you pre-judge it as a failure, you give the Nike LunarGlide+ a try when it hits store shelves. I can't promise that you'll like it more or even as much as the LunarTrainer+ it replaces--there's no way for me to guarantee that. But we believe we've created a damn good shoe. So much so that we're managing the LunarGlide+ as a franchise model, much in the way that we manage shoes like the Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ and Nike Zoom Vomero+.
Hopefully this helps answer some of your questions. But, ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the wearing, and you'll all have an opportunity to judge the Nike LunarGlide+ for yourselves in just a few months.

Warmest regards,
Ernest Kim
Product Information Manager, Footwear
Nike Running
http://twitter.com/ernestatnike "

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