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Road • January 22, 2021

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 Performance Review

nike react infinity 2 - feature1

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.9 oz. (281 g) for a US M9.0 / 8.5 oz. (241 g) for a US W8.0
  • Completely redesigned upper for more secure fit
  • Same React midsole and mild stability components
  • If you don’t drink Hawaiian Punch with filet mignon then you’re not living life

THOMAS: Last year, Nike introduced the original React Infinity with some lofty promises. There was an emphasis on high mileage durability and a light stability/rockered design that would keep runners injury-free. The shoe looked modern, and we were excited to run in it. I was actually hashtag blessed enough to take my first pair of React Infinity to Nike HQ in Beaverton, Oregon, where I ran on the hallowed Michael Johnson track and the rest of the campus.

They made it a point to show some beat-to-hell pairs in their promotional ads for the shoe, so I muddied them up good to take some authentic Nike real estate home with me. Handing out humblebrags like Oprah over here.

Real talk, the original React Infinity was somewhat polarizing with our audience (and us), because there was a huge, almost universal love for the Epic React line, which was killed off to pave the way for the React Infinity. We’d be lying if we said we’re still not bitter about it.

The React Infinity is chunkier and less graceful through the stride than the Epic React. The upper on the Infinity didn’t help, as we experienced some heel slippage and lateral movement. It just didn’t secure the foot to the midsole well. The aggressive medial arch support was also a bit jarring at first, and while we got used to it, it was a feature that worked for some and not for others.

Good news: some of these issues have been addressed with the just-released Nike React Infinity Flyknit Run 2. Bad news? Well, let’s see if there is any.

BEN: The original Infinity is one of those rare shoes that came with so many claims that the marketing material included legal disclaimers (there was an actual pamphlet in the box when I got mine). It was Nike’s new take on stability and created under the name “Project Run Fearless.” The system is based on using three components – cushioned midsole, rocker geometry, and wide/stable base. The bold claim is to reduce injury, and Nike came in with studies to prove it.

That three-pronged approach was liked by many (including myself), but there seemed to be one missing element – a secure upper.  The original Flyknit upper looked nice and was comfortable, but lacked any type of lockdown in the midfoot and heel. Heel slip was the norm. Nike has come back with version 2 and taken aim directly at this deficiency.

nike react infinity 2 - women

The Good

THOMAS: I liked the first version, so let’s start there. This isn’t a huge update in terms of overall performance (especially regarding the ride of the shoe). The second version is just a revision to the upper. That said, sometimes that’s all it takes to move a shoe from good to better.

The big difference in this shoe is all about structure. Flywire (yeah, it’s back) is used to support the lace lockdown on both the medial and lateral sides of the FlyKnit upper. There wasn’t a simple way to create a runner’s loop to secure the previous model’s collar and heel. The new version has a more traditional lacing set up, including the second hole at the top for making a runner’s loop. The good news is, you don’t need it. The now padded collar keeps the heel locked in and secure over the midsole.

You may be thinking “Big deal, Nike fixed the upper. So what?”. Let me try to explain why this is a big deal. Picture sitting down at your favorite steakhouse somewhere in a southern state where you can do that (vegans try to play along, pack yerself a flame-broiled Beyond Meat Whopper). The masked waiter arrives with a sizzling filet. As you drool, the waiter returns with a glass of red kids’ wine, aka Hawaiian Punch, to pair with the entree. The steak is delicious because it’s medium rare and also because, again, it’s steak, and you wash the mouthful down with some high fructose corn syrup. Not so good, right? The meal is ruined and Punchy is just dancing away while you’re stuck with a mediocre experience. The upper of the first version is the punch in this scenario.

nike react infinity 2 - tongue

Now, imagine instead that your meal was paired with a delicious velvety Cabernet. Same steak, entirely new experience. To be fair, the first upper wasn’t dramatically horrible as I made it out be in this example, but hyperbole is the mother of shoe reviews, so here we are. All that to say, the new upper is a much better pairing in this scenario and creates a much better cohesive running experience.

So anyway, on to the midsole, which is again full React foam. The shape is wide and rockered. While it doesn’t give you the fastest feel through transition, the shoe is exceptionally smooth through the stride. The rubber coverage on the bottom is ample, adding to the traction and durability of the shoe. One of the underrated qualities of the React Infinity 2 is the durability. The React foam maintains a lively feel longer than any other foam I have run in. This shoe can take you way beyond the standard 300 miles of wear. Most lovers of the OG React Infinity (like Ben) easily took the shoe beyond 400 miles, and this should be no different.

nike react infinity 2 - men grey1

BEN: I will also start off by saying I enjoyed the first version. The heel slip didn’t bother me, and the shoe surely gets the job done as a mileage workhorse. It’s a bit heavy and could feel borderline clunky. The rocker performed adequately, but I certainly wouldn’t pick it for a workout shoe. I put over 400 miles on the V1 and it really still felt and looked nearly new.

The new version is the exact same midsole and outsole. The only difference is the upper. Some would call this minor, but I call it awesome. Nike heard the issues and did an admirable job going after them, while still keeping with the design ethos (aka the midsole they made a lot of claims about). The upper now sports a less uniform knit design (reminiscent of the early Flyknit offerings, as opposed to the solid colors on the Vaporfly Flyknit and the Infinity V1).

Aside from the visual changes on the upper, it’s also gone to a partial tongue (instead of a full bootie) and a padded heel collar. These work together to create an excellent fit and great lockdown. Somehow this really transforms the shoe into something even more enjoyable that should appeal to a broader audience.

Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women nike react infinity 2 - heel1

The Bad

THOMAS: It’s somewhat dull. You heard me. Your runs feel good, but there isn’t an exciting feel. You have to work a little harder to pick up the pace in the shoe because there isn’t any pop. The initial colors of the shoe are also a yawn. I went with grey, and still think it is the best looking. That is saying something. Last thing – although not 100% bad – the shoe’s insole is glued in.

BEN: The heel clip/medial support. It’s key to the stability but it’s noticeable and borderline bothersome (pokes into the arch). I hate walking around in them, but it somehow disappears once I start running. That said, since there’s no change to the midsole with this version, if you didn’t mind that sensation in the original, then you’ll be fine with this as well. Quite a bummer that I can’t use them as a casual shoe (I loved the Epic React for this), but at the end of the day, it is a running shoe, and it works well in that capacity (as it should).

Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women nike react infinity 2 - outsole1

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 Conclusion

THOMAS: I like this shoe for a daily/easy mile trainer. It’s as reliable as your grandma’s cast-iron skillet.

It’s not as exotic as the Invincible, which we are testing now. Sneak peek: I thought there wouldn’t be a contest between the React and the full-length ZoomX, but oddly, there is a place for both the Infinity and the Invincible. I don’t think you need both in your closet, but depending on your taste, one of these shoes should get you where you need to be. Long story short, the React Infinity 2 is undoubtedly more stable than the Invincible (and firmer/less bounce).

All that to say, the new upper makes the Infinity 2 a significant update and more pleasurable to run in. My size 10.5 fits true to size and weighs 10.97 oz./311 grams. The weight may contribute to the less-than-springy feel when you’re trying to drop the pace.

BEN: The original was a solid everyday running shoe that lacked a good upper. The V2 is a nice upgrade in that regard. The upper fits true to size with good lockdown and it’s very comfortable. If you liked the original, you’ll probably like this more. If you didn’t like the original on account of the upper, but love that React feeling, then you may want to revisit the shoe this time around. It’s a workhorse shoe that can probably do close to infinity miles, if infinity meant like 500. The hype definitely pales in comparison to the upcoming ZoomX Invincible, but the Infinity 2 is going to be the more stable and supportive option if that’s your thing.

You can pick up the Nike React Infinity Flyknit Run 2 for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women nike react infinity 2 - stack nike react infinity 2 - women toe nike react infinity 2 - men grey


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Mac says:

    About to move over to the Nike world for my easy run/high mileage shoe…

    Would you go with these or the Peg 37s?

  2. Joe says:

    How about the weather you tested? I simply can’t do Nike anymore for winter or cold weather. The React foam is hard as a rock in the winter, harder than normal EVA foam. It’s contributed to injuries for me in the winter as well as ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain. I have Epic React and the first React Infinity. I go back to TPU midsole shoes (e.g. Adidas boost shoes), then all the pain goes away.

    1. Ben @ BITR says:

      13°F (Feels Like 6°F) is the coldest temp I have used the Infinity 2. I do think they get more firm in the cold but it hasn’t been an issue for me.

  3. jdub says:

    I just purchased this shoe and after just a few runs, the tongue is literally tearing off one of the shoes. The heel slip on the first version was horrible for me, and I thought this version would fix that, but I’ll be sending the shoes back. Based on your reviews, I’ll be switching over to ASICS. I’m tired of being a guinea pig for Nike’s “innovation.”

  4. Rick Ballard says:

    Love these shoes. Put them on and my plantar fasciitis stops bothering me and they feel good when walking and running BUT I’m on my second pair of black ones and the tongue has ripped again. It hasn’t happened on the gray ones, just the black ones. Never seen that before on running shoes.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I loved the Epic React and got used to the Infinity but of course needed new shoes and this was the “new” and really only option. And thanks to their “innovation” in the heel I ended up with a gouging blister! I’m all for innovation but let’s make sure it actually solves more problems for the good!

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ben johnson 1
Ben Johnson
Road Reviewer
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Ben is a true running shoe enthusiast (as seen by his Instagram feed) and data geek who loves looking through data and stats related to running shoes and gear. His running continues to improve after his first marathon in June 2019 (2:52). Other hobbies include photography. Home is Minnesota.

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