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Nike Zoom Speed Rival 6 Running Shoe Review

The Good

Meaghan: Right out of the box, I knew I was going to like this shoe. Under 6 ounces for my unisex size 6. The upper is a simple, sleek design with a little more structure than your typical racing flat. The thin engineered mesh is breathable and works with midfoot straps to lock your foot in place. The tongue and collar are lightly padded for comfort – I didn’t have any hot spots. The Rival 6 feels a little wider than other Nike models, which is great for my wide feet.

The midsole is made up of Nike’s Cushlon LT foam, a TPU Shank (a stiff piece of plastic) that gives the shoe extra stability and a Zoom unit (air pockets) in the heel for a nice pop. They’re firm, but not uncomfortable. There’s definitely enough cushioning for long distances. The outsole is covered in rubber in a waffle-like pattern that has proven to be super durable and grippy. I wore this shoe for the Frederick Half and they performed really well. The temps were in the 40’s – 50’s with a pretty constant rain. I didn’t have any issues with traction.

 Thomas: One of the first things I noticed about the Speed Rival 6 was how easy it is to get the fit right. The wide straps that create the lacing system wrap your foot securely and harness you to the Cushlon LT midsole. Nike’s Flymesh uppers work for me, The Rival 6 is no exception. I had to 1/2 size up on both the Streak 6 and the Elite 9. The Rival 6 fit true to my running shoe size. There is no need to half size up from what you normally wear.

The Rival 6’s platform leans slightly forward. This helps to make the shoe feel fast when it comes to turnover. The drop is 10mm but the shoe feels more pitched. There is a ZOOM Air unit in the heel for some extra cushion. Unlike the Elite 9, there is not an additional Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. There is enough cushioning in the forefoot for long distance racing. The TPU shank in the midsole adds some snappiness to the feel of the trainer. I would be confident running a marathon in this shoe. I ran a half marathon in them and my feet felt fresh after. No hot spots.

Traction in the Rival 6 is ample with studded hexagons of grippy rubber covering the entire outsole of the shoe. When it was time to pick up the pace the Rival 6 can add the bite to your footstrike and help you power through your kick.

I love light shoes that can handle long distances. The Rival 6 in a size 10.5 weighs 7.8 oz. LOVE IT.

The Bad

Meaghan: The only issue I had with this shoe was some slight soreness after the half marathon, specifically under the arch of my foot (or lack thereof). I have flat feet and I think the constant pounding on the stiff, plastic TPU shank might have caused the irritation. It wasn’t horrible, but something to note.

Thomas: The shoe looks sleek and sexy from the side. Looking down on the Rival 6 it looks like a flounder. The structure comes from the wide straps that the lacing goes through. The Flymesh lays over the straps and doesn’t conform to the foot. So with a narrow foot, I had loose material on the sides that help create the “flounder” effect. The shoe would have a much sexier look if the medial side would contour in with the shape of the midsole. One bummer for anybody over a size 12 men’s, no soup for you! Sorry they don’t go any bigger.

Nike Rival 6 Conclusion

Meaghan: I’d hate to call myself a Nike “fan” but it’s really hard to deny it at this point. The brand exudes speed, as made evident by last weekend’s #breaking2 attempt. The Nike Speed Rival 6 plays right into the heartstrings with its simple, sleek upper and lightweight build.  Did I mention the price? You can snag a pair for $80. Well worth it.

Thomas: What are my favorite up-tempo running shoes? Currently, Nike. Between the Streak 6, the Elite 9, and the Rival 6, Nike has you covered for speed. Since we aren’t pros, nobody is making us custom trainers. Being able to pick from these three shoes is about as close as we can get to a custom racing shoe. The toughest part of reviewing this shoe was trying to decide which Nike shoe I liked the best. If pressed, I would say Steak 6 for everything, but I probably would pick the Rival 6 over the Streak 6 for the marathon. There is just a little more cushion under the foot and it isn’t quite as soft as the Elite. I would love to try the Rival 6 with a Zoom unit in the forefoot. The shoe is a value at $80. I wholeheartedly recommend the Rival 6.


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  1. Jeff says:

    I just found this review 5 years later. I have this shoe and am at 985 miles on it (yes you read that right) and they are finally dead. Multiple marathons (sub3hrs and halfs sub125), and many sub 6 min pace workouts. I wish I could still find a new pair.

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