Jordan Brand’s latest performance model had all the tech specs of a first-class on-court shoe. The Ultra.Fly appeared to be a mini-version of the Super.Fly 4 (the Eric Bledsoe to the SF 4’s LeBron maybe?), and given that it was to be a non-signature signature (you know what we mean!) of the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler, a’la what the SF is to the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, then you wouldn’t have been wrong for thinking the Ultra.Fly was about to be a BEAST on-court.
But is it?
We’ve been performance testing the shoe for the past month, keep reading below to see how it fared on-court.
The most intriguing aspect of the Ultra.Fly is the materials used — a cage-like upper made of extremely pliable Kurim which allows the shoes to mold to your foot and provide you with a flexible structure. Underneath the Kurim is an inner sleeve made of lightweight mesh. The Kurim reinforces the strength of the shoe in a way that woven materials could not – it’s essentially a compromise fusing the best of the comfort of woven, and the durability of synthetics.
After a solid month of hooping in these they still hold up very well.
The shoes run true-to-size. It may begin a little snug, but the materials will loosen as you break them in and conform to your foot.
Support and lockdown on the Ultra.Fly are both very adequate. Unlike fellow high-cut models like the Melo M12 and Super.Fly 4, there is no exterior heel counter, rather, it’s an internal one with the UF. No internal slippages in the heel area while playing.
There’s no web lacing system or anything like that, but there’s no need. Shoes were laced up and foot felt secure.
Cushioning and traction on the Ultra.Fly is definitely not up-to-par with previous Jordan Brand models. It runs the same cushioning system as the CP3.IX – a nine-chamber Zoom Air Unit, which is supposed to provide a low-profile, responsive feel to it. Upon my first initial wear of the shoe the responsiveness that was lacking in the CP3.IX seemingly was there; a great feel; that bounce that I was looking for, but after a few wears you get the feeling that there is no cushioning at all.
We ran with the Ultra.Fly for a month, and it’s not very forgiving on the feet after a couple of hours of playing time. The longer you play, the worse it gets. Just like the CP model, it feels like shock absorption is lacking — or should I say, non-existent.
Traction was another low-point of the shoe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not horrible, but other Jordan Brand models provide much better traction. The translucent rubber collects dust like you wouldn’t believe. Constant wiping is a must, which makes getting into the groove of a game difficult when you have to wipe your soles every other time down court. Playing at Terminal 23, where the courts are kept pretty clean, there was still considerable slipping on the floor even when wiping. I don’t want to blame the lack of traction entirely on the translucent outsole because I didn’t quite have these issues with the Super.Fly 4, but I would have liked to have seen what this shoe was capable of with a thicker, solid rubber.
No issues here – it’s breathable. If you’ve played in the Super.Fly 4, it’s the exact same thing.
Overall there’s some things I liked about this shoe (durability,lockdown), but the things that I didn’t like (cushioning/traction) probably wouldn’t make me play in this shoe again any time soon. Cushioning and traction can make the world of difference between an enjoyable hoops session, or a less-than-comfortable one.
Again, it’s definitely not the worst shoe to hoop in, and at $125 is reasonably priced, but you’d probably be able to pick up the Super.Fly 4 below retail at this stage and that is a much more well-rounded shoe to hoop in.