Nike Zoom Ascension Performance Review
Nike’s new budget model, the Zoom Ascension, is a shoe that we received a lot of requests to review. We intend to deliver more performance reviews on budget models, as this was also a common request. The Nike Zoom Ascension creates an interesting situation, one in which the market is flooded with budget models that perform quite well and there are even some signature shoes (D Lillard 2) that are priced in the budget model realm. The D Lillard 2 costs $105, a slight $15 more than the Zoom Ascension. The Adidas Light Em Up 2 is another budget model with serious performance, currently on sale for $60. The D Lillard 2 and Light Em Up 2 are phenomenal shoes at a bargain price, can the Zoom Ascension keep up?
The traction on the Nike Zoom Ascension looks aggressive and has the look of a quality outsole. The rubber is hard, so it probably performs well (or at least should hold up well) outdoors. The Zoom Ascension utilizes a herringbone pattern which sticks to the floor, but it does attract a lot of dust. Even though it attracts dust, the Zoom Ascension still sticks to the floor (although not as quickly as it does when the court is clean) rather than causing you to slide. Wiping does help you stop harder and restore grip. The amount of wiping you have to do is not excessive, probably every 3-4 plays. The traction on the Nike Zoom Ascension performs well on the court, and is a highlight of the shoe. The Sole Brothers rate the traction on this shoe 8/10.
The cushion in the Nike Zoom Ascension consists of a Zoom unit in the forefoot and a Phylon midsole. The Zoom unit in the forefoot is hard to feel, it seems to be thin, but it can be felt a little bit on the ball of the foot. The Phylon midsole is okay, it does provide great court feel and responsiveness. The midsole provides very little impact protection, which Sammy was not happy about. The cushion setup does, however, produce good heel to to transition. The Sole Brothers give the Nike Zoom Ascension’s cushion a rating of 6/10.
The upper on the Zoom Ascension is constructed with mesh and high tensile stitching woven throughout for increased support and ventilation. The mesh material feels cheaply made. The upper does not feel particularly nice on foot, but it does feel very light. The Sole Brothers were not impressed with the materials on the Nike Zoom Ascension, giving it a rating of 6/10.
The Zoom Ascension fits true to size and very narrowly. The fit is one of the shoe’s strong points, as there is no dead space in the toe area, with the upper sitting right over the toe which feels nice and supportive. The Zoom Ascension features a bootie like construction which helps the fit. The silhouette is between a low and mid, and feels quite supportive. The heel counter is very thin, similar to the Melo M12, which still feels supportive but light. Since the shoe is on the lower end, it does not feel supportive at all without an ankle brace, but once an ankle brace is worn, the shoe in concert with the brace does provide good ankle support. Overall the support is decent. The Nike Zoom Ascension suffers in the lockdown category. The lockdown in the heel is poor, Sammy reported that he experienced too much slipping in the heel. He also said that there is a metal piece in the top of the ankle collar area that dug into his Achilles, causing blisters. This effect was reduced by loosening the top laces, but this significantly reduced the shoe’s lockdown. Even though it has flaws, the Sole Brothers gave the Nike Zoom Ascension a rating of 9/10 in the Fit/Support/Lockdown category.
Ventilation, Durability, and Aesthetics
The thin mesh upper on the Nike Zoom Ascension earns it a score of 9/10 for ventilation. The thin mesh upper on the Nike Zoom Ascension, on the other hand, earns it a mediocre score of 6/10 for durability. As far as aesthetics go, the shoe looks okay, it really looks more like a running shoe than a basketball shoe. The Sole Brothers rate the aesthetics of the Nike Zoom Ascension a mediocre 6/10.
Returning to the challenge we set to the Zoom Ascension, can it compete with other basketball shoes within its price range? The answer is no, there are many shoes on the market that perform much better and are either cheaper or only slightly more expensive. The Nike Hyperlive, Kobe Mentality 2, Kyrie 2, Adidas Light Em Up 2, and D Lillard 2 are all models that greatly outperform the Zoom Ascension and are only $10-15 more expensive (and in the case of the Light Em Up 2’s, they are $24 cheaper). If you have played in the Nike Zoom Ascension, let us know your thoughts in the comments below and check out the Sole Brothers’ video Performance Review as well.