Lightest doesn’t necessarily equal fastest.
Jeff Rasmussen, Senior Designer for Nike Football Cleated Footwear, made that clear at the unveiling of the Nike Vapor Untouchable II. The idea behind the VUII was not to create the lightest cleat, but rather to construct a pair that keeps the athlete’s mind completely off the fact that he or she is even wearing cleats.
“It’s about [building a] holistic system. We want zero distractions,” Rasmussen says.
Distractions come in a variety of faces, whether it’s the foot sliding around in the cleat, the plate stiffness restricting flexibility, or the studs on the outsole not gripping properly. These aspects of comfort and stability were addressed in the rebuilding of the Vapor Untouchable.
“That’s exactly why we say we want to be the fastest cleat on the field,” Rasmussen says. “It means the most protective, the most comfortable, and that’s what we’ve done in this cleat. Putting that structure into the cleat, reducing cleat pressure… All of those things are [meant] to help the athlete be more comfortable and hopefully be safer.”
Fit and feel may be the most important characteristics of a cleat for athletes, but the purpose of a turf shoe ultimately boils down to grip. That’s why Nike revamped the studs on the outsole of the Vapor Untouchable II. Nike used Finite Element Analysis software to identify “stress points” on the shoe and foot, and from there, developed the new shape of the studs.
“We studied all types of different shapes [and] all types of different sizes of cleats,” Rasmussen says. “The old school conical round shape is something that’s been around, and we knew there had to be a better way. So we just did studies and found that this four-sided shape is the best shape for acceleration, deceleration, and basically all movement.”
To improve explosiveness, Nike also reconstructed the sole plate in the VUII, which is made of carbon fiber.
“The change [in the carbon fiber] is the method of forming,” Rasmussen says. “Because we engineered the carbon fiber to such an extent, we were able to take out a major component in the cleat, which is the full-length inner sole board. That’s up to two ounces. It also allowed us to add more structure to the cleat where it’s needed the most. It’s more propulsive, it’s more snappy. And then, we sucked the carbon into the forefoot to help disperse cleat pressure along the athlete’s foot.”
The VUII weighs in at 9.4 ounces, which is more than an ounce lighter than the previous iteration of the cleat.
Nike wants the cleat, along with the Vapor Untouchable apparel, to feel like one continuous unit. The pant transitions seamlessly to a padded ankle enclosure, which then flows into a symbiotic combination of Flyweave and Flywire.
The biggest challenge for this cleat, which took 24 months to develop from initial brief to commercialization, was being able to utilize all of Nike’s updated technology.
“This is the first time we’ve used this type of configuration,” he says. “We’ve used versions, but this is a new weave that’s more ballistic. We used different yarns. The one thing we’ve done this time with the Flywire is we’ve configured it so it not only locks the athlete down in the midfoot, but pulls the athlete back even further into the wheel, so it really locks them down into the cleat.”
Pick up a pair of the Nike Vapor Untouchable II now to revolutionize your football experience.