Responsive yet protective, the Nike LunarSpider R3 is a high performance road racer capable of the 5k, marathon, and everything in between.
The Nike LunarSpider is one of a long list of road racing shoes that have crossed the Pacific from the Japanese market. Now in its second iteration on American soil, the shoe has received some attention here in the States as a model with more protection than the Streak LT but more nimbleness than the LunaRacer. We were excited to put the R3 through its paces.
The R3 isn’t the lightest racing shoe to come through the office – in fact, at nearly 6 oz, it is one of the beefier shoes in its category. The shoe makes up for its weight in its ride – soft without being mushy, and with excellent rebound to give the feeling of propulsion with every step. We found the shoe to be cushioned and protective enough for up to a marathon, yet responsive and nimble-feeling enough to be competitive at the 5-10k distances as well.
We found the fit of the R3 to be among the snuggest we’ve tried, even for a racing shoe. But once we were able to get the shoe on (which was admittedly a struggle for some testers), we were pleased to find that the shoe wasn’t as uncomfortable as we would have thought. Nike scaled back the overlays from the R2, making the upper feel a bit less constrictive, particularly in the forefoot.
Durability was a large concern over the R2, as the paper-thin upper mesh would often break down before 100-mile mark. Nike responded by using a more-closed mesh material on the R3 to increase the durability of the upper. That said, the R3 will still wear faster than shoes intended for daily use, and is best suited as a pure race day shoe or for very fast training days.
The ride of the LunarSpider R3 felt reminiscent of the old Katana Rac3r to me; it was a bit softer than the Streak XC/LT, but nowhere near as pillowy as the LunaRacer.
The upper of the R3 feels much less constrictive than that of the R2. The toebox is still quite narrow though – best for the runner with a low volume foot.
A nice amount of cushioning in a lightweight design; this is a great option for races up to the marathon.