The Nike Mercurial Superfly V was unveiled as part of the Nike Spark Brilliance Pack last month and was inspired by the efficiency and design of a formula 1 racecar so it is fitting that a former Mercedes Benz designer, Jeongwoo Lee, headed up the project.
He took a moment to speak with Soccer365 at Nike’s Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon about building the latest edition of the iconic silo with the goal of pushing the limits of speed.
“A Formula One car was one of our inspirations behind the new Mercurial,” the Nike Football Design leader explained. “This approach allowed us to challenge all assumptions about speed just like in a Formula One car where every component has to work together to insure it performs.”
“That inspiration led us to ask the question, ‘How do we create a boot holistically that is tuned for speed and is the most efficient package possible?’”
The final answer did not come quickly. The design process took over 2 years and included talking with players, test labs, and prototypes. The final version required all the interlocking materials down to the paintjob to come together to make the Nike Mercurial Superfly V ready to come off the production line and be pitch ready.
The chassis, or soleplate of the cleat, is the backbone of the cleat and Nike knew they needed to improve on their carbon fiber multi-layer soleplate.
“The big story (about this Mercurial) is we have moved on from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber set the bar in terms of very high performance but we wanted to make it better.”
The new soleplate is a single layer rather than multi-layer and is 40% lighter than the old soleplate.
It is not only the materials of the soleplate that set it apart but also the design. The new soleplate is more anatomically correct moving away from the standard flat soleplate to one that is curved and ‘true to our foots shape.’
“We wanted to create (a boot) that when you put it on you get the sensation that your foot is actually nested in the boot. We use this term nested because what it means is around your foot you have no empty space, everything is literally following your foot shape, meaning there is no movement inside the boot. This results in faster reactions.”
The next step was creating a traction system on the soleplate that helps players accelerate but equally important and sometimes overlooked was a system that could help player slow down and make tight turns in space.
“For players it’s one thing to be really quick but then they want to move away from the defenders they want to change directions. They need to be able to quickly brake while staying in control, you can’t slip or anything. The solution in terms of traction needed to be something that you could accelerate and then brake at the same time, everything under super control.”
Nike turned to Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a virtual reality testing process that determined that the chevron shaped stud was the ‘right decision.’
“In this case it was a chevron stud that proved to be the best in terms of multi-traction use. It doesn’t create too much traction that could start injuring your knees and your ankles. It was in the right optimal shape.”
With the soleplate in place the focus turned to the upper. Players had stressed the importance of a ‘second skin’ feel but that allows for a perfect touch on the ball regardless of what part of the foot the player is using whether controlling the ball, dribbling the ball, or shooting the ball.
“The original Superfly was a similar texture all over. We wanted to bring a really unique Mercurial texture for the (Superfly V). The upper varies in terms of thickness and the density depending on the area of the boot. At the end we felt pretty confident it’s actually thinner, but stronger and more flexible.”
The flyknit upper has a 3D texture with individual ribs of varying thickness.
The final question to answer was regarding the launch colorway and even that was approached with speed in mind.
“We wanted to create an upper in a colorway that when you’re actually running and there’s a lot of movement it creates an extra vibrancy. With a single color it creates a certain impact but when you have two opposing, contrasting colors at the same time against a neon color it really creates an additional vibrancy.”
This dual color allows players to ‘experiencing the performance and feeling of the speed’ and viewers watching on TV to ‘experience the speed as well.’
The Nike Mercurial Superfly V lives up to the high expectations that Lee and his team set for them. They give players on the world’s biggest stages, Euro 2016 and Copa America Centenario, an edge and they give the amateur player an edge on soccer fields around the world.
“We want (the Nike Mercurial Superfly V) to perform fast, and to feel fast because that’s what at the end of the day if you feel fast you’re already on a winning you know, you have a mental edge over your opponent.”
The Nike Mercurial Superfly V and the Spark Brilliance Pack are available at World Soccer Shop.