Nike Romaleos 4 Review

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The fourth iteration of Nike’s long storied Olympic weightlifting shoe is finally here, though I think if the majority of the weightlifting community could have their way, they would erase the 3’s from the history books. I didn’t mind the 3’s and actually liked the 3XD’s if you had feet that could fit them, but they were definitely in a different direction than the 2’s, which many consider to be the best weightlifting shoe of all time.

Rumor has it that production returned to APS for the Romaleos 4, as they did the Romaleos 2 before Nike took production for the 3’s. That would make a lot of sense considering that 4’s feel more similar to the 2’s than 3’s. Like I said, just rumor I heard so take it with a grain of salt.

The burning question of everyone’s mind is whether or not they can finally retire their Romaleos 2 for these…

Construction:

For this model, Nike went back to the drawing board to completely revamp the Romaleos 4. There absolutely no carry over from past models in the 4th iteration, at least none that I can spot. To me, the Romaleos 4 feel like an updated 2 than 3.

The upper of the Romaleos 4 has a few different materials but is primarily a woven type of fabric. I almost want to say it resembles Kevlar, but I’m not entirely sure. From what I can tell, the material is dense but flexible, though not enough to sacrifice foot containment. Initially, it’s bit rigid too but does soften up with a little bit of wear. It feels much thicker than both the 2’s and the 3’s uppers.

Around the ankle collar, there’s a more rigid nylon ripstop fabric. My best guess for the switch in materials here is so that this area doesn’t end up stretching too much over time. It doesn’t feel uncomfortable around the ankle because the inside of the ankle collar has cushioning around it. The majority of the cushioning is found at the Achilles area, but I think this might actually add to the heel slip in the Rom 4’s because of how low the cushioning goes.

The tongue construction is thick, much more substantial than the original 3’s and more in line to the 3XD. It’s comfortable and feels well built to me, but I have heard a case of the side gusset of it ripping when putting the shoes on; I’m not too worried about it because I pull on the back area of the shoe more when I put my shoes on.

Returning to this model is the use of two straps: one to secure the ankle and the other to secure the metatarsal area. The straps seem to be made out of a similar material that the ankle collar is and backed with a softer textile. The Velcro used is standard fare but I do appreciate that they included a “break” in it so that you can place your laces through without destroying them.

Where the straps end up on your foot are a little different. I think the metatarsal strap is done well, it sits a little higher up than before so it doesn’t interfere with your toes bending for split jerks. However, I feel like the top strap might be too low or at the wrong angle because while you can tighten up the top of the shoe, it doesn’t do much for heel slip.

The platform of the Rom4’s draws more design cues from the Rom2’s than the 3’s, most notably the “wavy”, almost organic look of the TPU heel and “Powerbridge” underneath. There are 7 “points” on the outsole: 1 at the front of the toes, 2 at each side of the metatarsals and 2 on each side of the heel and 2 at the end of the heel. Together they increase contact area with the ground and increase lateral stability; without making the shoe feel too clunky. A similar design worked very well on the Metcon 5, so I’m glad Nike carried it over to the Romaleos line.

Another notable addition to the Romaleos 4 is the extended heel counter that is implanted into the TPU heel. It rides a little taller than where the clear TPU is around the lateral side to the medial side and extends further up to where the top strap connects to it.

No word on whether or not they changed the heel height (.75″ previously) of the Rom 4’s, but in my use, I’ve haven’t noticed any differences in the actual height or pitch. To my feet, it feels identical. Unlike the 2’s and 3’s, the 4’s do not come with a training insole, only a competition one – though you can use the training insoles of old if you wanted to and they seem to work fine.

Weight of a men’s size 10 is 20.85oz (575g) compared to the Rom 2’s at 20.18oz, and Rom 3XD at 17.60oz, both of the previous models with the competition insert in.

Sizing:

Everyone has their own personal preferences on how they like to size their shoes. I like to think that the majority of people out there go down half a size for their weightlifting shoes from their normal shoes. Not that they like to wear their shoes snug, but because in most cases, weightlifting shoes run big. Others might just go with their normal shoe size and deal with the space. However you do it, there’s no right or wrong way on how to size YOUR shoes.

Personally, I don’t wear my shoes tight to the point where I can’t spread my toes. Your toes a huge part of your ability to jump, ever jumping without your toes? It doesn’t work that well. That being said, you also can’t have too much space around your toes either because you don’t want them to go sliding around inside the shoe.

Size 9.5 Rom2 and 10 Rom 4

My first pair of Romaleos 2’s were size 10 because nothing else was in stock, and at the time I wore a size 9.5 normal shoe. I remember them being gargantuan and ended up getting a pair of 9’s, which I used for a while until I got tired of not being able to wear them for more than 10 mins at a time. Since then I ended up sizing up to a 9.5 in most of my weightlifting shoes and 10 in my normal training shoes.

My latter pairs of Romaleos 2 and 3′ were 9.5, same goes with Legacy’s and Adipower 1’s. I chanced the Rom 3XD’s in a size 10 because I ordered them from a place I couldn’t easily return them to, and lo and behold, they fit perfectly; I’d say exactly like my 2’s and 3’s.

With that info in mind, I picked up a size 10 in my Romaleos 4 and if you watched my first impressions video, I thought they were too small initially. The toebox on this shoe isn’t as tall, is more narrow and the new material is a bit thicker, so with the first couple of wears, your toes are going to feel smushed. My advice is to wear some really thin socks for a few sessions, it took about 4 good wears for my size 10’s to end up having the perfect length, though they are still a little narrow with normal socks on. With that in mind, I would recommend that you go with your NORMAL SNEAKER/TRAINING SHOE SIZE. (I did check with a couple CrossFit Games athletes, both Lauren Fisher and Noah Olsen, both said true to size as their Metcon’s was what they went with.)

To make sure I wasn’t going crazy, I ordered a pair of 9.5’s and 10.5’s to test out as well, mainly because someone had interjected that they size the same as Rom2’s and that I shouldn’t give advice based off of one wear.

So I sucked it up, tried the 9.5 out, and after a numerous sessions of my feet going numb, my toes never being able to fully stretch out and massive amounts of heel slip – I’d say that isn’t true, at least for me personally. It seems that some females are able to get away with the same Rom 2 size. Seems reasonable because their feet are more narrow and these are a unisex shoe.

As for the size up, it was the most comfortable initially with the best width and least amount of heel slip. I was able to lift in them just okay, but I just felt like my feet had too much space in the toebox giving me less feedback with the ground. I think if you had REALLY wide feet, this may be the way to go. For reference, these fit pretty similar to my Rom 2’s and Legacy in size 10.

Fit:

The weakest area of the Romaleos 4 is the fact that there is heel slip and there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it completely. It’s nothing that going to make you completely miss a lift, but I think there was a missed opportunity to correct this because it’s been an issue in the past.

As I mentioned earlier, the more I sized down my Rom 4’s, the more heel slip I get due to my feet not being able to seat fully inside the shoe. I feel like the extra Achilles cushioning might actually do more bad than good because it feels like it pushes your heel out versus catching it so it doesn’t come out. It looks like there’s only about a half inch of free space from where the cushioning ends to the insole.

After trying out numerous ways of adjusting the straps and lacing, the best way I’ve found to mitigate the heel slip is by pulling the laces as tight as you possibly can around the ankle, then fastening the top strap over them. From there you just tie your laces like you normally would, with the top strap holding your laces down. A couple of easy ways they could have gotten around this is just by adding in another pair of eyelets so that you could lace lock, or even just Flywire that ran towards the heel of the shoe.

Otherwise, the Romaleos 4 fairly wide in the midfoot and narrow in the toebox. The arch doesn’t seem to be as aggressive as the 3XD’s and falls more in line with the 2’s.

Flexbility:

Seems like lifters are becoming just lifters again because it seems there’s less emphasis put into the flexibility of the Romaleos 4, at least compared to the 3’s. Which is just fine.

The upper of the Romaleos 4 does take a little to break in, but after it does, it becomes comfortable for the most part. Since it is a bit thicker and more narrow, it does feel like it bunches up a more than the 2/3, which makes it feel less flexible. The outsole material bends at the metatarsals with roughly 50% less pressure than the 2’s, but the 3XD’s are the clear winner if you’re looking for the most flexible of the bunch. Still, the toebox of the 4’s bends just fine for split jerks, without bending so easily that you might lose a lift forward.

They’re weightlifting shoes so I didn’t expect them to be comfortable for extended wear, but I did wish they at least still threw in the training insole; that was the one I used most on all of my previous Romaleos.

Stability:

Romaleos 2 will go down in history for being one of the most well balanced, yet extremely stable pairs of Oly shoes. Though out of all the shoes that I’ve personally tried, I find the Romaleos 4 to be very, very high on the list in terms of sheer stability, usurping the 2’s with ease.

The points of the outsole forms a heptagon shape, which makes for an insanely solid base for you while lifting in the Rom 4’s. The outsole runs a little bit longer than the actual body of the shoe and creates another layer of stability at the heel area. Laterally, I don’t think I’ve come across another Oly shoe that is better than the Romaleos 4. Having that extra assistance to really screw your feet into the ground because of the extended contact points is a game changer.

People that lamented the light weight of the Romaleos 3’s will be elated to hear that the 4’s are back to tipping the scales. Whether or not you think that’s a good thing or bad thing is purely subjective, but you can’t deny that the extra weight does it’s part in gluing you down to the ground when you hit your landings.

My biggest gripe about Romaleos 2’s was that I didn’t think they had the best traction, or that the outsole rubber was very picky about what it wanted to grip. This area has been VASTLY improved with the Romaleos 4, at least on the surface I’ve been lifting on lately: dusty rubber mats in the garage (probably the most challenging of all). But I find that even when sliding them around on the hardwood flooring inside the house, they still provide excellent grip.

Responsiveness of an Oly shoe shouldn’t really be a question, but if you’re asking, power delivery is instantaneous. Aside from the insole providing minimal underfoot comfort, there’s nothing else to detract from putting force into the ground. At the midfoot and heel of the shoe, there’s virtually zero give back, forth or torsionally . You could probably knock someone out cold if you smacked them with the Romaleos 4.

There aren’t many shoes out there that I could think of that would be a better pure squat shoe. Unless of course, you had abnormally wide feet and just couldn’t get your foot into the 4’s. For Oly, I’d say they’re at the top of the list, with a few point taken away for split jerks, because you’re bound to run into some heel slip. That shouldn’t be a problem for you power and squat jerkers, but how many of you are out there really?

Conclusion:

No matter what I say, there will always be Romaleos 2 die-hards. People that will love that shoe and never want to look at another lifter for the rest of their lives. If I said the Romaleos 4’s were a better shoe than the 2’s, people would take that as harsh as me insulting their moms; but I think objectively, they are the better shoe.

The platform is improved, stability is better, traction is vastly better, heel slip is just about the same, fit is subjective and looks are subjective. I’d say more points are in favor of the 4’s, but that still won’t change the fact that I think lot of people will be just fine with their 2’s, or even 3’s (…Legacy’s, Adipowers, Antas, ASICS…).

Like any shoe, it just comes down to personal preference in what you like at the end of the day. There’s no right or wrong answer, but for me, I think that if I were to do a competition, it would be in Romaleos 4 over 2’s. For a long time, I thought the spiritual successor to the Romaloes 2 was the Reebok Legacy Lifters since they had more in common than the 3’s and 2’s did at least. Now I can finally say that Nike has come up with a real replacement for the fabled 2’s. They’re a well balanced, complete weightlifting shoe with no glaring flaws.

Are they perfect? No shoe is, but if they just did something to address the heel slip, they’d be pretty damn close. I guess that’s what a 4XD is for.

Nike Romaleos 4

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One comment

  1. no more deals? they had the $50 off when first released, but do you think they will have any deals on them coming up before bf or for bf?

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