When we first saw the Nike BRSB’s on Karsten Kleppan’s feet, we noticed right away the colorway and silhouette was similar to one of Nike’s most iconic shoes, the Nike Cortez. But just being a sneaker head, you’d also know that the original staple Cortez had a curvy thread pattern sole and would put you at risk for ankle-twisting, when it came to skating. After some digging, we realized Nike SB released a new model, the BRSB, that took inspiration from the iconic Cortez, and adapted it for skating. We were hooked. It’s always a treat to find a revamped model that plays so effortlessly into the brand’s heritage; in this case, BRSB, is a nod to Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike’s original company name. The silhouette does in fact pay tribute to the Cortez, one of Blue Ribbon’s first commercial successes that is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, this year. When it comes to the shoe’s aesthetic, it is classic and has been donned by countless celebrities, musicians and movie stars over these fifty years. But once you put it on Karsten Kleppan and come out with a three minute edit of effortless high speed technical street skating, you’re speaking something we’re trying to hear. Without further ado, we present the Nike BRSB Weartested review.
The Nike SB BRSB fits true to size.
To sum it up, the Nike BRSB has great performance durability but average visual durability. Let us explain what we mean by that.
For starters, the shoe has a very special sole construction. The upper has a vulcanized foxing tape that stretches over a cupsole, so the shoe is a vulcanized cupsole construction. This means there are two layers to wear through. During our weartest, it showed very good durability characteristics in the lateral sides of the critical Ollie and Kickflip area. The sole pattern is also quite deep, which turned out to be durable as well, especially for how thin and boardfeel-oriented the shoe’s design is. The upper consists of a large suede piece that stretches from the midfoot to the toecap and was the strongest, most critical element of defense for the shoe. In our 10 hour wear test, the upper performed well and had more life in it, and in all, the BRSB’s performance durability is good.
When we mentioned “visual durability” we’re more talking about the elements around the shoe that are either added in to enhance the durability itself, or the aesthetic of the shoe. This includes taking a look at the stitched swoosh in the toe area, the seams on the lace panel, the swoosh itself and the collar in the heel area. All of these elements showed signs of wear after our 10 hour test and after a few sessions, the shoe is not in the best visual state. Do they have a direct influence of the performance durability (like a hole in the suede)? No.
For the BRSB, Nike SB used their React cushioning technology for the insole. Usually the cushioning tech is hidden within a skateboarding shoe. But the designers actually paid homage to the iconic blue wedge on the Blue Ribbon Cortez, so that the BRSB skate cushioning could be visualized through the transparent window that stretches from the mid to heel area. This is an awesome characteristic of the shoe, and the actual drop-in insole is visible. The bottom part of the sole consists of just the shoe’s profile and a few extra millimeters. The common difference in height between forefoot and heel area is being created entirely by the shape of the drop-in insole. Based on that construction, it is possible to achieve both, excellent boardfeel and cushioning abilities in one sole construction. The BRSB can cushion relatively tough landings which noticeably reduces the danger of heel bruises. All in all the shoe had good cushioning characteristics.
The shape of the BRSB is quite narrow and pointy. The model features a heel and midfoot section that run parallel to each other and then narrow down towards the toe, to end with very pointy toebox and a clear peak. Overall, the shoe is more of a slim cut.
There is direct contact between foot and board when wearing the BRSB, which results in great boardfeel. As you can see with the lateral cut of the sole construction, the materials are minimized between the foot and the deck. Based on that design, the shoe can easily compete with vulcanized models, but with the risk of injuries being heavily reduced by the thicker heel cushioning. The impression given by the insole of the model is of one that provides good cushioning and great boardfeel; something not many other models can both offer in one product.
With regards to the grip, the BRSB is between average and good. The rubber composite used held up well during our wear test and provided a solid abrasive flick.
The most important features for a comfortable skate shoe include weight, ventilation and a well-crafted inner shoe area. Overall, the Nike SB BRSB is lightweight and the inner area is crafted very well and comfortably. A key feature is the locked-in tongue straps which help to achieve a comfortable feeling for the feet. Breathability was not the focus of the model, resulting in an average performance.
Similar to how skateboarders see the original Cortez model, the BSRB model did not look like the stability was going to be great. But we were proven wrong. Due to the vulcanized cupsole construction, the feet sit below the sidewall of the sole, especially locked within the heel area. This means that the feet are well locked in a rim of strong rubber material and cannot move around. As mentioned before, on the upper, the swoosh is connected to the vulc part of the sole and this increases midfoot sidewall stiffness. Not only that, the heel area also features additional reinforcement materials. In all, the BRSB created a very secure locked-in feeling due it its high heel, which was just around 1 cm higher than a Nike SB Blazer GT for example. With this, the risk of slipping out is significantly reduced. All the elements combined helped the shoe retain very good stability.
The shoe’s design found a great balance between cushioning and stability, without sacrificing boardfeel. With that, the shoe’s durability is good but does have a few elements that could be improved with regard to its visual durability.