The Nike Romaleos 2 weightlifting shoe is the updated version of the original Romaleo Olympic launched in 2008. I must preface this review with stating that I wasn’t a big fan of the original version of this shoe and found the Adidas model to be a much better choice back then. Four years later, and a new model from both brands, and my feelings are pretty much the same.
I found the “refinements” are minimal at best, and given that Nike had four years to improve their design, I’m honestly disappointed in this shoe. Some may say “don’t fix what isn’t broken” but I would argue that the Romaleos did have a few serious flaws and I wish Nike would have corrected these with the newer version. With that said, I will do my best to provide an informative and unbiased review for those of you that are still interested in this model.
CONSTRUCTION & STYLING:
I definitely cannot find fault with the shoe in the category of build quality; these things are built like a tank. My pair did not have any excessive glue, bad stitching, mis-aligned seams or any other indicators of poor construction. But then again, for an almost $200 pair of kicks, they better be damn-near perfect right out of the box!
The upper of the shoe is a synthetic leather material that is commonly used for construction of athletic footwear. The material is fairly thick and has a nice smooth feel to it. My pair of Romaleos 2 Volt (the neon yellow color) did have a tendency to scuff and stain fairly easy though so if you opt for that color you might want to be careful what you walk in to.
The upper features three square breathing vents along each side of the toebox for ventilation as well as a few pinholes radiating across the top and side. I didn’t find these to be too effective for allowing the foot to breath, and in combination with the thick upper material, my foot was doing some serious sweating after an hour of training. If you have foot odor problems you’re going to want to spray these bad boys down after each workout or store them outside.
The lacing system and tongue design on the Romaleo2 is pretty straight-forward and what you would expect on an Oly lifting shoe. The loops for the shoe strings are slightly hidden away inside the upper and the tongue has the typical laces loop to help hold the tongue up and in place. The tongue tends to shift to the side some but not enough to be a hindrance.
The metatarsal straps across the instep are where I have my first major problem with this shoe. It is the same issue I had with the original version… the straps don’t feel like they are in the right place and they are too long. Although the double strapping system is nice idea: two straps running in opposite directions should allow for a tighter fit. The problem is the excessive length of the straps presents a possible hazard for people with narrower feet in that they could trip over their own shoe straps. Not cool. Not to mention is looks goofy when you have these super long, floppy straps hanging off your lifting shoes. The only immediate remedy I can see to this would be cutting the straps and burning the edges since they are made of a nylon-like material.
The other issue is that the straps feel improperly placed; as if the top strap should be higher up on the instep. This is most evident in the heel “slippage” that some have reported they feel at the back of the shoe. This is a result of your foot not being fully locked down high enough on the arch.
The sole of the shoe is another area that Nike has supposedly made improvements, with the single biggest complaint about the previous model being the lack of flexibility in the forefoot area. From my observation, the outer is exactly the same with the only difference being Nike added more scoring lines across the forefoot area of the outer. Final result? The forefoot is still one of the stiffest I’ve felt. While lateral stability is crucial, forefoot flexibility shouldn’t be sacrificed in an effort to achieve the former.
Now taking a look at the inside of the shoe, the Nike offers two different sock liners (inserts). One is a flat, softer insert measuring approximately 1/4 of an inch and made of a semi-hard foam material – this is the training sock liner. The other is a denser, contoured liner still measuring 1/4 an inch but made of a practically incompressible plastic – this is the “competition” liner.
The Romaleo 2 already has a rather high arch support to begin with and I found the competition insert to only exacerbate this… of course I have flat feet. If you have high arches or like a lot of arch support then the competition insert may suit you perfectly. Beyond that I don’t think anyone but the most elite of lifters would feel a difference in stability with one insert over the other; it’s going to be more a personal preference towards fit than anything.
The heel and midsole feature the same power bridge design that was used in the previous model. I’m uncertain whether the heel is proportional to the size of the shoe or a set height. Some sites list it as proportional and others state it is a fixed 0.75″ effective. If anyone has any official word from Nike I’m sure we’d all like to hear it.
One area in which this shoe wins the “Romaleos vs AdiPower” debate is in styling. I feel the Nike is one of the better looking shoes on the market and the availability of multiple color ways provide a nice set of options to the consumer. At the time of writing these are available in black, red and gold, blue and black and a fluorescent yellow color called volt. If you like for people to stare at you in the gym, the latter color will certainly get you some attention.
The overall functionality is what you would expect from footwear in this price range, with the noted drawbacks listed above. The one other thing to note would be the issue of how much this model weighs. A size 9 men’s shoe tipped the scales at 17.1 ounces making the Romaleos the heaviest of the mainstream lifting shoes on the market right now. That’s not a good title to hold for a shoe that boast being “50 grams lighter than the previous model”.
So again, I think Nike fell short in a category that needed a lot of improvement. My thoughts are that the whole “power bridge” design needs to be revisited or scrapped all together. If Risto can make a shoe with a solid wood heel that weighs less than your synthetic heel, you have a problem.
Despite its flaws the shoe is still very well constructed. As such I would fully expect this shoe to last for years even under the most strenuous of training schedules. The design doesn’t appear to have any physical weaknesses and you shouldn’t experience any splitting heels or peeling soles (*cough* do-win *cough*).
FIT AND SIZING:
The Romaleos 2 sizing was true to size for me. If you have any other Nikes then you should base your size off that shoe, but keep in mind your lifting shoes SHOULD fit tight so if you wear your shoes lose you might want to go down a half a size.
I often see people say that the Nike is the widest weightlifting shoe – this is not true. The width of the Romaleos measures 4″ at the widest part of the toebox on a size 9 shoe, not counting the superfluous “flaring” of the sole. This is the same width as several competing models including the Adidas Power Perfect2 and the Risto Olimpico. The AdiPowers are narrower at 3.75″ and the Reebok Crossfit Lifter is the widest at 4.25″.
As I’ve already stated, I’m fairly disappointed in this model and I really wouldn’t recommend it due to some of the shortcomings I’ve already covered. If you have wide feet and you’re worried the AdiPower model is too narrow then I’d recommend the Olimpico made by Risto (if you can find it). Another alternative is the Power Perfect 2 which is suitable for your average lifter.
If you don’t intend on using these for Olympic lifts and you don’t mind feeling like you are wearing space boots while in the gym, then this would be a fine pair of really expensive squat shoes. The only other reason to choose these would be because you just like the look of the shoe. (Insert Comment About How Styling Has NOTHING to Do With Lifting Weights Here).
WHERE TO BUY:
For some reason the Nike’s have always been a more difficult shoe to find. The only retailers that I know that consistently have the shoes in stock are going to be Rogue Fitness and Athleteps.com.
- Cool looking with color options
- Quality construction and materials
- Arch support if you need it
- Extremely stable
- Straps too long and oddly located
- Heaviest mainstream Oly shoe
- Overly stiff forefoot
- Doesn’t breath well