Unleashing the full speed potential: Nike Mercurial Superfly V


Written by Jonathan Baez

“The new Mercurial marks a significant advancement in this boot’s proud history. It’s lighter, stronger, backed by science and built to work with the foot for speed in all conditions.” Jeongwoo Lee, Nike Football Design Lead.

If there is one thing we know about the Mercurial Superfly, it’s that it’s built for speed. Two years ago, Nike took the level of speed to new heights. Today, they are unleashing the player’s full speed potential with the new Mercurial Superfly V. The way they have done it this time was through a holistic approach, where every component has been designed to work in concert towards that one goal: speed.

“Our approach with the new Mercurial was to challenge all assumptions about speed, merging science with design to build the fastest boot in football,” says Nike Football Design Lead Jeongwoo Lee. “We designed this boot holistically to ensure it was a true speed system, where all of the materials interlock to produce the most efficient package possible.”

One of the crucial elements towards their goal was to develop a new anatomical sole plate. This new Nike plate maps the natural contours of the foot. This construction, eliminating the gap that previously existed underfoot, enables the foot to move with the boot instead of against it. “The physiotherapists we worked with believe this will reduce pressure-point irritations as well as unwanted movement inside the boot, thereby maximizing energy return during high-speed play,” says Lee.

The new Mercurial Superfly V will not be available before the beginning of June.

Besides developing the contoured soleplate Nike were also able to engineer a single-layer chassis and thus make the soleplate 40% lighter than the carbon fiber plate it replaces. Still the design team have maintained and even strengthened the plate and made it more responsive.

Another important element for increasing speed was a seemingly counterintuitive one: braking. “Having the confidence to stop on a dime is a critical component of speed,” clarifies Lee. “If players don’t know for certain they can quickly come to a full stop as needed, they slow down as a precaution, just as you would, when driving a car.”

“It’s like my attitude, I’m a straightforward and aggressive player. The stud shape reminds me of my character and performs very well on the pitch.” Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid & Portugal.

The development of braking processed a lot of different testings and the design team even leveraged virtual Finite Element Analysis (FEA) testing, which provided the scientific data that identified which traction pattern worked best for the speed-focused player, inclusive linear sprints. These data point were then tested on-pitch by Nike elite players to ensure the formula matched with reality. “The studs all are the same shape but positioned in different directions — straight on with the heel for braking, angled in the forefoot for propulsion. We also have traction in what used to be an empty space in the forefoot, which will provide a noticeable difference to players.”

The new Mercurial Superfly will not be available before the beginning of June.

Even the upper has been considered in the approach towards speed. Thus Nike have developed a Flyknit upper, designed to enhance the interaction between the boot and the ball at high speeds. By leveraging on data-informed texture mapping, Nike created a Flyknit “speed rib” 3D texture. Thus, the raised surfaces provide friction between the upper and the ball.

These speed ribs have a base thickness of 1 millimeter, increasing to 2,5 millimeters in the forefoot. Besides playing a physical role for the actual speed with the ball, the speed ribs were designed to provide a colour shift in motion. Something that really speaks to the personality of all Mercurial players out there.

So what do you say? Does the new Mercurial Superfly fit to your personality?

The new Mercurial Superfly will not be available before the beginning of June.