Science Says Nike's Self-Lacing Shoes Are Actually Inefficient

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You’d think shoes inspired by Back to the Future would use advanced shoe lacing technology, but Nike’s self-tightening sneaker uses an inefficient technique, smdh.

Nike’s fresh kicks, the HyperAdapt 1.0, don’t actually tie themselves like Marty McFly’s did in Back to the Future Part II, but they do self-tighten. “When you step in, your heel will hit a sensor and the system will automatically tighten,” a senior innovator at Nike explained in a press release. “Then there are two buttons on the side to tighten and loosen. You can adjust it until it’s perfect.”

That, frankly, seems like more trouble than just making some bunny ears with your laces. Meanwhile, science already found out the most efficient way to lace your shoes, and they came to the conclusion over a decade ago.

Sneakerhead researchers at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, used pages and pages of precise mathematical calculations and discovered that the bow-tie pattern is the optimal way to lace a pair of shoes. This technique requires the least amount of lacing, and is stronger on shoes with wide-set eyeholes rather than long, stretched-out ones.

The more common criss-cross method was deemed to be the overall strongest, and the somewhat more obscure straight method favored by the army also scored well.

From left to right: The criss-cross, straight, and bow-tie lacing patterns.

Nike’s laces, however, are big, thick, and go straight across the front of the shoe in a series of parallel horizontal lines. It’s probably not even a proper comparison since the inner workings of the shoe are so different from a normal sneaker.

The HyperAdapt 1.0 (available in stores on November 18) forgoes basic, plebeian shoelace techniques in favor of some highfalutin science fiction footwork. Which is all well and good, but when it comes to basics, we’ve long since nailed the best way to tie up a pair of sneakers.

These 'Back to the Future' shoes use some ancient shoelace science.

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