One the most recognizable classics of all time, the Nike Air Max 97 is our choice for the review section this week. As its name suggests it was released in 1997, being designed by Christian Tesser which has also been working with Reebok and Adidas over the years. To create this style he used as an inspiration point among other things the Japanese bullet trains, hence the name of the first pair released, the Silver Bullet edition. Due to its futuristic, unique look the sneaker was an instant success and remains to this day one of the most sought for sneakers from this line, along with the Air Max 1, 90 and 95.

How They Fit

The pair we got our hands on is the one nicknamed “Black Sport Red” , one that was introduced in 2022. First we have to mention that Nike is still using the original box design for these which many collectors are thankful for. Out of the box the shoes seem very sturdy and once on feet they feel a bit snug. They run narrow as we’ve got used to Nike’s retro styles but also the upper makes it so they need some good wear to break them in. For those with wide feet these are definitely a no go while some may get away with a half size larger and some patience to wear them around until your feet settle in. I would say that they run true to size otherwise. You can check out the Nike size chart here if unsure about yours. Overall the comfort level as you first get them is below what you get from contemporary sneakers nowadays. But when it comes to style and looks, there are a few that are a match up.

Nike Air Max 97 black red white1

Nike Air Max 97 black red white2


The upper of the Nike Air Max 97 is made of a combination of mesh and synthetic leather stitched in a wavy pattern. Water ripples as well as the 90’s bikes were also mentioned in the original PR as points of inspiration for the designer, both influences being found in the unique shape of the upper. The way the materials are sewn together creates a very cool, athletic look but also adds some stiffness to the upper with little wiggle room in the toe box. The lacing system is in an almost V shape that matches the aerodynamic shape of the shoe, with a basic lacing system that does the job just fine. The ankle area is moderately padded while the breathability is quite moderate. Given that we talk about a retro sneaker the upper technology, while outdated is overshadowed by the style and the coolness of the design.


The sole unit is what made the Nike Air Max 97 a pioneer in the industry, being the first one for the brand that featured a full length Air Max unit. It is split in two chambers with separate densities, one in the heel for the landing and the other one dispersed across the rest of the sole. The outsole has the curvy front that we find at most shoes in that era but because of the way the midsole is constructed it feels a bit steep at first and may take some time to get used to. The foam around the Air Max unit is polyurethane which adds some stiffness to the shoe, giving almost no flexibility to the sole. Nike has been keeping this material from the original release despite coming up with many other updated materials.My only guess is that they do it so the foot is stable given that the only support that comes from the midsole is the pillars from the Air Max unit. I did not have to do a deep review of the Nike Air Max 97 to realize that these are only for casual wear nowadays. Wearing them in the gym or for light exercises is still an option given that they are light and quite breathable but I would personally not use them as such. The rubber outsole is durable but its pattern provides just basic traction which is fine for a lifestyle sneaker. 

Nike Air Max 97 black red white3

Nike Air Max 97 black red white4

Are Nike Air Max 97 good for running?

The Nike Air Max 97 is not recommended for running. While the original design features a full-length Air Max unit in the sole, making it a pioneer in the industry, its running days are over. The sole is  lacking flexibility, and the shoe is considered more suitable for casual wear. Wearing them in the gym or for light exercises is still an option due to their lightness and breathability, but they are not recommended for serious running.

Are Nike Air Max 97 comfortable?

The comfort level of the Nike Air Max 97 is below what you get from contemporary sneakers nowadays. The shoes may feel a bit snug out of the box, and they run narrow, especially in the toe box. The upper materials, a combination of mesh and synthetic leather, may add some stiffness. However, with some wear and break-in time, they will become more comfortable. In terms of comfort, they do not match up to modern counterparts but compensate with style and durability.

Bottom Line

All in all, to conclude our Nike Air Max 97 review , this is a timeless classic that makes a good addition to any rotation. Many sneakers on the market would not have existed if it wasn’t for this design. As you’d expect from a sneaker from that era its running days are over but it makes for a cool every day shoe as long as you get used to them a bit. Compared to its modern counterparts they are not as comfortable but they make up with style and durability. Nike is making these constantly to keep up with the demand, they are still some of the most trendy retro sneakers on the market despite its current price tag.