This colorful, technologically enhanced shoe simply serves up a smooth, supportive ride.

In recent years, some shoe brands have veered away from traditional medial posts in the midsoles of stability shoes to offset overpronation in favor of modern mechanisms that offer some level of rotational control and support without inhibiting the smoothness of the ride. That’s exactly the takeaway our wear-testers had after running in the new Nike Air Zoom Structure 18.

Instead of a firm foam wedge from the heel to the arch of the medial side of the shoe, Nike has developed a next-generation medial suspension bridge of sorts, a high-density foam support piece (pictured in orange above) that is integrated into the medium-density medial midsole foam. The medial support piece is firm, but it still flexes with the shoe and the other foam that surrounds it.

What does all that mean? The system offers support but doesn’t negatively impact the cushioning, flexibility or ride, allowing the shoe to feel stable but also agile and responsive. You can definitely feel the support at impact and immediately after the foot begins to roll forward, but not so much that it inhibits forward motion or creates a disjointed or “clunky” feeling as the foot rolls forward.

Just as important in the construction of this shoe is the softer low-density foam along the lateral side of the foam. The triple-density chassis is the latest iteration of Nike’s Dynamic Support technology—a system that, in theory, allows a runner to get as much or as little support based on an individual’s specific gait needs. (If you’re a runner with a fairly neutral gait and your foot doesn’t roll inward quite as much, you won’t engage the support mechanism much at all and will thus benefit from the less structured sensation from the lateral side of the shoe. But if you’re a severe overpronator, you’ll sense the supportiveness from the medial much more.)

The Structure 18 also has a seamless, knitted “engineered mesh” upper that, with help from eight Flywire support strings integrated into the lacing system, creates a form-fitting snugness that keeps the foot secure as it moves. This provides an energetic feeling in the toe-off phase, likely due to the a Zoom Air cushioning unit into the forefoot.

Yes, that’s a lot of technology and “stuff” built into a shoe. The acid test for this shoe is that if you close your eyes for a few strides and just run, all you notice is a comfortable, supportive ride and a plush interior. Pretty simple, right?

This shoe is for you if … you want a stable, softly cushioned everyday trainer for short to long runs up to a moderate pace.
Price: $120
Weights: 10.0 oz. (men’s), 9.1 oz. (women’s)
Heel-Toe Offset: 9mm; 27mm (heel), 18mm (forefoot)
Info: nikerunning.com

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