30 Years of Air

Posted by TheRunningShoeReview on August 21, 2013

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic running shoes around, so what's made it stand the test of time, and how has it changed?

Original Concept

pegasus_advert.jpgAs it states in this retro advert, in 1983, the Nike design team were given a simple specification to design a shoe that utilised Air technology for the cushioning, that had a relatively low price tag.  What they got was the Nike Air Pegasus, and an industry icon, which others have struggled to compete with, certainly in terms of longevity.  Over the years a few things have changed and there have been many radical redesigns, however, the concept has remained the same throughout; Air cushioning, with a low price tag.

So how have they evolved? For starters, they have gotten lighter. As with any shoe on the market today, the main thing that changes over time is the weight, with new materials always being developed to reduce weight but maintain cushioning.  With this in mind, the cushioning has been altered, especially in recent years with the development of Cushlon foam.  Aside from this midsole material, the uppers have seen many drastic redesigns, some cosmetic, while most have technologically beneficial.  Again in more recent years, flywire, and Engineered mesh have reduced weight, and increased comfort.  However, again, the principle has remained the same.

Nike Air Pegasus+ 30

The New version of the Nike Air Pegasus offers an even better fit, an even smoother ride, and an even lighter feel.  Uing Cushlon Foam and an Air Zoom unit the midsole is soft yet responsive, always adapting to your stride.  The outsole maintains the traditional Waffle design, with flex grooves that are deeper on the lateral side to promote a smooth stable gait cycle. The main focus on the new model however is the upper.  It has been split into 3 key areas. The front has been designed to be breathable yet sturdy to keep your foot in place.  The mid-section is again designed to be breathable, however is more stable in order to hold your foot in a comfortable position.  The rear of the shoe offers more stability, and uses a heel counter to hold your foot in place. This goes hand in hand with the design, and Nike have used this 3 section design to make a shoe that really stands out. 

The Evolution of the Pegasus

If you scroll down to the Gallery at the bottom of the page, you'll see the key Pegasus designs from previous years, and will notice that from 2001 to 2007 they went for a much more futuristic look, and in my opinion this was a relatively low point in the illustrious career of the Pegasus.  Nike must have thought so too, as since then, the shoes have toned down, and actually become much more similar to the older designs, and look much better.  The shoe in general however has been kept simple, appealing to the masses. Nike also played around with visible air from 1997 to 2001, however as with many things, this was shortlived, and I am glad they got rid of it. It was purely cosmetic, and in many of the AirMax shoes, the plastic holding the air in simply could not withstand pressure and had a tendancy to deflate. 


From the previous 30 years, there have been may Air Pegasus designs.  However, as with anything, there are bound to be favorites. So here are my top 5 in reverse order:






There could only be one winner really.  I'm a little sad that I wasn't around in 1983 to experience this shoe first hand, however the shoe that started it all is still hugely popular amongst afficianado's, and rightly so.


Where To Buy



If they're good enogh for Mo Farah, they're good enough for me!

Pictures courtesy of Nikeinc.com and OiPolloi.com