The Nike GO FlyEase Is A Truly Hands-Free Sneaker

SELF – Men’s and Women Health & Fitness

Nike is releasing an unusual new sneaker, the Nike GO FlyEase, that you can slip in and out of without using your hands at all. 

“It’s intuitive—easy on, easy off—and evidence of how design, innovation and engineering can meet to answer an ambitious North Star: the creation of a hands-free shoe,” Nike said in a February 1 press release. The GO FlyEase is equipped with a couple of innovative features to make that possible. 

One is called a tensioner, a built-in device that acts like a rubber band around the shoe. It holds the shoe open when the wearer applies force to the heel with the toe of their other foot so they can slip the shoe off, and it keeps the shoe securely closed when the wearer steps back down. “The tensioner’s unique flexibility super-charges an action many might take for granted (kicking-off a shoe) and completely reimagines this movement as basis for accessible and empowering design,” Nike explains. 

Another key feature is the bi-stable hinge, which “enables the shoe to be secure in fully open and fully closed states” and transition smoothly from open (or off) to closed (or on). 

The GO FlyEase is designed for “the broadest range of active lifestyles possible.” That includes people who have their hands full or are rushing to get out the door, according to Nike, as well as people with a disability that makes putting sneakers on or taking them off harder. 

In fact, the original FlyEase shoe design was inspired by a 2012 letter from then-16-year-old Matthew Walzer. Born two months premature with underdeveloped lungs, Walzer developed cerebral palsy, which made it difficult for him to tie and untie his shoes. ““My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day,” the letter read. “I’ve worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need ankle support to walk. At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”

Walzer’s letter made its way to Nike’s design team and, three years later, the company released its first FlyEase shoe. Since then, FlyEase models have been designed with features like wider openings to accommodate braces, zippers, and strap closures, but this new one is the first to be entirely hands-free.

One early fan of the new shoe is 22-year-old Italian fencer and Paralympic champion Beatrice “Bebe” Vio. Her arms and legs were amputated when she was 11 after a severe case of meningitis, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by inflammation of the membranes around your brain and spinal cord that is caused by a virus, bacteria, parasite, or fungus.

Today, Vio wears prosthetic limbs, and says ordinary sneakers can be inconvenient to put on. “Usually I spend so much time to get in my shoes,” she said in the statement. “With the Nike GO FlyEase, I just need to put my feet in and jump on it.” She added, “the shoes are a new kind of technology, not only for adaptive athletes but for everyone’s real life.”

Right now, the GO FlyEase is available for $120 only to selected Nike Members who receive an invite. But Nike says the shoes will be more widely available later in 2021. 

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