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Nike Pegasus 39 vs 40: Has Nike Continued to Optimize Its Iconic Running Line?

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Joe Niehaus Writer & Photographer   Updated: 

The Springy Budget-Conscious Runner

Nike Pegasus 39

The Adult Man Vs Feature Image

The Most Advanced Neutral Runner

Nike Pegasus 40

The Adult Man Vs Feature Image

The Nike Pegasus 39 is a supportive daily trainer that I found to be reliable for steady and consistent runs, gym days, and casual walking around. Opt for it over the newer Pegasus 40 if you're on a budget or you like more of a "sneaker" feel in your running shoes.

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The Pegasus 40 takes all the best features of the Pegasus 39, like the engineered mesh upper and neutral cushioning, and improves on them with extra comfort in sensitive areas and tailored responsiveness. While it'll come at an extra cost, choose these over the Pegasus 39s if you value more support and stability in your running shoe, or if you've had issues with arch and toe comfort in the past.

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Pros:

  • Flywire technology for midfoot snugness
  • 2 Air Zoom units (forefront and heel) for extra cushion
  • Lightweight and breathable mesh upper
  • The Most Advanced Neutral Runner
  • Waffle grip bottom for traction
  • Adaptable to short, medium, and long runs

Cons:

  • Mesh upper is vulnerable to staining
  • Loop eyelets make it difficult to adjust laces

It’s warming up outside. 

Cities are hosting their marathons, people are getting active, and you’re looking to join the fun and get a few miles in.

Finding a reliable pair of running shoes is always a challenge with the number of styles and brands available on the market.

There are so many different options with features and metrics such as weight, drop, cushioning, pronation control, and breathability among many, many others.

It’s a bit overwhelming.

The Nike Pegasus line of running shoes has been around since 1983 and is showing no signs of slowing down reaching its 40th iteration. 

Given its age, one can infer that there must be something desirable about the Pegasus lineage that has allowed it to develop such a legacy.

What has made it a cornerstone of the brand’s footwear offerings is its versatility and reliability. No attribute of the Pegasus leans too far in one direction, making it a very popular introductory shoe while maintaining its appeal among the more competitive contestants. 

For its 40th birthday, Nike remains steadfast in optimizing this runner, but is it worth buying now that its predecessor is selling at a steep discount? 

Having run a marathon, many road races, and many cross country meets, I’ve been through the shoe picking process before. With the recent release of the Nike Pegasus 40, I picked up a pair to compare it with the previous version, the Pegasus 39, and find out what exactly makes this the most advanced shoe to date.

Nike Pegasus 39 vs 40 Overview

Nike Pegasus 39 Men s Road Running Shoes Nike com Nike Pegasus 40 Men s Road Running Shoes Nike com
Pegasus 39 Pegasus 40
Upper Breathable and flexible mesh with Flywire Breathable and flexible mesh with updated midfoot band
Sole Nike React with two Zoom Air units Nike React with two Zoom Air units
Outsole Waffle-inspired rubber grip Waffle-inspired rubber grip with an extra flex groove
Warranty 2 years 2 years
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Nike Pegasus 39

Male feet wearing Nike Pegasus 39 on treadmill

The Pegasus 39 is last year’s version of Nike’s iconic running trainer. The Pegasus is a beloved silhouette—Nike’s best-selling running shoe of all time. It’s been iterated year after year for decades.

When the Nike Pegasus 39 released, there were a couple different improvements that caused excitement among runners. First, the shoe lost an entire ounce of weight (in running shoe terms, a lot) compared to the Pegasus 38, coming in at 9.2oz.

Up close shot of Nike Pegasus 39 with

Additionally with this version, Nike made the upper more lightweight and breathable, added padding to the tongue and collar, and incorporated Flywire technology to help stabilize your foot.

Flywire is one of Nike’s integral technologies and first became available in 2008. It can be seen on many other shoes from Nike, not just running, with the main purpose of added stability and reduced weight. In addition to the cool looks of Flywire, I appreciate the tightening functionality it allows.

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Pros:

  • Flywire-integrated midfoot band for secure footing.
  • Cushioning on the tongue and around the collar for a comfortable fit.
  • Engineered mesh upper for breathability.
  • Thick foam in the heel for responsiveness while running.

Cons:

  • The tongue is separated from the upper, so there could be some separation.
  • Mesh upper can easily get dirty.
  • Potentially too springy for longer, slower runs.
Nike Pegasus 39

The Nike Pegasus 39 is a supportive daily trainer reliable for steady and consistent runs, gym days, and casual walking around. An improved mesh upper makes for a breathable ride in any season.

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Nike Pegasus 40

Male model wearing Nike Pegasus 40 on treadmill

With the Pegasus 40, Nike continued their emphasis on neutral support while focusing on the comfort of your foot’s arch and toes. Minor visual improvements such as reflective material have been added as well.

The big difference maker in the Pegasus 40 is Nike’s focus on the midfoot band implementation to provide more care for the arch of your foot. They describe their approach towards this new addition:

“When we sat down to design the Peg 40, we took an inside-out, approach, literally, starting with an implemented midfoot band for a more secure, but forgiving sensation, like the Peg is giving your arch a welcoming, gentle hug.”

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Another thing I noticed in the Pegasus 40 was reduced, not minimal, cushioning. Walking around in the 39s felt pretty well cushioned. The sole of the Pegasus 40 isn’t as all over the place, which is better for long runs where foot energy needs to be maintained for 30-60-90 minutes.

Photo of heel of Nike Pegasus 40

Pros:

  • Neutral cushioning (not as bouncy as Pegasus 39) for controlled runs.
  • Midfoot band for extra arch security.
  • Wear-resistant outsole for maintained longevity.
  • Reflective panel on the outside heel for nighttime visibility.

Cons:

  • Looped eyelets can make loosening or tightening the laces difficult.
  • Tongue sewn closer to the ankle can make putting them on slightly more difficult.
Nike Pegasus 40

The Pegasus 40 takes all the best features of the Pegasus 39, like the engineered mesh upper and neutral cushioning, and improves on them with extra comfort in sensitive areas and tailored responsiveness. It’s the most advanced version of Nike’s classic road runner.

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Features Face to Face

The Upper

Both the Pegasus 39 and the Pegasus 40 feature a mesh upper that makes for a quite breathable ride.

The upper of the Nike Pegasus 40 has been redesigned with improved airflow by reworking the interior lining and padding. The 40s’ upper does feel like more of a sock than the 39s which I wasn’t a huge fan of.

But frankly, both shoes feel so similar that the difference is negligible, so on that front, it’s a wash.

Up close image of Nike Pegasus 40 laces

The Pegasus 40’s tongue is knit tighter to the rest of the shoe and the 39’s tongue is looser, which I prefer. I also like the 39’s eyelets, which are simple holes compared to the 40’s looped eyelets.

The winner here is the Flyknit-equipped 39.

The Cushioning

These have very similar support structures. The Pegasus 39 is more springy and the Pegasus 40 is more stable. Both incorporate two Zoom Air units for an extra layer of comfort.

The Pegasus is Nike’s middle-of-the-road style that can accommodate the novice joggers and former 800m stars alike.

Up close shot of Nike Pegasus 39 Flywire upper mesh
The Nike Pegasus 39

If you’ve been running with the Pegasus line of shoes for a while, you probably noticed that year over year, the shoes were getting bouncier and bouncier after each release. 

This year, hitting the brakes on the spring factor was a smart decision to not rule out those wanting a balance of give and jump.

The winner for cushioning is the Pegasus 40—they maintain better mile after mile and provide a more consistent bounce.

Look and Design

When style is involved, it really is a matter of opinion. But these shoes are very similar. 

The bottom of the shoe features the same traction patterned outsole (which is a huge plus as they provide great friction). The midsole bears the same texture, heel slope, and zoom branding on the outside edge.

Side by side, the only apparent modification Nike made was the lacing system, which I touched upon earlier. With a magnifying glass in hand, the small changes to the weave in the mesh upper can also be seen—if you squint hard enough. 

One thing I’m glad they maintained between the evolution form the 39 and 40 are the flat shoelaces. Nike has been using this shoelace on many different shoes of theirs both casual and athletic, and they consistently remain fastened tightly for the entire ride.

Male model wearing Nike Pegasus 39 with sweatpants

In the interest of pleasing everyone, Nike also dialed back throwing darts at the color wheel, as the opening lineup of colorways is a lot more neutral than the bright neon colors that occupied class ‘39.

My personal favorite among the current options is the White/Light Orewood Brown/Phantom/Obsidian. When Nike experiments with creating a new look for a sole as they did with the Space Hippie capsule using 12% recycled rubber, they typically hit the mark.

The midsole on my White/Coconut Milk/Volt/Multi-Color version takes on a subtle splatter paint effect without looking like a Panama City Beach souvenir tee from 2011. The bright orange is used in just the right way to give this option some flavor without doing too much.

Runners who can only squeeze their cardio into the early mornings or late evenings know how important having reflective material like 3M on their shoes is. The 39 has taken on a small light reflective patch on the back heel to keep drivers aware at right and keep the wearer safe. A no brainer, as the Pegasus is marketed as a road running shoe after all. 

And I may be the first to say it, but I love Nike’s cheeky alternative logo of the winking smiley face featured on the tongue tab and inside heel of the 40s.

Overhead image of Nike Pegasus 40

The winner on style, colorways, and design: the Pegasus 40.

Durability

The one quality that is a photo-finish tiebreaker between the 39 and the 40 is the durability.

If I could add something to the Pegasus line, it would be some degree of water resistance. With them being so versatile, encountering some liquid is going to be inevitable. 

Since the upper is made of a breathable fabric, the benefit of airflow is traded in for being susceptible to taking on water.

Nike doesn’t make any specific claims to its reaction with water either. On the other hand, I find the tread on the Pegasus to be effective so slipping on a smooth sidewalk in the rain shouldn’t keep you from completing a full run.

Image of rubber sole of Nike Pegasus 40

A final note on the tread: I do a fair amount of running both on soft terrain like trails and tracks to balance out the constant impact of road running. The texture on the bottom of the 40s provides sufficient traction to still have good control while running over soil, particularly on the tip of the outsole towards the toe—the elevated bumps get you a nice extra kick when finishing a stride.

The Durability crown goes to the 40s.

Stand Out Features

Updated Midfoot Band

As mentioned earlier, the Pegasus 40 comes with an updated midfoot band design that works to keep your foot in place while also making the arch comfortable. This is a big upgrade.

Runners that tend to run quicker might gravitate towards the 40, as it has been strategically designed to keep the foot in place during high intensity runs.

Up close image of Nike Pegasus 40 laces 1

I never experienced any serious stability issues with the 39s, but the 40s did feel more stable and locked to my feet. The worst thing ever is being on a long run and having your foot shift back and forth due to moisture or tension, making it easy to lose focus.

While I like the Flywire-integrated midfoot band in the 39, the 40’s midfoot bad provides much more security. Keeping in mind both shoes remain very similar, the additional support offered by this upgrade makes the 39 and the 40 just different enough to warrant Nike releasing the redesign.

Male model running in Nike Pegasus 40 on treadmill

Should You Still Consider the Nike Pegasus 38?

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Probably not. Nike’s 2021 version of the model, the Pegasus 38, is similar to the Pegasus 39 and Pegasus 40 but less advanced in its cushioning structure and upper mesh engineering.

Not only that, but Nike’s two-year warranty is a valuable benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for an item that takes a lot of abuse. Since the Pegasus 38 has been out for some time now and Nike doesn’t carry the full line anymore, don’t expect any of their authorized retailers to accept the 38s with open arms in the case of a defect.

Side by side shot of Nike Pegasus 39 and Nike Pegaus 40

Nike Pegasus 39 vs 40: Which is Best for You?

Opt for the Pegasus 39 if:

  • You like a more “sneaker” feel and may wear these out and about, not just for running
  • You’re a fan of Flywire technology
  • You’re price sensitive

Go with the Pegasus 40 if:

  • You value a more secure fit
  • You’ve had issues with arch and toe comfort in past shoes
  • You’re a faster runner and want smoother toe-offs
  • You go for runs of all different distances
  • You tend to run when it’s dark outside

Here’s the thing with the Nike Pegasus: they call them the “workhorse with wings”.

If you’re an advanced runner that plans vacations around races, then you’ve probably already gone through dozens of shoes and know your exact brand, model, and size.

The Pegasus 40 is perfect for the guy who is starting to get serious about running and wants to upgrade to a shoe that has more advanced features that are geared towards veteran runners, without having to test the amount of shoes that veteran runners have.

For the Veteran Runner
Nike Pegasus 40

The Pegasus 40 takes all the best features of the Pegasus 39, like the engineered mesh upper and neutral cushioning, and improves on them with extra comfort in sensitive areas and tailored responsiveness. It’s the most advanced version of Nike’s classic road runner.

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The 39 is for you if you’re looking for the Pegasus orientation or you’re just starting out with running longer distances. Here’s the thing, the 39 is still a great shoe, and with the lowered retail, they serve as an easy segue into the line without having to make the same investment as the 40.

For the Budget-Conscious Newbie
Nike Pegasus 39

The Nike Pegasus 39 is a supportive daily trainer reliable for steady and consistent runs, gym days, and casual walking around. An improved mesh upper makes for a breathable ride in any season.

Check Price

But, you won’t get as much support, stability, or style out of the 39s.

Pegasus 40s’ decreased support makes it a tad more versatile as well. So, if you’re looking to get more than running out of this shoe, it can be your go-to for swinging some weights around in the gym, and eventually, mowing the lawn.

FAQs

The Nike Pegasus has been in the brand’s product line for 40 years. Continual development has made it a consistent running shoe with dialed-in features, responsive cushioning, and neutral support great for runs of all distances.

Who is Nike Pegasus good for?

Overall, the Pegasus is great for anyone who either enjoys running or lives a casual lifestyle. Elevated benefits such as flywire and Air Zoom are there for someone requiring support out of their athletic shoes, but the versatility of the Pegasus cannot be understated therefore anyone who gets physical on the daily can get value out of them.

Can Nike Pegasus be worn casually?

Absolutely. The Nike Pegasus is both extremely comfortable for walking around as well as fashionable with jeans and shorts. The colorways the Pegasus comes in also offer a unique spin on casual, everyday shoes.

How long are my Pegasus 40s good for?

It all depends on what type of race you’re training for, how many miles you’re logging, and what the wear and tear looks like. Generally speaking, most experts say you should replace your shoes every 400 miles or so. If you’re noticing less cushion, worn down soles, and scuffed uppers, it may be time to look into a new pair.