Asics Novablast 4 Review

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

Asics Novablast 4 in a park.

Asics’s marketing pitch: Add bounce to every step.

Upper: Engineered mesh, tongue gusset.

Upper fit: True to size.

Midsole: Full-length Flytefoam Blast foam. 8 mm heel drop.

Outsole: Carbon rubber in high-wear areas.

Weight: 260 gms/ 9.17 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27

Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E (wide).

Stack heights: 43 mm (heel), 35 mm (forefoot) - Solereview verified.

Previous model: Asics Novablast 3.

Country of origin: Made in Indonesia.

Recommended use cases: Everyday training, tempo runs, marathons.

Foot strike orientation: All types (heel/midfoot/forefoot).

Recommended paces: 4:30 min/km (7:00 min/mile) and slower.

Estimated durability: 500 miles.

Recommended temperature range: Warmer than -5° C/23° F.

For this review, Solereview purchased the Asics Novablast 4 at full retail price; the proof of purchase is below. We do not accept free samples for our reviews and have no ties to the industry.

The Asics Novablast 4 is softer and taller than before, making it a comfortable long-distance trainer with tempo run capabilities.
Tempo-friendly ride comfort, smooth transitions, cushioning to weight ratio, secure upper fit, optional width
The upper runs much hotter than the Novablast 3, the outsole grip is decent but far from great.
Proof of purchase for the Asics Novablast 4.

For this review, Solereview paid the full retail price for the Asics Novablast 4. The amount is in Canadian Dollars.

The previous version of this review stated that the Novablast 4 was 10.5 mm taller overall than the Novablast 3. That was incorrect. We cut open both the versions to measure the stack heights. The Novablast 4 is 4 mm taller at the highest point of the forefoot rocker. The ball of the foot (forefoot) is 2 mm taller than the Novablast 3, and the heel gains 1 mm. The updated section can be found here.

Asics Novablast 4 in a park.

Asics wasn’t quite the same after the 2020 Novablast.

The way we see it, the original Novablast was the turning point for Asics’s running shoe business. Before the Novablast, Asics running shoes were all about Gel, medial posts, and overwhelming blandness.

Around the same time, new releases like the Nimbus Lite and Metaracer hit the shelves, but the Novablast was the only exciting running shoe with serious performance chops.

Conceptually, the Novablast wasn’t new. Shoes like the Hoka Clifton and Skechers GoRun Ride made rocker midsoles popular in the years before. However, Novablast’s interpretation of this form factor made all the difference.

There was a certain liveliness in the Flytefoam midsole that was absent on competing shoes and previous Asics models. Flytefoam, before the Novablast, felt dead with a flat ride character. The Novablast changed that.

Asics also chose a more conventional heel drop of 10 mm (the present-day Novablast is 8 mm) for mainstream appeal.

Despite its flaws like poor rearfoot stability and wonky upper fit, the Novablast V1 had all the markings of a potentially successful shoe.

The comfortable Flytefoam midsole was good for up to a marathon. The rocker midsole and peppy Flytefoam midsole made it a very decent tempo trainer. The high heel drop went easy on the Achilles too. On top of all that, the Novablast proved to be a capable everyday trainer.

To nobody’s surprise, the Novablast became a crowd favorite. The second version was an unremarkable update, but the third act was excellent. The Novablast 3 came with several refinements, notably the improved midsole stability and upper fit.

The Asics Novablast 3 on the road.

The Novablast 3 was a polished Novablast.

As for its ride, the Novablast 3 achieved an excellent balance between speed-friendly character and long-distance comfort.

Asics expanded on Novablast’s success with the Superblast, a highly competent trainer with a midsole made of Flytefoam Turbo – Asics’s premier cushioning foam.

The side profile of the Asics Novablast 4.

The taller, softer, and tighter Novablast 4 is less eager to accelerate than the Novablast 3.

The Novablast 4 is a very different Novablast. While it sticks to the original brief – which is being a cushioned trainer with noticeable transition assist – the suite of updates sets it apart from the V3.

Most of the changes are crammed into the midsole, so let’s begin there.

The forefoot midsole height of the Asics Novablast4 compared with Novablast 3.

The forefoot midsole of the Asics Novablast 4 has a higher sidewall than the Novablast 3.

The heel stack height of Asics Novablast 4.

Note: The calipers are placed on the last seating point for accurate measurements, but are angled for photography.

The heel stack height of Asics Novablast 3.

The heel stack of the Novablast 3.

The forefoot stack height of Asics Novablast 4.

The forefoot stack height of the Asics Novablast 4.

The forefoot stack height of Asics Novablast 4.

The forefoot stack height of the Asics Novablast 3.

The midsole stack measurements of Asics Novablast 4.

The midsole stack measurements of Asics Novablast 3.

Compared to the Novablast 3, a few things immediately stand out. First, the Novablast 4 is a taller shoe. The rear and front stack heights of 43 mm and 35 mm give it a 2 mm taller forefoot than the previous model.

The heel collar design also influences the ride quality, albeit indirectly and to a lesser extent.

The heel collar of the Asics Novablast 4 versus Novablast 3.

The heel padding doesn’t curve inwards as the Novablast 3 (bottom) did. This creates a slight change in the toe box fit as well as repositioning of the foot over the midsole.

The Novablast 4’s heel has a slightly less aggressive hold, as it doesn’t have the inwards-curving design from the Novablast 3. This shifts the foot’s position slightly towards the back.

When this happens, the foot isn’t located on the dead center of the 43 mm and 35 mm stack, but on a marginally thicker section of the midsole. The difference isn’t much; around 1 mm or so.

The rocker height of the Asics Novablast 4 compared with Novablast 3.

The Asics Novablast 4 has a higher rocker height than the Novablast 3.

But what’s the most noticeable is not the stack height, but the increased height of the Novablast 4’s midsole rocker. The picture above shows the highest point of both the shoes in the same size.

The increase in the rocker height gives the impression is that of wearing a much taller shoe, something more substantial under the foot.

The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole of the Asics Novablast 4.

The Novablast 4 gains 1-2 mm of midsole height, as well as lower density Flytefoam Blast and more pronounced rocker.

The additional foam stack makes the midsole significantly softer. Also, the Flytefoam Blast has a lower density than before. Add these two changes up, and we end up with a vastly different ride character.

The new Novablast is more comfortable over longer distances. The taller, softer, and wide midsole makes it an ideal marathon trainer. Long miles are much easier on the feet, as the chunky midsole absorbs the brunt of foot strikes.

The overall rating of the Asics Novablast 4.

It’s almost as if the Novablast 4 is a cheaper Superblast alternative rather than an upgraded Novablast. Naturally, the shoe doesn’t have the lightweight cushioning of Flytefoam Turbo, but you get the general idea.

The transition assist comes in the form of a rocker midsole that works remarkably well. The Novablast 4 is eager to ‘tip forward’, and to a greater extent than the NB 3. There are two reasons why that happens.

The forefoot outsole of the Asics Novablast 4.

The forefoot outsole sits on a raised foam ‘island’ and creates a more effective ‘roll-off’ point. The traction is satisfactory, but not great.

The outsole piece under the forefoot has a slightly raised profile compared to the flatter geometry of last year’s design. The second reason is that the foot is positioned higher than on the NB 3.

So when the rocker midsole kicks in at the end of the gait cycle, the foot rolls forward – and descends – from a greater height than the Novablast 3. As a result, the rocker or ‘roll forward’ effect is more noticeable on the NB 4 than the NB 3.

The top view of the Asics Novablast 4.

The upper is tighter, owing to the thicker mesh and stiffer toe bumper.

The upper fit is tighter than the previous model, so it does a great job of transferring the power from the foot to the midsole. The narrow fit helps the Novablast 4’s case as a tempo trainer, as it allows the foot to utilize the full potential of the rocker shape.

So are there any downsides to the taller midsole? Sure, there’s more than one.

Relative to the NB 3, the softer Flytefoam Blast midsole is more hesitant with abrupt pace changes and start-stops. The shoe’s behavior during interval training is a good example.

The Novablast 3’s firmer and closer-to-ground midsole was a better fit for harder efforts during intervals. The superior ground feedback and proprioception, as well as shorter compression travel, made quick work of touch-go and start-stop situations. It was also better at entering and exiting corners than the NB 4.

The transition groove of the Asics Novablast 4.

The increase in cushioning softness is noticeable. The deeper transition cavity also adds to the softness.

In contrast, the foot needs to work through a thicker foam stack this time. There’s a hesitancy to accelerate, and this slight delay dilutes the responsiveness as well as the feedback from the road. It’s not that the Novablast 4 is a slow shoe; not at all. It’s just that the added stack makes upshifting gears harder.

Running in the Novablast 4 is most rewarding when you slot it into a certain speed and keep it there. Think of it as cruise control on a running shoe, if you will.

The midsole rocker of the Asics Novablast 4.

The rocker works as intended here. Perhaps too well.

So say, if a 4.30 min/km (7:00 min/mile) happens to be your tempo zone, then gradually warm up to that speed, and stay there for the duration of your run. Speeding up or slowing down isn’t a problem per se, but it’s best done incrementally. The Novablast will reward you with a ridiculously smooth ride as well as quick transitions, courtesy of the tip-forward effect of the rocker midsole.

As a whole, the 9.17-ounce Novablast 4 is very user-friendly.

The 8 mm drop doesn’t stress the Achilles, and the highly-cushioned midsole is equally a good fit for heel strikers as it is for midfoot landing runners. The rocker forefoot works well at any speed, so it’s perfectly alright to go cruising at 6:00 min/km (9:40 min/mile) on your easy run days.

The heel view of the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V4.

While the Novablast 4 is very versatile, having a couple of other shoes in a rotation would be ideal. For shorter races of under 10K, the adidas Takumi Sen 10 is a solid pick. Or the New Balance Rebel V4, if you want something more cushioned.

Among plated racers, the adidas adios Pro 3 and Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 are safe picks.

The heel view of the Asics Novablast 4.

Despite the taller stack, the overall midsole stability is excellent. The ride has a neutral, non-prescriptive behavior.

The removable insole of the Asics Novablast 4.

The molded insole fills the gap under the arch of the foot.

The midsole stability is excellent. The midsole is wide under the rear and front, and the high sidewalls create a cupping action around the heel. The contours of the removable insole provide some arch support, and it’s thick enough to be replaced with an orthotic.

The narrow upper fit does a great job of locking the foot over the midsole. It also plays a sizeable role in the Novablast 4’s tempo training capabilities, as it efficiently directs the power from the foot to the rocker midsole.

The padded tongue of the Asics Novablast 4.

The tongue is softer and more padded, but isn’t as breathable as before.

While the upper fits truer to size than the NB 3, it runs hotter and tighter. The lower level of ventilation comes from the thicker mesh as well as the redesigned tongue. The new mesh is thicker, whereas the tongue and sleeve lose the breathable spacer mesh from the previous shoe.

The upper mesh of the Asics Novablast 4.

The ‘perforations’ on the forefoot mesh provide a modicum of ventilation.

While true to size, the Novablast 3 was cutting it close. The aggressive heel collar pushed the foot forward by a few millimeters, which led some runners to go up half a size.

With the redesigned heel collar, the Novablast 4’s upper frees up a marginal amount of toe-box space. But most runners won’t notice it, as the tighter toe-box and forefoot squeeze the foot on the sides. The thicker mesh is one of the reasons, but there’s more to the story.

The interiors of the Asics Novablast 4.

The interior toe bumper is firmer and boxes in the foot more aggressively than the Novablast 3 did. The upper runs hotter as well.

Inside the Novablast 4’s toe-box is a stiffer bumper. It’s not as pliable as the one that the Novablast 3 used, so the foot is boxed in on the sides. The tightness is particularly noticeable over the small toe.

Though there’s a wide version available, the stock width does a better job of connecting the foot with the rocker midsole.

The heel collar of the Asics Novablast 4.

The heel collar is very plush and secure. It’s also not as aggressive as the NB3’s curved heel design.

The inner sleeve of the Asics Novablast 4.

What the inner gusset and tongue lose in ventilation, they gain in smoothness and a softer feel.

The heel grip is excellent. It’s very plush, as the foot is wrapped with a soft and foam-filled lining. The tongue may not breathe as well as the Novablast 3, but it’s smoother-fitting and soft to the touch. The same goes for the gusset as well.

The reflective trims on the Asics Novablast 4.

The large heel loop comes in handy when pulling the shoe over. It’s also reflective.

The heel pull loop is a useful addition. The loop is large enough for the index finger and makes the shoe easier to pull over. This is also the only place where the upper is reflective. As always, Asics also sells a reflective ‘Lite-Show’ variant of the Novablast 4.

In return for the taller midsole, the Novablast 4 gains a marginal amount of weight – just 0.27 ounces or 7.6 grams over the V3.

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