Best Asics running shoes

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

Asics Novablast outdoors

This article has been updated with current models for April 2023. The Asics Cumulus 24, Nimbus 24, and Gel-Trabuco 10 have been replaced with their updated versions. The Asics Superblast and Lyteracer 4 are new additions. The Asics Nimbus Lite 3 and DS Trainer 26 have been removed. Except for the narrower ‘B’ width, the women’s models are almost identical to men’s. The Asics Kayano 29 and GT-2000 11 have different stack heights for men and women, and so does the Nimbus 25.

The Pure Gel midsole of the Asics Nimbus 25.

This isn’t your dad’s Nimbus.

Asics has reinvented itself over the last few years, and if there’s any sign of complacency, we’ve yet to see it.

The brand has also done an excellent job of bringing the old and new together. On one hand, we see popular models like the Nimbus, Cumulus, and Kayano in the catalog, but updated with fresher designs and materials.

The Flytefoam Turbo midsole of the Asics Superblast.

The Superblast is a souped-up version of the Novablast.

There are fun products like the Superblast – a softer, lighter, and bouncier version of the Novablast. Using the lightweight Flytefoam Turbo on a rocker midsole makes the Superblast comfortable and quick.

Also, the Japanese company is one of the last safe havens for affordable low-profile racers like the $80 Lyteracer 4 and $90 Hyper Speed 2. Occasionally, it’s nice to have a traditional racer for speedwork rather than wobbly Carbon-plated running shoes.

Trail running shoes have always been Asics’s Achilles heel, and that hasn’t changed. That said, the Gel-Trabuco 11 is a decent trail runner, and so is the Fuji Lite 3.

1) Best for beginners: Asics Gel-Cumulus 25

There’s a good reason why the updated Nimbus Lite hasn’t shown up this year. The Cumulus 25 and Nimbus 25 are very different than their predecessors.

We cover the Nimbus 25 in the next section, but the Cumulus 25 also goes through a similar redesign process. The new Cumulus feels similar to the Nimbus Lite – the visible Gel pad is gone, and so is the slow-loading ride quality.

Asics adds 2 mm of stack height to the new midsole that’s 100% Flytefoam Blast+ on the outside, and has a small Gel unit under the heel. The midsole has a mild rocker profile that previously did not exist on the Cumulus.

The outcome is anyone’s guess. The ride is more comfortable than the Cumulus 24, and the new shoe feels quicker due to the midsole shape.

Overall, the Cumulus’s balanced ride character is a good fit for runners of all experience classes, be it a beginner or a veteran marathoner who wants a versatile everyday trainer.

The true-to-size upper uses a combination of speed loops and soft meshes to achieve a comfortable and secure fit. The upper suffers from poor ventilation, so it’s going to run hot during the summers.

2) Best for soft cushioning: Asics Gel-Nimbus 25

The Nimbus 25 isn’t anything like the 24, or any other Nimbus that came before it.

For 2023, Asics opts for a bold Nimbus redesign. The midsole is now full-length Flytefoam Blast+, a softer and livelier variant of the standard Flytefoam. Inside the heel is a smaller Gel unit called ‘Pure Gel’. Our detailed review breaks down the Nimbus 25’s design and ride experience.

The heel view of the Asics Nimbus 25.

Visible Gel no more: The tall Flytefoam Blast+ midsole offers copious amounts of soft cushioning.

This also means that the rearfoot no longer has a visible Gel window. The forefoot doesn’t have any Gel either – not that it mattered anyway.

On the road, the Nimbus 25 delivers an extremely cushioned ride with a noticeably higher pep.

Unlike the previous models, the new Nimbus doesn’t behave like a long-distance shoe for easy runs. Sure, it does high-mileage runs just fine, but the forefoot midsole makes it much easier to go faster.

On the Nimbus 24, the foot had to work through the soft forefoot during the gait cycle. Here, the high toe spring and inflexible (but highly-cushioned) forefoot helps the foot roll forward – similar to what the Novablast does.

The toe box of the Asics Nimbus 25.

Who would have guessed – the Nimbus 25 now has a bit of a forefoot ‘rocker’.

In short, not only is the new Nimbus 25 excellent for long runs like a marathon, but the significant changes also make it possible to dial in some speed.

On the flip side, the Nimbus 25’s outsole traction is average due to the new lug geometry and toe-spring; it’s a downgrade from the 24 and 23.

We like the new upper with its true-to-size fit and comfortable interiors. The tongue design will divide opinions, as the thin knitted tongue feels out of place on a shoe this plush.

As always, the Nimbus 25 has gender-specific cushioning. The Women’s version has a 1 mm lower stack height.

3) Best for overpronators: Asics Gel Kayano 29

The Kayano is the longest continuing shoe series with a firmer medial post. These days, the midsole wedge design isn’t in-your-face like it once used to be.

Asics hasn’t canceled the medial post on the Kayano 29. While the brand doesn’t advertise it, the ‘Litestruss’ part of the midsole has a firmer section of foam. Our review breaks down the ride character of the new Kayano.

The Lite Truss midsole of the Asics Gel-Kayano 29.

Regardless of what Asics says, the Kayano 29 does have a medial post.

As expected, the Kayano 29 has a mild motion-control quality that’s expected of traditional stability shoes.

However, the midsole isn’t without its changes. The plastic shank no longer exists. The redesigned footbridge and its sloped design improve the transition quality by acting as a firmer base under the foot.

The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole of the Asics Gel-Kayano 29.

The FF Blast+ makes the Kayano 29 marginally softer than the 28.

The foam has been softened a bit, so the Kayano 29 feels easier on the feet than the Kayano 28. An Ortholite insole and foam lasting add the familiar step-in comfort.

The Asics Kayano 29 in a road race.

A half-marathon in the Kayano 29? Sure.

The 10.5-ounce Kayano 29 is best used as a daily runner or for occasional long-distance training at easy paces.

Premium materials are used throughout the upper to create a comfortable interior. The sizing fits true to size, and the Kayano also sells in a wide and extra wide.

4) Best for overpronators: Asics Gel GT-2000 11

Even the venerable GT-2000 isn’t immune to the changes in the rapidly evolving running shoe industry. Asics no longer advertises the ‘Duomax’ medial post on the V11, nor does the midsole have a plastic shank.

Nonetheless, the midsole still has a firmer (but smaller) section of foam, so the GT-2000 11 hasn’t checked out of the medial posting business yet.

The Flytefoam midsole is softly-cushioned, yet sufficiently supportive. The ride is more comfortable, and the transitions feel smoother due to the updated outsole geometry. In more ways than one, the GT-2000 11 is very similar to the GT-2000 10.

Summing up the GT-2000 11 is easy. It’s a versatile daily trainer with supportive cushioning and a conforming fit.

The true-to-size upper has a design and fit character that resembles the past models. Components like the engineered mesh upper, welded overlays, and the traditional tongue and heel design produce a pleasing fit character.

5) Best for tempo runs: Asics Novablast 3

The Asics Novablast 3’s Flytefoam has a soft yet lively cushioning that’s ideal for high-mileage runs. The shoe’s 8.9-ounce (253-gram) weight delivers a high cushioning-to-weight ratio.

There’s a fair bit of spring in the semi-rocker midsole, so the runner benefits from a forward-biased transition quality. Also, the 8 mm heel-to-toe offset makes the Novablast 3 beginner-friendly. Our in-depth review explains everything.

The heel counter of the Asics Novablast 3.

In short, the Novablast 3 is a cushioned tempo trainer for everyday runs or races of up to a half marathon. While full marathons are also doable, we recommend softer racers with a plate – our recommendations are here.

The upper has a similar form factor as the Novablast 1 and 2, which means it fits securely and true-to-size.

6) Best for marathons: Asics Metaspeed Sky

Asics has a diverse assortment of running shoes with an internal plate. The first is the ‘Guidesole’ kind; shoes like the Glideride use a stiff Nylon plate to enhance the rocker sensation. The second is the Metaracer – a cushioned racer that promotes quick transitions through a stiff Carbon plate.

The third category would be models like Metaspeed Sky and Edge – running shoes that are inspired by the Nike Vaporfly form factor. In other words, there’s a curved Carbon plate inside a soft midsole to deliver the signature cushioning ‘snap’ or springiness.

Both the Metaspeed models use the Asics Flytefoam Turbo material – a responsive foam that feels like a blend between New Balance Fuelcell and adidas Lightstrike Pro.

The FF Turbo is a soft and bouncy cushioning platform, but with a resilient overtone. And like most other superfoams, it adds sufficient comfort for marathon distances.

The full-length Carbon plate does the rest – it adds a sense of pushback under the heel, and makes the forefoot transitions quicker. Asics uses a specially formulated outsole rubber to improve the grip quality.

7) Best for marathons: Asics Superblast

Not everyone wants a marathon racer with a plate. On the other end of the spectrum are shoes that are generously cushioned but miss the tempo-friendly pep that’s useful on race day.

The Asics Superblast is a unique running shoe that delivers the best of both worlds. Our wear-tested review is here.

The rocker heel midsole of the Asics Superblast.

Lots of lightweight Flytefoam Turbo, with some Flytefoam Blast+.

The wide and thick rocker midsole uses the lightweight Flytefoam Turbo (from the Metaspeed) over a firmer Flytefoam Blast+ bed.

These foam layers work together with the rocker profile to deliver a very comfortable ride that also manages to feel quick.

The wide midsole footprint also adds stability, an area where a lot of plated racers struggle.

The toe spring of the Asics Superblast.

The rocker midsole helps the foot during the transition process. In short, this is a cushioned trainer that’s also capable of tempo runs.

The Superblast is also a good alternative – and upgrade – from the firmer Novablast. Sure, there’s a price premium, but it’s still less expensive than the plated trainers from the Metaspeed series.

The true-to-size upper performs as expected. It’s lightweight, secure, and smooth on the inside.

8) Budget road racer: Asics HyperSpeed V2

The Hyper Speed V2 has nothing in common with the namesake HyperSpeed 6 or 7 from a few years ago. This Hyper Speed is more cushioned, but firm – thus making it a comfortable speed trainer for longer distances.

If the Hyper Speed V2 (and V1) looks familiar, that’s because its design is based on the plate-equipped Metaracer.

However, as noted in our review of the first Hyper Speed, the foot does all the work during the transitions instead of the plate making things easier.

Nonetheless, it’s an excellent shoe for speed training and races – even though the midsole isn’t as low-profile as the previous generation Hyper Speed 7.

The upper is secure but well-ventilated and not overly narrow. That kind of fit character works great for longer speed runs as it accommodates the increased foot volume that occurs as a result of running long distances.

9) Best for 5K races: Asics Lyteracer 4

In a world filled with plated racers and $200+ shoes, the $80 Lyteracer 4 makes a strong case for itself. It’s a traditional short-distance racer, but reimagined with modern materials.

The firm and low-profile midsole uses Flytefoam Propel – an EVA foam blend with the necessary cushioning for 5K races, but nothing more.

The ride is not responsive, but has plenty of ground feedback for quick touch-and-go during speed runs. Though the outsole doesn’t have aggressive DSP lugs, the grip is excellent.

There’s even a plastic shank for stability, and the tight upper keeps the foot locked in. The fit runs a half-size short, as is typical of 5K racers.

10) Best for trail running: Asics Gel-Trabuco 11

Asics lacks a versatile trail running shoe like the Brooks Cascadia or Nike Terra Kiger 9.

Most Asics trail running shoes are good but not great; the Gel-Trabuco 11 is one of them. We also like the Fuji Lite 3, but the Trabuco is a better choice due to its articulated rock plate – a feature that the Fuji Lite 3 lacks.

The unimaginatively-named Asicsgrip outsole is excellent – both from a rubber compound and lug geometry viewpoint. The material sticks well on slick surfaces whereas the aggressive lugs bite well on dry trails.

The 8 mm heel-to-toe offset encourages full-contact or midfoot landings.

The Flytefoam midsole makes the ride cushioned yet supportive enough. The Trabuco 11 gets a brand-new midsole and outsole that does a couple of things differently than the Trabuco 10. The new midsole gains 2 mm of stack height for added comfort and leaves the medial post of the Trabuco 10 in the past.

Nonetheless, the stability isn’t compromised. The wide midsole minimizes cushioning bias on the trail, and the firm foam prevents the midsole from ‘bottoming’.

The Trabuco 11’s comfortable and true-to-size upper fit fits like a road shoe.

The secure interiors aren’t overly narrow so that the foot doesn’t feel boxed in. The rubberized layers add durability and some degree of splash resistance. The ‘lace garage’ (pouch) on the tongue prevents the laces from flapping around.

We recommend the waterproof Gore-Tex Trabuco 11 for increased versatility on wet trails.

11) Best affordable trainer: Asics Excite 9

The Gel-Excite 9 isn’t particularly ‘exciting’ but it gets the job done – if a budget daily trainer is what you’re looking for.

Unlike the $10 cheaper Contend 7, the Excite 8’s design taps into inspiration from the more expensive models. That applies to the engineered mesh upper and sculpted midsole.

Though the midsole is non-Flytefoam EVA, its contoured sidewalls are based on Asics’s new visual scheme. The Contend 7 is also nice with a similar ride, but the Excite looks like a more expensive shoe. That’s the reason why we have featured the Excite 8 over the Contend.

Asics has done a good job with the upper too. The snug-fitting exterior holds the foot securely while managing to look good in the process. The heel and tongue have a generous amount of foam padding.

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