ASICS in its recent years has released a few new running shoes series in its product line up. These new series have garnered much attention within the running community for its freshness and innovation while reflecting the company’s new image. In this article, we will introduce the Japanese company, ASICS Corporation and talk about its running shoes line up.
Introduction to Company
ASICS was founded on 1st September 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka with the founding philosophy of “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (A Sound Mind in a Sound Body)”. The abbreviation ASICS comes from the founding philosophy. 2019 marks the company’s 70th anniversary. ASICS is also the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Gold Partner (Sporting Goods).
ASICS Corporation as we know it together resulted from the merger of three companies. They are namely Onitsuka, GTO, and JELENK. GTO and JELENK were both manufacturer in sportswear and goods. ASICS’s headquarter is located at Kobe, Japan. Today, ASICS has over 62 subsidiaries and affiliates globally with 10 in Japan.
ASICS also has an ASICS Sports Museum and an Institute of Sport Science. The Institute of Sports Science was founded by in 1985 through the merger of two separate entity within the company. The first was “Technology Research Section” for apparel products and “Shoe Research and Development Division” in 1982. The Institute is in Nishi Ward, Kobe.
ASICS has an extensive range of products ranging from sports’ specific shoes, apparel, and accessories as well as lifestyle shoes and apparel. As an esteem brand in the running shoes scene, ASICS has recently expanded and modified their running shoes range.
Running Shoes Series
ASICS has a total of 5 series for its running shoes: “Gel”, “Ride”, “Speed”, “Blast”, and “Race”. The Ride, Speed and Blast can be considered as the new kids in town which were introduced more recently. These newer series have helped ASICS to break the dull image which the brand has come to be associated with due to their bulky and chunky running shoes. However, even the “Gel” series has seen changes in their latest iterations making them more appealing than before.
- Gel Series
ASICS’s is most well-known for the “Gel” series with household names such as the Gel-Kayano and Gel-Nimbus. Running shoes under this series incorporates a “gel” or simply a cushioning technology which ASICS claims to provide a softer landing and shock absorption. Although, there has been reports which showcases how small this gel is and the effects that it has for runner. Whether it is cosmetic or not, I just hope it does not add unnecessary weight for the otherwise trustworthy running shoes. It has also made me want to cut open my ASICS shoes to see how my gel looks like.
The recent refresh to the Gel series is very welcomed, especially their colourway. I really like the Celebration of Sport colourway (below), that hint of contrast at the midsole.
I do not have the Gel Cumulus 23 in my rotation currently, but it is certainly on my watch list. The refreshed looks on the Gel Cumulus 23 coupled with the colour way has piqued my interest in it. I currently do have a pair of Gel-DS Trainer 24 as pair of my running shoes rotation (the current iteration for Gel-DS Trainer is 26). While there is Gel mentioned as part of the name, I hardly feel that there is any sort of cushioning at the heel where the gel is tagged. However, I found the Gel-DS Trainer to be snappy and great for intervals and speed works.
The “Ride” series first came out in 2019 with the Metaride, a pair which is far too expensive for me to part with my dollars. The main appeal of this series is the ability to save energy for a runner. This is achieved with their GUIDESOLETM technology, a curved shaped sole that limits the movement in the ankle joint during each step. As such, running shoes in this series has an aggressive toe spring to help with the rolling effect and forward motion. Aside from the Metaride, ASICS also introduced the Evoride and Glideride in 2020. Following which, the latest NOOSA-TRI 13(for triathlon) took on the same platform as the Evoride 2.
I have yet to own any of the “Ride” series, although I am very tempted to purchase the Evoride 2 or the Noosa Tri 13. Personally, I do not like tall stack height shoes, but the higher stack height is certainly a trend among brands. Based on runners’ reviews, it does need some getting used to the offensive toe spring not to mention the higher stack height too. The Metaride sits at 31mm for both forefoot and heel, giving a 0mm drop. While the Evoride 2 has a stack height of 25mm at the heel and 20 at the forefoot. I will give my views when I grab a pair and verify if the shoes indeed help in energy saving during runs.
- Speed Series
The “Speed” series is also a new introduction in ASICS’s product line up. The first product in this range is the Metaracer, a carbon plated running shoes. The colourway introduced for the Metaracer was also very attractive – white top (image below) and an orange colourway with the word “Tokyo”. Metaracer retailed for SGD 299, and I think I can part with my money for that over the Metaride. All the running shoes in the Speed series has carbon plate (in full length or half) except for the Hyper Speed. Hyper Speed looks very similar to the profile of the Metaracer and the similarity stops there. The Hyper Speed retails for SG 129 and does not have a carbon fibre plate.
The latest additions to the series are the Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge, two “Super shoes” in the game for the ultimate race day companion. If you watched the Tokyo Olympics, you might have seen them on a few runners’ legs. It looks beautiful dare I say, maybe I just have something with reddish colour with black or white.
In the Speed series, the midsole foam used are different. The prices for these shoes are in ascending order: Hyper Speed, Magic Speed, Metaracer, Metaspeed Edge and Metaspeed Sky. The Hyper Speed utilize EVA with some suggesting it is SpEVA (Matt from Doctors of Running), a ASICS midsole technology. There isn’t any official information from ASICS on what the foam it is. Moving up the range, we have the Magic Speed which incorporate a portion of the FlyteFoam (FF) Blast in the forefoot and a half-length carbon plate while the Metaracer uses FlyteFoam with a carbon plate. And finally, the Metaspeed Edge and Sky with FF (Flytefoam) Blast Turbo midsole, ASICS’s highest energy return foam. The Edge and Sky is targeted to fulfil the gap in ASICS’s line up of “Super Shoes” for full marathon. The Metaracer is more minimalist and has a lower stack height compared to the other brands. For example, Nike’s Alphafly or Adidas’s Adizero Adios Pro.
- Blast Series
Running shoes in the Blast series uses one of ASICS latest midsole materials, the FF Blast. The FF Blast foam was first introduced in the Novablast which introduced freshness to the ASICS product line up. The Novablast is marketed by ASICS to deliver the energetic ride and bounciness, making it trampoline-like. The Dynablast and Roadblast were two products which can be considered the “stripped-down” version from the Novablast.
Both the Dynablast (SGD 169) and Roadblast (SGD 129) are less expensive than the Novablast (SGD 199). The Novablast and Dynablast are in their second iteration with the Dynablast v2 dropping its price further to SGD 149. Both shoes have seen improvements made to enhance their appeal to runners. While most hype is around the Novablast, I cannot help but think about how the Dynablast will perform.
- Others/Race Series
ASICS also has a group of running shoes catered for runner to use in speed works and most importantly on race day. This series, I will simply term it as “Race” or “Others” as I do not know what else to term them as.
In this series, it includes the Tarther (-Japan, -Edge, RP), Lyteracer, as well as the Sortiemagic (RP and LT). These products, as far as I am aware, have limited availability in the international markets. These shoes are not only equipped with advanced technology from ASICS (e.g., the duo-outsole and SpEVA foam among others) but also tuned for the race day. The duo-outsole is one draw point for ASICS race day shoes, they are so grippy that it feels like the shoes is biting the ground.
In the discussion of ASICS’s race day shoes, Kawauchi Yuki must come to mind. Kawauchi Yuki is the winner of the Boston Marathon in 2018 under severe weather conditions. After his win, there were discussion among Japanese runners as well as internationally about the pair of ASICS he worn. Some has concluded it is the Sortiemagic RP. I personally have a pair of Tarther Japan in red and I got to say, I love it so much that I do not want to discard it even after its outsole got worn out.
Summary & Conclusion
In this article, we briefly covered the running shoes line up from the Japanese brand, ASICS. The company has innovated in the recent years with the introduction of the “Ride”, “Blast”, and “Speed” series. These have placed ASICS once again on the radar of many more runners. Not only are there new midsole technology, but ASICS has also drastically improved their design department.
These new introductions are part of ASICS’s plan. One key focus area for ASICS is its Performance Running segment. As part of ASICS’s 2030 Vision to expand ASICS from “Performance Athletes” to “Lifetime Athletes in All of Us”, the Performance Running segment is one of its key growth priorities. In the Mid-term 2023 plan, ASICS aims to expand the profitability of this segment and capture back market share. In the second quarter of 2021, ASICS’s net sales for performance running grew year-on-year by about 38%. It remains to be seen how ASICS will perform for the remaining of 2021. ASICS is one company which I believe runners can put on their watch list especially with the new introductions of running shoes.
Till then, keep on running!
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