Asics Novablast Shoe Review
I'm a running shoe geek and I'm intrigued by lots of shoes out there but I'll admit Asics was never on my radar. I know that's a little unfair after all what kind of shoe geek would I be if I picked and chose my shoes but with the shoes they were churning out a few years back that has been thoroughly lacking in innovation and development, and trending towards the dull spectrum of running shoe, could you even blame me. Back then, their competitors were leaps and bounds ahead of them in terms of new technology in the running shoe industry.
Now my interest in Asics took a 360 turnaround when I had the chance to try on the Asics Novablast after one of my training runs with the GCM crew a month or so ago. When I first put on the shoe, I was instantly amazed at how soft they were. The Novablast does not feel like any Asics of the previous years. In fact if I had put on the shoe with a blindfold, I wouldn't have even guessed it was an Asics!
The Asics Novablast is a more streamline and simpler shoe as opposed to what Asics has been dishing out the previous years. Looking at the more bestselling shoes like Asics Gel Kayano or the Gel Nimbus, they were pretty technical and a lot more complex, what with different material and technologies compared to the Novablast with its rather minimalist upper construction and thick but softer midsole that isn't stuffed with tons of different materials (I'll come to that later).
Now, I'll keep this review simple and how I feel while running in it and not get into the technical aspect of the shoe much as there's countless reviews on the technical aspects of the shoe out there. Asics promotes the Novablast design as having a trampoline effect and I'd say they are not wrong. The Novablast in my opinion is a very soft, very springy and really fun shoe to run in. In fact, the moment I tried them on, I was sold. I had to get them!
Most of my close running buddies know my taste in shoes and that I'm particularly attracted to the lower stacked/minimalist shoes but here I was getting all excited about a "maximalist" and bulky looking shoes and rightly so. I instantly went out and got myself a pair and I can truly admit, it was a good decision.
I've put in close to 180km, even going through a marathon (albeit virtual) with the Novablast and I've loved every single mile in them. Unlike almost all of the previous Ascis shoes, the Novablast contains no gel cushioning material. What it comes with is something called FlyteFoam Blast. This shoe was built around that technology if you ask me. The material is lightweight yet super soft and super bouncy (hence the trampoline reference). When you lace these babies up for the first time, you'll instantly feel the responsive nature and cushioning of the shoe from heel to toe. Even my wife who tried them on was totally impressed with them.
But a fair warning here, they do feel a little unstable when walking in them due to my opinion the relatively high stack height of 32mm of foam under your heel and 22mm under the forefoot and that's a great deal of material to have underfoot. It's like a feeling I'll topple over anytime soon but once you get to running in them, that feeling goes away instantly and you'll be bounding down the roads like a kangaroo on steroids in no time. For all the material the Novablast had underfoot, the responsiveness of the shoe was simply phenomenal.
With a shoe that has that much of material underfoot and visually bulky looking, I was surprised at the weight of the Novablast coming in at 9.3oz for the US9. I'd have though it would be a lot heavier. It fact, it doesn't even feel 9.3oz at all but feels a lot lighter than advertised though I've not weighed it myself.
The construction of the outsole, which is 50% more durable than the standard Asics High Abrasion Rubber see a lot of tread covering all the points of the shoe that strikes the ground and is highly durable and grippy. I've run with the Novablast in all sorts of situations and even in the pouring rain very recently. The grip held so well that I wasn't afraid of upping the pace in those wet conditions. And like I mentioned above the durability is excellent, even at 180km there's hardly any wear on the outsole rubber even in places where my shoes traditionally wear out due to my running gait.
The mesh uppers as mentioned earlier are very minimal and is vented over the toes making the Novablast very breathable. It has a nice roomy fit, maybe a little too roomy for me as the mesh upper is very flexible and doesn't really hug your foot too closely, which is not a bad thing really, but instead keeps its shape giving you plenty of wiggle room for your toe to move freely inside. The laces are of the flat kind and the tongue is uncharacteristically thin for an Asics.
Size wise, they weren't really true to size and a tad big for me but nothing a thicker pair of socks couldn't sort out. I'm a US9 and maybe a US8.5 would have been a true to size but I would rather have a slight bigger shoe than a smaller one. I guess it all depends if you like your shoes snug or prefer a little wiggle room.
Asics has positioned the Novablast under their speed category but I personally feel it offers a lot more than speed. In my opinion the Asics Novablast is good for a wide variety of runs except maybe for your short and fast interval runs, for that I'd prefer a much lower stacked shoes with a firmer feel. Easy runs, long runs, moderate paced runs, tempos all feel a breeze in them. The FlyteFoam Blast midsole propels me effortless along with a springy and energetic feel underfoot.
I really do like the Asics Novablast a lot and that's coming from a formerly non Asics fan. I guess the MAGA (Make Asics Great Again) prophecy has come true cos these are great shoes (in my humble opinion). They hold up to Asics claim of being responsive, and cushioned with an energetic ride. The Novablast can probably best be compared to the New Balance Fuelcell Propel - soft, very springy and fun!
The Asics Novablast is available in Asics outlet locally and is priced at RM529.00. This review is of my own personal opinion based on my usage of the shoe. Would I recommend this shoe? 100% yes I would!