Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 is a bit on the clunky side, but don't let that scare you away; they're solid shoes for runners in need of support and comfort. They come in a little on the pricey side, but traditionalists will get a lot out of them. We spent a lot of time researching them and testing them out against the best running shoes available on the market today to make sure our review is as accurate and helpful as possible. The rest of this review consists of our findings.
To get a little spin control, we set up a range of performance measures to analyze the individual performance of the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21s. Those measures also allow us to objectively compare them to other top running shoes. Take a look below to see how they do!
There are two extremes in the design of stability shoes. Some models are fairly flexible with features that gently guide you into a more stable position, and then some models are inflexible and force you into position. The Asics are the latter. They're geared toward runners that need a lot of stiffness and don't mind the lack of freedom in their feet and gait.
To give them their impressive pop and bounce, they use FlyteFoam Propel, a nanofiber-based proprietary Asics foam with greater return and strength than comparable materials like standard foams. It works in combination with their Gel cushioning in the toe and heel to return even more energy with each step. That drastically improves the ride and makes this stable shoe worth a little more.
It's not the most comfortable running shoe around, but it's an acceptable shoe for runners looking for a sturdy shoe with lots of stability features, like the I.G.S (Impact Guidance System), Trusstic System Technology, and Guidance Line. All of these and others work to reduce pronation and bring your feet down and back out smoothly. That can be a bit of a pain if you aren't specifically looking for a stability shoe, but no matter your reason for being in them, their FlyteFoam Propel midsole, and Gel cushions help dampen the road. They also use a SPeVA 45 lasting foam to help cushion even inside the shoe.
At 24.6 ounces per pair of men's 11, they're not the lightest running shoes in the world, but they're packed with stability features and midsole cushioning. If you're after a stability shoe, this is about the weight range you can expect.
One of the tradeoffs with weight tends to be durability. Lighter shoes usually don't last as long as the heavier shoes. The Nimbus 21 is one of the tougher models. It uses a more robust build with stronger mesh and extra reinforcements around portions of the upper, including the eyelets. The midsole build with Asics' gel pads also helps preserve the cushioning ability of the shoe as compared to an EVA midsole, which tends to lose its compression capacity after a few seasons. And on the outsole, it uses AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Rubber) to preserve the sole and improve life. You can expect to get quite a few miles out of these.
The tough upper can feel a little coarse, but Asics' ORTHOLITE X-40 sockliner goes a long way to reducing the rub and making the shoe a lot more comfortable on those longer runs. The tongue and collar are also covered in soft, thick padding to provide a buffer against the otherwise rigid upper structure. Overall, it's a stiff shoe with a lot of finessing to make it a wearable stability shoe. Of course, it also helps that the toebox is nice and roomy so you don't feel crowded or too constrained, which can happen with some of the stability shoes. The SpEVAFOAM 45 lasting also goes a long way to improve the feel of the upper by allowing your foot to bounce and shift a bit more inside.
We'll go ahead and say it: this is a cool-weather shoe. The padding is thick and heavy, and the only area of light mesh is directly over the toes, which helps, but compared to the other models, it's limited for ventilation. The ORTHOLITE X-40 does feel a little more breathable than the thicker liners in other shoes, but that doesn't make up for a shoe that's generally warmer. You'll generally find that with stability shoes, so don't be discouraged from them if you need a sturdy shoe, but plan on doing your runs at dusk and dawn in the summers.
The asking price is a bit of an ask for these, though they may be right for a runner needing to rein in a pair of unruly feet. You might find that you're just as happy in a pair of more affordable Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19.
These kicks have a handful of great features that any runner could love, especially in the realm of cushion and padding. And for all their bulk and engineering, they're not too terribly heavy. But when it comes down to it, they are really geared toward two groups: the turkey trotter and the floppy footer. Guys that need a good, sturdy shoe for the occasional run will get a lot out of these and so will the guy with the noisy gait that needs to be steadied a bit. The GEL-Nimbus 21 has all sorts of stability features to bring your feet underfoot. And did we mention they use reflective materials to give you added visibility when you're out doing your training runs in the dark in fall and winter?
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