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Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 Review

Super structured stability model to keep you upright and on track.
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Price:  $150 List | $118.60 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Padded upper, good support, roomy toe box
Cons:  Retains heat and moisture, heavier, limited flexibility, heel less padded
Manufacturer:   Asics
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 30, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 17
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6
  • Landing comfort - 25% 6
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Upper comfort - 10% 7
  • Breathability - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21 are heavy-duty stability shoes for runners in need of serious structure. They sport a long list of features engineered to keep feet straight and level from landing through toe-off. They temper those features with a heavy helping of cushion and padding to add a degree of gentleness to what would otherwise be a rigid running shoe. These are ideal for occasional runners that are more concerned about getting out on the road than they are with lighting it on fire. If turkey trots are your jam, you'll be interested in these, especially if you're concerned with controlling your gait.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Padded upper, good support, roomy toe boxFlashy, fast, extra comfortable upper and landingStable, super comfortable upper, breathable, stylishAffordable racing flats, more comfortable updated design, lightResponsive, supportive fit, roomy toebox, flashy, lightweight, springy
Cons Retains heat and moisture, heavier, limited flexibility, heel less paddedOn the heavier side, can feel too stiff, premium priceClunky, may wear down quickly, priceyLimited durability, less attractive, less responsiveOutsole picks up rocks and gravel, toebox can be too flexible, tongue can rub
Bottom Line Super structured stability model to keep you upright and on track.It doesn’t get much better than these plush speedsters.Best choice for a comfortable, stable distance shoe.Fast racing flats that will get you across the line in comfort.A fast, high performance shoe best suited to mid-distance.
Rating Categories Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 Brooks Glycerin 17 Brooks PureFlow 7 On Cloud X
Responsiveness (25%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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6
Landing Comfort (25%)
10
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6
10
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8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Weight (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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9
Durability (10%)
10
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7
10
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6
10
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6
10
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6
10
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5
Upper Comfort (10%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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9
Breathability (10%)
10
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4
10
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8
10
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6
10
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8
10
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9
Specs Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 Nike Air Zoom... Brooks Glycerin 17 Brooks PureFlow 7 On Cloud X
Weight (oz per pair for size 11) 24.6 oz 22.3 oz 23.2 oz 20.8 oz 17.8 oz
Toe to Heel Drop 10 mm 10 mm 10 mm 4 mm 6 mm
Width Options Regular Regular, Wide, Extra Wide Regular, Wide Regular Regular
Style (Traditional, Minimalist, etc.) Traditional Traditional Neutral Neutral Neutral
Sizes Available 6 - 16 6 - 15 7 - 15 7 - 14 7-13
Upper Material Mesh Mesh Synethetic Stretch weave Synthetic
Midsole Material Flytefoam Nike React DNA Loft BioMoGo DNA EVA
Sole Rubber AHAR Rubber Rubber Blown carbon Rubber

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.

Performance Comparison


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!

Responsiveness


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.

These are a little stiffer than some of the comfort models  but the GEL cushioning and FlyteFoam Propel midsole go a long way to dampening the road noise.
These are a little stiffer than some of the comfort models, but the GEL cushioning and FlyteFoam Propel midsole go a long way to dampening the road noise.

Landing Comfort


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.

The GEL cushioning can be seen at the very back of the heel to cushion the landing.
The GEL cushioning can be seen at the very back of the heel to cushion the landing.

Weight


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.

The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21 comes in at 24.6 ounces in a pair of men's 11  making it one of the heavier models  but squarely in the range for stability shoes.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21 comes in at 24.6 ounces in a pair of men's 11, making it one of the heavier models, but squarely in the range for stability shoes.

Durability


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.

ASICS does a great job of covering the vulnerable spots with tough rubber and other protective features.
ASICS does a great job of covering the vulnerable spots with tough rubber and other protective features.

Upper Comfort


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.

Breathability


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.

This model has a bit of ventilation  but it's a warmer shoe that will do better during the cooler parts of the day and year.
This model has a bit of ventilation, but it's a warmer shoe that will do better during the cooler parts of the day and year.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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?

The ASICS are best suited to runners looking for staff stability shoes.
The ASICS are best suited to runners looking for staff stability shoes.


Ryan Baham