Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Long ago when I began my jump into minimal shoes, one of the those was the Asics Gel-Hyperspeed 5.  It was a pretty awesome shoe with a 6mm drop, responsive cushioning and weighing around 7 ounces.  It was great but the drainage holes in the forefoot drove me crazy as they would pick up almost every small rock I came upon.  I put them through their paces and then moved on to the original Kinvara which I stayed in for a long time.  I didn't give much thought to the hyperspeed other than hearing that it was being discountinued a few years ago.  I was more a fan of the Asics Piranha, so it didn't bother me too much.
    Not long ago photos began emerging of Ryan Hall in a new shoe.  Talk of the Asics Gel-Hyperspeed 6 began to show up and then boom.  There it was.  The successor to the very popular Asics Gel-Hyperspeed 5.  And that is the shoe that's on deck today for a review.

    Without further ado, let's talk about Asics's premier racing flat: the Gel-Hyperspeed 6.

Sole:  The biggest thing you will notice with the sole is how soft it feels.  The Hyperspeed 6 definitely does NOT have a firm ride.  It's fairly soft and cushioned for a racing flat while being a little closer to the ground than a lightweight trainer.  Maybe you'll thing it's firm if you're coming from the Asics Nimbus or a Hoka shoe, but I am not.
    The other major change I noticed is that the sole is much narrower than the Hyperspeed 5.  While the 5 felt like a stable (not supportive.  No medial posting at all) and well balanced shoe, the Hyperspeed 6 feels narrow underfoot and unstable.  Granted I am a bit of a pronator, but I spend a great deal of time in shoes like the Altra Instinct, Mizuno Wave Universe 4, Kinvara 5 (as of yesterday) and more and those shoes feel much more stable underfoot due to slightly wider bases.  It's also probably due to the huge cut out in the medial arch, which just like my experience with the Nike Zoom Streak XC/LT series makes the shoe even more unstable combined with a narrow last.  The upper isn't too narrow (more on that in a bit), but the sole certainly feels like that.
    Asics has also taken away those extremely irritating holes in the Hyperspeed 5 for a full ground contact outsole in the Hyperspeed 6.  There is one drain hole in the midfoot, but I haven't had any rocks get stuck in it like the last version.  I guess that holes in the Hyperspeed 5 wouldn't have been so bad if they hadn't gotten so many rocks stuck in them.  That's what made it frusterating and was the only thing I didn't like about it.  The Hyperspeed 6 takes care of that issue with a full ground contact forefoot along with deeper flex grooves that also make the shoe very flexible.
    Typical of Asics's shoes, the midfoot is slightly cut out, separating the forefoot and heel.  Luckily because this was done so minimally the Hyerspeed 6 practically has a full ground contact outsole and I do not feel that separation that I normally hate in shoes.  Mostly because it's really not there.  The only bit that is there is from the separation between the forefoot and heel high abrasion rubber areas.  Which are fairly durable (see durability).

Upper/Fit:  I have to put this out there.  I hate the insoles.  They just plain suck.  Sorry Asics, but I had to say it.  After putting about 10 miles in the shoe during my first test run (2 mile warm up, 6 mile tempo, 2 mile cooldown), the insole started slipping around when I put the shoe on, took the shoe off and when I didn't have the shoe absolutely locked on to my foot.  I dealt with this issue and it hasn't bothered me too much during the run (it has a bit and contributes a bit to the unstable feel), but I am now going to try running without the insoles.  They are pissing me off that much.  The plus is that the inside of the shoe only has a few major stitch points that with a pair of socks shouldn't be too much of an issue, but I'll have to try this out and report back.  I've put about 75 miles in this pair and I think the shoe is broken in enough for me to try insole free running.  Although this will require socks.
    The upper has decent room for a racing flat but initially is a bit narrow in the forefoot.  The upper is fairly stiff and initially does not flex well with the foot.  My pinky toe felt especially pinched by that last and furtherest forward stripe of the Asics logo.  Eventually it broke in after about 20 miles, but keep in mind at first it may feel narrow.  And not just racing flat narrow.  Racing flats should have a narrow form fitting grip on your foot that keeps you locked down but not pinched.  I would never call myself locked in with this shoe because of a little more spacious heel and no extra last eyelet (for laces) to use a runner's loop lacing technique to lock in my heel.  I had to really tie the laces tight to keep my heel from slipping out of the shoe.  That combined with a bit of a stiff upper intially made me want to hate this shoe.  I gave it a try over using by skipping the first few eyeltes which gave me a bit more wiggle room and then I tried running without socks.  That also helped.... kinda.
   You can run sockless in this shoe if you get used to it.  I had some chaffing on the top of my foot and the sides felt a bit rough because I don't think the upper was designed with sockless running in mind.  However with few seams it turned out ok and my feet eventually got used to them.  Now that I'm throwing the insole out I'll go back to socks.  After testing them out walking around my apartment without the insoles and with socks (while writing this review) they seem to be ok.  Again, I'll report back later.

Responsiveness:  This is not the most responsive racing flat out there.  I'd actually call it one of the least responsive of all the ones I've worn.  What this shoe does have is a lot of cushioning for being so light as I mentioned earlier.  For that reason I would use this shoe for the half to full marathon distance or tempo runs/long runs.  It does not have the get up and go required for 5k/10k racing like the Mizuno Wave Universe 4 or 5, the Asics Blazingfast, the Asics Piranha, the Saucony Type A5 (have not tried the A6 yet), the Brooks T7 racer (very versatile) or the Asics Hagio (just listing the ones I've run in or tried).  However, what this shoe has over all of those shoes listed (except the T7 racer) is that the cushioining is more than sufficient for long runs or the marathon.  There is quite a bit there.  There's almost no pop that I usually get from racing flats, but they will protect your feet.
   However, I do love this shoe for longer tempo runs.  It's one of my favorites because of the cushioning.  Since I live in an area where I can't take two pairs of shoes with me and leave one behind while I do a workout without fear of having them stolen (I currently live in Pomona, CA), this shoe provides some cush for the warm up and cooldown.

Heel-Toe Drop/Ramp:  The heel drop is listed at 6mm but feels more like 4-5mm (not that 1-2mm makes a difference).  There's a little protection there but not too much.

Durability:  What's amazing to me is that this shoe actually has decent durability for a racing flat.  After over 60 miles in the Hyperspeed 6, there is almost no wear on the heel.  In fact, most wear is in the forefoot but is actually not that bad.  It's a bit chewed up but I can see myself easily getting at least 150 miles out of this racing flat if not more.  Generally for a 5 ounce shoe I expect more like 100, but it seems to be holding up well.  There are absolutely no fraying, ripping or major wear of the upper.  Other than being a little dirty the Asics Hyperspeed 6 is holding up very well for a racing flat.  I'm really impressed with this aspect of the shoe.  That combined with the fact this shoe is only $85 dollars really makes the Hyperspeed 6 a really good deal.

Weight:  At 5.6 ounces, this shoe is pretty dang light for how much cushioning it has.  I'd expect it to be at least in the 6-7 ounce range, but Asics really stepped up their game.  This weight reduction also might be due to how much Asics narrowed the sole, which does again make the shoe feel a bit unstable.  It does not feel clunky in any way shape or form.

Thoughts as a SPT (Student Physical Therapist):  Other than the non-anatomical toe-box, I would say the narrow sole could be a problem (and this is just me being nitpicking), but it really depends on the person.  Again the narrow sole lends itself to an unstable ride, however someone with a rigid high arch is not going to have any issues with a shoe like this.  Others like myself may.  I tend to prefer shoes with a wider base, but that's more personal preference based on my own mechanics.  Everyone will respond differently.

Final Thoughts:  So overall the Hyperspeed 6 will do very well for you if you want a well priced, very lightweight shoe that has enough cushioining to handle the half or full marathon distance and will last you a long time.  For those people who like training in mininalist shoes this might be a good option if you want more cushioining but don't want to sacrifice weight.  It was an interesting experience to try this shoe out and I will continue to use it for tempo runs and shorter recovery runs where I want a lightweight shoe.  The Hyperspeed 6 would not be my first choice for a 5k or 10k, but definitely for a half marathon.  The upper has ended up fitting ok, but I would still like to see an additional eyelet in the shoe to lock in my foot a bit better in the next generation.
   I have very much enjoyed breaking in this shoe and using it on longer tempo runs.  It has certainly saved me legs while remaining lightweight and at the same time was well worth the money for how durable it is.  I'm very curious to see where Asics goes with the Hyperspeed 7, because with a few tweaks this could be an absolutely amazing shoe.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to Tack On!

These shoes were a personal purchase and I put at least 100 miles on every pair of shoes before I review them (except racing flats which I put in at least 75 miles).

As always, my views are my own.  

-Matt Klein, SPT

*Images obtained from the Asics America website.  Go down to your local running specialty retailer to check them out!

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