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Asics Sortiemagic RP4 Tenka Initial Review

For those that know this website and myself, I have a thing for Asian market racing shoes.  Ask most shoe reps from Adidas, Asics, Mizuno, New Balance or Nike, and they will tell you about a large market of racing shoes available there that are not available in the US.  Why?  There is very little market for extremely lightweight racing flats in the US.  In Japan, racing is taken very seriously.  The lighter the shoe, the better.  It is not uncommon to see someone use a shoe we in the US would think of as a 5k flat for a marathon.   The Asics Sortiemagic RP4 Tenka is one of those shoes.  The Asics Sortie series is a group of extremely lightweight racing flats that are almost exclusive to Japan.  Some of them have been fairly unchanged over the years, whereas as others like the Sortiemagic RP4 are very modern.   I was lucky enough to notice that a few pairs suddenly appeared on the Asics US website and saw the opportunity to try a pair.  So of course I grabbed one.


Specifications (per Asics)
Weight: 4.9 oz (men's size 9)
Stack Height: 19 mm / 9 mm
Drop: 9 mm
Classification: Racing Flat


FIT/UPPER

Being a Japanese racer, the fit is a little wider than traditional 5k-10k flats.  It still fits narrower than trainers, but do not expect that typical snug fit in the heel and midfoot.  I did have to lace lock the rear part of the shoe due to slightly more room there than I would want for a racing shoe.   The toe box does taper fairly quickly as with most Asics shoes, so I immediately felt pressure on my 1st and fifth toes.  I assume this may stretch with time, but again was very apparent early on. 


The upper is a classic suede material.  There do not appear to be any internal seams, but the material is a little thicker than most current racing shoes.  There is a stiff heel counter in the rear portion of the shoe.  Although it stabilizes the back of the shoe well, there is no padding between it and your heel, so those with sensitive heel bones (like me) will notice it immediately.  Sizing wise the Sortiemagic RP4 fits fairly true to size.  I'm a size 10 mens and it fits just a hair long, but not enough for me to want a 1/2 size down.


RIDE/SOLE

As expected with a 5k-10k racer, the ride is firm and close to the ground.  Thanks to the plastic trusstic system, the sole is fairly rigid in the midfoot and forefoot.  It feels like the trusstic actually extends into the forefoot as evident by the additional snappiness in the front of the shoe.  Although snappy when you are trying to run high speeds, it feels a little harsh at slower speeds.  There is a little cushioning in the heel due to a supposed gel insert, but this is not a cushioned shoe by any means.  There is a very minimal heel bevel that makes it smoother than most Asics, but the transitions at anything but high speeds can feel a little clompy if you land in the rearfoot. 


This is really a shoe meant for those who are running fast and landing farther forward on their feet.  Asics lists this shoe as having a 10mm drop but it feels far lower than that.  If I had to guess, it would be in the 4-6mm range.  The forefoot outsole nubs do provide excellent traction on the front of the shoe and dig into track very well.  So for those looking for an alternative to track spikes, the Asics Sortiemagic RP4 may be your shoe.


STABILITY/SPEED

5k-10k racers are not usually the most stable shoes (the Saucony Fastwitch 9 is an exception).  The ride is very firm and close to the ground, which should make it more stable.  The plastic shank gives the shoe extra rigidity and the heel counter does a decent job of trying to guide the heel.  However, the sole is fairly narrow and my foot feels like it is hanging off the medial (inner) side of the platform.  For those with stable feet, you should be fine, but for those that need a stable base, this will not be your shoe.  The narrow sole and even narrower midfoot had my feet falling off the sole on the inside.  Personally I would not take this shoe farther than a mile to 5k in terms of racing or use it for track workouts.  Those with more stable feet may be able to go up to 10k and those that are used to shoes this minimal may be able to take it farther.  For most though this is a 5k shoe. 


The ride is very fast and light.  The Sortiemagic RP4 feels best at high speeds from 5k downward.  It feels very similar to a track spike, but a little less aggressive than the typical spike plates.  As mentioned earlier, this would be a good replacement for those who want to avoid spikes when racing track.  The forefoot is particularly responsive and toeing off in the Sortiemagic is the best part of the ride.   As mentioned earlier, the heel landings are not the most smooth due to how low to the ground the shoe is, but over 5k most people will be fine.


CONCLUSION

The Asics Sortiemagic RP4 Tenka is an extremely fast and lightweight racing shoe for those looking to race the 5k and maybe 10k on the roads and track.  A snug forefoot will help lock down the foot similar to a track spike as long as you lace down the midfoot and heel well.  Although a great looking and interesting shoe, I am sending this one back due to the number of other racing shoes I am testing and the fact that this was a full retail personal purchase ($150).  I like this shoe, but not enough to keep it.  So after a few miles, I am sending it back.  The taper of the toebox, narrow sole and stiff heel counter were a little too much for me to want to pay for as those do not work with my normal stride.  If Asics ever sends me a pair, I will happily put it through the full paces for a full review.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full US retail price of $150 from Asics.com.  They were also returned to the same place.  Our initial reviews involve at least 3-5 miles of running prior to review. As these are personal purchases, if the shoes do not work for us, we will return them. Shoes however that are sent to us will always be put through the full testing process whether or not they work fully with our strides. If the Asics Sortiemagic RP4 are ever sent to us by Asics, we will put them through our normal full testing process for a full review. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.


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