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 Asics Gel-Kayano Lite Review

    Asics has been making some big moves in 2020. Once known as the consistent company that did similar things for decades, Asics has exploded with massive updates and brand new shoes. Our review of the Metaracer was exciting (REVIEW) but honestly I (Matt) was most excited for the Kayano Lite. Influenced by and yet a massive departure from the ongoing Kayano series, the Kayano Lite was to be a lighter and completely different Kayano. It has lived up to all the expectations and this is a perfect example of modernized, lightweight stability that will work for a large variety of people. 

 


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.9 oz (men's size 9), 8.9 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 31 mm / 21 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Lightweight Moderate Stability Shoe



HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: The Asics Gel-Kayano Lite is the 21st century Kayano. The performance Kayano is here with no posting, no trusstic system, a lighter ride, geometric designs for stability and a surprisingly accommodating eco friendly upper. Every part of this shoe was thought out extremely well and the result is an incredibly refined product. For those looking for a lighter stability shoe as an adjunct to the Kayano or other max stability shoes or just want a cushioned, stable, unique and lightweight shoe, the Asics Gel-Kayano should be on your try on list.

 

FIT

Matt: The Gel-Kayano Lite fits me true to size in my normal men's size 10. The fit is is fairly average to slightly roomy. The heel and midfoot are average width, but open into a surprisingly wide toe box. There is extra room up front, particularly on the lateral side of the foot as the curve is far less aggressive and more anatomic than many shoes (particularly Asics). The engineered mesh is extremely comfortable and breathable (although I have not tried running sockless). There is a heel counter, but a plush heel collar both secures and protects the rearfoot. Despite the extra room, the laces, 3D printed overlays (logo) and structure in the rearfoot provide a really secure yet comfortable upper. The added bonus is that the upper is made from recycled content polyester, so is very eco friendly.


RIDE

Matt: The ride of the Gel-Kayano Lite is the smoothest of any Asics shoe I have tried. There is more heel bevel than I think I have ever seen from them, although there is still some posterior flare. The ride is very smooth overall and the Eco Content Flytefoam runs slightly on the firm side. There is plenty of protective cushioning underfoot from heel to toe. The transition at the heel is fairly smooth, although a little clunky in the first few steps with the slight posterior flare. The entire ride is extremely stable thanks to the many components we will talk about in the stability section. The midfoot transition is so fluid given the lack of a torsion system and a full ground contact outsole. The toe off is super smooth thanks to some decent flexibility up from and perfectly moderated toe spring. The Eco Content Flytefoam is cushioned and provides a slightly firmer ride, but also has a high level of responsiveness when the pace is pushed. The full length use of this material makes the ride consistent from heel to toe. There is a 10mm drop but this was not noticeable except for the first few steps thanks to the improved bevel. The lighter weight is immediately noticeable for those who have run in other traditional Asics shoes (Kayano, Nimbus, etc) and it really feels more like a modern shoe.


STABILITY

Matt: Despite the lack of posting and a trusstic system, the Asics Gel-Kayano Lite is the most stable but accessibly stable shoe I have ever tried. By that I mean that a huge variety of people are going to be able to try this shoe and not just those who need stability. The full ground contact outsole provides a great and stable ride as mentioned above. There is  medial and lateral sole flare throughout the entire shoe, which greatly centers the ride without being pushy. The stability within the shoe is called "3D Space Construction," which involves using certain shapes within the midsole to slow down ankle motion as you transition through the gait cycle. This provides a totally unique amount of support and is noticeable depending on how much you are moving. It is different everyday for me depending on how fatigued my ankles are but is consistent in providing a really stable ride throughout the length of the shoe. This is all without a post and without the feeling of anything pushing into the feet. Additionally, the heel is beveled and has a lateral bias, which provides additional stability on landing. The Gel-Kayano Lite is the most stable shoe I have experienced that doesn't use traditional methods and it is executed beautifully.

 


SPEED

Matt: The Gel-Kayano Lite is like a lightweight trainer. I have used this shoe for long runs, easy runs, recovery runs and workouts. There is plenty of cushioning and protection for longer and recovery runs, but the Flytefoam stays mildly firm and responsive no matter what the mileage. As the pace picks up, the foam, responsiveness and smooth ride become even more apparent. I have used the Gel-Kayano LIte for hill repeats, fartleks and tempo runs with relative ease. The transition between easy pace and speed is also very fluid. It is not light enough for me to race in, but will definitely be a longer distance race shoe for those used to more stability. The Kayano Lite would pair very well with the normal Kayano as a race day shoe for many. For me, the Kayano Lite is a do it all trainer (not racer). Asics, please bring back the DS Racer series but like this.


DURABILITY

Matt: I have 75 miles on my pair of Gel-Kayano Lite because I can't stop reaching for them. There is zero wear on the upper (which still fits like new) and no creasing in the midsole. There is some wear on the outsole, but only a little in the posterior lateral heel (my normal spot) and the middle forefoot. The Gel-Kayano Lite did not take time to break in and felt great immediately. The Flytefoam midsole has softened just a little since the first 30 miles, but still has the same amount of responsiveness and stability. The grip is quite good on wet pavement, but I would not suggest taking these on anything but smooth trail as the full ground contact, smooth outsole may not be the best for that.
 


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: I have so many thoughts on this shoe. The Asics Gel-Kayano Lite has taken everything we know about stability and put it into great use. They use medial and lateral sole flare, a lateral biased heel bevel, a full ground contact outsole, a wider base and geometric stability to truly support the motion of the feet rather than forcing them or creating a barrier. The geometric stability in the midsole, the 3d Space Construction, uses shapes in the midsole to provide guided stability throughout the entire length of the. I do not know what this looks like internally, but from the outside it appears like there is a medial wedge. This is not drastically new as a few stability shoes like the Nike Structure and Nike Lunarglide have used similar concepts of wedged foams. Assuming this is the 3D shape Asics references, this is an effective way to provide individual stability. The more pressure you put through certain areas, the more you engage this type of platform. If you don't, you may not notice this. For those with stability issues at the ankle, this is a great design. Even for those without stability issues, this may be a great shoe for when you fatigue as evident by the wide population of people that ran in the Lunarglide. And remember our previous clinical concepts of who needs or does not need stability are not as sound as you may think (Check out our Youtube discussion on DOR Roundtable for an extensive discussion on stability).


RECOMMENDATIONS 

Matt: Dear Asics, outside of maybe reducing that posterior heel flare a bit, PLEASE don't change this shoe. The upper, midsole and outsole are all great. I love the stable ride. The foam is cushioned but stable and responsive. Don't mess this up.


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Asics Gel-Kayano Lite is for those looking for a versatile lightweight stability trainer that can handle workouts, easy runs and long runs. For runners looking to try something new in the stability world, this is a great shoe to consider if you want something a little lighter. For those used to maximum stability like the Asics Kayano, this could easily be a workout or race day option. For those that aren't sure if they need stability, this is a great option as the midsole design will only give you as much as you need. For those looking for a slightly wider fitting Asics stability shoe with no posting, no trusstic system and a lighter, slightly firmer and faster ride, definitely check out the Asics Gel-Kayano Lite. If you want to see a truly new age stability shoe, this is it. Well done Asics. Please bring back the DS Racer series and let this shoe inspire it.


GRADING
Matt
Fit                    10 /10 (Great toe box room, extremely comfortable upper, secure fit)
Ride                 9.5 /10 (Smooth and stable ride. Heel bevel great but needs a little less posterior flare)
Stability           10 /10 (Extremely well integrated, smooth and evolved stability)
Speed               10 /10 (Great speed for a trainer, will be a workout/racer for those in the Kayano. Transitions seamlessly between speed and easy paces)
Durability         9.5 /10 (Great durability, only a little outsole wear)

Total Score: 98% (M: 9.8/10 )

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:
Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He usually runs in stability shoes, but can handle a variety of shoes from neutral to max stability. He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up.

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

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased with a medical discount directly from ASICS. This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-50 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 75 miles (Matt) on my pair. Our views are based on our 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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