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Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 Review

   Asics has been on fire with their development recently. Releasing both sustainable shoes as well as new and incredible performance updates, 2020 has been good. According to our recent interview with ASICS (shout out to Chad Mullevay, Asics Global Product Line Manager), 2021 is going to be even better. The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is a great example of this. Updated completely with sustainable materials, men's and women's specific designs for stability and transition and awesome fit and rides. For those who love the Asics Cumulus or Nimbus series, this is an awesome option for faster days or a great all around lighter weight trainer. 



Specifications (per ASICS USA)
Weight: 9.1 oz men, 7.8 oz women
Stack Height: 25mm/15mm men, 27mm/14mm female
Drop: 10 mm men, 13 mm drop women
Classification: Neutral Daily/Lighter Weight Trainer



RUNNING SHOE HIGHLIGHTS

Matt: The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 returns as a stable, lighter weight, great fitting lightweight trainer. A smooth ride with mildly soft full length Flytefoam midsole provides protection and a little bounce. An eco friendly and very comfortable engineered mesh sits up top, providing a surprising amount of room in the forefoot and still a secure fit in the back. Featuring a beveled heel and great forefoot flexibility, the Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is an excellent continued evolution of ASICS lightweight modern day twist on the Nimbus.




FIT

Matt: The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 fits true to size in my size 10 men's if not a hair long. The engineered mesh upper is very comfortable and the fit is a little on the wider side throughout the length of the shoe. The heel fits slightly wider and although very comfortable I did have to lace lock the shoe for security. There is a low heel counter in the rear, but the heavy amount of cushioning in the heel collar prevented me from feeling it (those sensitive to heel counters will not notice this one). The midfoot fits slightly wide and the thick tongue is fairly stable. I had to rework the laces as I did get some extra pressure on the top of my midfoot around my cuboid/lateral cuneiform area. The laces need to be worked to distribute pressure evenly or they will put a bit too much pressure where you tighten them down individually. Other than that the hold is decent. The forefoot actually fits slightly wide. There is enough room for mild toe splay without being sloppy. The upper mesh can be worn sockless, but I would suggest socks for those without experience with sockless wear.




RIDE

Matt: The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 has a unique ride. The midsole is lightly cushioned with Flytefoam with a smooth toe off. The heel does have a bevel, although the posterior heel flare does cause some early initial contact. This does take a bit of time to get used to, but the foam does seem to compress well at the heel. The landing is soft and protective and transitions smoothly once you get over that posterior heel flare. The midfoot is fairly smooth and stable, transitioning to a more flexible forefoot. The forefoot flexibility is excellent and toe off is smooth at both slower and faster paces. The forefoot is a bit firmer than the rearfoot and feels very responsive when you get up on your toes. There is a 10mm heel drop in the men's version, which with the compressible foam at the heel and the bevel was not noticeable. 




STABILITY

Matt: For a neutral shoe, the Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is very stable. I generally need at least mild stability and had no trouble running fast or long in this shoe. The outsole is full ground contact, the outsole midfoot is reinforced medially with AHAR and the wider last with sole flare in the right spots provides great natural stability. This is a neutral shoe and there are no traditional methods of stability, but this is a very stable one. There is a slight difference in outsole coverage, which provides a bit more stability for women and a bit more durability for men. The men's shoe has an additional pad of AHAR in the midfoot, while the women's does not. This should make that medial AHAR strip a bit more prominent in the women's version and will great just a hair more resistance to medial motion compared to the mens. Like the Kayano Lite (REVIEW), the sole is flared both medially and laterally in the heel and forefoot. The midfoot has a slight medial flare, but none on the lateral side (which will bias the foot laterally at the midfoot). The elevated lateral midfoot is interesting and again should make staying a bit more neutral for those with medial deviation easier. Those with excessive lateral deviation during the gait phase (ie what we used to call supination, but should not), may find this to bottom out a bit here. For those who land at the midfoot or forefoot initially, the flare of the forefoot and that midfoot area have a bevel to them, which makes the ride smooth. An interesting design that is well worth checking out for those either with mild stability needs or those with neutral mechanics that want a stable shoe.




SPEED

Matt: The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is a lightweight trainer on the trainer side. I have used this shoe for long runs, daily mileage, a tempo and 1000m repeats. While not the lightest shoe, it was able to do decent at the tempo and 1000m repeats. The Flytefoam has some bounce to it, particularly at higher speed and the forefoot flexibility makes toe off smooth. It certainly isn't the fastest shoe and I would prefer something like the upcoming Hyperspeed or the Metaracer for faster workouts and races personally. The posterior heel flare does make the shoe a bit clompy at moderate paces, but slow and fast paces are great. There is plenty of cushioning here for longer mileage and those training in the Cumulus or Nimbus may find this as a protective workout shoe or marathon racer. Others wanting slightly lighter bu still solidly cushioned shoes will find a lightweight trainer with plenty of cushioning for mileage but the responsiveness for a bit of speed.




DURABILITY

Matt: The Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is a decently durable shoe. The upper has shown zero signs of wear and the Flytefoam midsole is still bouncy after over 80 miles of use. The outsole on my left posterior lateral side however has already been chewed through and I am just begining to get to the midsole. This is fairly normal for me as I am very hard on shoes, but I am also seeing a bit of wear in the center of the forefoot. Although the upper and midsole will last, the slightly early outsole wear suggests that this shoe will last a fairly average number of miles, probably in the 300-500 range.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: I have discussed the wonderful recent trend in the running industry to start thinking about men's and women's specific footwear lasts for some time. We know that men and women have different bodies, shapes and biomechanics. The feet are no exception to this and more information can be found in my post on Running Shoe Fit. There was a rumor in Running Shoe Geeks that the heel drop is greater in the women's version as women may be more prone to Achilles tendon injuries. I have not heard this from Asics nor do I believe this to be the case. The opposite is actually true, as women not only have better cross sectional area (CSA) compliance, they also experience lower loads through their Achilles tendons and being male is actually a significant risk factor for Achilles tendon injuries and ruptures (Andrew & Jonathan, 2014; Intziegianni et al., 2017; Vosseller et al., 2013). So based on previous research, women actually have a lower risk of injury as they have more adaptable Achilles tendons and experience lower loads. More recent literature has suggested that higher lower extremity loading with decreased tendon stiffness is actually more of a risk factor than gender, however further research is needed (Lorimer & Hume, 2014; Lorimer & Hume, 2016). Knowing the excellence of the ASICS Sport Science Lab, I am sure this is not the reason for the higher heel drop. There are also differences in ramp and midsole height based on shoe size, so this may be another reason. There may have be a difference in female Achilles tendon length or a difference in comfort with different heel heights in the wear testing group used for the development of this shoe. Whatever the reason, I would love the ASICS development team to comment on this as I know they have a good reason. If there is some recent updated research on gender based Achilles tendon risk factors, let me know!! Regardless of gender, strength of the calf muscles is very important given that they both control forward progression of the tibia during midstance and act in propulsion toward the second half of stance phase. Eccentric training has been frequently suggested for training and as a rehabilitative method for chronic Achilles tendon issues (Lorimer & Hume, 2014; Lorimer & Hume, 2016). So regardless of your gender, keep your calf muscles strong!



RECOMMENDATIONS 

Matt: The Nimbus Lite 2 is a great shoe. The stability for a neutral shoe is great. However, there are a few things that may further progress the shoe. Reducing the posterior heel flare will make initial contact at the heel far smoother. While I do like the bevel, the rear flare does make things a bit clunky, especially at the beginning of runs. The fit is nice and fits slightly wider, but the tongue and upper could be a bit more secure. I think reducing the size of the tongue may help in addition to securing the midfoot a bit better. I would suggest something to improve durability of the outsole, but this is a lightweight trainer, so to avoid adding additional weight, it is fine as is.





WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is an excellent eco-friendly, lighter weight, daily trainer that does decent at both long runs and some uptempo efforts for those with average to wider feet. The Flytefoam cushioning compresses well, which combined with a very stable platform and a flexible forefoot makes for a decently flexible ride. The upper fits on the wider side and will definitely accommodate those with wider feet. A great lighter weight cushioned shoe or workout/faster day shoe for those used to the traditional Cumulus or Nimbus, the Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2 is a continued demonstration of ASICS forward evolution in footwear design. I am certainly forward to everything else they bring on in 2021!


GRADING
Matt
Fit                    9 /10 (Plenty of room, needs some additional security)
Ride                 9 /10 (Slightly soft, smooth forefoot. Heel a bit clunky with flare)
Stability           10 /10 (Really stable ride for neutral shoe. Sole flare, outsole positioning)
Speed               9 /10 (Good speed for a lightweight trainer but not the fastest)
Durability        8 /10 (Early outsole wear, but good durability of cushioning and upper)

Total Score: 90% (M: 9/10 N: IP/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 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 provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at ASICS for sending us a pair.  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 we have 81 miles (Matt) and (in progress) miles (Nathan) on our pairs. 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.

References

Andrew, G., & Jonathan, S. (2014). Comparison of Achilles tendon loading between male and female recreational runners. Journal of Human Kinetics, 44(1), 155-159.

Intziegianni, K., Cassel, M., Hain, G., & Mayer, F. (2017). Gender differences of Achilles tendon cross-sectional area during loading. Sports medicine international open, 1(4), E135.

Lorimer, A. V., & Hume, P. A. (2014). Achilles tendon injury risk factors associated with running. Sports Medicine, 44(10), 1459-1472.

Lorimer, A. V., & Hume, P. A. (2016). Stiffness as a risk factor for achilles tendon injury in running athletes. Sports Medicine, 46(12), 1921-1938.

Vosseller, J. T., Ellis, S. J., Levine, D. S., Kennedy, J. G., Elliott, A. J., Deland, J. T., ... & O’Malley, M. J. (2013). Achilles tendon rupture in women. Foot & Ankle International, 34(1), 49-53.

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