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Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte Review

    Finding lightweight trail shoes can be difficult. The market currently looks more toward maximally cushioned shoes.  Additionally, trail shoes in general are heavier due to different upper and sole design compared to road shoes. So for those looking for lightweight trainers or racing flats on trails are limited to only a couple options. The Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte is one of them. Asics usually isn't a company I associate with trail running, but the company is making some interesting product moves recently. As someone with a preference for lightweight trainers, this is a shoe I had to get on my feet now that I have whole set of trails a mile from my house. Even though I have several other trails shoes now, I keep reaching for this one. Let's talk about why. 

 


Specifications (per Asics)
Weight: 8.8 oz (men's size 9), 7.2 oz (women's size 7)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Lightweight Trainer / Trail Racing Shoe




RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte is a lightweight trainer/racer for the trails. Featuring a snug and breathable mesh upper and a lightweight Flytefoam midsole, this shoe is agile and fast. The direction specific lugs provide traction and security on all kinds of terrain (uphill, downhill, smooth and technical) while the lightly cushioned and responsive sole make picking up the pace very easy. For those looking for a more minimal trainer or racing shoe for the trails, this FujiTrabuco Lyte is an excellent choice.




FIT (LENGTH WIDTH COMFORT)

Matt: The Asics FujTrabuco Lyte fits me snug and true to size in my normal men's size 10. The width fits on the snugger side initially but the upper does break in after a few miles. This is a "snug secure" feeling rather than a "snug tight." There is plenty of security from this and I never had to lace lock this shoe at all despite taking them on technical trails while running fast. Those with wide feet will not likely fit into this shoe however and wides are not available in the US as far as I know (those in the Asian market will have to tell me). The fit is best for narrow to normal width feet. The length is just right in my size 10. There is a tiny bit of room at the end of the shoe to deal with swelling and downhill descents, but not enough that my feet move. The upper overall feels durable and slightly thick for such a light shoe. This comes from the large number of overlays on all parts of the upper, which along with the toe guard do provide plenty of protection from sharper objects. The ASICS logo actually contributes to the upper security and again made my foot feel fairly locked in. 

      The heel fits slightly snug and there is a heel counter. The counter has plenty of padding around the heel collar so I don't notice it. The midfoot also fits snug. I have had some extra pressure from the laces on the top of my foot and am still trying to figure out how to best distribute the pressure. For those sensitive to pressure from laces, know the thin ones can dig in on the top of your foot if you tie them too tight. Luckily the shoe is already snug so I have not had to do that. The tongue is fairly stable and moderately thick. The forefoot is also a hair snug in a racing style manner. There isn't a ton of room for toe splay, but it is secure and I have had zero issues with blisters. Overall the upper fits snug and true to size. Best of all? I don't notice it at all while running.



PERFORMANCE (RIDE STABILITY SPEED )

Matt: The Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte is a low riding, firmer, responsive and relatively stable trail shoe. The thinner Flytefoam midsole does provide some protection, but this shoe is meant to provide good ground feel, responsiveness and agility. The cushioning is a bit firmer even on trail and is extremely hard on road. I would recommend this shoe primarily for trails as the mile of road to the trails from my house is a bit harsh. However, it is no more harsh than many low riding/minimal shoes I have used in the past. There is not a rock plate in this shoe, so running over extremely sharp rocks may not be a great idea. However, the Flytefoam midsole does provide some protection and the good ground feel kept me light on my feet. The Asicsgrip and fantastic lugs provide some of the best traction I have experienced. No matter the terrain I did not lose my footing, The reverse direction lugs at the rearfoot provide excellent traction with steep descents and even on loose terrain I did not have a problem. The lugs are not the deepest for extremely soft ground but for everything else, the grip and traction are awesome. Despite a decent amount of road use, the outsole has been incredibly durable. I have almost 50 miles of hard running in this shoe and the shoe looks pretty much brand new.

      There is a 4mm heel toe drop and it is very noticeable. There is a significant amount of toe spring too despite the decently flexible forefoot, which makes the drop feel even lower. Once the pace picks up this feels faster, but at slower speeds it almost feels like a zero drop shoe. There is a very mild bevel at the rearfoot and landings are firm with a quick transition forward. The midfoot width stays more consistent with the rest of the shoe, which combined with the snug fit and firmer sole provides a naturally stable ride. This is not a stability shoe as there are no elements of traditional stability. However the firmer ride, great lock down and heel counter will provide those with mild stability needs enough. The forefoot is an interesting mix of the previously mentioned toe spring and flexibility. The major flex point for the sole is at the forefoot, with the heel and midfoot being more rigid. The toe spring is very noticeable and feels a bit awkward until the pace picks up. Once you get to a normal pace it feels fine, but going at high speeds is where this makes the ride really fluid. Bombing down trails and particularly when transition to flat areas is where the "racing flat" feel really comes alive. This shoe really comes alive when the pace picks up. For workouts and races up to the half marathon on moderate to less technical trails (unless you are experienced with more minimal shoes) this shoe is an excellent choice.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: Toe spring is the upward curve in the forefoot of many shoes. The use of this much toe spring in a low riding shoe with such a low drop and already good flexibility is interesting. Asics did a great job making the major flex point in the forefoot, where most sagittal plane motion should occur in the foot (not including the ankle). With that much flexibility, I was initially confused as to the purpose of the toe spring. For those that are sensitive to it, this may not be an optimal shoe. Often times shoes with higher stack heights have enough midsole that toe spring can be integrated in without holding the toes in extension. In this case, the lower stack height with toe spring will keep the toes in extension. For those that do not have the minimum 60 degrees of metatarsophalangeal (toe joints) extension, this shoe will not work for you. For those that do and can tolerate this, it does provide a really smooth toe off at speed. The toe spring and flexibility means this shoe has a bit more specific purpose as an uptempo shoe and those who can handle lower drops. The lower heel drop and toe spring do put a little more constant tension on the plantar fascia just because it is tensed up as part of the windlass mechanism. This will certainly help lock up the arch, which forces the foot into a more stable position. However, just know that there are some biomechanical requirements to run in this shoe. This "tool" will require you to have a health plantar fascia, at least 60 degrees of toe extension, at least 15-20 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion and some solid calf strength (+20 single leg calf raises). This is a more minimal shoe and that will require more work form your feet and ankles.




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: I am still running and and experimenting with a this amount of toe spring in a low riding shoe.  As much as I like it, I think ASICS should smooth that out and see if that can integrate that better into the midsole, instead of holding the toes in extension. That may not be feasible and this shoe just be for a specific population. With the firmness and low stack height of this shoe, it is heavier than it needs to be. The upper is thicker than necessary, particularly with the ASICS logo providing great lock down at the midfoot. My biggest suggestion would be to lighten up the upper so we can get that weight down at least to 8 or sub 8 ounces. That will make this shoe far more competitive with others like the Salomon S/Lab Sense 8.



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Asics FujiTrabuco Lyte is a more durable, fast and responsive lightweight trainer/racer for the trails. For those with strong feet/ankles looking to pick up the pace, this shoe is an excellent choice. The firmer Flytefoam combined with moderate toe spring, good flexibility, a lighter ride and excellent multidirectional traction make this shoe great for a variety of uptempo efforts over a variety of terrain. The snug fit and secure fit make this shoe great for turning corners and quick agile responses to terrain changes. I appreciate ASICS contributing a lighter and faster shoe to the trail running world and look forward to getting more fast miles on the FujiTrabuco Lyte.




GRADING
Matt
Fit:          B+ (Snug and secure, but laces difficult to optimally tighten)          
Performance:  A (Light, fast and agile. More protection than expect for a low riding shoe)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Confusing to use toe spring with a shoe with already good forefoot flexibility. Points for reverse lugs during downhills)
Personal: A- (Really like this shoe, but limited in distance due to firmer ride despite 8.8 oz weight)           
Overall: B+

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 purchased with a 50% medical discount directly from ASICS.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. 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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