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ASICS Novablast 2 Multiple Tester Review


ASICS is continuing to push their innovation line of shoes with the Novablast 2. The Novablast 2 is a highly cushioned training shoe that utilizes FlyteFoam Blast to create a plush, bouncy, and surprisingly responsive ride.



Specifications 
Measured Weight: 9.7 ounces (Men's 9) ; 10.2 ounces (men's size 9.5)
Stack Height: Men's: 30mm forefoot/22mm heel, Women's: 29mm heel, 21mm forefoot
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Neutral Daily Trainer, Recovery Day Shoe


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The ASICS Novablast 2 is.a very soft, slightly snug fitting neutral daily training shoe. The ride from heel to toe features a ton of FlyteFoam Blast. This contributes to the highly cushioned but consistent ride throughout the length of the shoe. The upper features new sidewall/reinforcements in the heel that adds a bit of security in the rear foot and mid foot. The upper is slightly snug, but soft and comfortable against the skin. A shoe best for recovery days, mileage and for those with very neutral mechanics.

David: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a neutral daily training shoe that runs very plush and bouncy. The shoe does have an extended heel flare that can take a little getting used to, but the shoe runs very smooth throughout. The shoe utilizes FlyteFoam Blast throughout the entire length of the shoe creating a very soft and bouncy ride. There is also some heel flaring throughout which helps stabilize the soft platform. 

Nathan: The Novablast 2 was a really fine update to version one, changing many aspects of the shoe that made it difficult for me to run in while maintaining the soft and bouncy ride. The heel remains robust and is noticeable on the run, but the forefoot is where this shoe really shines. It was one of those times where I was disappointed to be finishing testing a shoe.


FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The fit of the Novablast 2 is slightly snug and true to size in my normal men's US 10. If I had narrower feet these might fit a hair long. The upper is extremely comfortable along the length of the shoe. The sockliner is very soft and this shoe can be worn sickles without any issue. The fit is slightly snug throughout the length of the shoe. The heel is a bit more snug, then it slowly opens into a snug but slightly less so midfoot and forefoot. There is extra padding around the heel collar that is quite soft and contributes somewhat to the snugger fit in the back. There is a very solid heel counter that is offset slightly by the cushioning. However, those that are sensitive to counters should be cautious of this shoe as I began to notice it more as that heel collar compressed. There is also somewhat of an external heel counter on the very lateral and medial sides of the heel. These progress into short sidewalls in the posterior midfoot. These makes for a very locked in heel, but it is a little stiff. The remainder of the upper is very locked in. There is not a ton of give to the upper, but it is still soft. So expect a fairly sturdy, well reinforced heel and midfoot with a tiny bit of flexibility in the forefoot. 

David: The upper of the Novablast 2 does fit true to size in my normal 9.5, but does fit a tad long. Width is normal throughout. The heel is definitely padded with a normally stiff heel counter. The hold on the heel is solid and I had no problems with heel slippage. The fit through the midfoot is normal, with a nice hold through the medial longitudinal arch. There is a toe guard, but it does not get in the way at all. The engineered mesh is like the rest of the shoe, plush and comfortable. It isn't the thinnest mesh out there but it is breathable enough for most uses. The toe box is normal width as well with enough room for toe splay, though it isn't overly wide. The heel also has an external heel counter which helps a little bit with hold and stability since the foam in the heel is very soft and may be unstable for some. Overall a good upper with minimal overlays, but does run long.  

Nathan: The Novablast 2 fits true to size for my men's size 9. There aren't any areas of the shoe that are noticeably narrow or wide, but the upper in the toe box does stretch quite a bit along the perforations, making it a quite accommodating toe box. If you were looking to really dial this shoe in for more performance training/racing, you could get away with going a half size down since it has just a touch of extra length and has the accommodating upper. Compared to V1, the upper holds the foot much more secure on the platform. The heel is rigid but well padded (but not overly padded), and actually was comfortable on a heel blister I had from another pair of shoes. For me, a great fit for daily miles and recovery runs. If I wanted to go faster, I'd probably go down a half size.


PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The ASICS Novablast 2 has a very soft ride from heel to toe. The Flytefoam Blast is incredibly soft at all parts of the shoe. There is quite a bit of give, but there is some rebound. The rear foot, with a huge slab of Blast foam is extremely soft. There is a heel bevel, but it is fairly short. There is quite a bit of foam sticking posteriorly behind the heel. This does cause an early initial contact for heel strikers, but the sensation is very mild due to how soft the foam is. The transition through the midfoot, although not the most stable, is fairly smooth thanks to the mostly full ground contact outsole. There is a little elevation in the midfoot that at slower paces I can feel the sole give a little. This sensation goes away as the pace picks up to a more normal pace. This transitions into a slightly wider forefoot that has a very soft but slightly flexible forefoot. The transition at the front is very smooth and soft. The ride is definitely best for recovery runs and easy mileage. The foam has plenty of give at slower paces and bounces along mildly. The ride is not mushy and has some mild rebound to it. However, it is too soft for any kind of uptempo work. Even trying to pick up the pace is hard as the sole starts to give too much. So these will be great for those who want a shoe for easy, recovery or long mileage where you want a soft smooth ride. 

David: The ASICS Novablast 2 was surprising for me. I knew it was going to be soft, but the bounciness and responsiveness was a shocker. I mainly use this shoe for recovery days, but the shoe has a solid bounce through the forefoot that makes you want pick up or maintain the pace you are at sometimes. The heel is very soft and you can feel it compress under you upon initial contact. The feeling can be a little strange at first especially since there is a heel flare on the shoe, triggering an early initial contact. The shoe does a good job of minimizing the slap on the ground that would normally result after that early initial contact though. There is a deep groove through the midline of the heel and midfoot, that spits off into a Y is definitely noticeable and helps give a sense a transition throughout. The forefoot has outsole along the midline of the shoe, with an oval of deep flex groove surrounding it. This is what gives it that big bounce sensation.

The shoe definitely does feel best at easier or daily paces, but gives you a nice fun sensation when running. This does kind of backfire going uphill however. The foam is so soft and the shoes flexibility makes it a little awkward on steep uphills, but on easy days that does not really matter. I'm thinking if the surrounding oval is covered with outsole only in the distal half of it so it is more of a true Y shape, that might do the trick. The heel flare and sole flaring medially and laterally is definitely noticeable through initial contact. I like that they did a sole flare on the sides in the heel and also coupled an external counter. This foam is really soft and bouncy, and so creating a little bit more stability in that region goes a long way. 

Nathan: Like I mentioned above, I was bummed to finish my testing for this shoe. The FF Blast midsole is soft, bouncy, and simply enjoyable to run in. Compared to version one, there are some major changes that made it enjoyable for me. The first is the slightly lower drop. The lower drop assisted in controlling the propulsion to the forefoot (instead of being "launched" there by the bigger heel), allowing for a more of a bouncy sensation from the FF Blast. The overall smooth transitions allowed for there to be a good balance between a flexible and rigid forefoot, which helped it perform well at daily/recovery paces but also rigid enough for picking up the pace a bit. I will say that in the first few miles I could feel the extra center piece of outsole in the middle of the forefoot, but this dissipated after a few miles in the shoe. 

Back at the heel, there is some good and some...not as good. The good is the large cutout through the middle of the shoe: this softened the landing in the center of the heel/midfoot, but maintained some rigidity on the sides (more on that in stability section). The softer area was very cushioned for me as a heel striker. The "not as good" was the continued bulkiness of the heel. It felt as though it was "in the way", particularly initially, but did almost feel like early contact with the ground. this is likely due to the larger posterior heel flare and also medial and lateral flaring at the heel. 

Overall, this was a shoe I would reach for for daily effort and recovery runs. Sure, it can pick up the pace, but like I said I'd probably want it a half size down for that. The foam is simply enjoyable, protective, and springy. This sits in the upper tier of daily trainers that fall into the "fun" category. 


STABILITY

Matt: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a very neutral shoe. While the introduction of the extra heel counter and the sidewalls in the posterior midfoot stabilize the foot on the platform, the Blast foam and midsole design is not the most stable. The heel and forefoot does have some medial and lateral flare which provides a bit more stability there. The outsole groove does provide a bit of guidance throughout the length of the shoe. However, the midfoot is extremely narrow and has very little stability. The foam is also soft enough that even with the upper stabilization, there is going to be extra movement when the foot is in contact with the ground. While this shoe is phenomenally better than the first version. However, this is going to be best for those with very stable ankles who can handle a soft ride. 

David: The ASICS Novablast 2 is far from a stability shoe, but has some elements that help keep it stable for its design. First the shoe utilizes sole flaring really well. The midsole has some grooves in it throughout which seems to help with compression and bounce to some degree since it has a little bit of decoupling. In the middle of this though, is an extended flare through the midsole, so the compression of the foam also moves into a flexible wedge. It's a pretty cool design and it can certainly be felt a little bet. The external heel counter and padded internal counter also do a good job of securing the heel in this shoe. The heel platform itself is pretty unstable, so it is nice to have those components integrated. The heel bevel is present, but it isn't huge. Because the foam is so soft the shoe seems to get away with it better, but a steeper bevel coupled with the flare may work a little better, similar to the Carbon X2 design. The outsole and midsole integration also is integrated well. The deep grooves help guide the motion linearly up until the forefoot and then forks off to allow for some compression and bounce through that region. In summary, this shoe is not stable, but they do a pretty good job of stabilizing where they can. The biggest room for improvement here would be at the heel and geometry. The midfoot and forefoot are done pretty well with the flex grooves and sole flaring. 

Nathan: I'm about to talk about a lot of things that make this significantly more stable than V1. But first...please hear me...this is not a stable daily trainer. It's a truly neutral shoe that has elements that actually make it unstable, namely how soft the foam is and the more narrow silhouette of the outsole in the midfoot. However, there are improvements. First, they filled in the midsole in the heel more. There were much larger portions of the midsole cutout on the medial and lateral sides in V1, which allowed the midsole to compress A LOT if you landed on either edge or if you moved one way or another. Having the midsole filled in created more "cross-links" between the foam, limiting the amount of compression medially and laterally. The second change was adding some increased side walls through the midfoot that are flush with the heel cup, creating a nice groove for your foot to sit in all the way to the forefoot. Finally, the deep cutout through the middle of the outsole almost creates a thick "guidance line" for your foot to travel through up to the toe. All these elements made this shoe runnable for me, whereas I was unable to test the original version due to feelings of instability. Lastly, the slightly lowered drop improved stability as the heel, although still large, doesn't feel like it is throwing you forward as much as the previous version, making the full transitions much smoother.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

For the DPT section today I want to talk about innovation of midsole and geometry. The Novablast 2 has a very distinct design to their midsole with this triangular wedge pattern scattered throughout the entirety of the heel and midfoot. Aesthetically it looks cool, but functionally the foam design does seem to have some impact on the ride. By having the foam decoupled in multiple regions throughout like that, the foam can compress and interact with the remainder of the platform much more uniquely. The foam almost acts like it is decoupled, and the foam can compress as individual units throughout, rather than one single block of midsole with no ridges. Even at the back of the heel flare there is a rounded ridge along the posterior aspect of it which makes this landing at the heel very bouncy as it sinks and transitions into the midfoot. All of this is in theory, but anytime you can attenuate and disperse forces to wider cross sectional area or into different regions of the shoe and midsole, that means less jarring forces up the chain into the legs. This isn't a hard science, and one could even argue this would mean more muscular activation for creating torque and stability, but for the sake of impact attenuation it does make the landing feel much softer and bouncy.

- David Salas, PT, DPT, CSCS



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a soft, bouncy shoe that people with very neutral mechanics will enjoy. There is a ton of cushioning here for how relatively light the shoe feels. Not every shoe needs to be a stability shoe, but there are a few characteristics that could be added to help this shoe out. Widening the midfoot is a very easy way to do this. This may mean widening the groove through the midfoot and moving the contact points a little farther out. The heel bevel also needs to be extended further and the posterior flare needs to be reduced. This will reduce any early initial contact. Even though the foam is soft enough that the foam compresses and reduces some of the shock of the early initial contact, there is still an early initial contact. For those that are heel strikers, there is going to be excessive motion there, which combined with an early initial contact may cause a little more torsion at the Achilles tendon. Tendon disorders typically do not do well with soft unstable surfaces. This has less to do with pronation and more about early initial contact occurring before the muscles are ready and this happening on a unstable surface. So in summary, widen the midfoot, reduce the posterior flare and increase the bevel. 

David: The ASICS Novablast is a really fun shoe for recovery days. The FlyteFoam Blast midsole is very soft and bouncy however and does make the heel a little unstable. The upper and sole flaring is good, but I think the heel bevel angle could still be increased to ease the transition at initial contact into loading response. The upper length could also be shortened a tad since it does run on the long side. To help with forefoot rigidity with going uphill the forefoot could also have a little more outsole coverage from the MTP region going forward in the distal half the flex grooves. 

Nathan: There are a few tweaks that could be made to this shoe, but really...this shoe was a win for me. First is finding a way to decrease the robustness of the heel. Maybe it's shrinking the heel flare, maybe it's increasing the bevel a bit. The second would be considering widening the outsole contact at the midfoot to increase stability just a bit more. However, that would add some weight, and part of what makes this shoe enjoyable is the light, bouncy feeling. So everything will have a trade off. 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a very neutral shoe with a very soft, mildly bouncy ride with a slightly snug fit and secure upper. This is not the most stable shoe and is not for anyone that needs stability. However, there are some new components that provide a better lockdown particularly at the heel. For those that do not need stability and want a fun recovery and easy day training shoe, the Novablast 2 is worth a look. 

David: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a neutral training shoe that rides very soft, plush, and bouncy through the heel and forefoot. It isn't the most stable shoe in the world, but has some elements that helps stabilize the soft platform a little bit. The shoe is best for recovery runs and daily mileage for me. For those that like softer riding shoes and don't need a lot of stability, especially in the heel, this could definitely be a shoe worth looking into. 

Nathan: The ASICS Novablast 2 is a darn fun daily trainer that is for people who do not have any stability needs. I typically lean towards slightly firmer shoes, but the Novablast 2 was what I would reach for on daily and recovery runs (maybe my favorite recovery shoe this year so far) despite how soft it is. That said, for those who like softer shoes and are enjoying the newer, bouncy foams, the Novablast 2 could be a great option. Also, for those who couldn't get with the original due to how unstable it felt but you liked the foam, it could be worth revisiting.



GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Very comfortable sockliner. Slightly snug fit. Heel counter is really firm and could use a bit more padding).           
Performance: B+ (Really smooth ride. Soft but not mushy. Mildly flexible forefoot. Posterior flare causes early initial contact that is slightly offset by the soft foam)
Stability: C+ (Good heel lockdown from upper, almost too stiff. Foam is too soft, midfoot too narrow and unstable and posterior flare causes early initial contact) 
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (ASICS is doing a great job. There were some really good attempts with the guidelines, outsole flare, sidewalls. However they still need to address some foundational concepts like posterior flare and midfoot width). 
Personal:  (I really want to like this shoe but it is not stable enough and the heel counter is too much for me. ) 
Overall: (A very soft, smooth shoe for those with very stable mechanics wanting a recovery and easy day shoe)             

David

Fit: B+ (Plush and comfortable upper throughout. Upper does run long though, and if someone slides forward could cause a little achilles irritation, though I didn't personally have any.)                    
Performance:  B+
 (Great for easy days, plush, bouncy and responsive, difficult with uphills, heel still a little clunky and unstable, but everything midfoot forward is pretty solid) 
Stability: 
C+ (Decent for how soft and unstable the platform is, but could definitely be refined in the heel through the midfoot) 
DPT/Footwear Science:  
A- (ASICS is innovating. Their midsole with deep ridges throughout make for a compressive and bouncy feeling without creating a dual midsole platform with a topsole and midsole. They are also using flex grooves to their advantage to create guidance, bounciness, and responsiveness to their shoe. Geometry could be reworked a little in the heel though.) 
Personal:  
A- (I don't need too much stability and I like the soft and bouncy ride for my easy days. The heel could be reworked, but it isn't a huge deal breaker for me.) 
Overall:  (The shoe is a little specific, but for those that like a really soft and bouncy ride for easy days and daily mileage and don't need much stability, it is worth looking into)         


Nathan

Fit: A- (Very comfortable heel cup, good lockdown, maybe a touch long)                     
Performance:  A- (Really fun for daily miles and recovery, heel still a bit "in the way") 
Stability: B- (Despite the great improvements, the narrow midfoot and very soft foam make this a bit unstable) 
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (The thoughtful changes from V1 to V2 vastly improved this shoe, and much was focused on improving transitions and stability in subtle but wise ways) 
Personal: (I'm sad to be done with my miles on this shoe. That's about all I need to say for why it's an A for me)     
Overall:  A- (One of the most fun daily trainers out there, but you have to be ready for it from a stability perspective)      

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Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 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.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

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

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***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 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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