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ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite 2.0 Multiple Tester  Review

By Chief Editor/Founder Matt Klein and Contributor David Salas

The original Asics Gel-Kayano Lite was part of major changes that ASICS began to debut in their shoe designs. While some new concepts came and went, they were fairly consistent for well over a decade. Suddenly, 2020 became an explosive year of innovation from the company, with 2021 following at an even faster rate. The Gel-Kayano Lite demonstrated a clear shift in thinking about designing a max stability shoe. Instead of a thick post and trusstic system, geometric pillars, sole flare and many other non-traditional methods were utilized to a degree not frequently seen. Version two returns with slight changes in fit, but continued improvements in the amount of recycled materials use, signaling ASICS move toward innovation and sustainability. 

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.1 oz /  (men's size 9) 8.9 oz /  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Men's 36 mm / 26 mm Women's 38 mm / 25 mm 
Drop: Men's 10 mm Women's 13 mm
Classification: Max Stability Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 returns as a geometrically influenced maximum stability shoe. The design, particularly the internal geometric pillars, sole flare and more, creates a stable ride for those looking for one without traditional posting. The ride is slightly softer than previous, but continues to be on the firmer side for stability. The upper fits fairly normal in width, if slightly snugger in the forefoot than previous. The biggest changes are materials-related, with a continued increase in the amount of recycled use in the upper. Overall the ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 is a lighter max stability shoe for those who want either an uptempo ride coming from more traditional max stability shoes or who want a high level of stability from alternative methods. 

David: The ASICS Kayano Lite 2 is a max stability daily training option that provides a unique ride to this category. It's distinctive geometry and construction provides a firm and stable ride throughout without the usage of posting. Overall the ride is pretty fluid throughout and provides a protective ride that is consistent throughout the mileage. 


FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The upper is fairly normal to slightly higher volume through the heel and midfoot. The forefoot is also normal to slightly wider, but tapers toward the toebox. This provides a bit more normal fit through the forefoot than previous. The upper mesh is made of recycled materials and has some mild stretch to it. 3D printed overlays provide light structure through the heel and midfoot, particularly with the ASICS logo. The mesh is slightly stretchy and slightly thick, but comfortable. Against skin comfort is actually good, although the mild overlays up in the forefoot make the mesh a little rough against bare skin during longer miles. Thus I would suggest socks for these. There is a solid heel counter that is farther on the outside of the upper, essentially making it an external heel counter. There is a ton of cushioning around the heel collar. I had zero irritation at my heel bones. For those that are sensitive to heel counters, this one will pose no problems. The overall security of the upper is very good, with a thicker tongue and the heel clutch system working quite well. I did not have to lace lock this shoe at all and have not had any sliding. Overall the upper fits fairly normal, if slightly snugger than the previous with a solid level of security without being overbearing. 

David: The ASICS Kayano Lite 2 fits true to size in my normal 9.5. The upper itself leans on the thicker end but has been breathable enough for everything I've run in so far. There are minimal overlays throughout but the material has a synthetic aspect to it that feels very reinforced with minimal stretch to it. The upper is accommodating enough and provides normal width throughout. The heel counter is very padded and provides a good amount of structure to the shoe in this region. The midfoot is normal width the with forefoot slightly wide and a normal width toe box. The forefoot region seems to gradually taper and narrow as it moves closer to the distal aspect of the toes. The tongue is heavily padded as well and you are able to lock the shoe down well without any irritation to the dorsal aspect of the foot. Overall I actually like how secure the upper is if you are willing to excuse the all around thickness of it. The taper up front might be a little much for some with a nicely wide forefoot but less wide toe box.



PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 is a lighter weight max stability shoe. The Eco Flytefoam runs slightly firmer throughout, although it does break in slightly with time. The flex grooves in the forefoot make the transition from the midfoot through the heel extremely smooth and centered, The rearfoot has some posterior flare with a small heel bevel. This felt clunky initially and took 15-20 miles to break in before the ride smoothed out. The Flytefoam is slightly firmer, but has enough give to actually be somewhat responsive when the pace picks up. For many people, the Kayano Lite 2 will be a daily trainer than can pick up the pace.

I have used this shoe for long runs, easy runs and workouts. While it isn't the fastest shoe and will not be on most people's feet for races, it can still move. For those coming from heavier max stability shoes like the ASICS Kayano 28, Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 or others, this shoe is a solid workout/race option if you want to keep a higher level of stability in a lighter package. Durability has been good like the first version. I have 70 miles on my pair and barely see minimal wear on the outsole at this point, so I expect to get a high number of miles out of these. 

David: The ASICS GEL-KAYANO LITE 2 provides a very stable ride throughout. The midsole itself does run pretty firm throughout. The shoe does have a small laterally biased heel bevel and some flex grooves in the midline of the shoe through the midfoot. The rest of the outsole is full contact throughout. The transition is pretty quick through the midfoot with a decently flexible toe off thanks to the deep flex grooves in the outsole. There is A LOT of sole flaring going on here to create a wider stable platform. I'll talk more in the stability section, but this does effect the ride of the shoe. I almost wish the bevel was centralized a little more and made with a bigger angle to offset how prominent the sole flaring is. The heel transition itself is pretty smooth but I certainly felt the medial aspect of the sole flaring and firmness of the region a little more than I would have liked to. The ride overall is very stable though and pretty fluid throughout. The shoe has decent responsiveness to it but certainly rides best at daily paces for me. 


STABILITY 

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 is a max level stability shoe. While there is not posting (unlike other shoes in this category), there are extensive methods used to create a high level of stability. The Kayano Lite 2 uses geometric pillars in the midsole and significant sole flaring on both sides to keep the foot centered throughout the gait cycle. This feels subtle at first when walking around, but becomes more apparent during running. The geometric pillars are shapes within the midsole that engage more the more force you put into the sole. There is plenty of room for these as the midsole flares quite wide, creating a wide and stable platform. The sole does flare in both directions, creating guidance to the center from both ends via this method. The midfoot and forefoot are particularly stable, with flex grooves that also maintain forward motion. The heel is also stable, but borderline stiff at first due to some posterior flare. The sole is also slightly firm, which creates inherent stability. These factors all combine together to make a highly stable ride from heel to forefoot.


Note extensive sole flaring of the midsole.


David: The Kayano Lite 2 is a max stability shoe in disguise. There is no posting present here but the geometry and sole flaring really make for a highly stable shoe. If you look at the platform itself along the medial and lateral sides of the shoe the midsole extends laterally and medially beyond the platform of the shoe. This creates a wider platform with more cross sectional area that essentially makes the shoe more stable upon impact. The foam itself is also much firmer throughout (though still protective when running) which makes for a really consistent and stable throughout. There is also full contact outsole throughout providing good traction. This shoe has good ground feel and control throughout. The sole flaring is certainly noticeable, especially medially. I think the bevel could be reworked a little bit to make the midfoot transition feel a little more natural but overall they did a really good job with creating stability in this shoe. Another thing I would like to acknowledge is the upper security is great in this shoe as well. It is on the thicker side but reinforced really well and locks down well too. The shoe can handle hard turns and essentially any condition a daily trainer could use. Some trail use could potentially be doable as well.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: We were not expecting major changes in version two of the ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite as most companies are using a two year cycle for most shoes. The first year is usually a complete overhaul or sole tweak and the second year is generally an upper update. The following thoughts are really a follow up to my first post on the original (ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite). If an individual needs stability (which not everyone does), those needs are going to be highly individual. The market is moving in a way that is finally addressing those individual needs. Medial posts, or firmer pieces of material on the inner side (frequently the heel or midfoot) are still present in the footwear industry as the more traditional method of creating stability or guidance. A great example being the more traditional Asics Kayano 28. Now more shoes are seeing the implementation of guide rails in shoes like the Puma Eternity Nitro, the Adidas Solar Glide, Brooks shoes and more. Mizuno has continued to use plates, particularly wave plates which create stiffness and guidance with different shapes. Hoka uses J-Frames, which act as full length sole differences to guide the foot through the center. There are several other methods of creating stability that we talk about, including bevels, sole flare, heel counters, sole firmness and more.

While mild to moderate stability shoes are seeing huge variations in methods for stability, max stability shoes have seen less variation. That means that if someone does not respond well to extremely stiff medial posts, they may have limited options in this area. The Kayano Lite 2 finally fills this gap, providing an alternative method of max stability using different methods. This does not mean that medial posts need to disappear. It does mean that we need more variety because people are different and inherently need different things. The term pronation, which is commonly used in the footwear world, is a natural motion. Just like methods of stability are evolving, our understanding of why certain people may need them need to evolve too. I suggest that the footwear industry abandon focusing on "pronation" and instead focus on instabilities within the foot. We know that people can have excess motion in the heel, midfoot, forefoot and the many areas in between. A single term does not do justice to the complexities of the foot, especially since some people need stability in a way that is opposite to that (excessive supination). A single method of stability in footwear will also not provide the guidance every single person needs. Thus, variation is key and the industry needs to continue to move in this direction and try different things.

Thus, I applaud ASICS for thinking differently and introducing something new. The pressure is on though as I expect to see this continue to evolve in version three.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: I have enjoyed the Kayano Lite 2 at a similar level to the original. Like David below, my recommendation also centers around the heel bevel. While I understand the excessive flaring of the sole creates stability throughout the rest of the shoe and there is a very small bevel, there is still posterior lateral flare. This does break in a little over time, but this is going to cause an early initial contact for those that land in that area. Most people land in that area if they are heel strikers and excessive flare will cause them to be pitched faster than normal toward the inner side. If ASICS creates a better bevel, this provide much smoother guidance through initial contact. This is a huge opportunity that is being missed at the moment and it is very clear that ASICS can do heel bevels well from their recent racing shoes. So I challenge ASICS to create a better bevel in version three.

The other thing I would suggest is to soften the midsole slightly. This has less to do with stability and more regarding market preferences at the moment. I like firmer shoes like this, but many people don't. I would suggest softening the sole just a little bit to attract more customers to something that is going to be very different from what they are used to. This also might be resolved by reworking the bevel.


David: Overall I like the Kayano Lite 2. My main recommendation lies in the heel geometry. The sole flaring is pretty extreme throughout the shoe (though this is not a problem). Where I think this can improve is in the heel bevel itself. Normally I like having a posterior lateral bias to the heel bevel, but with a shoe with this much sole flaring it puts some pressure into the foot medially through the midfoot region because of how firm the shoe is. If the bevel was centered a little bit more with a sharper angle the transition through the midfoot could be smoother and the sole flaring can still be present in the same capacity. I think the toe box distally could be slightly widened as well. 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Kayano Lite 2 is a lighter max stability shoe for those looking for a high level of stability without posting. The midsole pillars, sole flare, external heel counter and more provide a highly stable ride throughout the length of the shoe. The ride of the midsole is slightly firmer, but smooth through the midfoot and forefoot. Though the heel is slightly clunky, it does break in after a few miles. The upper fits secure throughout with a normal width (slightly wider at the rear and slightly tapered at the forefoot) and locks in very well at the heel. Overall it is a great alternative max stability shoe for those who want a lighter shoe in this category or who want high stability without posting. 

David: The ASICS Kayano Lite 2 is a max stability training shoe for someone looking to escape posting and have full contact stability throughout. The ride is certainly firmer throughout and the sole flaring is noticeably present. For me this is a solid daily trainer that provides good durability and versatility to run in nearly any condition be it road or light trail. It is a little heavy and flat for uptempo work but is a solid workhorse for the daily grind.


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Good security, but upper slightly thicker than it needs to be. Toebox tapers a bit.)
Performance: A-
 (A little clunky in the rearfoot, but smooth through heel and midfoot. Best for daily training for most, but the pace can be picked up somewhat. This makes the this shoe more versatile for people wearing heavier max stability shoes for workouts and races)
Stability: A (High level of stability without posting from heel to toe)
DPT/Footwear Science: A-/B+ (Excellent execution of stability without posting. Bevel needs to be improved to smooth out ride in the rearfoot and provide additional guidance)
Personal: B+ (I have enjoyed this shoe like the first. However, my mechanics and preferences are changing as my strength and stability continues to improve. It took me a few runs to get used to this level of stability again, but the lighter weight greatly helps)
Overall: B+/A- (A lighter max stability shoe that should work as a daily training option for some and a workout/racing option for those training in traditional max stability shoes. Geometric stability provides something different for those who do not respond well to posts)

David
Fit: B+ (Definitely on the thicker end througout, the toe box could be widened slightly)
Performance: B+
(It did everything I needed it to for daily mileage though it comes up a little flat in faster situations. The medial sole flaring and heel bevel integration could be improved.)
Stability: A- (Stability in this shoe is great, I do think the bevel could be improved to make the sole flaring medially feel more natural)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (A little bit of a repeat, but the geometry and construction is very impressive throughout, but the heel bevel and medial sole flaring integration could be improved)
Personal: B  (Overall the shoe is pretty solid. For me it runs a little firmer than I normally like and the medial sole flaring integration is enough for me to look at some other options, but I don't dislike the shoe. It is a solid stability option.)
Overall: B+/A- (A firmer riding max stability daily training option that work for those that like having a wide platform to land on with some versatility to dabble off road a little bit.)



SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Find the Asics Kayano Lite 2 at Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Shop Gear We Love
Mizuno Wave Rider 25: New full length Enerzy is a simple joy. Soft, flexible forefoot is unique
New Balance Rebel V2
: Fast, fun, and surprisingly versatile
Hoka Arahi 5: One of the best stability shoes of the year, and the best walking shoe as well. Versatile.

Rabbit Running Clothes: Incredibly soft, high quality clothing for your next run
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
UltraAspire Fitted Race Belt: Fantastic fitting belt that's durable, quick-drying, and comfortable
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Coros Pace 2 Watch: Excellent watch for various running goals and a massive battery life
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs

FURTHER READING

Learn more at our Stability Shoe Resource Page, updated weekly.

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Bone conduction headphones with great fit

Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILES:


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

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. 

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

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, 

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

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.

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

Bach Pham is a 140 lb male with PRs of 23 5K, 52 10K. He typically runs between 25-35 miles per week at a variety of paces between 8:30 (tempo) -10:00 (recovery) min/miles. He typically prefers shoes that provide some mild to firm cushioning underfoot that is lightweight and responsive. Currently his goals are to complete the half and marathon distances.

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.

***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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Hoka One One Zinal

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