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ASICS Fuji Lite 2 Review
By 
Chief Editor Matthew Klein

Current market trends in footwear have continued to moved toward higher stack height shoes. Finding anything with lower stack has been difficult due to this, although a few models continue to come out from mainstream brands. One of the few from major brands was the Asics FujiTrabuco Lite. A minimal, middle to short distance race-ready trail shoe was a rare sight to see from a company known for large traditional stack high shoes. A snug fit, aggressive toe spring, solid ground feel and great traction made it a rare minimal shoe in the trail world. Fast forward to today, the Fuji Lite 2 - whose name is inspired by the Hinoki Cypress tree native to Mount Fuji - features a refined, more middle ground ride. A little more stack height provides more protection, allowing a larger number of runners to access the shoe. Yet the same solid ground feel, lightweight (for a trail shoe) and aggressive ride are still present. How does the new version compare and perform overall? That's what we are hear to talk about. 

Asics Fuji Lite 2 trail shoe in hand, lateral view. Fuji Lite written on heel, large white Flytefoam midsole.

Specifications Asics Fuji Lite 2 (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.0 oz / 255 g (men's size 9) 7.9 oz /  224 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 26 mm
Drop: 4mm Drop
Classification: Lightweight Trail Shoe / Trail Racing Shoe

Medial side of the Asics Fuji Lite 2. Similar to the lateral view.

RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 is a lightweight trainer/race ready trail shoe with solid ground feel for short to middle distance trail races. A very snug forefoot fits like a racing flat for the trail, while extra Flytefoam cushioning provides more responsiveness and protection. Solid traction allows the Fuji Lite 2 to handle a variety of trail terrain. Continuing to still feel more nimble and minimal, Version 2 is best for those looking for a trail racing shoe or those who want more ground feel from their trail shoes. The shoe is also noteworthy for its use of recycled materials, both in the upper and mixed into their proven Flytefoam midsole.

Upper of the Fuji Lite 2. Tapered toebox seen.

FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 fits me short in my normal men's US size 10 men's. The toebox tapers significantly, partially due to the shape and partially due to the thick toe guard. I was patient and managed to stretch out the toebox, but I would suggest going up a half size unless you want a snug/racing style fit. The overall fit is snug including both the midfoot and heel. There is a solid heel counter in the rearfoot that took me some time to get used to. Those with sensitive Achilles insertions/calcaneal bones should be cautious. The benefit of the snug fit is that the security is top notch. My foot always felt completely locked in no matter the terrain. I did not have to lace lock the shoe and did not get any slippage even on sharp up and downhill runs. However, going downhill did bother my toes slightly due to the shorter fit. Additionally, the upper is thick and scratchy, so socks are a must. Overall, the fit will work best for those who have narrow feet or who want a snug, durable fit from a faster trail shoe. 

Outsole of the Asics Fuji Lite 2. Triangular winged lugs seen throughout.
Small cut out in the center of midfoot.

PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 features a full length Flytefoam midsole that is higher stack and softer than the previous version. The ride overall is still on the firmer end and still has better ground feel than most shoes. There is no rock plate and the forefoot has decent flexibility. The new foam does compress during landings, which makes the shoe feel closer to the ground than the stack height measurements would let on. There is a solid amount of toe spring, but with the flexible forefoot it is less aggressive. There is a small heel bevel but the rearfoot transition is smoother on trail thanks to the softer Flytefoam midsole. There is a 4mm drop which is very noticeable. I had to walk around in these to get used to this. Those used to low drop shoes should be fine, but those who are not should carefully transition. Despite the mild weight increase, the shoe still feels quite light on foot. The shoe is smaller in size, so it is very nimble and easily tolerates quick footwork on aggressive trails.

The ride and midsole feel best at uptempo and tempo efforts. I have run a trail uphill tempo and these felt best with pushing the pace. I can see these working very well for shorter and middle distance trail races on more aggressive terrain. Those who are used to less shoe will find these as a fantastic trainer. The outsole is very durable and has handled some road use without wear. I have 50 miles in my pair with no wear after dirt and gravel trails on single track and aggressive terrain. The Fuji Lite 2 is primarily a trail shoe as the lugs are significant and dig very well into a variety of terrain. It is especially good when you need a nimble ride on technical terrain, however there is still a smooth enough ride to be used on smoother trails. When on road, the Flytefoam feels softer, but the lack of a significant heel bevel makes the ride a bit more clunky.

Close up of the heel of the Fuji Lite 2. Fuji Lite over the heel written. Large slab of Flytefoam midsole seen.

STABILITY 

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 is a neutral trail shoe. However, there are a few things that add very mild stability. There are mild sidewalls at the anterior heel that provide very mild guidance. The midfoot is fairly consistent in width with the rest of the shoe, making for a more inherently stable platform. The slightly closer to the ground feel as gives good proprioceptive feedback. None of this is significant enough to consider this a mild stability shoe, but the shoe is also not unstable. So those wanting a minimal trail shoe will be good and those with stability needs will need to transition slowly while they work on their intrinsic foot endurance/strength. 

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

While reviewing the previous version, the Asics Fujitrabuco Lyte, I discussed the use of toespring and lower stack height shoes. In high stack height shoes (tall soles), having toe spring makes sense as the thickness reduces flexibility. The forefoot is one area that usually requires some flexibility as the metatarsophalangeal joints (ie toes) need to be extend as you travel over this area to facilitate the toe off and propulsion phases of gait. So if the sole is too stiff, trying to transition over the forefoot can be difficult as the "forefoot rocker", ie the ability of the toes to extend is completely removed. This reduces gait efficiency. With lower stack height shoes, toe spring can certainly facilitate motion, but it is often not required as the soles are already flexible. With less space for the toe spring, it often extends up and effects the position of the toes.

As mentioned in the last post, holding the toes in extension can be problematic as this constantly tugs on the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia, ie the thick fascial tissue on the bottom of the foot, helps to facilitate motion from the rearfoot off the toes. It starts at the heel and connects into the toes. It tightens up when you extend your toes, which also (usually) stiffens up your arch as well. This is part of the passive mechanism that creates a stiff foot during the toe off/terminal stance phase of gait for a stable place to push off from (active being the muscles like the calf and posterior tibialis that invert and supinate the foot at this stage, which also stiffens the foot up). This is good during this specific part of the gait cycle, but is not necessary during the loading phase of running gait when you want the foot to be a little more flexible to help with shock absorption. A low stack height shoe with toe spring or a toe spring that holds the toes into extension may impact shock absorption in some people. This can be problematic for those that need to work on their shock absorption or those who do not have enough toe extension (At least 60 degrees is required for normal gait). In others it can actually serve to improve foot stability by locking the foot into a more stiff position (for those that have too much motion). So this isn't a bad thing as it can benefit certain people, however it can be problematic for others.

If you are not one of those people who need more stability through this mechanism, it is best to find a shoe that does not have toe spring that influences the position of the toes. It is better to have it in a thicker sole where the toes can still lay flat. Lower stack height shoes don't need this unless they are stiff because usually the thinner midsole is more flexible. The Asics Fuji Lite 2 increases its stack height in this version, which integrates the toe spring into the sole much better. The toes are not held in as much extension and the flexible forefoot allows the sole to lay somewhat flat when standing in them.  This works much better for foot position, although the length/taper at the toebox needs to be addressed (or you can just get a half size up). Like all the parts of a shoe, toe spring is a mechanism that can be used as a tool for certain people but can be problematic for others. Certain variations will work better or worse for different people. What we hope you take from this is figuring out what variation works for you so you better understand what shoes may or may not work for your mechanics. 

Full length rear lateral view of the Fuji Lite 2.

Forefoot of the Fuji Lite 2 up close
RECOMMENDATIONS

My recommendations are focused on the upper. The fit appears to be off (at least for me) and I would highly suggest widening the forefoot/reducing the taper. This will not only accommodate some toe splay but swelling as well. Lower extremity (ie legs) swelling is normal during longer efforts, particularly with hard downhill efforts (strong eccentric contractions cause more muscle damage and thus swelling). I understand this is more of a trail racing shoe than a trainer, however the toes do also need to be able to move just a little. Toe spring that influences the position of the toes (as opposed to sitting under in a higher stack midsole) already makes shoes feel shorter due to the upward curve. The combination of the significant toe spring (although again this is offset by the flexibility in the forefoot) and tapered toebox cramps the toes. The toes need to be able to move at least a little bit, particularly into slight abduction to help with forefoot shock absorption. You can still have a race ready, snug fitting upper without the extreme taper, so that needs some modification. 

Forefoot lateral view of the Fuji Lite 2

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

The Asics Fuji Lite 2 is for those who want a lightweight trainer / trail racing shoe with decent ground feel while still having some responsive cushioning. The shoe is very nimble and feels best going at uptempo and tempo efforts on a variety of terrain. The upper is very secure, although it fits short with a narrowed toebox. For that reason, unless you have a narrow foot or like a really snug fit, consider going a half size up (especially if you are between sizes). The increased stack height helps better integrate the toe sprint, but the flexibility in the forefoot still gives the shoe a more naturally smooth toe off. Best as a middle or short distance trail racing, for those who want a closer to the ground/more nimble lightweight trail shoe, the Asics Fuji Lite 2 may be worth a look.

Matt shot of the Fuji lite. Some outsole seen on bottom pair, lateral view of the top pair seen.

GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: C+ (Very short and narrow fit at the forefoot. Secure throughout the rest of the foot however)
Performance: A-
 (Great grip, responsive sole and great ground feel make this a fun shoe to go fast on trails in)
Stability: B 
(straighter last, mild sidewalls and decent ground feel make this stable for those with neutral mechanics. No major stability methods outside of that)
DPT/Footwear Science: B 
(Better integration of toe spring with higher stack and some forefoot flexibility. However toebox is far too tapered and narrow for normal foot function)
Personal: B- 
(I really want to like this shoe, but the short fit and tapered toebox makes it difficult for me to keep reaching for this shoe. If I could do this over I would get a half size up. )
Overall: B- 
(Solid, more minimal trail racing shoe. Good protection for the amount of ground feel. Snappy ride that works as a lightweight trainer and trail racing shoe. Toebox is extremely tapered and will work best for those with narrow feet or those who want a super snug fit. Others should go a half size up. )

VIDEO REVIEW



Check out Matt's full thoughts in video form, along with some advice for transitioning into a shoe like the Fuji Lite 2.

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

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Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
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FURTHER READING

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On Cloudventure Peak - Lightweight trainer for those who like a firm, smooth ride
Skechers GORun Razor Trail - Another road-to-trail trainer for those who enjoy the Razor platform

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Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILE:


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. 

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

NEXT: Reebok Floatride Energy 3.0 Adventure Review

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