Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctors of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance, bring you cutting edge articles, reviews, and research reports.

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Asics Nimbus Lite 3 Review: The stable neutral trainer becomes a little softer and sleeker
By Senior Contributor Nathan Brown and Contributor Andrea Myers

The ASICS Gel Nimbus Lite 3 is a lightweight daily trainer that has men’s and women’s specific geometry and a full ground contact outsole. It has an incredibly comfortable mesh upper made of recycled material and just the right amount of cushion for easy days and long runs.

Asics Nimbus Lite 3
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.2 oz, 261 g (men's size 9) 8.1 oz, 230 g (women's size 7)
Stack Height: 25 mm/15mm (men’s) / 27mm /14mm (women’s)
Drop: 10 mm (men)  / 13 mm (women)
Classification: Lightweight Neutral Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Nathan: The ASICS Nimbus Lite 3 is a continued progression of a line of shoes that ASICS gets to experiment around with a bit due to the newer nature of the shoe and a smaller faithful following. The transition from 2 to 3 is relatively subtle as it is primarily an upper update and small changes to the foam. However, the upper is remarkably improved for security and the underground feel gets a bit softer, particularly in the rearfoot. This is ultimately a cushioned daily trainer with a unique geometry that makes it one of the more stable neutral shoes on the market.

Andrea: The ASICS Gel Nimbus Lite 3 is a slimmed down version of the popular Nimbus line. It is a lightweight, neutral daily trainer that is actually quite stable due to its full contact outsole and sole flare. The shoe has some nice sustainability features, including the mesh upper that is made with at least 60% recycled material and FLYTEFOAM cushioning that is formed with organically derived materials. The Nimbus Lite 3 is a great choice for those with neutral mechanics or mild stability needs looking for a moderately cushioned daily trainer.


FIT

Nathan: The fit is by far and away the best part of this update. I found version 2 to be a bit sloppy and loose, and this updates provides a solid lockdown and a much improved midfoot to toe box fit. The mesh upper has mild give to it, and is made of recycled materials, given a good combination of accommodation to foot type and security on the platform. It is certainly true to size for both length and width. A quick word on thickness as well. I'm testing this shoe during Wisconsin winter and when paired with my wool running socks I have not had any issues with being too cold even on days in the 0-10 deg F realm.

My one issue that I've had in this shoe is the relationship between the tongue and heel counter (similar to my experience in the Nimbus 24...though less pronounced here due to the better heel construction). The tongue is very thin, stretchy, and gusseted, giving a bit of a bootie-like feel to it. I found I had to be cautious of lacing too tight as it would give some irritation to the top of my foot if I locked down too tight. However, given the secure fit overall, the shoe did well without lacing down too much and the heel stayed put. Opposite of the very thin tongue sits a very padded and stuffed heel counter. I found this to be a bit of a mismatch, and think that there could be a bit more continuity with a slightly thicker tongue. The padded heel counter is rigid, but locks the foot in well and is void of any heel irritation. Overall, the progression of the upper provides a significant improvement in overall security, comfort (minus the tongue), and sizing.

Andrea: The ASICS Gel Nimbus Lite 3 fits true to size in my usual women’s 9.5. The toe box is higher volume and wider than average, but not so much that it is sloppy. The mesh upper is extremely comfortable, breathable, and does not stretch. The gusseted tongue is very stretchy and contributes to the overall great fit of the upper. A quick pull of the tongue before tying the laces makes the tongue sit flat on the dorsum of the foot, and then it practically disappears in terms of feel. While I do not run sockless, this would be an optimal shoe to run sockless in because of the soft mesh upper and tongue. There is a rigid external heel counter that extends nearly to the midfoot both medially and laterally and a very padded internal heel collar that both contribute to a very secure fitting heel. The internal padding compresses easily and I did not find it irritating in any way. Overall, I was very pleased with the fit of this shoe.


PERFORMANCE

Nathan:
Just looking at the shaping of the Nimbus Lite 3 (and the Lite series in general) you can see it looks a bit different. As it comes to pass, it just doesn't look different, but it feels different. The strategically wide base and sole flaring contributes to overall stability, which we will talk about later, and the wider base with selected areas of AHAR+ rubber outsole give a unique under foot feel.

This iteration of FlyteFoam (not Blast, not Blast+, not Blast Turbo) is a bit softer than the previous version, which is most notable in heel landing. There is a hearty 10mm drop that is certainly notable as the heel feels slightly chunky when landing, but the beveling and softer foam in the heel smooths it out quite a bit. Additionally, the softer foam compresses quite a bit in the heel, which makes the drop feel a bit lower than the listed 10mm. Similar to the Nimbus 24, there is a thin topsole layer on the foot platform that provides a squishy step in feel, but you compress through it quickly and do not feel the "squish" when running. Given the placement of the rubber along the medial side (inside) of the outsole, there is a notable "tilt" toward the outside when standing, which becomes more mild with running (again will talk about this in stability). If you don't have any issues with the heel transition, the rest of the shoe rolls along really well. The FlyteFoam is a happy medium between soft and firm, and as you transition forward there is less stack and the platform under the foot firms up overall. This fells really nice at daily milage as well as when I was picking up the pace, because I had something to push off of and not just sink into. The horizontal orientation of the rubber in the forefoot gives it overall some flexibility and a smooth toe off.

A quick word on traction and the outsole. I typically find early wear in ASICS trainers, but recently this compound has been really strong regarding durability and I am not finding any wear thus far. I also have been taking this shoe on showy runs (3 of my runs have been in snow/slush/ice). With the deeper flex grooves, softer rubber, and horizontal orientation I've found this to be a solid option this winter so far. Nothing is perfect in the snow and ice, but this matches up with any other option I've leaned toward in the past like the Wave Rider, Saucony Ride, etc.

Andrea: I will admit when I saw the 13mm drop on this shoe, I immediately thought that I would not like it. Shoes with 8mm drop are usually my limit because anything higher feels clunky and like the heel gets in the way of my preferred midfoot strike pattern. I took it out for an easy run and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the ride. I liked this shoe so much that I was confident in using it for a 13 mile run in the first week of testing. At easier paces, it feels cushioned, stable, and smooth. The FLYTEFOAM compresses a fair amount at initial contact, which may make it feel like it has less drop than it does. For some runners, the amount of compression may make the shoe feel like it is not cushioned enough for longer runs, but I found it to be just right. The full contact outsole and the toe spring promote a stable landing and a smooth push off. The only time it felt a little clunky was during some strides, but that is not what this shoe is intended for. I would reserve the Nimbus Lite 3 for easy runs only, but some runners may find it useful for uptempo intervals as well. Traction is very good in this shoe; I used it after a big rainstorm and had no issues. I also used it for a run on a dirt and gravel trail and found it to be very grippy and stable. The outsole has no visible wear after 40+ miles and I would expect to get above average mileage out of this shoe.


STABILITY

Nathan: The Nimbus Lite 2 almost got my vote for most stable neutral shoe, but the upper security prevented it from topping my list. With the upper update, the Nimbus Lite 3 may end up being the most stable neutral shoe of 2022 for those needing guidance against moving inward (yes, I know it's early). As I just mentioned, the upper holds the foot very well to the platform without any lateral translation. There is a wider base of platform with significant flaring medially (to the inside) in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. Additionally, the strategic placement of the rubber outsole give a bit of a lateral bias and again guides against inward motion of the foot and stabilizes the inside of the shoe. There is also a bit of shaping on the lateral (outside) that allows for more compression laterally, again guiding against rolling inward. All these together create a very neutrally stable platform to help guide the foot forward. Finally, there is significant flaring of the sole in both directions providing a stable platform for toe off.

Andrea: The ASICS Nimbus Lite 3 is a very stable neutral shoe due to several non-traditional stability features. The full contact outsole promotes stability at initial contact and midstance. The shoe has medial and lateral sole flare that runs from the rearfoot to the forefoot, which helps to center the foot throughout stance phase. The toe spring promotes a smooth push off, but is not aggressive like the MetaRacer. The external heel counter and padded internal heel collar also help to center the calcaneus without preventing motion.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE


The Challenges of Gender Specific Running Shoes, By Contributor Andrea Myers
ASICS has a page of their website dedicated to explaining how and why they design shoes specifically for women. They state that their research has found that women have a proportionally narrower heel as compared to the forefoot, which led them to develop a narrower last for their women’s shoes. They also modify the cushioning in their shoes because on average, women are lighter than men and do not require as dense of cushioning. They state that the FLYTEFOAM they use in women’s models is less dense than the FLYTEFOAM in men’s models. They also state that women have different running gait parameters than men, due to (on average) wider hips and higher arches. ASICS says that they are addressing this finding by developing a gender-specific trusstic system that they call the “Space Trusstic System.” This feature is not listed in the specs of the Nimbus Lite 3, but is listed as a feature of the Nimbus 24. There is no information regarding why ASICS utilizes different drop for men’s and women’s shoes. This is speculation on my part, but it could be because they have made the foam less dense and therefore more compressible. This would match my experience that the shoe does not feel like a 13mm drop shoe because of how much the foam compresses. It would be interesting for ASICS to describe the rationale behind the 3mm difference in drop.

My bike fitting experience makes me question whether gender specific running shoes are really necessary. The cycling world went all in on women’s specific bikes and shoes 15 years ago, and have completely backtracked in the past 5 years due to massive data collection done by bike fitters and retailers. The assumption that the cycling industry made regarding women’s bikes was that women have proportionally longer legs and shorter torsos as compared to men, so they need bike frames designed to match. Women’s shoes were made on narrower lasts and with narrower heels. Retul, which is a bike fitting company now owned by Specialized, compiled data from 7750 bike fits and determined that there was no correlation between gender and limb/torso proportions. They also analyzed data from 9831 foot scans and found little to no gender-related difference in the proportion of the length of the foot to the width of the ball of the foot. This data led Specialized to conclude that there is no need for gender specific bike frame geometry or shoe design. They emphasized the need for a wide range of frame and shoe sizes to accommodate men and women of various heights and foot sizes.

Similarly, running shoes that are designed for a stereotypical “woman’s foot” may fit some women best (those who have narrower heels in relation to their forefoot), but many women may fit better in a men’s shoe, and vice versa. A 130 lb. male runner may benefit from less dense cushioning in a shoe as much as a 130 lb. female runner. If a women’s shoe is designed for a runner with a higher arch, it may not be as comfortable for a woman with a low to moderate arch height. I would be interested in seeing aggregate data from ASICS or from Superfeet’s ME3D system (or similar foot scanning systems) to see exactly what gender-related foot differences have been identified. I think that runners will be best served when shoes are designed for particular body characteristics (forefoot width, arch height, runner weight, etc.), as opposed to generalizations about male and female anthropometrics that may not be accurate.

References:

The Best Running Shoes for Women. ASICS website. https://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/asics-advice/running-shoes-for-women-how-we-reinvented-womens-running-shoes.html . July 20, 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022.

Jett, R., Chabra, S., and Carver, T. When to Share Product Platforms: An Anthropometric Review. https://specialized.picturepark.com/Go/drxAWjId/D/59574/1 . Accessed January 4, 2022.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Nathan:
This was a nice progression forward for the Nimbus Lite series. Primarily I'd love to see a slight adjustment to the inlet of the shoe by thickening the tongue slightly and decreasing the stuffing in the heel counter. I also think adjusting the heel to decrease its bulk would be helpful and a step forward. This could be achieved by continuing to increase the bevel in the heel to help even more with the transition forward, or decreasing the drop by 1-2mm (similar to what they did in the Novablast 2).

Andrea: I would recommend that ASICS change nothing about the upper - the fit and lockdown is one of the best features of this shoe. The only recommendation I would make is considering reducing the drop of the shoe to the 8-10mm range, which may help the shoe perform better at faster paces. I would be interested in testing the men’s version of the Nimbus Lite 3 to compare the fit and ride characteristics between the two versions.

At $160, the Nimbus Lite 3 is a little pricey for a non-plated daily trainer. Earlier in the year, I reviewed the $100 Dynablast 2, which has more responsive cushioning and is over ½ ounce lighter than the Nimbus Lite 3. I am not convinced that the additional features of the Nimbus Lite 3 (sustainable materials, more breathable upper, full ground contact outsole) justify a $60 price difference. That being said, if I can get over 3


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

Nathan: The Nimbus Lite 3 is a stable neutral daily trainer that feels light for the amount of cushioning you get. It certainly has a bit of guidance away from rolling inward while still being neutral or having anything imposing on the foot. It will be able to hand high milage, daily miles, recovery runs, and a bit of uptempo work (but not best for full-blown workouts). It is also a viable option that can get you through a few of those snowy months (though not fool proof on ice by any means).

Andrea: The ASICS Gel Nimbus Lite 3 is a lightweight, neutral trainer that has well-designed, non-traditional stability features. It is for runners who prefer a moderate amount of cushioning in a daily trainer. The shoe performs best at easier paces due to its 13mm drop, but runners who prefer shoes with greater drop may be able to use it for faster intervals.


GRADING

Nathan
Fit: B+/A- (Great amount of space length and width wise with good lockdown. Issues with thinner tongue and imbalance between the heel counter stuffing and thin tongue)
Performance: B+/A-
 (The sole flaring and shaping can take some getting used to and the heel transition is a bit arduous. However, lightweight for a daily trainer, nice transitions after getting through the heel, good balance of cushioned and firmer in the midsole, and flexible toe off while maintaining cushioning. Nice for winter running for me.)
Stability: A (Very stable neutral shoe with lateral bias for those who want some guidance away from inward rolling)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Continued great use of geometry from ASICS, but heel bulk takes away from versatility for different users and some may find irritation from the bit of posterior heel flare)
Personal:  B (Enjoyable daily trainer, a bit too much lateral bias for me, but enjoy the cushioning overall and the grip on snow.)
Overall: B+/A- (An approachable stable neutral trainer with some lighter feel and solid cushioning.)
  
Andrea
Fit: A (mesh upper, elastic tongue, and padded heel collar provide excellent lockdown. Forefoot wide enough to allow for some toe splay.)
Performance: B (moderate cushioning and stable geometry makes it ideal for easy and long runs. 13mm drop reduces its performance at higher speeds)
Stability: B+ (very good non-traditional stability features for a neutral shoe, particularly the full contact outsole)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (ASICS gender specific shoe design is an interesting concept, but generalizations may not work for everyone)
Personal: B+ (great easy day and long run shoe, but limited use at faster paces)
Overall: B+ (excellent fit and balanced cushioning, use limited by high drop)

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

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

Check out Gear We Love
New Balance Rebel v2:
One of the most fun trainers of 2021 so far
Asics Metaspeed Sky: Chief Editor Matt Klein can't stop racing in it, even on trails (not advised)
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!

FURTHER READING

Find more stable neutral offerings in our Guide to Stability Shoes here.

Recently at Doctors of Running
Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8 - The Takumi Sen gets a modern update with more stack and Energy Rods, making it a 5-10k powerhouse
Hoka Kawana
- A New, Modestly Stacked "Crossover" from Hoka for 2021 
Asics Nimbus 24 - Flytefoam Blast+ helps reshape the Nimbus line into the future
Mizuno Alpha Eco Apparel - Super light performance clothing with sustainability and the future in mind
Adidas Adistar Review -
Former stability star returns with a super stable platform and new foam for Adidas
Inov-8 Rocfly G-390 Hiking Boot - Using their trail running shoes as inspiration, a lightweight hiking boot for long distances

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!

FOLLOW DOCTORS OF RUNNING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running


TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Nathan 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 20-50 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8:00-9:00 min/mile for recovery runs to 6:45-7:15 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel.

Dr. Andrea Myers is a 5’7”, 130 pound female with PRs of 3:04:48 for the marathon and 18:41 for the 5k. She typically runs 35-60 miles per week with recovery runs at 8:00-8:30/mi pace and 5:30/mi pace for shorter efforts. She prefers firmer, neutral shoes with 4-8mm of drop and high volume toe boxes.

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:
Hoka Kawana Review

Bottom Ad [Post Page]