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ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 Review: Better Fit, Better Grip!?
By Matthew Klein & David Salas

The ASICS Gel-Nimbus series has always been a stand-out premium cushioned daily trainer. For years it remained fairly consistent until Version 25 came along. This shifted the series away from traditional footwear designs to current maximal stack height, rockered design trends. A rockered heel was a welcome change (at least for me) but with all the changes, the series remained a premium cushioned, daily training shoe. Version 26 continues with the changes of Version 25 with a few updates to refine the upper and outsole for a better fit and grip. While this does result in some minor weight gain, it is well-worth the improved comfort. Especially for a shoe meant for long and easy mileage.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 26
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse (Available Jan 5.)
Weight: 10.7 oz, 303 g (men's size 9), 9.2 oz, 261 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: M: 41.5 mm / 33.5 mm; W: 40.5 mm / 32.5 mm
Drop: 8mm 
Classification: Premium Maximal Daily Trainer





RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 is a premium, maximally cushioned daily training shoe for those who want a knit upper on a premium, highly cushioned and rockered ride. A new upper provides a normal fit with a less tapered toe-box than the previous version and improved security in the midfoot. The same wider, rockered sole remains with some mild midsole sculpting changes that create a smooth transition no matter where you land. The same over 40mm stack height remains, providing a soft cushioned landing due to PureGel in the heel and a smooth toe-off through a large amount of FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco. A new outsole provides better grip, especially on wet pavement, providing a solid cushioned ride for those who want a shoe they can trust for long, easy and recovery miles.

David:
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 is a neutral maximum cushioned training shoe that continues upon some big changes last year in the 25. The shoe has a more comfortable upper that also improves lockdown and connection to the platform. The shoe updates the midsole to use PureGel and FlyteFoam Blast + Eco to give you tons of foam to crash onto. A new outsole also creates a more connected experience so that you can trust it on road, wet conditions, and reasonably runnable off road conditions. 

SIMILAR SHOES: Brooks Glycerin 20, Mizuno Wave Sky 6
PAST MODEL: Asics Gel-Nimbus 25

FIT


Matt: The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 fits me true to size in my normal Men's US size 10. The fit is normal to slightly snug throughout the length of the shoe. The new engineered knit upper provides a sock-like fit without the overly tapered forefoot of version 25. The forefoot is fairly normal in width with additional stretch from the upper. The volume is fairly low as the material sits low across the foot, but it does stretch upward as well. The midfoot is snug thanks to a thin but strongly gusseted tongue. I only had to tighten the laces a little and had no security issues at all. The heel fits snug as well with a ton of padding and a moderately flexible heel counter. I did not notice the heel counter at all thanks to how much padding is in the upper, so those with heel sensitivities may do well here. The upper provides a sock-like fit that tends to almost completely disappear as soon as you get running. The extra heel collar padding was noticeable and did cause some mild pressure on my heel. This feeling went away with additional mileage and did add to the security element. Like the prior version, I tried sockless running and did get some rubbing from the tongue gusseting so I would suggest using socks.

David:
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The upper is made up of an engineered knit that is quite comfortable and does feel on the premium end. The knit is a tad thicker and more structured than some other knits, so it does pretty well holding its structure. The tongue is on the thinner side and comes off pretty stretchy. It is gusseted and doesn't slide anywhere on your feet. I did get a little biting, but the overall performance there was good. The width in the heel is normal, midfoot is normal to slightly narrow, and forefoot wide. The length is a tad long but nothing overly problematic. I did not have any issue with heel slippage or foot translation. The heel construction is built up with a lot of padding around the heel cup and above it. The combination of the heel counter and additional padding made it sure your heel was not going anywhere. The upper can run a tad warm (granted this was a 12 mi run in 75 degree weather) but does its job for comfortable easy miles.    



PERFORMANCE

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25 is a maximal stack height, highly rockered, moderately soft daily training shoe for easy, recovery and long runs. The stack height is over 40mm with full-length FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco and the same PureGel heel insert. The midsole feels the same as the previous version with the heel feeling fairly soft and the midfoot/forefoot feeling moderately soft. The same rockered ride is present with a large beveled heel. The heel midsole is sculpted differently with slightly reduced posterior heel flare and a slight posterior lateral bevel. This does create a slightly smoother ride than Version 25 at the rearfoot and emphasizes the overall rocker feeling a bit more. The midfoot and forefoot are fairly stiff with a somewhat long forefoot rocker to ease you into toe-off. The transition off the toes is moderately smooth after a few miles and does feel slightly stiff initially.

The slight weight increase up to 10.7 oz (men's size 9) pulls the Gel-Nimbus series out of the now-average weight for premium daily trainers and more into the traditional weight. This is not a shoe for fast running. Instead, it works best for recovery runs, easy runs and long runs. I have attempted some pace pick-ups in this shoe and it immediately eased me back toward more normal paces. The highly cushioned, rockered and more compliant foam provide cushioning best for easier paces, which is what premium daily training shoes are usually meant for.

The outsole continues to be full ground contact with additional reinforcement along the lateral midfoot. I have 30 miles on my pair without any major wear on the outsole, suggesting that this shoe will probably last far beyond most daily training shoes. The added nubs and new outsole do provide solid grip and after doing an A/B test with version 25, it does provide far better traction on wet pavement. This is a shoe that can handle mild dirt, but is still not something I would want to take on aggressive trails. This is a still a road shoe with decent traction that can handle some surface variation when needed.

The Asics Gel-Nimbus 26 is also a great walking shoe for its improved fit comfort and general cushioning underfoot. This will be a good option for those who are on their feet all day.

David:
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 was a pleasant surprise for me. The 25 didn't actually work very well for me despite it working for so many people. I think the upper change and slight composition change in the midsole really spoke volumes to me. The experience felt better connected and complementary to each other between the upper, midsole, and outsole. The FlyteFoam Blast + Eco midsole felt a tad more structured for me, though still very cushioned. This really helped make it feel less mushy and difficult to run in. This did not sacrifice any of the maximum cushioned feeling, but made a more structured and stable feeling foam for me.

The shoe does use a gentle rocker profile. The heel bevel is centered pretty well and the toe spring is right at the MTP joints. There is no plate, but there is a lot of foam, and so this still comes off pretty rigid through that region. The more structured feeling foam is also complimented with more outsole coverage and high abrasion rubber. I think this really made me feel more connected to the ground than the previous model, even having 41mm of stack. The shoe has a really wide base under foot with some sidewalls as well and so you have a solid platform to crash onto. To be frank, the 25 hurt my foot to run in because of how soft it was and how much foam there was. The 26 maintains a lot of elements but cleans them up. I still feel my foot working, but I can go and run actual mileage in this shoe and enjoy it. For some reason I still run on the slappier end of things in this shoe despite feeling smoother and enjoying the ride. I think it might just be a louder foam. The run definitely feels best at easy paces, but if you really want to push it the foam isn't too bad. There is some bounce at toe off when you load it properly. This is more of a workhorse shoe though. The balanced profile of the shoe also gives this shoe some appeal to run/walking, walking, and even just standing. This is will be a shoe that can wear several hats. 

STABILITY


Matt: Like the previous version, the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 has several components that edge it towards being a stable neutral shoe. It features a wider platform throughout the length of the shoe with sole flare, sidewalls on both sides of the heel and posterior midfoot. The ride is rockered and does roll you forward once the forefoot breaks in a little. This tends to stabilize the foot decently, but the softer ride, particularly in the heel, may be a little challenging for those with intrinsic muscle weakness at the foot or hip. Those who want a neutral shoe with some mildly stable elements will do best in the Nimbus 26, while those needing a bit more stability will do better in the Kayano 30.

David:
The Gel-Nimbus 26 is a neutral training shoe. They did some things to help stabilize that soft midsole but at the end of the day this is definitely going to agree with the neutral crowd. The shoe has a nice wide base, good traction, and solid upper lockdown. All of the components are integrated well with each other and the shoe feels well thought out. I will give them some credit where it is due. The last model was very unstable for me and the fact this one worked is a huge step in the right direction. With that said this is a still a neutral shoe due to the soft midsole. 



Thoughts as a DPT: The Importance of Toebox/Forefoot Shape in Footwear
By Matthew Klein

One of the first things I noticed about the Nimbus 26 compared to Version 25 was the reduced pointed-ness of the forefoot. The toes can move side to side in addition to the typical flexion/extension that most people know about. These side-to-side motions are called abduction (toes away from the middle/midline of the foot) and adduction (toes toward the midline of the foot). While every person does not need an Altra-wide type of toe box, it is important to help keep the toes as straight as possible for a couple reasons. Those who are in an overly narrowed toe box will most likely have their toes in adduction for long periods of time. Our bodies tend to adapt to the positions we put them in over long periods. In the case of narrow toe boxes, wearing those or being in that position all day may (in some people), lead to over-lengthening of the toe abductors (like the Abductor Hallucis, an extremely important muscle of the medial arch) and excessive shortening of the toe adductors. 

Both toe adduction and abduction are normal motions that are needed. It is important that the toes (and actually the metatarsals) be able to move in order to adequately shock absorb for the forefoot either during a forefoot strike or during the transition of body weight onto the forefoot during midstance to terminal stance/toe off. The inability to adequately shock absorb may lead to stress-related injuries (stress reactions/fractures) or compression of tissues that go between the bones (nerves). Not everyone needs extra motion here, although some people may prefer the ability to access that through a wider toe box. Others may find a wider toe box to cause too much sliding. Regardless, having enough room for your individual foot is extremely important at the front of the foot. It is for that reason I encourage companies to think about trying to keep the sides of the forefoot as straight as possible and curve inward without impacting the position of the toes. 

References:

Neumann, D. A. (2009). Neumann Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system: Foundations for Rehabilitation.




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: Despite the major changes being the upper and outsole, the additional midsole sculpting changes were welcome even though they were mild. The upper no longer has the extremely tapered forefoot and the heel transitions slightly better. These are all improvements except for the weight gain. While I would always like to see ASICS use a bit larger of a heel bevel in their daily trainers, the thing that needs to be addressed is the now higher weight. The Saucony Triumph 21, New Balance 1080v13 and Nike Vomero 17 all sit at or below 10 oz for men's size 9. The Gel-Nimbus 25 was there, but now has left that weight-class with Version 26. A simple way to reduce weight would be to take a little more out of that posterior heel flare. The heel is better than prior ASICS models but I want to encourage ASICS to keep chipping away at it the way they have in their racing shoes. This is an easy way to reduce weight and balance out the ride. For both the Kayano and Nimbus series, I highly encourage ASICS to consider this!

David:
I felt the Nimbus 26 made a lot of great improvements from the 25. One thing I would still like to see is that push towards comfort across all categories. The tongue is comfortable at rest, but it is still on the thinner side for the lockdown that the shoe provides. I don't mind the stretchy tongue, but would like to see a little more padding so it doesn't feel like it is compressing my foot as much. I also think they would benefit by moving the toe spring just a tad earlier. Because of how soft this foam is, it might be nice to get that forefoot roll a little earlier so those intrinsic foot muscles are not working quite as long and hard. 

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR


Matt: The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 continues to be a maximal, rockered daily training shoe for those a plush ride and upper. The toe box finally fits less pointed like before and has better midfoot security. The ride remains highly cushioned with a slightly smoother heel bevel. The weight gain keeps it squarely as a daily training, easy, long and recovery day shoe. The design of the Nimbus, despite being so different now, actually stays consistent with its purpose. It is best for getting mileage in when comfort is key and pace is not as important. I still want to challenge ASICS to get that weight back down like they have done for so many of their other daily trainers (Like the Cumulus 25, which is extremely light for a highly cushioned daily training shoe). On the other hand (foot?), it does further differentiate it from the Cumulus and other lighter shoes as the clear easy paced premium daily training and walking shoe. So for all the changes, the consistency in purpose is interesting to watch and I am curious to see where ASICS goes next.

David:
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 is one of the few shoes that could probably find a spot on everyone's rotation. From the elite running crowd down to the dog walkers and day workers that require good chunks of standing time. The shoe has a pretty balanced profile, though still leaning towards a rockered bias. There is plenty of cushion underfoot and the shoe still allows you to have a pretty natural movement profile. It doesn't force you to move one way which is good for a workhorse training shoe, walking shoe, etc. It's on the heavier side but does give a well balanced package for daily use.   


GRADING

Matt
Fit: A- (Comfortable, sock-like upper with good security)
Performance: 
A- (Soft rockered ride that works best for those that land more posterior. Best for Long/Easy/Recovery Runs)
Stability: B+/A- [Borderline Stable Neutral] (Wide sole, sole flare, rearfoot sidewalls and rocker offset softer sole for the most part)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Good refinement of fit but unsure where the weight gain came from)
Personal: B+ (A solid cushioned premium shoe, although not my top choice due to lighter options. Doubles as a great walking shoe though)
Overall: B+/A-

David

Fit: A- (Great security, surprisingly good comfort throughout, definitely some biting from the laces though due to thinner tongue)
Performance: 
A- (Nicely balanced profile to give you a natural yet rockered feel for how high it is, not the most responsive, pretty good carryover on footing)
Stability: B+ (They did a good job wit hthe challenge they have. The foam is soft and there is a lot of it. But the sole flare, sidewall, outsole coverage, and upper performance do an honorable job.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Solid updates throughout, from foam to platform standpoint I think moving the toe spring a tad earlier could show smoother stride patterns)
Personal: B+ (It certainly does its job. This is a high cushioned neutral training shoe. It feels that way and the ride is smoother than the 25 in my eyes. I still struggle with how soft and cushioned it is, but I do like the ride and experience.)
Overall: B+/A-

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Asics Gel-Nimbus 26
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse

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FURTHER READING

Adidas Ultraboost Light - The 23rd ultraboost features Light Boost to help cut 2 oz from the trainer
Asics Novablast 4 - Update to everyone's favorite cushioned ASICS
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 [Supermax Trainer] - Now a super maximal stacked shoe over 40mm!
Brooks Aurora BL - Brooks experimental project offers a look into the future
Brooks Ghost Max - Brooks new maximal rockered shoe that's also ortho-friendly
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 - A new midsole update softens the ride of the premium trainer
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 - Shoe reduces stack to make a nimble max ride
Newton Isaac - Newton's first high cushion shoe!
Nike InfinityRN 4 - ReactX highlights a big change to the shoe, along with deconstructing past models
Nike Invincible 3 - Updated to improve stability, this max cushion trainer evolves for v3
Puma Magnify Nitro 2 - A higher stack of NITRO and a flatter geometry highlight this max trainer
Salomon Aero Glide - Salomon brings max stack to their lineup with this new offering
Saucony Triumph 21- The excellent Triumph from last year gets a new upper that dials in the fit for an excellent overall ride
Saucony Triumph RFG - Triumph's sustainable sibling sacrifices almost nothing in the process
Skechers GORun Max Road 6 - A totally new redesign for this max cushion shoes
Topo Atheltic Atmos - Topo's new highest cushion traineer

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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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 pairs.  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 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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Asics Novablast 4

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