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ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26: Surprisingly Big Changes
By Matthew Klein and Andrea Myers

The ASICS Cumulus series has been a standard neutral daily training shoe for years. It remained fairly consistent until it was completely redone in version 25. A brand new midsole, upper geometry, and far lighter weight brought the shoe into the modern age. Some changes, like the excessively flared rearfoot, may have gone a bit too far, making for a clunky rearfoot. The newest version presents some dramatic changes, a rarity in today's usual two-year turn around (with upper updates on the odd year). Coming in at a similar weight with the outsole flare turned down, a new snappy and rolling ride comes to the Cumulus 26, giving it a rare uptempo capacity in the continued evolution of this series.



ABOUT THE ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 26

Asics Gel-Cumulus 26
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9 oz, 255 g (men's size 9), 220 oz, 7.8 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: M: 38.5 mm / 30.5 mm; W: 37.5 mm / 29.5 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Shoe Purpose: Neutral Daily Training Shoe

Pros: Light, well cushioned, firmer ride with some versatility into faster paces
Cons: Somewhat tapered toebox, questionable outsole durability


The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is a daily training shoe with a normal width fit, semi-stiff, rockered, stable neutral heel, and a slightly firmer ride. A fairly average fit with a slight toe box taper sits up top. A Flytefoam Blast+ midsole combined with a new outsole provides a firmer layer of foam above and a softer layer below. Combined with the new rockered geometry, this provides a rolling ride that comes in at an extremely light weight. This allows for a daily trainer with uptempo capabilities. New changes also include a less flared and far more stable neutral heel, making for smooth and controlled landing for those who transition through there. Best for those who want a rockered, lighter ride for daily training miles and some uptempo work. 

SIMILAR SHOES
: ASICS Glideride 3
PAST MODEL: ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25



FIT

Matt: The ASICS Gel-Cumulus 26 fits me slightly short in my normal US Men's size 10. This is due to a tapered toe box and toe spring that makes the shoe feel a little short. Those used to the fit of a shoe like the Nimbus 25 will be fine. I have continued to run in this size, but did have to tie the laces down to keep my foot from hitting the end. Those sensitive to this may want to consider a half size up. The mesh upper is lighter but does not have a ton of stretch to it. The forefoot fits normal in width with a little extra volume height-wise. This does offset the toe box taper slightly. The midfoot fits normal in width and features a thin gusseted tongue. I did have to tie down the laces to get a secure fit and stop my toes pushing up against the taper up front. The heel fits normal to slightly snug with a stiff heel counter and moderate heel collar padding. I did notice the counter, so those who want a stiff counter will do great but those with sensitive heels will likely find it too much. The security is fine but I have had some mild sliding forward. As mentioned, this is due to the taper, so many people will likely not have a problem with this. The inner liner is extremely comfortable except for the toe guard. So for that reason I would suggest using socks with this shoe.

Andrea:
The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 fits a bit short and low volume in my usual women's 9.5. I got small blisters on my 1st and 5th toes when running in the shoe. Compared to the Novablast 4, it fits shorter with lower toe box volume. I would definitely go 1/2 size up if I were to continue running in the shoe. The mesh upper receives a fair amount of structure from the ASICS logo overlays on the medial and lateral side of the midfoot, but the upper does crease on the top of the toe region, furthering increasing discomfort from the lower volume and short fitting toe box. The width of the midfoot and rearfoot are normal and I had no issues achieving sufficient lockdown. The partially gusseted tongue wraps securely around the midfoot and provides a comfortable hold. There is also a lace loop on the tongue that does a good jog of keeping it in place. The laces are flat, do not stretch, and are easy to lock down without needing multiple adjustments. There is a rigid heel counter with dense padding in the collar. I did not experience any heel slippage or irritation in this shoe. 


Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: Somewhat
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: Somewhat
Is the Forefoot Flexible: No
How Flexible is the Shoe: Semi-Stiff and Rockered
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Somewhat
Recommended for Haglunds:
No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Average





PERFORMANCE

Matt: The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is a daily training shoe for easy miles, longer runs and uptempo runs. The midsole continues to be FF Blast+ with a PureGel insert in the heel. A new outsole called Fluidride sits as a bottom layer. Although purported to increase traction, I found traction and durability to be average. However, it does great an interesting underfoot sensation. The bottom layer is softer than the FF Blast+, which in this version runs slightly firm. The relatively firmer top layer makes for a snappy ride with a delayed soft feeling at the end of the loading phase. The weight stays low at 9 oz (men's size 9), making it one of the lightest standard daily training shoes on the market.

There is an 8mm heel drop and that is exactly what it feels like. The new geometry features reduced heel flare that allows the slightly posterior lateral heel bevel to shine. This makes for easy heel transitions into a solid midfoot and stiff forefoot. The forefoot features a large rocker and a large amount of toe spring. There is little flexibility up front, which the forefoot rocker offsets by providing a quick transition. The lighter weight, slightly firm/snappy ride and geometry make for a shoe that does easy runs and uptempo efforts well.

I have done several fartlek and hill workouts successfully in this shoe. The slightly firmer and snappier ride is not the lightest on the market, but it is on the lighter and faster end in this category. Those looking for a daily trainer with versaility into some quicker paces (without being a super shoe), will enjoy this shoe. I have done a long run in this shoe and while the rockered geometry was nice in the heel, the toe spring and tapered toe box limited me from going too long.

As mentioned, the outsole traction is average and something I would only keep to smooth road. The durability is also average as I have been quickly shaving down the outsole in my normal posterior lateral heel spot. I have 25 miles on my pair, so time will tell is this slows down. However, the average to slightly below-average durability is consistent with a lightweight trainer.

Andrea:
The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is a lighter weight, neutral daily training shoe that will perform differently for those who land further forward as compared to heel strikers. The PureGel heel insert provides a cushioned, comfortable feel for me when I walk in the shoe (heel striking), but as a midfoot striker, I get none of the cushioning benefit of the rearfoot when running. The stiff forefoot and early forefoot rocker make midfoot landings feel firm and a bit harsh. I also found that the heel gets in the way of my preferred landing pattern due to the 8mm drop, making the ride feel a little unnatural.

I did several easy runs in the shoe, and my main takeaway was that it just didn't feel like the shoe was doing much for me from a cushioning or geometry perspective, and actually felt like I was fighting the intrusive heel. I would definitely prefer something with more cushioning in the midfoot and forefoot (like the Novablast 4), especially on recovery days where my legs and feet are tired. The short fit and tapered toe box also kept me from doing anything longer than an hour in the shoe. The Fluidride outsole is the midsole blended with EVA and rubber, which creates an unusually smooth outsole feel that does not grip well on wet roads. Due to the lack of rubber coverage, I would expect lower than average durability from the outsole.




STABILITY

Matt: The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is very stable in the rear, moving more neutral toward the forefoot. While there are no traditional methods of stability, there are large sidewalls in the back and a solid rockered geometry. The slightly firmer midsole makes for an inherently stable ride. There are large and long sidewalls in the rearfoot that extend into the midfoot on both sides of the shoe. This provides noticeable guidance from heel strike forward, with the slightly posterior lateral bevel easing in footstrikes. The midfoot is slightly stable neutral as the sidewalls extend partially into it. The forefoot is more neutral, albeit naturally stable due to the stiffness combined with the quick transition forward.

Andrea:
The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 is a stable neutral shoe that uses sidewalls, rockers, and sole flaring to create a centered ride. The balanced sole flaring in the rearfoot and forefoot will help center the foot whether a person lands at the rearfoot or further forward. The sidewalls in the rearfoot combined with the rigid heel counter securely center the heel in the shoe and provide mild resistance to medial or lateral motion. The early forefoot rocker and toe spring further encourage forward motion. The overall stiff platform also contributes to a centered, forward oriented ride. 



Thoughts as a DPT: What is Toe Spring? 
By Matthew Klein

Toe spring, or toe spring angle, is the angle of extension the toes are held in by the front of the shoe. Typically, it is best to have the toes resting in a neutral position (0 degrees of flexion or extension) as neutral positions generally place the least amount of stress on joints (Neumann, 2016). Normal running gait requires anywhere from 60-90 degrees of toe extension in order for the body to transition over the front of the foot at the terminal stance and pre-swing phases of gait (See HERE for a review of the running gait cycle). For those that do not have that range of motion (due to stiffening of toe joints, hallux rigidus, etc), a forefoot rocker, or the upward curve of the sole from the ground up to the toes, can maintain forward motion.

A forefoot rocker is different than toe spring, whereby the spring angle is a continuation of the forefoot rocker beyond the neutral position of the toes. Keeping the toes in extension puts additional tension on the plantar fascia, intrinsic and extrinsic toe flexors. This does lock and lift the arch of the foot, which can be helpful for a fast transition forward. However, this is problematic for a couple of reasons:

1. Holding any body part at end range for a long period can irritate tissue.
2. The foot needs to be able to unlock and become flexible during shock absorption to adequately absorb force.

Those who lack toe mobility, have sensitive plantarfascia/toe flexor muscles or have a history of toe-curling (because excessive toe spring angles can also cause the foot to shorten itself by constantly flexing the toes to make the shoe fit more true to size) should avoid shoes with toe spring. Those who tend to have more flexibility and are looking to stay at end range to maintain stability may like something like this, but we generally suggest shoes to keep the toes in neutral and let the forefoot rocker come up to the toes, rather than up with them. 

References:

Neumann, D. A. (2016). Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system-e-book: foundations for rehabilitation. Elsevier Health Sciences.


RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: I have enjoyed everything about the GEL-Cumulus 26 from the midfoot back. The heel transition and ride are so much better than version 25. However, the forefoot needs some work. The amount of toe spring and toe box taper are not natural and makes the most front part of the shoe uncomfortable. I would encourage ASICS to keep the forefoot rocker but have it come up to the toes rather than also extending them. I would also round the upper a bit more up front to prevent that quick of a taper. 

Andrea: The GEL-Cumulus 26 did not work for me as a midfoot striker due to the shoe's geometry and firmer midsole in the midfoot and forefoot. Not every shoe needs to be designed for the small percentage of runners who land further forward, but if ASICS wanted to make this shoe more comfortable for us, they could extend the heel bevel further forward and/or soften up the midsole in the midfoot. As a general recommendation, the fit of the shoe needs to be improved by increasing the length and the volume of the toe box. 

WOULD I RECOMMEND THE ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 26

Matt: For those who are searching for a slightly firmer ride with a rockered geometry, stable neutral heel and a daily trainer that can handle some uptempo miles, then yes I would recommend the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26. If you need to have your toes in a neutral position (no toe spring) and do not like a tapered toe box, then this shoe may not be for you. For those with narrow forefeet, this shoe may work as you may not notice the taper. Overall the shoe is a step forward for ASICS, who have struggled with rearfoot transitions and bevels. The price is standard for a daily trainer and should be a great option for the high school/college/quicker runner looking for something that can keep up with them on their normal runs and base workouts. I am still not sold on this new outsole but will get more miles and report back on how durable it really is. 

Andrea: The GEL-Cumulus 26 is not a shoe I would recommend for midfoot or forefoot strikers due to the firm forefoot, early forefoot rocker, and intrusive rearfoot. The ASICS Novablast 4 is a much better option for those who land further forward, and one of my favorite daily trainers. Based on Matt's experience in the Cumulus 26, it will be a nice option for rearfoot strikers who are looking for a lighter weight daily trainer who have a narrower forefoot. I have found it comfortable for walking because I actually get to enjoy the benefit of the gel cushioning in the rearfoot. 


GRADES

Matt
Fit: B/B- (Tapered toe box makes shoe almost feel short. Some sliding in midfoot but otherwise comfortable upper with slightly higher volume)
Performance: A-
 (Well-rockered ride that is lighter weight and slightly firm. Great for daily and uptempo miles)
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral Heel] (Slightly firmer and highly rockered ride combined with large heel sidewalls make for a stable neutral ride especially in the rear)
Value: B/B+ (Normal value for daily training shoe but slight concerns about early outsole wear)
Personal: B (I really like everything about this shoe except for the toe box taper and toe spring. This makes me hesitate to take them for longer runs for fear of blisters. I'll still use these for short to moderate runs, but not for longer efforts)
Overall Design: B+ 

Andrea
Fit: B- (Short fit and low volume toe box resulted in blisters on my 1st and 5th toes. Otherwise, I liked the secure lockdown, particularly in the midfoot.)
Performance: B- 
(This shoe did not work for me as a midfoot striker due to the firm midfoot and forefoot, intrusive heel, and early forefoot rocker. I felt like I was fighting the shoe when running in it.)
Stability: A- (Stable Neutral) (Nice use of sidewalls, balanced sole flaring, and rocker geometry to create a centered ride.)
Value: B (Unusual outsole may have lower than average durability, and poor traction will reduce the shoe's utility.)
Personal: C (This is a typical 8mm drop shoe with a clunky heel and firm forefoot that does not work for those who land further forward. Short and low volume fit resulted in blisters on the top of my toes.)
Overall Design: B-/B 


SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men | Shop Women

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FURTHER READING

Adidas Adizero SL - A remodernized daily trainer for the Adidas line
Adidas Supernova Rise - Brand new trainer for adidas with a new PEBA "Dreamstrike" midsole
AltraFWD Experience - Altra's first non-zero drop trainer
Brooks Launch 10 - Huge value training for everyday runners
Brooks Revel 6 - At $100, a simple, but effective neutral trainer that fits well
Hoka Clifton 9 [Stable Neutral Trainer] - A change to the midsole shapes the change to this classic maximal trainer
Mizuno Wave Rider 27 - Retooled to feel a little lighter underfoot and with a greatly improved fit
New Balanace FuelCell Propel v4 - Version 4 adds a forefoot plate to this budget trainer
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13 - A new update to this versatile "wogger" shoe
Nike Pegasus 40 - A light upper update makes this the most comfortable Pegasus to slip on yet
Nike Vomero 17 - More ZoomX midsole helps make this trainer excel
On Cloudflow 4 - Redesign of this firmer trainer offers a fun ride
On Cloudsurfer - The softest On yet ushers in a new redesign for the future of On
On Cloudswift 3 - A versatile run/everyday activity trainer with classic On elements
Puma ForeverRun Nitro - A new "stability" entry in the lineup that provides a cushioned ride
Puma Velocity Nitro 3 - A little more cushioned in v3, this workhorse remains a solid all-arounder
Reebok Floatride Energy 5 - Major changes to the popular training series, including a torsion system
Salomon Aero Blaze - A new lightweight trainer from Salomon
Salomon Aero Volt - An old-school flat that's light and versatile
Saucony Echelon 9 [Stable Neutral Trainer] - A wide-fitting, high cushion shoe that also fits orthotics perfectly well
Saucony Kinvara 14 - Higher stacked than ever, and lighter as well
Saucony Ride 16 - A light update that refines the daily trainer to its very best yet
Saucony Ride 17 - A big midsole update reframes the Ride in a new direction
Skechers GO RUN Ride 11 - New HYPERBURST ICE makes for an incredibly soft new entry
Topo Magnifly 5 - Topo's moderate cushioned zero drop trainer gets a nice update
Topo Phantom 3 [Stable Neutral] - A daily training shoe with a fantastic upper and simple, functional ride
Tracksmith Eliot Runner - All-new trainer from the apparel brand, featuring a peba midsole

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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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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