Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 Review: The Long Distance Runner With Subtle Improvements, Thanks to Technology
The traditional strengths of the Gel-Nimbus shoes remain intact.
The traditional strengths of the Gel-Nimbus shoes remain intact.
The Japanese sports equipment company, Asics, is really upping the technology and style quotient in their running shoes. They just gave us the incredibly impressive Gel Quantum Infinity (Rs 16,999) running shoe, featuring the full-length gel midsole which is genuinely melding a balance between comfort and responsiveness. Not much after that, we have the Gel-Nimbus 21 running shoe. As the name suggests, the Gel-Nimbus 21 is the 21st iteration of this line-up of shoes from Asics. This is priced at Rs 13,999 and packs in a lot of tech quotient.
As far as the design is concerned, this is an evolution of the predecessor, the Gel-Nimbus 20. For starters, there is the dual layer material on the upper, something on the lines of what we saw in the Gel-Kayano 25 (Rs 12,999) a while ago. This is lightweight yet feels quite robust as well. This offers good amount of ventilation and breathability as well, something that is worth its weight in gold as you run long distances in the summer months. The forefoot area has generous real estate available, for anyone with a wider forefoot would find these comfortable. At the back, there is a slight change in the design, and the heel area is now better locked in—this would be helpful as you run on uneven surfaces or during change of direction too. Secondly, the lesser your foot moves around inside the shoe, the lesser the stress on the muscles. In the middle, and this is what is the most impressive, is the heel collar and tongue cushioning that wraps around your foot for what can only be described as a luxurious feeling.
That said, the Gel-Nimbus 21 is perhaps not the lightest running shoe around. This tips the scales at around 310 grams, which is the same as the unimaginatively named Adidas Ultraboost 2019 (Rs 16,999) which tips the scales at 309 grams. At this point, the likes of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 (Now Rs10,995) which weighs at 281 grams could have an advantage, if you really prefer lightweight shoes.
Asics is currently offering the Gel-Nimbus 21 in three colourways—the mid grey/white, black/lemon spark and black/dark grey. This has a 10mm heel to toe drop (also known as offset).
But what are the big changes in the Gel-Nimbus 21 as compared with the Gel-Nimbus 20?
For starters, there is the redesigned outsole, which can now be classified as a full-contact outsole. The advantage is the denser outsole made of high abrasion rubber offers more stability as your foot transitions from heel-to-toe while running. Secondly, the upper material has been updated as well, to be in tune with the times—though the lacing mechanism hasn’t been tweaked.
Slip your foot in, and this is where you will notice the biggest change in the Gel-Nimbus 21. What sits beneath your feet is a blend of two distinct technologies—the FlyteFoam Lite midsole which is made of nano-fibres and the springy Flytefoam Propel. On its part, the former is providing some rather plush cushioning to protect your foot against shocks and impacts, particularly when you run on a harder surface. However, the addition of the Propel material adds a very distinct amount of energy feedback as you run, and this cocktail adds a dash of confidence inspiring rigidness to the overall underfoot feel.
What you will also notice is that the mid-sole feels a tad inflexible when you first slip your foot in, but a run-in for a few kilometers of using these, and you’ll derive the perfect amount of suppleness and responsiveness. There is also a slight ridge beneath your foot, towards the forefoot area, something that we haven’t noticed in most other running shoes. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, this does help give a nice lock-in sort of a feeling for the foot. All in all, your feet feel secure, comfortable and well ventilated when you wear the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21. As you run along, you will notice that this isn’t one of those shoes that tend of offer muffled responsiveness, and this is quite confidence inspiring. It absorbs just the right amount of impact from the running surface, but you constantly do know what surface you are running on and how much grip you have.
Speaking of grip, we have to speak about the full-contact lateral outsole. In the predecessor, the outsole was slightly raised mid-foot, which meant there was a certain area that didn’t come in contact with the running surface. That has changed with the Gel-Nimbus 21, and we feel that is definitely an improvement. The outsole is made of AHAR, which is the Asics High Abrasion Rubber material. This has a rather elaborate tread pattern all through, with visible inserts for extra grip while changing direction or on a surface that is moist or has standing water. At no point did we feel a lack of grip, even on what can be fairly treacherous surfaces after a light rain.
The takeaway from our experience with the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 is that this quite well positioned as a long-distance running shoe. If you are upgrading from the predecessor, the traditional strengths of the Gel-Nimbus shoes remain intact. There are subtle improvements in almost every other aspect of the design, comfort and the secure lock of the foot. Yes, you need to factor in that this is a tad heavier than a few other running shoes, but that does not really hold you back once you start clocking the kilometers. The Nike Pegasus 35 has worthy competition.
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