Sunday, July 17, 2016

First Impressions Review-ASICS DynaFlyte. ASICS Bouncing Back?

Article by Derek Li
Disclaimer: I was provided the ASICS Dynaflyte gratis by ASICS Singapore for the purposes of reviewing the shoe.

I first saw pictures of the ASICS DynaFlyte on the internet when it went on display at The Running Event in the US in December 2015, and word trickled that it would be a new lightweight trainer model making its debut sometime in 2017, but I guess things got pushed forward and lo and behold, the DynaFlyte had a July 1st release date.

The Dynaflyte uses a new midsole compound from ASICS called FlyteFoam. This was first introduced in their limited edition MetaRun (review here) , which featured a dual density midsole. In the DynaFlyte, FlyteFoam is used as a single density midsole compound. The key selling point of FlyteFoam is the use of organic fibres embedded in the EVA foam, to create more resilience to deformation under load, and I believe this property would be independent of the foam’s durometer or firmness..

My shoes came in at 266g (9.38oz) for a US9.5, inclusive of an Ortholite insole.  Editor Note: They are listed at Running Warehouse as weighing 9.5 oz/269g men's 9, 8.3 oz/235g women's 8. Retail $140.

I’ve now put about 40 miles in the shoes, enough to crystallize some early thoughts about this shoe.

FIT.
I wear a US9.5 in most trainers, and the DynaFlyte fit true to size for me here, with some wriggle room in the toebox to slay the toes. I like to leave my shoes in a double knot, and slip in and out of them for runs with a shoe horn rather than re-tie the laces every time. With that said, this is one of the few shoes that I did not have to adjust the tension a few times to get the right degree of lock-down over the first couple of runs. I literally tied it once, and that’s where the tension has stayed since. No heel slip, no arch pain, no hot spots. I have low arches and accessory navicular bones on both feet, so this is rare for now.

If you have worn the MetaRun before, I’d say the overall shoe volume is pretty similar. It is on the roomy side as far as ASICS shoes go. The only other trainers from ASICS I’ve used before were the Nimbus 15 (wore a 9.5, felt more snug for sure), and the Gel FeatherGlide 2 (had to size up to a US10 to get sufficient toebox volume).

I don’t usually pay much notice to the tongue but it used something I’d yet to see in running shoes. The feel of it was strikingly familiar to me but I could not put my finger on it until I started writing this article. It actually looks and feels like the material used in the Profile Design aerobar pads from my old triathlon days. Profile Design used EVA foam wrapped in Lycra for their pads, and I suspect ASICS did something similar to achieve this tongue. When you think about, it does make a lot of sense. Aerobar pads need to keep your arms fixed in place despite sweat and bouncing on rough tarmac and if you can achieve the same grip and comfort in a tongue, that’s pretty much ticking all the boxes.
RIDE
One thing I like about single density midsoles is the consistency of feel throughout the shoe. The ASICS Tarther Japan and NIKE LunarEpic are two other shoes that remind me of how nice a consistent feeling shoe is and how much that can contribute to a smooth transition. Combine a consistent feel with the right durometer (which feels like low to mid 50s in this shoe) and you have a solid versatile trainer.

So far I’ve managed a few easy runs, one slightly more uptempo run, and a long-ish run of 15 miles in the shoe, and I have been thoroughly impressed with how well the shoe feels at different paces. The shoe transitions smoothly and seems to work well for both heel and mid-foot striking. On the road the transition is smooth, with a somewhat muted ground feel and a nice amount of ‘give’.

The bouncy feel of the Flytefoam is especially noticeable in the forefoot at slower paces, while there is enough responsiveness when you pick up the pace so that you don’t feel like you are fighting the shoe. Some people may even find it a little too soft for uptempo work, but I think it would work well as a daily trainer or a faster long run shoe. For me, the test of cushioning is how the shoe fares for long runs. I’ve only the had the shoe for a couple of days but I did manage a (very warm) 15 miler over the weekend, and I didn’t feel too beat up at all towards the end and still managed to cap off an 80 mile week with a 40 minute tempo run the day after.

It feels like a softer and bouncier version of the Brooks Launch 3, without the extra bulk. I note that the Lanuch 3 has stacks of 27/17mm vs the DynaFlyte at 25/17mm, but the Launch weighs a full ounce more in my size at 292g for a US9.5. I have to say this is a big departure from how ASICS shoes traditionally feel, and is certainly moving with the trend of using a combination of soft blown rubber in the forefoot and softer foams to achieve a bouncier and livelier ride.

The versatility of the shoe is the main selling point for me, and moving forward, I hope to put in more miles in the shoe for a more thorough review.

All Photos Credit: Derek Li

Derek Li's Run Bio
Derek Li is a family physician by profession, and has been running marathons for the past three years. He started running for triathlon training in 2003, and now focuses purely on running in a bid to run all the Marathon Majors. In his free time, he likes to review running shoes and related products at his blog Running Commentary.

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Women's here
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