Thursday, September 12, 2019

ASICS GLIDERIDE In-Depth Review: Back in the Game!

Article by Sam Winebaum

ASICS GLIDERIDE  ($150)

Introduction
The Glideride represents a new direction for ASICS. This stable, maximally cushioned (31mm heel /26mm forefoot), lively neutral trainer features ASICS GuideSole a technology that seeks to minimize lower leg movement  and increase energy efficiency through a combination of a stiff and curved midsole platform with a forward rocker geometry, deep decoupling groove and EVA propulsion plate. Glideride releases September 27, 2019.
The science behind the overall GuideSole approach:
  • Reduce the energy taken away on heel strikes
  • Improve propulsion by optimizing efficiency (primarily for heel strikers) by keeping the angle of ankle dorsiflexion ( flexing ankle up) and plantar flexion (flexing toes down) constant during the gait cycle with a stiff sole while using the forward rocker to propel toe off. The idea is to reduce energy loss at the ankle joint and shift the body forward. Initial studies show a reduction of ankle joint energy loss of 19% vs. conventional shoes in the category. 
  • Move the center of mass further back than normal so as to reduce the pendulum at the rear leg and thus the effort to swing the rear leg forward to next stride.
It differs from the earlier "concept car" Meta Ride (RTR Review) in being: approximately 0.8 oz/ 23 g lighter coming in at approximately 10.2 oz / 289 g in a US men's size 9, having a 5mm drop instead of the zero drop of the Meta, including an EVA propulsion plate, having a more conventional rubber outsole as well as a less elaborate upper and being $100 less expensive. 

ASCIS calls out targeted competitors such as Hoka Carbon X and Nike Zoom Fly and my testing indicates those are valid comparatives along with several others I have selected for the comparisons section of this  review including the Hoka Clifton 6, New Balance 890v7, and ASICS own GEL-Cumulus 21 a shoe of identical weight but with a more conventional 10mm drop so less forefoot cushion.  I have now run over 40 miles at a variety of paces in the Glideride.
The Glideride was launched at a spectacular event and unusual race event The Eternal Run on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah I was fortunate to attend earlier this month. 
Watch my video of the Eternal Run

Running on Salt is Different!

Pros
  • Propulsive rocker ride feel without overdoing it, feeling harsh or overly stiff or "flat"
  • Plentiful, slightly bouncy cushion
  • Very stable and consistent at all paces, Versatile for all training paces except all out
  • Superb (one of the best of 2019) easy on the foot upper with great front to back hold and all around comfort
Cons
  • Stiffness, thick forefoot cushion and less pronounced rocker impede dynamic a toe off motion at my faster than half marathon paces popping me more vertical than I would like. 
Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

First Impressions and Fit

The fit is true to size and both roomy and secure. The absence of front overlays as all support there is provided by the engineered mesh makes for a comfortable and relatively roomy pressure free up front fit.  Moderately wide feet should fit well here, The shoe goes on with ASICS characteristic "thunk" at the heel, super locked down and  pressure free but not overwhelming in "clutch" as most ASICS are.  Sheer comfort with security here, for me one of the best fitting, if not the best fitting trainer upper of 2019 so far.
The look is classy, just bold enough without screaming with no extraneous "decorative" overlays or overdone external heel plastic pieces.

Upper
The upper is a conventional engineered mesh with the only overlays the Tiger logo and two thin and narrow underlays at the mid foot on the medial side as well as mild bit of stiffening of the toe bumper. It is very decently breathable. 
The heel counter features ASICS characteristic and effective "clutch" with thinner plastic overlays on the exterior of the heel counter. This approach allows the fit further forward to not require extensive overlays. The clutch here is not overwhelming as it has been on many ASICS.
The tongue is moderately padded and features ridges of mesh which I find help secure the laces to the top of the foot. I have for all intents and purposes never had to readjust lacing on the run.
The rear collars are well padded and relatively densely padded contributing to the secure hold while at the same time comfortable and pressure free. 


Midsole

The midsole outsole is stiff out of the box with a stack of 31mm heel /26 mm forefoot with a pronounced front rocker,  a front EVA propulsion plate (red  in photo below), and a deep decoupling groove. Over time the Glideride develops some flex far back towards the end of the EVA plate.
The midsole is made of two foams both of the same density according to ASICS.  Flytefoam is underfoot with below a layer of Flytefoam Propel along with the front EVA propulsion plate just above the Propel to provide response.  Other ASICS such as Cumulus have the Propel underfoot and then Flytefoam. While ASICS will not disclose if these foams are different the feel certainly is. No longer well cushioned but dull ,dense and quite lifeless, as say the Cumulus feels to me, the cushion here is yes dense but considerably livelier with a nice touch of bounce. The geometry and outsole for sure also play a role in the feel, 

Embedded in the forefoot is a hardened EVA propulsion plate, a feature the Metaride did not have. Not totally firm as a carbon or hard plastic plate would be, it is more gentle and subtle in providing a propulsive effect yet one that is clearly noticed and effective on the run with less of the sometimes harsh feel of carbon plates but a bit less spring as well. The 5mm drop and 26mm of front stack make for a flatter feeling more stable and better front cushioned ride than say the Zoom Fly but one that is also not as flat feeling as say the Carbon X. A very nice compromise between two extremes.

And to take the edge off heel landing shock without compromising the stability and rear upper lockdown that helps reduce lower leg movement and thus is said to optimize energy efficiency there is a thin GEL unit on the lateral side, What would an ASICS be without GEL! Here as with the MetaRide it effectively softens what is a fairly firm rear landing on a heel with no bevel. Recall the Guidance Sole technology seeks to immobilize the ankle joint and rear of the foot and get you moving forward.

The overall cushion feel is substantial and very stable and consistent, somewhat firm yet also bouncier and livelier than other ASICS trainers such as Cumulus 21 or for that matter for me Nike shoes with what I find dull React foam. The cushion is lets just say somewhat more "conservative" than Skechers Hyper Burst foam with its springy feel, or the very bouncy FuelCell Propel or the sllky smoothness of Nike Zoom X but it clearly is not the usual from ASICS and is more lively and dynamic than say New Balance Fresh Foam. 

Outsole
ASICS took a different path with the outsole as well. Instead of slathering the shoe in copious thick rubber we have a certainly durable and thick enough single slab of AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Rubber).  Of particular note, and I am sure something ASICS focused on, the outsole is "off a piece" in feel with the rest of the underfoot platform. There is no sense of any discontinuity between layers of midsole and outsole. The deep long decoupling groove clearly assists in moving the shoe along and reducing weight.

Ride
The Glideride rides very smoothly and consistently at all paces. Stable, quite firm with a touch of bounce they have an easy if stiff rockered transition and toe off at all paces except very fast where I find they tend to pop more vertically on toe off than forward and up and away than I would like due I think to the stiffness and big stack. I think a touch more front flexibility or a touch more heel stack could help solve the speed issue and the 3d variant in the series coming in the next several months is said to be lighter and more flexible. 

The entire underfoot platform can be said to be responsive yet well cushioned, back to that consistent feel.  This is a shoe you can take out for any run and have no surprises of a mushy labored slow pace, instability as the pace picks up, or on the other extreme an overly harsh dull feel. The 5mm drop due to the firmness of the midsole and lack of pronounced heel bevel is not really as apparent as some with similar or great drops.  The ride shines at moderate to faster paces for me where the Guide Sole, the response and stability come to the fore. It also runs very well at slower paces.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Asics has clearly delivered a maximally cushioned shoe with a dynamic and effective "glideride". Reasonable in weight at 10.2 oz for the 31mm heel / 26 mm stack with a truly superb upper that should fit, and well, many foot shapes from narrow to moderately wide, it is much more fun to run for me than previous ASICS which for me were often dull, firm and lumbering. It gets the brand back into the competitive and increasingly innovation driven run trainer game with an entirely new midsole configuration and geometry backed by scientific principles which works effectively. 

Can't wait to see how a racer version might perform!  In the meantime I think the Glideride is a great all around trainer and for marathoners say in the 3:30-4:00 range a solid and stable race shoe, especially for the later miles when form suffers and this despite weighing more than some race shoes. And no reason they could also serve as a single shoe in the quiver for many runners given its versatility. 

While I would like to see the weight brought down below 10 oz with lighter foams and maybe a touch less overall outsole coverage there is no question that this will be a durable many miles shoe.
Sam's Score: 9.3 / 10
Ride 50% 8.5, Fit 30% 10, Value 15% 10, Style 5%10
Deducting for: Weight and ride at fastest paces. For all other elements a 10/10!


Stay tuned for our multi-tester review coming soon!

Comparisons

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 21 (RTR Review)
The identical weight but higher drop (10mm vs 5mm) and lower stack 29/19mm, so 2mm less at the heel and 7mm less at the forefoot, Cumulus has a firmer harsher forefoot feel and more labored transitions. Somewhat more responsive in feel due to its thicker outsole and thinner forefoot it is not nearly as cushioned or smooth and snappy as the Glideride. The Cumulus upper while potentially of about the same volume is ill fitting in comparison to GR with overlays up front felt, a baggy midfoot that is less secure, and a heel area that is overbuilt. The popular Cumulus represents the past at ASICS, the Glideride the future. No question Glideride.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21 (RTR Review)
More cushioned but a chore in comparison to run and 0.7 oz heavier the Nimbus makes a fine daily trainer but doesn't provide nearly as much joy or dynamism as GR.

ASICS MetaRide (RTR Review)
The first shoe in the series,  the $250 Meta could be thought of as the concept car. At zero drop vs. 5mm in the GR, I quite liked the much more pronounced rocker with its metronomic ability to drop forward and go. It has the same heel stack as the GR but 5mm more stack upfront.  It is heavier by an ounce and $100. The Glideride is more practical and a faster ride.

Hoka Clifton 6  (RTR Review)
An interesting comparison that I did not entirely expect but in my A/B one on each foot test had me sit up as these two are very close. Clifton 6 felt somewhat more cushioned but with a denser less bouncy feel on the run, a big surprise.. but the 6 is not the Clifton 1. The forefoot while rockered was stiff feeling and more difficult to transition especially at slower paces than GR. It does have 2mm more stack front and back than the GR but not the substantial decoupling groove or EVA plate. Underfoot far less rubber on the Clifton contributing to its 1 oz lighter weight, a weight difference not really noticed on the run. As for uppers no contest. The Clifton upper is crude in comparison, considerably snugger with arch pressure noticed as well as a lower narrower toe box. 

Nike Zoom Fly FK (RTR Review)
ASICS has Zoom Fly as a competitor they were aiming GR at, and at least for the Zoom Fly FK (I have not yet tested the Zoom Fly 3) they are spot on. The GR has a smoother easier transition but less spring as there is no carbon plate. I can get a tired forefoot in the Zoom Fly as the combination of carbon plate and React foam feels overly firm and also can cramp my feet. Interestingly not so in the Vaporfly. The overall ZF platform is narrower with "sharp" narrower edges especially at the heel where it is clearly less stable feeling. Unlike the GR, when my form goes I struggle to run the Zoom Fly and the same at slower paces which the GR handles just fine. As far as uppers, no contest. While I don't mind a performance fit as the ZF has, the Flyknit upper is much lower and narrower over the toes than GR's toe box. At midfoot the ZF is somewhat more secure but beware of lace bite if tied too tight. The GR upper is more relaxed, more comfortable and for a trainer superior particularly if you have somewhat wider feet. Considerably lighter, 2 oz lighter for ZF,  its use is most limited to tempo only for me whereas GR has a much wider range of uses. 

Hoka Carbon X (RTR Review)
Another competitive shoe called out by ASICS. The X has a softer cushion feel but a layered one as the carbon plate is clearly felt when foot meets plate. It has a somewhat flatter feeling ride than GR due to its softer cushion but a more distinctive spring effect. Both have a more labored vertical feeling toe off as paces get faster than my half pace, so a similarity there.  The X upper is thinner with a slightly more secure mid foot hold and less heel and forefoot hold leading to a sense toes are pulling up and moving more than I like. With very similar stack heights, 1mm more front and back for the X, the key difference is weight...At 1.4 oz lighter the X is notably lighter and a faster shoe while retaining plenty of cushion for almost all training purposes except, as with GR, faster intervals and faster tempo where neither is ideal.  I prefer the easier transitions of the GR but give the nod to X here. Lighter foams and construction and the GR would be the clear winner of this pairing.

New Balance Fresh Foam More (RTR Review)
New Balance's most maximally cushioned shoe with a stack somewhat higher than GR, the More lacks a decent rocker design or for that matter any decoupling so is hard for me to transition. Fresh Foam is somewhat more responsive in feel but firmer with less bounce than GR's outsole midsole combination.  The More upper, while looking similar is less foot conforming, and can challenge lower volume feet far more than the GR's upper which accommodates narrower as well as somewhat wider feet very well. At the same weight the Glideride is a clear winner for me. 

New Balance 890v7 (RTR Review)
A much much lighter shoe at barely 7 oz the comparison here is for similar rocker geometries. While the 890v7 is much firmer, I found they run fairly similarly so if you like the 890v7 ride and want a trainer to pair you might consider the GR.  


Our Multi Tester Review is coming soon!
Watch our Video Review of the GLIDERIDE

The ASICS GLIDERIDE releases Sept. 27, 2019

The product reviewed  and trip to the Eternal Run were provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the author's.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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5 comments:

geomaz said...

Hello Sam! My question is why someone to choose asics glideride istead of skechers maxroad 4 hyper. Thanks again for all these usefull info!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Geomaz,
Actually not a hard answer and read our Max Road review for details, if you are a heavier runner and/or a runner who tends to supinate heavily on toe off I think Glideride will be a better choice. If you need more forefoot stability GR. I also think GR outsole will prove more durable. No issues for most with more breathable GR upper too. If you are not the above the Max Road is more fun and springy for sure, a real joy whereas the Glideride is steady and consistent with a nice rocker.
Sam

Joel Morris said...

Super interesting how many shoes are using weight-reduction and springiness, whereas Asics seems more focused on biomechanics. Hows the EVA plate? Seems like even hardened versions of the material wouldn't be stiff enough.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Joel,
The plate is not as noticeable as carbon in say Zoom Fly or Carbon X but it is there. I can feel it oh so gently in the mix. I think its purpose is to help with response below the Propel layer which while not super soft is not firm firm. Works! It is a more subtle and smoother feel than carbon plates and also not quite as "explosive" as this is a daily trainer.
Sam, Editor
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Jim O'Donnell said...

Regarding the width and softness of the midsole on the Glideride? How does it compare to the Hoka Clifton 6 softnees in the midsole? I have the 2E wide in the Clifton 6, the regular width is too narrow. How does the normal width of the Glideride compare to the normal width of the Clifton 6? Thanks!