Sunday, October 25, 2020

ASICS Roadblast - As much as necessary, as little as possible!

Article by Nils Scharff

ASICS Roadblast ($90)

Editor's Note: Hot on the heels of his German language review of the Roadblast Nils was kind enough to translate his review to English.


When the ASICS Novablast hit the market in spring, it quickly became clear thatFlytefoam Blast midsole material has great potential. The Novablast with its irrepressible bounce has given many runners a lot of joy. Unfortunately, it was too unstable for me. The thick, soft midsole in combination with the rather wide fit was too much for my overpronating right ankle. 

So I was all the more pleased when ASICS announced two more models with Blast, Dynablast and Roadblast. Maybe ASICS will manage to tame the magic of the new midsole material in these shoes and make it runnable for me!? 

Fortunately, ASICS made the Roadblast available to me for this test to get to the bottom of this question! The Roadblast is the lightest cushioned shoe in the product family and is therefore presumably suitable for faster runs. At the same time, with an retail of just $90, it is a budget option on the running shoe market. In the course of this test I will find out whether it is also a buy recommendation.



  Official: 8.7oz (men US9) / 7.4oz (women US8)

  Test shoe: 9 oz (men EU 44 / US 10)

Drop: Men 10mm (14mm forefoot / 24 mm heel)

Release: Available now. $90


Simple, but comfortable and effective upper!

Light at 8.7 oz / 247g

Slight bounce of the great midsole material, especially in the heel!

The instability of the Novablast is gone!

Cool casual design that you can wear on the track as well as in the gym or in town!



I would like a bit more cushioning in the forefoot!

Comparable shoes usually weigh a little less (but also cost a little more)!

Tester: Nils Scharff

I am 30 years old, born in Kassel, married to a wonderful wife and have been making Heilbronn and its surrounding vineyards unsafe for 5 years now. I've done all sorts of sports my entire life, often 5-7 times a week. In addition to running, climbing and bouldering have been my sports for several years. I've only seen myself as a runner for three years. It all started with a company run that I didn't want to start completely unprepared. At that point I just didn't stop. In 2017 it was "only" just under 1000 kilometers, in 2018 twice as much, in 2019 already three times as much. During all these kilometers, it is important to me, whether on the trail or on the road, to switch off and exercise in nature. You will rarely see me on the treadmill or with headphones. In the meantime I have run four marathons, I set up the PB of 3: 14: 49h this year despite Corona as part of a #stayathomemarathon. In competitions I basically run all distances from 5km (17: 41min), 10km (37: 33min) over half marathons (1: 25: 07h) to the marathon. However, after all of my planned competitions were canceled this summer, I reoriented myself a little and registered for my first trail marathon.

First impression and fit

The ASICS Roadblast arrived together with the Metaracer at my house. Accordingly, it admittedly only played second fiddle when unpacking. What struck me immediately, however, was that the Japanese are not yet implementing their explicitly advertised environmentally friendly packaging for all models. While the Metaracer was packed in the new, natural-colored box, the Roadblast was still packed in the familiar blue one that ASICS has been using for decades. I hope that will change soon! (Editor’s Note: In 2021 all ASICS shoes will come in 100% recycled packaging materials>)


In contrast to the box, the Roadblast itself presented itself in a modern look! The knit material looks high quality, the denim blue color is exactly my thing. I would wear this shoe in my spare time without hesitation. The first time I tried it on, the visual impression was confirmed. In my ASICS standard size 44 EUR everything fits as expected. The toe box could be a tad longer, but it's not uncomfortably short or narrow either. The width in the forefoot is comfortable and not restricting, the hold in the metatarsus and heel is good. Everything just feels right. Not too much, not too little, not too soft and not too hard.


The upper material consists almost entirely of a two-layer material mix. The visible outer layer is a relatively fine-meshed knit material. This knit is also advertised by ASICS on the product website and is allegedly even designed to be gender-specific. Since I only have the men's model here, I don't have a comparison to judge that. 


Anyways, the men's shoe fits perfectly on my men's foot. Under the outer layer of knitted fabric, there is a fine liner on the inside, which on the one hand prevents visibility through the knitted material and on the other hand minimizes friction on the foot. So far, I haven't noticed the breathability or temperature in the shoe either positively or negatively, but I can imagine that I would like something more airy on hot summer days.


Both layers of material together are stretchable and wrap comfortably around the foot. A light toe cap is incorporated between the two layers of material in the forefoot. Where other manufacturers pull this cap up over the toes - which can put pressure on the toes (the Saucony Triumph cost me such a toenail) - the protection in the ASICS Roadblast is only directed forward. This way it protects against impacts and still leaves enough wriggle room for the toes - very good!


The tongue of the Roadblast is unfortunately not sewn to the side of the rest of the shoe. It is only prevented from slipping by the shoelaces - which has not posed any problem so far. It is lightly padded - comfortable and functional. The flat shoelaces run in a reinforcement that is attached around the associated holes. They distribute the pressure excellently, so that in combination with the tongue padding I don't feel any uncomfortable pressure here. In addition, there are hardly any functional overlays. There is a large ASICS logo on both sides of the shoe. Interestingly, this overlay consists of a very thin layer on the inside, while it is thicker, stiffer and also structured on the outside. Therefore the logo on the lateral side strengthens the upper. However, I don't see why this should be necessary at this point and therefore attribute the difference between the two logos to the design. In addition, there are two reflective elements along the heel that ensure safety in the dark - very commendable!

The heel cap itself is relatively stiff and provides good support and stability. It is one of the reasons why I can run in the neutral ASICS Roadblast besides being a slight overpronator. Like the entire entrance, the heel is medium padded. In my opinion, ASICS hits the bull's eye again! I don't see why I should have more padding in any shoe - at the same time there is enough of it to feel comfortable.



In the ASICS Novablast - the vanguard of the Blast-family - the midsole was without question the star of the show. At that time ASICS showed for the first time that they are able to build good shoes without GEL technology. And now they are trying to continue this in Roadblast. Of course, the great properties of the Flytefoam Blast material are not that prominent as in the Novablast. But that is also quite logical, since there is simply much less of ASICS' new wonder material as here we have a blend of Blast and Amplifoam technologies. 

ASICS marketing department advertises the Roadblast with the words “trampoline effect, better energy absorption and long-lasting comfort”. And I find these attributes in my runs without question. While the trampoline effect felt is limited to the heel you clearly can tell that the Roadblast uses the same, energetic midsole material as the Novablast. This effect is more subtle in the forefoot. 14mm of the blend with Flytefoam Blast in the mix with Amplifoam is just not enough material for a trampoline. However, you can still feel a slight bounce - at this point most comparable to Saucony's PWRRUN which you can find e.g. in the Kinvara (although the K11 has 7mm more cushioning in the forefoot).

Apart from the midsole material itself, the construction of the midsole is apparently relatively unspectacular at first. The front is angled up quite heavy to support the roll through the footstrike. The flex point in the forefoot is set relatively far forward and relies on the curved sole shape taking over the process up to this point. From the outside, the angular cutouts around the heel are noticeable - this is also an analogy to the Novablast. But I would classify those primarily as cosmetic. The midsole protrudes a good bit over the heel, which especially leads heel runners into the rolling process early and thus has a stabilizing effect. This is the same principle that HOKA is currently taking to the extremes in some models such as the TenNine or the Clifton Edge. At this point, ASICS simply delivers quietly without beating big marketing drums.

What ASICS also implements in terms of the midsole geometry are huge, deep flex grooves along the longitudinal axis of the shoe. In the heel, this notch extends through the entire midsole. 

You can even see the turquoise-colored footbed (the layer between the midsole and insole). On the one hand these notches guide through the runners footstrike. On the other hand according to ASICS those flex grooves should also strengthen the trampoline effect of the midsole. I understand this mechanics as follows: When the heel hits the ground the midsole will tend to “collapse” inwards towards the cutout before the material then unfolds outwards again and pushes the heel upwards. And from what I feel I believe that this principle actually works in Roadblast. For 24mm cushioning material, the heel feels downright trampoline-like!


A last word on the midsole: The insoles edges are nicely pulled up on the sides and wrap around the heel. This way additional support and comfort is provided.


The biggest conspicuousness of the outsole - the deep flex grooves - I have already described in the midsole area. In addition the rubber compound used performs well and inconspicuously, and blends well with the rest of the shoe. It doesn't seem to be the much advertised ASICS AHAR rubber, but is called out  as Solid Rubber Outsole. Nevertheless, it had enough traction on all surfaces, whether wet or dry. And after more than 50km in the ASICS Roadblast I can hardly see any signs of wear.



The ASICS Roadblast is a lightweight shoe that does a lot of things right and actually does nothing really wrong!  Despite a relatively low stack height of 14mm in the forefoot, it runs relatively comfortably. I can easily recommend it for runs up to 20-25km! The upper material is really outstanding and the shoe fits perfectly! Nothing wobbles or slips! Heel strikers in particular will have fun with the trampoline-like feeling in the heel and still don't have to worry about excessive instability. And on top of that the Roadblast can also go fast! I ran 600m intervals on a dirt road in the shoe and there it performed pretty well. The early flex point and the relatively stiff transition to the metatarsus create a minor propulsion effect like a weak carbon plate would produce. Of course the Metaracer has more to offer in that regard, but it also comes for a price twice as high as the Roadblast.


Conclusions and Recommendations

I was initially very skeptical about the ASICS Roadblast. Things didn't really work out with the Novablast and me, and then it's also just the $90 budget model. But I was taught better. In fact, the Roadblast is my budget shoe of the year so far. And that is even more important than usual in this Covid year! 

The Roadblast can easily compete with Kinvara and SL20 - two highly acclaimed shoes in the same segment. And it is less expensive than both of them besides using I might say the best midsole material of the bunch. 

In addition the upper material and design are outstanding in a way that the ASICS Roadblast is both comfortable and classy enough to wear it casually. 

If you don’t need tons of cushion it is a well built allrounder! If you are looking for a light, fast shoe for intervals and tempo runs you should definitely give it a try! The same conclusion applies if you are looking for an allrounder for everything except the longest runs. Especially since the current trend towards maximum cushioning is not for everyone. 

With the Roadblast, ASICS shows that a good running shoe doesn't always have to be stuffed with the latest technologies in order to perform excellently. That the price is kept down as well is a pleasant side effect, which makes for an excellent recommendation for students or  anyone who doesn't want to spend a fortune on a running shoe!


I can hardly tell anything bad about the ASICS Roadblast. Especially as you always have to keep an eye on where a shoe is placed in the market structure. And considering the price of $90 there is really next to nothing to complain about. 

For my taste there should be a bit more cushioning in the forefoot. 2-4mm more Flytefoam Blast would provide more protection and fun. At the same time that would reduce the drop to 6-8mm (which I prefer to 10mm). The breathability is in the vast majority of cases is perfectly fine, but could be a bit better for hot summer days. Oh and ASICS should sew the tongue to the sides of the shoe in a Roadblast 2. And last but not least comparable shoes are usually a few grams lighter (but also more expensive). Other than that ASICS did just the right things in almost all respects - bravo!

Score  9.5 / 10 

(-0.1 for the non-attached tongue; -0.1 for some potential in terms of breathability; - 0.1 for a tad too little cushioning in the forefoot; -0.2 for a little too much weight)


Index to all RoadTrailRun reviews here

Editor’s Note: Nils has not yet tested the Dynablast to compare but our RTR Review is here

ASICS Roadblast vs. ASICS Novablast (RTR Review)

While I couldn't even wear the Novablast in everyday life due to its instability, the Roadblast is a great value for money in my eyes. Of course it is not nearly as much  of a trampoline as its big brother. But the upper material is much better, it is much more stable and can reproduce just as wide of a range of runs as the Novablast (but moved in the faster direction of the scale). Roadblast clearly wins for me! Both US10. 

ASICS Roadblast vs. Saucony Kinvara 11 (RTR Review)

The Kinvara is one of my absolute favorite shoes. If I don't know what to wear, I take the Kinvara - always! Therefore it is a huge compliment when I say that the Roadblast can certainly compete. 


The Kinvara is significantly more flexible in the forefoot and better cushioned all around. That's why you can run a marathon in Kinvara, which I wouldn't recommend to do in the Roadblast. 


But the faster and shorter the units get the better the Roadblast can keep up. The drop is 4mm in the Kinvara  vs. 10mm in the Roadblast and therefore very different. And then there's that bounce in the heel which the Kinvara doesn't have. The upper material of the Roadblast is actually better than the Kinvaras (which is too much padded for my likings) and the look is suitable for everyday use. The Kinvara is even more well rounded and covers even more use cases, but the Roadblast is a great alternative for $20 less.  Kinvara US10.5; Roadblast US10.


ASICS Roadblast vs. adidas SL20 (RTR Review)

The SL20 is a good shoe with a very similar usage profile. It is lighter, more airy and dampens vibrations more effectively. However, the Roadblast is livelier, more comfortable, looks better and costs $30 less! I got blisters in the SL20, but not in the Roadblast. Roadblast wins for me in this comparison! Both US10.

ASICS Roadblast vs. adidas adios 5 (RTR Review)

The adios 5 is also a shoe that can do fast things as well as runs well into the 20 kilometer range. It is lighter than the Roadblast and much more of a high-tech weapon than an all round shoe. It runs accordingly rougher. The outsole of the adios 5 is unparalleled! Those looking for performance take the adios (for $50 more!) but those looking for an all-rounder take the Roadblast. Both US10.

Available at ASICS HERE and at the stores below

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.

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