Wednesday, December 02, 2020

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 Multi Tester Review

Article by Nils Scharff and Jeff Beck

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 ($150)


Jeff: The Nimbus has been ASICS big neutral daily trainer with some slight stability features. Favoring comfort over speed or weight, the Nimbus has always been well cushioned and plush, but that has made it something of a chore to run in the past. The 23rd iteration doesn’t stray too far from their tried and true formula, but a combination of Gel and FlyteFoam in the midsole with a pared down plastic TRUSTIC midfoot insert makes this Nimbus the most runnable in years.


Jeff/Nils: Plush yet firm ride gives plenty of protection without making the shoe laborious

Jeff: Upper isn’t overworked, really comfortable tongue

Jeff/Nils: Segmented outsole gives the shoe plenty of flex along with good durability

Jeff: Least obtrusive TRUSTIC insert yet


Jeff/Nils: Nearly twelve ounces on the scale for 10.5, and it isn’t that well cushioned

Jeff: It’s 2020, and it still has GEL. Still. 

Jeff: It’s the least obtrusive TRUSTIC, but it’s a neutral shoe - why is there a plastic insert?

Nils: I can feel some uncomfortable lace pressure at times. You can avoid it, but you have to take care!

Sally’s women’s colorway. Her review soon.


Approx. Weight:  men's 10.9 oz / 309 g (US9)  /  women's 9.7 oz / 274 g  (US8)

  Samples: men’s 10.5D 11.9 oz / 336 g, 10D 11.5 oz / 325 g

                  Women’s size US8:  9.7 oz / 274 g

Midsole Stack Height: 15mm/25mm (men’s) / 14mm/27mm (women’s)

Available now. $150

Tester Profiles

Nils is 30 years old, located in Heilbronn Germany. I've done all sorts of sports for all my life, often 5-7 times a week. But my young running career just started 3 years ago with a company run which I joined together with some colleagues in 2017. From there I never let go. I ran roughly 1000km in my first year, doubled and then tripled that number in 2018 and 2019. I've run 4 marathons to date with a PR of 3:14:49h. My other PRs are 18:14 for the 5k, 37:33 for 10k and 1:25:07 for the half.

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 40 miles per week, both roads and desert trails in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a PR's of 4:07 marathon and 5K at 23:39. In December 2019 he raced his first 50 mile trail ultra. 

First Impressions and Fit

Jeff: My pair of Nimbus 23 showed up the same day as the Nimbus Lite 2, so I’ve been alternating my runs between them. As much as they have very different appearances, ultimately these two shoes are very similar. On the run, they have comparable feel, with the N23 giving just a little more squish underfoot than the lighter Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review), but giving up some pop at toe-off (and the Nimbus Lite 2 doesn’t have that much pop to spare) at the expense of the nearly 1.5 extra ounces for the Nimbus 23 in my size. Fit is spot on true-to-size lengthwise, and with my slightly wider than D foot, I had no issues with width either.

Nils: At first step in the Nimbus 23 felt like an even more comfortable Kayano. The reason for that is probably the full FlyteFoam Propel midsole in comparison to just a layer of that softer material in the Kayano. I really like the looks of the “organic” pattern of different shades of purple-ish / grey / blue with the pop of the strong cyan around the logo overlays.. 

The sizing is a little short in ASICS terms. My men’s size 10 is just long enough and I can feel my big toe hitting the toe bumper especially on the downhills. I didn't have any issues with that but it’s worth noting. I think 10.5 US would have been the better size for me. That means that compared to other brands the Nimbus 23 fits true to size (because I nearly always wear 10.5 - in all ASICS I have run).


Jeff: The Nimbus 23 upper uses an engineered mesh with several layers. The exterior layer is a little rougher, but with no overlays except a slight buildup from the ASICS logos. 

Inside the shoe is a very smooth and comfortable layer that holds the foot well, like being draped in velvet. 

The heel counter has some exterior cladding on the medial and lateral sides, with a reflective vertical stripe up the back that has some holographic coloring.

The gusseted tongue might be my favorite part of the shoe - it is on the thicker side, without going too thick, so if you need to crank down the laces, you can. Something about the ultra plush tongue just sets the tone for the rest of the shoe, and the overall comfort. The toebox is ample, without being incredible. This isn’t an Altra or Topo, but it’s pretty good in that regard.

Nils: I actually felt the laces even through the thick tongue! Feeling a bit awkward to write this after the other two guys are telling you how thick the tongue is. I had to re-lace several times to get a proper lockdown without too much lace pressure. What actually helped was to use the marathon-lacing-method (not shown, using the additional lacing holes). 

This way I could move the pressure to the last part of the tongue which is even thicker as the rest and that helped protect my feet.


Jeff: ASICS is still using an external GEL insert in the heel above a layer of FlyteFoam, and overall it works well. The result is a relatively bottom heavy shoe that doesn’t provide that much protection, but also doesn’t let you sink into it. Head to head against the Nimbus Lite it resembles plush, but going up against other brands' big mileage daily trainers, it approaches the firm side of things. 

If you look closely at the two tone Flytefoam Propel midsole in the heel, the darker gray is much firmer, while the light gray has a little more give to it. The midsole has plenty of flex, likely because it isn’t that high of a midsole stack, with a claimed 15mm under the forefoot.

Nils: I don’t know what ASICS is measuring in regards to their stacks, but if I try to measure the midsole on the Nimbus 23 myself I can see at least 5-6mm more than ASICS is stating (15mm forefoot / 25mm heel) which likely is just the midsole stack and doesn’t include the outsole and foot bed. Running Warehouse has  21/31mm for the Nimbus 22 and I believe that’s close to the full stack as it includes the outsole and foot bed.

As Jeff stated the forefoot flex is really outstanding! I believe the reason for that are the deep flex grooves on the outsole (more to follow). This makes the Nimbus 23 a decent climber and a shoe that runs much lighter than its actual weight might let you assume. 

The Gel inserts in the forefoot (invisible) and heel (visible) do great work in terms of vibration dampening while the Trustic plate is trying to keep the soft FlyteFoam Propel midsole under control. Compared to other shoes in its weight class the Nimbus 23 has a little less (but more than enough) protection but therefore keeps a good amount of ground feel, which makes it kind of unique in that heavy trainer category.


Jeff: The outsole is very effective, with lots of coverage where it matters and none where it doesn’t. As shoe manufacturers have been trying to keep shoes lighter we’ve seen a drop in durability, but the Nimbus 23 outsole gives you protection everywhere it is needed and nowhere it isn’t. I don’t see any likely early failure points from the exposed midsole up the center of the heel to the midfoot and in the lateral flex grooves in the forefoot - the rubber outsole extends far enough to really protect the midsole. 

And while other Nimbus models have had a very prominent plastic bridge under the arch (ASICS TRUSTIC system), this model’s plastic insert is much smaller and less prominent than it has been in the past. As a neutral runner who supinates, this does literally nothing for me and I’d love to be rid of it (if only for the weight savings) but it doesn’t get in the way like it has in the past - massive step up. Durability of the rubber seems solid, using their softer AHAR rubber in the mid-to-front of the shoe, and harder and more durable AHAR+ in the far back heel. Unless you drag your feet for every step, these will easily last 300++ miles for you.

Nils: I’m a big fan of ASICS’ AHAR outsoles. I think their rubber formulas are along the grippiest and most durable on the market. I literally neve have run into slip  trouble with AHAR under my feet. Even during these winter days where the streets get icy the Nimbus 23 gives me confidence. There are some serious cutouts (aka flex grooves) in the outsole of the Nimbus 23. Nonetheless there is more than enough rubber in all needed places. It needs to be seen how many miles the FlyteFoam Propel will hold up, but outsole wise I think this thing will hold up for at least 500 miles for me as a runner who is on the lighter side.


Jeff: Much like the Nimbus Lite 2, the ride of the Nimbus 23 is decent. Not incredible, not awful, it’s just...fine. It runs smoothly, with a good balance and nice geometry, but it doesn’t have a great toe-off. It seems a little lacking in forefoot protection, but giving it an extra 3-5mm of stack height is only going to make it heavier and even less inspiring. It’s a solid daily trainer, but it wouldn’t be my pick if mileage is going to stack up or the pace is going to pick up.

Nils: I need to disagree with Jeff here. While I for sure think the ASICS Nimbus 23 runs just fine and smoothly I actually think that especially the toe off is outstanding for this shoe. Because of the excellent forefoot flex the shoe feels just natural to me - besides it’s amount of protection and weight. Maybe Jeff is missing any kind of propulsion effect of modern plated shoes. That is something the Nimbus 23 doesn’t have. But in my opinion it doesn’t need it and somehow manages to run much, much lighter than its weight without it.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Trail Scoring Rubric

Road Scoring Rubric

Jeff: Some shoes make you excited to put them on and go run, and this shoe didn’t do it for me. It runs very smoothly, and has lots of comfortable aspects, and overall it seems pretty good - but the big mileage daily trainer is being overrun by “great” to “truly amazing” shoes, so pretty good is forgettable in comparison. If you’ve been a Nimbus runner for some time, I’d bet you are going to love this update. The subtle changes it makes from the past really add to up to one of the best ASICS trainers they’ve made in years - but while they’ve been catching up, so has everyone else and this shoe lacks the surprising fun and/or incredible protection of so many others. For the weight and the cost this shoe should either hold up better to 10+ mile runs or bring a smile to your face on every step, and it did neither for me.

Jeff’s Score: 7.8 out of 10

Ride: 7 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 8 (5%)

Nils: My expectations were pretty low for the ASICS Gel Nimbus 23. And while the shoe didn’t excite me, it sure managed to impress me. I think there are too many shoes these days which slap so much protection at you, that you can’t feel the street anymore. The Nimbus 23 on the other hand achieves just the opposite. It gives you plenty of protection paired with a comfortable and smooth ride which just feels right and natural to me while it still lets you feel the surface you run on. I wouldn’t hesitate to run my long runs up to 30k in it as long as I didn’t plan to push the pace too much. For that it is just too heavy. I never run any of the earlier Nimbus before, but I can see why it has been around for so long.

Nils’ Score: 8.8 out of 10

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 8 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Very similar shoes, the N23 adds some heft and a little more squish, but takes an okay ride and makes it even more okay. I’d favor the reworked Lite 2 for easy miles or fast ones, and I’d look at something else altogether for longer runs. Both fit true-to-size.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 21 (RTR Review)

Jeff: My last Nimbus before the 23, the 21’s outsole features a much more prominent TRUSTIC arch insert, and has a more dense and less flexible midsole/outsole. The 23’s upper is more pared down with fewer overlays, and is a more fun shoe to run in. I had issues with the 21, so the 23 is a very easy recommendation for me.

Saucony Triumph 18 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar shoes with vastly different results, the Saucony has much more protection, and fun per step than the Nimbus. Neither shoe would be my choice for faster runs, but the Triumph is much more versatile. Both fit true-to-size.

Nils: Here again I have to disagree with Jeff. While the Triumph has better protection and the more modern / fun midsole material, the Nimbus runs much more naturally and achieves the fun factor through it’s awesome forefoot flex. The Saucony is more stable and would therefore be my choice as well but it really comes down to taste in my opinion. Both true-to-size for me.

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Nils: I think the Ride is the better comparison than the Triumph as it also comes with a great forefoot flex and therefore a more natural ride. In comparison to the Nimbus, the Ride is lighter, a little more stable and more dynamic. It can handle a wider range of runs / paces. The Nimbus on the other hand feels all around more plush and comfortable but is limited to more moderate paces for me. Both true-to-size.

Mizuno Wave Sky Neo (RTR Review)

Jeff: While it is heavier than the Nimbus, Mizuno’s premium big mileage trainer has so much more bounce and protection and that it runs much lighter in feel than the Nimbus. Mizuno Enerzy is no joke, and really makes the GEL and Propel  in the Nimbus look long in the tooth. Both fit true-to-size.

Brooks Glycerin 18 

Jeff: Brooks has been making minor changes for the last few years, but the results speak for themselves as one of the mainstay big mileage trainers. Up against the Nimbus the Glycerin has a noticeably more protection, and just a bit more bounce in the step. The Brooks could use a little overhaul, but by comparison it’s the better trainer. Both fit true-to-size.

New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Another trainer that’s been on the way up for a few years, there isn’t much the 1080v10 gets wrong. It comes through both 1.5 oz lighter and more cushioned, and while the upper isn’t as comfortable as the Nimbus 23, under foot it is a much better experience. Both fit true-to-size.

Nils. The 1080v10 has been one of my favorites of the last year. Therefore I can’t see many cases where I would pick the Nimbus instead. It’s another type of run feel (less rockered, more flex) for the Nimbus that might lead to different decisions. But other than that it is just the better expected durability that speaks for the Nimbus. 

The GEL-Nimbus 23 is available now from and from our retail partners below

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The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Nils said...


TReilly56 said...

Maybe just officially rename it the Nimbus and take the Gel tag off the shoe and tweak the Flyte Foam to replace the Gel midsole and end all the stink about how heavy the shoe is! I think much ado is made about the importance of shoe weight anyhow. The consumer is way more interested in durability and longevity than weight.