Monday, March 29, 2021

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky Multi Tester Review: Sky High Energy Marathon Super Shoe!

Article by Nils Scharff, Jacob Brady, Sally Reiley, Peter Stuart. Michael Ellenberger and Sam Winebaum

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky ($250)

Introduction

Sam: The Metaspeed Sky represents ASICS first high stack super road racing shoe. Two years of development and scientific research at the ASICS Institute of Sports Science with elite athletes including Zane Robertson and Sarah Hall in the testing and racing prototypes went into its design. During the research, both objective and subjective, ASICS discovered that the one size (so to speak) geometry super shoe was not the way to go. 


Research showed that in fact the elites could be grouped into two categories at faster paces: Stride and Cadence. Some elites increased their stride length significantly while their cadence increased proportionally less while others increased their cadence proportionally more than their stride length. More specifically, Stride elite runners were found to increase their stride length 30% as paces got faster and their cadence 8%, while Cadence runners increased their stride length 15% as their cadence increased 23%. The elite Stride type runners tended to land more laterally and forward. The more subjective data showed preferences based on stride type as well.


Significantly I think for me, the descriptive text accompanying the graphics for Stride and Cadence in the ASICS marketing materials gave me pause and had me reflecting on which super shoes could also perform but also “feel” best for me. While my data indicates I tend to be a Stride runner I also tend to heel strike and have poor knee lift and generally “lean” towards a higher drop race shoe with a long easy to find front drop in (original Vaporfly for example).

  • Stride-style runners require a greater vertical rebound from the midsole to extend their stride.

  • Cadence-style runners need more control of force from foot strike to toe- off. This allows them to generate more forward energy to extend their stride.


The result of the research and testing.. There will be two ASICS super shoes plus a more training oriented variant, the Speed Magic ($150). 


Metaspeed Sky ($250)  reviewed here and releasing April 1st is designed for Stride style while Metaspeed Edge ($250) coming soon for test and releasing June 2021 is designed for Cadence style.  The Edge is lagging the Sky in release as its genesis occurred during the initial testing of the Sky as the runner type distinctions became evident through the research.  


The two will differ in their drop, stack, and geometry with the Sky (shown below) at a 33mm heel /28mm forefoot midsole stack height (not including 2mm outsole, plus about 4mm board +sockliner and with a 5mm drop. So the total stack height can be estimated at approximately 39mm heel  /35mm forefoot in men’s with the gender specific women’s version totaling 2mm less front and heel. 

The Cadence oriented Edge (shown below) will have a midsole stack height of 29mm heel / 21mm forefoot, 8mm drop in the men’s so less stack and more drop than the Sky. In terms of geometry, the  Edge will also have a milder forefoot curvature angle and what appears to be more of a heel bevel.


MetaSpeed Edge Photo: ASICS

Add approximately 6mm for outsole, board, and sockliner and the total stack height will be 35mm heel / 27mm forefoot so somewhat lower than Sky with the women’s 1mm lower front and heel than the men’s, interesting as the Sky women’s stack is 2mm lower than the men’s. Gender differences derived from research likely dictating this difference.  


We must note right away how light Metaspeed Sky is at about 186g / 6.56 oz in a men’s US8.5 sample so less than 6.8 oz in a US9 while our women’s size US 8 sample weighs 167 g / 5.7 oz. The weight and stack puts it in rarefied territory.


Which may be best for you? While we do not have the Edge yet, we will try to give you some tips based on our personal experiences, preferences, and data (and we will be updating the review as we gather more data)  on how to determine which model may be best for you. Please keep in mind we are not all for “elites” and that other factors such as runner weight, age, and form may play significant roles in determining which ASICS super shoe, or for that matter any super shoe may help you perform better.


ASICS is to be commended right up front for going deeper than one size fits all in carbon plated race shoes by bringing distinctly different shoe geometry choices that attempt to match runner styles and thus potentially maximize their performances.

Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky is ASICS first high-stack carbon-plated racing shoe designed primarily for the marathon distance. ASICS debuted a carbon-plated racing shoe with the Metaracer (RTR Review), though it was lower stack and closer to a traditional racer, with the plate only in the forefoot. The Metaspeed Sky is one of two new plated racers, alongside the Metaspeed Edge. Each shoe under the Metaspeed name is designed to work best for specific types of runners, depending on their running style, specifically, to what degree they increase cadence to increase pace. 


The Metaspeed Sky is designed for runners who primarily increase their stride length to run faster—called Stride-type—while the Edge is for those whose increase cadence significantly as well, called Cadence-type. The Sky is higher stack and lower drop (33/28 vs 29/21 for Men’s, 31/26 vs 28/20 for Women’s) with more vertical bounce due to a slightly different geometry.

Both shoes use the same construction with a 100% recycled polyester upper, a high-rebound “nylon-based” midsole, a full-length carbon plate, and an ASICS grip outsole. They are high-end in construction, performance, and price—an exciting release for ASICS and an exciting shoe to test.

Nils: Living in Germany,  I don't often have the chance to try out a shoe before anyone else. Most releases are tailored to the US market. My colleagues from overseas are already running a shoe weeks before I have the chance to. When a shoe arrives at my place, I have already read various reviews and may be biased in one direction or the other. I am therefore very grateful that ASICS has made it possible for testers all over the world to have their new super shoe available more or less at the same time. Two days ago I even had the cool situation that a YouTube star I regularly watched (at least for the running scene) received a new shoe “under embargo” and I was literally one step ahead of him: I already had finished my first run in Metaspeed Sky at this point! Kind of a cool feeling, I tell you!

Sally: I was thrilled to receive a “secret” package from ASICS containing not one, but two pairs of beautiful bright red-orange super fast looking shoes with a handwritten note telling me to have fun and enjoy them (the other pair was the upcoming racer/trainer Magic Speed). 


I was even more thrilled when I slipped them on and went for a run! The Metaspeed Sky is FAST and fun. After learning about the genesis of this design and all of the science, metrics and research that went into its development (along with the upcoming Metaspeed Edge), I can’t help but ponder which type of runner I am, Stride-style or cadence-style? 

My immediate love affair with the Metaspeed Sky has me convinced that this is the shoe for me, and that a higher bounce and longer stride (facilitated by the geometry and midsole of this particular shoe) is what gives me speed when I push the pace. Fascinating and amazing stuff! I think it’s really cool how ASICS has applied all that lab analysis to create shoes uniquely designed to work with each runner’s style. So, fellow runner, are you Stride or Cadence?


Peter: Fun to sit in on all of the marketing pitch, background and genesis of this shoe, but the proof is always out on the roads. What I can tell right away is that this is a light and fast offering from ASICS that I’m excited to run in. 

PROS

  • Forefoot: highly cushioned, highly energetic with noted bounce, spring, final rocker: Sam/Jacob/ Sally/Nils/Peter/Michael
  • Extremely high-energy feel: Jacob/Sally/Sam/Nils/Peter
  • Superb, simple overlay free engineered mesh upper. True to size,secure with decent room Sam / Nils/ Sally/Peter
  • At about 6.7 oz / 190g US men’s 9 in rarified territory marathon super shoe territory, only Next% lighter. Sam/Jacob  
  • And only 5.9 oz /167 g for my W8!) Sally
  • 100% recycled polyester upper Jacob/Sam/Michael
  • Plate harshness, thin forefoot and higher weight of Metaracer gone! Sam/Michael
  • Excellent wet and dry traction Jacob/Michael


CONS

  • Not really a con but best run fast! Comes to life sub 8:30 min miles for me unlike some of the others. Slower, heel seems narrow/low and forefoot seems high  Sam/Peter/Michael
  • Price - it’s on the higher end of the super shoe price scale. Nils
  • Stiff heel collar threatens irritation - Michael
  • Maybe not the best race pick for slower runners Jacob/Sam
  • Sized well overall,slightly narrow in the forefoot, a bit of pressure on my outer toes Jacob 
  • “Noisy,” as in not a quiet shoe (similar to Nike Next % in loud) : Sally


Tester Profiles

Jacob is a runner and general endurance sports enthusiast. He runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He has been running every day for nearly 3 years and averages around 50 miles per week. Jacob races on road and trail at a variety of distances. In the past two race seasons has done several marathons and shorter (≤ 50km) ultras and mountain races. He has a PR of 2:51 in the marathon and a recent half TT PR of 1:18. In addition to running, he does hiking, biking (mountain/gravel/road), surfing, and nordic skiing. He is 25 years old, 6 ft / 182 cm tall and 155 lbs / 70 kg. You can check out Jacob’s recent activities on Strava here.

Nils is 30 years old, located in Heilbronn Germany II’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 17;32 for the 5k, 37:33 for 10k and 1:25:07 for the half.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:25 half marathoner in recent years.

Michael is a patent attorney and 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.



Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 6.7 oz  / 190g (US9), women’s actual 167 g / 5.7 oz (US W8)

Samples: men’s 186g / 6.56 oz (R:183g, L: 189g) US8.5; 201g / 7.09 oz (US 10)

                 women’s: 167 g / 5.7 oz (US W8)/ Men’s size 11 217g, 7.65 oz.

Stack Height: 

Official midsole: 33mm heel / 28mm forefoot for men’s, 31mm/26mm for women’s

Est. men’s full stack: 39mm / 34mm (2mm outsole + 4mm board and glued insole)

Available  April 1st, $250


First Impressions and Fit

Jacob: Out of the box, the Metaspeed Sky clearly has all the components of a top-tier modern marathon racer. It is remarkably lightweight—a weighing confirms the fourth lightest shoe I’ve tested and the second lightest high-stack carbon-plated shoe, behind only the Nike Vaporfly NEXT%. The Metaspeed Sky is quite stiff and difficult to flex in the hand. The midsole feels scratchy and airy, very similar to the Saucony PWRRUN PB and Nike ZoomX—it is almost certainly a similar PEBA material. Underfoot it is not plush nor soft, but has ample depth of cushion and feels ready to burst with explosive energy.


The Metaspeed Sky design is clean with a minimal single-layer, overlay-free upper and a day-glow red/orange color. It is strikingly bright; I received a “great looking shoes” comment from a pedestrian on my first run. The fit is true to size and snug as expected from a racer, but without uncomfortable pressure. It has an excellent foothold and I have not had issues with lace bite, just a bit of pressure on my outer toes from the width and rigid upper material. This wasn’t problematic for the shorter test runs I’ve done (longest 10 miles) but it isn’t a soft or exceptionally comfortable fit.


Peter: Light, relatively stiff and pretty much see-through upper. An excellent looking shoe that fits just right and true-to-size. 


Michael: Aesthetically, the MetaSpeed Sky isn't as clean as the MetaRacer (which, I should add, is still available and being sold by ASICS) but damn if it doesn’t look fast in a futuristic way that only ASICS could do. On the foot, the obvious improvement over the MetaRacer is just the amount of stack, but all the good parts (upper, lockdown, outsole) are conserved from its little brother. Okay, enough talk - time to run.


Upper

Sam: The Metaspeed Sky upper is a single layer engineered mesh made from 100% recycled polyester. Great move by ASICS to go with recycled materials in their pinnacle racer. There are no overlays whatsoever beyond the very pliable and thin toe bumper as even the “Tiger” logos at midfoot are just paint and don’t appear, as is often the case with logos, to provide additional structure at midfoot. So the simplest, most minimalistic yet fully effective of uppers here.

The diagonal slightly thicker bands are angled to move with the foot and it is neat how they align with the patterning of the midsole side walls, and even outsole, said patterning underfoot and even at the outsole  I think not just decoration. See Midsole. The fit and volume is generous for a race shoe with the not super pliable or soft and thin mesh wrapping the foot comfortably and securely. Very well locked in but not squeezed and with a consistent feel to the hold everywhere.

It fits me true to size as every super shoe has been except Vaporfly 4% Flyknit which was overly constrictive over the top of the toes.


The black painted collars are padded on the inside starting at the top edges with a consistent thickness down about an inch, no fashionable and sometimes problematic low ankle  “bolsters” here.

There is a heel counter but a flexible one seen as an underlay and whose surface is suede like in feel. No fabric layer to bunch or soak through below the collars and even weight reducing ventilation and drainage holes through the heel counter. The far center rear is the stiffest portion of the heel counter but still bendable to pressing top to firmer bottom. ASICS has achieved a rear wrap and lock down with just enough structure and not a gram of extra material or “decoration” here as far as I can tell! 


Compared to the excellent adios Pro rear hold, this upper has a bit more structure around the ankle and is higher and is more pliable at the lowest point at the far rear center. While the materials are similar in feel on the outside, the adios Pro upper ends up “thicker” as it has an internal standoff grid of triangles whereas there is none here.


Truly simple and elegant this entire upper is, as was the somewhat thicker MetaRacer’s, a far cry from the busy bright Nike uppers or the decorated Saucony Endorphin Pro’s or RC Elite 2’s  or theadidas Celermesh grid which does look and works great. 

Nils: The upper material of the ASICS Metaspeed Sky is strongly reminiscent of that of its predecessor Metaracer. And that's by no means a bad thing, because the Metaracer might have been one of the best uppers I had on my foot last year! The single-layer mesh used feels very robust. When you slip into the shoe there’s a rather rough and stiff feeling. I don't usually run my shoes barefoot - but if you do, you should keep this point in mind if you are interested in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky.

There is sufficient padding at the heel and around the collar to protect against the seams. But in the mid- and forefoot area, nothing more in terms of padding, underlays or overlays beyond the pliable toe bumper. The Japanese and Boston based engineers and designers seem to have focused primarily on weight reduction and breathability. 


Compared to the Metaracer, they actually managed to further elaborate and improve this point. You can see through the material throughout the shoe. This means you can literally feel every puff of air on your feet while running. Only flip flops are probably more breathable. How ASICS manages to make such a thin material so robust is amazing! And then there's the fact that 100% of the mesh fabric used is made from recycled polyester - great job!

The tongue is an unpadded suede layer that leaves no uncomfortable pressure from the laces. Unfortunately the tongue is not gusseted. Material and thus weight savings will have been the reason. But that hasn’t been a problem so far. The tongue and the overall lockdown were exactly as I adjusted them before the run, even after a 29km long run - perfect!

In the lower area of ​​the heel there’s a little too much room for me in the shoe, but this does not affect the heel hold negatively. The heel is reinforced centrally by a seam and the associated over-sewing. Analog to the Metaracer there is a heel cage that seems to be made of a suede-like material on the inside. Compared to the Metaracer, however, there is no ventilation cut-out in the heel cup. Instead the material is perforated. This creates a firmer overall impression and a touch of stability while keeping the airflow in mind.


The black supposedly waxed laces of the Metaracer can also be found in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. They also contribute to the somewhat stiff and robust appearance of the shoe, but keep the lockdown perfectly.


Incidentally, there are no additional reinforcing layers on the upper material ahead of the heel area. A soft toe bumper is the only exception. It feels quite comfortable and is perforated as well. The air flow in the shoe seems to be thought out down to the smallest detail!


ASICS was right at the forefront when it came to performance uppers last year. But with the ASICS Metaspeed Sky, the bar has been raised again!


Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky upper is svelte and race-weight. It uses a single layer engineered mesh that is made of 100% recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. ASICS has a company goal of using 100% recycled materials by 2030. With a typically disposable product like a running shoe, it is great to see initiative to lessen the environmental impact of shoes, and especially so  in a high-end racing shoe.


The upper mesh is stiff, thin, lightweight, and free of overlays. 

There is reinforcement in the toe to raise the toebox height and light padding with some rigidity in the heel. The upper is a bit scratchy and on initial try-on it didn’t feel particularly foot-conforming or comfortable, but it is well-sized and very secure on the run without problematic pressure. I don’t need to lace too tightly to have great foothold and have not experienced any lace bite. The laces are unique in having not much stretch and feeling rough, but they hold very well and the lack of stretch likely helps security.

Sally: ASICS has created an amazing upper for this shoe. It wraps the foot securely and yet comfortably, with tremendous breathability and lightness. True, the mesh seems stiff and scratchy upon initial inspection, but that is unnoticeable on the foot, and is a small price to pay for the impressive sustainability statement made with the use of 100% recycled polyester (kudos to ASICS!). I liken it to the evolution of my favorite go-to piece of apparel, my Patagonia fleece pullovers: the current fleece of the newer models made with recycled plastic is not as “soft” as the older fleece, but the tradeoff for sustainability is well worth it. 

I was pleased that the forefoot of this upper has plenty of toe height and none of that front of the toe pressure that many race shoes have, and the ankle collar is padded just enough to be comfortable without being overdone. The tongue is thin and just the right height, composed of soft suede-like material with numerous holes on the medial side combined with a continuation of the engineered mesh on the lateral side. Svelte and thin, but I felt no lace pressure above my foot. The only possible negative of the upper was a slight pressure point above the medial metatarsal after 6 plus miles, possibly alleviated with a sock change or lacing adjustment. All in all, a beautifully done upper!


Peter: Look! Up there! They said it all!!! The upper is a little scratchy but fits like a dream. It’s almost like Asics has been making shoes for a while!

Michael: What looks complex, visually, is actually a stunningly simple and comfortable upper. The knit-like material in the forefoot is stretchy and pleasant to wear (and very striking to boot). The ASICS logo isn’t an added, stitched element but instead sublimated onto the upper - but there’s no need for overlays here. ASICS has crafted such a well-fitting, race-ready upper that I don’t think anyone will have issues with for training or racing.


Midsole

Sam: the midsole foam is FlyteFoam Turbo. “FlyteFoam” is not a single material that is for sure but more a collection of run experiences under  the label. It comes in many flavors such as the repurposed cellulose nanofiber infused foam in the Metaracer, Kayano Lite and Nimbus Lite FlyteFoam Blast in the NovaBlast, FlyteFoam Propel as layers in some ASICS or just plain “FlyteFoam”.


Flight Foam Turbo’s "nylon" composition was not disclosed to us by ASICS but it clearly has a similar non white straw color as in PEBA based ZoomX as seen below the Nike shoes outer skins and it has a distinct and “familiar” smell when new.  


It is very light for cushion provided, and has a springy silky ride with lots of energy return that is more measured than say the bouncy feel of New Balance FuelCell in the RC Elite and Rebel v2 or the more taught firmer feel of Hyperburst. I suspect given the above it is a PEBA type foam a bit more springy, tauter less deforming laterally and a toucan softer than Zoom X which all by itself say in the Invincible Run is very bouncy. I can say that based on what I felt as the heel feel where there is minimal rubber in the MetaSpeed 


While I only have few miles on them to date, the creasing of the outer skin of the Zoom X racers is not seen at all as of yet and would with similar mileage in a Zoom X shoe as there is no outer skin here with the midsole sidewalls and exposed midsole below patterned with diagonal grooves which may have a dual purpose: relieve the stresses at the edges of the foam and hide any creasing. No creasing at all seen so far.


To pressing, the foam is slightly softer than Lightstrike Pro, slightly softer than Zoom X, about the same as PWRUN PB in Endorphin Pro and softer than Hyperburst. It is clearly firmer than FuelCell in RC Elites and Rebel v2. But the foam firmness to pressing is only part of the ride and feel story..


The forefoot has a notable (and distinct from any super shoe I have run)  powerful sensation of very stable bounce and spring from its broad platform, the foam, thin full outsole and carbon plate.  


The plate is “bottom loaded” so felt as hard when pressing at the center of the forefoot as Metaracer and Next% plates can be felt. But unlike others, the medial mid to forefoot edges are more notably softer than the lateral (and especially so compared to Endorphin Pro). The Next as all Nike racers do, focuses on a soft area at the very front of the toe off  The Sky has a longer more even, If biased medially, edge softness. On the run this feeling translates to a very consistent broad feel to the front rebound without any harsh edges from the plate.

These softer edges, which flare 2mm beyond the forefoot outsole  are unlike other super shoes’,  except the Next which narrows the outsole further forward and sculpts the midwalls more (less vertically)  than the Sky.  While appearing to be in contact with the ground the foam’s sidewalls actually are first vertical then flare out. Note also in the picture above the characteristic off white color of the midsole foam which seems to indicate a PEBA compound.


By way of comparison, the RC Elite 2 has similar soft edges but they are symmetrical in firmness whereas Next% has less give to the edges as its plate extends further to the sides under the ball of the foot although right up front it is soft for final toe off. 


Adios Pro with its rods has an overall symmetrical firmness of foam to the edges with the rods instead of a monolithic plate providing more overall give in the center even as in the Sky they are bottom loaded and not far above the outsole. 


Endorphin Pro is the firmest right to the edge on the lateral side sides, likely in part due to its thicker edge bands of rubber and the location of its plate while the medial side has more give that is less dynamic in feel in hand to Sky’s there.

Left to Right: Endorphin Pro, RC Elite 2, adios Pro, Metaspeed Sky, Next%

Of course there is more to it than just pressing as examining the picture above (all US8.5 except the Endorphin Pro at US9) as each model takes a different approach to the underfoot geometry of the midsole outsole combination.  


I will note that in terms of forefoot width by my rough measurements Endorphin Pro and the Sky come in at about 104mm while all the others come in at 107-108mm. How does Sky get away with its very stable forefoot feel with less width, likely its more vertical sidewalls, plate design and flaring of  the midsole.


In terms of heel area width, the RC Elite 2 leads the pack with 80mm with Sky (75mm), Endorphin Pro (77mm),  Next % (75mm), and adios Pro at 71mm. I suspect the narrow adios heel is an attempt to reduce weight as Lightstrike Pro is a heavier base material than the other shoes are using. 


In terms of rear stability from the geometry the Sky is more than adequately stable for me but its 5mm drop lower than the others starts to be sensed at slower paces above 9 minute miles or so. But after all this is not a shoe for slow paces but… we do tend to get tired and back on the heels more in a race I do find that the heel is softer and lower slightly more stable than adios Pro and Next but not quite as stable as RC Elite 2, also with a soft heel. 

The Metaspeed Sky’s approach to plate and foam location at the forefoot clearly contributes to its bounce and spring there allowing the big toe area to rotate and sink in and then rebound medially on toe off while the geometry of the forefoot platform, outsole, and plate keeps things stable. 


The heel is well cushioned and quite soft in feel (somewhat similar to Metaracer but less bouncy and more stable, and even with a 5mm drop (yes it is noticed compared to some competitors at 8mm and above) does not seem to have a bottoming out sensation for me. The properties of the foam providing a characteristic stable and forgiving spring of the heel while the lateral rubber helps with landing stability while the small medial patch not over doing pronation control to allow  the foot to easily move off the heel even at my relatively slow paces.


Nils: ASICS ’new FlyteFoam Turbo material is used for the first time in the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. So far I have no information about what this is from a chemical point of view. 


But as already mentioned, I suspect a PEBA foam (polyether block amide) behind the new FlyteFoam variant. There’s not just the unmistakable smell but also by the haptic impression, the ride and actually the noise. When the exposed foam of the heel hits the asphalt, it just sounds different than other midsole materials. And it's also louder, by the way. Anyone who has ever run a Nike Vaporfly knows what I'm talking about.

I don't have a Vaporfly here at the moment, just Saucony's Endorphin Speed ​​and Pro models to make a comparison. In the pressure test, FFTurbo feels a little softer than Saucony's PWRRUN PB. Just from memory, I would see it on the same level as Nike’s ZoomX in Vaporfly Next% - maybe a tad harder. But as Sam notes it could be vice versa as well. In that case the different sensation might have more to do with the geometry the foam is molded to or its properties as this is not the same foam as Zoom X. 


In contrast to ZoomX, however, FFTurbo has not shown any permanent signs of creasing so far. That gives hope in terms of the durability of the material. Even on the bottom side of the shoe, the exposed material looks like new after 60 kilometers of testing (as you can see in the next picture). 

Saucony has made similar durability promises for its PWRRUN PB material and justified this with the pellet shape of the foam. ASICS seems to get similar results without pellets. I can only speculate to what extent the grooved sole structure has anything to do with it. But it definitely looks cool.

Let's talk about midsole geometry: The rockered shape of the forefoot area and the carbon fiber plate used are significantly steeper and more aggressive than e.g. in the Metaracer. The Metaspeed has ASICS Guide Sole tech to keep the angle of ankle the dorsiflexion ( flexing ankle up) and plantar flexion (flexing toes down) constant during the gait cycle and thus save energy. As does Metaracer, Evo Ride, etc..


It is also interesting to see that the midsole above the supposed position of the carbon fiber plate is thicker than below it. This creates a wide, flared shoe shape, especially in the forefoot. This stabilizes the foot in both directions when it hits the ground. This effect is not as strong in the heel (but still there). Here stability is mainly achieved through the rigid, continuous plate. But that's not a problem, as the steep final sole geometry forces the runner to the forefoot anyways.


ASICS uses 28mm of the FlyteFoam Turbo material in the forefoot and 33mm in the heel area in the men's model of the Metaspeed Sky. The women get a little less with 26 / 31mm. I cannot say how this affects the running properties but ASICS often tunes models carefully for gender differences. However, I suspect that with ASICS ’very scientific approach here, developed at their Institute of Sports Science, that nothing has been left to chance and the reduction in material leads to similar running experiences for women and men. The 5mm drop is the same for both gender-specific models and is relatively small compared to the competition.


Sally: Sam and Nils did a thorough job of covering the specifics and technology of this midsole. I will sum up my analysis of the midsole by saying that it does its part to create a comfortable, fun and fast ride.


Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky debuts another new midsole material for ASICS, FlyteFoam Blast Turbo (aka FF Turbo). ASICS indicates FF Turbo is “nylon-based”, but it has the characteristic airy, hollow, dry feel to the touch and underfoot of a PEBA foam such as Saucony PWRRUN PB and Nike ZoomX, which Nils and Sam noted as well. It is medium-soft but not a plush softness. It has a snappy, explosive pop that feels ready to burst.


The carbon plate positioning is near the outsole in the forefoot and thus there is a lot of foam between the plate and the foot, leading to a bursting bounce off the toe. This configuration is different from several super shoes where the heel feels softer and the forefoot more of a firm rocker (NB RC Elite v1, Nike VF 4%/NEXT%). 


There is a significant rocker in the forefoot but it is not a smooth rolling feel, rather it is a precipice-style rocker (reminiscent of the GlideRide), where if I lean forward past a certain point, the shoe feels like it disappears out from under my toes and I fall forward. To some degree this geometry, which encourages a quick toe off and keeps me moving along, is present in many shoes, but it is unique in the Metaspeed Sky as it is combined with the aggressively bouncy forefoot. 


The plate definitely helps direct energy forward and works with the high-energy foam to create a very fast shoe.


Michael: A supershoe needs a superfoam, and ASICS’s FlyteFoam Turbo (“FF Turbo” on the midsole) is the real deal. Visually, it does look similar to versions of FlyteFoam we’ve seen before with an off white color - including on the MetaRacer, with its cellulose nano fiber infused “FlyteFoam” (no Turbo) - but it’s a distinctly softer feel, akin to Nike’s Zoom X. As other’s mentioned, the, FF Turbo material does seem to be more outwardly durable, and my pair also does not demonstrate any permanent signs of creasing so far. 


Outsole


Nils: Looking at the outsole of the ASICS Metaspeed Sky, the first thing you notice is how much wider the forefoot is compared to the heel. Comparing it to Saucony’s Endorphin line it gets obvious that it is not the heel of the Metaspeed Sky that is narrow but that the forefoot is wide 


The strongly asymmetrical shape of the last is also clearly recognizable. The outsole of the ASICS Metaspeed Sky consists of two different materials. The FlyteFoam Blast Turbo midsole material is exposed in the heel area. Exposed foam towards the rear is known from other models, such as the ASICS Metaracer. At first I had major concerns about the durability of the material. 

But after 60km you can barely see any signs of wear. Even the finely applied ASICS slightly colorized logo in the heel area is still visible.


The material is notched with diagonal lines on the underside as well as on the midsole side walls. This continues the striped look on the entire shoe. I cannot say whether this also adversely affects the properties of the foam. Possibly it is just about a little additional grip in the heel area?

Incidentally, the stripes are also drawn onto the main outsole material - ASICSGRIP - as if they were made from one piece. There they undoubtedly form part of the profile. 


The same applies to the many cut-out holes in the forefoot area. This saves weight and generates traction at the same time - cool! The traction seems to leave nothing to be desired due to the profile created in combination with the ASICSGRIP rubber compound iteslf. Admittedly, I have only run in dry conditions but so far there was nothing to complain about.

The second ASICSGRIP strip on the medial side of the heel of course mainly protects against wear and tear, but also delivers some stability.


Sam: The outsole is ASICSGrip, a rubber derived from their trail shoes. I can say the grip of the Trabuco Max is excellent on all terrain. The full front coverage here has great grip and also I think contributes to the consistent and stable overall feel of the front of the shoe. 


The rear patches extend far enough back that I think they will “catch” heel strikes effectively while also of course providing some light rear stability.  This said the shoe is not intended for hard far rear heel landings.  I note that the lateral rear rubber is longer than the medial. Often one sees more medial rubber for a touch of stability. 

Back to the introduction...ASICS told us Sky is designed for elites who strike laterally mid to forefoot so in that context the design makes good sense as the lateral strip will provide a stable platform for  the early to mid part of their gait cycle and a well located wear surface for more heel striking pedestrians such as me.  


Sally: The ASICSGrip outsole provided excellent grip and traction on all surfaces I encountered, wet or dry. There is absolutely no sign of wear after 20 miles on my pair, so I see no reason for  concern about durability. But the outsole is relatively loud and folks will hear you coming. Not a big deal, but they are not quiet.


Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky outsole uses a typical rubber pattern largely the same as most racing shoes: it has full coverage in the forefoot extending down the lateral side, exposed midsole in the midfoot, and two pieces of rubber on the perimeter of the heel. In the super shoe outsole comparison photo in the midsole section, it is clear the general configuration is nothing new. What sets the Metaspeed Sky apart is the outsole material, called ASICSGrip, which ASICS designed for wet roots and rocks for their trail line. Hearing that got me excited and I tested the Metaspeed Sky just post rainstorm on a variety of materials where I tried to make the outsole slip by cornering hard or stopping abruptly. I tried brick, paint lines, sandy sidewalks, and concrete. I didn’t have any issues on any of them, which makes the Metaspeed Sky a top pick for a rainy race. At least it is nice to not have to be too cautious if conditions are not ideal.


As for how the outsole rides, the ASICSGrip outsole is firm and fits in with the rigid, snappy feel of the shoe overall. Along with the midsole the Metaspeed Sky makes a distinctive sound when on the run—not slapping, but not silently smooth.


Peter: The outsole material is grippier than your average outsole for sure. Tons of traction and hold on the toe-off.

Michael: ASICS has done superbly well here, too (noticing a theme?), improving considerably over its nice-but-slightly-slick outsole of the MetaRacer. Some 3D definition in the forefoot here gives comfort on wet or icy runs (which are mostly - but not entirely! - behind us here in April), and after about 5 runs, there isn’t any discernible wear whatsoever on my pair.


Ride

Nils: We have clarified in the previous sections that the ASICS Metaspeed Sky technically definitely has what it takes to be a super shoe, the question naturally arises: does it run like a super shoe? 


The answer to that is definitely yes! So far I haven't been able to test the huge selection of other supposed super shoes, but for me it is definitely the most energetic running sensation that I have ever experienced! 


Especially in the forefoot, the shoe has more cushioning and “pop” than anything I've had on my foot before. You can literally notice how the foam is compressed when it comes into contact with the asphalt and then the energy is returned. Incredible! 


I don't feel the carbon fiber plate that much though. Either foam and plate are so finely coordinated that they feel like a piece or the plate is primarily used for stability and the rocker effect. The latter, in turn, is very pronounced. 


The ASICS Metaspeed Sky literally forces you onto your forefoot and into a slightly bent running posture in order to develop your and the shoe’s full potential there. If in doubt, you have to get used to this sensation. But as soon as you have, it feels just great!


A word on the subject of Stride-Style vs. Cadence-Style. Of course, I looked at data from some of my runs. And even if ASICS graphs and data from the promotional materials seem to be primarily just that on closer inspection - promotional materials - I'm pretty sure I'm one of the stride-style runners. This means my stride length increases disproportionately when I pick up the pace. 

During Testing a strict Embargo on images and information had to be maintained!


During the long run above, which was divided into ten easy kilometers, followed by 16 km at marathon pace, the pace between the two phases changed by about 1:30min/km. At the same time, the average cadence increased from 165 to 178 steps per minute (spm) and the stride length increased from 1.01m to 1.28m. This corresponds to an increase of approx. 7.5% in cadence and 27.5% in the stride length. In contrast, a Cadence-Style runner would have increased both cadence and stride length by approx. 17% (193spm / 1.18m) to achieve a similar increase in speed. 


By definition, I should be exactly the type of runner that ASICS would like to address with the Metaspeed Sky. And what should I say? Without having run the Metaspeed Edge in comparison, it definitely feels like they are right!


If you want to run slow in the Metaspeed Sky you sure can do that and benefit from the great foam. The shoe doesn't seem to be totally out of place at easy and steady paces, but the rocker only works for me from just above marathon pace and faster. Only then does the shoe develop its full potential.

Sally: So this is where the fun begins. Lace up a pair of the Metaspeed Sky and prepare to feel energized by the explosive energy return! The runner experiences a wonderful combination of cushioned bounce and smooth forward roll. If I am indeed a stride-based runner, then the ultra high rebound works for me because theoretically I need that greater vertical rebound from the platform to extend my stride, in order to increase my speed. Suffice it to say that I smiled at my Garmin post-run all week in testing, as my pace was considerably faster than usual with no more perceived effort than usual. 


Sam: The ride can truly be described as powerful, highly propulsive and energetic. The shoe feels very light on the foot and is silky smooth and well cushioned underfoot particularly as intended by ASICS at that magic forefoot. The forefoot combination of bounce, spring, and stability all seamless and of a piece in feel is powerful, confident, and unique in the game. 


At a 5mm drop the lower drop heel (than other super shoes and companion Edge at 8mm) heel is noticed at slower paces as I tend to heel strike more at slower pace but not in the sense of bottoming out as some shoes do at 5mm or below and especially so for me. This is a ride for fast efforts and faster paces, so for my half paces and faster,  with I think the sweet spot for me 10K paces of 7:20 per mile and below.  Yet I just had a very pleasant run at around 8:50 pace where the incredible lightness and energetic plentiful cushion were evident. While the front rocker takes faster paces to activate one can certainly run more mellow paces in them although that is not their best use.


Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky has a fast, energetic, quick-moving ride that I expect from a carbon-plated racing shoe. It has unique strengths over its competitors in the super shoe realm. It has a focus on explosive rebound and impressive pop off the forefoot—it is aggressively fast. Speed is prioritized over a forgiving or silky smooth ride. It is not a relaxed ride and feels smoother and more locked-in the faster I run and more awkward at slower paces. It encourages speed with the sharp forefoot rocker which inspires a quick turnover and directs the impressive quick bounce, keeping me moving forward. Along with the Vaporfly NEXT% it is the fastest feeling super shoe, designed for winning races and setting personal bests.


Some high-stack plated racers provide a forgiving, cushioned, cruising ride. Examples of this style are the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro, New Balance RC Elite v2, and NB TC (not a true racer, but characteristic of the feel). Others are stiffer and less plush underfoot, such as the Saucony Endorphin Pro. The Nike Vaporfly NEXT% and Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 fall in between, being smoother and a bit more friendly than the MetaSpeed Sky. The Metaspeed Sky reminds me most of the Endorphin Pro in its close-to-harsh feel, though it is less harsh and notably softer than the Endorphin Pro.


The Metaspeed Sky wants to go fast. It is not a shoe I would train in unless it was a high-effort workout. However, despite being designed for the marathon it is a super shoe I would race short distances in, and due to lucky timing I got the chance to (well, a time trial, but it’s close enough in the COVID era). I was planning on a 5k TT and the Metaspeed Sky unexpectedly arrived the week before. On my first run I left my house and after a small downhill looked at my watch and smiled when I saw the pace, given I wasn’t planning on running fast and didn’t even realize I was, I was just trying to run fast enough the shoes felt comfortable.


I ran a 5k PR of 16:47 (unofficial GPS time) and the Metaspeed Sky felt the smoothest at my 5k race pace than during any other test run. It never felt like I ran too fast for it and the dramatic pop off the forefoot was explosive and kept my cadence high (185 avg). At 5:25 min/mi I was not even at elite marathoner pace. I wouldn’t chose it for a half or full marathon over the Adios Pro or Vaporfly NEXT% or RC Elite v1 or v2 yet at my paces (6:15-6:30 min/mi marathon pace) and I don’t think it is the best choice for slower runners overall.


Peter: Really fun to run in at speed, the Meta Speed Sky were not as magical on the warmup and cool down. I loved them at 5k speed down to marathon pace. I still need to put more road miles in them at pace, but they are a worthy and fun competitor to the other super shoes out there! The ride is a little firmer than the NB RC Elite 2.


Michael: It’s a super shoe, all right. I don’t have the fitness that some of the others have, right now, but I took the MetaSpeed Sky out for some tempo runs and hard strides on the track to get a feel for how this shoe stacks up (pun intended). As ASICS designed, I think this shoe really works for those who don’t overstride, but instead maintain a quick, forward cadence at all paces. The energy return is immediate and distinct. 


My only drawback here was the drop (something I don’t often comment on, for racing shoes) - while 5 mm is adequate (and doesn’t stop this from being an awesome shoe), I do think another couple mm would benefit the ASICS in giving it that “springboard” sensation. It feels plenty fast now, but that little extra leverage may make a great shoe even better.




Conclusions and Recommendations

Nils: Last year ASICS’ Metaracer, while carbon plated,  could not really be considered a super shoe in my eyes, but rather a modern "racing flat". But it’s safe to say that this year ASICS has definitely arrived where we hoped to see the Japanese a year ago - just in time for the delayed home Olympics in Tokyo. The MetaSpeed Sky doesn't have to hide from any other marathon shoe, regardless of whether it comes from adidas, Nike, New Balance or whoever.


The ASICS Metaspeed Sky is one of the lightest of all the marathon racers, has the best upper material of all these shoes for me and offers an incredible amount of energy return.


The shoe has worked for me (as a supposed stride-style runner) for every competition pace from 3km to the marathon and is therefore extremely versatile. Cushioning would probably even be there for longer distances, but I'm just too slow to benefit from the geometry of the shoe for anything longer. 


You also have to be careful that the narrow heel doesn't become a problem if your concentration and running form decreases with increasing fatigue. The only other downside is the relatively high price ( by comparison: Nike has actually reduced the RRP of the Next% 2 by 25€ to 225€). But as each and every of the super shoes seems to cost a fortune anyways, the ASICS Metaspeed Sky at least seems to be able to score with good durability and a wide range for the charged price.


So if you are dreaming of returning to road races this summer and autumn and would like to treat yourself to the right footwear as a little motivational and hopefully results boost, you should definitely take a look at the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. For me it will be my weapon of choice for anupcoming solo spring marathon. And if the Sky doesn't suit your running style, the related Metaspeed Edge could be the right shoe !? I am completely enthusiastic about ASICS ’approach of offering different shoes for different types of runners and I can't wait to get my hands on the second model to see if there is something to it!

Nils’ score: 9.8 /10

Ride (50%): 10.0  Fit (30%): 10.0 Style (15%): 10.0 Value (5%): 8.5


Sam:  With the hometown Olympics delayed a year, ASICS used the extra time to go all out and join the super shoe race with not one but two focused and tuned offerings. 


The early strong race results by Sara Hall, Yuki, and Clayton Young among others in the Metaspeed (but we don’t know which for each yet) clearly points to its distinctive strengths and the careful research that led the base concept to become two separate quite distinct models.


And ASICS clearly was deliberate, with every element considered, to deliver maximum performance, comfort and protection at the lightest possible weight. 


The oh so simple upper is a work of art in its elegance and effectiveness with not a gram or fraction of a gram of excess beyond what is required to do the job of securing the foot for long races while being breathable/water draining and comfortable.


The underfoot platform, which is clearly powered by the latest, lightest  and most energetic foam type (most likely PEBA) blends in a carbon plate and geometry that delivers a highly dynamic bouncy and and at the same time springy impulse, one without harshness and which blends all the elements for a seamless no rough edges feel that is decisive.

 

It remains to be seen which of the two (Sky or Edge)  I will end up preferring but the Metaspeed Sky for sure offers up a powerful fast and forgiving enough ride in my to date limited testing. 


I personally prefer a higher drop race shoe than the 5mm here due to my run “style” and slower paces than this elite focused marathon type shoe. While my data indicates I likely am a Stride type runner at faster paces, I like a more distinct easy to find delta in feel between heel and front of shoe to more easily allow me to drive forward and away and especially when tired in longer races due to my poor old guy form and limited knee drive. Yet it must be said I have not raced them long or even short yet. Can’t wai And while I  am certainly not landing as laterally up front as the elite intended audience for this shoe does, the powerful yet friendly rebound, lightweight and great comfort of the shoe makes it a top choice for me.  And the  Edge may be a yet better fit for my style but we will see. That said I will for sure race it for shorter races for its wonder explosive energy quite unlike any other super shoe to date. 

Sam’s Score: 9.43 / 10

Ride: 9.4 (50%) Fit: 9.6(30%) Value 9(15%) Style: 10(5%)


Sally: I was likewise somewhat disappointed in last year’s ASICS Metaracer, the aptly described by Nils “modern day race flat” that was different than all of the other new Super Shoes of 2020 with their high stack heights and responsive foams and forward roll technologies. 


The MetaSpeed Sky is an entirely different animal, and it is here to compete in earnest as a contender for fastest marathon race shoe out there. It might also be a contender for fastest race shoe for all the shorter distances as well for the right style (Stride-based) runner. 


This is a seamlessly comfortable shoe with an incredible upper and an even more impressive explosively responsive midsole. The Metaspeed Sky is a wonderful blend of bouncy high rebound and smooth forward rocker all in one, optimized for the running style of the Stride-style runner. So start your analysis of whether you are a Stride-based or a Cadence-based runner (I am sure that ASICS will enlighten us all yet further with more of their research shortly!), because you are going to want these race shoes in your arsenal!

Sally’s score: 9.9 /10

Ride (50%): 10.0  Fit (30%): 9.9 Style (15%): 9.9 Value (5%): 9.0 


Peter: A terrific, light and fun racer. Still need more miles in it, but it’s a contender for sure!

9.6 after a couple of runs!


Jacob: The Metaspeed Sky is an impressive carbon-plated racer with a distinctive highly energetic midsole and pop off the forefoot. It is very light, has a sleek and secure recycled plastic upper (commendable for a top-tier shoe), and has excellent traction. Based on one’s preferences, ability level, run style, and intended race distance, it could be the best racer out there. For me at a 2:51 marathon and 1:18 half, the Metaspeed Sky is best as a shorter distance (< half marathon) racer. I prefer a bit more relaxed and effortless ride for longer races. Faster runners like the elites it was designed for may find it runs better at their marathon pace. Generally it felt smoother for me the faster I ran.


I’d recommend the Metaspeed Sky for most runners looking for an all-purpose racer especially if a snappier, intensely energetic feel sounds appealing. Those who prefer wider a forefoot may find it uncomfortably snug and slower runners may find its usage limited to shorter efforts. Overall, I think the shoe is capable of helping runners achieve faster times.

Jacob’s Score: 9.28 / 10

Ride: 9.5 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)


Michael: At some point, one of these top-shelf racing flats has to be a disappointment, right? But with every iteration, I think we’re just seeing shoes improved upon so precisely that subsequent versions are just better and better. For a runner like me - who maintains a 178-182 stride-per-minute at pretty much all paces, according to Stryd - the MetaSpeed Sky is an absolute no brainer. It’s impossibly fast and fun to run in, and (as I’ve said before) essentially levels the playing field against the Vaporfly. Nike’s new track spikes are supposedly game-changers, but on the roads, I genuinely think the shoes have been equalized. MetaSpeed Sky, Adios Pro, RC Elite 2, Endorphin Pro, Hyperion Elite 2, or Vapor/AlphaFly Next%... any option is going to get you to the finish faster and more efficiently than a traditional racer. It’s just a question of finding the best fit.

MIchael’s Score: 9.85/10


9 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


ASICS Metaracer (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Sam: MetaSpeed has a similar if more cushioned and stable heel feel and a far more cushioned less harsh and dynamic forefoot. And it weighs far less! 


Nils: Even better upper material, more cushioning, more modern midsole material, more energy recovery, more stability - the Metaspeed Sky is everything I had hoped for from the Metaracer last year. This is by no means a bad shoe, but in this case the rule is “newer is better” and that applies to any distance! Both shoes 44 EUR.


Sally: More cushion, more bounce,more energy return, more stability, better fit (Metaracer ran short for me). Clear winner with the Metaspeed Sky! (W8 in both).


Michael: The MetaRacer is great, but the MetaSpeed is better at almost every distance. With a bouncier platform and more cushion, I think anything about 10K and over makes the new Sky an obvious choice. For a 5K, it’ll be personal preference - some runners love using the high-stack option for shorter races, too, but I think the sharpness of the MetaRacer make it an equally compelling option.


ASICS Magic Speed (RTR Review)

Michael: The new Magic Speed is awesome (as stated over and over in our review!) and someone who wants a do-everything plated shoe won’t be disappointed… but it’s a testament to how awesome the MetaSpeed Sky is that I’d recommend it for basically every race distance. As a trainer, I still think the MetaSpeed Sky is probably better - it’s certainly plenty cushioned - but at the price, I think the Magic Speed is a better choice (if you don’t intend on racing!)


adidas Adios Pro (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Sam: The adios Pro may be the only shoe faster for me of the current super shoes than Metaspeed Sky for “shorter distances” say 5K to half. My limited current data for mile repeats at around 7 min pace and below points in that direction. I slightly prefer Adios more toes engaged energy rods to the ASICS plate/foam combination as I believe while I increase Stride length more than than Cadence due to poor knee lift I prefer either a sudden further rearward drop in from a higher drop (OG VF) or  “more control of force” as promised by the Metaspeed Edge and what I can feel more of in the Adios Energy Rods. 


Yet  the Sky has notably more forefoot bounce and spring and a slightly softer forefoot platform if a slightly narrower one as I measure 107mm for the adios and about 104mm for the Sky. 


Nonetheless the Sky feels slightly more stable and of a piece upfront. As discussed above the Adios has the narrowest heel landing of the super shoes at 71mm vs 75mm for  the Sky. As such while its foam is a bit firmer it is not quite as stable as the Sky is for me. I will go with either upper as both are superb.


Sally: Two of my favorites here. Admittedly few miles in the Adios Pro, though those were lovely miles. Both have superlative uppers that fit incredibly well, are secure, and are comfortable on  foot, and both have a fun, bouncy, responsive ride. But I think the Metaspeed Sky has a bit more explosive energy with its delightful cushioned bounce and smooth forward roll. Tough choice, but I am going with the newcomer here, the Metaspeed Sky! (W8 in both).


Jacob: I like the Adios Pro more overall due to its smoother, chiller ride that glides me along really well at a range of paces. The Metaspeed Sky is firmer, poppier but less smooth, and more suited to shorter races and not the marathon/range of races the Adios Pro can do. While both uppers are top-notch the Adios Pro upper fits my foot better with a softer but as secure hold. Interestingly for the 5k TT I did in the Metaspeed Sky I warmed up in the Adios Pro because I couldn’t decide between the two, and in the end went for the Metaspeed Sky. 


Michael: Two absolute gems. I prefer the Adios Pro for any race distance, but if you’re looking for a hybrid trainer and racer (or just plan to do long runs in your shoe), I do think the handling of the MetaSpeed Sky is much more reasonable. But, as I said in the Conclusion - both are going to get you to the finish line plenty fast!


Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Nils: The Endorphin Pro was one of my highlights shoes of 2020 and was the first shoe that could compete with Nike’s Vaporfly. It is more stable compared to the Metaspeed Sky, runs a little harder and is not quite as energetic. The rocker is more subtle and the shoe runs a bit more naturally - if that can be said of a carbon plate shoe at all. The Metaspeed Sky is better cushioned in the forefoot, its geometry also pushes the runner more dynamically. The upper material is even more breathable and the whole shoe is significantly lighter. With a heavy heart I have to say - ASICS wins this comparison for me. Metaspeed 44 EUR, Endorphin Pro 44.5 EUR.


Sally: I never had the opportunity to race in the Endorphin Pro (ahhh, 2020 you disappoint!), but  truly love the Endorphin Speed as a versatile trainer/racer (possibly prefer it over the Pro?). Yet I can already and easily say that the Metaspeed Sky would be my choice over the Endorphin Pro. Better fitting upper, more cushion and bounce, less harsh in the ride, and faster with less effort - my decision is made.  (W8 in both) 


Jacob: I’m a part of the large number of testers (including Sally!) who like the Endorphin Speed more than the Pro even for racing. The Endorphin Pro is uncomfortably stiff for my running style and I prefer the bouncy, softer feel of many of the other racers, including the Metaspeed Sky. The Metaspeed Sky is softer in the forefoot, the upper fits my foot better (Endorphin Pro is more narrow and not anatomical). 


Puma Deviate Nitro Elite (RTR Review)

Michael: The Deviate Nitro Elite is a little more similar in feel to ASICS’s Magic Speed (if slightly faster in performance), whereas the MetaSpeed Sky feels like a super shoe. I think the ASICS is a slightly nicer pick, all things equal, but if you’re looking for a lower-slung, more traditional-feeling option (that still has a plate!), then the Puma is a terrific choice.


Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next %

Sam: Both shoes have explosive forefoot actions but ones very different in feel. The Nike has a more pneumatic rebound (after all it  has a giant air pod upfront) while the Sky is bouncier and quicker in rebound feel. The Alphafly follows the giant air pod with a softer plate free very front of the shoe platform that allows me rebound then flex of the toes to push off a touch easier than Sky where the plate’s rocker extends all the way to the front of the shoe and I which think requires greater drive, faster paces and forward knee lift to really activate. The Alphafly has a yet more gigantic heel stack (IAAF measurements being in the deep central groove and not at the higher side edges) and is quite soft at the heel and a touch less stable at the heel at slower paces.


New Balance RC Elite 2 (initial Video Review)

Sam: Elite 2 is “friendlier”, somewhat softer and more suitable to slower paces. RC Elite 2 is less prescriptive about getting on to the forefoot as Metaspeed Sky is and as such may be friendlier for heel strikers and slower paces such as me for the marathon. For my marathon shoe, and I would be lucky to hit 3:40 these days, I always ask can I also train in it? Yes for RC Elite 2 not as sure for Metaspeed. For the half and especially 10K where I can get down below 7:20 per mile no question Metaspeed Sky or maybe better yet Edge.


Sally: Two awesome newcomers! Both soft with high stack and fast feel, both have great uppers that hold the foot comfortably and securely. RC Elite 2 might work better for a wider foot, and definitely responds better to a range of paces. I agree with Sam that the Metaspeed Sky has a more pronounced forward toe roll geometry that works really well for some runners, might not for the heel striker or others. Personally, I could see the RC Elite 2 in my regular rotation as an ego-boosting fast and comfortable trainer, and the Metaspeed Sky as that PR targetted race day shoe.


Jacob: For me these two shoes fill different gaps, Metaspeed Sky for faster racing and shorter distances and the RC Elite v2 for the full marathon. The RC Elite v2 is much more forgiving and easier to run smoothly. It is also more roomy and relaxed overall. I think it would work better for more runners


adidas Adizero Pro (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Nils: Similar to the Metaracer, the Adizero Pro is more of a modern “racing flat” than a marathon super shoe. The better comparison for the Metaspeed Sky would be the Adios Pro, which I unfortunately never ran. The Adizero Pro is a little more stable, has a better outsole and could therefore even be run on easy trails. Adidas has also managed to create an excellent upper material. But for a pure road race, the Metaspeed Sky is definitely the better shoe over any distance. Both shoes 44 EUR.


Nike Next %

Nils: The Nike Next% is the benchmark for every shoe with a carbon fiber plate. Or should I say it was? For me, the Metaspeed Sky can keep up, and since I like the lower drop, it even beats the Next%! It is at least as energetic, has a better cushioned forefoot, the better upper material and is just as diverse! In my opinion, no other shoe I have run has managed the latter. At one distance or another there were already shoes last year that could stand up to the Next%. The Metaspeed Sky is now the first to achieve that across the entire spectrum! Metaspeed Sky 44 EUR, Next% 44.5 EUR.


Jacob: I agree with Nils that the VF NEXT% is still the benchmark carbon-plated racer despite the number of great options. In comparison to the Metaspeed Sky, for overall racing the NEXT% is my pick, but it’s not necessarily an all-around better shoe. For what I prefer—softer, smoother, my paces and running style—the NEXT% is more fun to run in. I can’t confidently say it would be like that for everyone, and the shoes feel similarly fast and capable. The remarkable NEXT% is even lighter than the already very light Metaspeed Sky, though only by a bit. 


361 Flame (RTR Review)

Sam: Somewhat firmer, more stable, and heavier the Flame does not have nearly the energetic forefoot bounce of the Sky. Yet if the course is hilly, the road surface rough and uneven or even with some dirt  I likely would reach for the Flame over the Metaspeed. 


Hoka Carbon X 1 (RTR Multi Tester Review) and Carbon X 2 (RTR Multi Tester Review)

Nils: Both are shoes with carbon fiber plates that rely heavily on their sole geometry. But while the Carbon X 1  uses more conventional type EVA foam, the Metaspeed comes with what I am guessing with some certainty is the  latest PEBA technology. 


The difference in ride and energy return is immense! The Metaspeed is also much lighter and has the better upper material. The only thing that speaks in favor of the Carbon X is that it is one of the most stable competition shoes and therefore ideal for overpronators. Both 44 EUR.


MetaSpeed Sky releases April 2021

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from ASICS . The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does it compare with the Puma Deviate Elite Nitro? Thanks!

Nils said...

Following

Michael said...

Hi Anonymous - my full thoughts on the MetaSpeed Sky are yet to come (just so many shoes to cover!), but in comparison to the Puma, I find the ASICS to be more cushioned (considerably higher-feeling stack, ala Vaporfly or Adios Pro), and slightly less dense underfoot (more springy!). The Puma feels more traditional - closer to the platform of the Magic Speed - but is still an awesome option. Full reviews of both will come from me when I have a little more time to sit down and write!

Anonymous said...

Interesting The midsole geometry shape looks a little like the kayano lite. Maybe to keep that stack stable?

yesroh said...

I'm a heavier runner (178-187 pounds, depending on time of year) who has a narrow heel, so I run with women's shoes now, most of the time.

Due to my weight, I like the bouncier, better cushioned shoes, but I'm concerned about the women's shoe being 2mm lower than the men's. I can get a women's shoe in my size, but I'm currently running in the women's Endorphin Pro. It worked fine 'till this winter when I started putting on weight and having ankle and foot problems. I bought the Aidas Adizero Adios Pro (the shoe with the giant stack) as a training shoe).

I'm concerned that buying the women's Sky shoe might make the shoe more firm. But right now I can only get the women's shoe.

Unknown said...

Nice review and good to see the details on what ASICS consider a stride runner and a cadence runner. When I first hear about these I presumed I'd be a cadence as I've always thought I had a short strode but basing on the precentage changes given I might be a stride runner. My cadence goes from 180 at easy pace to 200 at 10k pace so an 11% whilst my stride goes from 107 to 140 so a 32% change.Like what ASICS is doing hear and with a HM coming up in June and a Marathon in July I'll have to decide between sticking with my Endorpin Pros or switching to the Metaspeed or Deviate Nitro Elite.

Anonymous said...

How does It compare to Brooks Hyperion elite 2?

Michael said...

Hi Anonymous! I certainly prefer the ASICS - the upper is more finely tuned (some experienced irritation on the Hype Elite 2, at the heel) and the ride is more lively. I did appreciate the wide base of the Brooks, which isn't quite as prevalent here, but I don't think the Hyperspeed Sky is unstable enough to tip the scales. Long story short - I like the ASICS!