Thursday, June 17, 2021

ASICS Metaspeed Edge Review: Very Light, More Traditional Riding, Quick Transitioning Super Shoe

Article by Derek Li


ASICS Metaspeed Edge ($250)

Introduction

Derek: ASICS has decided to come out with 2 versions of their new super shoe, namely the Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge. 


The Edge has been marketed as being more suitable for so-called cadence runners, or runners who increase pace by increasing cadence relatively more than their stride length. The key difference on paper is that the Sky is a lower drop 5mm shoe (I measured 6mm for my pair) while the Edge is a more traditional 8mm drop, with the Edge having an overall lower stack to give a bit more ground feel. I guess the idea is that a lower stack shoe with more ground contact feel will be easier to turnover. 


As a proviso, I will state that I am a relatively high cadence runner. I usually average low 180s strides per minute for easy runs, and never below 190spm for races up to the marathon distance. Looking back at my run data over the years, from when I first started running marathons seriously in 2013, my average marathon race cadence has always been around 194spm while wearing traditional racers like the Nike Lunaracer, Adidas Adios Boost and Brooks PureConnect 2 and Green Silence. When I started transitioning to plated shoes, my cadence went down a little bit with the Nike VF4% and VFNext% but it was still around 191-192spm over the marathon distance so not a huge difference. As I understand it, 190+spm is on the higher side for amateurs, so that’s why I consider myself more of a cadence runner. I came from a triathlon background and on the bike everyone is spinning north of 190rpm so to me, it just made sense to run at the same turnover. Anyway, that’s the background. 


I paid full retail for both my Sky and Edge so you can be sure there’s no bias here. As much as I prefer a higher drop, I was pleasantly surprised by the ride of the Sky; very springy and forgiving, though it definitely favors a runner who loads the forefoot more. DOES THE EDGE WORK? The $250 question. It definitely feels like an 8mm drop shoe. You will need to read till the end to find out the rest.


Pros:

Feels like a high drop shoe. No low heel feeling

Easy Transitioning


Cons:

Not much cushioning, a lower stack supershoe.

Not as lively as Metaspeed Sky


Tester Profile

Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.


Stats

Estimated Weight: men's 6.4 oz/ 182g (US9)

Sample: men’s US9.5 188g  / 6.6 oz 

Stack Height: measured at 33/mm heel, 25mm forefoot (Derek) 8mm drop

Available now including from our partner Running Warehouse US here


First Impressions and Fit

Derek: I bought the Edge about 3 weeks after buying the Sky, and with both of them having identical color schemes, the usual excitement of a new shoe was a little dampened this time. The Edge really is identical in every way visually to the Sky except for the stack and drop difference. Well, almost. 


First things first. You will want the same size in Sky and Edge. They fit almost the same. Almost. The length is definitely the same. The tangible difference in fit is actually in the toebox. The forefoot is a little bit wider in the Sky. The Edge has a more typical ASICS racing fit, with a more slender cut. Nothing very constricting, but you definitely get a bit less wiggle room here. Walking around, there is still that familiar springiness from the FF Turbo foam, but it’s not as pillowy as in the Sky. In the Sky you get that soft pillowy underfoot feel like that first time you stepped in a Hoka Clifton v1, or those first couple of steps in the Vaporfly 4% Ice Blue OG. In the Edge, there is still some underfoot bounce, but it is much more muted, sitting somewhere between the New Balance RC Elite v1 and the Saucony Endorphin Pro in feel. Additionally, there is no rockered feeling but rather more of a subtle forward tipping, almost akin to what you have in the 4% OG  but not quite as pronounced or good. 


Upper

Derek: The materials you have in the MetaSpeed Edge upper are identical to that found in the Sky. The main difference is a narrower last in the forefoot, leading to less room for toe splay. The upper material is a sort of thin slightly plasticky mesh, which is quite flexible (though I would not call it soft) and wraps the foot nicely. An internal toe bumper helps to hold up the volume of the shoe. The shoe comes stock with cotton laces, which are something of a rarity these days, but by God, do they hold tension well when they get wet with sweat. 


Beyond the inherent (very mild) stiffness of this mesh, there are no major overlays to speak of in the upper material. 

Even the heel area has very minimal padding and the heel cup uses a relatively soft material to hold things up. The tongue also uses the same mesh as the rest of the upper and there is very little padding below the lace knot to finish things off. You can definitely tell a lot of effort went into getting things as minimal and light as possible in the upper without sacrificing performance. 


I had no issues getting a great fit in the shoe, and I have no complaints at all with this upper. 


Midsole

Derek: The midsole follows a similar motif to the Metaspeed Sky. It is 2 pieces of FF Turbo sandwiching a curved carbon plate. With the higher heel to toe drop, the plate is clearly angled a little more downward at the forefoot. Unlike the spoon-shaped plate that Nike pioneered and several brands shadowed, ASICS’s plate is shaped more like a reverse tick, with a direct gradual downward slope from heel to forefoot where it flattens out a bit. 

In terms of feel and how it works in the Edge, the immediate impression is that the rockered transition is not so obvious compared to shoes with the spoon-shaped plates. Instead, with the traditional drop and relatively lower stack, the foam feels more “normal” in transition.


There is still good perceptible springiness to the foam, but it is not so much a trampoline-like sensation as much as softness underfoot that takes the edge away. Now, before you start thinking the shoe isn’t any good, I want to point out that the heel does not sink in a lot here. The plate does its job, by propping the heel up and letting you propel forward quickly. 


Lateral

Medial

In terms of stability, you can see narrower last notwithstanding, the midsole still does flare out on either side at the forefoot to give you some added forefoot stability. 


Outsole

Derek: The outsole is exactly the same as in the Sky. It is a thick layer or relatively soft but surprisingly durable rubber, and it provides excellent grip on the roads. Nothing much else needs to be said. 


Ride


Derek: The Edge is a shoe that really only works well at uptempo or racing speeds. You do want to be turning over pretty fast and smoothly to really get into the groove with this shoe. Make no mistake, you will feel the ground in this shoe. It’s no pillow. It’s nowhere near as firm as the Endorphin Pro or Speed, or the Brooks HE2, but I would say it is noticeably less cushioned than even the NB RC Elite v1. I used the shoe for some tempo work over the weekend, and while it went ok with the shoe was cruising along fine, there is not much of an assistive feel to the shoe. Rather, you will appreciate it more as a slightly springy racing shoe that still has a very traditional feeling transition to it. 


Examining the transition of the shoe more, you do start to appreciate the differences between different plate shapes. Nike’s have flat heels that swoop sharply down at midfoot and flatten out at the forefoot. Saucony, NB, Brooks and Atreyu use a less aggressive midfoot swoop. And now ASICS use more of a cooking spatula sort of shape. I have come to realize that plates with a flat horizontal heel section tend to give a somewhat harsher (though more stable) underfoot feel, and that becomes more apparent on longer runs or races. By having the plate angled down from heel to forefoot, the ASICS plate seems to take away a bit of that heel harshness. The downside of course is that you do lose the lever action that the spoon shape of the Nike-esque plates provide. 


I think in the case of the Metaspeed Edge, it is a good thing, because the lower stack doesn’t lend itself so well to a lever action anyway, with the geometry as it is, everything is tailored to get you turning over quickly and without too much fuss so overall the shoe does as it is advertised to do. 


All in all, I think it’s a nice shoe with good cushioning, but I was hoping for something a bit more special in the transition and I didn’t quite feel that. The closest comparison I can think of is maybe the New Balance RC Elite v1. Where the transition is still kind of natural, and the ground feel is not very muted. It almost, almost gets into VF4% territory but the forward collapsing transition is not quite there.


Conclusions and Recommendations

I think the ride is good. It’s not quite “wow this ride is special” nice, but it ticks all the boxes in terms of an adequately cushioned shoe that transitions quickly and gets out of the way and lets you power on. Certainly at its 6.6oz / 188g weight in my US9.5, I am VERY hard-pressed to find a more cushioned shoe at that weight. It just doesn’t exist. That said, for just 0.4oz more, you could get a more cushioned option in the VF4% or Next%, with a more assistive ride feel. Given the many carbon plated options out there at the moment, I think it may be a tough sell to price the Edge at $250. I can definitely see the Sky flying off shelves at $250, but for the Edge, I think it would do better at $200 to compete against the Endorphin Pro ($200) and RC Elite 2 ($225). We will have to see how the market reacts. 

Derek’s Score 9.15 / 10

Ride 9 (50%) Fit 10 (30%) Value 8 (15%) Style 9 (5%)


Comparisons

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I think the marketing generally does sort of hold true to a point. Nevertheless, even as a high cadence runner, I find myself enjoying the ride of the Sky more as it is more dynamic and cushioned, and actually doesn’t feel much like a low drop. Fit-wise, as I mentioned in the review, the toebox is wider for Sky than Edge, but the rest of the shoe fits the same for both models. I think the overall versatility of the Edge is poorer than Sky, and for the same price, I am going to say the Sky is the better shoe.                                                                                                                                      


ASICS MetaRacer (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. This is an interesting comparison because the Metaracer feels a bit like a lower drop responsive shoe, while the Edge is a more cushioned higher drop shoe. Both fit about the same in terms of width and length. The Edge definitely feels more cushioned and easier to keep going in. Metaracer still feels more responsive and snappy for shorter workouts and distances. For versatility and cushioning, I think the Edge is the better shoe here. 


ASICS Noosa Tri 13 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Noosa Tri has a measured stack of 33/28 vs the Edge at 33/25 so the numbers are pretty similar. Fit-wise, Edge has a more snug heel and midfoot while the toebox shape feels more relaxed in the Noosa Tri. In terms of ride, Edge is clearly more springy and cushioned even though Noosa Tri has a more perceptible rocker to the ride feel. The outsole grip of the Edge also seems better than that of the Noosa Tri. Overall, I do find the Edge to be the faster, more forgiving shoe to run in. It should be noted that the Noosa Tri 23 retails at $140 so it is significantly less than the Edge. You do get what you pay for.                                                                                           


Nike Vaporfly Next%

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The VFNext% is still the better shoe, even for cadence runners, because it has the more cushioned and subjectively has a more assistive ride quality. I think the upper and fit of the Edge is better and easier to dial in, but the ride is just not quite as special as the Nike. The VF Next% wins again.


Nike Vaporfly 4% OG (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The VF4% hasan even higher drop than the Edge at 10mm and a 35/25 stack. Both shoes fit about the same in terms of width and volume, though again Edge has the better lockdown especially at the heel. That said, the very original baby blue  VF4% is the king of the cadence running shoes for me, having the best in class heel-to-toe transition among all the super shoes, if only losing out to some of the newer offerings like the RC Elite 2 and VFNext% by having less forefoot cushioning. For the same price, there is no doubt for me that the VF4% is the better overall shoe. 


New Balance RC Elite v1 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I measured RC Elite 1 at a 35/25 stack so identical to the VF4%. The extra 2  mm of stack is noticeable when compared to the Edge at 33mm heel and you definitely get more underfoot cushioning from the RC Elite 1. Both shoes have a similar fairly natural sort of transition and a relatively subtle assistive feel from the plate (RC 1 does feel more assistive than the Edge). It’s a close fight as both shoe have excellent fit for racers, and I think the Edge would win out for shorter races up to 10km, but the RC 1 may be the more forgiving choice for half marathon and up. Note that the Edge is almost a full ounce lighter than RC 1 so that always helps for the shorter races. Bear in mind the RC 1 sells at $225 while the Edge sells at $250.


New Balance RC Elite v2 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. RC 2 has a more voluminous toebox than the Edge, while the heel and midfoot fit about the same. Overall effectiveness of the fit I think is pretty much tied. RC 2 for me feels like a higher stack version of the VF4% while the Edge feels like a lower stack version of the same. Note that the RC Elite 2 with its higher 39/31 stack height weighs about 1.4 oz / 39g more. RC2 definitely feels more assistive and bouncy in ride, and is much more cushioned. RC 2 for marathon and up, Edge for 10km and below. It’s a wash at the half marathon distance. 


Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Both shoes have similar fit, though the Edge upper works better for me, with much less chance of heel slippage. The Pro has a noticeably more aggressive forefoot rocker profile but a firmer underfoot feel and a lower heel-toe drop feel. In terms of overall perceived cushioning, I think it’s close but the softness of FF Turbo makes it a more forgiving ride, but just marginally so. I I would say the Endorphin Pro’s rocker makes it better for a 10-21km race, while the Edge would be better for 5km and below when you are really pushing the pace the whole way. I wouldn’t favour either shoe for the full marathon at this point, though if I had to pick one, I would go with the Endorphin Pro. Overall, in terms of ride, I think the Endorphin Pro feels more special.  


Skechers Speed Elite Hyper (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. Speed Elite Hyper stack sits at 29/21 with the same 8mm drop. Unlike the Edge, the Speed Elite does not have any plate at the heel, and relies more on an aggressive forefoot rocker to assist you through your stride. As such, the heel of the Speed Elite feels slightly softer, but the forefoot has a firmer propulsive feel to it. For a cadence runner, I would say the Edge is a better option, as I find the Speed Elite works best when you are going hard and loading the forefoot. Edge has the overall more secure fit, as the Speed Elite’s soft heel counter can feel a bit naked. I think the Speed Elite would make for a better short distance racer, like a road mile or 5km. As the distance gets longer, I think the more traditional-feeling transition of the Edge would be more comfortable for most people. Overall, I would say the Edge is the more versatile shoe, but the Speed Elite has the more unique top speed ride. 


Available now in some geographies. US release expected soon.


The tested sample was purchased at retail by Derek. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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3 comments:

semmtex said...

Please can you add comparison to the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite? It's a direct competitor with similar lower stack height.

Thank you for the review!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Semmtex,
Unfortunately Derek does not have the Deviate Nitro Elite that I know of. But yes should be very similar. If I get a pair from ASICS I will be able to compare.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

If currently running the Asics Magic Speed as trainers, would the Edge correlate well as a potentially parallel racer? Or are each model a totally different fit, feel and function?