Thursday, September 02, 2021

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite 2 Multi Tester Review

Article by Bryan Lim, Alex Tilsley, Ryan Eiler, and Sam Winebaum

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite 2 ($160)


Sam: The Kayano Lite is the 2nd model in a series from ASICS (after the Nimbus Lite) which reimagines ASICS stalwart classics in new, modern, and lighter ways while retaining their essential focus and DNA.

As such the Kayano Lite is a new take on the venerable and fine Kayano in its classic edition at number 28, the 2nd longest "run" of any run shoe. The Kayano Lite 2 is a minor update (upper) to the  Kayano Lite 1 (RTR Review).  A fairly light on the overt stability elements with elaborate construction all of our testers (almost always neutral fans) really enjoyed the Kayano 27 and 28.  So instead of "messing" with what is clearly a long time trusted favorite, ASICS did something different for the Lite.

You saw the word “elaborate” above. Well the Kayano Lite is designed to provide stability without being elaborate. While I may be missing something, the Kayano Lite may be the first “stability” oriented shoe made from a single density of foam without posts (GT 2000 and many others) or firmer sidewalls and mid foot plates (Kayano 28), or above the midsole “rails” (Brooks, Nike, Altra). Beyond a “Twist GEL” unit at the forefoot, a small disc at the big toe metatarsal, there is only a single density Flyte Foam midsole here.

The Kayano achieves its stabilizing through an inherently broad on the ground geometry and more vertical medial midsole sidewalls. 

Unseen is a 3D Space Construction of low pillars molded into the midsole at the heel and forefoot which deform according to the runner’s individual strike patterns.

The result of this far simpler construction should be a very consistent, very well cushioned feel under foot with no add on elements. As far as the Lite part, the Kayano Lite is indeed lighter than the Kayano 28 and comes in at approximately 10.09 oz / 286g in my US9 sample so almost 0.7 oz / 20g lighter than the Kayano 28 and a weight reduction of 7g / 0.5oz from the Kayano Lite 1. 

Topped with an engineered mesh upper with increased recycled content over v1 and with a cellulose nanofiber flavor of Flytefoam the Kayano Lite also has a lighter impact on the earth/ sustainability story as approximately 80% of the materials in the upper are recycled material and the midsole uses 15-20% cellulose nanofiber repurposed from sugarcane manufacturing. All packaging is 100% recycled material and starting in 2021 all ASICS shoe packaging, and for millions of pairs, will be made of 100% recycled materials.   

Bryan: The Kayano Lite 2 is the updated version of the popular Kayano Lite, which was ASICS’ take on providing a “Lite” version of the traditional Gel-Kayano, now in its 28th edition. It builds on ASICS’ direction in offering no-frills versions of its classics i.e. Nimbus Lite 2 and on trail, the Fuji Lite 2.

ASICS has touted the Kayano Lite 2 as the future of stability i.e. stability that the Kayano 28 offers, but in a lighter weight ride and with a new experience. Asics Australia has also advised that the target audience for the Kayano Lite 2 are for mid to fore-foot strikers, which is a key reason for the lack of “Gel” in the rearfoot as in the traditional Kayano lineup.

You will also notice that there does not seem to have been much physical change, if any, in the Lite 2 when compared to version 1. Whilst I would agree, I have not worn version 1, and my comments will focus on the version 2 as it is. It does seem that ASICS has played it very safe by sticking to what works. For a stability shoe, the Lite 2 is as mentioned, no frills. Unlike other stability shoes on the market, the midsole is constructed out of a single density foam, with no posts, plates or rails. More on this later in the review. 

What we get is a clean looking version of the Kayano that should produce a consistent ride.he FlyteFoam Eco midsole is made from an organically derived cellulose nanofiber i.e. from wood pulp in place of EVA parts.  


Bryan/ Sam/Ryan: Consistent ride, stable, lockdown, sustainable package

Alex: Good toe-off, unintrusive heel, fit

Sam: Comforting sense of unobtrusive stability and massive consistent feeling cushion.

Sam: While v1 upper was great, additional volume and less rigid heel counter improves fit.

Ryan: Maximal stability and damping ability


Bryan/Sam: Uninspiring ride at faster paces; dull compared to the Flytefoam Blast infused Kayano 28, break-in period is moderately long

Alex/Ryan: Takes time to break-in, feels heavy at faster paces

Sam: Too much of a good (stability) thing?  Despite good weight to cushion ratio, somewhat lumbering flat feeling with a rigid and wide midfoot. Needs more decoupling/less platform width?  to move off the rear of the shoe more decisively. 

Ryan: Clunky transition, meddlsome pronation control on medial heel


Weight: men's / (US9)  /  women's / (US8)

   Samples: men’s 10.09 oz / 286g US9, 9.63 oz / 273g US 8.5

Lite 1 was 280g US8.5 so a weight reduction of 7g / 0.5oz

Official Midsole Stack Height: 

men’s 23mm heel / 13mm forefoot , women’s 25mm heel / 12mm forefoot

Full Stack Height (Running Warehouse)

men’s 36/26, 10mm drop, women’s 38/25, 13mm drop

Available now. $160  

Tester Profiles

Bryan is a road and trail runner living in Melbourne, Australia. He is a consistent sub 1:25 half marathoner and is presently chasing a sub 3-hour marathon. He is 176cm/ 5'9" tall and weighs about 63kg / 140lbs. 


Alex is a displaced trail runner, currently living in DC and finding dirt wherever she can. Alex discovered running in college and was a happy 3-miles-a-day hobby jogger until her mom tricked her into running a 10k and it was all downhill from there. She has since run several marathons (PR 3:38) and dabbled in triathlons, but her true love is the trails, whether running, mountain biking, orienteering, or long-distance backpacking. When she’s not running or riding, Alex works full-time in education policy and part-time putting on trail races with EX2 Adventures


Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed many of  the 2020 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K.

Ryan decided to forego his Wall Street job to be a gear junkie, and is currently the fledgling entrepreneur behind his company, Bridger Helmets.  Most days, you'll find him loping along the Charles River in Boston.  Of all the places he's run, Central Park NYC and the New Hampshire coast top his list.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 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 if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

First Impressions and Fit

Bryan: The arrival of the Kayano Lite 2 was timely as I was on my road to recovery from plantar fasciitis, and a trustable stability shoe was what I needed in my rotation. I think ASICS has done well to complement the release colourway of the Kayano 28, in a simple but tidy black and red package. It fit well and true to size for me in my men’s US9. Upon my first wear, it is not immediately noticeable that this is a stability shoe, which was a pleasant surprise for me as I primarily wear neutral running shoes.

Alex: It has been a while since I’ve run in Asics, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Kayano Lite 2, but as soon as I slipped it on I was excited to try it on the run. My 6.5 fit true to size, with plenty of room in the forefoot, and the cushion that looked like it might be too much actually felt great. Plus, the blue/orange women’s colorway is fantastic. 

Sam: I love the look here. It reminds of those red brakes on all black cars. The fit is true to size, accommodating and comfortable. On first try on, the massive amounts of forgiving seamless cushion is clearly felt as is the noticeable rear stability of the midsole. 

Ryan: This shoe hints at what it’s all about, even before you put it on. Abundant, firm, thick sidewalls at the rear, chunky outsole rubber, and a pillowy heel structure made me think “stability!” even before lacing up. My M9.5 fit true to size, with a fairly wide toe box and an inviting first step-in. I wouldn’t have known that the upper was recycled without being told. Its style manages to be handsome without being a head-turner.


Bryan:  I think ASICS has done a fantastic job with the upper but I will start with my only qualm, which is the ‘beefy’ tongue that is often found in their more traditional offerings such as the standard Kayano and Nimbus editions. From a functional point of view, it fortunately isn’t obstructive and doesn’t provide unnecessary pressure on the foot.

The upper provides excellent lockdown and comfort through a pressure free engineered mesh upper with a well cushioned heel counter. In terms of change from version 1, it appears that ASICS has added super thin plastic overlays onto the mesh to provide more structure.

Alex: After roughly 25 miles in this shoe, I really haven’t thought about the upper that much -- which is a very good thing. The engineered mesh is light and breathable (not to mention it drained pretty quickly after a very rainy run), and it holds my foot in place without applying pressure anywhere. I initially worried the heel collar might lead to pressure on my achilles, but that hasn’t borne out, and I actually kind of like the way the heel fits. 

Sam: Simple, effective the upper improves on v1 with a slightly more voluminous fit at midfoot, reducing arch pressure and a touch more toe box height. 

The mesh is a single layer of largely recycled content.  The hold is smooth, secure and comfortable front to back. A really nicely refined upper and fit. Breathability has been excellent. 

The toe area is pliable with the midfoot well held by the combination of the thick tongue, multiple mesh lace holders  and overlays and achieves this without the slight midfoot arch pressures of v1 making me think there is slightly more midfoot volume.

The heel counter, while having that characteristic ASICS clutch, is no longer as rigid and overdone as v1’s and Kayano 28’s are.  A really solid and comfortable hold with plenty of padding.

Ryan: There don’t seem to be any drawbacks to making the upper out of recycled materials. It managed to be pliable but strong, making for a comfortable forefoot fit. It’s the type of upper that you can happily forget about after just a few strides. The rear of the shoe is especially inviting with a pillowy collar and a forgiving heel counter construction.


Bryan: The Lite 2 features a midsole stack of 23/13mm for men’s and 25/12mm for women’s. Same drop and same stack height as the “regular” Kayano but with a completely different geometry than its namesake. As mentioned, the midsole is made from a single density foam; one piece of Flytefoam Lite (Eco) that has a proportion of its EVA parts replaced by wood-pulp derived cellulose nano fibre that makes it 20% more sustainable. 

Without any “add-ons”, the Lite 2 relies on a few innovations to provide stability. The most prominent, ironically, is a hidden forefoot Is a Twisted GEL insert at the first metatarsal . You will recall in my introduction, I mentioned that the Lite 2 is intended for forefoot to midfoot strikers. 

The second is the 3D space construction (unseen below the lasting board) which are two honeycomb series of shaped cutouts in the lateral mid and rearfoot. Essentially, it creates pillars to increase stability and customize the ride to different gaits by compressing upon impact.

The third and final aspect is the concave shape geometry on the lateral heel and convex shape on the medial heel sidewall i.e. medial raising to improve stability.

The result is that the Lite 2 takes a fair whole to break in, and is on the firm and duller side for the first 20-30km. It was surprising it required a long break in period as most shoes these days are good to go out of the box or at most after one run. However, even prior to breaking into the shoes, I found the stability features to be more subtle and pleasant as compared to traditional stability offerings such as ASICS’ Duomax sidewalls in the traditional Kayano models. Once broken in however, there was added flex and pop to the ride, which I will talk about more later on.

Sam: The midsole is a single slab of Flytefoam with the 3D Pillar Construction below the foot and a single Twisted GEL disc at the first metatarsal. 

As Bryan mentioned the stability is provided by a combination of the width of platform and convex sculpting of the medial side (bottom shoe below) whose rear geometry stands in sharp contrast to the concave lateral side (top shoe above).

The geometry is especially broad at the midfoot in contrast to the more sculpted, narrower geometry of its Kayano 28 sibling.  

The shoe has a stability focus and there is plenty of easily felt stability with no firm inserts, plates, rails, or side walls reinforcements all of it entirely achieved by the midsole foam itself and its geometry (and copious outsole).  The rear of the shoe has a consistent very well cushioned feel with noticeable pronation support but without any “sharp edges” from any additional bits and pieces and is strangely dull and flat feeling if totally cushioned and supportive.   

The flex point, and yes it takes some break in, is on the mild side and less snappy than the Kayano 28 with everything to the rear completely rigid.  

There is no deep rear crash pad and we have a quite shallow if broad central decoupling groove and nothing like the very deep groove from the rear of the shoe going forward of the stability focused Wave Inspire 17 (RTR Review) which includes of course a Wave plate in the mix and while firmer and close to an ounce heavier is a snappier more dynamic riding shoe. 

All of this plus all the cushioning stack ( I see a total of about 36/26 from Running Warehouse)  leads to plenty of stability but a somewhat dull, overly consistent and lumbering feel at the heel and and a not particularly please transition despite weighing just over 10 oz.  Given the stack and the breadth of the platform, the K Lite could maybe use more rocker, a touch less midfoot width and rear convex bump out, and a deeper decoupling for my more neutral shoe tastes.   

As far as the Flytefoam itself? It does its job well. There is tons of cushioning here that is forgiving but not overly soft.  I would not call it firm, just dense and a lot of it.  I think the foam is  hamstrung more than it could be by the geometry.

Alex: I was surprised by how firm the midsole felt on the first couple runs. The toe-off felt good, but the landing felt terrible, and the balls of my feet felt numb on the first two runs. On the third run, the shoe felt good about halfway through, and since then it has taken less and less time on each run for the shoe to feel right. It is odd to need a break-in period for a running shoe these days, but so far, I think it is worth it for the Kayano Lite 2. Now that they’re mostly broken in, the midsole feels just soft enough for easy days with a relatively snappy transition from landing to toe-off. 

One other thing to note: unlike other testers, I can definitely feel the stability elements of this shoe. Even standing still, I can feel a difference in firmness between the medial and lateral sides of the shoe. While running, I sometimes feel like the shoe is pushing me to supinate. It can be a little distracting, but I like the overall ride enough that it’s not a dealbreaker. 

Ryan: The midsole felt like a very plain, basic piece of foam for me, albeit one that arguably performs the task it sets out to do — stabilize. This grade of Flytefoam feels very firm both to the touch and underfoot, which maximizes the damping effect, but provides very little of that fun-loving energy rebound. I agree with the sentiment above, that it feels like there’s a necessary period of break-in to get these moving in a favorable way.

I had the same experience as Alex, in that the shoe felt like it slightly encouraged supination. My guess is that it’s most likely from the built-up shape of the medial heel. 

If you’re not a fan of having your pronation heavily chaperoned, this probably isn’t the foam for you. The deep central channel in the midsole assures that pressure is distributed exclusively around the outer perimeter of the heel, further accentuating feelings of sure-footedness. While it’s pleasant to feel like you’re riding on rails, the firm, overprotective Flytefoam geometry makes for a slightly flat and clunky ride.


Bryan: It looks like there has been no change to the placing and volume of AHAR rubber used in the outsole as compared to version 1. In support of the three innovations used in the midsole, the ultra-wide platform in combination with the grippy and generous use of rubber contributes significantly to the Lite 2’s stability. However, the sheer usage of rubber likely adds to the initial rigidness and dullness of the ride. My personal suggestion would be to deepen the decoupling groove in the centre to save on weight and perhaps provide a little more flex.

Alex: This outsole and platform is wide! The width of the outsole at the heel reminded me a bit of the Hoka Arahi. The rubber is grippy, but I can’t help but wonder if there’d be a way to shave a little weight by slimming down this outsole slightly.

Sam: Wide indeed! Tons of durable rubber for many, many miles of running. 

Ryan: I’m in strong agreement with what my RTR colleagues have noted above. Endless slabs of grippy rubber adorn the underside, and they may very well outlast my car’s tires. It may detract from the ride of the shoe, but it certainly adds stability to the overall package.


Bryan: Dull initially, but it shines to an extent, after 25-30km. The ride is incredibly consistent, with just about the same feel when running at recovery paces or at speed albeit I would not recommend these shoes for speed work. ASICS’ have made it known that the full ground outsole contact makes the ride smoother, which I tend to agree with, but would say it contributes equally to its stability. For a runner who usually only wears neutral shoes, I found the Kayano Lite 2 easy to transition into, and as mentioned, found the stability features to be subtle and welcoming. It has been beneficial in my recovery from injury, whilst allowing me to ‘find my feet’!

The Kayano Lite 2 is not what I would call a performance shoe as it lacks the many bells and whistles that many shoes now offer such as a forefoot rocker. Unlike these shoes for example, you’ll be pleased that there’s a gentle and traditional up-down sensation, rather than a popping toe-off. With its weight and geometry, the ride is perfect for every day usage, but less so for quicker paces.

Alex: I covered a lot of this above, but once you break this shoe in, the ride is actually pretty fun for an everyday, easier miles kind of shoe. As a natural forefoot striker, I appreciate how the Kayano Lite 2 seems to encourage a forefoot landing and an easy toe-off. In spite of the large drop, the heel doesn’t feel intrusive at all, and I feel like I’m able to run with my normal stride, whether jogging or picking up the pace a bit. They do feel heavy and a little dull at faster paces, but are ok for short strides and hills. Generally, the Kayano Lite 2 is a smooth ride, and I’ve been enjoying it for my easy-to-moderate days. 

Sam: I detected no differences in ride whatsoever between the Kayano Lite 1 and Kayano Lite 2 during two A/B test runs, one of each version on each foot.  I agree with Alex and Bryan on the ride. The ride is very consistent and stable no matter the pace with ample deep cushioning. The ride lacks snap and is quite flat especially at faster paces, and more so than the Kayano 28 with its Trusstic plastic plate and more pronounced front flex.  At slower, recovery and easy paces,  I appreciated the Lite’s consistency. This is a ride you don’t have to think about if you are out easy but don’t expect to run faster than “planned”. I never did and in fact was slower than planned most runs, not a bad thing on easy days.  I quite liked v1 of the Kayano Lite but less so v2. Is it in part the super foams making their way into trainers and even ASICS Blast as in the Kayano 28 with their more energetic livelier rides? I think so..  

Ryan: The 10mm drop felt fairly noticeable to me; I suspect mostly because of the midsole’s firmness. Underfoot, these shoes are so stable and deeply cushioned that I caught myself acting slightly less attentive to imperfections in the sidewalks/roads as I tacked on miles in southern Boston. That said, because of the abundance of firm, fairly flat Flytefoam (say that one 10x!), I found the ride to be a little clunky and lacking a pleasant heel-toe transition. I guess it’s what’s to be expected from such a serious stability shoe.

The width and firmness of the midsole’s perimeter highly discourages any type of pro/supination, so you’d better have a fairly ‘textbook’ footstrike to fully enjoy these. While they don’t feel quick to turn over, they don’t feel overly heavy either given their 10oz weight.

I’d be content to rely on this sort of ride for my slower recovery days, when I prefer to turn on cruise control, zone out, maybe even leave the watch at home.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Bryan: Not being a huge fan of the Kayano 27, I am very pleased to include the Lite 2 in my rotation. Being such a simple yet effective and subtle stability shoe, this shoe will be well liked by many, and especially fans of the Kayano looking for a lighter weight package, or for Kayano users who are looking to transition their gait into a midfoot strike pattern. It definitely feels faster than the Kayano 27/28.

For its purpose, i.e. every day stability running, the Lite 2 is hard to look past. Although lighter than the Kayano 27/28, I do still wish the Lite 2 could be a little lighter and perhaps more aggressive. A little less outsole rubber and perhaps a little more sculpting in creating a decoupling groove could aid in this, but might detract from the stability created by the full ground contact. Overall, this is a fine offering, and I am curious if and how ASICS might innovate on this well functioning package. 

Bryan’s Score:  8.90/10

Ride:  8.5 (50%) Fit:10 (30%) Value: 8(15%) Style: 8 (5%)

Alex: Forefoot and midfoot strikers who need light stability (or just a higher drop shoe that doesn’t feel like a higher drop shoe) may have something great in the Kayano Lite 2. For my first Asics shoe in a long while, I’m impressed, and now that I’m past the break-in period, these shoes will definitely have a regular place in my rotation for easy runs when I need a little more support. If you like a firmer cushioned shoe for those easy miles, I’d give the Kayano Lite 2 a look -- just know that the ride gets better after the first few runs. 

Score: 8.55/10

Ride: 8 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Sam: The Kayano Lite 2 scored lower than Lite 1 for me even though it is improved. Weight is lower by 7g / 0.5oz, the upper is very slightly superior yet... the ride is identical. It scores lower than v1 as the ride just was too consistent and lacking in zip and character for me with a lumbering and somewhat dull feel.  It also scores lower as there are several other new equally or close to as stable, lighter, and more lively running options. It also now scores lower than its now more energetic Blast powered sibling the Kayano 28 with its more overtly felt yet adaptable support elements. The Wave Rider 25 Hoka Mach 4, Puma Velocity and Skechers Ride 9 all also immediately come to mind as inherently quite neutral stable shoes with equal or superior cushion stack heights, lighter or equivalent weights and more energetic snappier rides. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 17, clearly also a stability shoe, has more snap from its flexible forefoot.

If you are a stability shoe oriented runner Lite 2 for sure offers plenty of bits and pieces free stability at least on the level of many in the support category and at an admirable just over 10 oz weight.  It is a great choice for runners who typically run pronation/support shoes who are seeking at least as equally as stable a platform in a lighter support bits and pieces free shoe.  The support here is all of a piece, highly consistent and supportive due to the very wide platform without any sharp edges as normally sensed in such shoes. It just works too well for me in the sense that all that rear support and cushion is somewhat characterless as the platform is overly broad and rigid for my preferences and dull in ride.  Basically, a bit too much of a good thing! At $160 I expect great durability, the fit is great but the fun and energy factor lags so value is decent but not great.

Sam’s Score: 8.78 /10

Ride: 8.5(50%) Fit: 9.6(30%) Value: 8 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)

Ryan: I think we deserve more than a dull ride at this $160 price point. For what it sets out to do, it does well, so I can’t knock it for showing up as advertised. But as more than one of our RTR crowd pointed out, this shoe is curiously close to its V1 predecessor, and not enough of an iteration to justify a ‘V2’ moniker. Simply adding recycled materials doesn’t make it new — even worse, they missed their chance to name it the Kayano ‘Green Lite’!

What we have here is a simple, solidly-built, and very comfortable cruiser that will keep things from getting exciting — for better or worse. If you are looking for a shoe with the utmost level of pronation control and impact damping, it’s worth a look, and it accomplishes those things well. But the ride feels too blocky and uninspired, and the overly-assertive midsole just isn’t my taste.

Ryan’s Score: 8.0 /10

Detractions for ride transition, break-in period, excessive medial pronation control

6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite 1 (RTR Review)

Sam: As minor an update as I can recall but a positive one in terms of fit as the upper is now slightly more voluminous at midfoot with less arch pressure and the toe box slightly higher yet still well held.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 (RTR Review)

Bryan: Both are Kayanos but yet so different. The more traditional Kayano 28 suits the heel striker better and as a midfoot striker, I would tend to pick the Lite 2 over the 28 on any run. However, the use of FlyteFoam Blast in the 28 makes it far more lively and fun than that in the Lite 2. When I think about how Asics could use FF Blast in the Lite 2, it would be a struggle to provide stability in it without any additional aid such as a trusstic plate. If I were a heel striker, I would pick the 28 over the Lite 2 but the choice in my opinion will come down to your gait. Note also that the 28 provides ‘more stability’ than the very subtle Lite 2.

Sam: While I preferred the Kayano Lite 1 over the Kayano 27, the tables have now turned for me as the now softer smoother Kayano 28 with its complex and very well integrated Dynamic DuoMax firmer side walls, flatter Trusstic plate and FF Blast in the midsole mix delivers an equally supportive ride with more snap and character than the Lite 2.

ASICS Novablast 2 (RTR Review)

Bryan: The Novablast 2 has done well to be far more stable than its predecessor, and is a worthy comparison against the Lite 2. Both are very different shoes. I would pick the Lite 2 if I were looking for some stability aid, but would otherwise run in the Novablast 2 for all other runs. The Novablast 2 is dynamic and fun as opposed to the very stable, consistent and firmer Lite 2. 

Sam: I found the Novablast 1 quite unstable at slower paces. Novablast 2 is much improved in that respect but there is no mistaking that compared to Kayano Lite it is for sure  more neutral in focus as it has a narrower platform and higher stack. Bryan describes the ride differences well.  Way more exciting ride in the Novablast 2. 

Brooks Levitate GTS 5 (RTR Review)

Sam: Brooks approach to stability without a firm post moves the stabilizing elements higher up in the form of a Guide Rail of the same foam as the midsole on the lateral side and a firmer co-molded foam on the medial side whereas the Lite is a single slab of foam with no add ons beyond its overall geometry of the single foam midsole and the Twisted Gel up front.. Both shoes have a quite dull, very consistent run feel although I prefer the rail less approach of the Kayano Lite for stability. The Levitate is in my view held back by an overly rigid poorly segmented outsole design while the Kayano Lite 2 is overly broad on the ground at midfoot for my tastes. I much prefer the Kayano Lite 2 engineered mesh upper to the improved but still awkward and not as well held Leviate’s knits available in 2 flavors: compressive and more comfort oriented. 

Hoka Arahi 5 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Arahi is lighter and considerably firmer at the heel where its dual density midsole’s firmer foam wraps around to the lateral side. Well rockered the Arahi is, if you will, a more uptempo focused stability shoe and it easily outperforms the Kayano Lite for those faster runs. Heading out for an easier run I prefer the more friendly cushion of the Kayano Lite 2. 

Alex: As Sam says, the Arahi is lighter and has a rocker that, for me, made it great for faster or slower paces. But the arch of the Arahi did not agree with my foot, and I’d end up with big blisters on my arch if I ran more than 5 miles. The Kayano Lite 2 is not a perfect replacement for the Arahi, but if you struggled with the fit of the Arahi like I did, the Kayano Lite offers similar stability and cushion without the intrusive arch. 

Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: Not really a stability or pronation control shoe the much lighter Mach 4’s broad swallowtail heel delivers some stability in a lighter package. It is a more versatile shoe for me as an all arounder and considerably lighter with nearly equivalent cushion if not quite as deep and almost bottomless as Kayano Lite’s is. Much more fun to run and fully capable of any pace or run type unlike Kayano Lite 2 which for me is just for easy days.  

Bryan: As mentioned by Sam, the Hoka is inherently stable through its geometry and construction, and comes in a more energetic package. The Lite 2 however offers more stability functions via the deliberate 3D space construction and medial heel raising for example. For a runner such as myself, who seeks some stability but does not need it, the Mach 4 is the obvious choice for all runs. It also comes in significantly lighter than the Lite 2.

Ryan (M9.5): I’m in agreement with Bryan here — unless you need militant stability, the Mach 4 is almost always the way to go. The Hoka performs much more efficiently than the Asics, and whereas the transition of the Asics is clunky, the Hoka’s is buttery smooth, thanks in part to how seamlessly its midsole materials match blend into its outsole. Weightwise, the Hoka has a noticeably lower inertia, lacking the extreme protection that the Kayano’s rubber and Flytefoam pack in.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Nic said...

Totally agree with your sentiments on Flytefoam requiring a break-in period. I have the Trabuco 9 also with a Flytefoam midsole, and was ready to start using them as a hiking shoes only because it felt so stiff and dull initially. After approx. 70km's the ride has completely changed, and I'm enjoying them more with every run. Keep up the good work RTR crew!