Saturday, January 21, 2023

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 Multi Tester Review: Massively Updated, Still a Nimbus? A Boat Loads of Pleasant Miles Trainer. 15 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum, Peter Stuart, Ryan Eiler, Dominique Winebaum and Jeff Beck

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 ($160)

Introduction

Sam: ASICS extensively teased the Nimbus 25 as "The Mystery Shoe" over the past few months. Not resembling the Nimbus of yore, the 25 is a total update to this classic yet is intended to carry on its essence as a stable, well cushioned premium "neutral" daily trainer. Does it? Let’s find out!

The changes and highlights include: 

6mm more forefoot stack and 4mm more heel stack of a single density of energetic FF Blast + ECO foam with 20% plus from bio based renewable sources. Both men’s and women’s go to an 8mm drop, down from 10mm and 13mm respectively

A completely new and inherently stable, very broad geometry without plastic pieces or firmer medial foams as the Nimbus 24 and prior versions had. Embedded and hidden away we now have a smaller and softer rear Pure GEL unit. The front GEL disk goes away.

Nimbus 25 gets a luxurious and very secure knit upper, knit a first for a Nimbus

And.. no change to weight or price!  So is this thoroughly modernized and up cushioned Nimbus still a Nimbus, a reliable premium stable neutral trainer or something else? For sure it is something very new and different looking in a Nimbus. Please read on to find out what our testers discovered.


Pros:

Incredibly luxurious, butter soft, thin and smooth fitting stretch knit upper with plenty of hold: Sam/Peter/Ryan/Dominique/Jeff

Dramatically more stack height, same weight: Sam/Peter/Ryan/Dominique/Jeff 

Flight Foam Blast + Eco foam delivers a just the right balance of softness without mushiness and with rebound Sam/Peter/Ryan/Dominique/Jeff

Very strong sustainability component without compromising performance in any way  Sam/Peter/Ryan/Dominique/Jeff

Very inherently stable rear of shoe: Sam/Ryan/Dominique/Jeff

All new shoe and unchanged pricing for 2023, a rarity! :Sam/Peter/Jeff

Plastic Trusstic at midfoot gone and not missed, still a supportive neutral trainer Sam/Peter/Jeff


Medial toe off flare to platform provides a distinctly felt final push off area mitigating high stack of 33.5 up front. Sam

Transition is clean and nicely balanced - Ryan/Jeff

They changed *everything* but the tongue from the 24, which was awesome - Jeff



Cons: 

Heel landing to midfoot flow is overly broad, somewhat bulky in feel if very stable and not back weighted: Sam/Peter/Dominique

Wish it was lighter than 10.3 oz Sam/Peter/Ryan

Blast + foam while light with its huge stack, and the Nimbus 25 is 10.3 oz does not deliver the superfoam lightness or quite the energy of its pricier yet higher stacked and considerably lighter Superblast cousin’s FF Turbo. Sam/Peter/Dominique

Very stretchy soft tongue is thin and unpadded, laces thin/ narrow with some bite if laced tight for narrower feet. Sam

Some breaking for flex required. Some longer front flex would be appreciated Sam/Peter

Overly plush padding around achilles degrades lockdown in heel - Ryan

Upper’s thickness reduces breathability - Ryan/Jeff

Stats

Approx. Weight: men's 10.3 oz  / 292 g (US9) /  women's 9 oz / 255g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 10.15 oz  /  297g US8.5, 10.76 oz / 305g US10.5 

Same weight as Nimbus 24 with 6mm more forefoot and 4mm more heel

Stack Height: men’s 41.5mm heel / 33.5mm forefoot :: women’s 40.5 mm heel / 32.5 mm forefoot

Offset: men’s and women’s both are now are 8mm drop

Available February 2023, $160


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Peter: The knit upper with 75% recycled content is buttery smooth and soft. The step in is delightful. It’s cushioned, there’s a nice pull tab to help get the shoe on and your ankle is hugged by a very generous ankle collar. The shoe looks simple and clean. Fit is true to size, though I do have a tiny bit of irritation on the outside toe of one foot. The toe box may be very slightly narrow. Overall a very positive first impression.

Sam: What an upper! Resembling and performing more like engineered mesh than old school knit which are often heavy, awkwardly stretching requiring big mid foot saddles.  This knit upper, the first in a Nimbus, is buttery soft, has some light stretch, is secure and is the definition of premium in terms of comfort and security  but without resorting to rigid elements and stiffness to provide its hold.


The Nimbus and Kayano have traditionally had bank vault-like rear heel counters with a massive clutch from thick plastic and external pieces. As a “stable” neutral shoe the Nimbus traditionally had lots of, for my tastes, overdone rear support. Here we have a moderately rigid heel counter with the foot sitting deeper into the midsole at the rear. Of particular note are the internal “bolsters” or padding that wrap the ankle and achilles. 


Knit uppers are always a challenge at the collars as the knit must be somehow combined with enough hold and commonly such bolsters are used and often strangely are underdone. 

Here, without being over firm, and made of a memory foam like soft material,  ASICS did not skimp on them, extending them further down than usual to wrap the heel and ankle. 


They gently and securely hold the foot with plenty of softer and pleasant feeling clutch without overdoing it. 

Easy to pull on, ASICS includes a stretch pull tab with rear reflective elements to make it even easier. All in all a superb upper which delivers comfortable fit and enough security. 

I did find the thin soft and very stretchy gusset tongue a bit skimpy in padding in combination with the thinish laces for my lower volume narrower feet with some lace  bite. 

I discovered that I did not need to cinch them quite as tightly as I thought and still had good enough hold but I do think tuning of the tongue is the only minor negative with the upper.

The fit is true to size and generous. 

Those who were on the edge in terms of volume and resorted to the NImbus wide version in the past should consider the regular fit in the 25. 


Ryan: This is exactly the type of shoe that will have you sold the second you step into its plush, high-end upper. In this completely overhauled Nimbus, it’s clear that lots of attention was put into every piece of this new design. In both its look and feel, it emanates a premium vibe.


Consider me thoroughly impressed by how well the knit material both locks the midfoot down, as well as holds its shape. Adding to an already generously spaced toe box, the toe bumper runs up and even slightly back over the top of the toes, creating a very purposefully sculpted shape up front.

As was mentioned above, the tongue is certainly unique, in a playful, stretchy way. It’s fun to pull and slip the shoe on, although it doesn’t offer much in protecting the foot from lace bite. However, I didn’t find this thinness to be a problem, as the flat laces tensioned the rest of the thick upper around my foot very comfortably.



From the thickness of the forefoot material to the ample padding around the heel collar, the plush factor is high and ready to tackle high mileage. 


One drawback to this construction is a diminished breathability, given the thick fabric and additional material from the gusseted tongue. It wasn’t a big issue for my winter mileage, but I’m fairly sure I’d be sweating more than usual once the temperature rises above 50 degrees. As for the heel collar, while it’s as comfortable as it looks, it gave me a slight sense of not being fully locked down at the heel.


I agree with Sam’s take on the shoe’s volume — my M9.5 felt relatively wide, leading me to cinch down the laces more than I would in most other shoes. Lengthwise, the Nimbus 25 fits true to size.



Dominique: Expectations are running high for this 25th edition of the Nimbus as much fanfare has been preceding its release on February 1st, and rightly so, for ASICS has completely revamped this model to mark its longstanding popularity and longevity. 


The knit upper is quite remarkable and is designed to maximize the comfort zone of your feet while providing a secure fit, such as the soft feel of the knit upper, deep padded collar, and extra stretchy tongue. 

True to size, the fit is both generous and secure with just the right amount of room for my toes. 


Jeff: As a longtime Nimbus fan (I wore the Gel Nimbus 9/10/11 as a full time caddie a few years before I started running) I’ve always had a soft spot for ASICS largest neutral shoe, but it’s definitely felt like it’s been lagging more than a few years behind as the competition has upped their game and the Nimbus updates were largely underwhelming.

That changed the moment I opened the N25 box. Welcome to the 21st century. This might be the most plush upper I’ve ever worn. The lining around the heel collar is pure comfort, and while I’m not 100% in love with the little flap around the top, the interior portion of the heel is almost decadent in comfort. The stretch of the heel pull tab, matched with the ultra stretchy tongue and tongue pull tab (a minor revision of the tongue of the 24 - which was easily my favorite element of that shoe) actually makes putting these shoes on fun. 


Yes. Ryan mentioned it above and I’ll echo the sentiment - these shoes are fun to put on. I didn’t notice any lace bit through the ultra thin tongue, but my foot is probably wider than any of my colleagues on this review, so I’m sure I didn’t have to clamp the shoe down as much as they did.


I will also reiterate that it isn’t the most breathable shoe, but it’s also not overly stuffy. The quality of the knit, especially compared to the 24, is staggering. 

And as the resident toebox snob, the width of the 25 is much improved. 

The 24 was more form fitting, but with a lot of stretch. 

The 25 just gives your toes plenty of room both in width and height.


Midsole

  • 20% more foam underfoot

  • +4mm in the heel compared to N24

  • +6mm in the forefoot compared to N24

  •  8mm drop for both men and women.

  • FF Blast + foam with 23% bio based

  • GEL only at the heel “Pure Gel” and internal and softer


Peter: Deets above! I don’t miss the Gel in the front and for as much foam as there is underneath the foot, it’s remarkable that the Nimbus 25 doesn’t feel mushy. It’s definitely cushioned, but doesn’t marshmallow. There’s not a ton of energy return from the midsole and I wonder if ASICS could do something to make the foot roll through a bit easier–a bit of a rocker–as I feel like I have to work a bit to complete my stride. 


Sam: ASICS dramatically increases the stack height while broadening the platform, and especially at the rear, to maintain the stable neutral characteristics the Nimbus is known for. 

They do away with the midfoot Trusstic plate of prior Nimbus, bury a now small and softer Pure GEL unit  at the rear doing away with the front GEL and give the 25 a single density all FF Blast + Eco foam midsole. 


The profile changes from a flex type shoe to a more rigid rocker profile.  


So to make it all “work” (the stable part) ASICS broadens the rear of the shoe from 87mm to 94mm and the midfoot from 77mm to 85mm. Even the forefoot platform widens to 115mm from 110mm. And recall, we have a giant new stack of 41.5mm heel / 33.5mm forefoot with a now 8mm drop for both men and women.


The result is that the shoe for sure feels light for its stack and is well balanced in weight. There is a lot of cushion here that as Peter says is protective but does not have a distinct sense of energy return, and less so than the fine lighter and pricier FF Turbo in the Superblast. 


Overall, the midsole feels overly broad at the rear of the shoe with but for a small rocker a flat heel to midfoot on the ground geometry leading to a somewhat blocky slow to transition feeling. 

A deeper crash pad and central groove might help and I doubt the shoe would lose much stability or better yet a slightly narrower platform which would also help reduce weight. 


Upfront ASICS does a much much better job moving the 33.5 mm forefoot to toe off with both a decently distinct rocker in this plateless shoe but especially for me a medial flare to the platform. 


This flare, shown to the right in the picture above gives a very distinct sensation of a big toe oriented toe off platform followed by a gentle “speed roll” like final rocker as the flare narrows further forward. 


Really well done. I note that after several runs they have also developed a bit of flex, always helpful in a rocker based big stack forefoot with no plate.


I wonder if instead of the current big new stack what a slightly lower 31.5mm forefoot stack than the  33.5mm here and thus 10mm drop would do to really move things along yet better, 


Ryan: I’m glad that ASICS dropped the GEL insert as the standout feature of the Nimbus. Embracing the FF Blast+ compound as an alternative damping mechanism is a healthy embrace of the state of the art, in my opinion. It works very well in this shoe to deliver a sophisticated tradeoff of stability, rebound, and cushion, and is well-suited for its mission.


The ample slab of midsole foam has a lower inertia than meets the eye, but its wide dimensions are noticed underfoot. Upon impact, there is a distinct sensation of both stability and cushion. The slab of FF Blast+ insulates you from the road to a high degree, and its rebound favors control and predictability over explosiveness and excitement. 


I found its well-behaved manner to be ideal for a high mileage trainer. You really do feel disconnected from the asphalt, with its highly protective nature encouraging you to settle in and relax at easier paces. It just won’t be the shoe you reach for on the days you plan on improving your turnover.


Dominique: The Nimbus 25 is an incredibly well cushioned shoe that invites mileage, however, I am in agreement with Sam that the midsole feels overly broad at the rear.  Even though the shoe has not gained any weight despite a higher stack height, the width of the rear of the shoe feels a bit clunky. Also, the prior higher drop of the Nimbus in the women’s version at 13mm was a distinctive trademark of the shoe, and I would agree with Sam that it might perhaps move faster with a higher drop than 8mm.  


Jeff: My colleagues detail it well. This shoe has TONS of cushioning, both in width and stack height. The shoe is soft, but not overly so, but even if it was too soft the wide platform would keep it stable. It doesn’t have exceptional energy return, but it’s far from plodding. Personally, I appreciate the extra stack height over the wider platform - previously the Nimbus felt like a standard daily trainer with a little extra squish, now we’re full on in max cushion territory. I didn’t mind the slightly lower drop, and even when worn against the 24 on a run around the block, the drop difference wasn’t nearly as prominent as the stack height difference.


Outsole

Peter: Good coverage, decent grip, rides smooth.


Sam: The rubber is very well matched to the midsole with no disconnect in ride feel between the two. The softer front blown ASICS Lite rubber upfront is lighter, stronger and more sustainable than standard rubber Grip on wet or slick surfaces such as sand over pavement and road paint due to the lack of profile is just average or below. 

The outsole is notably different than the Nimbus 24’s as shown above to the right in being less segmented and  especially upfront. The more continuous rubber helps stabilize the toe off very nicely but makes the shoe stiffer and for sure more rocker based than the 24.


Ryan: There aren’t any drastic aspects to dwell upon here — which is a good thing when it comes to outers. I found the rubber to have a softer feel than most other blown rubbers, and it combines with the nicely behaved midsole to deliver a fairly quiet (non-slappy) feeling underfoot. I personally prefer this type of feedback in an everyday trainer, as it makes for a comparatively pleasant ride to a more typical grade of (firmer) rubber.

Dominique: I agree with Sam that the outsole is well matched to the midsole and is conducive to a smooth transition. 


Jeff: This is the only aspect that isn’t a clear improvement over the previous model. It’s not that the 25 is bad, it’s largely great for all the reasons my fellow reviewers have already discussed - but it doesn't have nearly the grip of the 24.


Ride

Peter: Well, I really want to be excited by the ride of the Nimbus 25, and I’m not super excited. The ride falls in a bit of a no-man’s-land for me of not quite easy enough to run in for a true recovery shoe (my go to is the SC Trainer for that) and not quite fun and quick enough to feel like my daily trainer or tempo shoe. The ride is cushioned, but there’s not a lot of energy return so it feels a bit dull. As I said above, I feel like I have to work a bit to get the shoe moving from step to step. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t love it. 


Sam: I tend to agree with Peter about the ride of the Nimbus 25.  The FF Blast + foam is just fine but without the springier the return of FF Turbo in the Superblast or the bouncier softer return of FuelCell foams such as in the SC Trainer. 


It’s a very solid, comfortable, highly cushioned and stable training type ride. Here ASICS puts a premium on a stable ride without gimmicks  but the shoe is somewhat held back not by its midsole foam I think but by its overly broad geometry. 


Compared to the Nimbus 24 the ride is more all of a piece in feel (as single density with no plastic Trusstic) if not as adaptable as the shoe is less flexible now due to its higher stack. 


I feel that the rear of the shoe which while super well cushioned, in no way mushy and very stable, as intended for a Nimbus, does seem “in the way” due to its broadness and the flat midfoot profile on the ground. 


Unlike the Nimbus 24 or Mizuno Wave Inspire 19, more traditional stable neutral or light stability shoes which tend to have flexible fronts, here we have ahead of the midfoot a more rigid rocker profile, largely due to the 6mm more stack height upfront.  The result is a somewhat ponderous flow forward (stable rigid rear to stiffer type forefoot)  at slower paces to get to what I find is an outstanding toe off platform for a big stack trainer. 


I would love to see the same front geometry in the Superblast and Novablast 3 where I struggle more on toe off than here but struggle less at the rear of those shoes and especially Novablast with its considerably narrower rear platform.  


Upfront, the flared medial toe off area is very distinct and effective especially when considering the very broad front platform, no plate, and 33.5mm of stack. As I picked up the pace the ride improved and got smoother and easier off the heel with a very consistent feel with the ride  highlight for me the smooth toe off at moderate paces or slower daily miles, so for me about 9:20 per mile or faster.


Ryan: The best way I can describe this ride is: robust, well-behaved, and protective.

I’m not going to knock the shoe for its lack of excitement. Most of the time, when I want to go out and relax for 6-12 miles, it’s nice to have a mellower ride to connect with and set to autopilot. If you want something with more pomp and pep, there are plenty of other midsoles that will deliver, but they are unlikely to behave or protect as well as this one for mile after mile. While the FF Blast+ is especially skilled at damping road impact, I still noticed a bit of rebound from its newly elevated stack. It certainly isn’t race worthy, but it still manages to deliver an encouraging amount of bounce.


It’s worth mentioning again how stable this girthy platform feels underfoot. As Sam alluded to, such a broad and relatively flat platform might make the middle phase of the stride feel like its ‘stalling’, acting slightly disinclined to roll forward. This will probably only be the case for certain folks with an especially flat footstrike. Its tall, soft stack does compensate for this flat geometry somewhat, still permitting a very friendly transition from heel to toe. And speaking of the toe, its semi-rockered shape helps noticeably in the late stage of your stride. 


Overall, the ride is soft and highly protective, yet not mushy or slow to react. It feels only a touch bulky compared to some other trainers, but it's an ideal shoe for pleasantly racking up boatloads of mileage.


Dominique: Like Peter and Sam, I am not overly excited about the ride though I do appreciate the fact that the Nimbus 25 is a highly comfortable and protective shoe.  As I no longer race, solid daily trainers are my main staple, which means I like to get a bit of excitement when running in them.  Likewise, the width of the rear is not conducive to a fun ride in my opinion as the shoe feels a bit bulky and clunky.   


Jeff: Agreed, it’s not the most exciting shoe, but oftentimes exciting isn’t what you want. I would disagree with Peter and Sam, it absolutely slots in cleanly as a regular daily trainer for me - but that’s probably a combination of my greater mass and slower pace than either of them, and I could see how it’s a little much for them for a regular daily trainer.


Conclusions and Recommendations


Peter: A nice big, comfortable cushioned trainer that looks great. I don’t love running in it, but I don’t hate it either–and I just ran them again this morning to have them fresh in my mind and they were actually really pleasant. So, they don’t wow me, but I’m starting to think I may run in them some more. . There are probably some others I’d go to first in this category that might have a bit more energy return, but this may be a great shoe for heavier runners. 


Nothing really wrong with it, but I’d love to see it have a bit more pep and to roll through the gait cycle more effortlessly.

Peter’s Score: 9! 

It’s a grower. I’ve enjoyed them more as I’ve run in them. Not the most exciting, but nice. 

😊😊😊😊


Sam: Yup as Peter says more pep and early roll is what holds the Nimbus back for me.  For runners seeking a highly cushioned trainer with some inherent stability that is not an always felt “presence” on the medial side as traditional stability shoes and even the Nimbus had it is a solid choice. 


At 10.3 oz / 292g for its max cushion stack and broad platform it is very reasonable in weight and unchanged price at $160 for a shoe that does not have often more expensive super critical foams such as, for example, the similar but much lighter $220 ASICS Superblast. And for that price you will get a truly amazing upper, the clear highlight of the shoe for me. Buttery soft, light, comfortable and secure this is about the finest more comfort focused uppers and knit no less I can recall.  It is a good value for a thoroughly modern trainer, if not one with the most dynamic of rides, with as a bonus, strong and no compromises to the performance sustainability elements.

Sam’s Score: 9.32 /10

Ride: 9.1 Fit:  9.7 Value: 9.2 Style: 9.5

😊😊😊1/2


Ryan: If you’re looking for a high mileage trainer and appreciate a midsole which values stability and protection over energy return, you’d be mistaken not to consider the Nimbus 25. While its platform is certainly on the beefier end of the spectrum, the characteristics of the FF Blast+ midsole make for an enjoyable ride for as long and as many miles as you’re willing to run. Its upper has an especially plush, high-end feel to it, although I wish it was a bit more breathable, and that the pillowy heel collar offered better lockdown. 


This is a great evolution to the Nimbus line, and I think a comparatively good value given its build quality. Kudos for making such a comfortable eco-friendly upper. Without question, I’ll be relying on these heavily for my recovery runs.

Ryan’s Score: 9.5 / 10  (Deductions for breathability, heel lockdown, weight)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊1/2


Dominique: I would agree with Ryan that the Nimbus 25 is a solid high mileage trainer that offers great stability and protection but that lacks a bit of energy return. It is a great value for the level of craftsmanship and considering all the updates, along with the notable eco-friendly platform.  I am curious about the color options offered once the model is released aside from the natural colorway we all tested.

Dominique’s Score: 9.2/10 

(Deductions for lack of energy return, overly wide rear platform, bit of a clunky feel) 

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊1/2



Jeff: ASICS went from two steps behind its competition, and with one fell swoop jumped to the front of the pack. The upper is incredibly plush, and it bears repeating - I literally smile every time I put the shoe on because of the stretchy tongue and pull tab. The midsole is a massive jump forward for ASICS, and while it isn’t the sexiest shoe around, Peter is spot on - this is an amazing shoe for heavier runners. Daily trainer for heavy runners, easy shoe for the more svelte ones, this is an impressive shoe.

Jeff’s Score: 9.45/10

Ride: 9 Fit: 10 Value: 10 Style: 9

Smiles: 😊😊😊😊


15 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


GEL-Nimbus 24 (RTR Review)

Sam: As discussed in the review the Nimbus 25 retains its stable neutral ride with a much simpler considerably more cushioned ride on a much wider rear platform and with less of the traditional flex of the prior Nimbus. The Nimbus 25 upper is superior in overall comfort and well matched to the premium nature of the model. At the same retail pricing and weight, the 25 is a superior totally modern shoe if, due to its higher stack and wide platform a bit more ponderous riding one.

Jeff: Sam nails it with “superior totally modern shoe”. The extra cushioning is outstanding, the extra plush upper is impressive, and my 24 and 25 pairs both weigh the same to the gram - despite the 25 packing on so much more. This is the easiest choice you can make, provided you appreciate extra squish.


Glide Ride 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: Considerably liighter at 9.35 oz / 265g (US8.5) with more stack height: men’s 42 mm heel (measured)  / 37 mm forefoot (spec) and 5mm drop (vs 8mm)  the Glideride gets to its lighter ride with a 14mm  narrower (but still stable) heel and 10mm narrower midfoot platform. It has a hardened foam forefoot “plate” and is clearly more propulsive with overall a much more directed rocker based ride. Not quite as easy going it requires you to follow its groove but for me is a clearly superior riding and faster big shoe


ASICS Superblast  (RTR Review)

Sam: Basically you pay $60 more for yet more stack height at 45.5 mm heel / 37.5 mm forefoot, 8mm drop and 1.6 oz lighter weight at  8.43 oz / 239g (US9) as the Supeblast gets lighter a bit sharper rebounding FF Turbo super foam. I find the rides quite similar overall in being very cushioned and a bit blocky at the heel with the forefoot toe off of the Nimbus more effective but with the lighter weight of the Super and similar firmness but more reactive foam is really noticeable and, despite its higher price, having me lean the Super's way

Peter: I think I prefer the NImbus to the Superblast. The Superblast just feels a tiny bit blocky to me on the run, while the Nimbus 25 is starting to break in nicely at around 40 miles. 


ASICS Novablast 3  (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Novablast feels a bit blockier and less sophisticated in several ways. Its upper is less plush and feels much simpler, although it provides better ventilation. The biggest difference to me was how different these two shoes feel underfoot – whereas in the Novablast I could feel the islands of rubber going to work, making the shoe feel a bit slappy, the Nimbus is comparatively smoother, quieter, and delivers a more refined ride. The Nimbus also delivers a more stable feeling overall, and doesn’t feel as tall as its stack height figures read. Sure, the Novablast may be lighter and more fun to run in, but for pleasant, long runs, the Nimbus wins out in my book.


Sam: I agree with Ryan, The Nova has a 35 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot and weighs considerably less at 8.57 oz  / 243g (US9). It has FF Blast + in the non Eco flavor, less stack, and a 9mm narrower heel and big 15 narrower midfoot platform which leads to the considerably lighter weight and while decently stable, not nearly the flawless rearstability of the Nimbus. The Nimbus will not get you in trouble no matter the run while the Nova is for many for the faster side of training and with quite well aligned form.

Watch Sam's GEL Nimbus 25 Video Review (29:50)

Comparisons to Superblast, Glide Ride 3 and Novablast 3


NB FreshFoam More v4  (RTR Review)

Peter: No comparison here. The More V4 felt like so much mushy foam–too much, too soft. The Nimbus is very amply cushioned but ground feel is on the firmer side of soft. I’d choose the Nimbus over the More. 

Sam: Very broad and softer with a 4mm drop and lots of cushion stack, the More v4 is much more ponderous.


Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Shift 3 is probably the closest competitor to the Nimbus that I’ve run so far. Both shoes rely on  Their similarities include excellent impact damping, comfortable upper designs, superb traction, and tons of protection underfoot. Notably, both of these shoes also exhibit some extra curvature near the toe to help drive off of their fairly high forefoot stack. I found the Shift to be a touch firmer, although the midsole behaves in a similarly refined manner to that of the Nimbus. The bulging, rounded edges of the Nimbus midsole are less pronounced than the more squared off edges of the Shift’s midsole, giving the Nimbus a slightly more ‘pillowy’ feel. Ventilation on the Shift is superior, and I prefer its more traditional padded tongue. I find it difficult to pick one over the other here, but if I had to choose, I’d take the Nimbus for its combination of softness and stability. You really can’t go wrong with either. Both fit true to size, although I found the forefoot of the Nimbus to be a bit wider.


Sam: Ryan describes the differences well. The 4mm drop of the Shift (vs 8mm for Nimbus) makes it tougher to run at slower paces than the Nimbus for me and despite the fine bulging flare of the Nimbus a clear benefit at slower paces, the Shift’s more abrupt front SpeedRoll starts to shine at faster paces. In terms of uppers, the Nimbus seems to better match its platform with more room and a smoother fit.

Jeff: This one feels like a “material vs geometry” thing. The Nimbus midsole is much softer, and as Sam pointed out, it’s more versatile for all speeds from daily-to-easy-to-very-easy where the Endorphin Shift starts at daily pace and goes faster. The Shift is much firmer, and the platform is much more narrow than the Nimbus, and the Nimbus also gets bonus points for its plush upper and wider toebox.


Hoka Bondi 8  (RTR Review)

Jeff: As big as the Nimbus is, the king is still the king. The Bondi feels taller and with a wider platform, but the inner portion isn’t nearly as accommodating as the Nimbus - especially around the arch. Both massive midsoles utilize a combination of material and geometry, with the Hoka geometry feeling more pronounced and the ASICS much softer. The upper of the Nimbus is much more plush, and it’s not surprising that the Hoka loses the toebox fight, but it is surprising that it only loses by a bit. 


New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 (RTR Review)

Peter: Actually not wildly dissimilar. These are both big, comfy easy run shoes. The FF 1080 may roll just a little more easily through the stride. The Nimbus is crazy comfortable though. This is a jump ball. I’d say go put one on each foot and see what your gut tells you. 

Jeff: One of the few shoes out there that has a similarly wide base, the 1080 doesn’t have nearly the cushioning that the Nimbus does. The 1080 has an exceptionally great knit upper, but isn’t nearly as plush as the Nimbus.


New Balance FuelCell SC Trainer (RTR Review)

Peter: The NB FuelCell SC Trainer is, for me, what I wish the Nimbus was. The shoes are similarly cushioned, stable and comfortable, but–due to the plate– the SC Trainer just ROLLs along the road while I feel like I have to work a little harder in the Nimbus. 

Sam: The SC Trainer has tons of cushion, a dynamic carbon plate and faster days intent than the more mellow days Nimbus.

Jeff: I’m with Sam, while both have tons of cushioning, the construction of the NB put it in a different category.


Nike invincible Run 1 & 2 (RTR Review)

Peter: The invincible run is super soft. The Nimbus is firmer. They’re both heavily cushioned, but the Nimbus is far more stable and, for my money, is the better running shoe here. 

Ryan: Nike is certainly the more lively, bouncy of these two. Both offer copious amounts of protection from the road, but the Nimbus feels much more controlled. The uppers of both shoes are similarly robust, although the knit of the Asics feels more sophisticated and refined. Both shoes have a below-average amount of ventilation because of the thick materials used for the uppers, and both also run fairly wide in the toe box. If you want maximum protection with maximum bounce, the Nike might be preferable. However, if you want a shoe with just as much protection but offers better stability and a more refined feel, the Asics is likely your ticket. Both of these shoes are workhorses for easier mileage, but I prefer the Nimbus by a small margin. Both fit true to size.

Sam: The Invincible is way more fun, way more dynamic bouncy, not nearly as stable, and is far less practical than the Nimbus for me. The Invincible Run 2 strangely over built and warm upper is no comparison to the smooth fitting Nimbus upper but it may be required to keep the foot under control on the wider platform.

Jeff: The Invincible is the closest thing we’ve seen to the actual realization of a moon shoe, and it’s massively cushioned and bouncy - easily the most polarizing shoe I’ve ever worn. The ASICS is more refined and easier to live with.


Nike Infinity Run (RTR Review)

Sam: Nike’s more stabilized neutral trainer has a 2 sided top of midsole plastic clip that is more focused on knee stability than pronation. While the rest of the midsole and ride is just fine, the clip gets in the way of transitions for me more even than the Nimbus super wide platform.


361 Centauri (RTR Review)

Sam: Lower stacked by about 5 mm but with a sensational TPE foam that is far more fun than even FF Blast + in being bouncy and reactive, the Centauri upper is heavy duty in its support and not as refined. It is $130. It does come in a bit lighter. If you want a more traditional riding daily trainer with moderate cushion stack but great foam go Centauri. If you want an all around deeper cushioned luxury liner, Nimbus.


Saucony Triumph 20 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Saucony’s latest big cushion daily trainer was the best version they’ve ever made - much like the Nimbus 25. The Triumph is a little more versatile, and can hold up to faster paces than the Nimbus can, while the Nimbus is more plush both around and below the foot. The latest iteration of Saucony’s PWRRUN+ gives it some good bounce, and far less dense than the previous version. This is the closest matchup on this list, they could almost be two different versions of the same shoe with the Nimbus being the softer and slightly more cushioned shoe, while the Triumph is just a little more refined and versatile. Both top tier shoes.

Sam: Half an ounce lighter and a bit lower stack the Triumph 20 has plenty of cushion and a livelier riding geometry. In the category I lean Triumph 20 but would not have said the same for the ponderous heavier earlier T shoes.


Brooks Glycerin 20  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar to the Triumph 20, the latest Glycerin was a big step up from the previous version, and it matches up well with the Nimbus, but leans even harder to the Triumph side. The DNA v3 midsole is much more performance oriented than the Nimbus 25, but still plenty of cushioning to be a daily trainer. On a sliding scale, the Glycerin is on one end, the Nimbus the other, with the Triumph right in between.


Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff: Mizuno’s premium (and sustainable) massively cushioned shoe similarly has an enormous midsole in both stack height and platform width. Both have a supremely cushioned ride that prioritizes comfort over performance, creating a great easy day shoe. Coin flip on comfort, but the extra $90 premium of the Mizuno over the ASICS makes it a very easy choice.


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Tester Profiles

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:21 half marathoner in recent years.


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 the 2020 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K with 10K’s close to 30 minutes and in 2022 set a marathon PR and course record of 2:19 at the Maine Marathon.


Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles and once a week down in the mid 9 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and also enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, tennis, hiking and trekking, and gardening.


Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range, if he is very lucky, 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.


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3 comments:

T H said...

So no comment on the fact that a mainstream daily trainer is clearly in World Athletics illegal territory? I hate this trend.

Sam Winebaum said...

T H only "illegal" for elites in major races
As far as the trend depends on preferences. When stack gets huge I look for smooth flow either through rocker or flex.
Sam, Editor

TReilly56 said...

Seems like initially, many companies were content to stand on the sidelines when Hoka happened on the scene and kind of snickered as they waited for those goofy things to be laughed at and to go away. they didn't go away and have undeniably had a huge impact in the design direction of the running shoe market. Asics couldn't make up their mind on Nimbus or Nimbus lite. Now it appears that Asics has definitely cast their lot in the more cush, lower offset camp a la Hoka. I have been running and retailing running footwear for over 40 years and the appeal of a cushier ride ain't hard to figure out. It's just taken the companies a while to not only embrace the "Hoka effect" but also come up with competition that compares well. Asics sure has done a great job here. In the grand tradition of running shoe updates this one will no doubt piss a few people off!