Tuesday, November 28, 2023

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 26 Multi Tester Review: Subtle Changes Gets it Just Right! 8 Comparisons

 Article by Jeff Beck and Michael Ellenberger

GEL-Nimbus 26 ($160)


Jeff: The Nimbus has been ASICS’ most cushioned trainer for more than a quarter of a century. Last year’s Nimbus 25 was a big step forward for the shoe, taking it from one of the less remarkable of the big cushioned trainers to one of the biggest and instantly, one of the most popular among runners. A year later, what’s ASICS done for an encore? Subtle changes across the boards, with the sum of those changes being a solid improvement. Please read on for details.


Soft ride is pure comfort, but still performs at most paces: Jeff/Michael

Upper fit is more dialed in:Jeff/Michael

Super stretchy tongue and overbuilt heel pull tab: Jeff/Michael

Outsole has better traction than Nimbus 25: Jeff

Still one of the most plush shoes on the market: Jeff/Michael


Sample weight increased by 14g in my US10.5: Jeff

Stretchy tongue doesn’t have much cushioning to prevent lace bite: Jeff

Soft, and not overly propulsive: Michael

women’s colorway


Weight: men's 10.7 oz  / 303g (US9)  /  women's 9.2 oz / 261g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  11.07 oz / 314g US 10.5 

                   women’s: 9.3 oz / 265 g US W8

Stack Height:  men 41.5mm/33.5 mm | women 40. 5mm/32.5mm

Platform Width: 104 mm heel / 88 mm midfoot / 120 mm forefoot

Nimbus 25 Platform Width 102 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 120 mm forefoot

$160. Available Jan 5, 2024 including in wides for men and women.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jeff: For all the big changes the Nimbus 25 had from the 24, a year later the 26’s changes aren’t evident right out of the box. The shape and design of the shoe is roughly the same as the 25, with the most obvious change being a new engineered knit upper with the same silhouette. With the Nimbus 25 being a great shoe, minor changes are a good thing.

The knit upper is well executed, with a surprising amount of support for a shoe with no real overlays. Compared to last year’s shoe, the upper is a little tighter around the midfoot, but otherwise is largely unchanged. 

We’ve still got a very robust and overbuilt heel pull tab, and the super stretchy tongue is heldover from the Nimbus 25 (though it started on the Nimbus 24, about the only design aspect that went from the 24 to 25). 

The upper material is breathable, and still has an incredibly cushioned and plush heel collar, sacrificing a little bit of weight for supreme comfort.

Sizing is true-to-size in length, and has plenty of volume through the midfoot and toebox for my somewhat wider than D width foot. It’s not a massive toebox, but it’s adequate. The Nimbus 26 will also be available in 2D Wide and 4E Extra Wide for men and Wide for women.

Michael: The upper is the big winner for me; I’m enamored with the fit and finish of the Nimbus 26’s knit offering here (note - I skipped the Nimbus 25! So this is new to me over the long-gone Nimbus 24). The word that comes to mind here is “premium.” Sometimes in these uppers, you’ll find an excess of material in the forefoot that bunches when you toe-off - not so here (to be clear, it’s not exactly a tight fit, either, like the Vaporfly Flyknit of old… it’s just right, for a trainer!).

I found my 8.5 true-to-size, and (for fellow Achilles sufferers), found the heel counter pleasantly soft.

Midsole & Platform

Jeff: The Nimbus 26 gets a new  FF Blast Plus Eco, which ASICS claims is their “lightest and most energetic foam” while also being their most sustainable midsole material with 24% bio content. It’s the same midsole foam as in the recent Novablast 4, with the Nimbus 26 also having PUREGEL in the heel to make it even more cushioned. From memory it feels virtually identical to the Nimbus 25, but when worn left/right at the same time, the 26 feels just a bit more dense/firm, with just a bit more bounce. It could be due to my pair of 25s having ~100 more miles than the 26s, and either way, it’s very close.

Busting out the calipers and comparing it to the Nimbus 25’s massive platform, the 26 got just a hair wider in the heel (2mm)  and midfoot (3mm)while the very wide (120mm) forefoot is unchanged. 

Between the soft and cushy midsole and wide platform, ASICS has again created one of the most comfortable daily trainers/easy day shoes around. It wouldn’t be in the top 50 shoes I’d grab for doing any speedwork, but for daily training (or even folks whose jobs have them on their feet all day) you are unlikely to find anything much more comfortable.

The 33/41mm midsole stack is in that true “max cushion” slot, and as a result there’s not much flex to be found. That’s not a terrible thing, but just something to keep in mind if you prefer a shoe with some bendiness to it.

Michael: Setting aside the admirable (but untestable) sustainability claims of the midsole, I was also quite impressed by the EC) foam ASICS has packed. There is a lack of “pop” here - I think that’s geometry rather than composition, perhaps - but there is no shortage of “squish.” By that, I mean that every foot strike will be soft and supported, but there isn’t that distinct roll towards your forefoot. 

Now, in a shoe like this… do you care? I didn’t - I think a comfortable, well-stacked trainer is a lovely thing for a lot of different runs, and I didn’t mind not being nudged to pick it up (my Strava followers know that picking up the pace is decidedly not something my training needs). So! I’m all smiles here; this is a soft, comfortable, and just useful shoe!


Jeff: Another shift from last year, ASICS is using two types of rubber, ASICSGRIP in the midfoot and forefoot and AHAR+ in the heel, to maximize grip and softness in the outsole while still being durable. 

Nimbus 25 Outsole: 
shallower front decoupling, less lateral midfoot rubber coverage, less aggressive lugs

AHAR+ is one of the beefiest rubbers around, with durability being a top priority, while ASICSGRIP has a much softer and grippier feel to it. It is an immediate upgrade from last year’s shoe, which has some grip issues, especially in the wet. 

I was fortunate enough to have a Thanksgiving evening snow, and in true Denver fashion, a lot of melted snow in the days after, to give the Nimbus 26 a true wet test. Their wet grip is adequate to decent, though I had a few unstable landings on snow/slush - so maybe not the greatest rubber for the white stuff. 

And don’t sweat the exposed midsole in the middle, I’ve got absolutely zero wear on my pair, and I’ve been known to bottom out some shoes in the same fashion.

Michael: I would not bet even a single dollar on being able to identify the difference between ASICSGRIP and AHAR+ by feel alone, but I was (once again!) pleasantly surprised by the outsole here. It doesn’t look like much, but I felt in control on wet leaves and even (ugh, November!) ice. This would not be my top-choice for a true slick-conditions long run, but if it’s the only shoe you have in your car this winter, you’ll be okay.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff: I’ve been a Nimbus fan since the Nimbus 8, and last year’s shoe was easily the best iteration - and until the Nimbus 26 when ASICS went out and beat their own high score. The upper fit is a nice improvement that wasn’t needed, while the outsole is a big jump that really was necessary to make a great every day trainer. It definitely skews comfort over performance, but really, every shoe that fits in this classification does as well. We’ve been seeing more and more shoes come out that really get nothing wrong, and I’d easily put this shoe in that category. The upper, midsole, and outsole are all some level of fantastic, together making a shoe that soaks up easy miles. It’s one of those shoes that’s just easy to run in, and while it might not be the most exciting performer, it’s one that I can tell I’ll be lacing up for some time.

Jeff’s Score: 9.65/10

Ride: Fit: Value:Style:


Michael: I have to say, the Nimbus has really grown up before our very eyes. What was once the GEL-Nimbus (and a decidedly firmer, goofier shoe) is now a competent, high-stack, even fun trainer? As Jeff and I agree, this is not a shoe to run fast in - there’s something flat-feeling about the geometry here that just keeps you from wanting to roll onto that forefoot - but that’s not to say it’s by any means bad. Instead, I will be pulling out the Nimbus all winter. It’s got cushion, it’s got grip, it’s got a really refined upper… and heck, it even looks sharp! ASICS is back, baby! 

Michael’s Score: 9.7/10

Ride: Fit: Value:Style:


8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

ASICS GEL Nimbus 25 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Lots of detail above in the review, but very comparable shoes with subtle improvements to each element of the shoe. The midsole may be just a touch firmer with a little more bounce, but it’s so close it’s hard to tell. The bigger shift is the upper, which is less baggy in the midfoot than the 25, and the redesigned outsole which brings much more grip. The 25 was a quantum leap forward from the 24, the 26 is all refinement of the 25.

ASICS Novablast 4  (RTR Review)

Jeff: The more performance intended, considerably lighter (-1.6 oz)  daily trainer from ASICS uses the same midsole material with a near identical stack height. The Novablast has a very different geometry though, making it the daily trainer that you can also run quickly in. The Nimbus has the added PUREGEL insert in the heel, though doesn’t feel *that* much softer for it. Not a bad 1-2 punch of the Nimbus for day to day, trending easier, with the Novablast whenever you want to push it ever so slightly.

Michael: I didn’t think this is where I’d end up, but strictly between the two, I actually prefer the Nimbus! Of course, as Jeff points out, there are different uses for each, and a combination of the two would serve you well. But if I was headed out to do 15 miles, I’d take the easy-cruising Nimbus over the wobbly beast that is the NovaBlast.

ASICS Kayano Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Michael: I missed the RTR Review on this one, but have actually run in (and am a fan of) both variants of the Kayano Lite. There’s a lot of similarity here, but the Nimbus is a more accessible (and, to cut to the chase, better) shoe. I like the more stable platform of the Kayano Lite, but unlike the NovaBlast, I didn’t find the Nimbus to be too wobbly. Go with the N26!

Nike Invincible Run 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Nike’s big cushion daily trainer has a giant slab of their top tier race midsole foam, Zoom X, and as a result is one of the softest and bounciest shoes around. The third iteration is a little more restrained from the somewhat uncontrollable first two versions, but compared to the Nimbus 26 the IR3 feels incredibly soft, bouncy, and a bit uncontrolled. The Nimbus 26 isn’t billed as a stability shoe, but when worn against the Invincible, it feels like it.

Michael: The Invincible Run 2 is one of the best trainers ever made; the Invincible Run 3… is quite good. And ultimately, I do prefer the Nike over the ASICS here, but it’s not a slam dunk. The Nike’s upper is a bit more plasticy and uncomfortable, and the heel-slippage is a real issue. The ASICS upper is better, but you really can’t beat a massive stack of ZoomX. Like I said, I do prefer the Nike, but only slightly. 

Saucony Triumph 20/21 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Saucony’s most cushioned trainer has been a favorite of mine for the last two years with their reformulated PWRRUN+ midsole having a firm, yet well-cushioned midsole with just a bit of bounce. Compared to the Nimbus 26, the Triumph feels very firm, but I’d consider them both the same level of bouncy. If you prefer a softer and squishier landing, go Nimbus, if you prefer a bit firmer feeling, go Triumph.

New Balance 1080v13  (RTR Review)

Jeff: New Balance’s long time premium trainer isn’t their biggest stacked trainer any more. The Fresh Foam More holds that distinction but the latest iteration of Fresh Foam X bears more than a passing resemblance to the midsole in the Nimbus 26. Very similar soft and cushy feeling, although the New Balance has noticeably less cushioning overall (even though their stacks are very similar). The Nimbus toe box is solid, the 1080 is even wider.

Topo Atmos  (RTR Review)

Jeff: Topo’s foot shaped design elevated their status in my eyes years ago, but it’s largely been untapped potential - the Atmos is the realization of that potential. Massively stacked if not quite as high as the Nimbus with a very dynamic midsole that balances soft and bouncy very well, these two shoes feel similar underfoot - but the Topo is the one with the enormous toebox and even grippier outsole. If you don’t have wide feet up front, flip a coin, you can’t go wrong.

On Cloudeclipse (RTR Review)

Jeff: The only shoe comparison that makes the Nimbus midsole feel even slightly low, the Cloud Eclipse is an absolute behemoth that feels at least a few mm’s higher in the forefoot and heel than the Nimbus. Similarly soft and bouncy to the Nimbus, this is one of the only On running shoes to date  that feels like they were really designed for running, and it shows. I’d still favor the Nimbus on easy days, but if it was one of those “easy, but we’re going to pick it up a little bit” type of runs, I’d likely grab the On instead.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 26 will be available January 5, 2024

Tester Profiles

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.

Michael is a patent attorney and graduate of Northwestern University Law School. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). Michael’s PRs include a 67:43 half-marathon (Chicago Half-Marathon) and a 2:21:19 marathon PR at the 2023 Grandma’s Marathon. Michael continues to race on the roads, and is chasing a sub-2:20 marathon and potential OTQ in the future.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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