Sunday, February 11, 2024

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 Multi Tester Review: 6 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Beck and Sally Reiley

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 ($140)


Sam: The GEL-Cumulus sees another big change for its 26th edition. ASICS middle of the road neutral daily trainer went broader and higher stack for the 25 (RTR Review) Its looks and ride were quite close to the Nimbus 25 with somewhat less stack and inherent stability focus of that shoe.

For the 26th we “see” a more traditional looking geometry that is more rocker focused than the 25, with 1mm more stack height, a full contact rubberized foam outsole and a touch less weight. 

The 26 also is the first ASICS to list its carbon footprint on the sockliner at 9.4kg CO2e.

I am recovering from a November surgically repaired with 2 screws broken kneecap. The Cumulus 26 has proven the best of several road choices as I have resumed running, slowly, for its stable well cushioned neutral ride. They did require some break in as the style has now moved to a semi rigid more rocker focused ride reminding in ride and looks of the Glide Ride and less so of the soft and flexible Cumulus 25. Let’s get into the details!


  • True all around well daily trainer-Pace and distance versatile, light at 9.1 oz / 258g: Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Now a more uptempo riding highly cushioned trainer than near Nimbus 25 as Cumulus 25 was: Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Continuous non segmented foam rubber front outsole delivers a near front plate rockered responsive feel, reminding of GlideRide: Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Stable for a neutral trainer and more stable than prior Cumulus: Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Light weight for big 38.5 mm heel /30.5mm forefoot stack of cushion, 1mm more and about 0.3 oz lighter than the 25 : Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Fairly priced at $140 for a max cushion versatile trainer : Sam/Jeff/Sally

  • Upper feels light- a slightly lighter version of Nimbus’ great upper: Jeff

  • Attractive classic traditional look trainer with a highly breathable upper: Sally


  • May confuse Cumulus fans: Stiffer, longer flex trainer and firmer despite big stack than prior more flex based Cumulus: Sam

  • Some break in required for flex given full contact midsole as outsole layer and high stack: Sam/Sally

  • Midfoot upper may be challenging to lock down for very low volume feet: Sam/Sally

  • Minimally profiled lugless outsole: shaky traction on slick winter roads (snow coating and ice): Sam/Jeff/Sally

Please find the testers full run bios at the end of the article after Comparisons.


Approx. Weight: men's 9.1 oz  / 258 g (US9)  /  women's 7.8 oz / 222 g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  8.89oz / 252g (US8.5)  Cumulus 25: 9.13 oz  /  259g (US8.5)  

                  women’s  7.8 oz / 222 g (US W8)

Stack Height: men’s 38.5 mm heel / 30.5 mm forefoot ( 8mm drop

                      women’s  37.5 mm heel / 29.5 mm forefoot

Platform Width: 100 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 115 mm forefoot

$140.  Available March 2024

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: The Cumulus 26 clearly makes a visual statement that it is not a near Nimbus 26 in appearance, fit and ride as the 25 was. 

While the platform remains broad the geometry’s appearance is more streamlined and traditional and while seeming to be lower stack height is actually 1mm higher. In hand, when new and even after initial walks and runs, it is clear the Cumulus has moved from a flex based shoe to a rocker similar to the Glideride’s. Given the rubberized foam full and deep outsole bottom layer some break in was required .

The upper is made of a fairly dense engineered mesh with minimal overlays. We have a thin somewhat stretchy gusset tongue.

The upper is more secure, less soft and cozy than the 25’s but still roomy and moderately broad particularly at the midfoot where for my narrow-medium volume foot. I had to cinch down the laces quite far but not so far that I had lace bite or could not get a good hold. Runners with very low volume feet may struggle more. 

I do think a slightly more padded tongue would take up some of the volume better than the thin stretchy one here.

The toe box is just right for me with less play than the softer somewhat stretchier softer mesh of the Cumulus 25. For those seeking more room up front, wides will  be available.

Jeff: This is my first experience with any Cumulus, I’ve always favored the much more cushioned big brother Nimbus. That said, this is clearly not the meh-level of cushioning early Cumulus brought to the table, instead this seems like a Nimbus skunkwerks project - similar ideas with different execution and fit. 

The upper is very reminiscent of the Nimbus 26, though it isn’t quite as plush, and it shares the same thin, stretchy tongue. My not-quite-E-width foot fills the shoe quite well, and the toebox width is pretty good, if not great. The laces are very long, and I could see runners with narrow or low volume feet replacing the laces altogether - but that’s an easy fix.

Sally: The Cumulus has long been a tried and true daily trainer. The 25 was a major overhaul, and the 26 is yet again another major overhaul. I might be very confused if I were a fan of the older Cumulus versions, but we all learn that shoe companies sometimes abandon our favorites and make changes, whether we think they are merited or needed or not. 

The 26 is immediately felt as not as soft as the 25, and no longer has that (excessively) wide heel flare. The firmer midsole combines with a more rockered geometry, reminiscent to me of the Glideride. 

I like the classic traditional look of the 26, possibly influenced by my love of this shade of green. At step-in, the shoe is comfortable but not overly soft. The fit borders on overly accommodating in the midfoot and toebox, and my narrow foot felt a bit lost. I had to really snug up the laces, which resulted in some baggy overlap of the upper at the base of the laces. 

The gusseted tongue is that ingenuous stretchy fabric, held to the center by a vertical loop. Laces are indeed very long. 

Length initially felt fine and TTS in W8, until I put some miles on the shoe. After a break-in period, I found the shoe feeling short, perhaps due to both the tapered toe box and the rocker effect that rolls your foot forward to the toe-off. 

Those wanting to do longer runs might want to size up one half a size for more toe length.

Midsole & Platform

The midsole is, as before, Flight Foam Blast+ with a lower layer foam/rubber blend which ASICS calls Fluidride as the outsole. We have seen such an approach in shoes such as the Hoka Mach and at UnderArmour Velocit Wind. The Cumulus 26 retains the Pure Gel unit which takes some edge of landings while being far more seamlessly integrated than earlier GEL units.

We get 1mm more stack height than Cumulus 25 while the weight drops 0.24 oz / 7g in my US 8.5. More stack with less weight is always welcome. 

The platform remains broad at 100 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 115 mm forefoot so the 26 is stable as a neutral shoe and the more streamlined rear of the shoe does not lead to the blocky overdone for me heel feel of the Nimbus or even the somewhat less exaggerated but still a bit cumbersome rear of the Cumulus 25.

In my Cumulus 25 review I remarked that the landing was overly soft. Here it is now “firmer” and more stable but nonetheless very well cushioned. 

My sense is the Flight Flight Foam Blast + is slightly firmer overall while the lower Fluidride “outsole” while not as firm as rubber would be is thick improving the response and stability at the ground.

The geometry and midsole/outsole construction clearly moves the Cumulus from the prior softer flex based trainer to a somewhat firmer, more rocker based one with similarities to the Glideride. 

Jeff: Sam breaks it down very well. There’s a good amount of cushioning, but it’s definitely what I’d think of as firm, especially for the stack height. I could see this shoe becoming very popular with runners who aren’t looking for anything resembling a squishy landing, without sacrificing underfoot protection.

It’s not a narrow platform by any stretch, though it is a little more form fitting than the Nimbus 26 platform. It’s only a few millimeters more narrow at each spot, it all helps keep the shoe as lightweight as it is.

The stiff forefoot is kind of surprising. The shoe looks like it should have a decent amount of flex, especially since there isn’t a plate tucked in there, but between the midsole and outsole, it has a very firm and inflexible forefoot.

Sally: I agree that Sam breaks it down well. The midsole is definitely firmer, cushioned but not soft. Its stiffness and lack of flex would make one mistakenly think there is a plate in this shoe. The heel is narrower than the 25, but very stable. And like the Glideride, there is an obvious rocker geometry with the toe rolling up.


The outsole is called out as Fluidride, a foam rubber blend. The 25 had a gum rubber outsole which helped stabilize its softer ride somewhat at the rear.

There is plenty of depth for wear with about 15mm at the heel and 8mm upfront of the rubberized foam. The coverage is almost full with only a center exposed area of foam. 

The outsole clearly contributes to the Cumulus stability and more responsive ride. Such a deep continuous and unsegmented to the midsole outsole clearly also gives the shoe its rocker based ride profile. There is some relatively far back flex of a snappy hard to bend in hand kind after break in. To the front the shoe remains rigid providing a stable almost plate like toe off platform .

Grip on dry and wet surfaces has proven just fine. On lightly snow dusted roads with some icing the grip, given essentially no lug profiles it was sketchy. Not a shoe for running on roads when things move towards freezing.

Jeff: It seems like it’s been a few years since I’ve put any miles on a shoe with a true exposed-foam outsole, and at first I thought that’s what this was. Sam’s description of a foam rubber blend is spot on, and it’s definitely more foam than rubber, and I think durability is ultimately fine, not great or terrible. I had the same traction experience as Sam, on dry pavement or the treadmill, grip is pretty good, but when the weather gets even a little shaky, these should stay on the shelf. 

Sally: As a blend of EVA and rubber, the Fluidride outsole is designed to “promote a softer and smoother feel by contacting the ground with the foam material that is not covered by the rubber” (per ASICS specs). What does this mean to the runner? I found the outsole delightfully quiet and naturally smooth.

But I was not impressed with the grip and traction on wet or snowy surfaces. Durability has been fine for 35 miles, but time will tell how this soft outsole does in the long run.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: The Cumulus 26 clearly changes character from a flex based softer shoe to a more up tempo highly and agile cushioned daily trainer. In many ways it reminds more of earlier Cumulus but now with modern foams and a heel approaching 40mm, so a versatile do anything daily trainer in its uses than the more easy going 25. 

It now also reminds more of the Glideride given its rocker profile. In a sea of yet higher stack broad platform “softer” daily trainers, I appreciate having a more responsive, stable neutral rocker based ride without a plate that isn’t mushy soft and with a decent 8mm drop to go with the high stack and more rigid flex to accommodate all paces, including slower ones. After break in is serving me very well as I return to running from my knee injury  Given its light weight for stack, fit and ride it is now a top choice for an all around daily trainer that blends modern tech including a rocker and light weight with a more traditionally solid ride feel.

Sam’s Score: 9.25 / 10

Wish for more front flex and a touch bouncier ride

Jeff: After running in more than a dozen different pairs of Nimbus, I’ve now logged exactly one Cumulus. It’s easy to see the similarities, and on paper they are even more similar than they are out on the road. And while I will always favor a softer and more cushioned daily trainer, runners who like just a little bit less squish have a great option that tips the scale at less than 10 oz (even for my 10.5D), and has a solid rocker geometry without going overboard. Slower runners like myself could also look at the Cumulus 26 as a viable uptempo shoe, the light weight and firm landing work well when it’s time to speed things up - and that’s not something anyone could say about the Nimbus.

Jeff’s Score: 9.15/10

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


Sally: I was admittedly not a fan of the revamped Cumulus 25 as I found it too soft without the needed responsiveness. ASICS has me back with the Cumulus 26: it is a solid daily trainer now with a rockered smooth ride and a firm toe-off that lends well to uptempo miles, all in an attractive classic very lightweight package. It does require some break-in, which I wasn’t prepared for, so be patient. The fairly stiff midsole rolls your foot smoothly forward to an aggressive toe-off, so feel free to pick up the pace and see where it takes you. This shoe will find a spot in your rotation, or even fit the bill for the one-shoe-quiver runner looking for a workhorse daily trainer.

Sally’s score: 8.8 / 10

Fit a challenge for my narrow foot, length a tad short, break-in period tried my patience


6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25 (RTR Review)

Sam: Somewhat firmer, faster, rocker based and more responsive, the Cumulus 26 moves away from the more easy going 25 returning in modern high stack form to its more versatile earlier versions but now with a rocker type profile. I clearly prefer the 26 as a daily all around trainer.

Sally: (W8 in both) Ride of 25 was much softer, 26 firmer and rocker-based so much more capable of uptempo workouts. 26 also more stable in heel and smoother in transitions. 26 wins for me.

ASICS Glideride 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: Very slightly heavier with 3.5 mm more stack height at the heel and a big 7mm more at the forefoot the Glideride includes a hardened foam front plate which the Cumulus 26 doesn’t have and no rear GEL unit. It has a similar ride to the Cumulus but more deliberate and less agile in feel. Cushioning ends up about equivalent in feel.

Jeff: Surprisingly similar shoes, with the Glideride being much more rocker-centric. Even though the Cumulus’ rocker is similar, it’s just a little more subtle. Glideride feels bigger than it is, Cumulus is the opposite.

Hoka Mach (RTR Review)

Sam: About an ounce lighter and lower stack with a similar rubberized foam outsole the Mach can be thought of as a lighter, faster “near” daily trainer for most while the Cumulus is a more cushioned, more slower pace versatile alternative with a quite similar ride.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 and 26 (RTR Review)

Sam: With a platform 12mm wider at the heel and 5mm wider at the forefoot and 3mm more stack height and weight 1.6 oz/ 45g  heavier the Nimbus is “too much” for me. I find the heel blocky and broad in comparison to Cumulus 26, the forefoot not nearly as agile and rockered and the upper while super comfy not as well locked down. The Cumulus is a more versatile daily trainer. 

Jeff: One of the few times I’ll almost completely disagree with Sam (though I don’t think he’s even slightly wrong, just very different viewpoints), the Nimbus 25/26 are both great shoes for bigger runners or runners who like a very soft and cushioned platform at the expense of speed or agility. The Nimbus is wider in every way, above, around, and below the foot. He’s right about versatility, the Cumulus can be used for a wide variety of runs for different runners, the Nimbus is just pure cush.

Sally: Team Sam here. As a petite (105 pound) runner, I find the Nimbus clunky and unwieldy and as Sam says “too much” for me. I have always preferred a lighter, firmer,more agile,  more responsive shoe over the highly cushioned models that appeal to heavier runners (and many others as well). Cumulus over Nimbus for me.

ASICS Novablast 4 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Nova weighs the same and has 3 mm more stack height (41.5mm heel),  the same 8mm drop, same FlightFoam Blast + midsole foam and the same $140 pricing. It has the same forefoot and heel platform width but a 15mm narrower midfoot platform making it not quite as stable as the Cumulus and explaining at least in part the identical weight for its higher stack height. Given its narrower midfoot platform and that Its rocker is not quite as effective as the Cumulus at slower paces, the Cumulus is a bit more accommodating to slower paces (and is more stable) than the Novablast. To better differentiate them in weight and purpose ASICS should reduce the Novablast stack height to the same or lower than Cumulus. Both fit true to size.

Jeff: Agreed across the board, and I’d add that the Novablast has an extra bounce to it that the Cumulus doesn’t quite match. Very similar shoes, ultimately it’s stability vs bounce, whichever you value more should point to the right shoe for you.

Sally: (W8 in both) On paper these two models share alot of similarities. The Novablast was one of my favorite daily trainers of the year, and fits my foot better and feels faster and more responsive to me than the Cumulus. The ride is bouncier and the smile factor is higher, so Novablast for me.

Saucony Ride 17 (RTR Review)

Sam: Having a similar broad 115mm forefoot/ 70mm midfoot / 90mm heel platform, noting the Cumulus is identical at heel and forefoot but 15 mm wider at midfoot the Ride is softer, bouncier and less responsive and stable. While a more pleasing ride overall given its new expanded TPU beads midsole with a more flexible forefoot  the Cumulus is a more serious more uptempo riding shoe that is 0.8 oz lighter with a higher stack height. The Ride while also true to size has a higher volume more relaxed fitting upper For easy runs the Ride is a better choice, for everything else Cumulus. 

Jeff: The lighter weight and higher stack really become evident when worn against each other. The Ride is closer to its well-cushioned sibling, the Triumph, than the Cumulus is to its equivalent Nimbus. The Ride has better traction and durability to boot.

Nike Vomero 17 (RTR Review)

Sam: 1.5 oz heavier on a similar stack height platform the Vomero 17 is clearly more flexible up front with no rocker in the mix as the Cumulus has. Where does the weight difference come from given the Vomero has a healthy layer of super light Zoom X in the mix? The outsole! The Vomero has a near full rubber outsole with notably superior grip. Its upper is more secure yet and true to size as is the ASICS.  As with the Ride 17 comparison the Cumulus is a better uptempo all around daily trainer while the Nike leans somewhat more relaxed in ride feel.

Sam's comparison review: GEL-Cumulus 26, Puma Velocity Nitro 3, Saucony Ride 17 


The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 will release March 1 2024 in US

Tester Profiles

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 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 gets very very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who agreed against her better judgment to run her first marathon at age 54; she has since run the past ten Boston Marathons, two NYC Marathons, one Chicago, and one London with the WMM Six Star Medal now in her sights. With a Boston PR of 3:25:55 in 2022 (9th place in AG) and two consecutive 2nd place in Age Group W60 awards in NYC, she competed in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Age Group World Championships at the 2022 London Marathon and ran an all-time PR of 3:24:02, placing 6th in the world in her women’s 60-64 age group.  She also competes in USATF races with the Greater Lowell Road Runners team. To add meaning to her Boston Marathon races she runs with Team Eye and Ear and has raised over $275,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Sally is 5’2’’ and 105 pounds and lives in Marblehead, MA, training outdoors year round. She blames her love of skiing out West for any and all Boston Marathon training challenges.

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'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

The whole 26th generation of both Cumulus and Nimbus looks a lot more conventional than the a bit more concept/study like looking 25-designs. It's a pity that the "flex" trainer now seems entirely gone from their lineup, the differentiation to the Nimbus now seems to be mainly the amount of cushion rather than that.
For the Novablasts, wonder what they will come up for the Superblasts now, though they seem even better in the 4th iteration than the 3rd, looks wise I liked the colorful midsoles of the Novablast 3 a lot more.

Anonymous said...

In the comparo vs Nova4s...

Doesn't the Novablast 4 have FFBlast+ Eco foam vs the regular FFBlast+ here in the Cumulus? It's a slight difference but from what people have said, FFBlast+ Eco is firmer than the previous FFBlast+ in the Nova3s. (That being said, the FFBlast+ in the Cumulus 26 could be tuned as firm if not firmer)