Friday, May 31, 2024

ASICS Magic Speed 4 Review: Speeding Up to Super Max Cushion Heights: 9 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

ASICS Magic Speed 4 ($170)


When I first saw the Magic Speed 4 with its combination of FF Turbo and Blast+  and with a carbon plate (but not yet having the specs) I recognized in the shoe profile the general geometry of the ASICS Metaspeed Paris series racers. 

I said to myself “Oh! ASICS made a budget version of the Paris shoes” as here we are at $170 with the brand’s top end Metaspeeds at $250.

I was not quite right.. What ASICS has done with the latest Magic Speed is to create a light road training shoe (that can also race) in the emerging category of plated “super trainers”, very highly stacked (4mm beyond the Metaspeed Paris line) light shoes with supercritical foams and leveraging carbon and other plates for stability and propulsion.

The heel of the Magic sits at a towering 43.5mm, so above the World Athletics 40mm limit for elite racing. That is 7.5mm higher at the heel and 6.5 mm higher at forefoot than the Magic Speed 3 (RTR Review), a shoe our testers really liked as an uptempo trainer. To get it out of the way upfront, the logical successor to the Magic Speed 3 for uptempo?  I see the Noosa Tri 16  so it has some flex and also has ASICS’s excellent GuideSole rocker.

Yet even with all the extra cushion stack, the Magic Speed 4 is only 0.7 oz / 20g  heavier than the 3 coming in at about 8.38 oz / 236g US9. That is still light enough to race and lighter than its most direct “super” competitors such as the new Mizuno Neo Vista, New Balance SC Trainer, Saucony Kinvara Pro and Adidas Prime X Strung. 

Noting its light weight and relatively narrow underfoot platform for such a giant stack of foam, I wondered how they would run. Would they be unstable, especially at slower paces given their height, relatively narrow platform and softer foams as the Prime X 1 and SC Trainer 2 have been for me or, did ASICS tame the giant narrow stack? 

Spoiler alert.. ASICS for sure has  figured out how to balance all the elements to deliver a polished well mannered super trainer and a different purpose shoe than its “speedy” more aggressive predecessor was for me. ASICS marketing materials call out the Magic Speed 4 as a “Daily Carbon Trainer” and I think this is very close if not on the mark. Please read on for all the details.


  • Light in weight at 8.38 oz / 237g and price $170 for a max cushion carbon plated super trainer and long racer.
  • A trainer you can also for sure race
  • Very stable for its giant 43.5/35.5 stack height with a quick transition off a relatively narrow stable heel platform
  • Highly cushioned and consistent feeling underfoot: not too soft, not too firm with carbon plate perfectly integrated for the shoe’s training purposes.


  • Wider higher volume foot runners may find front fit pointy and a bit short
  • While stable and consistent  the front of shoe is a bit dull in feel lacking some pop and excitement

Most comparable shoes (see full comparisons at the end of the review)

Mizuno Neo Vista-more flexible, heavier, broader platform, more pace versatile

Scott Speed Carbon RC-flatter riding, lower stack/less cushioned, similarly stable

New Balance SC Trainer-softer, less stable, less slow pace friendly, heavier and lower stack

Saucony Kinvara Pro- Not as quick reacting or dynamic, a bit more mellow riding and heavier


Approx. Weight: men's 8.38 oz / 237g US9

Prior Version Weight:  men;s 7.7 oz  / 220g (US9),

  Sample Weight: men’s  8.13 oz / 230g US 8.5 (MS3: 7.4 oz / 210g US 8.5) ,  oz / g US

Stack Height: men’s  43.5 mm heel /  35.5mm forefoot (  8mm drop spec) 

                                 (MS3: 36mm heel / 29mm forefoot, 7mm drop)

                            women’s:: 42.5 mm heel /  34.5mm forefoot (  8mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 80 mm heel / 70 mm midfoot / 105 mm forefoot 


$170. Available July 1 2024

Magic Speed 4 Video Review

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Bright optic yellow with black pinstriped Tiger logo overlays and with the distinctive red FF Turbo “sash” of the Metaspeed Paris super shoes, the look of my pair for sure says “Speed”. 

The vertical rear midsole sidewalls hint at stable landings and lots of rear cushion. This joins the deep front stack of cushion so while the colors hint at speed the first impressions of the geometry point to steadiness and consistency more than sheer speed. Then I reminded myself how light they are and that they have a full carbon plate.  

The upper is an engineered mesh (75% recycled polyester)  replacing the prior version’s Motion Wrap. The mesh is very soft and pliable, quite thin even if not single layer as Motion Wrap was.  The fit is precise and secure and relatively low volume with the mesh providing a great foot wrap. 

The un-padded tongue has a gusset to secure the midfoot to the high and quite narrow platform. 

The foot sits down in the midsole side walls at midfoot, key to its stability on the run  The rear collars are moderately padded with the heel collar semi rigid. The foot does not sit down into the midsole at the rear and doesn’t need to.

Midfoot to rear security and hold is excellent, surprisingly excellent given the soft materials and big stack. 

The toe box is pretty much unstructured relying on the dense weave of the mesh for hold. 

There is very minimal stiffening of the sides of the toe bumper, maybe even just the tighter weave there or a very thin plastic underlay.

The toe box width is not particularly broad but the mesh has some give. Given the front platform width is 103mm, slender for this category of shoe and stack height, I think going any wider would compromise hold and especially so on such a high platform.  

I find the length true to size along with width and over the toes volume for my narrow to medium feet. There is enough give to the front construction that I think moderately wide higher volume feet will do OK. They do run a tiny touch short due to the somewhat pointy toe box but so far this is really only noticed standing still not and on the run.

Midsole & Platform

As previously mentioned, the Magic Speed 4 is a super max stack height shoe with 43.5mm at the heel and 35.5 mm at the forefoot (8mm drop) It is significantly higher than the Magic Speed 3 which stood at a mere 36mm heel / 29mm forefoot, 7mm drop. There is no question on the run that it is a more cushioned shoe than before.

The midsole construction features FF Turbo supercritical foam as a front insert layer with FF Blast+ else where. 

There is a full length carbon plate embedded about midway in the midsole at the line shown below just below “FF Turbo”. The Turbo foam upfront is well known in the Superblast and last years Metaspeed, has a nice energy returning feel with plenty of protection from the plate below it. The Blast+ is slightly denser in feel and helps stabilize.

Foams and plates are extremely well integrated with absolutely no sense of plate harshness either at the heel or towards the front. I suspect (but await a schematic) that the plate is not particularly aggressive in geometry towards the front as there is no sensation of a plate “hump” to get past and at any pace, even jogging. This is also assisted by the rear geometry of vertical sidewalls, decently dense foam and no excessive rear channel to make the heel soft and somewhat hard to get past at slower paces as in say the SC Trainer.

The Magic Speed 4 is very deeply cushioned back and front with a consistent stable  feel no matter the pace, almost to a fault especially upfront, where it lacks some of the “wilder” pop of some of its competitors and could benefit from a more flexible front of shoe., a lower plate location with more FF Turbo above, or a longer more accentuated rocker..


The outsole has nearly full coverage of ASICSGrip rubber. I note the forefoot pattern is not completely flat but has small raised rounded lugs to increase grip. On the seaside roads with occasional sand over pavement grip was top notch.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Not mine. Old school Speed Ride

The ride is very deeply cushioned, shock vibration free and highly consistent. By consistent I mean there are no disconnects between foams, plates and geometry front to back no matter the pace with no big awkwardness at slower paces.  

I think ASICS marketing that the “Single Most Important Thing” about the Speed Magic 4 is that it is “Daily Carbon Trainer” is largely on point although a bigger part of the story here is how effectively ASICS has blended giant stack heights to create a just about any run training shoe, other than slow jogs that is at such a light weight. A lot of substance here.

The  only other “super trainer” I could say the same about is the Mizuno Neo Vista although it has a fiberglass/nylon plate and is more flexible and friendly upfront, carbon as here while lighter tends to be stiffer and is not the be all to end all. 

Related. I do think the Magic Speed 4 could use a bit more pop, roll and/or flex off the front, a bit more excitement there. It’s a bit dull upfront. That is, if this could be achieved without compromising its stability, consistent ride and excellent cushion.  Maybe the plate could be moved further down in the midsole and the insert of FF Turbo deepened with the rocker lengthened to allow the foot to plunge and roll more to toe off? 

Compared to its predecessors it is less about “speed” and more about daily training that is for sure with the unplated but well rockered Noosa Tri 16 I think picking up the uptempo trainer mantle in the ASICS lineup.  At about the same weight and slightly lower stack, it is a more stable and consistent riding option to the all FF Turbo Superblast with a superior if not as roomy upper. Head over to the Supeblast if you are not fond of plates and fond of light weights and great foam.

At $170, it is an excellent value with very near “state of the art” tech and very light weight all effectively executed and with substance. It should prove versatile, especially as a long run shoe focused daily trainer as it is so protective, stable and deeply cushioned while also, due to its light weight, it can cross over to longer distances racing

Score: 9.45 / 10 -a bit too well behaved and lacking in excitement


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Magic Speed 4 Stats

Approx. Weight: men's 8.38 oz / 236g US9

Stack Height: men’s  43.5 mm heel /  35.5mm forefoot (  8mm drop spec) 

                      women’s:: 42.5 mm heel /  34.5mm forefoot (  8mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 80 mm heel / 70 mm midfoot / 103 mm forefoot 

Magic Speed 3 (RTR Review)

LIghter at 7.7 oz  / 220g (US9) and lower stack at 36mm heel / 29mm forefoot the Magic Speed 3 is lighter but firmer, more rigid in feel and less cushioned. It is for sure a “speed” shoe while the 4 is a speedy distance shoe. I do prefer the thinner lighter more breathable Motion Wrap of the 3, at least in summer, but the 4’s does just fine. 

Noosa Tri 16 (RTR Review soon )

Approx.Weight: men's 7.6 oz / 215g

Stack Height: men’s  34 mm heel /  26 mm forefoot (  8mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 80mm heel / 67mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot 

The logical successor to the Magic Speed 3, the Noosa Tri 16 gets the FF Blast Plus as the 3 had, leaves out the plate but gets to almost the same place with its GuideSole adding some welcome (at least for me) snappy flexibility. It is the uptempo, more classic light trainer to racer in the 2024 ASICS lineup.

Mizuno Neo Vista (RTR Review)

The Neo Vista is 0.8 oz /23g heavier with 1mm more stack height and the same 8mm drop. t sits on a considerably wider platform so is yet more stable underfoot. It is more flexible due to its geometry carve out down the center and a fiberglass nylon plate and as such is quicker feeling off the front if not quite as cushioned there. Like the Magic Speed, it is a plated super trainer that can handle all paces even “jogging” ones but ends up easier/quicker to turn at tempo type paces than the ASICS, if not quite as responsive and more friendly at slower paces. It too features a combination of supercritical foams and more common EVA type foams . While not as roomy, I do prefer the Magic Speed’s mesh upper to the not quite as locked down if very comfortable knit of the Neo Vista which will accommodate broader feet better. 

Scott Speed Carbon RC (RTR Review)

It is a few years old lower stack and heavier but the ride of the Scott reminds me of the Magic Speed’s with both being notably stable and consistent in feel.  

At a "mere" 35mm heel / 30mm forefoot stack height the RC is for sure lower stack with a dense, very protective more conventional foam that isn’t as deep as the ASICS's and is less reactive. Despite its pace adapting more flexible carbon plate than the ASICS both ride quite flat and very steady. The Magic Speed 4 is superior.

New Balance SC Trainer v2 (RTR Review)

1.1 oz heavier with a lower 40/34 stack height, the SC’s supercritical foam is softer and bouncier and this is accentuated by the deep rear Energy Arc carve out. It is less stable, especially at slower paces and as a consequence, less slow pace friendly with its plate less well integrated. It is more fun and faster feeling but less versatile.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 (RTR Review)

While both have “speed” in their names, the Saucony and Magic Speed are now quite different in construction and for many focus. The earlier Magic Speed were closer to the Endorphin. The Saucony is about the same weight but has a considerably lower  (if still substantial) height of 36mm heel / 28mm forefoot with its nylon plate flexible and the Magic Speed’s carbon plate rigid. Its Pb foam is softer and bouncier while the Magic Speed is more deeply cushioned if firmer and especially so at the forefoot where the Endorphin feels "thin" in comparison. The Magic Speed 4 is clearly more stable and consistent, speaking to its now steady paces and longer runs focus while the Endorphin Speed is livelier and more agile. The fit for both is true to size with the Endorphin a bit more relaxed. 

Hoka Skyward X (RTR Review)

Including as it is for sure a super trainer. The Hoka is more than 2 oz heavier and at 48 mm heel / 43 mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec) is considerably higher stacked and sits on a far broader platform. It is very, very stable and more so than the Magic. Its upper is super secure and even one might say over built and along with geometry underfoot makes it a more solid choice for heavier runners or for some pronation control than the ASICS. Its dual supercritical foam combination is super friendly and fun and its rocker and plate slightly more effective but in the end due to its weight, high stack, and broad platform it is more of a lumbering super trainer option than the Magic.

Saucony Kinvara Pro (RTR Review)

The Pro has a similar 42mm heel / 34mm stack height and features a  ¾ carbon plate. The top layer of the midsole is PWRRUN Pb supercritical foam with below PWRRUN which doubles as the outsole, no rubber in the Pro. It is considerably heavier at 10 oz  / 283 g (US9)  /  women's 8.7 oz / 246 g(US8) and this is felt on the run compared to the Magic Speed. Somewhat mushier at the heel and less aggressive in ride, it is a somewhat  better choice for slower paced carbon plated max cushion rides

adidas Prime X (RTR Review) and Prime X Strung 2 (RTR Review)

The OG super max shoe and wildly high stacked at 50mm at the heel (+6.5mm over Magic), wildly priced at $300, and especially in version1 wildly exciting to run.  For most, the Prime X can’t be called a practical super max cushion plated  “daily trainer” as one can say about the Magic Speed 4. The first version was very light for its stack and ran with an unbelievable sensation of flying off the front (unlike Magic) but was truly almost hazardous landing near the heel due to its narrow platform and shaky upper. V2 got a broader platform, got considerably heavier than the Magic (2.5 oz / 70g.. heavier) and got an elaborate Strung upper which improved hold and stability some but overall took away some of the magic if made the Prime X somewhat more practical. Despite its still superior excitement I have a hard time getting past its weight.

ASICS Superblast (RTR Review)

At about the same weight, 8.43 oz / 239g (US9), the Superblast adds 2mm more stack height of all FF Turbo and leaves out the carbon plate of the Magic. It has an incredibly light weight and feel for such massive cushion and is more forgiving than the Magic Speed 4. Its rocker is more awkward and it is a bit harder to find its groove compared to the always consistent Magic Speed 4. While more awkward to turn over, it is more forgiving at slower paces  Its lighter upper is fine and fits true to size but I prefer the more secure hold of the Magic’s. $30 more, it depends n on preferences and comes down to plate driven and stabilized ride vs pure foam joys.

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

$170. Available July 1 2024

Magic Speed 4 Video Review (19:06)

Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is in his 60’s  with 2024 Sam’s 52th year of running roads and trails. 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

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1 comment:

JimO said...

Don't forget, the OG Prime X also had a STRUNG version as well. I bought 2 pairs, both at $150US. Still loving these with 400 miles on them. Feel like I just got them out of the bov and look that way as well.