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9.3 oz. (266 g) for a US M9,
8.1 oz. (221 g) for a US W8
38 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)
Casual training miles
90% recycled upper, new FlyteFoam Blast Plus midsole, Pure Gel replaces traditional Gel
CHAD: Something that the running shoe community has become accustomed to and just seems to accept is that when shoes release a new model of an existing shoe line, the updates are incremental. One year we get a change to the upper; the following year, the company addresses the midsole. And so on, and so on, ad nauseam. Very rarely these days does a shoe get a total overhaul. Well, just like the marathon in Cincinnati, I must have just seen a flying pig. Asics channeled its inner Freddie Prinze Jr. and Anna Paquin and gave the Gel-Cumulus 25 the good old She’s All That treatment.
But we’re talking even more than just taking off Rachael Leigh Cook’s glasses, running a comb through her hair, and ditching the painter’s smock. The Gel-Cumulus 25, like its max-cushioned chonky big brother, the Gel-Nimbus 25, got a full makeover from the rubber up this year.
If you look at the Gel-Cumulus 25, the immediate question is, “Where the hell is the Gel?” Well, Asics has developed a new technology called PureGel, which looks like a piece of honeycomb (man, who remembers that cereal?!) embedded internally in the heel of the shoe. The Gel-Cumulus 25 also features two different outsole rubbers (AHAR Lo and AHAR Plus), a full-length bed of FlyteFoam Blast Plus with 2 mm of foam added, and an engineered mesh using 90% recycled material. This is not the Gel-Cumulus of yore, my friends. But the question remains, did Asics’ makeover turn the Gel-Cumulus 25 into the prom queen, or is it alone hanging out around the punch bowl?
KALEB: The Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Cumulus have always seemed like rather redundant shoes. In our last review of the Gel-Cumulus, both Thomas and Robbe commented on just how similar the two models were to one another: virtually the only difference was the price tag. Now, with the Nimbus moving up to super-max stack height, the Cumulus has space in the sky to be its own cloud. Moving up to max-cushion status with a 38mm heel and an 8 mm drop, and the Gel-Cumulus 25 is now marketed as a daily trainer to complement the Nimbus’ pure, unbridled chonk.
Both the Nimbus and the Cumulus have always hovered around the nine or ten-ounce range, and coming in at 9.4oz., the Gel-Cumulus 25 is no exception. With the average weight of daily trainers dropping, will the lighter member of Asics’ dynamic duo be able to keep up?
CARYN: When I bought my first pair of real (read: not Nike Shox, lacrosse cleats, or Vans) running shoes in 2006, I’m fairly certain I tried on both the Cumulus and Nimbus. I’m aging myself here, but the point is to show just how long these two buddies have been on the market. Despite the onslaught of other nephologic (cloud-related, had to look it up) shoes from one brand in particular, the Cumulus is the OG cloud of the running shoe world, and, as such, it deserves more street cred.
I’ve never had the best personal relationship with the Cumulus because my wider forefoot could, quite honestly, never fit in it comfortably. Despite being an Asics girlie through and through (I wore the Kayano exclusively from 2006-2017), the versions of this shoe I’ve tried on in the past have felt narrow and stiff. That being said, add a full-length layer of Flyte Foam Blast to, well, anything, and that changes the game. Combined with two new outsole rubbers, an upper made mostly of recyclable material, and Asics’ new PureGel technology, I was hopeful the Cumulus 25 would feel like a complete overhaul. Will ghosts of Cumulus’ past continue to haunt this 25th version? Let’s check it out.
CHAD: The overall fit and comfort of the Gel-Cumulus 25 are out of the troposphere. This upper is plush and gently hugs the foot, with a firm but padded heel counter. Despite the use of 90% recycled material in the engineered mesh, the material feels super soft to the touch and on the foot. The tongue is padded to the max (and gusseted), providing protection from over-tightened laces and the resulting lace bite. The Ortholite insole and FF Blast Plus provide a soft and cushioned platform underfoot.
Despite all of the wholesale changes, including 2mm of additional foam, Asics was actually able to shed almost a full ounce of weight from the Gel-Cumulus 24. My US M11.5 weighed in at 10.8 oz (305 g), which is reasonable for a daily trainer, and definitely lighter than one of my other Asics mainstays, the Gel-Kayano 28. While walking around during the initial try-on, the shoe felt as good, if not better, than nearly every other shoe in my exponentially-growing shoe closet.
I also really enjoyed the feel of PureGel during my runs in the Gel-Cumulus 25. When I’m doing my easy runs or daily miles, I tend to heel strike more as my pace and cadence are slower. Some daily trainers, even those with higher stacks, aren’t exactly welcoming for 5-6 miles of a heavy runner heel striking. That was not an issue in this shoe whatsoever, as I felt my heel being comforted by the PureGel on every step of the run, which obviously helps alleviate some residual shock to my joints.
KALEB: Max-cushion tends to refer exclusively to the part of the shoe beneath your feet, but the Gel-Cumulus 25 takes the term topside. The shoe’s pillow of an upper holds onto your foot with a sturdy lacing system. Lacing up is a bit chunky, but once dialed in, the fit is both secure and comfortable. On my first few runs, I had to stop and adjust every now and again, but after a week or so, things had settled in, and I no longer had to fiddle with the fit.
The midsole also took some time to warm up. The step-in feel wasn’t remarkable, and my first run felt equally un-note-worthy. Because of the Novablast’s raving success with FlyteFoam Blast Plus, I guess I expected to start flying or something, but here I was: running on the road like an absolute loser. As per my usual, I then walked around in the shoes for a day to break in the foam. Every subsequent run after that, the slab of FF Blast Plus softened and livened up, and I ended up really enjoying the ride of the shoe. I wouldn’t call it a tempo shoe, but it can certainly pick up the pace if necessary. I even tried a quick set of sprints in the shoe and was shockingly unoffended by what I felt underfoot.
CARYN: Initially stepping into this shoe, I was pleasantly surprised. The cushion felt plush but not mushy, and I could actually fit my foot into the toebox without wanting to cry (clearly, my bar was really high). Though the shoe felt a little clunky overall, I liked the feel of the knit upper, and the aesthetics were classic Asics but updated just enough to make it interesting.
On the run, I generally enjoyed the feeling of the FlyteFoam Blast Plus. The shoe felt like a classic daily trainer — nothing especially interesting, not particularly light, but reliable and predictable. I found the ride continued to improve as I added miles to the shoe, which perhaps just indicates a bit of a break-in period. Or perhaps it was just the way my mechanics meshed (or…didn’t) with the shoe.
The upper was soft and comfortable with no rubbing or lockdown issues. Admittedly, it may not be the most breathable, but thanks to the eccentricity of mid-Atlantic weather, I was testing the shoe in cooler temperatures. A weird thing to note, but I really like the Cumulus laces — they’re soft, an ideal length, and stay put when tied. Five-star laces, Asics squad.Shop Asics Gel-Cumulus - Men Shop Asics Gel-Cumulus - Women
CHAD: After looking at the overhaul that Asics had done, I was very excited to get this shoe for testing and review. Heck, they threw on a 38 mm slab of FF Blast Plus, the same bouncy and responsive foam in the critically acclaimed Novablast 3. But if I’m being completely honest, the ride of this shoe didn’t wow me.
Maybe I had unrealistic expectations, and I get it — the Gel-Cumulus 25 is a high-stack daily trainer meant to churn out miles, not a tempo shoe. But I found that the version of FF Blast Plus in this shoe feels denser and firmer than what you get in the Novablast 3, without much bounce or responsiveness.
Now, as a bigger runner I tend to lean more towards firmer feeling shoes for logging daily miles, so you’d think what I’ve just said would be a positive. The ride was largely smooth and stable, but at a certain point in each of my runs, despite the stack height and decent cushioning, the shoe began to feel a bit dead. It certainly wasn’t a brick like some shoes turn into because it still had cushioning, but it also didn’t feel like it was providing much energy return; not exactly inspiring to feel like you’re dragging your shoes along with you on a run.
My only other negative is that the upper didn’t feel super breathable. There are some holes around the toebox to provide a bit of venting, but I felt like my feet started to get a bit warm toward the latter stages of my runs. On a 5-6 mile run, that’s not a deal-breaker, but if I were to try to take these up near double digits, it might make for some uncomfortable swampfoot.
KALEB: I took the Cumulus out mostly for easy runs, with one exception. It was a climbing run, where I decided to put myself through an unnecessary amount of vertical punishment right after I finished the flat-terrain track season. I give this information to clarify that the shoe is not entirely to blame for my idiocy.
About five and a half miles in, before I even hit the main ascent, I felt the shoe gradually go dead and mushy. It was kind of bizzare, like the slight energy return I got on the flats abandoned me on down and uphills. When I hit the hill itself, the weight of the shoe was unbearable. The Cumulus is a fine shoe for easy, low-climbing efforts but is too heavy to reasonably take on long, hard runs.
The geometry of the Cumulus also raised some eyebrows for me. I understand that daily trainers tend to cater to a variety of footstrike patterns, but the Cumulus 25’s fat, clunky heel spring threatened to get in the way of my typical midfoot landing, making for a slappy first few runs. The clunkiness also extended to the upper: while the lockdown was secure and cushioned, the lacing system feels chunky, and the laces themselves are pretty silky (even a double knot sometimes came untied). Not to mention in the summer, the Cumulus’ quilt of an upper traps heat like a damp sweatshirt on a summer day (if you’ve ever failed to look at the forecast in early spring, you know the pain).
With so many do-it-all trainers on the market and the superiorly cushioned Gel-Nimbus for slow paces, I find it hard to justify buying the Gel-Cumulus. It just doesn’t shine in any rotation slot, nor does it stand out for its price range.
CARYN: Given the rest of Asics’ lineup, I wasn’t expecting this shoe to fall into the do-it-all-for-you daily trainer we’ve been accustomed to seeing lately. I tried to pick up the pace a couple of times, and, well… confirmed. This one is definitely a true daily trainer, folks. While the cushion is lovely, it certainly isn’t responsive or lightweight.
I personally had some issues with the shoe being slappy, which is, of course, a very technical term I’ll try to define more here. For whatever reason, the actual ride, from the initial foot strike to toe-off, wasn’t smooth. I felt like there was no roll whatsoever to the shoe (and your girl loves a rocker), which made me feel like I was smacking the ground with each step. Maybe it’s my mechanics, maybe it’s Maybelline, but it was really abrupt at first. It did improve with mileage, so again, it could just be that this shoe requires breaking in.Shop Asics Gel-Cumulus - Men Shop Asics Gel-Cumulus - Women
CHAD: Let me start this by saying that the Gel-Cumulus 25 is a good shoe and a shoe that got a bit better with each run. As a high-stack and cushioned daily trainer, it gets the job done. It’s a shoe that would meet any reasonable person’s expectations for how it should perform. But as Ari Gold wisely said in Entourage, “There’s no asterisks in this life, only scoreboards.” Sometimes only meeting expectations isn’t going to cut it, especially when there are tons of options out there for daily trainers that are exceeding expectations and raising the performance bar.
For example, if my training plan called for an 8-mile easy run, 99 times out of 100 I would pick the Novablast 3 over the Gel-Cumulus 25. It’s almost a full-ounce lighter with a bounce and responsiveness that the Gel-Cumulus 25 lacks. Would I have a perfectly fine run that 1 time out of 100 that I picked the Gel-Cumulus 25? Absolutely. But while the makeover was substantial, the votes are in, and just like Laney Boggs, for me, it’s back to the punch bowl for the Gel-Cumulus 25.
KALEB: I was expecting a more Novablast-esque package in the latest Gel-Cumulus (though I’ve never had the pleasure of running in the Novablast myself, I’ve heard enough to make a decent comparison), and while it’s not a bad thing that the Cumulus isn’t an identical shoe, it leaves me wondering why someone wouldn’t pick the lighter, bouncier, overall sexier Novablast for the same price. If you’re dead-set on Asics, go with the Nimbus or the Novablast, depending on your need for the shoe.
CARYN: Despite the litany of updates to this shoe, it’s tough to consider picking the Cumulus over one of the other fantastic shoes Asics has brought to market over the last couple of years. As a fan of the GlideRide (RIP), NovaBlast, and Nimbus, I could see reaching for any of those options before I’d consider the Cumulus. I do think Cumulus fan club members will enjoy the updates to this shoe, as the cushion is significantly improved, the upper is comfortable, and it has that classic feel of a daily trainer to which they’re accustomed. Good, not great, is the moral of the Cumulus 25 story here.
You can pick up the Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.
An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016. Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.More from Chad
Caryn is a recovering ball sports athlete and native Baltimorean who used to cry before the timed mile in gym class. Discovered running somewhat reluctantly when her pants stopped fitting in college, now a big fan of the marathon– go figure! Pediatric ICU nurse and avid UVA sports fan. Can usually be found with her chocolate lab, Gus, looking for a good cup of coffee.More from Caryn
Kaleb is one of the younger, “both of my knees still work” reviewers on the BITR team. As a high school cross country, track and field, and road racing athlete in Pennsylvania, Kaleb loves hearing about the latest endurance-athletics studies and seeing how everything out there can fit into a well-rounded training program. If you don’t see him drinking a weird health concoction or doing some strange warmup technique, he’s probably already started the race.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Ride 14, Nike ZoomX DragonflyMore from Kaleb