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Road Running Shoes • February 28, 2024

Asics Gel-Cumulus 26 Review: Not The Novablast

Asics gel-cumulus 26 - men feature

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What You Need To Know


9 oz. (255 g) for a US M9,

7.7 oz. (220 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

Men: 38.5 mm in heel, 30.5 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop), Women: (37.5/29.5)

Best For

Daily training

Key Features

Flytefoam Blast Plus midsole, rubberized EVA outsole, Ortholite sockliner

On The Run
Smooth ride Lightweight Feels flat


Asics gel-cumulus 26 - women feature

Introduction to the Asics Gel-Cumulus 26

ROBBE: If there’s a shoe that’s true, it’s the Asics Gel-Cumulus 26. By true, I mean it has been tried for twenty-six versions at this point. And it remains ever-aligned with its core identity– a reliable daily trainer designed to give runners a more affordable option than its more premium counterpart in the Gel-Nimbus. 

While the Gel-Nimbus has taken some big risks over the past couple of years by going out back and smoking that mellow max cushion pack that all the kids are on (including us), the Gel-Cumulus has done its homework, handed it in on time, and raised its hand during class.


That doesn’t mean it hasn’t upgraded the components in its calculator over the years; it’s certainly come a long way since the leather overlays of v1 and the bulky build of the late teens, and the current version features some of Asics’ most up-to-date technologies, starting with the Flytefoam Blast Plus midsole.

Formulaically, it’s essentially the same foam found in the Gel-Nimbus 26 and Novablast 4 (those both use Blast Plus Eco, which includes a percentage of recycled content). An engineered mesh upper keeps things secure and breathable while an Ortholite sockliner adds comfort. Of course, there has to be a Gel, which now takes the form of PureGel; in the past it was visible, it’s since transitioned to a rearfoot section inside the midsole that acts as a shock absorber.

Asics gel-cumulus 26 - landscape tiger stripes

What’s new? Kind of a lot, but kind of a little. We do get a new outsole material made of a blend of EVA and rubber, which is designed to provide better durability and grip than standard EVA with the goal of providing a smoother ride. A redesigned knit tongue is flexible and comfortable. The only other change is a “leanback heel design,” which, according to Asics, “uses modern design cues to create a trendy aesthetic.” Get me the nearest design detective, because I can’t see it with my own magnifying glass, but I’m guessing they’re talking about the minimal flare-out of the heel collar. 

Last thing about the shoe: Asics notes that the Gel-Cumulus 26 has gone through extensive user testing with three rounds of wear testing. It’s also the first generation of the Cumulus to come with a carbon footprint label, showing how much carbon was used in the production of the shoe.

Enough nerding out, the kid at the front of class is getting jealous. Let’s use our hall pass and get to the review.

Asics gel-cumulus 26 - both shoes


ROBBE: I wasn’t especially keen on the teal colorway I received, but that’s just my preference. I got compliments on it from other people. My favorite things about this shoe are probably the weight and the fit of the upper. 

On foot, the fit feels as good as any Asics trainer out there. It essentially uses the same stretchy tongue that’s been a hit in other Asics shoes like the Gel-Nimbus 25. As a result, the engineered mesh upper wraps the foot well and locks everything down. I didn’t experience any movement on the run and it disappears on the foot the way you want a running shoe to do.

Asics Gel-Cumulus 26 - vertical tongue
Asics Gel-Cumulus 26 - vertical heel

For a daily trainer that should last a good while, the weight is on point. It essentially weighs the same as the Novablast 4, with a stack height that’s a few millimeters lower, but the same drop (8 mm). 

On the run, the use of a rubberized EVA outsole means you get a pretty flexible and smooth ride that feels a lot more natural than its stack height belies. This is good … if you enjoy that kind of ride. That’s a big kind of “if” but more on that later.

All-in-all, it feels like a classic running shoe that you don’t have to think about. If you’re done with the max cushion craze and want a more traditional feeling shoe, then step right up and into the Gel-Cumulus 26.

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ROBBE: I know this is a legacy shoe in the Asics lineup. I know it’s going to sell more than the Novablast, the Superblast, the Magic Speed, and the Metaspeed twins. It may sell more than the last four of those shoes combined. You gotta keep making that shoe for the masses. I get it.

But I’m here to tell you, the reader, what I would choose. And I would not choose this shoe. 

On paper, the Gel-Cumulus 26 looks strikingly similar to both the Gel-Nimbus and Novablast. The stack heights are similar (just a few millimeters lower in the Cumulus). The midsole foam is the same (in name only, more on that later), save for the small percentage of recycled Eco elements in the Nimbus and Novablast. Its weight is similar, and it’s even lighter than the Gel-Nimbus 26. It’s the same price as the Novablast 4 ($140). On the run, it’s a different story.

Asics gel-cumulus 26 - landscape outsole blue

I kept trying to love this shoe. “Surely today was just a bad run,” I thought. Again, on paper the specs are so similar. However, as anyone who’s tried New Balance FuelCell knows, just because a foam has the same name, the feel can be remarkably different when it comes to the durometer (i.e. softness/firmness) of the foam. Never has that been more true than with the Gel-Cumulus 26.

I took it out for five runs and every time it felt the same, which was to say … fine. But on each subsequent run I became less and less enthusiastic about running in it. It’s not a harsh shoe; after all, it does have 38 mm of foam underfoot. You won’t get beat up in it. But when that foam compresses, it just doesn’t come back.

Look, I don’t expect this to be a Superblast (my favorite running shoe, but a $200 one). That said, during my review period, I took out the Novablast 4 for a comparison run, and it’s a night and day difference. 

Which begs the question: Why would I ever buy the Gel-Cumulus 26 over the Novablast 4? Why would anyone?

The Novablast 4 is essentially the same thing, but just with a “more energized ride” (and that is a direct quote from Asics themselves). The Novablast works just as well as the Cumulus in the daily trainer department, but it feels so much better. It’s actually an exciting shoe that you look forward to wearing every time you go out the door. It’s unselfish, giving back everything you put into it. The Gel-Cumulus keeps everything to itself. It’s not dead, but it’s also not bouncy.

Maybe that’s dramatic. It’s fine as a traditional trainer. If you’ve never worn anything better, you’re not gonna hate it. But if you’ve experienced other shoes in the range, you may have moved on.

Shop The Shoe - Men Shop The Shoe - Women
Asics gel-cumulus 26 - landscape rear heel

Final thoughts on the Asics Gel-Cumulus 26

ROBBE: Look, I get it. Not every shoe is supposed to feel great for every runner. That’s why there’s a wide variety of shoes to choose from. I’m certain there is someone out there who will love this shoe, because there are people out there who love any shoe. But I like exciting shoes.

At the end of the day, the Gel-Cumulus 26 is just a very traditional trainer. It just follows too many rules when I really wish it would be cutting class. For some, that’s fine. Actually, for a lot of people, that’s fine, because this shoe will sell tens of thousands of units, no matter what I write in this review. But for me, there’s just no scenario in which I choose this shoe over the Novablast 4. Especially at a $140 price point.

For me, I’d put this in the same category as other shoes that exist, that are fine, that a lot of people will wear, like the Brooks Ghost, New Balance 880, Puma Velocity Nitro, or Altra FWD Experience.

You can pick up the Asics Gel-Cumulus 26 for $140 on March 1 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe - Men Shop The Shoe - Women
Asics gel-cumulus 26 - women landscape

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Oliver Griswold says:

    This is my favorite line in a review so far this year: “For me, I’d put this in the same category as other shoes that exist, that are fine, that a lot of people will wear.” This should be in the idiom dictionary under “damn with faint praise.”

  2. T H says:

    If there was a critique I could put out to the BitR crew, it’s that your reviews are incredibly biased towards Reviewer Syndrome (access to every pair out there, often free of charge!), rather than the real life situations runners face.

    On a personal level, I’m with you – I would take a Novablast over a Cumulus anyday. But I kinda feel like a Cumulus 26 review should also be a compared to a Cumulus 25 or 24, since that is their target audience. Again – this isn’t a complaint just aimed at you Robbe – I see Meg and Thomas do a similar kinds of thing in their reviews and I just find it off-putting.

    1. Robbe says:

      I’d agree with you to a certain degree, in that yes, reviewing a ton of shoes that are very good and cost a lot more may make a lesser a shoe feel worse than it actually is; however, I disagree that it should be compared to past Cumulus. It should be compared to shoes in its range, which is where the Novablast lies. I don’t think it’s fair to tell someone that this Cumulus is better than past ones and they should buy it because of that. I’m going to tell them there’s better shoes out there for the same price and they should buy those.

  3. P-Rad says:

    I’ve been running in the Gel Cumulus for years and always felt like they were ok…nothing exciting. I am an underpronator (my foot rolls out when I run) and was told these are great shoes for that and have been mostly injury-free in recent years. Any other recommendations for underpronators to try??

  4. Tom says:

    I have had a few runs in the Cumulus 25 and one run in the NB 4. It’s true the NB4 propelled me forward and spurned me to go faster and further. However, I work a manual job 9-5 and do I really want a running shoe that almost runs away, with me in them?! I’m not sure a lot of people want that either. For those people, I reckon the Cumulus makes sense. The NB4 fit is weird too. The tts feels too big (heel slip and blister) and the half size smaller too small. The Cumulus has a better lockdown. At least for my foot. Its a perfectly good jogging shoe! If you run 30 miles a week then I can definitely see why you would think the Cumulus is a boring shoe. But from another perspective, it’s actually quite capable and versatile! And most importantly, enjoyable. Those are my thoughts as they stand right now! They might change the more I wear the NB!

    1. Robbe says:

      Thanks for the comment, and glad it works for you! Surely it works better for some people, and you are one of those people. Enjoy your miles in it.

  5. Kyle Yolles says:

    I have an answer to your question in the second section, “Which begs the question: Why would I ever buy the Gel-Cumulus 26 over the Novablast 4? Why would anyone?

    Anyone who requires their running shoe in the Extra Wide(4e) width. The Novablast line has yet to offer this. I just added the Cumulus 26 into my rotation with the Nimbus 26 and it is a welcome addition. Excellent fit.

    1. Ryan says:

      Oh you’re 100% correct. We’re barely in an age where all of the “flagship” shoes come in wide, let alone extra wide. It’s awesome that you’re able to get a little bit of Asics-flavored variety into your rotation, but we know it’s still a struggle to build a proper 4E lineup (especially if you want something with a plate in it).

  6. MW says:

    Do you think the difference vs. the Novablast is actually in the foam material itself or might it be the Novablast’s arched outsole and toespring that keep things alive?

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Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

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