ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 Performance Review
THOMAS: When I sat down to write ASICS shoe reviews in the five years prior to this one, often it was with dread and a little sadistic pleasure. The dread came from trying to make a dull shoe interesting. The sadistic side came from how easy it was to find flaws with their shoes that did not evolve with the market. I was the executioner, himself being led to the gallows (I’m being slightly hyperbolic).
However, in 2019, the cold and dark ASICS universe began to emit signs of life with the GlideRide and the EvoRide. Two shoes that embraced innovation and offered runners a new story from the historic brand. Shortly thereafter, we got a peek behind the curtain at what was coming, and ¬– slap me sideways – we were gobsmacked at what ASICS had up its sleeve. From top to bottom, ASICS had an entry in every training category that looked new and fresh.
We’ve seen many of those shoes so far this year, including the NOVABLAST, MetaRacer, GEL-Kayano Lite, and the original GEL-Nimbus Lite. (Spoiler: Next year looks like another banger. We are already getting miles in on the GlideRide 2, EvoRide 2, and the Noosa 13). If you are a fan of their legacy lines don’t worry, they are all getting updates in 2021 as well. ASICS appears to be aiming for a top spot in runners’ closets. All that to say, the dread and sadism of years past are history – when I get an ASICS shoe now, I feel like a kid in a candy store, if candy were something you could wear on your feet.
Anyway, get ready because the ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is one of the best ASICS shoes we’ve ever worn.
ROBBE: Like Thomas, for quite awhile, getting an ASICS shoe was right below “political conversation with a stranger” on my “things to get excited about” list. Recently, that has shifted, and with the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2, it has really shifted. I’ll get straight to the point: I love this shoe. I’ll tease you with that, but let’s get into the review.
THOMAS: The GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 feels like a huge leap from the GEL-Nimbus Lite. Let me just say this out of the gate: This shoe is my favorite daily trainer from ASICS yet.
Starting with the upper, the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 gets an extra-base hit off the bat for its gusseted tongue. The padding around the collar, tongue, and heel counter is nearly perfect, just between too much and too little, for just right. An engineered knit upper breathes and has a generous amount of volume in the vamp/toe box. The heel counter is rigid and I experienced no heel lift and no hot spots at all. My longest single run in the Nimbus Lite 2 was over 12 miles at a 7:56 min mile pace. After the run, my legs still felt fresh. The shoe feels good from easy paces to striders (9+ min to 5 min/mile pace).
The computer-assisted design of the well-cushioned midsole is a wide neutral platform with enclosed GEL in both the forefoot and heel that naturally feels stable. Upon landing, the cushion of the FlyteFoam gives slightly, but it doesn’t feel too soft. I wouldn’t call the foam bouncy; it is gentle on impact but firm enough for faster turnover. The shoe that came the closest to the feel of this midsole was the Nike Epic React. It is flexible and the ride easily ticks over. Men’s stack is 25 mm heel/15 mm toe for a 10 mm drop, while the women’s is a 13 mm drop at 27/14.
Like the GEL-Kayano Lite, the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is greener than your average trainer with 80% recycled upper materials and FlyteFoam made with the addition of cellulose nanofibers. You can feel a little better about the environmental impact your running shoe addiction is making on the planet.
ROBBE: ASICS, you got my heart feeling all kinds of weird things. I knew you were on the right track, but damn – this train is moving like a Maglev now. First step-in for this shoe was not what I was expecting, which was a typical ASICS shoe. Instead, this shoe was … an entirely new feeling? Super comfortable, oddly stable, and just a nice bounce to this FLYTEFOAM midsole iteration. But hey– step-in don’t mean nothing unless it feels good on the run.
Based on that step-in, I was initially worried the midsole could be too soft, but it was dialed-in perfectly. The durometer of the midsole works with the rear and forefoot GEL placements to provide a comfortable landing, but enough responsiveness to allow for a solid push-off. The wide base of the shoe gives it a really stable platform, which is something that other “bouncy” shoes like the NOVABLAST did not provide.
Let me tell you, on the run, this shoe reminded me a lot of the Nike Epic React, my favorite shoe of all-time (R.I.P.). While it is a bit heavier than the Epic React, it doesn’t feel heavy underfoot. It’s apparent that most of that weight comes from the upper, which could be described as overly-plush. So while this shoe’s wheelhouse is definitely as a daily trainer, it can still pick up to tempo runs or Fartleks if needed.
One last thing– I really liked the wide base on this shoe. While this isn’t a stability shoe, it still provides a really stable landing, which is always appreciated in a daily trainer that will see a lot of miles.
It is rare that I find myself looking forward to taking out a shoe over and over again. The last time that happened was with the Saucony Endorphin Speed (my top shoe of 2020, albeit in a different category than the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2).
I can confidently say this will be in my top 3 daily trainers of the year, and it is by far the best ASICS shoe I’ve ever worn.
MEAGHAN: I used to opt-out of most ASICS shoes for review. That all changed after we visited ASICS at The Running Event last year. We were able to preview a lot of their recent shoes, and they have not disappointed. The ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is a new model for me, so I can’t speak to the updates, but I can say this shoe competes with most daily trainers coming out right now.
For starters, I love the step-in feel. The upper is a soft engineered mesh that’s made almost entirely from recycled materials. It’s stretchy with a few thin overlays, and comes with some flat laces to lock the foot down. The collar and tongue have just enough cushioning to feel plush, but not bulky.
Underneath the foot is ASICS FLYTEFOAM midsole that incorporates Cellulose Nanofiber, a sustainable material that increases the durability of the foam. It’s a light, soft and relatively bouncy feeling ride. Beneath the midsole are some small rubber sections that increase durability and traction. The women’s model actually has less rubber placement for an even lighter build. Last thing to note – this doesn’t *look* like a typical ASICS shoe. You can’t actually see the GEL (there’s packets of it hidden in the heel and forefoot), which is great because that stuff looks lame.Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Men Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Women
THOMAS: Things I would like to see in the Nimbus Lite 3 would be, a more form-fitting upper. People with wide feet won’t agree with me, but I would like to see the bagginess near the arch cleaned up and the toe box narrowed. I haven’t tried a size down yet, but I think the shoe might run a little long. Maybe these issues would be solved by going down a half size.
While there is plenty of rubber on the outsole, in wet conditions it didn’t have that tacky grip that gives me added confidence in turns. Gimme something a little stickier.
ROBBE: I agree with Thomas on the upper thing. There was a little extra side-to-side room and, overall, it reminded me of the Skechers Razor + Hyper, which had somewhat of a baggy form to it. Over the vamp, you can still get a good lockdown, but it’s just not as streamlined as I’d like. And while I know the actual GEL-Nimbus is a comfortable daily trainer, let’s cut some of the comfort off and save some weight. There’s definitely too much tongue padding and you could probably lose a little around the ankle as well. This will keep your feet comfortable through the winter, but beware of warmer temps.
Unlike Thomas, I had no issues with the length, my size fit perfectly in that regard (less than a thumb width from the front).
MEAGHAN: While the upper is light, I don’t get that airy, breathable feeling. I took them out for a chilly (40 degree) morning and the first thing I noticed was that my legs were cold but my feet were nice and toasty. I am definitely OK with this through the winter months, but I’m not sure I’d love it for warmer temps.Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Men Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Women
THOMAS: The transmission coming from ASICS is loud and clear – they’re full-on back, and the next 12 months will yield solid shoe choices on the reg. The GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is a modern take on the do-everything daily trainer and it is my top pick from ASICS so far.
I compared it to the Nike Epic React earlier in the review; other comps would be the Saucony Ride 13, Skechers Razor + Hyper, ASICS GEL-Kayano Lite, New Balance 1080 v10, New Balance Beacon 3, and Diadora Mythos Volo. If you have been waiting to get back into ASICS or are a regular that wants to try something new, trust me – this is the shoe to get on your feet.
If you are able to get into your local running store try both your regular size and a half size down to ensure your best fit. If you are ordering online, most retailers have free shipping both ways, order two sizes and send the one that doesn’t work out back before you even get your credit card statement.
ROBBE: Well shit, I guess my entire perception of ASICS has now come full circle. This is my favorite shoe ever from ASICS, and maybe one of my top shoes of the year. Real talk, it’s refreshing to see such a large company take some risks across the entire running segment. I’m not sure how they got the upper bureaucratic brass on board, but kudos to whoever did the convincing. I have a feeling it’s going to pay off big time. Your move, Brooks.
MEAGHAN: The ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is a daily trainer that I would recommend to just about anyone. I’ve done a few easy runs and a longer 13-mile run with some quicker paces and they felt great for all of it. This is a good shoe for those of you heading into marathon training (LOL, 2020), or if you’ve just been avoiding ASICS, jump into the deep end with this one.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 releases on 11/27 for $150. Pick it up then at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Men Shop GEL-NIMBUS LITE 2 – Women
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Any thoughts on if wide footers could fit into these?
Definitely worth a try, wider than most shoes for sure.
How does it feel compared to the OG Nimbus Lite – softer or firmer?
OK so you’ve completely have thrown me for a loop with your comment, “The last time that happened was with the Saucony Endorphin Speed (my top shoe of 2020, albeit in a different category than the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2).” Please expand on this. I am in a quandary trying to decide between the two shoes.