Asics Magic Speed 2 Review: Magic or an Illusion?
Weighs 8.4 oz. (240 g.) for a US M9.5 / 7.1 oz. (201 g.) for a US W7.5
Carbon-infused TPU plate offers snap to the toe-off
Might look the Metaspeed Sky+ and Edge+, but looks can be deceiving
Flytefoam Blast+ midsole (with heel segment of Flytefoam), but it doesn’t quite feel like it
Available for $150 on September 1
ROBBE: I like magic. Magic markers, especially ones that smell good but don’t get you high. Harry Potter. Gob Bluth and the Gothic Castle. Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal. Every little thing she does. Last but not least — magic erasers because they’re the best solution for cleaning white sidewalls of running shoes, especially before race day. Shoes like the Asics Magic Speed 2.
I think I was one of the few people who actually liked the first version of the Magic Speed, Asics’ attempt at a plated tempo shoe. It was firm with a TPU plate, but the rocker hit me right, so it felt good when I wanted to pick up the pace. However, I can admit the upper was kinda trash, not a great fit, and had the tendency to buzz-saw the Achilles, so yeah, it could’ve used some improvements.
Improvements were made, to say the least. Instead of a full Flytefoam midsole, we now have a Flytefoam Blast+ top layer and a heel section of Flytefoam, accompanied by a carbon-infused TPU plate. The upper is new, with more padding around the collar, and is a close sibling to the uppers of Asics’ top-tier racing shoes in the Metaspeed Edge+ and Sky+. It’s still lightweight and retains a Guidesole rocker.
In fact, a lot of the design details of the Magic Speed 2 mimic those race shoes, from the upper to the midsole shape to the outsole (literally the same).
So did Asics pull a rabbit out of a hat or just squirt lighter fluid all over the front row of the audience? Let’s find out.
BRANDON: Maybe you’re not quite willing to break the bank on a “super shoe” for race days. Maybe you just want a fast day shoe to run some quick tempo reps in. Well, I’m happy to confirm that the Magic Speed 2 solves both problems for you. It’s a problem solver for sure, but does it really bring the magic?
I’m not fully convinced just yet. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first version, but truly, I wanted to love it. On paper, it was my ideal shoe. A fast uptempo trainer, lightweight, nimble, and something I could lace up and burn on the track. With the original version, I never really found my stride — the fit was awkward and all over the place, and the toe-off sensation wasn’t really all there.
Does the Magic Speed 2 fix any of these problems? In the short run, yes. In the long run, it’s less clear.
ROBBE: I really like the fit of this upper. It wraps around the foot quite well and provides a snug and secure fit. It’s very lightweight and breathable, so don’t expect a ton of comfort for long hauls, but as a shorter-distance tempo shoe, it works great. The flat tongue disappears on the top of the foot and doesn’t slide around. And yes, there is more padding around the heel/Achilles area, so I didn’t experience any rubbing or discomfort, which was an issue a lot of people had with the first version.
Because the upper fits so well, it does feel like a nimble shoe when cornering or going at faster paces. Always good when you’re trying to disappear while the audience is distracted by your assistant.
As I already mentioned, there are a lot of things about the Magic Speed 2 that would make you think this falls in the Metaspeed family. And it does, kind of. It certainly feels like a fast shoe or a budget racer. The turnover is quick thanks to that Guidesole rocker, so when you pick up the pace, it goes with you. There is a bit of a snap off the toe thanks to that plate (which closely resembles the feel of the more aggressive Metaspeed Edge+), but it’s not to the same degree you get from the race day shoes.
Outsole traction is solid. It’s pretty much the exact same thing as the race-day shoes, which I’ve never had a problem with.
Lastly, I just love the way this shoe looks on the foot. A lot of the time, we talk about how we like to look down and see a shoe that looks fast, and this one certainly plays the part.
BRANDON: Right off the bat, a shoe like this has to be rewarded for its price — it’s only $150. With inflation, COVID, the economy, blah blah blah, you get the point…this one held strong and remained at $150 while many others have gone up.
The Magic Speed 3 has a full layer of FlyteFoam Blast+ and provides a snappy, well-supported, and fast transition underfoot. This shoe works well for tempo runs, workout days, and even as a budget racer. It seems as if the shoe got a complete overhaul. Instead of a half plate, there’s now a full plate. The foam is slightly softer, the stack is higher than before, and the upper is similar in feel to the original Metaspeed.
I have to admit, I was excited to try this one because there are some pretty great changes throughout. Running in it, I definitely felt faster and was able to pick up the pace nicely. I went for a tempo run and found it very easy to transition between paces and switch directions quickly, which can be essential in a racing environment. The shoe is definitely heading in the right direction, but I do have a few qualms with it.
ROBBE: Every magician has to cut their teeth at kids’ birthday parties before they can get paid to freak people out alongside David Blaine (aka Wide Foot Jarrett). There are a few places in this magic show where the sleight of hand may have gone awry.
Now, I want to note that I’m framing this section from the perspective of somebody who expected the Magic Speed 2 to be a budget racer, in the same bucket as the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 or the Adidas Takumi Sen 8. I should also note that the Metaspeed Edge+ is my go-to race shoe.
From that reference point, the Magic Speed 2 falls flat. Though we love Flytefoam Blast+ in other shoes (e.g. Novablast 3, Gel-Nimbus 24, Kayano 29, etc.), it just feels a little dead in the Magic Speed 2. Maybe it’s a combination of the plate, the stack, or just a different formula, but the “magic” isn’t there. Of course, the traditional Flytefoam in the heel section means it’s not a total Flytefoam Blast+ package as well.
Again, that’s fine if you like a firmer shoe like the Saucony Kinvara or Altra Escalante but want something with a bit more snap and turnover. If you like that, you’ll probably love this shoe. But for something that mimics Asics race day shoes from an aesthetic perspective and comes in at a price point just $10 below last year’s Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (which has a much better pop from its PWRRUN PB midsole), the expectation will not be met. Altogether, it’s not as exciting as you want it to be and feels more or less like a poor version of a racing shoe.
Lastly, I would say that this shoe is not for the faint of ankles. The way the foot sits over the top of the midsole is very reminiscent of the Saucony Endorphin Pro, which is to say, it feels like you’re balancing on a rail, especially in the heel. Like a lot of those shoes, though, it does fade away the faster you pick up the pace, so reserve this shoe for faster efforts.
BRANDON: First and foremost, the shoe simply isn’t that comfortable. The foam is pretty firm, the upper is a little coarse, and the whole package doesn’t make for the softest or most cushioned of rides. However, I’ll ask, what tempo shoe ever is? You want to run fast? A squishy and soft shoe would be pretty hard to pick up the pace in. The Magic Speed 2 is a great update from its previous version, but I think a few more tweaks (i.e. Flytefoam Turbo) and this shoe can go from just average or good to great.
ROBBE: I’m not sure I would say this shoe is a trick, but it may be an illusion. It looks like a racer, it fits like a racer, but when the smoke clears, it runs like an average tempo shoe. I’m not sure I’d get any benefit out of this over any faster day on the market at more reasonable prices. If I’m making dollars disappear, I’m either picking up the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (slightly firm and fast) or Endorphin Speed 3 (slightly soft and fast), or the Adidas Takumi Sen 8, which seems to be perpetually on sale and has even been popping up for $80 these days.
I’ve loved almost every Asics shoe that’s been released this year and still think they’re on fire (just wait for the Novablast 3), but this may be the one missing card in the deck.
BRANDON: The Magic Speed 1 wasn’t a very good shoe. The Magic Speed 2 is, however. With the most recent updates and changes, it’s a MIP (Most Improved Magician). With an unchanged price tag, the tempo shoe looks more attractive than ever. Would I pay $20 more for the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 or 3? Personally, yes. But I do think it’s about what you are looking for. I believe that Asics was struggling to develop a strong tempo day shoe, but I think they’ve finally found one that works.
You can pick up the Asics Magic Speed 2 for $150 on September 1 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.
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Just a minor heads up – I think you meant to say Saucony Endorphin “Speed” and not “Pro” in the paragraph referencing the $10 price difference.
Ah yes, thanks for the catch!
Chinese runner who bought Magic Speed 2 here. I had my eyes on Takumi sen 8 at first but the price always stay high in China (about 300RMB higher Magic Speed 2) so I finaly picked the newer and cheaper Magic Speed 2 instead…I’m not so sure if I made the best choice after reading your review hahaha
It’s not a terrible shoe, we just wouldn’t pick it over some of those other shoes. Good luck!