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Road Running Shoes • May 1, 2021

ASICS NOVABLAST 2 Performance Review

~ asics novablast 2 - feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.2 oz. (289 g) for a US M10.0 / 8.2 oz. (232 g) for a US W
  • Still has that same sweet Flytefoam Blast midsole with more cushion in forefoot (8 mm drop this time)
  • Extra attention to structure and design makes it a smoother and more stable ride
  • Gave us some gusset on that tongue
  • Releases 6/20 for $130

ROBBE: I like to look at the Novablast as the rudder that turned the ASICS ship around. When we first saw the shoe at The Running Event in 2019, it was a distinct departure from the stagnant “yawncare” products that ASICS had been rolling out for the last few years. When the first version finally was released it was a hit with a ton of runners (though not so much for myself and Thomas, but things have changed). It was Sara Hall’s daily trainer of choice en route to her second-place London Marathon finish, so that’s a pretty solid pedigree out of the gate.

 The FlyteFoam Blast midsole was bouncy as hell, the 10 mm drop and low forefoot stack kept you on your toes, and also it just looked … cool? Different? Non-ASICS? All of the above.

Anyway, the Blast is back, and the Novablast 2 has been fine-tuned in all the right ways. If you had some reservations about the first version, you can forget them. If you loved the first version, your relationship should progress smoothly into the “things are getting serious” phase. Translated: this shoe is gonna be a hit.

MEAGHAN: While most of the dudes from Believe in the Run didn’t love the original Novablast, I sure did. I still remember holding it at The Running Event in 2019 and thinking — finally — an ASICS shoe I will wear. A lot has changed since then, and ASICS now holds (IMO) one of the top plated shoes of all time. But we’re not here to talk about that. Let’s get into what the Novablast 2 brings to the table, or rather, the roads.

THOMAS: The original Novablast had me excited about ASICS’ future when we first laid eyes on it. It looked modern compared to what ASICS had been putting out. We understand that the heritage lines keep ASICS in business, so we realize why the brand dragged its feet when it came to sweeping innovation. Additionally, the local running stores love sticking the flagship Kayano and Nimbus on happy customers, so in turn, ASICS served the overbuilt shoes up with as few changes as possible.

Where the look of the first Novablast was refreshing and the step-in feel of the FlyteFoam Blast was smile-inducing, the run experience fell short for me. The shoe felt unstable and the foam seemed to sap energy from my legs. I thought the shoe was “just okay,” but other runners – including Meaghan – were huge fans of the shoe. I felt left out, I didn’t get it.

But along comes the Novablast 2, and like Lloyd Christmas on a minibike somewhere in the middle of America, ASICS totally redeems itself.

asics novablast 2 - stacked

The Good

ROBBE: Let’s start with the good stuff that hasn’t changed. The FlyteFoam Blast is still here, which is ASICS bouncy and somewhat soft midsole. First step-in and you’re like “oh, this is fun.” It’s just a totally different sensation then the traditional FlyteFoam found in most ASICS models. But in the original version that came at a cost: most notably instability, especially with a 10 mm drop and an over-exaggerated arch geometry in the midfoot. That’s been fixed. 

I didn’t love the original Novablast because I thought it was fun out of the gate, things would start to flare up because my core is weaker than a cooked spaghetti noodle on gluten blockers. Basically they dissolve when faced with adversity. This is the same issue I have with other shoes like the trampoline-like Nike ZoomX Invincible. I wanted to love it but my work ethic (or lack thereof) says otherwise.

However, the Novablast 2 has a lower stack (8 mm), a slightly segmented dual layer of Blast in the heel instead of one solid piece, a more moderate midfoot arch, and TPU structure in the heel counter. All these combine to make it a much more stable ride.

 ASICS also added more stack in the forefoot which not only allows extra cushion for mid-to-forefoot strikers, but offers a really nice pop on toe-off at faster paces (reminiscent of the Zoom Air bag in the Pegasus).

The upper is similar to version one and is quite comfortable (as all ASICS upper are, generally speaking). Throw in a gusseted tongue this time around and all is golden. Also, this particular “Celebration of Sport” colorway is really nice (and is available around the time of the Olympics).

MEAGHAN: Good news OG Novablast lovers, updates to the V2 are all pretty great. The upper has been redesigned and now features a two-layer jacquard (another word for ‘woven fabric’, but makes you sound way smarter) mesh and comes with a gusseted tongue. The shiny round laces have been replaced with flat, soft laces and there’s a TPU overlay near the heel to increase stability. In general, the fit and ride feels more secure and stable than its predecessor. 

Beneath the foot a few things have changed as well. There’s some additional foam in the forefoot (+2 mm) making it an 8 mm drop. According to ASICS (they don’t include outsole/sockliner) the women’s stack comes in at 29 mm in the heel and 21 mm in the forefoot – plenty of that bouncy FlyteFoam Blast. There’s some very minimal changes to the rubber placement on the outsole as well, but nothing that I noticed out on the run. It’s durable, bouncy and has some decent traction.

asics novablast 2 - floating

THOMAS: As a reviewer, we can often tell you what is wrong with a shoe, but we can’t always tell you how to fix it. The ASICS team did an amazing job taking feedback and making small tweaks that ended up making a big difference in the way the shoe performs. Robbe and Meg have covered the changes, so I’ll cut to the chase and tell you about the run experience on foot. I did runs ranging from a 17-mile long run to multiple 6-8-mile easy runs. The Novablast 2 is a top choice for daily miles. The cushioning helps the legs feel fresh during and after runs. The responsive toe-off keeps the shoe feeling energetic. The new upper stays breathable and the gusseted tongue fits more securely. The shoe no longer feels squirrely underfoot. I went down a half size and the fit is perfect. My size 10 weighs 10.25 oz./291 grams.

Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women asics novablast 2 - toe

The Bad

ROBBE: It’s hard for me to find bad things about this shoe. It’s a really, really nice daily trainer. If I had anything, it’s maybe that the upper could be warm in the summer months, but that’s also the same for any comfortable upper in most daily trainers.

I’d say that if you’re not a huge fan of softer/high-stack rides then you probably want to go with something else. In fact, for me personally, I probably won’t go for this as a daily trainer for shorter runs, but that’s just because I like a lot more ground feel. If you want something fun, soft, and bouncy (and more stable than say, the Nike Invincible) to log a ton of miles in comfort, then I think you’ll love this shoe.

Also, the shoe runs a half size too big.

MEAGHAN: The two complaints I had about the previous model have been fixed (slightly unstable; laces didn’t stay tied), but if I’m nitpicking – I wish it was a little lighter. My W7.5 came in at 8.2 oz, which isn’t the heaviest shoe in the world, but it’s also not the lightest.

THOMAS: The Novablast 2 runs a half size too big.

Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women asics novablast 2 - heel1

ASICS Novablast 2 Conclusion

ROBBE: ASICS did a pretty incredible job of listening to the user feedback on the first version and implementing changes throughout that still kept the spirit of the shoe intact. Honestly, this is what updates should look like. Fine-tuning a good product into a great one.

MEAGHAN: I know I love a shoe when I am lacing it up on back-to-back days. The ASICS Novablast 2 has been my go-to for recovery runs, moderate days, and even long runs. Big stack (lots of cushioning) and a bouncy ride are two of my favorite qualities in a shoe and the Novablast 2 does not disappoint. If you’re looking for a shoe that works for both easy recovery days and picking up the pace, this is a good one to add to your rotation. 

THOMAS: Damn, ASICS is making it hard for us to have an outright winner for best daily trainer. So far this year I’d put this shoe up against the Nike Pegasus 38, the HOKA Mach 4, the Brooks Aurora (coming soon), and the New Balance 1080 v11. The Novablast might come out on top. That is pretty huge, considering I had written the original off.

You can pick up the ASICS Novablast 2 for $130 on June 20 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women asics novablast 2 - tongue


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Peter says:

    How come I read in many reviews forefoot stack has become higher with 2 mm in comparison to NB1 when it seems the 8 mm drop is caused by lowering the heel from 32 to 30 mm? Original’s stack not being 30-20 but 32-22.. so there’s no extra forefoot cushioning as such ..

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