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Road Running Shoes • October 30, 2023

Asics Novablast 4: First Thoughts

asics novablast 4 - first thoughts feature

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What You Need To Know

The Weight

9.4 ounces (267 g) for a US M10

What's New

Flytefoam Blast+ Eco midsole, grippier Ahar Lo outsole, woven upper

Price & Availability

$140, December 1

asics novablast 4 - women side

Asics Novablast 4, women’s colorway

First Look at the Asics Novablast 4

Way back before there was a pandemic, before the world had turned to a DEFCON 1 dumpster fire, there was the year 2019. It seems so long ago, mainly because we only had 30K Instagram followers at the time (that’s how we judge time). Or maybe it was because Asics was making the most boring shoes in the running shoe universe. Which is so far from where they are now. 

I bring up that year because that’s when we first saw an early version of the Asics Novablast at The Running Event. At the time, an Asics manager told us it wasn’t going to be specifically marketed as a running shoe. We told him he was wrong. We were right. 

A History of the Asics Novablast

The first version of the Asics Novablast was the true dividing line between the doldrum Asics of the 2000’s and the innovative and industry-leading Asics of the 2020’s. Since that shoe, the Novablast has morphed ever so slightly from version to version. As it stands now, it has proven to be one of the best daily trainers on the market: lightweight, responsive, reliable, and capable of doing most things you throw at it. 

Asics had done a good job of taking a good thing and not making it bad, which is surprisingly difficult for a lot of brands. So here we are, four years later, with the Asics Novablast 4. Is this shoe still as good as ever?

What’s New in the Asics Novablast 4

According to Asics, there’s been some key improvements over the previous model. Whether they’re actually improvements or not, I guess we’ll see. But here’s what’s new.

The most obvious change is the sculpting of the midsole, which is now referred to as “botanical geometries.” Instead of the angular edges in the Novablast 3, you get a more detailed midsole design with less severe edges. 

asics novablast 4 - men heel

Botanical geometry

The midsole itself is comprised of full-length Flytefoam Blast+ Eco, which is made with 20% bio content. Last year’s version was full Flytefoam Blast+, no bio content to speak of. Everyone’s trying to do the green thing these days, no matter how negligible it is, and suffice it to say that the results have been mixed. We’ll see how this holds up.

Next, a newly engineered woven upper features a stretchy construction with breathable holes in the toe box. A gusseted tongue with stretch wings locks the foot in while allowing for movement on the run.

asics novablast 4 - men toe mesh

Woven knit upper

Asics notes that the “outsole and midsole are asymmetrically engineered to focus on the ball of the foot and heel striking zone to capture more energy return.” I have no idea what that actually means, but hopefully it works out. Basically, Ahar Lo (a lower density version of Ahar rubber) is placed in strategic areas of the outsole and combined with the exposed foam sections to create a “trampoline effect,” according to Asics.

The shoe has gained some weight, and now comes in at 9.4 ounces (267 g) for a US M10, a half-ounce more than the last version.

asics novablast 4 - women outsole

Ahar Lo outsole is grippier than standard Ahar

Our Thoughts

The overall design is less risky, less edgy, and less pronounced than the first few versions of the Novablast. Maybe we’re just used to it, maybe other brands are catching up. Either way, it’s visually not quite as exciting as the Novablast 3. Overall, the design is still pretty nice, and we think that once we see some new colorways, we could be swayed even more.

But who cares what it looks like, the real question is: What does it run like?

We’re getting close to a full-mileage review of the shoe (some of us already have a handful of daily mileage and a long run in the shoe already), but for now we’ll give you our general consensus first thoughts.

asics novablast 4 - men midsole

Flytefoam Blast+ Eco midsole

Thomas considers it tamed down a bit with a more simple midsole. Still has the fun factor of a Novablast, but definitely more stable than all the previous versions. The Ahar Lo rubber is undoubtedly improved over the regular Ahar of the previous version. According to Asics, it’s a lower density rubber so it’s softer, yet still durable. (Generally speaking, softer means tackier.) The shoe may run a touch long, but not as bad as last year’s version. You should be good staying true to size.

On the women’s side, Meg likes the simplicity of this shoe, it feels light and responsive but structured enough for daily training. The new upper is softer and generally more comfortable, the midsole has more bounce, particularly on toe-off, and the Ahar Lo outsole provides some really nice grip.

I generally agree with Thomas, I think the shoe is definitely tamed down a bit from last year’s version. Here’s the thing though– I didn’t love the upper of v3 and since I had the Superblast, I didn’t really run in the shoe since the Superblast is like a premium Novablast and better in every way. I also didn’t really love the ride of this year’s Gel-Nimbus 25 (too soft for me), and instead prefer the Gel-Nimbus 24. I took that shoe out recently and gotta say it’s just a solid daily trainer that gets the job done, though it needed more cushion in the forefoot. The Novablast 4 reminds me of a more-cushioned Gel-Nimbus 24 with the upper of the Gel-Nimbus 25. 

Personally, I love that. However– I can see fans of the Novablast 3 thinking this update is a step back in terms of “wow” factor. Instead of a bouncy, lightweight daily trainer, it’s more of a get-it-done at any distance type of shoe. Not sure if Asics did that to democratize the shoe for the masses (this seems to be the trend for a lot of exciting shoes once they start to gain traction), or if it’s a way to separate itself further from the Superblast. But it definitely feels like more of a daily trainer than previous versions of the Novablast.

At $140, the shoe stacks up against others in the higher tier, so the value is definitely there.

asics novablast 4 - men's toe

Available at the NYC Marathon Expo, wide release December 1

Final First Thoughts

With a bit of a weight gain, increased durability, more stable midsole, and better upper, the Novablst 4 appears to be more of a straightforward daily trainer. Depending where your fandom lies with Asics running, this may be a nice improvement or a slight disappointment. Again, these are just our first thoughts and we’ll be getting plenty more miles in this shoe for the full review, so stay tuned for that. 

The Asics Novablast 4 will sell for $140 and will see a limited release at the TCS New York City Marathon Expo on November 2-4, and a broader global distribution on December 1.

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Asics Novablast 4 | First Thoughts


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. David Walser says:

    I thought Ahar Lo was Tove Lo’s brother. I don’t love the Novablast 3. It’s ok, but it’s a bit slappy and seems to require more midfoot (as opposed to heel) striking to mitigate that, which makes it lose the bounciness / trampoline effect. It works best for me running up hill, where you can bounce off the heel without getting the slappiness. I’ve seen multiple reviews with similar comments. It doesn’t sound from what I’ve heard so far that the Novablast 4 solves that.

  2. David Walser says:

    It looks like you need to update Meg’s PR’s at the bottom of the article.

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Robbe Reddinger
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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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