Asics GEL-Nimbus 20: Two decades of innovation, but is it worth it?

This shoe has been twenty years in the making. The Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 is a highly cushioned, neutral running road shoe. It has a forefoot height of 12 mm and a heel height of 25 mm for the ladies and 13 mm and 23 mm for the guys. That gives it a rather large drop, especially in the ladies shoe. It’s also a pretty heavy shoe. 

Upper

The Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 has a seamless mesh upper with plastic overlays. It’s a double layered mesh, but the material isn’t very flexible, so it does restrict the space in the toe box a little bit. The toe box is wide enough, but not super roomy. The toe box also isn’t very high and is too tapered, thus creating a hotspot near on top of my big toe during longer runs. The upper isn’t super breathable, but it’s breathable enough. 

It has a snug heel clutching system made of plastic that keeps your heel nicely locked in and the tongue and collar of the shoe a nicely padded to avoid any hotspots in those areas. 

I did find this extra padding really comfortable. However, part of the lining of the shoe already ripped after 50 km in the shoes. Something I didn’t expect from such a high end brand as Asics. 

Midsole

Asics uses a gel to absorb the shock while running. Besides using gel in the midsole, Asics also uses FlyteFoam which is lighter than standard EVA foam. The heel provides a nice cushion, but the forefoot is a lot less plush. The Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 is quite a firm ride. 

Outsole

The outsole is made of the Asics High Abrasion Rubber. The rubber proved to be quite durable, after 50 miles of running in the shoes I didn’t see any signs of wear. The sole has a flat shape instead of a rocker shape, I therefore find that I have to use more energy to toe off than I would with a shoe that does have a rocker shape. I also find it a bit of a strange feeling when hitting the ground, my foot transition just didn’t feel normal. It sort of stops your momentum for a bit, until you toe off again.   

Once in a while I also had small sharp objects getting stuck in the Flytefoam parts of the outsole, which I would need to remove during my run. 

Performance

Overall, I found the shoe comfortable a reasonably stable for a neutral running shoe, but even though it absorbs the shocks very well, the shoe doesn’t feel very plush. It’s a firm and a bit of a heavy ride. The weight of a shoe doesn’t bother me very often, but in this case it did become a bit of an issue. I did find that my shins started to hurt slightly while running in the Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 and for quite some time I wondered why, since I did not have this experience with other shoes. Only reason I can think of would the lack of a rocker shape, which makes it harder to toe off. 

I also noticed that while running my foot would roll outward due to the weight of the shoe. It seems to be heavier on the lateral side where the gel seems to be. So it seems that the weight of the shoe changed my gait a little bit, which might also explain the shin problems. 

The Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 isn’t a very fast shoe, and especially has difficulty changing direction quickly. Fast turns aren’t really an option in this shoe.  

Fit

I ran in my regular size, but found that I didn’t have as much space in the front of the shoe as I would have liked. I probably would have been better off with half a size larger. 

Conclusion

Although the Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 performs well when it comes to shock absorption and it’s a nice looking shoe, it isn’t a very fast shoe. The lack of rocker shaped outsole and the weight of the shoe prefend the Asics GEL-Nimbus 20 from becoming a fast ride. It is more of a comfortable long distance training shoe than a quick race shoe. 

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