ASICS has recently launched major updates to their range-topping models, the Nimbus and Kayano.
For the GEL-Nimbus it’s the 25th version of the premium cushioned neutral shoe, while for the GEL Kayano 30, it’s the 30th iteration of the support or structured cushioned model.
Whilst both models retain the GEL prefix to their names, the visible GEL cushioning for which the brand’s footwear was well known and identified is now no longer on show.
The shoes do still use Gel cushioning but it’s now embedded within the heels of both the shoes are takes the form of a new, PureGEL material.
PureGEL is a lighter material than GEL yet is said to offer a more responsive feel. The PureGEL is situated within the new, higher stack of cushioning of both the Nimbus and Kayano, so in theory it is better placed in which to provide its intended function.
Both shoes offer great levels of cushioning and higher stack heights than their previous models and both shoes remain the range-topping models in their respective categories.
Before looking at the ASICS GEL KAYANO 30 in a little more detail, we’ll discuss why you might choose one over the other.
The picture below – Asics Gel Nimbus.
Neutral or Pronation: Which do I choose?
Pronation is the natural movement of the foot that takes place when walking or running.
Landing on the outside (lateral) edge of the heel, the foot essentially creates more space under the arch on the inside (medial) edge of the foot.
By creating more space under the arch, the foot can absorb the impact.
With 26 bones in the foot creating lots of joints, it’s a very complicated structure. Yet the foot is quite clever in that it acts to absorb the impact of walking and running naturally.
The amount of pronation the foot exhibits is down to the range of flexibility it has. Some people are more flexible than others naturally and it’s the same with the foot.
Some people will pronate more or less than others.
Pronation is a normal component of the gait cycle. It’s the range of flexibility or movement the foot follows that is usually referred to as the rate of pronation.
Overpronation is a term that refers to the foot rolling in excessively. This is usually due to the foot being very flexible.
Supination is a term that refers to the foot rolling onto the lateral side of the foot. Of course, most people will strike the ground on the lateral edge of the foot, so a stiffer foot simply stays in this supinated state.
It’s important to put the above into context in that here, we are referring to the movement of the foot (its flexibility) and how it reacts with shoes designed for ‘over pronators’ and ‘neutral’ runners.
Someone with a foot that remains neutral when running is essentially one whose foot is ‘stood up straight’.
While the ASICS GEL NIMBUS 25 is aimed at neutral runners, the ASICS GEL KAYANO 30 is designed for those that overpronate and require some support.
Asics Gel Kayano 30 Review
As a shoe with 30 years of history, the Kayano has a lot to live up to.
ASICS’ range-topping shoe, the Kayano has always been billed by the brand as the best of the best, regardless of the competition. ASICS would consider the shoe to be the best all-around running shoe money can buy.
Many would support the brand’s argument simply because the Kayano has also always been one of the most expensive shoes on the market.
Yet, as we all know, price is not always the best indicator of performance or quality.
In a recent study, ASICS say that in independent tests carried out by a biomechanics lab in Australia, the Gel Nimbus 25 came out on top as the most comfortable running shoe.
The Kayano also took part in a similar test although the results weren’t quite as clear cut as those that came out in favour of the neutral shoe, the Nimbus.
This at least demonstrates that the test was fair, otherwise, ASICS might be referring to the test and its results when comparing the Kayano with competitor models. In a presentation I attended the test results presented simply showed that in the support shoe category, the competition is much closer.
For me, the Kayano would be a comparable shoe to models such as the Brooks Glycerin GTS, Saucony Tempus and New Balance Vongo. All offer good support and premium levels of cushioning.
Asics Gel Kayano 30 – First Impression:
First up, like the Gel Nimbus, wearers of previous versions of the Kayano will notice one thing that’s missing or not visible: the Gel!
Visible Gel has been removed from the shoe and has been replaced by PureGEL.
The shoe has ‘maximal levels of cushioning’ at 40 mm deep in the heel, although it’s nicely balanced and doesn’t feel overly high when on the foot.
The overall construction of the shoe is rather simple with fewer components than ASICS shoes of the past.
This is a theme with many brands, not just ASICS and you would think that it may reduce production costs. This may well be the case, but unfortunately, it’s not evident in the price!
The medial post has gone. Well, almost. A medial post is still visible, only it’s smaller and now feels softer and has now been renamed as a 4D guidance system (more below).
Asics Gel Kayano 30 The Tech:
The midsole is now FF BLAST PLUS ECO.
The ECO element comes from the material being made with at least 20% bio-based material coming from renewable sources.
FF BLAST PLUS ECO is the brand’s latest lightweight high-performance cushioning material.
The Gel Kayano 30 features 4mm more midsole foam under the foot than the Kayano 29 to create the most cushioned ride to date in a Kayano model.
As mentioned earlier, the visible Gel has gone and is now replaced with PureGEL, a new softer, and lighter material than previous Gel technology.
Hidden in the heel of the shoe, PureGEL provides enhanced shock absorption and a smoother ride.
The 4D Guidance system uses a lower-density, softer, more resilient foam. The idea is that this foam actively pushes the foot out of an overpronated state.
The 4D system works with a broader midsole (5mm wider across the heel, midfoot, and forefoot) and sculpted lateral edge to aid compression on impact and keep the foot a little more supinated and therefore away from overpronation.
Asics Gel Kayano 30 Road Test:
There’s no doubt the new Gel Kayano 30 feels plush and luxurious, with nice levels of padding around the heel and tongue in particular.
That said, I think the Gel Nimbus 25 feels a little better, it’s somehow a little neater fitting and even more neatly finished.
Don’t get me wrong, the Kayano is a very well-put-together shoe and the upper is excellent. I just wonder why the exceptional upper of the Nimbus wasn’t carried over to this model too.
My first run in the shoes was a very easy 8 km run with a group of other runners at a special launch event for the new Kayano.
As is usually the case with these types of events, the large numbers in the group meant the pace didn’t reach more than an easy 8-minute mile pace.
Although this pace is a little slower than my usual easy run speed, it is often a good indicator of the comfort level of a shoe. Some shoes can simply feel cumbersome at slower speeds.
The Kayano felt flexible enough to remain comfortable and seemed to disappear on the foot, always a great sign.
The 4D guidance system works very well.
I didn’t feel any signs of overpronation and as always, if you don’t notice the support in a shoe, I think it’s working well. I didn’t notice any posting and my feet felt like they were moving naturally and neutrally.
My next run was at my normal, ‘everyday pace’ of around a 7-minute mile pace. Here the shoes felt fine, like the Gel Nimbus, the cushioning is great, and it soaks up every bit of impact.
Again though, like the Nimbus, the cushioning of the Kayano doesn’t have that added responsiveness I’ve come to expect from a new, range-topping training shoe.
I am beginning to think we have now been spoilt somewhat by brands. Super shoes and carbon-plated race shoes have moved the game on a little and now training shoes feature new high-tech, super foams.
For a range-topping shoe such as the Kayano 30, I think we need to have a more responsive feel.
Not every daily training model needs to offer springy energy return, but pinnacle models at least should.
Competitor shoes such as the Brooks Glycerin GTS and the Saucony Tempus feature Nitro foam and PWRRUN+ foams respectively, both offering something a little more responsive than their mid-range counterparts.
Further runs have varied in pace and distance and have been perfectly fine and the shoe has performed very well.
Asics Gel Kayano 30 – The Price:
As I have said previously in my review of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25, the one thing that can’t be avoided with this shoe is the price. In the UK the shoe is £180 which, when converted to US dollars is around $230 US, yet the shoe is priced at just $160! A very large difference and one which really doesn’t do the shoe any favors in a competitive marketplace.
(note – this was the price at the time of writing)
Asics Gel Kayano 30 – Conclusion:
The Gel Kayano 30 is a shoe capable of high mileage. I’ve covered around 200 miles in the shoe so far and it’s held up very well. There are no visible signs of wear or compression.
Every one of those miles has been comfortable and the 4D guidance system has done its job very well.
This at least demonstrates that by good design the traditional medial post systems can be eliminated.
The fit of the shoe is very good, although not as good as the Gel Nimbus and I think it could be better and should be in this model.
Cushioning is great but does lack a little of the responsiveness of competitor models.
The Gel Kayano 30 remains the brand’s range-topping model and for now, is still their best running shoe in the support category.
The new 4D guidance system is effective and undoubtedly the way forward.
With other brands using super foams in their daily training models and new brands arriving on the market what seems like every day, shoes like the Kayano need to perform a little better.
Runners can now walk into specialist stores and try a vast array of shoes before they buy and right now, given the price, there are several shoes on the market that most of those runners may make their first choice.