Asics Gel Nimbus 25 Review
Believe it or not, the Asics Gel Nimbus has a cult following in the amateur long-distance running community. Since its debut in 1999, this shoe has consistently been sought after for its exceptional comfort and cushioning. That said, this series never really managed to excite me. Despite being the brand's top-selling line, I always found them to be too bulky for my liking.
This decade started remarkably well for Asics though, sneaking into the market share of both amateur athletes and the elites. They introduced the performance-oriented Ride series and the responsive daily trainer Blast series. In the midst of all this, the Nimbus series has lost its appeal. It was only a matter of time before Nimbus had to undergo some changes, and finally, that moment arrived.
Can we award it the best-ever-looking Nimbus? Absolutely yes, and that's the main reason I decided to give them a try. With a revamped modern design and eye-catching colourways, the Nimbus 25 finally looks like it belongs to the modern running world. The shoe is priced in India at ₹15,999, which is on par with its competition. However, Asics India does not have the reputation of discounting their shoes during season sales. Very unlike Puma, Saucony, and Brooks who at times sell at 50%, which makes those shoes excellent value for money.
Let's deep dive into the review to uncover my thoughts about them.
What makes up Asics Gel Nimbus 25?
The Nimbus 25 is an out-of-box premium max-cushioned shoe. The refreshed design instantly catches your attention. This change in the Nimbus is undoubtedly the most remarkable improvement it has ever undergone. However, at first glance, loyal Nimbus fans might be disappointed to see that the gel is seemingly missing. Fear not, for the gel is still present; it has simply been placed in a discreet location within the heel.
Nimbus 25 weighs a little over 290gs for UK 8, which is slightly heavier than the previous edition. It sees a massive jump in stack height with 41.5mm on the heel and 33.5mm on the forefoot as against 26mm and 16mm respectively in the previous edition. It's worth noting that despite the increased stack height, the weight is consistent with past editions. It is, however, heavier than competing models like the Nike Zoomx Invincible 3, Brooks Glycerine 20, and Saucony Triumph 20, among others.
The Nimbus 25 incorporates a midsole composed of FF Blast+ foam, designed for high-performance daily trainers. This foam is used in other daily trainers from Asics like the Novablast 3 and Cumulus 25 and then also in the performance series like the Glideride 3 and the Magic Speed 2/3. Asics says that the FF Blast+ foam makes the shoes lighter, softer, and more responsive, while also providing more energy return. In the case of the Nimbus 25, the midsole utilizes the Eco version of FF Blast+ foam, which incorporates at least 20% of its composition from renewable, bio-based sources, with aim to minimize the impact on the environment. It also packs a piece of gel in simple terms, cleverly embedded between the upper and midsole for added shock absorption. The forefoot of the shoe claims to be a moderately designed rocker, offering some performance benefits when needed but I have some reservations about them. In the rear, the midsole has an extended bevel.
With a durometer score of 25 and based on my own experiences, I can confirm that it provides a well-balanced feel, as previously mentioned. This score aligns with another maximum-cushion shoe, the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3, although the Nimbus 25 offers a slightly less aggressive feel. However, in terms of softness, it falls slightly behind the Saucony Triumph 20, which was acclaimed as the best-rated maximum-cushion shoe of 2022.
The upper features an engineered soft knit material that envelops the foot and offers a stretchable sensation. The overall fit of the upper is neither narrow nor wide. It is stretchy and adapts to the shape of the foot.
The tongue also utilizes a stretchy material and incorporates a convenient pull tag, offering ease of use and adjustability. Furthermore, the tongue is semi-gusseted, partially attached to the upper, ensuring a secure fit. The laces are quite long and stretchy too. Lastly, while the upper includes ventilation holes for breathability, it falls slightly behind in this aspect, which personally for me is very important.
Asics uses its proprietary AHAR+ outsole rubber in the Nimbus 25. According to Asics, this rubber material exhibits an impressive abrasion resistance that is approximately three times higher than conventional rubber. They achieve this by using the rubber material that is used for producing car tyres. The outsole is strategically placed at forefoot and underneath the heel, probably done so to help manage the weight. The hard rubber and its placement make me think it is quite a durable trainer.
The heel counter, much like the upper, is very comfortable. The padded ankle collar offers plush support, providing a comfortable fit around the ankle. Additionally, the heel counter exhibits a sturdy and rigid construction, and delivers good stability during movement. The exterior of the shoe features a pull tag, which is very practical, and unlike with other shoes, I found myself using it frequently.
Why did I consider this shoe?
To be honest, I was in awe when the prototypes of the Nimbus started appearing, and ever since then, I have eagerly awaited its official launch. The refreshed design is visually appealing by all standards. Normally, I tend to avoid shoes that appear bulky, but I made an exception here. The only other reason is this being an off-season for running in India, and hence felt Nimbus would be an ideal pick for putting in some easy consistent mileages. I have run more than 120KMs on them, , and each day I laced them up, deep in my heart I wanted to like the ride experience, but the shoe failed me.
My first run on the Nimbus 25 was an easy progressive 10K. I thought the shoe may require some break-in, and things were clear after 4-5 runs. Considering the stack height, I had high expectations for a plush ride with good responsiveness, and in that aspect, the shoe has only partially delivered. The response was decent, but the overall ride felt much firmer than expected. It is possibly because the FF Blast+ foam isn’t as soft as Asics would have marketed it. While I personally prefer a firmer ride, it also meant that the Nimbus 25 didn't quite fulfil its intended purpose for me. It became a battle between my expectations and the actual experience of the shoe.
The heel bevel didn't provide the stable gait that I was hoping for, the one that I really appreciated in the Saucony's Triumph 20. Saying this, I must appreciate the shock absorption provided by the gel underneath the heel. Landing on the heel doesn't feel like a bumper and rather feels smooth. I also believe that individuals who are taller or slightly heavier may appreciate the Nimbus 25 more than someone leaner like me.
I have run more than 120 kms in the Nimbus 25, and every time I laced them up, I hoped to change my opinion, but that didn't happen. The longest run I've done with them is 15K, and honestly, I wouldn't choose to run more than 10K in these shoes for two reasons.
Firstly, they feel heavy, although I must admit that the break-in period did help a bit. The weight distribution between the upper and midsole felt quite strange, and it often felt like I was dragging the shoes along tired legs. As a result, I decided to alternate with my other max-cushioned shoes, the Saucony Triumph 20, Hoka Clifton 8, and Saucony Endorphin Shift 3, which performed much better in this regard. If versatility is a priority, the Nimbus 25 may not be the best choice.
Secondly, the shoe tends to get quite hot regardless of the time of day in a tropical city like Mumbai. The temperature inside the shoe rises notably after running for more than 30 minutes or whenever I push myself to run at a pace faster than 5 min/km. If not for getting warm, this could have been a good easy long-run shoe.
Fit and comfort
The Nimbus 25 fits true to size for my UK 7. The length of the shoe is spot on, but the width felt a little wide for my narrow feet. The upper is stretchable and may work well for runners with wide feet. Asics only sells the standard version in India, not the wide variant. The Nimbus 25 also doesn't disappoint in its comfort. The soft knit material of the upper ensures a comfortable feel. The padding around the heel collar is the best I have seen. The only glitch I have had with the shoe is with the long laces, which honestly is not a big deal, and perhaps would only be a problem for those using smaller shoe sizes.
The Nimbus 25 is a neutral stable shoe. While stability is not its USP, it performs admirably in this aspect. The shoe incorporates some features that a stability shoe carries, like having a wide forefoot with full-length ground contact, side walls on both sides, good lock-in on the forefoot and the heel and finally a rocker which aids the transition. This would be a good shoe for those with minor pronation and need mild stability.
Traction and durability
I have so far taken them on various surfaces except for technical trails, and have performed really well. I could confidently run through the wet and slippery patches. The Nimbus series has been one of the most durable daily trainer series like Nike's Pegasus and Brooks's Ghost, and the 25th edition is no exception here. I have barely seen any wear and tear even after 100 kms. The AHAR+ rubber is thick and hard enough to make sure the shoe lasts long.
Aesthetics and ergonomics
Aren't this where the Nimbus 25 stands out, right out of the box? The refreshed look of the series is the reason I decided to pick them up in the first place. This is, by far, the best-ever-looking Nimbus shoe. Although there's always room for improvement, Asics deserves praise for their willingness to experiment with their highly popular line. Asics offers Nimbus 25 in India in more than 10 colours, and all of them look stunning. While the blue one which I picked is undoubtedly the best looking one, the neon green and the all-white are my favourites too.
RECOMMENDATIONTo conclude, my experience with the Nimbus 25 left me with mixed feelings. While the shoe had some positive aspects such as its appealing design, comfortable upper, and good lockdown, it fell short in certain aspects that were important to me. The firm ride, although personally preferred, didn't align with my expectations for a max-cushioned shoe. To add to that, the weight distribution between the upper and midsole feels off, resulting in a heavy and dragging sensation during runs. Furthermore, the lack of versatility and poor breathability in tropical conditions made the Nimbus 25 less suitable for longer distances and faster paces. I would prefer the Cumulus 25 over Nimbus, primarily considering the weight. However, if versatility is also a consideration, the Novablast 3 stands out as a strong option.
Beyond Asics, if I had to pick one in the max cushion category, which meets all my needs, it would be the Saucony Triumph 20 which meets all my needs in the max-cushion category and excels in every aspect. The Hoka Clifton 8 is also a contender, with the exception of Achilles irritation, which I hope has been addressed in the latest Clifton 9. In my shoe rotation, I would only occasionally choose the Nimbus 25 for my easy days. While I really wanted to love the Nimbus 25, it never gave me the opportunity to do so. But these are visually appealing and stylish, I won’t think twice about wearing them casually.
SHOEGEEKS SCORE 78