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The RW Takeaway: If you liked the original Novablast’s bouncy, energetic ride and generous cushioning, but found the shoe a bit too unstable, this updated second version is worth a look.
- Excellent “cush-per-dollar” ratio; there’s much more midsole foam underfoot than most shoes at this price
- Redesigned mesh upper feels plusher and more supportive, and laces up more securely with a new gusseted tongue
- Testers said sizing runs about a quarter to half-size long
Weight: 9.7 oz (M), 7.8 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
Words like “reliable,” “workhorse,” and “supportive” have long dominated the feedback from runners who wear-test Asics’s trainers. Those are all worthy descriptors, but when’s the last time you used the word “fun” to describe a pair of GT-2000s? (In reference to the ride, not the color.) Unless you’ve run in Asics recently, the answer is probably “never.”
The brand’s rep began to change in 2020 with the first Novablast, a rogue model so different from traditional offerings that some runners hardly recognized it as an Asics. The hefty midsole protruded at angles that looked like the surface of the Epcot ball, and gone were Asics’s familiar support features like guidance trusses and medial posts. Instead, the Novablast rode sky-high on 33 millimeters of a new FlyteFoam Blast midsole, a wickedly bouncy mix of EVA and Olefin Block Copolymer. It was undoubtedly an exciting shoe to run in, but about as stable as a vat of radioactive plutonium. Neutral runners and overpronators alike found the shoe unpredictable on landings and wobbly around corners.
Still Springy, More Supportive
For the sequel, Asics reigned in that reckless ride with a more supportive midsole. Designers carved out some foam from the lateral sidewalls, and added more foam to the medial side to help keep the shoe from collapsing inward as you roll through your stride. The shoe’s platform is now wider, the drop is lower (down to 8 mm from 10 mm), and more stabilizing TPU overlays bolster the heel. The midsole foam itself has the same chemistry, so the ride feels just as springy and energetic, but is more controlled underfoot. Testers noticed the difference. Whereas the first version was “squirrelly on steeply-graded roads and uneven sidewalks,” testers in the 2 felt “well-supported and securely locked onto the plush cushioning.”
What’s It Like On the Run?
Still, the Novablast is not a stability shoe by any means, and we don’t prefer it for night runs on shifting gravel or when hopping curbs in the city. Take the Novablast out for long runs at a steady clip, when you want to simply zone out and set the cruise control. Why? Because the midsole truly does feel “trampoline-like.” Upon landing, you sink into the foam slightly before rebounding—a sensation that reminded one tester of loping across a birthday party bounce house. An isolated pod of rubber beneath the forefoot adds a final unexpected pop on toe-off. Once you hit your stride and lock into a consistent cadence, the shoe feels propulsive and carries you forward smoothly. The drawback is that if you want to speed up, you’ll notice a bit of a lag when switching gears during speed intervals or minute-on, minute-off fartleks.
Thoughts from Our Newest Wear-Testers
Holly B. | Tester since: 2021
Arch: High | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
“It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a pair of Asics and the Novablast 2 is a dream for runners wanting a soft, plush ride. I wore it right out of the box for a 10-miler and enjoyed every mile. I found myself reaching for the Novablast for easy recovery runs and two-hour-plus long runs. The foam is springy and responsive, yet durable and hardy—meaning, I could reach for this shoe day after day and get the same great ride and cushion. This allowed me to run my longer days feeling less wear and tear on my legs. While the Novablast is a more cushioned shoe than I’d typically go for, I LOVED the generously plush and soft cushioning. The foam was responsive enough to provide a bit of feedback when toeing off during faster efforts; however, the midsole really shines for slower long-distance jaunts. (Though I wouldn’t reach for the Novablast for a speed session, it performs well enough for a mid-week fartlek.) The only feature I didn’t love was the heavier knit upper. It’s soft and supple, but the layers of knit really held in the heat during the summer.”
Molly S. | Tester since 2021
Arch: High | Gait: Underpronator | Footstrike: Heel
“When I put this shoe on after testing the Asics Magic Speed, I didn’t feel quite as fast or agile. The Novablast 2 is a heavier, less flexible model. Despite this, I still enjoyed running in it; I think it is the softest shoe I’ve ever run in. The soft ride may have made it too unresponsive, though. The cushioning felt luxurious, but I wonder if I sank into it too much—it seemed to absorb some energy, as opposed to returning that energy to my stride. Having said that, I do think that this is a good shoe for recovery miles and long runs when I’m not trying to go fast. While the heel felt wide and beefy, it did add quite a bit of comfort and stability for downhill running. I also felt very secure in the Novablast shoe from the way the upper’s fabric and gusseted tongue wrapped my foot. I suspect this shoe makes me supinate more than usual because the midsole’s wide base is slightly raised on the inner side. Overall, I like the cushioning for recovering my legs, but I’d want a more flexible and more responsive shoe for my faster runs and races.”
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