Asics Gel Nimbus 13 (2012)

This latest edition of the Gel Nimbus is moderately different than the two previous iterations. The 13th edition is a little more narrow and much softer than the 11th and 12th editions. The 13th is also more flexible in the forefoot. Do these changes make the Gel Nimbus 13 a better or a worse shoe than its immediate predecessors? Neither. Or both. If you really loved the fit and performance of the two previous Nimbus models you should test this new follow up in the store before you commit.

Heavier runners may well find this new edition too soft. The cushioning feels pillow-like and absorbs road impact very well, but you may find it absorbs energy and inhibits speed. If this is your profile as a runner, the Gel Nimbus 13 might still work, but as a long, slow distance training shoe. I donít recommend these for racing unless you are an over-4-and-a-half hour marathoner.

Because of its new midsole the new model is much more flexible in the push-off phase and gives a very comfortable ride. They donít need any breaking in, you just put them on and run. But a positive feature change is likely to come at a price. Due to the softer midsole the Gel Nimbus 13 is also a little less stable then the 11th and 12th versions. These previous editions were extremely stable considering they were neutral running shoes, and Iíve not seen that many neutral shoes which were as stable as these.

Breathability is excellent and they come in mens and womens models, as well as in various widths and colors. At 11.5 oz they are within the weight range that most companies build their shoes in this category. Asics still firmly believes in the heel strike running form and makes its running shoes for this specific technique. So be prepared for a high heel relative to the forefoot height. If youíre a heel striker and want a shoe with exceptional cushioning and a soft feel, this might be your shoe.

[Editorís note: Our capable editor-at-large for footwear Jeroen van Geelen owns Total Running, one of the more important running and triathlon retail establishments in The Netherlands.]