ASICS Gel Lyte 33 (2013)

The second edition is, on my feet, more comfortable than its original version. This shoe belongs to ASICS' natural running line of shoes, but is certainly not a minimal shoe. It's built with what ASICS calls a FluidAxis: a pair of delineators — lines perpendicular to each other — decoupling the inside (medial side) of the shoe from the outside (lateral side), as well as the front of the shoe from the rear.

But these lines (flex grooves) do not travel along the axis of the shoe as we normally consider it, that is, not in the sagittal and coronal planes. Rather, one of these two decouplers or hinges travel along an axis ASICS contends is more important: the subtalar joint. This makes some intuitive sense, if you look at the wear patterns of your shoes: on the outside of the heel, and the inside of the forefoot.

Does this work? The sensation I get is of this shoe placing me in a sort of pronated stance. I'm not sure if it's the last the shoe its built upon or actually the FluidAxis performing its function, but when I just put the shoes on and stand up in them my forefeet tend to collapse to the inside. This shoe isn't a perfect match for the severe varus angulation of my forefeet.

But that doesn't mean I can't run in them. This is an ASICS shoe that I really like and I have used it as a recovery and long distance shoe for the last several weeks. It's one of the most cushioned shoes that I run in, but the feel is a little more active than the Brooks Pure Flow or Cadence and they are certainly much wider in the forefoot than those two models.

The midsole is built on a heel of 24mm and forefoot of 18mm so that gives it a heel to toe drop (or ramp) from 6mm — a distinct departure from the higher ramp shoes ASICS has historically offered. This 6mm drop sits in between shoes from Saucony, like the Kinvara or Mirage (4mm of drop) versus the ASICS Gel 33 (10mm of drop). But I must say it feels flatter than it actually is.

There is no heel cup built in this shoe, which doesn't mean that it's unstable. It feels pretty solid around the heel and fits nicely around the midfoot. There is enough room in the forefoot even for my wider feet. The forefoot is flexible and gives a pleasant ride. I was very pleased with this shoe from my very first run.

If you are planning to run in a lightweight shoe, but you don't want to move to a really low-drop shoe, this shoe could be the one. I think we will see this model a lot at the longer distance races because it gives enough support and cushioning at a reasonable weight.

In a men's size 9 they come in at 8.3 oz., and 7.3 oz. in a women's size 8.

[Editor's 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.]