By Austin Bonds
Run on impulse. That’s the message from Asics behind the design of one of their newest running shoes: the Asics fuzeX. When I think of Asics, I think of the Cumulus and Nimbus, both namesake models in their extensive collection of shoes. Though the fuzeX is the new kid on the block, will it too have staying power and go the distance for many years like the aforementioned models? That will hinge on the fit, feel, and ride of this intriguing shoe. That said, let’s unpack these characteristics in more detail.
After taking a pair of the Asics fuzeX out of the box, I had the sense that they would be on the lighter side. I weighed a men’s size 9 and saw 9.3 ounces; the Launch 3 by Brooks is actually heavier at 9.7 ounces, and speaking of the Launch, I wonder if this is the shoe that Asics is targeting with the release of the fuzeX. After slipping the shoes on my feet, I quickly noticed that the forefoot is tapered a bit, i.e. narrow up front. My feet felt snug, but all ten toes still had room to maneuver around.
The upper on the fuzeX is nice as it has a distinct look, but I’m concerned about the fabric that’s used around the forefoot as it is thicker than the mesh you will find in many other models. This thicker upper makes me wonder if the fuzeX will breathe well and lead to hot feet. As a point of contrast to the fuzeX, I walk in the Cumulus 17 on a daily basis, and the mesh in the upper of the Cumulus is much thinner than the fuzeX.
As the name indicates, the fuzeX is characterized by the fusion of gel and foam throughout the shoe. This unique midsole blend likely accounts for the weight reduction too. Does this translate into comfort, though? I ran around in the fuzeX and found the shoe to be both soft and responsive – much like the Brooks Launch. Moreover, unlike most Asics running shoes, the heel drop in the fuzeX is slightly lower at 8 millimeters. Personally speaking, I tend to favor shoes with a lower heel drop.
The midfoot in the Asics fuzeX feels secure, as did the heel counter. People I meet who try on Asics models sporadically speak of the heel slipping, but the fuzeX held mine well. As to the outsole, it’s comprised of blown rubber (for added softness) and some carbon rubber in the heel and around the forefoot to add some traction and durability.
Out of curiosity, I checked around the web to see if other runners had positive or negative reviews in their respective runs in the fuzeX as it’s a fairly new model in a crowded marketplace. One runner had this to say: “Good for – sitting; Bad for everything else.” Though I disagree with this reviewer as his or her thoughts were in stark contrast to others who chimed in about the fuzeX, this review does highlight the fact that the fuzeX isn’t the right shoe for every runner – as is the case with any running shoe.
Some of the reviewers did make mention of the narrow toe box and the more rigid upper of the fuzeX. I agree with one of the reviewers that a redesigned upper in future models of the fuzeX will likely make for a better fit. The midsole is solid – soft and yet snappy.
Though the fuzeX is a new shoe, I wonder how it will go over with runners. Will it be like lighting a fuse? Is the FuzeGel, lighter weight, and peppy ride enough to make for some explosive runs? Or will it be like a blown fuse? Will the upper and tapered toe box be too much of a hurdle and lead runners to look for other options? I suppose that depends on who you ask. The fuzeX will have its fans and critics, all eager to sing praise or heap ridicule. If nothing else, perhaps the fuzeX will be a spark (e.g. a fuse) inside the development of Asics future footwear models and their unique designs. The switch has been flipped for sure, and the sparks are bound to fly.