ASICS Gel Nimbus 20 Performance Review
Austin: Like the ASICS GT-2000 6, the Gel Nimbus 20 utilizes FlyteFoam, a new midsole compound that Asics developed in late 2016 after years of development and numerous prototypes. Unlike the GT-2000 midsole, comprised of FlyteFoam and SpEVA, the Nimbus is a blend of FlyteFoam and FluidRide. The Nimbus 20 weighs two-tenths of an ounce less than the Nimbus 19, but for all the runners intrigued with weight changes from one version to the next, even marginal amounts of weight differences, this model dropped from 11 ounces to 10.8 ounces (in a men’s size nine). Stack heights in the Nimbus 19 and 20 are identical (31 millimeters in the heel and 21 millimeters in the forefoot).
Thanks to the FlyteFoam midsole, the Nimbus 20 ride, like the GT-2000 6, is responsive. Smooth and responsive for those long runs, though I wouldn’t hesitate to try it for the occasional workout. Cushioning isn’t as generous as I would have expected from a shoe like the Nimbus, and this shortcoming is noted further below. Still, the Nimbus is a premium shoe with a plush heel collar, a seamless upper, and ample gel in the heel and forefoot for protection upon impact.
In case anyone reading this was wondering, I am not an Asics Person. My sister is, and I know a lot of people love them, but I’ve always been overwhelmed by their offerings for whatever reason. Turns out, they have 49 models of running shoe! 49! Crazy.
Erin: I am now the owner of not one, but two pairs of Asics, both of which help to form the company’s core offerings. The first one I’m reviewing is the GEL-Nimbus 20, one of Asics’ most enduring and popular shoes. For my fellow non-Asics wearers, the GEL-Nimbus is a highly cushioned neutral shoe. It weighs 8.8 ounces, which is a lot for a neutral shoe, but I didn’t find it terribly heavy. Between this and the 2000 v6, the other Asics trainer I tested, I far preferred the Nimbus, performance-wise. Despite the weight of the shoe, the FlyteFoam midsole (new to the Nimbus series) is responsive; I feel there’s a good balance of cushioning and responsiveness and would compare the ride to the Pegasus.
Nimbus-lovers complained about a narrow and short toe box in the 19, and I’d guess they corrected this issue, because I didn’t have any problems with fit, and I hate a narrow toe box. The upper employs Asics’ FluidFit technology, using gradient multi-stretch mesh with 3-D printed reinforced overlays for support. The upper seems very breathable to me, though with the arctic weather we’ve been having, I can’t say as that’s something I’ve taken advantage of.
Austin: The Nimbus 20 increased $10 for a $160 price point (Nimbus 19 on sale for $83.88.) Though this is unlikely to be a deal breaker for most consumers, it is a significant figure for those sensitive to pricing changes. Speaking of which, the Asics Gel Cumulus 19, currently priced at $114.95, is one of the few models in the Asics running shoe family without the FlyteFoam midsole. I anticipate that version 20 will see this addition, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price on this model rise $5-10 as well.
Sizing is close on the Nimbus 20. I’m confident saying that it fits true to size, but the toe box is snug. I alternated runs between the Nimbus and GT-2000 6 to compare the two models carefully, but I favored the 2000 from a forefoot standpoint as it merely provides more width for toe splay. The gradient mesh upper in the Nimbus 20 is very comfortable, but I needed to pull the laces tight to secure the midfoot more.
Erin: Man, is this shoe ugly. It looks like a mall-walking shoe. Or a shoe you’d see women wearing on the subway with hose and a skirt suit on the way to work. My boyfriend refused to run with me when I wore them, and he wears Chacos. I know that I’ve said the past that if I really like how a shoe feels, I don’t care what it looks like. Well, this is me being hypocritical.
The stack height is also an issue for me, as it is difficult not to heel strike in these. For women, the heel/toe offset is 13 mm, which is…a lot. What’s even more perplexing to me is that this is 3 mm more than the men’s version; according to the Asics website, this additional 3 mm is to help relieve Achilles tension, which I guess is more of a problem in women? News to me. Asics also claims that the Nimbus has “gender-specific cushioning”, with a lower density midsole that allows for better compression. I’d assume this is because women generally weigh less than men but I’m not entirely sure.
As for the addition of the FlyteFoam compound in the midsole, it has lowered the weight of the Nimbus, but the amount is minimal. My fear, however, is that long-time fans of the Nimbus don’t like the current cushioning as much as older models, i.e., before FlyteFoam was added as part of the midsole.
Asics Gel Nimbus 20 Conclusion
Austin: I’ve put 34 miles on the Nimbus 20, but it’s still a wildcard in the rotation. I like the responsive ride and smooth transition, but the midfoot fit is lacking – at least for me. As for cushioning, I think I would like a softer shoe for long runs, meaning those that would factor into marathon training. In some ways, the Nimbus 20 reminds me of the Brooks Levitate. The upper in both models are super comfortable, but the ride is firm. The Levitate weighs half an ounce more than the Nimbus 20, but it has a lower drop (8 mm) and a lower price ($150). Choices, choices, choices…
Erin: This is a solid shoe, and I can see why it has such a following. I was really surprised by how responsive it was; I wore it for a few of my faster-paced tempo runs and it worked really well. I think it would be a good shoe for long road runs, too. It’s too bad it’s so terrible-looking.