What You Need To Know
- Weighs 7 oz. (198 g) for a US M9.0 / 5.8 oz. (164 g) for a US W7.5
- Carbon-plated racer featuring all-new Flytefoam Blast Turbo midsole (uh, it’s sweet)
- Excellent outsole grip modeled after the ASICS trail line
- Okay for real, ASICS is going full Jaime Lannister “Kingslayer” on this one
ROBBE: Let’s just get the elephant out of the room: Nike has straight-up dominated the race day scene with both the Vaporfly and Alphafly NEXT%, and everybody knows it. You know it, elite sponsored athletes in blacked-out Nikes know it, and every company wedging a slice of carbon into a midsole knows it. Sure there have been some solid competitors, and a few people prefer those, but nothing has really touched that initial high of running in plated ZoomX.
Until now. Enter the ASICS METASPEED.
MEAGHAN: While we were all busy “working from home” in 2020, ASICS was knee-deep researching running speed. From those studies and results emerged two brand new ‘super’ shoes: the METASPEED Sky and METASPEED Edge. The oversimplified science is this: METASPEED Sky is for the runner who extends their stride when running faster and the METASPEED Edge is for the runner who increases their stride and cadence (steps) when running faster. Most runners probably fall into the former camp (we all know how much our cadence sucks). In any case, both METASPEED shoes are meant to be worthy competitors to the NEXT% and/or any other racing shoe out there.
We’ve been testing out the METASPEED Sky (the shoe Sara Hall wore for the London Marathon and the Marathon Project), so this review will focus on that model. Let’s jump right in.
THOMAS: While other running brands are on their second or third version of their Nike chasing super shoe, ASICS seemed to be falling behind. Their last racer was the bantamweight ASICS Metaracer, which was a fine shoe, but closer to a traditional racing flat then the magic bouncy feeling of racers nowadays. But like Mike Tyson, ASICS apparently wasn’t interested in taking jabs at the competition. Nah, they want to be like Mike and knock you the fuck out with one shot. The METASPEED Sky is ASICS’ leaping left hook at, well … you know who.
ROBBE: Okay, so full disclosure – I have yet to run in the NEXT%. It seems like an insane thing to say as a shoe reviewer and part of the BITR team, but basically I’m cheaper than Widefoot Jarrett and have had a plethora of other racing options to go with, so I just kept putting it off. So I won’t compare it to the NEXT%. However, I have run in almost every other racing shoe out there, and I gotta say – this is by far my most favorite one yet.
The FLYTEFOAM BLAST TURBO midsole is bouncy as hell, but with a wider base, it forgoes the instability you find in the NovaBlast. (Note that this is the first appearance of FF Turbo, so get excited because it’s the real deal.)
At slower paces the shoe is okay, but let’s be real, it’s not meant for slower paces. When you pick it up, this thing just gets better and better. Without realizing, you are flying along. And everything feels great throughout the entire stride. I’m gonna be honest – I’m not a huge fan of the soft foams and the monumental stacks in a lot of the shoes (i.e. the Saucony Endorphin Pro is my favorite racer), but this one sits perfectly in that “best of both worlds” range. Each toe-off has a pop that would make Orville Redenbacher jealous. Seriously, it feels like you’re being thrown forward. The carbon fiber plate gives it a touch of firmness, while the stack and durometer of the FF Turbo achieve a perfect bounce balance. Meanwhile, the rocker just rolls you through all of it.
The fit of the 100% recycled upper isn’t perfect to me, but the heel locks in beautifully, which is an issue I’ve had in the past with certain racing shoes. Then there’s the ASICSGRIP outsole, which is probably the grippiest outsole I’ve experienced in a racing shoe (very similar to the PUMAGRIP outsole on the new Puma line). Despite the stack height, the shoe is surprisingly nimble around turns, aided in large part by that ASICSGRIP outsole. Long story short, this shoe is a shit of fun to run in.
MEAGHAN: The METASPEED Sky is flashy, to say the least. The mesh upper is a bright orange color that seeps down into the midsole to give you a really bright and bold look. I dig it. The upper is a one-piece mesh that’s light, very breathable and happens to be made from 100% recycled polyester. The fit is near perfect. Designed with a wider forefoot and slim heel, this shoe hugs your foot in all the right places. It also accommodates my wide(r) feet nicely, not something all race day shoes have in common.
The step-in feel gave me Nike Vaporfly NEXT% vibes, and those vibes continued out on the road. (If you don’t know – those are really good vibes.) The midsole, FF BLAST TURBO is a Nylon based foam (it’s not Pebax, but it is), that is light, bouncy and provides a really smooth transition from landing to toe-off. Sandwiched into the midsole is a full-length carbon fiber plate to give you that extra pop. Between the bouncy midsole foam, firm carbon plate and curved, rocker design – it’s hard not to be propelled forward by this shoe. On several occasions, I came back from a run in this shoe to find my splits were much faster than I thought. Like, sometimes almost a minute-per-mile faster. That’s a pretty great feeling.
Speaking of great feelings, I took this on a 14-mile run and felt comfortable throughout and afterwards. This will work wonders in the marathon.
The outsole is also notable; designed with ASICSGRIP, a rubber that debuted in the ASICS trail scene, it’s one of the most grippy rubbers I’ve ever felt. I took this shoe out for a workout in the pouring rain, and not once was I worried about slipping.
While the stack height isn’t quite as high as the Alphafly or RC Elite 2, the cushioning feels there. The women’s shoe is designed with a 31mm heel, 26mm forefoot for a 5mm drop. They’re also nice and light. My W7.5 came in at 5.8oz.
THOMAS: The upper breathes like the first breath after wearing a face mask all day at an amusement park in humid Florida (something I had to do last weekend). This thing is airy. That’s something that matters, because the cooler the body, the lower the heart rate. In turn, lower heart rate equals less energy used by the athlete.
By now you should be used to the barely-there tongues in race slippers. Unsurprisingly, this tongue is minimal. The ankle collar and heel counter is lightly padded for comfort. Overall, the fit worked well for my low-volume narrow feet. In many ASICS I have been going down a half size, but the Sky runs true to size. I tried both the size 10 and the 10.5 and stayed with my normal US size 10.5.
Meg mentioned that the FLYTEFOAM Blast Turbo is a Nylon based foam, which is basically the generic term for Pebax. If we stop talking in code for a second, that means it has that Nike ZoomX feel.
The shape of the midsole and the carbon plate makes the difference in the feel of this shoe, making it more aggressive than other racers we’ve tested. The midsole flare on the lateral edge is designed to compress and rebound giving the Sky more “pop” off the forefoot. What that means is that you not only feel the plate working, but the exaggerated toe spring in the plate makes the final phase of your stride feel powerful. As a midfoot striker, the extra-wide midsole forefoot is stable and has the right amount of cushioning for long miles. While the heel narrows out, the shoe maintains a stable feel.
The ASICSGRIP rubber on the outsole is the sticky grippy rubber that can take on any road conditions. During testing, I did a hill repeat workout followed by 400 meter repeats in extremely wet conditions. I never once questioned my footing even through countless puddles.Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women
ROBBE: I had a bit of an issue with dialing in the lacing. My first run they were too tight and my foot fell asleep at the top, so I had to figure that out. I also think the toe box may be a bit too roomy? Take that with a grain of salt, because my perfect upper fit is the Saucony Endorphin line which is like being strapped onto the stick of a bottle rocket. Those with a bit of a wider foot will enjoy the extra space in the METASPEED Sky.
Also, not necessarily bad, but it’s something. These shoes are LOUD. Those who’ve run in the Nike Tempo NEXT% know what I”m talking about. I imagine this is what T. Rexes sounded like while chasing down Ford Explorers in 90s theme parks.
MEAGHAN: ASICS says this shoe only has a 31 mm stack height, but if you include the outsole and sockliner (how World Athletics measures stack) you will get closer to that 40 mm max. I was going to complain about how I wanted to see what a little more cushioning would feel like, but it turns out, it’s already there.
THOMAS: Adjusting the lacing on the Sky can be tricky. It is easy to lace too tightly at the top of the collar. Usually I am complaining about ASICS giving you too much tongue. The Sky could use a ¼” more tongue at the top. The laces and the top of the tongue are meeting at the same spot when you employ the Runner’s Loop lace style.Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women
ASICS METASPEED Sky Conclusion
ROBBE: Simply put, this shoe is worthy of its $250 price tag. And clearly it’s not just us, as three of ASICS’ top athletes have achieved significant PR’s in prototypes of the shoe.
This shoe is a dream to me, and I can’t wait to destroy it the same way I’ve destroyed every other dream in my life. *sobs uncontrollably GIF*
MEAGHAN: No recency bias: the ASICS METASPEED Sky is the closest thing to the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% that I’ve ever experienced. The light-bouncy-push-you-forward feeling that you want on race day is there. It’s comfortable. It’s fun. And it explains why Sara Hall is flying these days. If you want the Nike Vaporfly experience (with a better fitting upper) without buying a Nike shoe – the ASICS METASPEED Sky is your answer.
THOMAS: I really have enjoyed the recent batch of race day shoes we have reviewed. The two top heavyweights for me have been the New Balance RC Elite v2 and the METASPEED Sky. It comes down to a decision, not a knockout. For me, the METASPEED Sky wins.
But here’s the point: There used to only be one brand for race day. Now there are several good choices for athletes. Each has its own unique qualities, so you’ll have to find the right one for you. Shoes like the New Balance RC Elite v2 have a great upper and a super-cushioned ride. For me, the ASICS wins on weight and the way the midsole works with my stride. I also think it’ll work for that 80% slice of runners.
Truth be told, I’m leaning towards the Sky for my May marathon is because it feels gentler on my hamstrings than my beloved AlphaFly Next%. If my workouts continue to yield the same paces, the METASPEED Sky will cross the finish line with me.
You can pick up the ASICS METASPEED Sky (and Edge) for $250 on April 1 (the METASPEED Edge is coming in June).Shop ASICS – Men Shop ASICS – Women
Thomas is the founder of Big Run Media, Believe In The Run, and the Faster Bastards. His mission is to get everyone running. Life is better when you run and running is always better when you have the right gear.