Asics Gel-Nimbus 26: Tried and tested

Minor tweaks turn this staple, max-cushioned trainer into something more versatile.

asics gel nimbus 26

Weight: 305g (M), 262g (W)

Stack height: 42mm (heel), 34mm (forefoot)

Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm

Type: Road/neutral/max-cushioned

The shoe

When a shoe reaches its 26th iteration, it hardly needs an introduction. One of Asics’ best-selling and longest-standing running shoes (pipped to the post only by the Gel-Kayano), the Gel-Nimbus has long been a staple, cushioned, daily trainer for many.

But when the Gel-Nimbus 25 launched at the beginning of 2023, Asics decided to shake things up, opting for a full-scale reinvention from the Gel-Nimbus 24. There was new lightweight and energetic FF Blast Plus cushioning in the midsole; a new knitted upper, stretchy knit tongue and collar construction; and new Pure Gel Technology embedded between the upper and midsole to aid shock absorption. Not to mention a more modern, stylish look.

So, what’s been the approach with the v26? Well, Gel-Nimbus 25 fans, breathe a sigh of relief – the latest update is a lot more paired back than the last. So, if you enjoyed the fit and feel of the v25, you’re probably not going to be disappointed here. Rohan van der Zwet, senior product marketing manager in performance running at Asics EMEA, said that after the major changes to the silhouette last year, the focus was now on improving the comfort of the shoe.

That being said, minor tweaks have created some surprising changes – namely to the ride of the shoe.

Gel-Nimbus 26
Asics Gel-Nimbus 26

How does the Gel-Nimbus 26 fit?

I find Asics’ running shoes are usually a pretty standard width and run true to size – and the Gel-Nimbus 26 is no exception. I’m a UK 8 in standard shoes and go half a size up in my running shoes: the 8.5 fits me perfectly, with plenty of room in the toe box. If you do have wide feet, there’s a separate ‘wide’ option available.

With the v26, there’s a new engineered knit upper, as well as a change to the construction of the eyelets (although you’re unlikely to spot this unless you compare the shoes side by side). I found this allowed me to get a slightly more supportive midfoot hold, with less ‘puckering’ of the upper than the v25.

Left: Gel-Nimbus 25. Right: Gel-Nimbus 26.

There’s been very little change in terms of the knitted, gusseted tongue, and that heel collar is just as plush and padded as before, keeping you well locked in on the run.

What’s the Gel-Nimbus 26 like to run in?

One of the first words I associate with the Gel-Nimbus 25 is ‘plush’ – it’s the kind of shoe that you can sink your feet into for those easy recovery runs, but gives little back in terms of energy return.

With the stack height (42mm heel, 34mm forefoot) remaining the same in the latest iteration, I expected little change to the underfoot feel. The rearfoot PureGel technology is also the same.

But as soon as I put the shoe on, I noticed a slightly firmer ride. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing drastically different, and the Gel-Nimbus is still a lot of shoe. However, it’s enough that the word ‘plush’ doesn’t feel quite as apt here now. In 2024, I think we’re seeing a trend towards shoes becoming more all-encompassing, in that they need to be comfortable enough for easy runs, but retain a little bit of responsiveness for some tempo work.

That’s not to say that the Gel-Nimbus 26 is suddenly on par with the likes of the Asics Novablast 4 – the Novablast is still lighter, a lot more versatile overall and has a slight rocker to it to aid transitions. But the Gel-Nimbus 26 now feels like something you could wear for a long run with some tempo effort mixed in, if you wanted to.

asics gel nimbus 26

So, why the difference? Well, the FF Blast Plus cushioning is actually the brand’s new Eco formula (made from 20% bio-based content), which could explain why we’ve gone from a soft-feeling shoe to a slighter firmer one. As is the case with more sustainable midsoles (looking at you, Allbirds Tree Flyer 2), you tend to lose some of that softness. It’s definitely not a bad thing, though – I know some people found the v25 too soft underfoot, so the v26 is likely to appeal to more runners. It has pushed the price up by £5, though, to £180. So it’s now at higher end for a daily trainer.

Another key change in the latest Gel-Nimbus is the addition of new Hybird Asicsgrip technology – a combination of Asicsgrip and Aharplus outsole rubber that’s been designed to deliver better traction and durability. I’ve been training for an ultramarathon during a rather wet winter in the UK, and have definitely benefitted from the improved grip.

RW Verdict

While the Gel-Nimbus 25 was very much a recovery day shoe that you could sink your feet into, it never got a look in if I wanted to include any form of speed work in my sessions. Seemingly minor tweaks to the midsole foam in the latest iteration change the ride to something a tad firmer, making this a shoe that’s now capable of handling some speed.

That being said, there’s still plenty of cushioning underfoot. This, combined with a more comfortable upper, improved lockdown and better grip on wet and slippy roads, makes the Gel-Nimbus 26 a quality daily trainer that will appeal to beginners and experienced runners alike.

In terms of comparisons, the shoe is most similar to the Nike Invincible 3 and the Saucony Triumph 21, although it feels more stable than the former and softer than the latter.

Related Articles