A thick slab of Asics’s new FlyteFoam Blast packs a bouncy, energetic ride.
The RW Takeaway: Asics debuted its new high-rebound, low-density FlyteFoam Blast material in the NovaBlast, a trainer with more bounce than stability.
- A tall, FlyteFoam Blast midsole makes the NovaBlast the softest and most responsive Asics shoe we’ve tried so far in 2020.
- The thick midsole doesn’t weigh the shoe down; it feels lightweight underfoot.
- The upper is comfortable and breathable, but runs a bit long.
Weight: 266 g (M) 215 g(W)
The NovaBlast is the anti-Asics Asics. Unlike the Japanese company’s traditional formula—multiple layers of foam that yield a stiff, stable ride—the NovaBlast uses a slab of thick, lightweight, high-rebound “FlyteFoam Blast.” The new midsole is complete with bright colors and an angular shape. It is, to our eyes, the most exciting-looking shoe Asics has made in awhile, and we get the feeling it’s meant to attract runners who aren’t on their eighth pair of the Gel-Cumulus.
- Springy, comfortable midsole
- Breathable mesh upper
- Unstable at times
It isn’t just a gimmick. The NovaBlast is delightfully springy underfoot, with seemingly endless cushioning that doesn’t “bottom out” despite its low density. Heel-toe transfer feels smooth; there’s a brief moment when your forefoot sinks into the foam before you’re up on your toes and the material returns to original form, propelling you onto your next stride.
The tall FlyteFoam Blast midsole seems like it should feel hazardous to run atop—many shoes with so much lightweight foam include midsole plates or other stabilizing devices. On flat roads, the NovaBlast felt planted enough, but it became squirrelly on steeply graded roads and uneven sidewalks. You’ll be fine if you watch your foot placement; we never had any issues with rolling the shoe over, but it doesn’t make you feel as surefooted as a traditional Asics. (Although those few “oh crap” moments kept the run interesting!)
Engineered Mesh Upper
The engineered mesh upper kept our feet comfortable and ventilated, but there are a few kinks to be worked out. The shoe runs long and there’s more volume throughout the upper than most trainers offer. (It’s especially noticeable in the NovaBlast since Asics’s typical fit feels more on the narrow side.) That extra space contributes to the occasional feeling of instability; even after tightening the laces beyond what’s comfortable, we still felt our feet sliding about within the shoe. We’d recommend trying before you buy, and maybe going down a half size.
On the Run
Our testers kept returning to the same words when describing the sensation of running in the NovaBlast: “bounce,” “trampoline,” and “pillow” were among the favorites. “The first time I put these shoes on, I had to do a double take to make sure I didn’t have mini trampolines strapped to my feet,” one tester said.
Others noticed how the shoes, with their 10-mm drop and aggressively upturned forefoot, seemingly propelled them up onto their toes. And, the extensive heel cushioning was appreciated while running down hills and managing lower leg injuries. “The foam in the heel was sponge-like but still had a ton of heel support,” one tester said. “I felt less soreness in the back of my legs after running.”
The shoe’s high-abrasion rubber outsole works well for the intended purpose—road running—and no tester reported slippage on streets or sidewalks. On gravel, dirt, and mud, the NovaBlast faltered, absorbing dirt in the heel cutout and sliding about. It’s a road shoe, after all, and one we’d recommend for anyone looking for an exciting ride from a neutral trainer.