ASICS Gel-Nimbus 16 ReviewAugust 23, 2014
- Excellent cushioning
- Extremely good durability
- Quick turnover compared with other cushioning shoes
- Luxurious padding in upper
- 10mm heel drop doesn't impede midfoot strikers
- Soft foam sucks some energy out of stride
The Gel-Nimbus is a luxurious cushioning shoe that delivered superb impact protection but also performed fairly well in speed and responsiveness considering all that energy sapping foam. It’s best suited for high mileage training for those who value soft landings over efficiency, but don’t want to get stuck with a heavy, clunky shoe. The rebound had more pop than both the Brooks Ghost or Brooks Glycerin, and a softer road feel than any Mizuno shoe.
The Gel-Nimbus is Asics’ flagship neutral cushioning shoe, with large gel pods, standard lacing, and ample high abrasion rubber.
It boasts larger and more expansive gel pods under both forefoot and heel than its sibling, the Gel-Cumulus. Additionally, the last has more overlays, with increased cushioning, and therefore delivers more of a custom feel. The cushioning and comfort are extremely good, but don’t totally slow you down. I found myself happiest with this shoe during recovery runs and long tempo runs when I was not concerned about speed.
The heel counter was more flexible than the Gel-Cumulus with less rigidity and less of a one size fits all approach. The upper is padded with a huge amount of foam and delivers a pillowy feel extending into the heel. Gel pods under the heel and metatarsal heads gave a smooth ride with both heel and forefoot striking. Asics’ flexible FluidFit system anchored the foot securely to the sole and I never felt any instability. Personally, I developed hot spots around the posterior-medial heel collar, as did I with the entire Asics line, but individual feet shapes may have a different experience.
High abrasion rubber is used throughout the sole, providing both durability and creating a stable ground feel. There was no harsh fall into mid stance even when heel striking (unlike what I felt in the Pearl Izumi line and in shoes with rigid, total contact soles).
This was also reflected in our lab testing. The Gel-Nimbus scored slightly above average in our test of the inherent stability of the shoe as transitions through footstrike to toe-off.
Despite the shoe’s weight I felt and clocked surprisingly fast times. Midfoot striking did lead into a speedy turn over. When midfoot striking, I had no feeling the heel was in the way, even with the 10mm drop. This shoe felt the fastest in the Asics neutral cushioning line, faster than both the Gel-Cumulus and Mizuno Wave Paradox.
Compared with the other thick, cushioning shoes in our test, the Gel-Nimbus performed better than average on responsiveness. The gel pods dispersed impact as expected yet did not seem to diminish speed or energy during the transitional moment between strike and toe off. There was a certain pop and definitive energy return into flight phase and I had no difficulty getting over the forefoot gel pod. (That said, this is an undeniably soft, squishy shoe, built to suck a lot of energy out of impact. We’re just comparing it here to other thick, cushioning shoes like it.)
At $150, this shoe is well above average in overall price, and offers performance slightly better than similarly priced shoes. It’s a premium product, but that pushes its overall value down a bit. Those looking for a tailored comfort fit that will last training for marathon distances will find their match here.
Asics shoes are known to offer very good durability, which held true with the Nimbus 16. There is a copious amount of sole rubber that showed no wear after 40 miles on pavement. There was no shrinkage or change in fit from running in moderate rain to hot dry days.
Our lab testing also showed very little collapse of the midsole or ramp angle after 150-miles.