By Kieran Alger
The ASICS Gel Nimbus is back with some minor upgrades. Now in its 26th generation, ASICS’ easy-mile, long-run cruiser is fully stacked to the max with the biggest midsole you’ll find on a daily trainer. It’s also seen upgrades to improve the fit with new uppers, tongues and heel collars. Plus changes to the outsole to boost grip and durability. So is it a step forward? Read my ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 review to find out.
Stack Height, Drop, Weight and Price
The new Nimbus packs a sizable stack across the shoe with 42mm in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot for an 8mm drop. That’s as max as stack as daily trainers come and similar to super carbon shoes like the Adidas Prime X 2 Strung. Just without the plate.
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 weighs in at 11.1oz or 314g in a US Men’s size 9.5. That’s close to an ounce heavier than the Nimbus 25, adding a chunk of additional weight to an already hefty shoe. In fact, there aren’t many heavier shoes. Only the On Cloudstratus 3, the Brooks Levitate 6 and the Altra Via Olympus 2 come close.
The US price for the Nimbus 26 stays the same as its predecessor at $160. Though you’ll now find cheaper deals for the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25. That’s still a chunk cheaper than the Nike Invincible 3 ($180).
Gel Nimbus 26
Easy recovery runs
42mm heel / 34mm forefoot
11.1oz / 314g
Suggested Retail Price
True to size
When it introduced the Nimbus 25, ASICS transformed the Nimbus line with major design changes that moved it into the realm of the max-stack super cushioned daily trainers. If that was an overhaul, the tweaks to the new ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 are much more subtle. This is evolution not revolution.
The midsole remains largely the same with a big, wide stack of FliteFoam Blast+ ECO foam that’s made with 20% bio-based content. It’s tuned medium soft to soft with a bit of rebound.
There’s the familiar PUREGel heel insert – a section of very springy, rebounding material incorporated into the midsole – to create soft, cushioned landings with maximum impact absorption. You also get a rockered midsole geometry that aims to smooth transitions.
Up top the Nimbus 26 features new engineered stretch knit uppers, the same big padded heel collars and stretchy, knitted and gusseted tongues.
There’s also an update to lace eyelets with more robust design that ASICS says should create a more supportive midfoot hold. They ought to be more durable too.
The other notable change is to the outsole where you now have a hybrid of ASICSGrip and AHAR rubber. The coverage is about the same but there’s now little studs that have been introduced to provide better grip – something the Nimbus 25 somewhat lacked.
In testing I ran in my regular Us 9.5 running shoe size. The fit for me was good with the plush step-in comfort you expect from a Nimbus. The padded collars hold the heels well, the tongues boost the plushness and the uppers wrap quite snugly but there’s ample room in the toe box and enough flex to feel spacious. I got decent lace lock down across the midfoot, too.
They’re not as natural and instantly disappearing on the foot as something like the Saucony Ride 17. That’s partly due to the weight and heft of the shoe. But comfort and fit here is reliable and I’d recommend going true to size.
In my testing I’ve covered 35 miles in the ASICS Gel Nimbus 26. I’ve done a shorter, faster 5km effort, a few hour-long 10km and one 3-hour social half marathon. Mostly on roads but I also tested the stability and durability on some light (muddy and wet) offroad river paths.
First up a disclaimer: I wasn’t the Nimbus 25’s biggest fan. I tend to prefer my shoes lighter, more agile – what I call a little less shoe on the foot. So with the minor tweaks and the extra weight, I wasn’t hopeful that I’d suddenly love the Nimbus 26.
From the first step-in, the Nimbus oozes plush comfort. Your feet feel well held by the heel collars and cocooned without being cramped by the wrapping knit uppers. You instantly know you’re lacing up plush shoes that prioritise comfort over speed and agility.
The ride is largely the same drill as the Nimbus 25. Loads of soft, plush comfort with a cradled footbed that takes almost all of the road out of each footstrike but isn’t completely devoid of energy. There’s a lot of sink but a little bounce, too. There’s a stiffness to the midsole too that helps with the clip-along, too.
Though initially I found the transitions somewhat disconnected. I didn’t get the seamless roll through I was hoping for from the rocker in the early miles and everything was a bit slappy.
That eased the more miles I covered but this certainly wasn’t one of those shoes that disappears and feels natural straight out of the box. Not like the Saucony Ride 17.
By the end of one 7-mile run I also had hotpots on my soles at the back of the toes and a bit of discomfort on a couple of metatarsals. I’ve tested 100s of shoes in the past 12 months and this is the first time I’ve had that. I didn’t get that with the Nimbus 25 either but I put it down to that disconnected midsole sensation.
I ran in some wet conditions where the knitted uppers held a lot of water, too and that may have contributed. It also made an already heavy shoe feel much weightier on the foot.
Speaking of wet conditions, to test the grip improvements, I did some A/B testing in the rain on a tight-corner circuit with some slippier sections. There’s notable improvements here. The Nimbus 26 is much stickier when you need it to be. They also handle some slippier off-road miles without any trouble as well.
While the Nimbus 26 isn’t a stability shoe, the wider platform in the forefoot and the heel make this a pretty reliable stable ride for such a big stacked shoe.
When it comes to durability, after 35 miles the shoes barely look touched and when it comes to big mileage, the Nimbus 26 are clearly built to last. With the combination of resilient foams, strong uppers and all-round robustness, I’d expect to easily get big mileage without any trouble.
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 is a very competent daily trainer that caters for the easier end of your weekly mileage. It’s not a shoe to run fast in and for that it lacks the versatility of some other daily trainers.
But if you’re after guaranteed easy-cruising comfort in a highly cushioned, neutral daily trainer you’re in the right place. Soft, cushioned comfort on easy-paced or recovery runs is what the Nimbus 26 does best. Though you’ll have to enjoy heavier, bulkier shoes because this is a bit of a beast.
If that’s you and you enjoyed the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25, you’ll like this shoe. The tweaked uppers have marginally improved the fit security and the grippier outsoles provide more confidence when conditions get trickier underfoot.
However, if you already own the previous-gen shoe, there’s no real need to upgrade.
If you’re a newcomer to Nimbus I’d recommend looking for deals on the Nimbus 25, too. That’s how subtle the upgrades are.
If you want the same cushioned protection in a more nimble shoe, for me the Saucony Ride 17 is a better option with similar cushioned comfort but more versatility – and it’s cheaper. The Brooks Ghost Max is another slightly cheaper alternative that’s well worth considering. If you like your max stack a bit firmer and more responsive, take a look at the On Cloudmonster or the Cloudeclipse.