By Kieran Alger
When it comes to max-stack daily trainers, ASICS has a couple of popular big hitters in the fight. The Nimbus and Novablast lines are both designed to deliver cushioned comfort for cruising miles and lots of protection for your slower, recovery efforts.
Go back a generation and the Nimbus was the softer, more pillowy option, while the Novablast arguably offered a touch more snappiness. But is that still the case? I’ve put in the test miles to find out. Read my ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 vs ASICS Novablast 4 review and discover which shoe might suit your running needs best.
Stack Height, Drop, Weight and Price
First up, the all-important stack height, weight and price comparisons.
The new ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 packs a sizable stack with 42mm in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot for an 8mm drop. That’s as max stack as daily trainers come. It’s right up there with super carbon shoes like the Adidas Prime X 2 Strung. Just without the plate.
The Novablast 4 has marginally lower stack at 41.5mm in the heel and 33.5mm in the forefoot, also for an 8mm drop. These are both packing big midsole cushioning.
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 weighs in at 11.1oz or 314g in a US Men’s size 9.5 while the Novalbast 4 tips the scales at a lighter 9.4oz or 267g.
The US price for the ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 stays the same as its predecessor at $160. The Novablast 4 is a chunk cheaper at $140.
Easy miles /
Easy miles /
42mm Heel / 34mm Forefoot
41.5mm Heel / 33.5mm Forefoot
11.1oz / 314g
9.4oz / 267g
Suggested Retail Price
True to size
True to size
Despite sharing similar big, wide midsole stacks using the same FlyteFoam Blast+ ECO foam that’s made with 20% bio-based content, there are some important differences to the designs here. Both shoes have been tweaked. The changes to the Novablast 4 are much more notable than the subtle mods in the Nimbus 26 that mainly focus on the uppers and the outsole.
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 midsole remains largely the same with a big, wide stack of FlyteFoam Blast+ ECO foam and a rockered midsole geometry that aims to smooth transitions.
The foam is tuned medium soft to soft with a bit of rebound with the familiar PUREGel heel insert – a wedge of springy, rebounding material incorporated at the heel to help create soft, cushioned landings with maximum impact absorption. You also get a rockered midsole geometry that aims to smooth transitions.
ASICS Novablast 4 retains its unique geometric midsole and heel. But it now also uses FlyteFoam Blast + Eco midsole foam. The midsole geometry has changed. There’s a much more pronounced midsole rocker, in a bid to create a smoother and snappier heel to toe transitions. The forefoot and heel now flare out far wider, creating a more reliable and stable platform to run off.
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 new engineered woven uppers on the Novablast 4 are designed to offer more stretch, ventilation, and durability. They’re softer and smoother than the uppers on the Novablast 3 but there’s not that much more stretch.
Another interesting tweak: the Novablast 4’s side walls now rise higher up the foot for more security. The toe box also sweeps up following the rocker shape. That creates noticeably more room between the uppers and the tops of your toes – a positive change for anyone looking to run long miles in these shoes.
The tongue now has thin neoprene-like wings that wrap the foot nicely, taking the edge off any potential lace pinch.
Flip them over and the Nimbus 26 now has a hybrid of ASICSGrip and AHAR rubber with little studs that have been introduced to provide better grip – something the Nimbus 25 somewhat lacked.
The Novablast 4 carries a generous covering of AHAR rubber to provide grip and durability.
When it comes to fit I ran true to size in both shoes in my regular running shoe size – a UK 8.5 / US 9.5 – and I’d recommend going true to size in both.
For the Novablast 4, I found the fit secure but roomy with decent wiggle room in the toe box. There’s good hold across the midfoot and a largely secure heel. Unless you like your shoes very snug. I’d recommend going true to size.
With the Nimbus 26, I’d also recommend true to size. 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.
The fit of the Nimbus 26 is more snug and wrapping overall, particularly in the heels. Meanwhile the Novablast 4 has more volume, space and wiggle room in the toe box.
For my run tests I’ve run around 45 miles in the Nimbus 26 And around 40 in the Novablast 4. That’s been at the usual mix of paces, time on feet and terrain, including roads, sidewalks and light off-roads park and river paths.
Now if, like me, you’re a fan of firmer-ride, more responsive running shoes, then the Novablast 4 is a clear improvement on the past-gen shoes. The midsole tweaks are a net positive, bringing some additional immediacy and response into each step.
As a result, this shoe now has much more versatility without sacrificing too much of the soft, cushioned protection that many enjoyed from the older Novablasts. But you’ll have to get on well with oversized, maximal shoes that offer a softer edge. If you do, you’ll probably enjoy these. I still find them a bit clomping and I generally like shoes that are more compact and precise but these are my favourite Novablast to date.
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 26 is a competent daily trainer that caters for the easier end of your weekly mileage. It’s not a shoe to run fast in and it lacks the versatility of some other daily trainers that cope better across a range of paces.
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 as with the Novablast 4, you’ll have to enjoy heavier, bulkier shoes because the Nimbus 26 is a bit of a beast.
Despite pacing a similar stack and drop of the same midsole foam, the Novablast 4 runs a bit flatter. The Nimbus 26 almost has a ball of that FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco engaging a little faster when you first land on your midfoot, creating more of a noticeable forward roll.
The other thing to note, the new outsole on the Nimbus 26 has improved the grip but it makes the ride much more slappy. The ride and foot feel isn’t quite as disappearing as the Novablast 4.
I get the appeal of the Nimbus 26. I can see why a lot of runners love it, for it’s oodles of pillowy cushioning that almost removes the road from the equation. But I don’t get on that well with the most sinking, squishy shoes. I think the latest generation of the Novablast 4 manages to balance things better with enough softness for the really easy miles but a faster return and a more immediate ride, that’s livelier and therefore more versatile overall.
The Novablast 4 is more fun to run in and basically has more gears than the Nimbus 26 that can feel a bit one-speed.
The Novablast 4 still lets you run slower, in comfort. It’s still big and cushioned with a wide stable base but it’s lighter and cheaper. And if I’m picking one shoe here, it’s the Novablast 4 all day long.
Outside of these two shoes, I think I’d opt for the Saucony Ride 17. That can also cover similar runs but I think it does it better than either of these.