By Kieran Alger
If you’re looking for a daily trainer that screams big-cushioned comfort, the ASICS Novablast 4 might be the shoe for you. This max-cushioned mile eater goes all in on big stack plushness. ASICS says the latest generation is still built to cope with everything from easy recovery miles to uptempo efforts but there are some significant updates to the midsole, uppers and the ride. So is the new Novablast an improvement? Jump into my ASICS Novablast 4 review to find out.
Stack Height, Drop, Weight and Price
The ASICS Novablast 4 is a max stack, big platform running shoe that puts a sizable wedge of midsole underfoot. The stack height comes in at 41.5mm in the heel and 33.5mm in the forefoot, for an 8mm drop.
The ASICS Novablast 4 tips the scales at 9.4oz or 267g in my UK test size 8.5. That’s marginally heavier than its predecessor the Novablast 3 but still quite light when you consider just how much midsole there is on this shoe.
41.5mm heel / 33.5mm forefoot
9.4oz / 267g
Suggestd Retail Price
True to size
Put the Novablast 4 and Novablast 3 side by side and initially it doesn’t seem like much has been changed. But there are some really important tweaks.
The Novablast 4 remains a giant shoe with quite a unique geometric midsole and heel. But it now uses a new FlyteFoam Blast + Eco midsole foam that features a small percentage of recycled materials.
The midsole geometry has changed, too. 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.
The new engineered woven uppers are designed to offer more stretch, ventilation, and durability. They are 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 hours in these shoes.
The tongue now has thin neoprene-like wings that wrap the foot nicely and take the edge off any potential lace pinch.
Flip the Novablast 4 over and there’s a generous covering of AHAR rubber to provide the grip and durability.
The Novablast 4 also now carries a CO2e label which puts the CO2 cost of the shoe at 11.2kg CO2e. That’s quite significantly higher than the Allbirds Tree Flyer 2 which comes in at 7.21kg CO2e.
In testing, I ran in my regular running shoe size (a UK 8.5) and 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.
Before we get into this section I need to come clean. I’ve never really enjoyed the Novablast. While some runners report a cushioned but bouncy ride, I’ve always found them a bit bulky and burdensome and the soft midsole a bit sinky and sapping. So I wasn’t that hopeful that I’d like these either.
Maybe my tastes have changed with age (and some slowing down), or maybe ASICS has tweaked the ride of the Novablast to make it more responsive but I think the fourth-generation has improved.
In testing I’ve run close to 40 test miles, at mixed paces from slow plods to marathon pace. I’ve also done a mile with one Novablast 3 and one Novablast 4 on each foot.
Fans of the pillowy cushion will still get what they need. The soft sink hasn’t gone completely but I find the midsole is now tuned to be slightly firmer and more responsive. The more aggressive rocker creates better rolling efficiency. There’s much less sink and spring and more of a rockered, responsive and immediate ride.
This is still a very, very cushioned shoe and that easy-day comfort and security is still there by the bucketload but if you want to crank up the pace they respond a shade faster than previous Novablasts. That boosts the versatility.
On some test runs, I still found them a bit soggy and sluggish. On tired legs, I occasionally felt like I was working against that midsole. And even though they’re relatively light by comparison to some other max cushioned running shoes, I’m still not in love with how broad and bulky they feel. Like previous Novablast models, there’s a lot going on and they can still feel like you’re strapping on a couple canoes.
There is a benefit to the wider base of midsole foam, though. It cradles the foot and creates a more stable ride overall. But if you don’t like maximalist shoes, you’ll want to jog on.
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.
If you get on well with oversized, maximal shoes that offer a softer edge, you’ll probably enjoy these. But you will need to like clomping great shoes on your feet and don’t expect your landings to be too precise.
Personally, though I enjoyed these more than any previous Novablasts but I still prefer things a bit more stripped back. I think you can get the same cushioned benefits from alternatives like the new Saucony Ride 17, the Brooks Ghost Max, the On Cloudeclipse and the New Balance 1080v13 but without having to lace up such a big beast of a shoe.