Right, so I recently promised to give you my impressions of the new Asics FuzeX, which the good people at Asics Europe were kind enough to send me to review.
It only takes opening the box to appreciate that they are a lovely looking shoe, but what are they like to run in? My official review is in moderation before being published on the My Asics Experts Club site, but after almost 60 miles in them, I’m quite keen to let you know what I thought:
Apart from being beautifully designed, the FuzeX marks Asics’ foray in lighter, flatter (8mm drop, at a par with Asics’ competition range), more responsive shoes for everyday running. I was eager to try them as I have been running with more “minimal” shoes over the past 5 years, and was curious to see how Asics have evolved in that time.
For comparison, my long run (half to full marathon) shoes have been the likes of the Saucony Kinvara (versions 1, 3 & 5: all 4mm heel drop and around the 220gr mark) and the Altra Instinct 3 (zero drop, 230gr); while for shorter distances, tempo and speedwork sessions I’ve settled on the New Balance Minimus 10v2 (178gr, 5mm heel drop). So while it’s light and relatively flat compared to others in the Asics range, it’s probably the most substantial shoe that I’ve run in in a while.
The result is a lovely, “springy” sole, which feels very comfortable to run on and presents a good mix between bounce and responsiveness: In fact I didn’t find it awkward at all after years running in minimal, zero drop shoes.
I have to admit that I did have some concerns when I first wore them, as the toebox was more constrained than what I am used to and the arch did feel a bit high: I was worried that these features would cause discomfort when I was running. After the first few miles however, all such concerns were forgotten and I was enjoying the elastic, bouncy feel of the sole and the snug fit at the midsole and heel.
In fact the sole is probably the highlight of the shoe: Asics has constructed it with a combination of foam and gel (essentially a layer of gel encapsulated in foam), which I have to say works very well. The result is a lovely, “springy” sole, which feels very comfortable to run on and presents a good mix between bounce and responsiveness: In fact I didn’t find it awkward at all after years running in minimal, zero drop shoes.
One observation is that due to its softer heel and more responsive midsole, this shoe will happily accommodate a heelstrike: I suppose this is good if you are a heel striker, indifferent if you are a midfoot striker (as there is enough cushioning in the midsole and the heel isn’t so stacked that it gets in the way) and only bad if you are trying to transition from a heelstrike to a midfoot strike.
Another highlight is the comfort they afford: Despite my initial concerns, my confidence in the FuzeX built fast enough for me to try them in the Ashby 20, a hilly 20-mile race, after a very, very short build-up in them. Not the sort of thing I’d normally recommend (it’s advisable to increase distance gradually in a new shoe), but the FuzeX more than raised to the challenge: They felt good at the first third, and I just forgot about them after that (which is perhaps the greatest compliment for a running shoe on a 20m race!). I finished the race in the usual state of pain and exhaustion I always do, but with my feet feeling as good as they’ve ever felt after such a distance!
Clearly, this is the first iteration of the FuzeX, so there is still some room of improvement: my main suggestion to Asics would be to look to make these shoes lighter (at 281gr, they may be lighter than other shoes in the Asics range, but they are certainly not at the light end of the scale across running shoes in general): For example I am sure there are weight savings to be made at the upper, which currently incorporates some soft plastic elements (presumably for fit and stability, but I’m sure there’s a better way to achieve that) and is made of water-resistant mesh, which – personally – I doubt is worth the greater weight involved.
I would also like to see them reduce the heel drop a bit to, say, 6 or 4mm: As Asics themselves say on the FuzeX page, “a low heel drop encourages quicker transitions and liquefies your stride” – and I sure do love a liquefied stride!
Overall a lovely shoe though, and one I would thoroughly recommend looking at before choosing your next pair.