Seasons change as do the designs woven into new versions of our favourite footwear. To innovate running shoes, designers must consider performance and environmental requirements, to balance the needs of nature with optimal support underfoot. In the 25th version of Asics’s Gel Nimbus, we see a refined model tailored for comfort, built on biomechanical feedback to sustain high demands of endurance.
To understand how a leading footwear brand re-creates a classic, we asked Asics to share their design process for the new Nimbus. With its 25th itteration, the new model of this max-cushioned, neutral runner, is exceptionally balanced—offering a softer, smoother running experience to go the distance.
ASICS: Desisning the Nimbus
What criteria did ASICS apply to innovate the GEL-NIMBUS 25?
Laura Bolgen, Senior Manager Global Product Line, Performance Running Footwear at ASICS said: “Following ASICS design philosophy, we use athlete wear testing, biomechanical research, sustainable methods and decades of craftmanship to create products that feel best for both body and mind. For the development of the GEL-NIMBUS™ 25, we set the bar very high. We knew that our ambitious goal of ‘creating the most comfortable running shoe’ was one that would require even more design and development work as well as internal and external testing and consumer validation. As a team, we’re incredible proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish throughout the 18+ months of tireless development work, and we hope that every runner will feel the difference that this uniquely comfortable GEL-NIMBUS™ model has to offer.”
How do these features influence the biomechanics?
ASICS Spokesperson: “The GEL-NIMBUS™25 is suitable for long easy runs, for all runners, novice or experienced, who are looking for a highly cushioned, neutral shoe. This model was developed with new and improved technologies to provide dynamic comfort for the duration of the run. The runner will feel a sense of comfort and security in the support that is offered through the new knit upper and tongue construction, and the new cushioning features will provide an increased underfoot cushioning experience, that delivers a smooth, stable transition from foot contact through to toe off.”
What demographic did you look at when testing the feel and performance?
Dr Chris Bishop PhD from The Biomechanics Lab in South Australia shares: “ASICS Global commissioned The Biomechanics Lab to design and deliver an independent study to compare the comfort of the new GEL-NIMBUS™ 25 shoe to three leading competitor shoes and its predecessor, the GEL-NIMBUS™ 24.”
Explaining the design of the study, Dr Bishop said, “Comfort is one of the most important factors when purchasing running shoes. But it is tricky to assess objectively as comfort is not a biomechanical metric. It’s a subjective perception. Where traditional measures of comfort are subjective and prone to bias based on initial perception of the shoe, we used a tool previously developed in our lab (the RUN-CAT) which we have shown makes the runner think specifically about the shoe when they run. This ultimately reducing initial perception bias and is an overall better assessment of the shoe’s design and function.”
“100 recreational runners were recruited from running clubs in Adelaide. The test participants had to be able to run on an instrumented treadmill at a pace of 10km/hour for three minutes, and were asked to rate the comfort of each shoe based on various comfort related criteria, including heel cushioning, forefoot cushioning, shoe stability and forefoot flexibility”, Dr Bishop explains.
Dr Bishop concludes, “An independent statistical analysis of the results using three different measurement models was conducted and the results were clear: The GEL-NIMBUS™ 25 was rated as the number one in comfort”.
Which conditions did you see the GEL-NIMBUS 25 excel?
ASICS Spokesperson: “The GEL-NIMBUS™25 is a highly cushioned, neutral shoe designed for road running conditions.”
How much feedback went into the development process?
ASICS Spokesperson: “The development of the GEL-NIMBUS™ 25 was an extended design and development period of more than 18 months, following the new ASICS Design Philosophy, which included more extensive wear testing with runners, capturing more feedback and insights pre-development, during development and post-development.”
What is the sustainability score for the shoe in terms of mileage (durability/lifespan of the shoe)and mental fatigue (how the shoe supports form/comfort—reducing mental friction over distance)?
ASICS Spokesperson: “The GEL-NIMBUS™25 is a shoe designed for road running in which the lifespan of the shoe would be influenced by a number of factors including an individual’s running habits—are they running 10km everyday with the GEL-NIMBUS™25? Are they running five times a week at multiple distances and swapping out their shoes daily? The GEL-NIMBUS™25 expected mileage will change based on factors including running mileage, body type, gait and biomechanical influences, climate you live in, and the conditions that the runner is putting the shoes through. One of the key material features in the GEL-NIMBUS™25 is the new lightweight and energetic FF BLAST™ PLUS ECO cushioning and it is made with at least 20% bio-based material from renewable sources.”
Our thoughts: This is a premium daily runner that performs as designed. If however, you are looking for one shoe that will adapt to different paces and road conditions the Nimbus has a few caveats. It is best at slower, longer efforts over threshold or sprints, and the tread pattern is better suited to dry conditions, performing sub optimally on sleek or icy surfaces.