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Asics Gel Nimbus 20 Review

I first started running in the ASICS Nimbus twenty years ago while competing in college cross country, and at the time, the plush cushioning offered by the Nimbus was certainly worth the accompanying wallet punishing price tag.

Compared to the price of other goods and services, it is striking to see that the Nimbus has only increased in price $40 in twenty years!

The Nimbus has always stayed true to it’s roots of being a very traditional feeling running shoe, meaning that I could take this shoe back to the 1990s and it wouldn’t look completely out of place on the wall at a specialty running store.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 - Lateral Side

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 – Lateral Side

Die hard fans of the Nimbus line typically heel strike, appreciate the stability (for a neutral shoe), and also like the old school designs which haven’t evolved much.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 General Info

As one can ascertain from the price, the Nimbus is the top of the line shoe in the ASICS neutral running line. It has long been considered the neutral counterpart to the Gel Kayano, ASICS premium stability model.

In my opinion the Nimbus 20 competes against the Brooks Glycerin and the Mizuno Wave Creation most accurately when comparing feel on the run, but the Nimbus 20 feels even less changed than those models.

This twentieth update is somewhat lighter at 10.8 ounces (men’s size 9) with a standard 10mm drop. Interestingly enough, ASICS makes the Nimbus 20 gender specific, and the women’s model weighs 9.3 ounces (women’s size 8) and has a 13mm drop to further protect female achilles tendons.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 - Top

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 – Top

My first impressions of the Nimbus 20 really took me back as the feel underfoot has mostly stayed the same, however I was surprised by how firm the updated cushioning system is.

My first run in the Nimbus 20 was an eight miler with a four mile hilly tempo thrown in on smooth, crushed gravel bike trails.

In the cold weather (14 F) I found the forefoot and heel gel pods to feel much firmer than I was expecting and my footstrike was unusually audible on the concrete bike paths during my warmup.

Once into the tempo portion of the run I found it difficult to engage my normal midfoot strike with such a built-up heel on the Nimbus 20.

Needless to say, I didn’t find the Nimbus spry enough to consider using for another faster paced run, and I also experienced some irritation to the inside of both big toes due to the tapered nature of the toebox.

This could be solved by sizing up, but otherwise the Nimbus 20 fit well and I had an ample thumbs width of room between my big toe and the front of the
toe box.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 Sole Unit

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 - Sole

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 – Sole

ASICS completely overhauled the midsole for the Nimbus 19, adding their proprietary Flytefoam throughout the midsole which reportedly uses organic fibers to increase the resiliency of the material.

This foam rides underneath the rear and forefoot Gel cushioning pods. A Guidance Trusstic system reduces torsion in the midfoot and Guidance Line is a groove that runs from heel to toe which aims at optimizing the transition from heel strike to toe off.

I would rate the arch support feel as minimal as it isn’t noticeable or irritating, and the Nimbus 20 could certainly be worn by slight overpronators.

All in all, the Nimbus 20 has a great deal of stability features which, if not needed, simply add to the heavy and labored feel of this shoe.

At 10.8 ounces for a men’s size 9 US, there are plenty of lighter weight trainers, even in the ASICS line, which feel more responsive and allow the foot to move a bit more freely.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 Upper Info

This Nimbus 20 has exactly the same midsole and outsole of the Nimbus 19, but ASICS made some important tweaks to the upper which had been criticized for being to narrow and short in the toebox.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 - Heel

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 – Heel

The Nimbus 20 employs a gradient mesh which allows for additional forefoot comfort, however I think that the toebox is still too tapered and my big toes were generally irritated after training runs.

The gradient mesh is breathable and seemed to dry quickly, and this mesh greatly reduces overlays seen on previous models. The only overlay is the laminated ASICS logo.

Overall, the heel collar, tongue, and heel cup are very plush but rigid feeling while running, and I never experienced irritation. Placing the thermoplastic aspects of the heel cup externally on the shoe gives it a much softer in-step.

Asics Gel Nimbus 20 Conclusions

The Nimbus 20 will be a great shoe for long time wearers of the Nimbus as well as runners who enjoy the old school cadillac models in other brands, such as the Brooks Glycerin, Mizuno Wave Creation, or the ASICS Kayano.

While there still seems to generally be a very large market for this traditional feel, and look, of a running shoe I’m not entirely sure that it isn’t holding a lot of new runners back from finding a shoe on the market that may work better for them.

If you are looking for a stable, well cushioned, neutral trainer which works great for heel striking, then the ASICS Nimbus 20 will be a great shoe for you.

This is not a shoe for uptempo running, trail running, or those looking for a flexible and soft feel in their running shoe.

The Nimbus 20 rides firm, but plush, with the kind of transition and ride that feel as though it wants to control where and how your foot lands.

Overall, the ASICS Nimbus 20 feels dated to me, like I’m returning to those same shoes I trained in fifteen to twenty years ago.

It has a clunky, rigid feel that places me back on my heels, and honestly its felt like a bit of a chore to test.

If I was still working at a running specialty store, this would not be a shoe I would recommend for beginners who are learning proper biomechanics, and I would argue that many runners and walkers who have stayed loyal to this shoe haven’t explored newer technologies on the market.

However, ASICS has tapped into something powerful in the running shoe market, which is the collective fear that our favorite model will be phased out or changed to the point that it is no longer recognizable.

I applaud ASICS for this, but I do wonder if it keeps their market share from expanding.

If the Nimbus 20 works for you and feels just like the old running shoe you’ve been wearing for years, more power to you.

However, I’d encourage you to break out of the mold and try something different. Just maybe it will make you a better runner.

We purchased a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 20 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.

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