GEAR CHECK: Asics Gel-Cumulus 20
Price: From R1999.90
Weight: 289g (M), 229g (W)
The Right Shoe For: Kicking off (or sticking with) your marathon training
Asics broke all the rules in its roaring 20th update to the Cumulus – and we couldn’t be happier about the improvements. Shave nearly 30 grams and a half of weight off the shoe? Check. Swap out the old foam with a lighter FlyteFoam midsole? Done. Put the cherry on top with a more breathable upper? You better believe it. After two decades as a go-to trainer for neutral-footed runners, the Cumulus proves it can still surprise – while maintaining the quality that Asics enthusiasts expect.
Longtime runners in the Asics brand picked up fast on the changes to the Cumulus. Besides noting that the shoe definitely felt lighter, our testers sensed less cushioning and more stiffness than previous models – which our data from the RW Shoe Lab supported. While the declines were subtler in the men’s version, the ladies’ saw more sizeable drop offs that one tester said gave the shoe a “crisper and more responsive ride.” However, not all were sold on the shoe’s foreign stiffness, and preferred the cushioning and flexibility they were accustomed to. Runners seeking a plusher Asics shoe might opt for the Nimbus 20.
Shock-absorbing Gel Cushion
Previous models in the Cumulus series used a plastic support truss under the arch that bolstered the shoe’s midsole. The 20 shed this feature when it transitioned to the firmer, higher-density FlyteFoam. Now the Cumulus relies primarily on a vertical sole groove that guides the foot through the gait cycle, and still offers more than enough support for our neutral-footed testers. “The guidance system really controls your landing mechanics,” one tester remarked. “I felt like I couldn’t really go with my natural gait.” This type of guidance, however, would fit the bill for those who underpronate.
The new Cumulus still sports a layer of Gel cushioning in its midsole, absorbing shock better than foam alone. Asics concentrates the gel in both the heel and forefoot for smoother transitions, and better protection through the entire gait cycle.
A Tread for High Mileage
Traction on the Cumulus 20 was a favourite feature for a number of our wear-testers. Asics plants pockets of high-abrasion rubber in specific areas of the outsole for more grip right where you need it, which helped the shoe perform well over rain-slicked roads and even trails. Plus, our testers commented that the tread seemed especially durable, with expectations to last through high-mileage training.
Slimmed Down and Restyled Upper
For the big 2-0, Asics overhauled the upper with a stretchier jacquard mesh that breathes better than previous versions. The material also replaces several of the heavier plastic overlays that adorned the 19, in favour of a fit that adapts better to the foot. Stepping into the shoe, our testers immediately noted the cozier new sockliner, which wraps the foot snugly and helps guard against blisters. “[The Cumulus 20] offers high-performance comfort,” one tester vouched. “But the upper does have a tighter fit within a narrow toe box, which may be best suited for runners with slender feet.”
All the Stats You Need!
Weight: Moderate | 289g
Heel-To-Toe-Drop: Moderate | 9.2 mm
Heel Height: Very High | 35.3 mm
Heel Cushioning: Soft
Forefoot Height: Very High | 26.1 mm
Forefoot Cushioning: Soft
Flexibility: Very Stiff
Stability Features: Some
Energy Return: Moderate
Weight: Moderate | 229g
Heel-To-Toe-Drop: Very High | 10.9 mm
Heel Height: High | 32.3 mm
Heel Cushioning: Moderate
Forefoot Height: Moderate | 21.5 mm
Forefoot Cushioning: Firm
Stability Features: Some
Energy Return: More
We put each shoe through real-world usage and a battery of mechanical tests in our lab to provide you with objective – and exclusive – data. In addition to measuring a shoe’s weight, we measure sole thickness (everything that sits between your foot and the road), how well the foam cushions your stride, and the flexibility of the forefoot. All this is taken into account in our reviews of each shoe.