By Coach Warren Brown:
At Rogue we’ve been scratching our heads for the last few years as ASICS has gotten stale. A couple years ago they released a brilliant shoe to the US called the Tarther The shoe offered a forgiving toe box for those with slightly wider feet, this feature also provided a clever means of reducing the impact of the runner’s landing without adding excessive materials between your foot and the ground. The shoe was light, responsive, smooth and now discontinued in the US because it didn’t have the marketing dollars to get it into enough stores nationwide. Can we start a Twitter campaign? #bringbackthetarther –set go!
The more foam, gel, air…. technology (this usually isn’t a good thing), the more you lose your feel for the ground. Contrary to what the design team behind some of the mega clunky shoes produced in the past couple decades want you to believe- more is not better, heck…it’s not even good.
Like Brooks with the Pure Project, ASICS just over a year ago released a lightweight “natural running” line with the 33 series. We appreciated the effort, but the just missed the mark in terms of blowing us away like we hoped. The Gel-Lyte33 came SO, SO close to hitting the mark, but its agitating overlay at the bottom of the laces irritated the top of nearly everyone we were fitting worse than a chiggers in the summer….well, that’s a big of an exaggeration. Shoe durability is always a tricky thing to score because it usually improves at the cost of added weight and price. At $100 though, the Gel-Lyte33 just broke down awfully quick for the price and weight.
Enter > ASICS Gel-Lyte33 2
**SPOILER ALERT** ASICS just threw in a legitimate contender for our top five shoe award with this update. If this were Hollywood, Roger Ebert would question its early season release for fading in the mind of the Academy during Oscar voting. Fortunately for us, this ain’t Hollywood and Rogues don’t forget. Basically every frustrating aspect of the first iteration has been addressed. While it is admittedly heavier than its predecessor, it’s a forgivable transgression as it’s largely due to the addition of a true outsole (as opposed to the EVA being nearly completely exposed), which enhances not only durability, but also traction underfoot. The upper has been addressed as well with the correction of that previously mentioned issue with the overlay and also a more secure fit around the heel. The improved upper also seems to accommodate those of us with wider feet better than ever. The shoe maintains its 6mm drop that has shown itself to be an easier adjustment for those who aren’t able to run in the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 3s (4mm), but are ready to get out of the traditional 10-12mm trainers.
ASICS is starting to tout a new technology in several new models known as Fluid Axis. Fluid Axis is designed to help compliment the motion of the runner’s subtalar joint (what dictates a runner’s degree of pronation). ASICS states that until now, shoes focused on the up and down motion of the ankle joint. After 50 miles in my Lytes, I haven’t noticed the effects of this technology, but I’m neutral and not a heel striker, so a technology in the heel obviously won’t have as much influence on the ride of shoe on my foot.
The shoe strays away from an extensive trussic system giving it a relatively smooth transition. I wouldn’t call it Brooks Launch level, but it’s still pretty good. The ride is responsive enough for tempo runs and intervals, but not so much so that it takes away from using it for an easy jog down Shoal Creek.
Other noteworthy features to be found with the second iteration of the Lyte include ASICS sticking to their guns by avoiding a super-firm heel counter. Kudos for the design team for not being afraid to move forward with this while many other shoes out there today continue to overemphasize that piece of the shoe.
Warren Brown is 2:25 marathoner. He coaches the coolest kids in all of Texas – Team Rogue Prep. He manages Rogue Running in Cedar Park. He Blogs. He puts on summer running camps & has huge quads! Come hang out with him!