The Asics Gel Cumulus 14 is the latest in a series of excellent shoes. In this review, I'll explore how they perform, how each feature works, and how the felt 50 miles down the line.
Upon opening the box, I got that familiar sense of safety, having been a Gel Cumulus wearer for a while, and the 13s were my favorite to date. So once I'd put them on my feet, I was happy that they still had that feeling of comfort. With just the right level of snug-ness, they were immediately comfortable. However, I was a little surprised to find that they hadn't altered the sizing, once again having to go half a size larger than in most other shoes; a problem that has existed in the Cumulus series for a while. However, once you get your head around that, they are a very comfortable shoe.
The heel unit had stayed much the same, with a heel counter and gel cushioning system to give you a feeling of ease. The main update on this model is the introduction of a full length Guidance line and Guidance trustic. this is designed to push your foot forward in an efficient and smooth straight line, and when i started running in them this was noticeable. It was a very smooth and efficient ride, and when heel striking, you feel very little in terms of heel impact. The guidance system also seemed to speed up my gait cycle, and push my foot efficiently along the tarmac. This was actually noticeable (although I am unsure whether or not this was an improvement in fitness) over my 5km splits. When going to my more natural forefoot style however, the shoe felt a little cumbersome, and difficult to use, due to the 12mm heel-toe differential, and heavy amount of cushioning. This however was not at all unexpected, as this is not what the shoe was designed for. It was designed for heel strikers, and in that sense, excels at this job. Aside from the gel in the heel and forefoot, the midsole is made of Solyte foam, a foam used in the top end Asics shoes. This results in a lighter, more cushioned feel than you get with standard EVA and felt very nice. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when running, and my feet felt almost as good at the end of my run as they did at the beginning.
The upper of the shoe is also an update. It has used a Hotmelt upper to eliminate some of the seams and stitching resulting in less irritation. This also reduces overlays, resulting in a slight weight loss. It is also very breezy, the idea is you stay light. It is the job of the Nimbus to feel plush, by using memory foam inserts. The Cumulus offers you cushioning at a lighter weight, and again, excels at this job.
AHAR+ is again used in this shoe to make it very hard wearing, and as you can see from the photos at the top, after extended us, has hardly been touched. The grip is also excellent, making your foot stick to the road. When used on grass (again, as with forefoot running it is out of its comfort zone), it didn't fare badly, but I wouldn't have been able to keep up the grass for more than a mile or so without noticing it was more difficult. Again though, this is not its job, so fares well when placed in unfamiliar surroundings.
The shoes are holding up well. I have not noticed any aches and pains in my shins or knees, and the fit is just as comfortable as it was when I first put them on. I do however recommend that if you are looking to compete at a high level, you may want to look into a specific race shoe that is a little lighter. This shoe is excellent for training, but I couldn't help thinking that I could go a little faster in a slightly lighter shoe. But for its purpose it more than meets its requirements. I now eagerly await the arrival of the new Asics Gel Cumulus 15!