Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 Introduction
If it doesn’t have any visible gel, is it still a Gel-Nimbus? Gel used to be the Nimbus’ main, standout feature but over the years, the Nimbus series has reduced its gel content more and more, to the point where the Nimbus 25 now only has a small, hidden gel unit in the heel.
This is a sign that ASICS is progressive- willing to let go of the past and focus on other functional features that add value to the shoe. Gel doesn’t make a big difference to the ride and most of the cushioning softness comes from the midsole foam anyway. Perhaps the Nimbus 26 won’t have any gel at all? The ASICS Novablast doesn’t have any gel and it sells like hotcakes.
The Nimbus is a shoe that I look forward to every year because it gets a complete (midsole, outsole and upper) redesign every year, unlike most trainers which get upper-only updates every second year.
I tested the Nimbus 24 last year and I loved how soft yet energetic its ride felt. It was the softest Nimbus I had tried to date and also the most versatile. The things that I didn’t like about it were its midsole that was susceptible to cuts and its super narrow toe box but it was still my favourite Nimbus to date.
2023’s Nimbus refresh has a brand new, never before seen midsole foam in FF Blast+ Eco. Its midsole is much thicker than any previous Nimbus- so thick that it’s now above the 40 mm World Athletics racing limit.
It weighs 10.3 oz for a men’s US 9 which is almost exactly the same as last year’s version, only 0.1 oz (3 g) heavier. The price remains 160 USD which is the average price for max-cushioned trainers.
This is the Platinum colourway which has an accentuated silver finish that sparkles in the sunlight.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 First Impressions
When I saw pictures of the all-white Nimbus 25 with no logos (which was a clever marketing stunt), the midsole looked so thick that I thought it was the new Metaspeed Sky 2.
The first time I tried the Nimbus 25 in my regular size in the store, the toe box felt way too narrow and uncomfortable so I had to purchase it a half size bigger.
My first run was a long, slow 30 km easy run. The ride of the Nimbus 25 felt firmer than last year’s Nimbus but the cushioning level felt higher and more substantial. I also noticed that ride transitions felt smoother than in any previous Nimbus.
I felt some upper discomfort inside, at the midfoot during the first 15 km but after some lace adjustment, it didn’t bother me anymore. I was glad that I went up a half size because the fit was perfect with just enough toe-splay space in the toe box.
The shoe that it reminded me of most was the GlideRide 3 but landings felt softer and more padded in the Nimbus 25. Both shoes felt like long-distance cruisers with bottomless cushioning.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 Upper
The Nimbus 25 has a brand new, engineered, knit mesh upper. It feels smooth, soft to the touch and it stretches so it conforms to your feet. It has a similar, flat, knitted tongue to the Nimbus 24 but now the tongue doesn’t feel out of place because the rest of the upper is also knitted.
To me, it still feels weird having a flat tongue on a max-cushioned trainer- I prefer thick, padded tongues which make the upper feel more plush.
I feel that ASICS got the fit of the Nimbus 25 wrong again. The toe box feels way too narrow and doesn’t leave any room for your toes to splay so you have to go a half size up from your regular size or get the wide version.
In a half size up, the upper is extremely comfortable with excellent foot lockdown. The padded collar has generous padding and an internal heel counter ensures there is adequate support in the rear of the shoe.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 Sole Unit
The Nimbus 25’s new midsole makes it more of a true max-cushioned trainer for easy and recovery days. The new FF Blast+ Eco feels noticeably denser and less bouncy so the result is a shoe that’s not as versatile as its predecessor.
When standing and walking around, the Nimbus 25 feels soft and squishy in the forefoot but when you run in it, it feels firmer.
My favourite type of run using the Nimbus 25 for is short or middle-distance, slow runs above 5 minutes 30 per km (8 minutes 52 per mile) average pace. Anything faster or longer, and I find it not energetic or responsive enough.
The older FF Blast+ foam in the Nimbus 24 had more energy return than FF Blast+ Eco but the advantage of the newer foam is that it’s lighter so they can cram more stack height into the Nimbus 25 and keep it at the same weight.
There’s an additional 5 mm in the heel, and an additional 7 mm in the forefoot so the Nimbus 25 doesn’t bottom out. Some runners complained of the Nimbus 24 midsole bottoming out but I’m a light runner, so I didn’t have that problem.
The drop is now 8 mm compared to 10 mm in the Nimbus 24 but I didn’t notice a significant difference. The women’s version has changed significantly from 13 mm to also 8 mm so women coming from the Nimbus 24 are more likely to notice a difference.
With the extra 7 mm of stack height in the forefoot, the Nimbus 25 has a stiffer forefoot which doesn’t flex as much. The stiffer forefoot allows the rocker to work much more effectively so you get a rockered ride, similar to trainers like the Hoka Clifton and ASICS Superblast.
The Nimbus 25’s base is so wide and stable that it doesn’t need a midfoot plastic Trusstic shank anymore. This is one of the big differences between this year’s version and all previous versions- I don’t miss the plastic shank at all.
There’s now a silicone-based Pure gel pad directly under the heel in the Nimbus 25 and there’s no longer a forefoot, coin-sized gel unit. In previous versions, the gel was situated along the sides of the heel with a small gel unit in the front. While I can’t say that I feel the gel in the heel of the Nimbus 25, I do believe that it offers some shock absorption upon impact.
The redesigned outsole has soft ASICS Lite rubber on the forefoot and AHAR (high abrasion rubber) on the heel. There is a lot of exposed midsole foam in the midfoot area but this firmer variant of FF Blast+ is tougher so it doesn’t get cut into by stones and other sharp objects on the road like the Nimbus 24.
Durability has been impressive so far and I haven’t noticed a substantial amount of wear on the rubber. The Nimbus 25 has above average outsole durability. The outsole has a flatter design and is now full ground contact so ride transitions are the smoothest of any Nimbus to date.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 Conclusions
It’s impressive that ASICS managed to add so much extra stack height to the Nimbus 25 yet it’s almost the same weight as the Nimbus 24. This is every brand’s dream when it comes to their max-cushioned trainer. They also managed to keep it at $160 this year.
As a result of the added foam and width, the Nimbus 25 feels clunkier and not as agile as the Nimbus 24 so it’s harder to pick up the pace in it- it’s not as versatile as its predecessor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because this is ASICS’ max-cushioned trainer for slow, easy mileage only.
I admire ASICS for taking such a big risk, making so many changes to one of their most popular trainers. We often see brands making really minimal changes (to their popular trainers) from iteration to iteration because they are scared of losing customers; the Ghost, Clifton and Pegasus come to mind.
I think ASICS needs to improve the FF Blast+ Eco midsole. It’s impressively light but it lacks the bounce, energy return and excitement that you get from other modern super foams. They also need to fix the narrow toe box so that it’s more comfortable if you go true to size.
I do miss the super soft FF Blast+ midsole of the Nimbus 24 but the Nimbus 25’s stiffer forefoot and firmer ride provide more efficient rockered transitions. The Nimbus 25 also has a smoother ride with improved outsole durability so I think it’s an improvement over the Nimbus 24.
Lastly, the Gel-Nimbus 25 without any visible gel doesn’t look like a traditional Nimbus anymore but I’m totally fine with that.