The Asics Gel Cumulus is the piece of kit that made me a one shoe runner, in road running terms anyway. I had them recommended to me several years ago, when I think we were on the Cumulus 6, and since then I have largely avoided injury, however many junk miles I manage to rack up every year.
I’ve also spent a large chunk of take-home pay on them, as blokes my size can really only expect 3-400 miles out of these things before they have to be consigned to gardening duties.
And yet, I’ve been waiting for the arrival of the new Gel Cumulus 11s with some anticipation and no small amount of trepidation.
You see, as I posited at some length in earlier posts about the difference between the Cumulus 9 and Cumulus 10 shoes, I’m of the opinion that the Cumulus 10 had some of the qualities of a stability shoe, making it slightly less desirable than previous incarnations right up to the Cumulus 9.
Now, while the 10 is by no means a bad shoe; for my money, and quite a few other people’s too, it wasn’t quite as neutral, flexible and comfortable on the road as the 9. So is this a trend that the 11 is set to continue, or is the new 11 going to be a return to all that’s been great about the Cumulus for many, many years?
First Impressions Out of the Box
Well, at first sight, the 11 looks pretty much like the last five or so incarnations of the Cumulus – and as one of the guys from Asics once admitted to me, Asics trainers don’t sell on the strength of their sexy looks…
There are the usual cosmetic tweaks, but the main point of difference is in the slightly raised and broadened heel area. While this is only slightly wider than previous versions of the Cumulus, the visual impression is of a shoe that’s going to give more stability to the heel strike.
Inside the shoe, the main difference is in the new ‘removable ComforDry sockliner’, which is pretty much just a fancier insole with raised edges to keep it in place within the shoe, or to facilitate removal for drying or replacement purposes.
Which is no bad thing, as the insoles coming loose when you take them off has been a problem for me with most of my Asics shoes once they’ve got a couple of hundred miles on the clock.
The inner part of the heel also seems to be narrower and more highly cushioned than the 10, which I presume is part of the ‘personal heel fit’ they talk about in the blurb? But hey, the proof of the pudding is always when you hit the road in these things.
So despite it being 28 degrees and completely windless, I put something mellow onto the iPod (But Seriously Folks by Joe Walsh, if you’re interested. A soft rock classic album, with lyrics that are just right for Summer running), set my Garmin 405CX to ‘dawdle’ mode, with clear instructions to keep my heart rate below 160bpm, and headed out to see what the 11s could do.
First Impressions on the Road
Well, my concern with the Cumulus 10s was that they seemed less flexible than previous versions of the Asics Cumulus, with a stiffness to the outer edges that put me in mind of a stability shoe.
However, while it was incredibly hot when I took these things for a spin earlier today, my very first act was to breathe a big sigh of relief, and wipe some totally imaginary sweat from my brow, because after their slight wobble with the Asics Gel Cumulus 10, it soon became clear that with the Cumulus 11, Asics have once again created a completely neutral, cushioned performance shoe that is ideal for the slightly larger plodder like my good self.
My feet felt completely supported, and the whole foot cushioning quickly took my ageing feet, knees and ankles to their happy place, as if I was running across one of those rubber kids’ playgrounds rather than concrete.
They’re not quite like the 8s or 9s though. Leaving aside all the technical stuff about Space Trusstics and the AHAR+ heel (which mean very little to me if I’m honest), these shoes do seem to plant themselves very squarely onto the road, yet without any pretensions to being a control shoe. In fact, quite the reverse. If it makes any sense at all, these just feel super-neutral to run in, but more stable than ever.
They’re also slightly less flexible than the 8s and 9s, but no less comfortable. In fact, I have to say that for me personally, the new Cumulus 11s are as close to perfect as neutral, cushioned running shoes can get.
The Big Self-Important Verdict
I try to keep these reviews as neutral and honest as possible. After all, with an RRP of £84 or thereabouts, I wouldn’t want any fellow runners to buy these on my say-so if they were rubbish.
The fact is though, that in my opinion, the Cumulus 11 represents a very welcome return to form for Asics, and one that will be pretty popular with all those of us who have been wearing Cumuluses (Cumulii?) for a number of years. In fact, a quick count up in my shoe diary suggests that I’ve now personally racked up around 10,000 miles in various incarnations of the Cumulus over the years.
Thanks to the Cumulus 11, I’m now starting to consider the possibility that I may be wearing them for the next 10,000 miles too. And so, despite having handed out several 4.5 or 5 Jelly Baby Ratings recently, I’m afraid that 5 Jelly Babies just won’t cut it for the new Cumulus 11s.
I’m astonished, but very, very pleased to say that for the first time ever, and probably the last, the new Asics Gel Cumulus 11s are getting the whole damn bag…
• Air Mesh
• Synthetic leather
• Modified Kimono tongue
• Personal Heel Fit
• 3M Reflective.
• Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.)
• Solyte midsole
• Visible Rearfoot GEL
• Visible Forefoot GEL
• Space Trusstic
• AHAR+ heel
• DuraSponge rubber Forefoot.
• Solyte 45 lasted
• Removable single layer ComforDry sockliner
• Gender specific midfoot design.