ASICS Novablast 4 Designed for Uptempo Runs

Novablast 4 - toebox

The ASICS Novablast 4 offers a solid and responsive experience for those who enjoy quicker runs. While it may not deliver the same playful and springy feel as its earlier counterparts, it maintains a relatively lightweight construction. The fourth version showcases increased firmness and stability, thanks to its updated FF Blast+ Eco midsole. However, it does come with a slightly heavier weight and lacks the same level of versatility, making it difficult to label it as an outright improvement. Runners seeking a firmer and more stable ride will find version 4 to be their preferred choice.

If you desire a trainer that is not heavy and offers a steady and secure running experience, then the Novablast 4 is the ideal choice for you.

If you desire a shoe that resembles the initial two editions of the Novablast, known for their vibrant and lively nature, the fourth edition may not meet your expectations.

On the day of the Novablast 4's release, I visited my nearby ASICS store and witnessed a group of five individuals eagerly trying it on. During the latest Sunday morning KL city run, I observed a total of twelve participants donning the Novablast 4.

The Novablast has quickly gained immense popularity as an ASICS running shoe, particularly in Malaysia where it has developed a devoted fanbase. Its appeal lies not only in its sleek and futuristic aesthetics, but also in its lightweight nature and affordable price point, making it a more accessible option in comparison to the Nimbus/Kayano models.

When the first Novablast was released, it stood in stark contrast to the other ASICS sneakers on the market. It boasted a lightweight, lively design that brought a sense of enjoyment to every step. The only downside was its unpredictable and unsteady ride, but that was a small sacrifice for such an immersive shoe. It quickly became one of my go-to trainers for everyday use, simply because of its distinctiveness.

Novablast 4 - quarter

Throughout time, the untamed Novablast has undergone a transformation, resembling ordinary trainers from different companies. It has become firmer, more stable, and less springy. After trying out last year's Novablast 3, I didn't find myself using it much for running. It lacked the distinctive essence that the Novablast is known for.

Similar to many of ASICS' top-selling shoes, the Novablast of this year has undergone significant enhancements with a fresh upper, midsole, and outsole.

The Novablast 4 has a weight of 9.2 oz (260 g), which is slightly heavier by 0.3 oz (8.5 g) compared to the Novablast 3. In terms of stack height, both the heel and forefoot have an extra 0.5 mm, resulting in measurements of 41.5 mm/33.5 mm. The price remains unchanged at $140, just as it was last year.

Novablast 4 - pull tab

During my initial attempt with the Novablast 4, I embarked on a leisurely recovery jog, clocking in at a pace of less than 6 minutes per kilometer (9:40 per mile). This particular run failed to bring me much pleasure due to the rigid sensation of the fresh midsole.

The shoe lacked liveliness and responsiveness, resembling an outdated EVA foam shoe from half a decade ago. It brought to mind the Brooks Ghost 14 and 15, albeit in a slightly more lightweight form.

To me, it seemed as though its purpose was more geared towards enhancing speed rather than serving as an adaptable everyday running shoe. The overall experience of running in it was too rigid for comfortable and rejuvenating runs.

The Novablast 4 disappointed me after my initial run, despite the upper fitting perfectly and being incredibly comfortable. While the upper fit was definitely a standout feature, the overall experience lacked that extraordinary factor.

Novablast 4 - upper

The standout aspect of the Novablast 4 is its upper, which I personally adore. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is the finest upper ever seen on a Novablast model. This latest iteration utilizes a delicate, interlaced fabric that exudes a sense of luxury and provides an enhanced fit for the foot, surpassing the comfort offered by previous Novablast models.

The toe-box features tiny perforations to enhance air circulation, promoting better breathability. Additionally, a raised heel tab now includes a convenient pull tab.

The tongue of the shoe remains level and pleated, but now it has a slender cushioned layer in the center, providing a more pleasant sensation on my feet's upper side. Sadly, there is a significant amount of downward slippage of the tongue, as it lacks a loop to keep it secured. It is baffling how ASICS allowed this oversight, considering the extensive wear testing involved in its development.

In past years, the Novablast's fit was oversized by half a size. However, this latest version's sizing is spot on and accurately matches the expected size. Personally, I find the fit to be ideal when wearing socks of medium thickness.

Novablast 4 - outsole

The Novablast 4 offers a firmer ride compared to other daily trainers and speed trainers. In fact, it is even firmer than the Magic Speed 3, Endorphin Speed 4, and Boston 12. While this may be suitable for uptempo runs, it may not be ideal for slower paces, which the Novablast 4 is designed to accommodate.

The midsole of the Novablast 4 contains a distinct FF Blast+ Eco that sets it apart from the Nimbus 25. When pressure is applied, the Nimbus 25 midsole offers a satisfying softness. In contrast, the Novablast version resembles ASICS' previous Flytefoam from a few years back: it is lightweight yet provides a solid support.

I find the Novablast 4 most enjoyable during my faster-paced workouts like hill repeats, steady runs, intervals, or short tempo runs. The midsole of this shoe remains firm and doesn't compress much under pressure, giving me a solid base to push off from. To truly appreciate its benefits, I need to be running at a pace faster than 5:30 per kilometer. Additionally, the shoe offers smooth and swift transitions, despite not having a plate, and the forefoot feels rigid and responsive.

I believe that incorporating FF Blast+ technology, similar to what is found in the Cumulus 25, would greatly enhance the Novablast 4 and make it a more enjoyable shoe. ASICS claims that the Novablast 4 provides an energized ride, but I personally disagree. In my experience, it feels quite dull. I have tested it on a 35-kilometer run, and although it provided adequate cushioning, it failed to evoke any positive emotions or sensations.

According to ASICS, the Novablast 4 features an outsole design that draws inspiration from trampolines, aiming to enhance energy rebound. However, unlike its predecessors, I personally find that the fourth version lacks the noticeable trampoline effect. The midsole is excessively rigid and fails to compress adequately, thus limiting the potential benefits of its geometry.

Novablast 4 - midsole

The groove beneath the shoe, extending from the back to the front, is deeper in the Novablast 3 compared to the previous version. Its purpose is to enhance cushioning and energy rebound, but the rigid midsole hinders its effectiveness.

The Novablast 4 boasts a fresh AHAR Lo outsole rubber, with a reduced density compared to its predecessors. This adjustment aims to enhance traction, although I personally did not discern a significant disparity from previous versions. Overall, the traction remains average.

The durability of the outsole is moderate as well. I have observed signs of wear on the front part of the shoe, specifically on the foam area that is not protected by rubber, as well as on the outer side of the heel.

ASICS seems to have taken a misstep with the Novablast 4 by opting for a firmer approach. This new version no longer possesses the versatility of a daily trainer; instead, it resembles a trainer built for speed. Considering ASICS already offers the Noosa Tri (without a plate), EvoRide (without a plate), and the Magic Speed (with a plate), there doesn't appear to be a need for yet another speed trainer.

The initial appeal and lively feel that made the Novablast 4 a favored choice among trainers seems to have faded. Personally, I prefer all the previous iterations of the shoe to this latest one. When it comes to ASICS mid-range options, I would opt for the Cumulus 25 over the Novablast 4 for everyday training purposes. The Cumulus 25 offers a gentler ride, ensuring greater comfort and protection. Additionally, it is priced equivalently to the Novablast.

The Saucony Ride 17 weighs one ounce more than the Novablast 4, but it excels in a broader spectrum of speeds. It offers a plusher feel and delivers a greater rebound of energy. The Supernova Rise also boasts exceptional versatility. Moreover, both options are priced equally to the Novablast 4.

I remain convinced that the Novablast 4 will retain its status as a top-selling and widely favored running shoe. Its contemporary and stylish appearance, coupled with the buzz it has generated, will ensure its continued popularity in the market.

  • Price: $140
  • Style: 1011B693.100 (Asics)
  • Color: White / Illuminate Mint
  • Usage:
    • speed training
    • daily training
    • interval workouts
    • hill repeats
    • steady runs
    • short tempo runs
  • Constructions & Features:
    • FF Blast+ Eco midsole
    • perforations on toebox to enhance air circulation
    • heel drop: 8mm
    • weight: 260 g/9.2 oz
    • sizing: True to size
    • neutral support / maximum cushion
    • designed for neutral / underpronation
    • engineered woven upper
    • FF BLAST™ PLUS ECO cushion made with 20% recycled bio-based materials
    • gusseted tongue wing fit system to improve midfoot fit and reduce tongue sliding
    • trampoline-inspired outsole design
    • upper crafted with at least 75% recycled materials
    • reflective details to improve visibility in low-light settings
    • AHAR® outsole improves durability
Novablast 4 - heel/midsole